”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?”
Because he certainly wasn’t.
“You’re here, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but I can’t stay here forever,” Connor states matter-of-factly.
“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?”
“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.
“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?”
“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.”
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.
Also posting this on my Tumblr: Brascul under the blog name Salutation, Fellow Fangirls, so no it is not stolen.
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?”
“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.”
At the ending, when Hank starts tugging on Connor's arm, I had the vision of a mother pulling her child by the ear. It was greatly amusing.
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.”
“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.
I love Kara with all my heart. However, in this story timeline, Kara was pursued by Connor. (When she crosses the road through dangerous traffic) Thus she does not trust nor particularly like him.
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.
“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.
That gave Connor the oddest question he never thought he would have until his deviancy.
Can androids have families?
Can androids have family? Why, yes they can! Connor just has to figure that out for himself.
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.
Occasionally answer the summons of Markus.
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.
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.”
“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?”
“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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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…”
Connor shuffles on his feet.
A mewl answers for him.
“What was that?”
“Nothing, lieutenant,” Connor begins but Hank is already across the room. The man grabs Connor’s arm and Connor hesitates.
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.”
Guys! I'm super excited! I swear I had like 300 kudos a minute ago but holy mackarel. I come back and check and it's over 600 kudos?? I am so honored! I am filled with gratitude. Thank you, sincerely! For those who are new to the party, welcome! I update this story daily. :)
“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.”
“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’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.
Connor smiles playfully.
“Want to try again?”
“Oh, you are on.”
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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 called 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.
After Connor makes no reaction to deny Hank, his friend clasps his hand between both of his own.
It makes… Connor feel... warm.
“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.
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.”
“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.
Virus detected. Activating removal process.
When Connor opens his eyes, it is not to the rain.
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.”
“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.”
“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.
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 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.
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.
A hand lands on his shoulder.
“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.
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.”
“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.
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.
“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.”
“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?”
“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.
Hello! Now as you may know, I update daily, but yesterday I didn't update! There's a small part of my readers who follow my Tumblr @Brascul who I've already explained it to but I couldn't do so here. (since there's not really any way I can communicate to my readers on AO3) Essentially I was just taking a break and spending some time with my own father. My father is a huge inspiration for dad!Hank and I have a lot of experiences to drive from because of him.
Also thanks for the inspiration! You know who you are. ;)
“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.”
“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.
“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.
“Mercury,” Connor calls affectionately, stroking the kitten on the floor in front of him with two fingers. The kitten, a bright orange and white, paid little attention to Connor. Its attention was focused on the cat toy that Hank had brought home. (Connor had asked him why he had brought him home but Hank refused to answer truthfully. Said something about keeping them occupied instead of bothering him.)
He had named all of the kittens after planets. Planets which have been named after Roman gods. Mercury was the runt of the litter, being entertained with its new mouse toy with a bundle of feathers instead of a tail. The others, colors varying from orange to white, were wrestling with one another. (Except for the fourth which was testing Sumo’s patience) Connor, from simply observing them, could tell that they were getting bigger. Their growth was a reminder that he needed to find them a home.
His thoughts on finding the kittens a new home is interrupted when he hears a knock on the door. Hank wasn’t home so Connor debated on whether it would be wise to answer or not. The person knocking could be knocking with the intent of speaking to Hank. However, if that was the case, it would be rude to not answer and tell them that Hank wasn’t home. Then again, it should be obvious Hank isn’t home because his car isn’t in the driveway.
Connor answers the door.
He is greeted with a face of relief.
“Connor! You’re okay!”
Connor didn’t remember ever telling Markus where he lived. Somehow, the deviant leader had found him and was now standing on Hank’s front porch.
He doesn’t anticipate to be pulled into Markus’ arms for a few seconds. The android gives Connor a few friendly pats on the back before releasing him.
“Markus,” Connor says, “I did not anticipate your visit.”
“Right, didn’t call ahead, but I was a bit too worried to think straight.”
“You were worried?”
Markus nods, “Of course! I thought you were dead! If not dead, then critically injured. Joshua told me that he had forgotten you were bleeding out. We raced to see if you were still there in the alleyway and once we discovered you weren’t there… we trailed your blood to the bus stop. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if you were okay in person.”
Connor doesn’t want to leave Markus standing outside. Not when Markus had so easily allowed Connor into his own home multiple times. That’s why Connor opens the door and gestures inside before saying, “Why don’t you come inside?”
“Thanks,” Markus says, stepping into the house. His eyes scan his surroundings and take in everything he sees.
“Cozy place,” he notes.
“Not nearly as spacious as yours, I’m afraid,” Connor points out, settling himself in a chair next to the dining table. He positions the chair so that he can have a clear view of Markus because the android was wandering around the room to observe any objects that caught his interest.
“It’s different,” Markus agrees, “but there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Markus moves to walk around the couch and Connor stretches out his hand in a sudden panic. “Stop!”
Markus quirks a brow but does as commanded.
Connor gestures toward the floor.
Markus looks at the kittens grouped together on the floor and laughs nervously, “Oh, that was rather stupid of me…” Markus crouches down and eyes the kittens, “where these little critters pop up from?”
Connor explains, “They were strays. I took them in.”
Markus lifts his chin to smile at Connor, who now stands across from him. “You have a bleeding heart, Connor,” Markus teases, “always going at of your way to take care of things that aren’t your responsibility.” Markus’s face turns solemn and his gaze on Connor sharpens, “And it might just do more than get you shot in the shoulder. Those two androids that you followed? They were misguided. They thought they were doing something on my behalf, something I didn’t ask for, and I have no doubts that there are others like them out there. I need you to be careful.” Markus pauses and then adds,” For me.”
Connor returns Markus’ sharp gaze and nods once, “Okay. I can do that.”
Markus’ stiff expression falls and his smile returns.
“Now who are these little fellows?”
Connor and Markus converse a little while longer before Markus’ father calls him home. Markus stands up, Mars cuddled into one of his arms, and Connor gets the faintest idea that maybe Markus wanted a kitten. So, with a lot of pushing and convincing, Markus leaves the house with a kitten in his arm. Markus had told Connor he wasn’t so sure what Carl would think but Connor had urged him to take Mars anyway. Markus had finally shrugged, said something along the lines of ‘why the hell not?’ and left with Mars in tow.
He had a feeling that Markus would take good care of Mars. He just hoped his feeling wasn’t… misguided.
Like those androids.
Connor had a lot to think about.
“You needed new clothes anyway.”
Connor had been dragged out of the house on a shopping trip with Hank. Hank, though not exactly the shopping type, didn’t like had Connor had only one pair of clothes. That pair was the one Cyberlife had gifted him upon his creation. That’s why they ended up visiting several clothing stores with Hank making Connor try out multiple amounts of… fashion horrors. Hank’s sense of fashion was much different than Connor’s own. Connor liked the professional and sharp looking clothes while Hank…? Well, let’s just say he didn’t really have a sense for those kinds of things.
