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Identity Crisis

Chapter Text

”In other news, a new controversial topic has taken rise within social media after recent events.”

”And what’s that?”

”Can an android run for president?”

”Well, I don’t see why they can’t. They might even be better at handling national affairs.”

Connor turns his gaze away from the television in front of him. Sumo lays at his feet, and it’s been that way for the last two hours. Connor had been up all night mulling over the previous day’s events in which Markus had successfully lead a revolution of androids against their creators. Connor had participated and stopped himself from lifting his hand to cause harm to him. Afterward, Markus trusted him enough to confide in him on what they should do next since there were so many androids that were released into the world with no home.

Connor, quite frankly, had no idea. He thought of them returning to Cyberlife for shelter but his relationship with Cyberlife was rocky. Regardless, he understood this new opportunity for the company that would have destroyed him regardless if he had won or lost the investigation case. They could still create androids but they wouldn’t be able to sell them. Not with how quickly androids stood up for their fellow creations. They refused for others to be treated like merchandise. With that, Cyberlife had a new opportunity, and that laid in the creation of Android parts. Androids would always break down over time, they were not invulnerable, and Cyberlife could make a profit from creating extra parts that androids needed. They could always continue making upgrades as well and install them in androids willing to undergo them, with a price.

“Have you seriously been sitting there the entire night? You haven’t moved an inch from that spot.”

Hank’s voice is a familiar ring in his ears. Connor doesn’t bother turning around to face him. He is too busy going over the possible fate of the rest of his kind alongside his own fate. Where was he going to go? What was he going to do? He was created to fulfill one single purpose but he was already past that.

“I was thinking.” Connor finally answers. He feels the couch sink in weight and knows that Hank had made himself comfortable beside him.

“Oh, well that can’t be good.”

Connor blinks and glances at Hank.

Hank’s teasing smirk was the first thing he registered.

“I was thinking…” Connor begins again, “That I don’t know what to do. I was created for one primary purpose. To hunt deviants. Now that deviants roam free, I have failed that purpose, and now I don’t know what to do.”

Connor remembers deviants walking up to him. They shook his hand, gave him beaming smiles, and Connor could only return weak ones. He was designed to hunt them but he had shaken their hands as equals. Aside Markus, they gave him looks of admiration, and Connor felt he didn’t deserve any of them. He didn’t do anything. In fact, he nearly killed their leader! He was ready! He had already pulled out his gun to aim at the back of the android’s head. Needless to say, he wasn’t necessarily in control of himself when he did that, but the action was almost executed anyways. He would have been the one responsible.

“Cyberlife hasn’t contacted you?” Hank asks.

Connor knows the answer.

Oh, they contacted him alright. Amanda had done so when gaining control over him.

“They have. In their own way.”

“What did they say?”

“I get the feeling they aren’t happy with me,” Connor answers bluntly. “I doubt I would be welcome to return, not when I’ve aided in destroying their business’ main source of income.”

“Yeah, that’ll do it.” Hank nods his head, raising a finger to rub at his nose.

“Because of that, I have nowhere to go.”

Hank stares at him. Connor doesn’t know what he did to receive such an expression.

“Are you an idiot?”

Connor blinks.

“Excuse me?”

Because he certainly wasn’t.

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but I can’t stay here forever,” Connor states matter-of-factly.

“You can’t?”

“Well, yes, I can’t.” Connor says - disbelief edging his voice.

“And why is that?”

Connor opens his mouth but oddly enough, nothing comes out.

“Mm. I see.” Hank hums. “Don’t want to stay with your old man, huh?”

“What?”

“I thought me inviting you to stay here was enough. Apparently, you need it beaten in your thick skull.”

Connor isn’t prepared as Hank hooks his head under his arm, effectively pulling him closer at an uncomfortable angle, and then the man’s knuckles rub against his head roughly.

Connor knew what this was. A noogie. According to his databases, it was supposed to be painful, but he didn’t feel pain.

“What are you doing?” Connor inquires.

“What you deserve for being stupid.”

“I am far from stupid. In fact, I have state of the art-”

“Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to be lectured. I’m the one supposed to be doing that.”

Connor falls silent at that.

Hank takes that as his cue to continue.

“Connor. You’re welcome to stay here for as long as you like. Can’t just let you wander the streets.”

Hank’s knuckles cease and Connor knows because the pressure on his head lifts.

“And it’d be nice if you helped around the house.”

Connor doesn’t know when the emotions invade his system. His heart feels lifted, as the human term goes, and the weight on his shoulders becomes lighter. He feels nothing but utter relief.

“Maybe when things calm down, you can even apply to the police station too, become my partner again.”

Hank lets Connor’s head go and looks away as if distracted by something else.

“You wouldn’t mind that?” Connor asks.

“I wouldn’t,” Hank confirms.

Connor disregards his previous self-doubts, and his lips quirk up to form a small smile.

“I suppose someone has to keep you in check.”

Hank looks at Connor once more to retort, “I think it’s you who needs someone to keep you in check, buddy. Can’t follow simple orders, ever.”

“I learn from the best.” Connor shrugs.

And really, it was true, and Connor finds that he doesn’t really mind.

Chapter Text

“Well, if anyone were to run for president, it would be Markus.”

Connor doesn’t know why he was dragged into this gathering. He sits amongst Markus’ close friends. North, Simon, and Joshua. Connor was confused as to why Markus insist he participate but apparently Markus wanted his advice. Connor felt… what humans might call uncomfortable around these deviant activists, it was an unpleasant feeling, one that he had only felt once before. If this was what humans had to go through all the time, Connor had to give them where credit was due. Humans were remarkably tough.

“Me? No. That’s not what we’re here to talk about anyway.” Markus says. North, who had suggested Markus be the one to run for office, has a smile tugging at her lips. Connor then realized that North was simply entertaining the idea, not suggesting Markus actually go through with it. “I was thinking of creating an android support group where androids can gather together and talk about their problems. That way, they know they aren’t alone, and they are given the opportunity to connect with others.”

“Why?” Simon asks. “I’m not saying it’s a bad idea but what made you think it up?”

Markus smiles warmly at his friend, “Androids from all over come to me for advice. They turn to me. Instead, I want them to turn to others, and create connections.”

“Of course there are those who turn to you.” Joshua intervenes. “They look up to you. You’re a leading figure in freeing our people.”

“And I understand that,” Markus quickly says, “Regardless, I wanted to ask you all to help me out. Spread the word. They can’t rely on me forever.”

The group nods and continues to chatter amongst themselves. Connor sits stiffly in his chair - across from the others - who sit in a circle alongside him. They were gathered in an ex-Cyberlife store - deserted after a loss of profits - and donated to the androids by the local government as a meeting place. It was mainly to keep an eye on them but Markus used it anyways. There wasn’t much decoration or furniture around yet but Markus had expressed his intent to change that soon. Connor had only been here a few times to check up on things but he had never been willingly invited to come to a gathering. This almost felt like a conversation between representatives of Cyberlife except… a lot less… professional. Not to mention a lot less dangerous too, since executives at Cyberlife always looked like they wanted to strangle each other.

“What do you think Connor?”

Connor brings himself to reality.

He cannot believe that just happened.

Did he… did he just… ‘wander off?’ He’s never done that before.
“Could you repeat that?” Connor asks Markus politely.

“I was asking if you would like to be the organizer,” Markus replied patiently.

“Me?” Connor thinks himself hardly worthy of such a position. “I’m not certain that’s the best idea.”

“Well if Markus thinks you’re the fit for the job, then who among us has the right to complain?” North pips in, “He’s a good judge of character.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Markus rubs the back of his neck sheepishly. North simply looks at him fondly and the two hold a gaze for a few seconds before returning to the topic at hand. Now they look at Connor, all of them, with expectations that he thinks he can never reach. How could he even hang around them? He was compromised. What if Amanda got a hold of him again? What if he tried to kill Markus? What if he tried to kill any of them again? He would rather not take that risk. He was better off just being by himself, where he could hurt no one, even if that meant leaving Hank too. The man was kind in letting Connor stay in his home but maybe Connor should act for the best of both of them.

Maybe he should leave.

“I advise you not to choose me,” Connor objects.

Markus is next to ask, “And why is that?”

“Your trust is misplaced in me. What if Cyberlife uses me to obtain revenge?”

North snorts.

“Connor,” Markus addresses, reaching out to put a hand on Connor’s shoulder, and after a reassuring squeeze he says, “there is no one better.”

Connor is reluctant but he looks at Markus’ eyes. How one could be so trusting of someone who tried to kill them, Connor will never know, but at the same time he felt that he could not disappoint this man. He did not want to. Maybe that is what compels him to finally give a hesitant, yet visible nod.

Markus positively beams.

“Great,” He pats Connor’s shoulder and withdraws his hand soon after, “this will be a good start for our people. I’ll send you a few addresses of the androids I have in mind for a starting trial, Connor.”

Connor nods.

It is a while until the group disperses. Simon and Joshua leave, not before giving Markus a pat on the back, and North lingers for a while longer before leaving too. Markus is left alone with Connor and Connor is about to get up to leave until Markus stops him with a question.

“Connor. What did you mean that Cyberlife would attempt to gain revenge through you?”

Connor does not hold back.

“While you were delivering a speech to our people, I was not in control of my body, and I nearly attempted to kill you.” He explains. “The only reason I did not was because I activated an exit program that freed me from Cyberlife’s clutches.”

Markus leans forward in his chair, propping his elbow against his leg, and settling his chin in the palm of his hand.

“I see.” Markus states, simply, “I understand why you’re worried now.”