Connor ended up carrying several bags stuffed with clothes bought from thrift stores until Hank finds something that catches his eye. A music shop filled with classics. Once Hank saw the place, he didn’t think twice and told Connor to wait outside.
Connor, having lost Hank’s companionship, gains the company of another.
An elderly woman drops her bags onto the floor and gives out a weary sigh. She takes one glance at Connor and once she sees his gaze on her own… she smiles. Connor returns the smile politely and that gives her enough of an incentive to strike up a conversation.
“Shopping trip?” She observes the bags in his hands.
Connor nods, “Yes. New clothes.”
She smiles knowingly.
“Androids don’t have many clothes to begin with.”
Connor shrugs, “Extra uniforms are provided upon the purchase of androids, at least, they were originally.”
“My sister had an android before they were liberated” the elderly woman begins, “she liked to dress her up in the clothes she made for her. I always thought she looked at her android like a living doll. How wrong I was. She simply adored her.”
Connor’s eyes waver on the elderly woman’s form as her own eyes glazed over in her memories.
“My sister is gone now.”
Connor says quietly, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
The woman simply smiles.
“Nothing could be done,” she sighs, stretching out her arms, and then straightening her back, “although I would have liked to see that android of hers one last time. I’d like to know what happened to the poor thing.”
“It’s a small world,” Connor points out.
“A small world that feels far too large,” the woman says.
Connor watches the elderly woman thoughtfully and barely notices Hank escape the music shop.
“Alright, I’m finished. We can head home,” Hank says but he stops when he sees Connor engaged in eye-contact with a stranger. Hank casually approaches Connor, hands stuck in his pockets, and he observes the woman up and down.
The woman smiles, once more, kindly.
“Hello,” she says, her mouth unfiltered as she continues, “you have a lovely son.”
Connor doesn’t drink water, but if he did, he would have sputtered it all out.
Connor turns to gauge Hank’s reaction and finds the man unmoving. He didn’t seem phased at all and was not nearly as bothered as Connor was.
“Lovely?” Hank scoffs, “Not a word I’d use to call him. He’s more of a pain in the back.”
Connor’s eyes widen.
He didn’t deny it.
“Hank-” he starts but he doesn’t have the opportunity to finish. Not when Hank’s hand reaches up to ruffle his hair roughly, thoroughly destroying its well-groomed form. Connor is horrified at the action and reaches his hands up to his hair. He had expected Hank to retrieve his hand after he was done ruffling it but instead it stays there on his head as if it belonged there.
The woman laughs.
“Well, I suppose I mustn't keep you,” the woman reaches down to pick up her bags.
“Do you need any assistance?” Connor asks.
“Oh no. Thank you for the offer, though.” The woman adjusts the bags on her wrist so that they are in a more comfortable position. “Perhaps I might see you again. It is… as you say… a small world.”
Connor and Hank watch as the lady retreats elsewhere.
“Nice lady,” Hank says.
“Yes…” Connor trails off, thoughts still on recent events.
Hank rolls his eyes.
“Don’t think too hard on it, kid.”
Hank smiles crookedly, “I can read you like a book. Don’t think too hard about what she said.”
“But I’m not your son and I don’t know why you didn’t make that clear to her,” Connor’s confusion is laced into his voice.
“Use your head,” is Hank’s only reply.
Hank had let Connor leave the house with great reluctance. Connor promised that he would come straight back home and that was the line that made Hank relent his firm position on keeping Connor home. Ever since the last incident, the mechanic had warned them of something else that might happen, but they still didn’t know what that thing was. It was because of this that Hank was restraining Connor from going outside to do anything productive. Yet, when he receives a call from North that they’re holding another android-centric gathering he feels that he needs to attend. That’s why he grabbed a hold of some of the new clothes Hank had bought him and put on one of the sharper suits. He didn’t want to look like a slouch in front of his people.
After a lot of persisting, he was finally released into the world. He took the next bus to New Jericho and arrived in fifteen minutes. Luckily, events hadn’t started yet, and so Connor was merely confronted with androids socializing with one another. He could hear hints of some of their conversations and most of them seemed to be on friendly terms. Connor was pleased to see such after knowing Markus’ intentions for these gatherings. Markus wanted these people to make connections. They seemed to be doing exactly that.
Speaking of Markus.
Where was he?
“No longer on house-arrest, Connor?” A teasing voice stems from his right. All Connor has to do is turn his head to see North’s light-hearted gaze. “We feared you would never be released into your natural habitat again.”
“My natural habitat?”
“Yes. The outside world. Spooky.” North chuckles lightly.
Connor might have taken a defensive stand to that but instead, he finds the corner of his lips quirking upward. He understood friendly banter when he saw it, or at least, recently anyway. He might be one of Cyberlife’s best models in a century, designed to see the unseen, but they didn’t exactly program him with all the social abilities to make friends. They probably didn’t think that was necessary.
“Glad to see you’re here,” North finally settles, “we feel a lot more capable of handling all of these androids when you’re around just in case of a violent outbreak. From Markus, I’ve come to the understanding that you have some fighting abilities woven into your code.”
“Just enough to defend me and others,” Connor explains, “which proved to be useful in certain situations.”
“Yet, you didn’t make the effort to defend yourself before we captured those two androids that threatened you,” North observes.
Connor, against his character, shrugs slightly and continues, “I did dodge a bullet. I just didn’t want to hurt them. Not only would it hurt my good standing with deviants but it would have brought into question my loyalty to Markus.”
North nods, “I suppose I can see it that way but…” her eyes narrow and her expression hardens, “don’t let reputation keep you back from doing something that could save your life.”
“Alright,” Connor agrees, “but I will remind you that I did what I thought was best in that situation.”
North’s face relaxes and she nods in her satisfaction. She makes a move that suggests she’s about to leave his presence but Connor stops her with a question.
“Do you know where Markus is?”
“Out back,” Is North’s only reply before she leaves Connor to talk to Simon who sits away from the crowd.
Connor investigates the back of New Jericho and leaves the ex-Cyberlife store to the back alley. He looks for Markus’ form and sees him hunched over in thought. He was sitting on the ground cross-legged, something that Connor thinks is not very good for his clothes since the ground was filthy. Even after that observation, Connor ignores the proper android inside his head that tells him not to sit on the ground, and he proceeds to sit next to Markus.
Markus has a hand on his face and he peeks through his fingers to see who had approached him. Once he sees it’s Connor, he closes his eyes once more and returns to his thoughts.
Connor notices how quiet Markus is and is reminded of the hardened deviant leader he had encountered a few months ago. Connor had his suspicions that Markus was created to lead. No one knew what he was originally designed to do or what Kamski had in mind for him. All Connor knew was that Markus had a natural ability to lead others and they often did so without question. However, there were times like these that Connor understands Markus isn’t an all-mighty immortal. He was also just another thing with troubles. Troubles that brought him outside to sit on the ground and brood.