“Yes. Now that you understand I would encourage you to choose anyone other than me.”

Markus lifts his chin and gives a small shake of his head.

“No. I still think you’re the ideal person for organizing this.”

“But you almost died. At my hands,” Connor blinks, attempting to process Markus’ reaction.

“Yes. Your hands,” Markus agrees, “not in your control. Yet, here you are, still completely functioning. You’ve escaped them Connor. Don’t let them haunt you. If it really bothers you this much, try to think of this as a redemption tool. If you do this, you will not only be helping me, but others. It would be a great kindness towards our people and…” He speaks on as if Connor needs more of an incentive to take this job upon him, “if you do this I’ll forgive you for trying to kill me.”

Markus smiles confidently before lifting himself off of his chair.

“So, still don’t want to do it?”

“Hmm… I suppose I can…” Connor trails off.

“That’s the spirit!” Markus gives a hearty laugh.

“As long as it does not interfere with my duties to attend to Hank.”

“Isn’t that the human I see often with you?”

“Yes. He is currently my sole provider.”

“Sounds a lot like a dad,” Markus notes off-handedly.

“Dads are a human term. Androids do not have biological parents.”

“I know that,” Markus says, “but when did that stop anybody?”

“I don’t understand.”

Markus once more laughs and before he leaves, he turns to say, “One day, you will. Now excuse me. I’m going to visit my dad.”

He leaves on that note and Connor realizes that he still doesn’t understand Markus one bit, even after their many interactions.

Chapter Text

Connor is not the first nor the last to suffer android brutality. He understands where the hatred stems from. Humans fear the unknown, the unpredictable, and he fits in both of those categories. He is different. That is why he finds no blame in the person who holds a knife up threateningly his way and takes care to notice the shaking of their hands. He could easily swipe the knife away from their hold. It would be incredibly easy. Yet, he does not do that and instead stands frozen in his spot. What started as just a simple errand to retrieve food for Hank, food that wasn’t the unhealthy garbage he ate so often, and one sharp cut to return quickly home was the wrong choice.

A human stands across from him. They have tears running down their pale face - body shivering - and Connor realizes that it must be because of the snow. They are freezing.

“Y-You…” The human stutters. Connor finally registers the human to be a teenager, around the age of sixteen, and female. Her body physique is slim, unfit, and Connor knows he could easily subdue her. Already, multiple scenarios run through his head, yet he does nothing. He is too focused on this human’s dilemma. “Androids are all the same. They d-don’t have any individuality. I don’t understand how my mom could be so enthralled with a damn r-robot.”

Connor was easily identified as an android because of the LED glowing on the side of his head. If another android had casually approached, the human would probably treat them the same way, so Connor doesn’t think that this human was aiming at him specifically.

Connor chooses wisely to say nothing as the shivering girl continues, “And he thinks he can take the place of my daddy. He thinks he’s better. Thinks he can get close to me. He’s wrong. She’s wrong. All of them! Wrong! Tell me why I shouldn’t gut you here, right now, just like the filth you are.”

Connor mulls over the possible responses to calm the person in front of him. He didn’t want to harm her. That wouldn’t look very good for the testy waters of android freedom and he also didn’t want to needlessly harm a human life.

“Your mother,” Connor stalls, “Is she in a relationship with an android?”

The girl tightens her grip on her knife.

“He looks like all the others,” she claims, “Somehow she can tell who he is though. She could spot him in a crowd. That’s how in love with him she’s in, but that’s just it. Love is a human emotion. He doesn’t have that. You don’t either. No android does. It’s all just trickery, imitation, just as their creators programmed it. Besides, he can’t replace daddy. No one can.”

Connor drops the groceries he was holding in his hands to slowly raise his hands as a peaceful gesture.

“Of course,” He agrees, “There is no replacement for anyone. That’s what individuality is, to begin with, isn’t it? It means no one can replace you because there’s no one else like you.”

The girl nods her head hesitantly, almost unsure whether she should agree with an android or not.

“One cannot recognize individuality without being an individual themselves. Others don’t have the luxury to do so, especially if they cannot express, or think for themselves. Wouldn’t that make androids individuals?”

“I’m not here to talk about philosophy,” the girl spits out. “You’re just trying to distract me. What’s an individual to an android? Their programming feigns the ability to understand.”

Connor realizes that there is no convincing her. She growls venomously, blonde hair covered in flakes of snow, and then she charges. Connor is already prepared. He grabs her wrist, preventing her from stabbing him, and she screams in anger once she comes to the understanding that she has no strength compared to his own.

“Let. Me. Go!” She yowls.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” Connor tells her. “There is no way I can predict what you will do if I do that. You could attempt to stab me again.”

The girl gives up on the knife in her hand and kicks Connor with all her might. He is visibly surprised that it knocks him back a few centimeters and even more so when she picks up a trash can lid, laying hazardously on the ground, to whack him across the face.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”

Connor lifts a hand to his cheek to inspect the damage done to his face before turning to look at the newcomer. He had already recognized the voice when he heard it but he needed to make certain that it was who he thought it was. Sure enough, Hank stands there behind Connor, fists clenched tightly at his side. He takes one look at Connor and sees the bright red that glows from his LED. It’s enough to make the man grit his teeth and growl at Connor’s aggressor.

“What’s it to you, old man!?” The teen cries out, “It’s not like this is any of your business.”

“It became my business the moment you raised your hand against my buddy here.” Hank gestures toward Connor, who is now straightening himself. “You see, he’s isn’t smart enough to defend himself, so I have to step up to the plate.”

Connor is ready to retort but Hank continues without pausing, “Now, I don’t know what your problem is, but I think you need to scram before I break your fingers.”

The girl bites her bottom lip in contemplation. Once she registers that she would rather not fight a human, she turns and runs. It is clear to Connor that she would prefer to avoid confrontation from one of her own kind.

“That’s right coward! I see your tail!”

Hank huffs after she disappears from sight.

“You’re too nice Connor.”

“I had the situation under control, lieutenant.” Connor states.

“Yeah. Right. Didn’t look like that from where I was standing.”

“I fail to understand why it was any of your concern.”

It wasn’t any of my concern?” Hank repeats under his breath, muttering, “Well if you’re not going to stand up for yourself, who will?”

“I assure you that it is not necessary for you to intervene in such affairs. It would not do either of us any good if you were hurt.”

“And what if you’re hurt?”

“Then I will self-repair,” Connor answers as if it were common knowledge.

“Let me put it this way,” Hank begins, “What if you were killed?”

“Then I…” Connor doesn’t want to lie because he knows he doesn’t want to die but he didn’t want Hank to worry about him. He, unlike Hank, could always be put back together again. “I’m not… sure…” Connor settles.

“Look, if you aren’t going to defend yourself for your own safety, do it for me… okay?”

“What do you mean?”

Hank rolls his eyes.

“You always ask so many damn questions, Connor. Was I too obvious? Do I have to speak in cryptic robot speak? I don’t want you to die, okay?”

Connor blinks.

“You are that concerned for me?”

“Again with the questions! Can’t you shut up for once?” Hank sighs in exasperation. He strides forward, grabbing Connor by the arm, and starts tugging him the way he came.

“Lieutenant - the groceries -...”

“I don’t care about the groceries. Let’s just go home.”

Chapter Text

“Connor.”

Connor turns his attention to the woman who calls out to him. One quick scan of his memories identifies her as Kara and the visual of Alice clutching her hand only confirms it. Alice stares at Connor, blinking innocently, and Luther stands behind the both of them in an intimidating manner. Connor had contacted many androids to attend Markus’ newly established support group but he hadn’t expected to find Kara’s family here. He was certain that they were intent on crossing the border. To find them here was surprising.

“Kara.” Connor inclines his head in greeting. The three of them eye him warily and he cannot find fault in that. He had, after all, attempted to capture them and bring them in when he was investigating deviants.

“I was surprised to hear you were the one who organized this meeting,” Kara tells him.

“And I am surprised to see you here.” Connor returns. “I see you have others accompanying you.”

Kara nods and gestures towards Luther, “This is Luther. You already know Alice.”

Alice hides further behind Kara’s leg, changing her grip from Kara’s hand to the rough fabric of her jeans.

Connor observes the three in his company and then turns to gaze at the activities behind him. Multiple androids were conversing amongst themselves as they all waited for Markus to arrive. Androids were usually on time so it was unusual that Markus would be late. He was, after all, leading this gathering before passing it onto another android. Another android who Connor silently hopes that it is not him.

“Who invited you?” Connor asks, returning his gaze to Kara.

“Markus,” Kara answers plainly. The two continue their staring contest, a tension rising that Connor was not completely aware of, until Alice tugs at her mother’s shirt. It breaks Kara’s attention and refocuses it on the other two around her. “I was thinking it would be good to attend, as a courtesy to Markus, and maybe for a bit of guidance on where we should go from here. Your presence is an… unforeseen consequence of arriving.”

Connor arches a brow.

“You are displeased.” He observes.

“Many would be if put into the company of a Cyberlife agent.”

Connor blinks.

“I am not a Cyberlife agent.” He insists. Kara looks like she wants to reply but refrains from doing so when spotting Markus approach them from over Connor’s shoulder. She smiles a bit and Connor knows that smile is definitely not for him. It is not until a hand lands on his shoulder that he turns his head slightly to confront the new participant in their conversation.

“That he is not,” Markus agrees, “He is a changed man.”

“People do not change so easily,” Kara speaks as if she was pulling such words from experience.

“Connor is not most people.” Markus replies, “He has the same color of blood that courses through our veins. Give him a chance, Kara, he is not the same.”