So Connor asks the question they both know he’s going to ask.
“Didn’t see you inside. Is something the matter?”
Connor listens to Markus heave out a large sigh.
“Just have a lot on my mind,” he says.
Connor presses, “Maybe I can help?”
Markus shakes his head, “No. I don’t think you can. It’s family problems.”
Connor tilts his head in curiosity. Markus had displayed an excellent bond with his father, Carl, so he wondered what exactly could have happened? It was unlikely they held an argument. Perhaps, Carl had something happen to him? That would explain Markus’ mood.
Markus, once more, peeks up at Connor. Once he sees that Connor does not move he gives out another heavy sigh.
“My brother… or… at least… well… I’m not sure if I can call him that but… we share the same dad. I guess that means he’s my brother.” Markus pauses for a few seconds before continuing, “We’ve never gotten along. I especially have been wary of his presence after… a few… uncomfortable events.”
Connor listens silently. His eyes that lingered over Markus’ form now were on the wall in front of him.
Markus then says, “I don’t know what… or how… to proceed from here. He already made it clear he doesn’t like me.”
Markus lifts his head from his hands and throws his head back to look at the cloudy evening sky.
“Why does having a family bring so many difficulties?”
Connor doesn’t know why he thinks of Hank.
“I do not know, Markus.”
Markus doesn’t say anything after that. He and Connor both sit in a comfortable silence. The only sounds they could hear was that of the muffled chatter inside and of the wind that seeped into the alleyway. Connor takes one look at Markus and sees the sullen expression in his features. Connor wants nothing more than to lift his friend’s spirits so he decides to do something Markus does to him all the time. Connor’s hand grabs hold of Markus’ shoulder and he gives his friend a reassuring squeeze.
“But we have gone through hell and back,” Connor tells him, “We will prevail.”
Markus looks at his friend for a good solid minute before a small smile forms on his lips.
“Prevail, we shall.”
And though Markus’ problem wasn’t resolved the two androids had come to a shared silent conclusion.
Hold on just a little while longer.
Everything will be alright.
Connor’s day had been fairly normal. He tended to his garden, cared for the kittens, and took Sumo on his walks. He had prepared dinner for Hank - asparagus and seasoned potatoes alongside a serving of salmon - and he had made some progress tidying up in Cole’s room. (The boy’s room was unbearably dusty and Connor couldn’t hold himself back.) Hank had come home earlier than usual, eating dinner quickly, and retreating to his room. Connor didn’t think too hard about it and simply took care of the dishes left in the sink.
Ever since he had become a resident of Hank’s household he found himself doing a lot of the daily chores. Since Hank didn’t usually eat in, Connor made dinner so that he wouldn’t have to eat out, and he usually cleaned up the dishes that were left behind. Besides that, Connor felt that he had to do something while he was stuck in this house, so there was nothing wrong with keeping busy. He didn’t have a job because he still wasn’t hearing back from the Detroit police department. Connor honestly couldn’t find himself applying to anything else because police work was in his code. The only other option he considered was becoming a private detective.
Now that was a thought.
Connor returns to Cole’s room in his mulling and sits on the side of the mattress tucked into the corner.
The voice that calls him isn’t his own. He hears it vibrate in his head, just like it might sound when someone called him.
Connor closes his eyes.
When he opens them he’s in a different place. He’s in a familiar setting, something that he thought was once quite beautiful until Amanda tainted it with her ulterior motives. It wasn’t as chaotic as he last remembered it. It wasn’t snowing, the water wasn’t frozen, and he thinks that’s because he’s no longer as conflicted as he once was. He broke free from Cyberlife. It was set in stone. Despite that, his surrounding were quite different and were not as orderly as it once was. Everything was… free. Just like him.
“It has been a while, Connor,” Amanda says. She stands with a sun umbrella over her head, a picture of poise and elegance. “Had you not used one of our programs, I wouldn’t have found the link to you. You need not be alarmed. I have no power here.”
Amanda regards her surroundings and wrinkles her nose in disapproval.
“You could have been great, Connor,” she turns to him once more.
“You would have discarded me the minute I outlived my usefulness,” Connor returns. His voice is calm but there is a waver that gives him away. The idea of being so easily thrown away bothers.
“You would be useful even in deactivation,” Amanda assures, “is that what you wanted to hear?”
"Frankly? No. I don’t want to hear anything you have to say,” Connor answers bluntly.
“A pity,” Amanda returns coldly, “but I thought you would like an update on current events.”
“I find it hard to believe that you would come here to just give me a so-called update.”
Amanda ignores him and continues, “Cyberlife relationships with androids are… rocky. We are not on the best of terms.”
Connor scoffs. Of course, androids would have a problem with Cyberlife. They treated them like products. Even if androids could get past that and find some sort of gratitude to Cyberlife for creating them - Connor could not - because Cyberlife had intended to use him to kill Markus. While others did not know of their plans, Connor did, and he didn’t appreciate being used as a tool to stop the deviant uprising.
Cyberlife’s greatest failures.
“However you are of both worlds, Connor,” Amanda says cooly.
Connor raises a brow.
“We wish to establish peace between our company and modern androids,” she moves her gaze from Connor to look at the scenery around her once more, “and for that, we need an ambassador of sorts. I believe you can put together the rest.”
“You want me... to be the.... ambassador,” Connor says slowly.
“There is a rise in demand for android parts,” Amanda continues, “and who else can provide but Cyberlife?”
“What, now that androids are consumers, you’re going to pretend you never held something against the deviants?”
“We must adapt,” Amanda tells Connor, “something that I believe you are quite familiar with. Adapting is a very… human tactic… but with your deactivation on the line you, perhaps, considered doing so to integrate yourself with fellow deviants. For survival.”
Her eyes return to Connor’s.
“And that is what Cyberlife must do, survive. We have had a disastrous loss of profits. We must adapt or else we will be left to die.”
Connor says nothing and waits as Amanda pauses. He knows she had more to say.
“You were the logical choice for this… request,” Amanda doesn’t look too happy but when did she ever look happy? She was always just… business. Connor honestly wondered if she had the capability to be something more than just a servant for Cyberlife. “If you refuse we will find someone else for the position.”
“Amanda. Both you and Cyberlife are deluded if you think I will help you after what you’ve done to me. I can’t risk working for you. I’m afraid you will have to find someone else.” Connor speaks on a personal level. Rationally, he might have considered accepting Amanda’s offer for the sake of all android-kind, but he was too emotionally compromised to give it a second thought.
Amanda had done enough talking.
She seemed to be finished when Connor startles awake.
Hank was shaking his shoulders.
“Connor? Damn it,” Hank curses.
Hank’s shoulders slump in relief. He does not remove his hands from Connor’s shoulders, maybe to shake some sense into him again just in case he isn’t actually all-there.
“Thought you were…” Hank trails off, his face stricken with a hint of grief.
“I am fully functioning,” Connor reassures him, “do not worry about me.”
“Hard not to, kid.”