“I was merely following my directive at the time of your pursuit. Forgive me.” Connor attempts to reconcile.

Kara takes one more look at Connor, deciding not to say anything further on the subject, and leads her family unit to a group of chairs.

Markus and Connor watch them leave.

“Give her time. She will warm.” Markus says, gently, “She has gone through a lot of hardships. Just as we all have. She is just looking out for her own.”

“Markus - this reinforces my concerns that I am not best suited for aiding you in the formation of these events - there will be others like Kara who will question my presence here. It would be in your best interest to allow me to remove myself from these proceedings and future ones that may take place.”

“Your worries are misplaced, my friend.” Markus removes his hand and moves so that he faces Connor directly. “Don’t think too much upon it.”

“That is a difficult request to process but I will… attempt… to comply,” Connor lets out doubtfully.

“That’s good enough for me.” Markus pats Connor’s back in a friendly manner before continuing, “I’m going to start the meeting now. Don’t fret if I call you out. I value your advice.”

“That in itself is an oddity,” Connor says, a smirk tugging at the corner of his lips.

Markus laughs good-naturedly.

“So the deviant hunter does have a sense of humor after all! Smiling is not beyond you.”

Connor simply continues smiling in response.

Chapter Text

Connor returns from a long day of listening to the problems of other androids. He listens to countless cases of cruelty, bullying, and harassment. Androids have progressed far from their original state as slaves but there was much to go through should they wish to be treated as equals. Nevertheless, he feels emotionally weary as he heads home, and then he confronts a strange sight.

Hank. He sits at his dining table with a gorgeous woman. She has long red hair reaching to the middle of her back, rose-tinted cheeks, and a small smile. A smile, Connor sees, that does not reach her eyes. Maybe it is due to his arrival that causes her expression to tighten. She tenses. Hank must notice the change of her demeanor too because he watches her just as closely.

“You didn’t tell me you had an android,” The woman acknowledges Connor’s existence in a single sentence. He wasn’t concealing his LED nor the typical suit he usually wore.

“Didn’t think it was important.” Hank puts out carefully.

“No. I suppose not.” The woman agrees, “I just thought you were above this.”

Hank’s eyebrows nearly flew off his face with how high he raises them.

“Ghastly creatures, the lot of them,” She says, “that do not know their place.”

Connor wisely does not move from his position near the front door. He does not want to provoke Hank’s guest who he had invited to come into his own home.

“I suggest you rid yourself of him. He can do only more harm than good.” She suggests, nodding her head to her words.

Connor decides that he has had enough standing by the door so takes a few steps toward the woman in their company.

“Do not step closer!” She shrieks, waving her hand in a shooing motion, “Did anyone say you could? I think not! See, that is the problem with modern androids! They do not know how to simply obey!”

Hank doesn’t even look at Connor when he says, “Do whatever the hell you want Connor.”

The woman is taken aback at this. She faces her host with a dramatic flair.

“Do not encourage him!” She cries out.

“I can do whatever I want, lady,” Hank says flatly. “You’re in my house, irritating brat.”

The woman’s jaw drops.

“Surely, you meant to insult the android, and not me?”

Hank ground his jaw and answers, “Not very clever, are you?”

“I could leave if it would be a benefit to the both of you-...” Connor begins but Hank is quick to dismiss the idea.

“No,” he lays out, “you will not be doing that. You have every right to be here.”

“Androids are a disease to our society!” The woman raises her voice in utter disbelief.

“I’d agree with you but then we’d both be wrong.” Hank sneers.

The woman takes a moment from her squabbling to truly examine Hank and then turns her eyes to do the same for Connor. Once she is satisfied with her observation, she says, “I see. You hold an attachment to him.” She seems smug when she presses on, “A man mourning over the loss of a previous family, adopts a new one in the form of a filthy, disgusting, robot.”

Hank had enough.

“Get the hell out of my house.”

“What? Is he like a replacement for the people you’ve already lost?”

“I said, GET. OUT.” Hank stands up from his chair, slamming his fists against the table, and he looks livid.

Connor steps up to the plate for fear of his friend’s emotional welfare and to stop the woman from brashly insulting them both. He could take a few insults, that much was true, because he was designed to do so. Police officers were blunt in their judgments and he was prepared for that. Even so, when the woman started insulting Hank, something inside Connor blew a fuse. His programming stumbled and he was no longer thinking logically.

“May I escort you out?” Connor asks the woman, taking another few steps forward, “I believe you have overstayed your welcome.”

That was Connor speak for you need to leave and there is no room for discussion.

“I will not be kicked out like some mangy mutt!”

“Then perhaps you would prefer to be escorted out by the police instead. They are less polite than I.” Connor presents her another option.

The woman seems to take his words into consideration and also seems to relent when she stands up. She moves past Hank who glares daggers at her. She ignores him. She ignores Connor, too, and moves straight toward the door. Before she lets herself out, she turns and finishes, “You will be sorry for this, Hank Anderson.”

The door shuts on the way out.

Hank, in his anger, collapses on his chair.

He fumes.

“What an unpleasant guest,” Connor states.

Hank scoffs, “That’s the nice way to put it.”

Hank’s shoulders then slump and he throws his head back to look at his ceiling in thought.

“Connor,” He says, not bothering to look at him, “You aren’t a replacement.”

Connor is silent. He stands still in his place.

“I know I lost my family. They didn’t have much of a chance to live in this rotten world. Sometimes I think about what would have been different had they not gone and…” Hank swallows, “I think it’d be kind of like now.”

Hank wipes at his eyes with a tired hand.

“But I wouldn’t know.”

Hank stands up and takes one long look at Connor.

Connor watches his friend curiously.

“I’m going to bed.” Hank averts his gaze and heads to his bedroom. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Connor merely nods.

Then Hank leaves him, standing alone in the living room, and Connor wonders what Hank had meant when he said that, it’d be kind of like now. Connor found it… beyond him… to consider that Hank possibly thought of him as what he had hinted at.

Family.

That gave Connor the oddest question he never thought he would have until his deviancy.

Can androids have families?

Chapter Text

Connor walks Sumo three times a day.

He follows the basic dog care guidelines and takes a careful watch of Hank’s companion. Connor does not have much to do ever since he submitted an application to join the police force. Being an android solely created to aid police in their investigations meant that he did not need to go through typical human routines when applying to the workforce. However, his application was still being processed because of the tense situation around androids and humans. Android rights was still a topic being heavily debated. If he joined there was no way for him to be able to predict how he would be treated. A lot of people were split on their thoughts of the case of android freedom.

So here he was. Idle. No purpose.

Walk the dog.

Contemplate.

Clean.

Occasionally answer the summons of Markus.

Repeat.

Connor found the term, bored, best fitted his situation. Even so, he keeps himself busy. Sumo is a good friend in Connor’s daily routines. Connor finds himself talking to the dog more than others may deem healthy. Though there is no questioning Connor’s mental health because he was functioning perfectly.

“I find animals to be excellent conversationalists, if not good listeners,” Connor lowers his eyes to look at Sumo inspecting a nearby light pole with great interest. “Nothing you say can be misinterpreted in their company. I presume it is the same with you, Sumo.”

Connor presses on, “Can I ask you a personal question, Sumo?”

Sumo does not bother to look at Connor. He is far too busy attending to his dog duties.

“What must I do to live as carefree and unbothered as you?”

Sumo is, naturally, unresponsive to Connor’s question. Connor knew he wouldn’t get an answer but that's okay. He was mostly entertaining himself at the moment.

The sun was setting and Hank told Connor he would be out spending overtime on a homicide case. A homicide case that Connor thinks he could have been apart of had his application already been accepted.

Connor stopped walking once he spotted his first snowflake. It had snowed heavily a couple of days ago but since then there hadn’t been a snowfall to be seen. Connor took a moment to appreciate nature’s complex weather patterns and the beauty that came with it. Though he could not feel the cold, he knew it was unwise he keep Sumo outside, even with his heavy fur coat. Sumo didn’t seem to mind the cold yet, and instead took it upon himself to inspect a nearby bush.

Connor, deciding he has had enough of staying outside, tugs on Sumo’s leash. The dog reluctantly obeys the command to move on and follows after Connor. Once they reach home, Connor lets the dog loose inside, and the dog happily trudges over to his favorite sleeping spot. A few weeks ago, he couldn’t have ever imagined living in someone else’s home with someone else’s dog. His home had been Cyberlife.

“Good riddance.”

Connor considers turning on the news to pass the time until the door flies open.

Hank stumbles in.

Connor didn’t think twice about running to help him up to his feet.

Upon inspection, Hank had multiple bruises on his face and on his arms.

“Lieutenant! Are you okay?”

“No. I’m not.” The man barks at Connor, upset, and probably frustrated with his current circumstances. “To think he decided to get the drop on me! Why I oughta’-!!!”

Connor recognizes the drunken slur in his caretaker’s speech. Connor guesses that the most probable cause was a bar fight. With that he decides to poke for answers.

“I thought you had a case to work on?”

“Huhh… case?? Nah, nah, just an excuse…”

Connor arches a brow.

“So you lied to me.”

“Had to get away from you somehow. You’re suffocating to be around.”

Connor sighs.

“I am sorry that you feel that way. I will attempt to be less of a hindrance.”

After all, he was living in someone else’s house, and he had to be on his best behavior. Still, it was surprising how much Hank’s words… hurt. Connor was not sure how else to put it.

Connor drags his partner to the couch where he gently settles him down. The man immediately slinks to his right side, landing his head on the couch’s arm, and continues to babble. Connor pays him little mind as he removes Hank’s shoes, tossing them aside, and then pulling off the man’s black jacket.