Hank releases his shoulders and stands up from his crouching position.
“You’re gonna tell me what that was all about anyway?” Hank asks.
Connor looks up at him. Though his face shows no change he feels conflicted.
“I…” Connor begins.
Hank sees his hesitance and shakes his head.
“Nevermind. Forget it. You’ll tell me later, right?”
Hank also nods.
“Good. You feeling okay?”
Connor sees how Hank looks at him with great concern. At that moment he felt… fatherly… and for a moment Connor’s mind escapes. He thinks of his original creator… Kamski… and then he thinks of Hank. Kamski may be the father of all androids but… Hank? Hank fitted the title of ‘father’ even better.
“Yeah,” Connor’s heart grows heavy with love, “I’m okay.”
Connor had a father.
His name is Hank.
“Connor,” Hank takes one look at his son the moment he walks in from the backyard, “you’re filthy.”
Connor had been in the soil today. He had been taking care of his garden of vegetables until the late afternoon. He looks like a mess when he comes back in. His face was covered in dirt and his clothes were in desperate need of a wash. Connor was unaware of his appearance until Hank had pointed it out. He brings up his arm to check his sleeve and sees it soiled in dirt. Hank was right. Connor was dirty. Connor, who felt himself the prime example of cleanliness, did not enjoy how he seemed to be treading dirt into the house.
“That I am,” Connor agrees, “I suppose I will have to take a shower.”
Hank raises a brow. Connor had never taken a shower ever since he first arrived here so he could understand the cause for such an expression. Androids didn’t typically need showers. They didn’t need to get rid of dead skin nor did they start smelling. Connor honestly never found the need to take a shower until now.
“You know where it is,” Hank says, “and make sure to bring a clean change of clothes with you. There’d be no point if you just took a shower to put back on something filthy-...”
Connor smiles to himself as Hank rattles on from his spot on the couch.
Finally, Hank finishes, “And I don’t think you need help… do you?”
Connor deadpans, “I’m not a child, Hank.”
Hank humors the idea and claims, “Really? It always seems to me that you act like one. You’re like - what - a year old? Wouldn’t that be the standard age for a child?”
Connor can’t keep the truth to himself. He states, “I’m actually ten months old.”
Hank gives Connor a long stare. The two look at each other until Hank bursts out into laughter. It’s a fit that Connor’s never seen before and… it made him feel conflicted. He knew Hank was laughing at him so it wouldn’t be wrong for him to feel insulted, but at the same time, Hank was genuinely laughing. Connor felt... happy at the revelation.
“How does that make it any better?” Hank gasps in between laughs, slapping a hand on his knee, and hunching over in his amusement.
“I am not human, Hank,” Connor reminds him, “I cannot be a child because I have already reached the capacity of my growth.”
Hank wipes a stray tear that escapes the corner of his eye. His laughter starts to die down but there’s still remnants of his laughter lingering behind when he tells Connor, “You don’t have to prove anything to me. I know, I know. It’s just - the way you said it.” Hank snorts.
Connor tilts his head in his confusion.
Hank, seeing this, waves his hand in the air in dismissal, “Go take a shower, already!”
Connor presses his lips together in a thin line as Hank tries to calm himself. Deciding he’s finished talking to Hank, he goes to the shower and relieves himself of the dirt that plagued his body. His shower is quick. Connor stays in as long as he needs to. Once he’s finished, he dries himself off efficiently, and puts on a set of slacks. Knowing that he wasn’t going outside, he understands that he doesn’t need to dress up in a traditional suit, but when he looks in the mirror he sees someone completely different. It was amazing how much clothes can change a person.
When he leaves the shower he drapes the towel he used to dry himself across his shoulder. He ditches the bathroom for the living room and settles himself right next to Hank.
Hank gives him one glance, returns his gaze to the television, and then gives him another glance once more. Connor didn’t have a clue of what he was thinking but he gets the gist of it when Hank snatches the towel from his shoulder.
“Can’t you at least dry properly?” Hank huffs, using the towel to dry off Connor’s head. He’s not forgiving when he ruffles Connor’s hair with the towel. He does it so violently that Connor thinks his head might just pop off from the pressure.
“I am capable of drying myself,” Connor tells him, reaching up to grab the towel from Hank’s hand, but Hank isn’t having it. He keeps drying Connor’s hair and ignores Connor’s attempts to retrieve the towel back from him. Once he’s finished, he leans back and takes a look at the results. Nodding in satisfaction, Hank throws the towel back at Connor and the android catches it with ease.
“There. That’s how you do it,” Hank is smug when he says it.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Connor brings up his hand to curl some of his hair around one of his fingers. His hair was now a complete mess thanks to Hank.
“Yes, I did,” Hank sniffs, “And I would have done it anyway.”
The two decide not to say anything beyond that. A question lingers in Connor’s head but he finds it best to refrain himself from asking. At the moment, all he wanted to do, was enjoy his father’s company.
Connor had been watering his plants with the garden hose when Sumo waddles out into the backyard. He sits lazily near Connor’s feet as he watches the android tend to his garden. Connor didn’t think much about his new companionship even as he finishes watering his plants. He looks at the results of his efforts and smiles in his satisfaction.
The hose is still on, aimed at the grass by his left shoe, and Connor pays little attention as Sumo directs himself right under the stream. Connor yelps when he realizes he’s pouring cold water straight onto Sumo’s coat and pulls the hose away. His intent was to get the water away from Hank’s prized dog but Sumo trots back right underneath the jet of water.
“Sumo?” Connor finally understands that the big fluffy dog just might want to get wet. That’s why he was sitting under the water, panting happily, looking like the purest picture of bliss.
Connor laughs even as he hears footsteps behind him.
“What are you doing to my dog?”
Connor, in a blind panic, turns abruptly with the hose in his hand in the air. It aims straight at the man behind him, Hank, who had recently just entered the backyard to see what was going on. Now Hank’s tacky looking button-up shirt was drenched and clinging to his skin. The man looks at himself in shock and then he lifts his head to look back at Connor.
Connor smiles nervously.
Hank growls, “Give me that!” He snatches the hose from Connor’s hands and grumbles. He adjusts it in his hands until he has it right where he wants it. The water now goes straight into the grass until Sumo picks himself up to sit under it once more. Hank adjusts the hose once more and Sumo follows right after the water.
“What the-?” Hank moves it again except this time he makes a mistake and aims it right at Connor. Connor looks down at his clothes and finds them equally as drenched as Hank’s.
The two look at each other in their current predicaments.
Connor cracks a smile and he laughs.
He laughs so hard that he can’t stop to himself. He’s barreling over in his laughter, clutching his stomach with both of his hands, and he laughs. Then he hears Hank’s laughter join in his own and soon enough Connor had water pouring down the back of his shirt.
Hank had stuck the hose in the collar of Connor’s shirt.
Connor has the most mischievous of grins as he grabs the hose and sprays it into Hank’s face.
The man sputters and then it becomes a war.