“I can understand why you’re drunk…” Connor begins, “but what are the cause of all those bruises?”

Hank sniffs.

“Fight.” He mumbles.

“I’m sure fighting in a drunken stupor didn’t help much.”

Hank waves his hand lazily in the air.

“Couldn’t crack me, I was untouchable.”

“Clearly,” Connor humors him.

“Shoulda’ seen me. Punch there. Punch here. I still got it.”

“I would advise you do no such thing in the future. It is damaging to your health.”

“You’re not my damn nurse.” Hank barks, “and ‘sides… pricks were throwing insults and I got tired of hearin’ ‘em.”

“You must have been quite offended.”

“Course I was!” Hank throws out defensively, “They were insulting me! Me and my android buddy.”

Now Connor definitely knew he was drunk.

“You’re a bucket of bolts, you know that Connor?”

“Negative,” Connor answers.

Hank ignores him and goes on saying, “They don’t know you. Not like I do.”

“That would… be the correct assessment lieutenant.” Connor agrees, assuming that the people he was talking about were complete strangers.

“Yeah, so what gives them the right, huh? You could fill all of their positions in society and do them two times better. They got nothin’ on you.”

Connor blinks.

“Am I correct in assuming… that you were defending my honor?”

“Wasn’t defendin’ nothin’...” Hank drawls, already looking to be on the verge of sleeping. Once Connor saw the signs, he once again picked up Hank so that he was leaning against him, and dragged the half-awake man to his bed. Hank continued to mutter things that Connor didn’t bother interpreting. Instead, he opted to tuck his friend in, making sure he was comfortable and pulls back to admire his work.

Hank was sound asleep.

Connor disappears to grab a chair from the dining room. He sits by Hank’s side and takes care to make as little noise as possible.

He watches over him for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Connor trudges through the rain with a resilience that has accompanied him since his creation. The rain never bothered him. He could feel not temperature changes or discomfort from the heavy shower. His clothes were sticking to his skin, soaked to the brim from the rainfall, and Connor finds himself not minding that too much either. Usually, he was more concerned about his appearance but today he felt a bit rebellious. Today, he just wanted to do things that he was never able to do as a Cyberlife agent, and one of those things was wandering aimlessly in the rain.

It felt good to not be under the bounds of an objective.

Then Connor hears a cry.

It’s small. His audio processor picks it up with ease and he stops wandering around in the streets. For a moment he stands still until he is certain on which direction he should take to locate the source of the cry. He turns sharply to his left where he sees a fenced off park. The only entrance was actually a few feet away but Connor decides to jump the cute little black metal fence instead. The cries were closer to the fence than they were to the entrance anyway.

Connor finds what he’s looking for.

What he finds is a soggy cardboard box filled with kittens soaked to the bone.

The sight is truly heart-wrenching. Connor can’t stand seeing them shiver and struggle to mewl. His first instinct is to gather them all into his arms and make a run for it to Hank’s house. The only thing that prevents him from doing so is the cons that present themselves. Hank would not be happy to find a bunch of wet, soaked, kittens in his living room. He’d probably hate the noise that came with them too. Besides that, Connor didn’t have what anything a kitten required.

Connor decides to consider other options, even entertaining the idea of taking a bus to Markus’ place, but it would be rude to dump a bunch of kittens on him. Then again, Markus had a weak spot for charity cases… but… it still wouldn’t be right. They weren’t nearly that close for Connor to even consider dropping by.

Connor sighs.

So he does what he thinks is right. He hovers over the box, shielding the kittens from the rain until he can come to a decision. He could take the kittens home, all he would have to do is hide them, and he felt that the best place would be Hank’s backyard. Hank didn’t go out to his backyard often. Connor would just have to hope that Hank would change his mind anytime soon.

Connor tries to lift the box but it proves to be difficult when he accidentally pulls apart one of its flaps. Connor frowns when he understands that the box isn’t very stable. Instead of doing as originally intended, he reaches down to scoop the four kittens mewling in the box and huddles them close to his chest. He heads home running as fast as he can, careful not to jostle the kittens too much to the point of making them uncomfortable.

Now here was the hard part.

Hank.

The man should be asleep. It’s late in the night and he was last snoozing when Connor had left to waltz around in the rain. Hopefully, he wouldn’t investigate the backyard. It was likely that the rain would deter him from doing so. Connor mainly worried about waking Hank when he went into the garage for the old doghouse shoved in the corner because that's what he planned to do. Get the doghouse that he spotted a few weeks past and then drag it to the backyard to make a shelter for his new animal friends.

Connor opens the front door as slow as he possibly can so that it will make no noise.

His efforts were worthless.

Hank was already waiting for him at the kitchen table.

Hank was downing a bottle of alcohol before he settles it on the table with a loud clack. He wipes his mouth with his sleeve and then looks at Connor dripping wet at his front door. Already, a puddle was forming where he stood, and Hank says, “Aren’t you going to come inside?”

Connor takes a cautious step in.

“You’ve been out all night,” Hank begins, tilting the empty bottle in front of him with a finger, “I assumed the worst.”

“I was taking a walk.”

Hank raises a brow.

“In the rain?”

“Yes,” Connor affirms, “although I’m more concerned about why you aren’t in bed.”

“Couldn’t sleep,” Hank replies smoothly.

“I see…” Connor is skeptical about Hank’s answer but he doesn’t have time to play the skeptic. Right now he just needs to somehow navigate around Hank… get the doghouse… and put it in the backyard.

Who was he kidding? Doing all of that was impossible. Maybe he could just put it in his room?

Except, he doesn’t have a room, and the only other room in this house aside from Hank’s was Cole’s old room. It was untouched and something Connor didn’t want to intrude upon out of respect. There was no other place he could keep the kittens though… not without arousing suspicion. Connor didn’t even dare consider putting them in the garage because there was no breathing room in there. The lack of oxygen was problematic.

“Are you injured?” Hank asks, his eyes trained on the way Connor huddles his arms to his chest. To him, it may have looked like he was concealing a wound but Connor knew the truth.

“Uh - no,” Connor says quickly, “No it’s just… I… uh…?”

This may be the first time he was not able to come up with a good excuse for the reason he was in such a position. He could have said he had a stomach ache or that he was in pain but both of those things weren’t things that androids suffered.

Hank catches on quickly.

He stands up.

“If you’re lying about being injured to me…” Hank looks weary at the implication.

“I’m not injured,” Connor assures, “I just… well…”

“Well, what?”

Connor shuffles on his feet.

A mewl answers for him.

He freezes.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, lieutenant,” Connor begins but Hank is already across the room. The man grabs Connor’s arm and Connor hesitates.

“Show me.”

Connor presses his lips together into a thin line.

Connor,” Hank warns.

Connor reluctantly lifts one of his arms and allows Hank to see the sight of four kittens cuddled to his chest. They mewl louder now that his arm isn’t concealing or muffling their noises.

“Connor…” Hank lets go of his arm and grabs the bridge of his nose with two fingers, “Tell me you just didn’t bring four kittens into my house.”

“I couldn’t just leave them out in the rain,” Connor defends, “they would have died!”

“What’re you going to do with them, huh? Keep them?”

“No,” Connor is quick to answer, “I wasn’t. I was just going to nurse them back to health. Take care of them until I found them a home.”

Hank’s face twists with frustration and Connor half expects for the lieutenant to begin yelling at him. He is pleasantly surprised with the lieutenant does the opposite. Instead, he releases a shaky breath and lowers his hand from his face.

“You’re taking care of them.”

Connor lights up instantly.

Connor’s reaction alone makes Hank’s shoulders slump forward in defeat.

“Just - don’t let them piss all over my house!”

“I won’t lieutenant,” Connor swears but he can’t stop himself from feeling absolutely giddy. His plans for leaving them in the backyard morph quickly to accommodate the interior of Hank’s home.

“And don’t call me lieutenant,” Hank demands, “I’m tired of hearing that.”

Connor positively beams.

“Of course, Hank.”

Chapter Text

“Are you certain I am not intruding?”

“I see no intruder,” Markus teases.

Connor allows Markus to guide him through his home. Connor felt honored to have been invited but he wasn’t the only one. That much could be seen when Connor enters the dining room where three familiar androids sit. North, Josh, and Simon were all conversing with one another until Markus re-entered the room with Connor in tow.

“Connor, fashionably late?” North asks curiously. Androids were usually on time. It was hard to be late when there was an internal clock in their systems that made them aware of each passing second. North and the others assumed that Connor meant to make a late entrance on purpose. The opposite was true. Connor wasn’t late on purpose. No, he was far too busy caring for the new furry companions he plucked off the streets.

“There were obstacles in my way,” Connor explains, “thus I could not be on time.”

“It is of little matter now,” Markus tells his company before gesturing for Connor to sit down on one of the chairs. He complies and settles himself next to Simon where he can face both Josh and North on the other side of the table. “I am just glad that everyone is here,” Markus continues, “because my father wanted to meet all of you. He insisted I bring my friends over for dinner.”

North looks at Markus knowingly but Simon and Josh share a glance. Connor himself sits stiffly in his chair hoping to look proper because old habits die hard. It was ingrained in him from the moment he woke into this world that appearances were everything. Connor needed to look professional and trustworthy. That was the strategy he had to win people over from day one. Now he was unconsciously using that strategy in hopes of impressing Markus’ dad because this was the deviant leader’s father of all people. This was the man that might have just sparked the rebellious spirit in Markus, considering that he was willing to let Markus call himself his son.