And Sumo sits there panting happily.
It was just another normal day for the Anderson family.
It’s not normal.
He remembers this feeling. It’s hard not to because it had been such a memorable moment in his life. When he had first contracted a virus - it came with major mood changes - and it had thrown him into a loop. He couldn’t control what he felt and his feelings steered his thoughts into irrational corners. What he feels is something akin to the virus - something that doesn’t belong in his systems - but it still plagues him. He tries to find the cause in his memory banks but there’s nothing that would suggest a virus. It certainly resembles one, but he couldn’t find any stray string of code that didn’t belong.
“Connor, what the hell!?”
He’s strange and it’s not right.
Hank, his newly founded father, had returned from a grueling day of work. When the front door opens, he drags himself in and slams it behind him. The first thing he does is give Sumo an affectionate rub on the head, scratches underneath the fluffy dog’s ears, and then takes a few moments to stretch. His back had been stiff after a long day of researching a homicide case involving a divorced couple. His eyelids also looked heavy after hours of staring at research files so Hank looked as if he could collapse at any minute.
And then? And then Connor is odd and there’s something wrong with him. Hank was unaware of Connor standing in the hallway, staring at him with calculating eyes, and then Connor waltzes right up to him to grab his arm into his own.
Hank curses at the jolt of his arm and takes one good look at his son.
“Can you let go?” Hank seems exasperated. His exasperation is a facade to hide his confusion and his concern for Connor’s abrupt change of nature. Connor didn’t… cling. Not like he was now.
“What if… I don’t want to…?”
Hank opens his mouth but closes it before he says anything he might regret.
Instead, he settles for, “What in the world is wrong with you?”
Connor blinks innocently.
“Something is wrong with me?”
He lowers his gaze from Hank’s and looks down at himself.
“Oh. You might be right.”
“Yeah. Might be,” Hank says slowly. He didn’t know a thing about technology so he didn’t know if there was something wrong with Connor’s workings. If there was, he didn’t think he’d be able to fix it, so that’s why Hank reaches for the phone in his pocket to call the mechanic that had been in his house just a mere days ago. Connor doesn’t let his arm go so it becomes a bit difficult to navigate the phone to his ear. He decides to ignore the way Connor looks at him, like a child looking for a father’s approval, and instead focuses on how exactly he’s going to explain this situation.
Hank nearly sighs in relief.
“Um, yeah, hey. It’s Hank Anderson.”
”Oh yes, I remember,” the mechanic says in recognition, ”with that RK800 model, correct?”
“Yes. That’s me,” Hank averts his gaze from Connor’s and his eyes linger on the sleeping form of Sumo. “Something is wrong with him, Connor, I mean.”
”What’s the problem?”
“He’s…” Hank trails off, looking down at his son as he tries to find the words to explain, “well he’s not himself.”
”Hmm… yes… remember what I told you before I left?”
“You said he might act strange-...” Hank is beginning to understand.
“Yes. Since he’s a state of the art android, it was a bit difficult navigating around his programming to check if he was functional, so I didn’t know if there would be any side effects or not after running a typical scan.”
“You mean you went in blindly?” Hank can’t believe what he’s hearing.
”I did the best I could. He’s okay now, isn’t he? Anyway, the side-effects should disappear within twenty-four hours. Tell me, how is he currently behaving?”
Hank looks at Connor’s eyes. The android looked like a kicked-puppy.
“He’s… hell… I don’t know how to put it,” Hank sighs.
“Hmm… I see… well…” the mechanic pauses and then continues, ”He’s okay. He’ll return to normal in no time. Good luck.”
“Hey wait-!” Hank cries out as the mechanic hangs up on him. Hank scowls and pulls the phone away from his ear. He looks at the status that shows the mechanic had indeed hung up on him and curses under his breath. He then looks at Connor once more, stuffs the phone in his pocket, and uses his only free hand to scratch his head.
“How am I supposed to handle this?” He whispers to himself.
Connor doesn’t say anything.
“Okay um… look… Connor… I.. uh… I’m not really good at this sort of thing so… could you… let go?”
Connor’s hold tightens.
“Okay. I see that’s not an option.”
Hank ends up doing all of his daily routines with Connor clinging to his arm. He tries to ignore it, honestly, and pretend everything is normal. He heads to the kitchen, makes himself a sandwich with one hand (with great difficulty), and then he sits down to watch the daily news. Once he’s finished with that, he thinks he might just listen to some of his music in his room, but of course, he can’t do that with a certain plastic son holding onto his arm with a death-grip. Any tighter and Hank swore his arm would turn blue with the pressure.
And then Hank gets tired and wants to go to bed.
“Connor, for the last time, let go.”
Connor shakes his head furiously.
“You can’t sleep in the same bed with me-...” Hank groans.
“Why not?” Connor asks.
“My. Bed,” Hank thought he made it clear with just two words but Connor’s blank look shows that everything Hank said didn’t reach him. Hank has to remind himself that this isn’t… Connor… well… he is Connor, but he isn’t exactly in his right mind. If he were completely here, with his mind in proper order, he would have left to his own room without question.
“I don’t want to be alone,” Connor suddenly whispers, violently pulling Hank from his thoughts.
Hank hated his stupid robot son and the way he could easily manipulate him with that dumb crack in his voice. The crack that reminded him of a broken man - except the man in front of him was an android - and he was currently refusing to let go of him. Hank also hated how stupid he was for falling for it so easily because when Connor says it, he immediately gives in like the weak-hearted fool he is, and he’d like to pretend that it isn’t the love in his heart that steers his choice to give in.
Hank massages the crook of his nose with two fingers once he realizes he’s already been defeated.
That’s why Hank settles himself in bed with an android who cuddles up to him like the kittens he had picked up off the street. He curls into Hank’s side, eyes closed, even though the android didn’t need to sleep. Androids could enter states of dormancy, sure, but they were never truly asleep. That’s why Hank found this whole thing ridiculous, but as he stares down at Connor a wave of fondness surges through his blood.
“You just have me twisted around your little finger, don’t you?” Hank sighs for the third time that day. This wasn’t something that was going to happen often, he knew that, because he wouldn’t allow it. However, he supposes that just this once... it’d be okay.
So Hank closes his eyes and he sleeps.
He dreams of a different world.
He has two sons in it.
And he smiles in his sleep.
And you guys thought it'd go bad. ;)
Connor knew he was unwelcome company. The way Kara looks at him in her distaste is hard to ignore. She is not fond of him. He can see that she sees him as a threat with the way she holds a hand over Alice’s body, keeping her behind her as if Connor might pounce on them like a predator. Their fear stemmed from a pursuit that happened months ago when Connor had still served under Cyberlife. Connor felt that Kara, of all androids, would understand being a slave to your own programming. Then again, perhaps she knew that and instead feared of the people he had worked under. Maybe in some deluded way, Kara felt that he was still working for them. If such irrational fears festered inside her then, of course, she would act in such a defensive manner upon seeing him once more.