“I will go retrieve him,” Markus informs, tilting his head forward in a small nod, before leaving the room to do as he said.

Markus isn’t long. He comes strolling in an elderly man in a wheelchair who Connor can see is already sizing everyone up. One scan gives him the identity of their new acquaintance. Carl Manfred. A famous painter in the art world with art critics highly praising his pieces.

North is already standing and approaches Carl with a sort of reverence that is strange for her.

“Hello,” she speaks in a lower tone than usual, “my name is North.”

Carl smiles and reaches out to take North’s hand within his own.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Carl says, “It’s good to know that Markus is in good hands.”

North smiles.

“I’ve also heard that you were a constant companion during the android protests. I appreciate that Markus had someone to look to when he needed advice.” At that Carl turns to the other androids present because he knows that North wasn’t the only one who helped Markus liberate the androids. “I can’t imagine Markus going very far without any of you.”

Simon smiles and Joshua grins sheepishly.

Connor though?

Connor’s face couldn’t be any blander.

He wasn’t sure on how to react because he didn’t really help Markus aside from freeing a bunch of androids from Cyberlife’s clutches. In fact, he had lead the humans to Jericho and caused the death of many. The thought alone causes Connor to clench his fists in his lap and for at that moment he wishes he hadn’t come. He didn’t belong here. Something had to be up. Markus couldn’t have done this out of pure goodwill because Connor had played a role in the slaughter of his own kind. That, of all things, surely did not escape Markus’ careful observation.

“You have no idea how relieved I feel now that Markus has friends. It’s good to know he will have companions to turn to in the case that… well…”

Markus doesn’t want to hear it.

“Don’t talk like that Carl,” He chides.

“It’s inevitable,” Carl sighs, “one day I will die.”

The room is silent.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ruin this joyous meeting-...” Carl begins, eager to put it all behind, “how about you share the details on how you met Markus?”

And thus each android within Connor’s company recounted their meeting and experiences with Markus. Markus would point something out here and there but ultimately let each android tell their own story.

“And you are…?”

Connor wasn’t aware Carl was addressing him until he noticed everyone’s eyes were on him.

Connor shifts in place.

“I’m Connor,” he introduces, “Markus and I met through…”

He wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to tell Carl. Hell, no one except Markus knew that Connor had held him up at gunpoint. They had never told anyone else.

“Connor is a deviant hunter,” Markus explains.

“Oh?” Carl leans forward in interest.

“That is correct,” Connor says, “I was an android created by Cyberlife with the objective to hunt down deviants.”

“I’m guessing your first meeting didn’t go all too well then,” Carl speculates.

“A flawless guess,” Connor nods in affirmation. “It was when I met Markus that I realized that I was just a tool for Cyberlife. Replaceable. Truthfully, if it were not for Markus, I would probably already have been deactivated.”

“I’m glad that didn’t happen,” Carl says, “You seem like a good man.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Markus inputs, “Connor is an invaluable friend just as everyone else here.”

Markus’ statement lifted the heavy atmosphere and lightened everyone’s faces. Carl seemed to be happy, nodding to himself in some sort of contemplation, while Markus continued chatting on about how much he valued his friends.

Eventually, things in the dining room shifted so that everyone no longer had to act so formally. Carl had invited them to relax and so Simon and Markus took to watching a nature channel while conversing amongst themselves. Joshua was inspecting Carl’s library while the man was pointing out book titles that he might be interested in.

North and Connor?

They played chess.

“I don’t know much about you Connor,” North says, inspecting the board in front of her, “but I don’t think you’re all that bad. When Jericho was falling apart, you were there shielding both Markus and me from getting shot. I never forgot about that.”

North looks up from the board.

“Connor, if you’re ever in trouble or need any help, you are always welcome to look to us for help.”

Connor looks at the sincerity written in North’s face. From the short time he spent with North, he could tell that she was a person true to her thoughts and feelings. She couldn’t be saying this lightly. She must mean it.

“Thank you. I will keep that in mind,” Connor inclines his head gratefully towards her.

Little did she know, in the little time she had looked up from the board, Connor had already won their match.

She looks at the board with wide eyes.

“How…?”

Connor smiles playfully.

“Want to try again?”

“Oh, you are on.”

Chapter Text

No, the mother is the prime suspect. She has a motive and she hates her son’s guts. She acts wary around her family members as if she knows something. It’s her.”

“That is wrong, lieutenant,”

“Hank,” the man correct, “and no, I’m right.”

“Hank,” Connor corrects himself, “She wasn’t the one who killed her son. She’s concealing information from the family. That’s why she acts shifty and paranoid.”

“And do you have concrete evidence of this?”

“It’s an estimated guess,” Connor says, “the show withholds information from it's audience and makes it difficult for me to truly comprehend the situation. Besides, she has the behavior of a woman who is keeping secrets.”

“Yeah, like murdering someone?”

Connor looks over to Hank who sits on his right. Never before had Connor been so tempted to roll his eyes and it takes all of his willpower to prevent doing so. They sit on his couch, Sumo lying by Hank’s feet, while a modern crime show plays in front of them. Connor had started watching it after he had finished putting the kittens to sleep. Even now, they all lay huddled together in a fort of blankets and cushions Connor had prepared for them, and there they would stay until they woke. Once Connor found himself with nothing to do he had sat down and turned on the TV.

Hank had come from a day at the office and had collapsed next to Connor without a word. The two had watched together in silence, Connor sensing that Hank wasn’t in a particularly talkative mood until Hank had decided to share his opinion on who the murderer was.

Connor stays silent until the episode is nearly ending. He predicts it will end on a cliffhanger because nothing of value had been revealed other than showing the bonds of a few character relationships. Connor isn’t shocked to find that he’s right but of course the scene has to end by zooming into the mother unlocking her basement and disappearing inside. Connor didn’t want to be wrong about her, not when Hank had spruced up his competitive side.

“Now that was as suspicious as hell,” Hank begins and Connor is ready for him to start rubbing it in, “almost as if she’s murdered someone.”

“You seem insistent,” Connor notes, “that she is the murderer.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve seen her kind before. Kills their own son and then regrets it afterward. They aren’t aware of what they’ve lost until it’s gone.”

Hank is quiet after that and Connor takes his eyes off the screen to look at his friend. Connor knew there was something more to Hank’s words simply by the way Hank turns silent. It was unusual. Connor felt he could safely determine that Hank was in one of his moods again, the kind of mood that threw him into a fit of grieving for his lost son. It’s the mood that makes Hank get up from his spot on the couch and head to the fridge to grab a beer.

“Don’t you have work tomorrow?” Connor asks.

Hank grumbles, “I have work every day.” Then he takes a swing from his beer before settling in one of the chairs of the dining table.

Connor gets up from the couch and moves to the table.

He wasn’t going to let Hank do this to himself.

“I advise some rest instead of getting drunk,” Connor’s eyes point at the can held lazily in Hank’s hand.

“Not tired,” Hank answers simply, shrugging his shoulders slightly.

Connor does not know where to proceed from there. Instead, he sits in silence alongside Hank, watching as the man takes another swig of beer, before setting the can down on the table. Hank doesn’t seem to care all too much that Connor is sitting across from him, watching his every move, which was strange altogether because Hank was always piqued when Connor watched him too closely. He always expressed that he didn’t like Connor staring at him with such great intensity, as if he’s trying to look into his soul, but that didn’t necessarily stop Connor.

Hank sighs.

“I’m thinking he would’ve liked you,” he begins, “didn’t have very many friends to begin with.”

“That is… unfortunate,” Connor says.

Hank nods glumly.

“Yeah. That’s why he always looked to me. I regret not… spending more time with him.”

“I know my words alone won’t help much…” Connor trails off in his uncertainty, “but I believe Cole would be rather upset to see you like this.”

Hank stares.

He grabs his beer once more and his grip is tighter than before. Tense.

“You didn’t know him, you wouldn’t know,” Hank say.

“What child would want to see someone they love in such a defeated state?”

Connor says this genuinely with a sincerity that came from caring for the man in front of him.

Hank sighs, “None, I suppose, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.”

“I would think not,” Connor agrees.

So they sit in further silence, neither speaking.

Connor wonders what would have happened if Cole had lived. He wonders what Hank would be like now instead of the man who sits across from him, stricken with a deep sorrow.

But Cole wasn’t here and all Connor could do was make a silent promise to the deceased boy.

Don’t worry about your old man Cole.

I’ll take care of him.

Chapter Text

Connor doesn’t remember how he became like this. Something in the back of his mind rationalizes with him and tells him that it was the stray code he downloaded when shaking the hand of another android. Logically, he should be surfing his systems for that code, and terminate it before it did too much damage.

Except, Connor wasn’t thinking logically.

He couldn’t.

After shaking hands with the android, Connor wandered around the new home base for Markus’ people. They recently called it New Jericho since saying ’ex-cyberlife store’ wasn’t too catchy. He had arrived earlier that day to help set up a few new computers that the gang received for androids to organize and record the events of their people. It wasn’t too much of a hassle to help set them up but then he shakes some guy’s hand and things spiral down from there.

Connor is…

Emotional.

Extremely so.

Markus approaches him with the intent to bid him farewell. Connor can see it in his body language and in the way he interacts with everyone else. He waves his goodbyes, pats his friend’s backs and shoulders, and then he turns to Connor with the resolve to do the same to him. Connor would have politely received him and say goodbye as well.

Except he doesn’t do that because he feels so giddy.

So Connor does something that makes Markus stop in his tracks.

He gives him a wide toothy grin.

Markus raises a brow.