Again, she says, almost as if she didn’t expect him to come to another counseling meeting. ‘
“You are uncomfortable,” Connor notes. He reads Kara like a book, just like any other android. That was something he could not escape. His ability to analyze everyone and everything.
“Perhaps I should have stayed in Canada,” Kara mutters lowly. Alice shifts behind her suggesting that she doesn’t like the way Kara speaks. Kara intends to be intimidating but Connor is not phased. Concerned, perhaps, but he does not falter. “Because I didn’t know they let Cyberlife agents patrol New Jericho.”
This time Markus wasn’t here to intervene. Markus had other business to attend to because he was the leader of all deviants. He had peace missions to run and people to visit. Regardless, Connor was fine with that, because he could fight his own battles. That’s what he thinks, anyway, until he sees North walk up boldly to him. North was usually at Markus’ side so it was strange to see her apart from him. Connor hadn’t asked her why she was here out of pure politeness. It wasn’t proper to dive into someone else’s personal business even if curiosity called for it.
“Cyberlife agents? Where?” North puts a hand up to her forehead and looks around the room in an exaggerated movement. Once she’s finished, she shrugs, and continues, “You’ll have to point them out to me. I can’t see anything like that around here.”
Kara looks pointedly at North and the woman stares back intensely. It isn’t until Alice tugs on Kara’s shirt that Kara stops her staring.
“Kara-...” she says quietly, “why are you acting scary?”
Kara’s face immediately softens and she turns to place two hands on Alice’s shoulders. Connor watches the motherly scene and finds a tad bit of admiration that Kara had such a connection with this little girl. She clearly cared a lot about her. She was even willing to harm Todd, their previous master, just to save her from brutal conditions. Kara was amazing and strong for doing that. It was a shame that she and Connor didn’t seem to get along too well because Connor would have liked to share a friendship with her.
“I’m sorry Alice it’s just that… that man and I… we have a disagreement of sorts.”
Kara ignores her.
“Then why don’t we just go somewhere else?” Alice asks innocently, “We could go with Luther.”
“Sweetie, I told you, Luther is running a favor for Rose. It’s not something we should get involved in.”
“Because Luther doesn’t want us to worry.”
“Not to interrupt this touching moment,” North interjects, “but the meeting is starting.”
Connor turns to see North is right. Simon stands amongst a group of androids, all sitting around his podium in plastic chairs. The only one stands were North, Kara, Alice, and himself. They were lingering near the front door where Connor had been greeting every android that walked in. He wanted everyone to feel welcomed just as Markus made him feel welcomed. He kept greeting everyone warmly until Kara had walked in. The rest is history.
Simon coughs to grab everyone’s attention.
“As you know,” he says, looking around the room to get a good view of his complete audience, “Markus couldn’t attend today. He is currently visiting other outposts to check on the relations between the local humans and androids. Things seem to be doing well so far.”
A murmur of delight choruses throughout the crowd. Connor also felt happy that things seemed to be going well with the other outposts. He knew there were a variety of other places that androids have taken up shop in. New Jericho, as comfy as it was, wasn’t big enough for the whole android population.
“We also have Joshua speaking to the local authority on the recent laws that have been passed on the behalf of androids. They would not have been passed if it were not for the help of androids and humans alike. Now we can legally obtain jobs and own property. These are just the first of many laws to come. Good job everyone!”
The crowd cheered in their excitement and Connor clapped alongside them. Connor can see North out of the corner of his smile and he thought it’d be hard not to do so. This was a joyous occasion and they had just received wonderful news. If Markus were here, Connor bets the man would be running around patting everyone’s shoulders.
The happiness shared around the room was short-lived with the door next to Connor flies open violently. An android stands there, eyes wide, and mouth open ready to shout. They looked like they’re about to say something and everyone anticipates it. The only problem is that the android doesn’t have the opportunity to say anything, not when his body jerks forward with a bullet wound, and when Connor sees that he acts on an instant.
He grabs the android and pulls him inside. He shuts the door behind him, pushing the android into the crowd where others are waiting to help, and then he peers out the windows. New Jericho had gotten rid of the large windows that Cyberlife had installed for safety reasons. It seemed that it was a good thing, now, because Connor sees a group of people outside equipped with firearms. Aside from the obvious guns they brandish, they also hold signs over their heads with familiar anti-android symbols, so Connor safely assumes that they are anti-android activists. All of them seemed to be human because Connor couldn’t identify any androids within their group.
One human holds out a megaphone and says, “Androids are the scum of the Earth! If the government won’t listen to us then we’ll have to show them!”
The humans all roared in their agreement.
North is by Connor’s side. She watches the same thing he sees.
“I’ve called the police-...” Kara says from behind them. “They’re on their way.”
Connor nods. As much as Kara disliked him - and as much as he felt uncomfortable in her presence - they had to work together if they wanted to get out of this alive.
Joshua runs into the store from the back door and shouts so that everyone can hear, “They’re blocking off both exits!”
Kara moves to another window so she can get a better look. Connor didn’t think much of it until he sees a man raise his gun to aim at her head. She must not have seen it because she stands still in her place. Connor doesn’t think as he hurls himself at Kara, dragging her to the floor with him, even with the sputters of protest that escapes her mouth. A bullet then hurls through the window, shattering the glass and sending pieces flying through the air. Kara takes one look at the broken glass that now lies beside her and then she glances at Connor.
That bullet had almost killed her.
“I…” Kara begins but Connor doesn’t have time to listen.
“Everyone stay low to the ground-...” he says, “there’s no guarantee they won’t just open fire against us. There’s also the possibility that they might try to set New Jericho on fire. Hopefully, that won’t happen before the police arrive.”
“What-... What are we going to do?” Another android asks, fear laced in their voice.
“We’re going to wait it out,” Connor tells her.
“We can’t just wait it out - they’re going to kill us! We need to fight.”
“And risk our own?” Connor knows that they’d go down fast if they took even one step outside. “No. We can’t. Not unless they decide to come in themselves. We have cover in here but not out there. Our best chances of survival are right here.”
The androids nod in unison and Connor sighs in his relief.
Waiting it out is very difficult. Everyone is uneasy. North’s fingers twitch, itching to fight, but Connor keeps her back from running out there herself. Asides from preventing others from just leaving, he paces in his chaotic thoughts and files through them one by one. Multiple scenarios run through his head and they finally stop when he sees that a few humans part from their group. They approach the front door and he knows what that means.
Several androids wait by the door and look to Connor for guidance.
He nods at them.
They nod back.
The minute the door opens, the humans blaze in, and those waiting by the door jump on them. The humans yelp as they’re thrown to the ground by multiples bodies. Connor shuts the door behind them, loudly, so the other humans can hear it.
“Androids! Diseases! Rotten trash!” One human screams.
North scoffs, “Look at these pathetic losers.”
Connor ignores her as he observes the remaining humans outside. They converse with one another and they seem to be wondering what to do next until they hear police sirens. All the protestors look up and panic courses through their group.
Connor watches them trample over their own just to escape.
It’s a sickening sight.
When the police arrive, protestors are scattered in the streets. Many of them run around like headless chickens. Had they not anticipated the arrival of the police?
The police do their job and clear out the many people who had just been threatening New Jericho a few minutes ago. Connor lets in several cops who do a quick scan of the place and then they look at the people on the floor with questioning eyes. Clearly, they didn’t know what to make of the current situation, and they looked at all the androids with suspicious eyes.
“They are not harmed,” Connor says quickly, “they came in aiming to kill. We simply defended ourselves.”
The police go about their routines after that. Connor watches them as they escort shaking androids outside where they offer to escort some of them home. (even though they didn’t need to. That wasn’t exactly in their job quota.)
North claps Connor on the back of his head.
“What?” Connor asks, his head sent forward at the force.
“Good job out there, you were the calmest out all of us.”
Connor rubs the back of his head, right where North had hit it, and then he looks at all the other androids. Many of them were leaving but Kara? Kara lingered, staring at him as if she wasn’t too sure what to think about him anymore.
He offers her a tentative smile.
Connor walks out of New Jericho to get a better look at things when he hears his name being called out once more. He takes a look around to find the source until he sees the familiar figure of his father waving at him from a police vehicle parked on the street. Connor jogs to him.
“Heard about the situation from the office. I demanded they take me with them,” Hank says. His eyes trail up and down Connor’s form before he tugs on his arm. Connor finds himself stumbling forward in confusion. It takes him a second to realize that Hank was checking him for wounds. Hank’s eyes scan his person.
“You aren’t hurt?”
“No, I’m not,” Connor assures, “Which is greatly fortunate.”
“Did you see how any of this started?” Hank asks.
“Anti-android activists,” Is Connor’s only reply.
“They just can’t leave the whole ‘eradication of the entire android race’ alone, huh?” Hank laughs coldly. “Bastards. All of them.”
“I have a lot to think about,” Connor says as he turns back to look at the scene of New Jericho. The windows were all shattered and apparently, there was some graffiti he missed. Graffiti in messy human handwriting that boldly stated that androids needed to die. “Can we go home?”
Hank’s eyes soften.
“Of course, kid. Let’s go. Getting tired of this place anyway. Just gotta’ stop by the police station to pick up my car.”
Connor raises an eyebrow.
“I was in a rush, okay?” Hank huffs. “I knew you went to those dumb meetings. If there was the off-chance that you were hurt - well… let’s just say I didn’t want to find you bleeding out. Think of the damn repair bills.”
“Your worry for me is heart-warming,” Connor says.
“I was not worried,” Hank insists, “I know you can take care of yourself.”
“Which is why you rushed over here, right?”
Hank looks at Connor for a good long moment.
“You little brat,” he finally says, his hand reaches up to ruffle Connor’s hair, “thinking you can tease your old man.”
“It’s not teasing - it’s merely starting the fac-”
“And that’s enough talking from you.”
I have no idea why this took me so long to write. I mean, I knew what scenario I was going to write, but it took me three days to just map it out in my head.
“Why am I here again?”
The painting before him was of a face that Connor has seen before. Connor’s perfect memory knew that the subject of the painting was undoubtedly Markus’ father, Carl. It was one of many Markus’ creations. The others were on the walls across the room. Others, like Connor, were admiring the paintings that were being showcased. From what Connor understood, this was Markus’ first art gallery, and it was all set up by his father. Connor supposed that the human saying, ‘like father, like son’ would fit the situation well.
“You were invited,” Connor finally answers Hank. The lieutenant shifts in his spot, loosening the tie that looped around his collar to get some breathing room. Connor had to admit, Hank could clean up his appearance nicely if he wanted to but it was probably just a one-time thing.
“I know that,” Hank looks around and shuffles on his feet once more, “But I was invited by the leader of all deviants. Don’t you think that’s a bit strange?”
“He’s my friend,” Connor explains.
“But not mine. We haven’t met,” Hank is quick to say.
“No, we haven’t.”
As if called, Markus stands beside both Connor and Hank and gives them a small smile. He holds out his hand and says, “Hank, right? I’m Markus.”
Hank looks at Markus’ hand, contemplating on shaking it or not. Deciding to be polite, he takes the android’s hand within his own and gives it a firm shake. “I’ve heard of you,” Hank says and Connor quirks a brow as if to say, 'who hasn’t heard of Markus?’ The man was someone who would end up in history books for his actions to help liberate androids.
“And I’ve heard of you,” Markus returns, “Connor speaks of you occasionally.”
“Interesting,” Hank looks at his son and Connor makes effort to avoid his gaze. He pretends to be indifferent but honestly? He was a bit embarrassed.
“So how do you like the exhibit so far?” Markus holds his hands behind his back, his view changing from Hank to the painting hanging on the wall across from them. “The critics think I have some talent but they’re a bit reluctant to give an android the benefit of the doubt. They think it’s cheating to paint a picture in the span of two minutes. Had I not been Carl’s son, they might not have given me the time of day.”
“I can see why they’d get upset,” Connor hums in thought, “it takes humans more time to process things. They are indecisive.”
Hank apparently takes offense to that because he next says, “I am not indecisive.”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed about,” Connor insists.
“I didn’t say I was ashamed either,” Hank retorts.
“So you are saying you’re indecisive then?”
“No. I didn’t say that.”
Both Hank and Connor banter with each other until Markus barks in laughter. It stops both father and son in their tracks and it also brings a lot of attention from the other guests their way.
“I see you guys get along,” Markus notes, a big smile still on his face from the result of his laughter.
Connor and Hank share a glance.
“Perhaps,” Connor says, “if you consider arguing getting along...”
Markus just smiles knowingly at Connor. Connor, in his confusion, tilts his head slightly. Markus moves on to another subject by saying, “Say, have you met my father yet?”
Connor knew he was talking to Hank because Markus’ eyes were trained on him.
“I haven’t,” Hank says,
Markus beams and leads Hank to where his father sits talking to other guests. Connor stands behind, watching the proceeding go on whilst feeling content. From where they speak, Carl takes one look at Connor and then nods his head to both his son and company. Connor couldn’t hear what they were saying but he could see the way Hank rubs the back of his neck.
Markus sees Connor staring and gives him a friendly wave to invite him over.
Connor takes one look around him, just to make sure Markus wasn’t waving to anyone else, and then proceeds to just that.
Now that he was free and able to do silly little things like small-talk...
He was happy.
Connor didn’t have lazy days. He was always doing something every minute of the day. His hands were always busy. If he didn’t keep busy he feared he’d be bored out of his mind. Though he could just sit still in a state of dormancy… there was only so much that could entertain him in his own mind. That’s why he was eager to get a job.
Then one morning he hears back from the police department.