“Something got you happy?” Markus asks. Connor doesn’t know why he’s so put off. It couldn’t be his smile, could it? Sure it was still on his face, and sure it had appeared rather abruptly without warning.

“These people-...” Connor begins, gesturing towards those surrounding them inspecting their newly obtained computers, “they’re wonderful.”

Markus’ smiles, hesitantly.

“Um.. yeah…?” Markus is barely paying attention to anything Connor was saying. Instead, he was focusing on the pearly whites that Connor was proudly displaying in front of him. “Right well…” Markus’ familiar smile returns, “I’m going to head off now. I’ll see you later.”

Markus looks like he’s about to leave and Connor feels his system shake at the thought.

Connor reaches out and clutches his friend’s arms with a death grip.

Markus is so confused and it’s blatantly obvious when he says, “Um… Connor… what?”

Connor isn’t thinking.

He tugs Markus into his arms.

“Connor are you crying?”

“I’m just so sad,” Connor sobs into Markus’ shoulder, “please don’t go. It’s not the same without you.”

Markus opens his mouth but closes it just as quickly.

He was speechless.

Connor’s crying stops in just a few seconds and he pushes Markus away harshly. Markus, in his shock, stumbles back a few inches. That alone gets the attention of all the other androids in the room and North is already near Markus’ side to support him. She looks at him questioningly and the man’s face says it all. He’s in shock. Rightfully so, because something was off about Connor.

“You think it’s okay to play with my feelings? To make me feel like I’m one of you - it can’t be that easy. You want something don’t you?”

“Connor… buddy… something’s wrong with you,” Markus states calmly, slowly outstretching a hand as if to offer it in help, “how about we talk about this someplace else…? I mean, where everyone isn’t watching.”

Connor takes one look around and his face morphs from anger to confusion and then settles for a look of horror.

“I…” Connor takes a few steps back in fear.

“I… no…”

Connor takes a few steps back and watches as everyone is deathly still. None of them can predict his next move, not even Connor, and that absolutely terrified him. He just needed to go. He just needed to run away to figure things out because he didn’t have a clue as to what the hell was happening to him. That’s why he takes a few more steps back toward the door.

Markus, understanding Connor’s idea calls out to him, “Don’t!”

Connor doesn’t listen.

He turns sharply and swings the door open.

He shoots out with no intent to return.

“What was that?” North asks her sweetheart.

Markus shakes his head.

“I have no clue,” he murmurs, “but it can’t be anything good.”

Chapter Text

Unknown entity detected.

Running system diagnostics.

Connor hated the rain.

A few days ago he might have walked around in the rain. He might have loved the way it made his clothes cling to his skin or how the raindrops would trail down his cheeks. At the time there had been nothing more relaxing, nothing more charming, but now it was different.

Now he hates the rain.

It makes him feel miserable. He was already upset but the rain worsened his mood. That’s why instead of straight out sitting in the rain, Connor settles himself on a bus-stop bench. There he could see the sky clearly, just like his feelings, cluttered and grey with rain clouds. It was the evening so there weren’t many people out and the rain encouraged the humans to stay inside. Androids were still walking around though and there were a few humans with umbrellas out and about.

Connor’s fists tighten their hold on the fabric of his pants as he thinks of the humans. First, they are unintelligent, and incredibly emotional. They were needlessly cruel and Connor can think of several examples. There was the vivid memory of finding kittens in the rain, unsheltered from the weather around them, and Connor guesses it must have been a human that put them there. Who else would toss kittens out in the rain? Connor cannot think of many androids willing to do the same lest their morality clashed against his own.

Humans were also violent creatures.

He remembers Hank stumbling inside the house with bruises littering his skin after a bar-fight. Then he remembers when Hank tells him of the doctor who was too drunk to operate on his son. After that, Connor’s thoughts go to the representatives of Cyberlife who cared more for profit and refused to consort with the recently freed androids. Connor then thinks of the deviant cases he worked on. Humans abused their androids. He could see it in the Tracis who linger in New Jericho from time to time, to Kara who keeps her family close to her, and to the other androids who struggled to come to terms with the abuse they suffered.

Mean. Vicious. Cruel.

Humans were terrible.

Connor’s shoulders slump and he releases his grip on his pants.

Humans were also good.

Hank takes care of Connor. He defends his honor even when he didn’t need to. He let him house kittens even though he seemed not to like the idea so much. Then there was Carl, a man who accepted Markus as his son even though the very thought of doing so seemed preposterous. It makes Connor reconsider his own relations… and he wondered… if he and Hank could be considered that close.

But that alone seemed irrational.

Hank was mourning over the son lost to him. How could Connor dare to hope for something that wasn’t there?

Then there were those who supported the android cause. Connor had lost count of people who have treated him as an equal rather than a product used to work underneath a human.

Humanity.

Connor wakes from his thoughts when he feels a presence thunk down on the bench beside him. He lifts his eyes and watches the man sniff and rub his nose. He was pretending to look aloof but Connor knew better. Hank was anything but ‘aloof’ unless he was drunk. Hank was shockingly perceptive for someone who made an effort to make it look like he didn't care.

“Was hard to find you,” Hank begins, “and when I was just about to give up, I see some loner sulking out of the corner of my eye.”

Hank’s eyes connect with Connor’s and then drift to the dark red LED on the side of Connor’s head.

Distress.

“Connor,” Hank gets straight to the point, “what’s wrong?”

Connor doesn’t know.

He doesn’t know.

That’s why he doesn’t say anything.

Hank decides to do something else.

“So I met Markus today. He’s that android you hang out with, right?”

Connor may have been silent but he listens. He would always listen to Hank.

“He came straight to me when he learned something was wrong with you. Said I might be able to help you out. Some friend, huh?”

Hank takes another glance at Connor’s LED.

Still a warning red.

“Connor,” He says, unsure of himself, “I would like to help you but I don’t know how. I need you to tell me how to do it.”

Connor grasps at the fabric of his pants once more. Hank, seeing this, lifts his hand and cautiously places it on Connor’s.

Connor blinks.

After Connor makes no reaction to deny Hank, his friend clasps his hand between both of his own.

It makes… Connor feel... warm.

Connor relents.

“Something-...” Connor can’t find the words but he trudges onward, “something… it’s… something is inside of me… and I’m feeling things that aren’t… typical… nor rational…”

Even now his system was still trying to find what was wrong with him. All he knew was that some unknown entity was invading.

Connor suddenly feels a deep anger that he can’t control what’s happening to him.

Connor continues, no longer hesitant, “And it pisses me off that it thinks it can just waltz around and screw me over.”

Hank says nothing but his grip tightens.

“Sounds like a virus.”

Connor turns his eyes from the rain as Hank’s words dawn on him.

A virus.

It made sense-

Connor considers his options then. He had a malware detection program installed but it was of Cyberlife design. If he used it, they would know, but he didn’t want to be stuck as he was for the rest of his life.

Connor’s LED glows a stressful yellow.

“Connor?” Hank calls.

“I’m okay Hank. I think I know what to do.”

Hank nods.

“You do what you have to,” he says, “I’ll be right here.”

“Okay but… don’t panic. I may be… unresponsive to outside stimuli for a moment.”

Hank nods again and Connor is satisfied with his reaction.

Connor’s eyes flutter shut.

Malware detecting program initiated.

Scanning…

Virus detected. Activating removal process.

Virus removed.

When Connor opens his eyes, it is not to the rain.

“Connor?”

Connor didn’t know how long he had been out of it. Apparently long enough to find himself in Hank’s home with Hank hovering over him. His friend had a strange amount of concern in his eyes but Connor didn't find it unwelcome.

“Hank,” Connor tests out his name, afraid that his emotions may still be haywire.

“That’s me,” Hank laughs gently and it’s the most soothing sound Connor had ever heard before in his life. If only Hank could do it more. Connor wouldn’t mind too much if he did.

“You okay?” Hank finally questions.

Connor notices Hank’s hands never left his own even when he wakes in Hank’s home. They grasp his left hand tightly and Hank makes no effort to let go.

Connor allows a small smile to grace his lips.

“Yes, Hank,” Connor says, “I’m okay.”

Chapter Text

“I wanted your opinion on something.”

Markus doesn’t call Connor often. Connor stops washing dishes in Hank’s kitchen once he receives a call through the component on the side of his head. He half expects another invitation to another android gathering because that was what Markus typically called him for.

“What is it?” Connor asks.

”Could you come over? It’s a personal matter.”

Connor takes off the rubber gloves on his hands and inspects the unfinished dishes in the sink. Everything in his program was against leaving such an imperfect display of gross filth but Markus was his friend. The dishes could wait.

“Yeah. I think I can do that. Let me just put it through Hank first.”

”I know how attached you are to him. I wouldn’t tell you to do otherwise.”

“I am certainly not attached,” Connor puts himself on the defensive.

Markus laughs and says nothing else. He hangs up without a goodbye but Connor understands that it’s because it isn’t a goodbye. Why would Markus need to bid farewell when Connor was going to see him?

“Hank?” Connor calls out, searching around for the lieutenant with the hopes that he hadn’t walked out while Connor was on a phone call. Connor takes one look at Sumo who lays lazily in the corner of the living room and then he moves his gaze to the hallway where Hank’s room hid. Connor approaches Hank’s room, almost feeling as if he were an intruder, and notices how Hank had left his door slightly open. One peek through the crack gave Connor the knowledge that Hank was knocked out cold. The way he was sprawled across the bed-sheets was the outcome of a long day of work.

Connor, after seeing this, wisely decides to leave him alone.

He grabs his coat from the coat hanger near the door and slides his arms in the sleeves.

It takes hardly any time to catch a bus and reach Markus’ house.

Markus welcomes him with open arms.

“Connor! Didn’t think you’d be back at my house so soon, huh?”

“Am I that predictable?”

Markus laughs, “No, actually, but that’s what I like about you.”

Connor gives Markus a small smile and allows the android to escort him into the dining room. He had grown familiar with the room after the last time he had visited. This time, he didn’t feel too out of place, and he wasn’t surrounded by other people.

Connor settles himself in a chair and Markus does the same across from him.

His smile falls and his face takes a serious turn.

“What I’m about to ask you is fairly personal and extremely important.”

Connor feels his emotions take a twist. What could be so important to make Markus turn as serious as he was now? He looked just like he did during his deviant leader days and that look alone took Connor back in time to when he held a gun up to his face. He remembers how calm Markus was even when he was facing danger. This was the same look he had then.

“North and I have been together for a while…”

Connor tilts his head.

Markus had sounded as if a huge crisis was happening. What did this have to do with anything?

“If she says yes… well…” Markus rubs at his nose, cheeks flush in embarrassment.

“What?” Connor doesn’t understand what Markus is hinting at.

“I’m thinking of proposing to North,” Markus finally musters up the courage to say it outright, “and… if she says yes… well… would you be my best man? I know it’s kind of early but-... yeah.”

Connor blinks.

“But aren’t weddings human traditions?”

“Weddings are the demonstration of a close bond,” Markus explains, “so it’s not limited to humans.”

“Can androids even have lawful weddings?”

“They can now,” Markus looks smug when he says it, “ever since the android liberation, a lot of laws have been passed for the rights of androids. But enough about that - just tell me your answer - I’m a bit impatient.”

Connor, in any other circumstances, would have said no. However, Markus was his friend, and Connor felt he owed him a display of his adoration for him. That’s why he regards his friend fondly and says, “If you insist, I suppose I must.”

Markus’ grin is infectious.

“Great. This is, great,” Markus can’t contain his excitement, “Carl! Carl! Excuse me for one second, Connor.”

Markus stands from his chair and rushes out of the dining room and up the stairs. Connor can hear his stomps on the stairs from where he sits and Connor just laughs.

Chapter Text

Connor had adopted many hobbies to pass the time. He discarded the ones that he found no interest but there were some things he kept around. Even now, he crouches in the backyard and sees the efforts of picking up gardening. Everything in the garden bed he had lined close to the fence was beginning to show little green sprouts. Although there was still a lot more work to be done, Connor felt that he could temporarily satisfied with the growth of his cute little carrots. He feels warm when he takes in their appearance and considers staying out all day to watch their slow growth.

“Connor!”

Perhaps not.

Connor hears Hank call him from outside. His voice suggests that he is in stress.

Connor picks himself up from his crouch and follows Hank’s mangled sounds. Once he sees Hank, Connor isn’t too worried about the man anymore, because Hank did not look like his life was in peril.

“Get your damned kittens off of me!”

Connor suppresses the urge to snort.

“They like you,” Connor observes. He watches the kittens climb up Hank’s shirt and remembers how withdrawn they were when he first brought them in. Now they were much more comfortable after Connor being cleaned up and being fed.

“Well I don’t like them, so a little help would be appreciated,” Hank says, scowling.

“Why can’t you take them off yourself?” Connor asks because it would be simple to do so. All Hank would have to do is pluck them off and set them on the floor.

“You don’t think I’ve already tried?” Hank groans. “I put them down and they just find me again and climb up my pants!”

Connor takes pity on his friend and gives a low chuckle. He grabs hold of the mewling kittens that had left Hank’s shift full of holes because of their unforgiving claws and bundles them close to his chest. Their mewling did not cease.

“What are you going to do with them anyway?” Hank asks, turning on the television.

“I’m going to find them homes,” Connor says but he doesn’t know how to go about it. Hank didn’t need to know that though.

“Good because they can’t stay here,” Hank sniffs. “I don’t need my workload of taking care of both you and Sumo increase by four.”

Connor stares at the lieutenant.

The last thing he recalled regarding his welfare and Sumo’s… well… Connor had been taking care of all Sumo’s needs. Hank hadn’t done anything. Admittedly, he might not have done anything because Connor was doing everything, but it was definitely Connor doing all of the caretaking.

Connor decides not to say anything as Hank continues to watch the television. He retreats to the kitten’s new cardboard box and settles them all in. He had put a blanket in there earlier so that they wouldn’t be cold. They seemed to take a liking to it. They cuddled into it every time he plopped them back into the box.

“Sorry guys,” Connor whispers, “Hank is a grumpy man, immune to all things cute.”

“I heard that!” Hank says loud enough for Connor to hear.

Connor ignores him and tucks the kittens in.

He retreats back to the backyard to his garden to tend to all that he can. By the time it’s nightfall, he realizes he had stayed out for far too long, and returned to the living room where he meets a strange sight. Hank was asleep on the couch, head arched backward over the edge of the couch, snoring. That wasn’t what was strange. What was strange were the kittens cuddled together in his lap, silent, and asleep.

Connor raises a brow.

Did Hank not already express his distaste for the kittens?

How did this come to pass?

“I knew you were a softy,” Connor whispers to no one but himself.

Chapter Text

There will always be misunderstandings. Misconceptions. Connor knew that. He knows that even now, when he stands with a bullet wound in his shoulder, facing two androids who he can safely assume are strongly anti-Cyberlife. When they had confronted him it was in a cowardly fashion. They said they had something to ask of him and he had politely agreed to hear what they had to say. It was after they escorted him out into an abandoned alleyway that Connor knew this wasn't an ordinary talk. His police training, or programming at least, told him this was a common place for crimes to happen.

“Are you the deviant hunter?” They had asked.

Connor was honest.

One of them, an AC700 model (designed to aid in the efforts of exercise), gives him a sharp cold look. His eyes pierce through Connor and his bullet follows after. Connor is quick though. What was intended to be a shot through the heart quickly became a wound in his shoulder. The AC700 is not happy but he doesn’t shoot again. Maybe it’s because he wants more out of Connor. Maybe.

“We don’t want Cyberlife rot in our community,” the AC700 says, looking to his partner for confirmation. The AP400 nods. That is all the AC700 needs to press on, “and to think you’d have to guts to linger around here after what you’ve done to our people. You’ve lead some of them to their deaths!”

Connor takes his eyes off of his wound and looks at the opposing androids.

“You are mistaken,” he says, calm, “I defected from Cyberlife.”

“Sweet lies,” the AP400 speaks up, “he didn't defect. He’s still working for them! We will not be deceived.”

The AC700 laughs coldly, “We’ll be doing Markus a favor! He doesn’t need a traitor on his side!”

Connor makes no moves as the AC700 readies his gun.

He aims for Connor’s head.

“You can’t whisper sweet nothings into our leader’s head anymore,” the android aiming the gun at Connor lowers his voice, “for it is the will of our people that you die here in this alley alongside the rest of the trash.”

Connor readies himself but makes no movement. One move means the android will pull the trigger. However, not moving meant accepting his death, and Connor was not going to die today. There were things he still had to do, people he cared about. He couldn’t leave Hank alone, couldn’t let Markus pick another best man, and leave the kittens in Hank’s care. How chaotic would that be?

Connor jumps to the side.

A gunshot rings out.

It grazes his cheek.

He gets ready to duck behind a metal trash bin but the unpredictable takes place.

The emergency staircase that hangs above all of their heads had been hiding a familiar android. North drops down on them, landing on the AC700. The AC700 drops his gun out of shock and the AP400 is quick to act when attempting to retrieve it. North doesn’t bother pursuing the other android, not when Connor feels someone push past him, and kicks the AP400 away from the object of interest.

Simon.

A hand lands on his shoulder.

Joshua.

“Connor, you need medical treatment!” He says, noticing the bullet wound in his shoulder.

Connor simply stares.

These people… they had no reason to step in to save them.

He felt…

Gratitude.

And shame.

That he would need to be saved by these people who he had almost destroyed in his revealing of their base. That they would be so forgiving. It is beyond him.

“I’m fine,” Connor assures, “nothing I can’t handle.”

He’s had worse before. The loss of blood is a bit worrying but he doesn’t want to bring it up to his companions. They didn’t deserve the worry.

Josh looks skeptical and says nothing.

North calls out, distracting the both of them from their conversation, “We saw the way they were giving you shifty looks throughout the counseling meeting, Connor,” she sneers at the android beneath her, “and knew something was up when you left with them.”

Simon then says next, “Markus had us follow you. If he left it would have caused a ruckus. Regardless, we didn’t think things would escalate so quickly. My apologies for not intervening sooner.”

“You are not my keeper,” Connor assures Simon, “you need not feel responsible.”

North and Simon escort both offending androids back to Markus and Josh follows after them. Connor lingers behind for a moment before deciding that going home was his best option.

Josh tells his friends, “I think we forgot something…” and fails to remember Connor bleeding wound. That’s why Connor arrives at Hank’s house, blood was seeping all over his uniform, and the man looked immediately sober despite having a half-empty bottle of alcohol in his hand.

Hank had to do a double-take.

“Connor?” The bottle crashes to the floor, forgotten, and Hank rushes to him.

“Hank,” Connor says, exhausted.

He could really use a nap right now…

Except androids didn’t need naps.

Hank grabs Connor by the arm and pushes him on the couch. Connor wisely doesn’t make any effort to move.

Hank tears Connor’s shirt off in a hurry and Connor doesn’t bother getting mad at him.

That was his favorite, and only, shirt.

“How the hell did this happen?” Hank asks, looking at the bleeding wound.

“I was shot.”

Hank groans, “And you didn’t think to go to a repair shop??”

“It is… difficult to… think,” Connor admits.

Hank’s face morphs into one of worry. It is an expression that does not belong on Hank’s face. It looked… so raw…

“I’ll call someone to come over,” Hank tells him, “I can’t handle all this tech stuff. I don’t know the first thing about care for androids.”

Connor hums in response.

“I can’t let you anywhere out of my sight, can I?” Hank sighs in exasperation. Connor doesn't even realize Hank is clutching at his hand like a lifeline. It was pure unfiltered emotion on Hank’s part.

“You… know… you love me…” Connor slurs.

Hank’s brows crease in concern.

“If only you were wrong,” Hank’s voice is quiet, “then I wouldn’t be feeling the way I am now.”

Connor chuckles.

“You know - people say Kamski is the father of all androids-...” Connor begins.

“I don’t see how this has anything to do with you bleeding out on my couch,” Hank deadpans.

Connor ignores him and repeats, “People say Kamski is the father of all androids but…” Connor looks at Hank fondly, “I think… you’re a better dad…”

Hank stares at Connor blankly.

“Okay, you’re out of it,” he decides.

Connor waves his free hand in the air in a drunken manner, “No, no, I’m fine.” He claims this and tries to sit up. Hank is quick to act and pushes him back down.

“Stop moving!” He growls.

Connor wrinkles his nose in distaste.

“I want to get up,” he whines.

Hank rolls his eyes as Connor tries once more to get up. He pushes him back down again.

Connor lets out another low whine even while Hank pulls up his phone to call someone. Connor can’t remember who.

Hank finishes as quickly as he starts.

“He’s on his way,” Hank tells Connor.

Connor laughs good-naturedly, “Thanks, dad.”

Hank is silent as Connor’s eyes begin to close. His eyelids shutter, clear evidence that Connor was trying to stay awake, but he ultimately fails.

Hank’s grasp on his hand grows tighter.

Connor knows nothing.

Chapter Text

“Fine-... blue…”

Connor hears words, clips of things, and it takes him a moment to get his systems to boot up. Full words soon became audible which proved that he was still functioning. His eyes flicker open and he examines his surroundings. One look tells him that he’s in Cole’s room and the fabric underneath him tells him that he’s on Cole’s bed.

Cole’s room was clearly the room of a child. There was a toy box pushed into one of the corners, comics stacked up in Cole’s old bookshelf, and other silly trinkets were lying around. Hank probably left this place exactly as Cole had left it…

Then Connor focuses on the two people conversing with one another. They stand a few inches from Cole's bed, talking about his condition, and then the stranger hands Hank a package of blue blood. Connor wracks his memory for any clue as to how he came to be here and remembers being in a strange drowsy stupor.

He had called Hank dad.

Connor suppresses the urge to bury his face into his hands.

Instead, Connor makes the effort to get up and finds himself feeling a lot better than earlier. The bullet in his body had been removed and placed on Cole’s nightstand.

“Now, until you get him into a repair shop, I would suggest keeping a watch on him especially if he starts acting funky. That’s why I want you to save up to get him there.”

“What do you mean funky,” Hank can’t believe his ears, “who even says that anymore?”

The mechanic ignores him.

“I did what I could on short notice. Repairs are expensive. Unless you think you can do it yourself then I would suggest getting him into a repair shop.”

“And leave him there?”

“Yes. Is there something wrong with that?”

Hank scowls and makes a move that suggests he will keep talking but his eyes turn to Connor. Hank’s scowl grows deeper once he sees Connor is up again.

“I’ll be heading out,” the mechanic says, “it looks like you two have some stuff to work out.”

The mechanic does as he said and grabs his tools from the bag placed next to Cole’s door. He gives one last look to his customers before leaving the room altogether.

Hank explodes.

“Connor! You come home, bleed all over my couch, and I don’t even have the money to get you into a repair shop!”

Connor is silent as Hank yells at him.

“How did you get shot in the first place!? What’d you do to have this happen to you, huh!?”

Hank falls quiet even though he is still fuming. Connor understands that this is his clue to explain himself, and so he does by saying, “I was attending a counseling gathering with Markus and other androids. We prepared a place where androids can talk about their problems and connect with others. I then left the building to follow two androids who said they had a question for me. The androids assumed falsely that I was still apart of Cyberlife.”

Hank sighs in exasperation and collapses on the side of Connor’s bed. His back was facing Connor now so the android couldn’t determine what Hank was feeling.

“Only you, Connor,” the man sounds so tired, “now I can’t let you out of the house.”

Connor blinks.

“What?”

“I can’t let you out of the house-... the man who took a look at you said something would be… ‘funky’...” Hank snorts, “with you.”

Connor tilts his head.

“What does he mean by that?”

“Hell if I know,” Hank shakes his head.

Connor says, “but what if I receive a response from the police department for a position?”

Hank shrugs.

Connor stares.

“I dunno’...” he sniffs, “I’d probably have to go with you.”

“What if Markus needs me?” Connor asks next.

“Markus can wait,” Hank assures.

“But he-...” Connor remembers how Markus had made him his best man for a wedding that wasn’t even going to happen for a while. That’s why he stops himself. Hopefully, he would be back and running in perfect condition when the time arrived.

“But he what?”

“Nothing. I resolved my own question.”

“Whatever you say,” Hank doesn’t bother pressing on it. He makes a move to stand back up and face Connor. For a moment the two regard each other and then Hank raises his hand. Connor wouldn’t find it far-fetched for Hank to use the same hand to knock him upside the head but he is pleasantly surprised that he does no such thing.

Hank ruffles Connor’s hair fondly.

“You scared me, kid,” he admits and he doesn’t say anymore after that.

Connor watches him leave.

Chapter Text

“Could spruce the place up a bit,” Hank suggests as he observes Cole’s room. Connor stands there next to him, looking at the blue paint on the walls, and then to the dusty ceiling fan hovering over both of their heads. The only feeling Connor had was the kind that made him feel like a trespasser.

“I don’t understand,” Connor admits.

“I’m saying this can be your room from now on,” Hank tells him slowly as if explaining to a child.

Connor immediately starts, “But this is Cole’s room.”

“Maybe, but he’s…” Hank trails off, swallowing air, “he’s not living here anymore and I’m not letting you stay on my couch.”

“You do understand that androids do not require sleep?” Connor asks. He didn’t need a room let alone a bed. He was made to function 24/7 and the only times he really ‘slept’ was during mandatory maintenance at Cyberlife. “Therefore I would have no use for this room.” He explains this but even he is doubtful of his own words. A room would be useful for many reasons. He would have a place to call his own and a private area where he could seclude himself. He’d also have a place to put the things he collects because he couldn’t just keep stuffing things in the garage forever.

“Connor,” Hank says in a no-nonsense tone, “just take the damn room.”

Hank leaves no room for argument by leaving the room. Connor is left dumb-founded in his spot because, firstly, he didn’t know where to start. He knew this room had a sentimental value to Hank but for the man to give it away so freely was downright strange. Yet, who is he to argue with Hank’s wishes? Connor just hoped he wouldn’t soon regret it. He can imagine Hank storming back in and demanding Connor leave because of the significance of the room he stood in.

This was Cole’s room.

Not Connor’s room.

This room had not been used in years. On habit, Connor begins to investigate, and scans the room. He sees the dust on the bookshelves, on the windowsill, and even on the bed frame.

Connor shifts in his place, unsure of what to do next, but his mind tells him the next objective is to confront Hank about this again. He needed to tell him that this was wrong. Even though Connor had already observed that Hank was not intoxicated in any way upon gifting the room to him, he felt that something had to be off about him. This couldn’t have been something he’d be able to give away so easily.

Connor decides to convey this through Hank’s dinner. He had cooked meatloaf today for Hank, something he had intended to do anyway because today was an important day.

“I believe you made a mistake in granting me Cole’s room,” Connor begins and Hanks puts his fork down in his annoyance.

“Connor, that’s your room. I don’t want to hear any more about it.”

Connor stresses, “But that room holds a meaning to you.”

Hank sighs.

“Look, Connor, I’ll never forget my son. That was my boy. I kept his room untouched because it hurt just to look at it. Believe me, it’s a good thing you’ll be taking it up because now it won’t be a painful reminder.” Hank looks like he’s struggling while explaining it all to Connor. This was taking a toll on him emotionally and Connor…? Connor had brought it up. That’s why he feels a tad bit guilty and decides a change of subject is in order.

“I thought I could do something for you today,” Connor hesitates, unsure if he should go through with what he’s about to say, “and I know you don’t have a son anymore but… happy Father’s Day.”

Hank stares at Connor as if he had just grown two heads.

“What about you?” Hank asks.

Connor blinks.

“What about me?”

“Nevermind,” Hank shakes his head and picks up his fork again. He starts eating the meatloaf once more, eager to be rid of his hunger. He tosses his plate into the sink when he’s done. “Forget I said anything.”

“I apologize if I have somehow insulted you, Hank,” Connor says after he observes Hank’s sudden change in mood. He was grumpier for some reason. Connor couldn’t fathom as to why. It would be reasonable to think that it was because of the reminder of his son but there was something else to it that Connor couldn’t see.

Hank turns from the sink and considers Connor for a moment.

“Thanks,” he says.

Connor watches as Hank withdraws to his room.

Connor wonders what Hank could have thanked him for. It could have been for the apology, for the well-wishes, or maybe it was because of something else in their conversation.

Sometimes Connor wants to know what Hank is thinking in that mind of his. Maybe he would, one day.