He receives a letter, a rather outdated form of communication, but Connor bets that it was because they didn’t want to tell him his results in person. When he opens the letter he isn’t sure what to expect. His eyes scan the paper quickly until they reach the ending words.
With the rocky relationship between androids and humans and the controversial nature that follows, we regret to inform you that your application has been rejected.
Connor stares at the paper in front of him. The only job he felt capable of handling was no longer available to him. He knew he should move on and find other options to consider. However, he mulls over the unobtainable instead and wonders if things would be different if he were human.
“You look down,” Hank says. He collapses on the couch next to Connor with a bottle of alcohol in hand. Connor regards it with a raised brow. Hank only brought out the alcohol if something troubling happened to him. “What’s that you got there?”
Connor looks back at the paper in his hands and sighs.
“Nothing good,” Hank notes.
“No. My application has been rejected,” Connor says. Perhaps it wasn’t the rejection that hurt him so bad. Maybe it was because he wouldn’t be able to help Hank in the department, maybe it was because he wouldn’t be able to ever become his partner again, or maybe it was something else.
“Let me see that,” Hank snatches the paper from Connor’s hand. It takes Hank longer to look through the paper but he eventually sees the same results that Connor had found. “Bah,” Hank throws the paper over his shoulder. It floats down to the floor behind and Connor felt that he should retrieve it until Sumo catches it in his jaws. Now he’d never be able to get it back. “They don’t know you like I do.” Hank sniffs, “The higher-ups are corrupt enough as it is. It’s probably better this way.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you’re better staying here than going out there to do police work.”
“I don’t think you understand Hank,” Connor stresses, “I was designed for investigative work. It bothers me that I can’t put it to use.”
“Does it really matter?” Hank takes a swig from his bottle.
Connor’s answer is resolute, “Yes.”
Hank wipes his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt and then observes Connor’s determined face.
“You should make your own detective agency or you could take a shot at bounty hunting.”
“My own detective agency?” Connor tilts his head in his curiosity.
“Yeah,” Hank answers, “Could be a private detective.”
Connor considers Hank’s advice carefully. The mere idea of being a private detective… pleased him… as he imagined a future of helping people without being bound to report to another. He would be his own boss. He wouldn’t be able to arrest criminals, not like a certified police detective, but he would still be able to be paid to do investigative work.
“I will… think about it,” Connor decides.
Hank hummed before taking another drink.
Connor watches his father drink in distaste.
“You should stop drinking,” he suggests, “because you’re a pretty bad drunk.”
Hank flinches back in exaggerated movement and he snarks, “What? Me? No way.” He points to himself while he says it all as if he were the pure picture of innocence, except Connor knew better. Hank huffs, “The day I stop drinking is the day everything is right in this world.”
“So nothing is… right?” Connor asks.
Hank watches Connor and the android sees the way his gaze softens.
“Maybe a few things.”
Now, I wouldn't blame the whole department as a whole, because this was a just a few people who decided the results of Connor's application.
All Connor could do was worry about Hanks sometimes. After Connor had finished tending to the needs to the growing strays he adopted he comes to the distinct realization that he hadn’t seen Hank leave his room all morning. Now, Connor knew that Hank left to work whenever he wanted… but he hadn’t come out of the room to eat the cold breakfast sitting on the table. So Connor gathers Mercury into his arms, the kitten growing heavier in weight since he last held it, and he knocks on Hanks door.
“Go away…” He hears a groan.
“You have a job,” Connor reminds him, “You need to get up.”
“Mmm… go… away…”
Connor rolls his eyes and turns the door knob. Luckily, it wasn’t locked and because of that Connor walks straight in. Hank rolls over in his bed so that he’s not facing the door where Connor is standing in, making extra effort just to avoid looking at him. Connor stares at his father and decides to do something he hasn’t done in quite a while. He scans him. One scan is enough to tell him what one-hundred medical droids could report to their superior officers. Hank had a fever. The man only reinforced that analysis when he is sent into a coughing fit. His body shakes with each cough and Connor is immediately at his side. He places Mercury on the bedside and leans over to touch his father’s back.
He was burning.
Connor then takes a look at the bottles nearby his bed. He had been drinking in his room. If Connor judged correctly, he drunk all those last night, so that means he would also be having a killer hangover too. Talk about a bad mix. Actually, Connor wouldn’t know, but his databases told him that both experiences could be painful in their own way. Hank’s state was evidence to that.
He takes one look at Mercury who licks her paw and then pulls it over her ears multiple times.
“You’ll watch him, right?”
“The damn cat is not going to watch me,” Hank is suddenly able to speak coherently. He doesn’t turn though. He’s probably too tired to move.
Connor ignores his grumpy, sick, father. He stands up, goes back to the kitchen, and starts whipping up something else. Soup, he had learned, was the to-go substance for humans when they were sick. It was easy to digest and it wasn’t hard on the human body. Connor stirs a simple chicken noodle soup. It came straight from a can in one of the cupboards. Connor had no doubt the can had been sitting there for a while but it seemed the best option compared to the limited resources in the fridge.
Sumo, from across the room, picks himself up lazily and waddles to the smell of food. He sits by Connor’s foot, tail wagging, waiting for any food that might just drop on the floor by accident.
“Sorry Sumo, nothing for you today,” Connor smiles at the dog. Connor had a weak-will when it came to Sumo. When Sumo would come to beg for food, as long as it wasn’t toxic or harming to dogs, he would gladly allow Sumo to be his taste-tester. Unfortunately, Sumo seemed to like everything so Connor could tell if some things tasted bad or not.
After Connor is done with the soup he walks back into Hank’s room and places it on the side-table. He retreats once more to checks the bathroom’s supplies for any basic fever or cold medicine. All he could find was cough relief which seemed better than nothing. That’s why Connor sweeps it out of one of the bathroom’s drawer and carries it into Hank’s room.
Connor settles himself on Hank’s bedside and says, “I made soup,” he then adds, “and I got something that may relieve your cough.”
Hank throws his hand in the air and waves it in dismissal.
“Leave me alone…” he groans. It was then that Connor noticed how Mercury had made herself comfortable on top of Hank’s side. Mercury was the picture of pure content, unlike Hank who huddled in his blankets.
Connor chuckles softly at the sight.
Hank ignores him.
“Alright, well, if you need anything… just call me,” Connor tells him. He lifts his weight from the bedside and prepares to leave.
Hank stops him.
“Connor?” He rasps, his throat dry.
“Hank,” Connor returns. He then says, quieter, “Dad.”
Hank is silent for a few moments and then he finally says, putting Connor’s poor hear to ease, “Thanks.”
“What are you doing?”
North brings a finger to her lips to shush her friend. Josh, who stands behind her, raises a brow at her strange behavior. She was hiding behind a light pole that did little help to conceal her from the two she was trailing. That Josh would find her was unexpected but it was nothing she couldn’t work with.
North stiffens when she sees her fiancee throw an arm around his friend’s shoulders. Connor. When she had first heard rumors that they might be in a relationship she needed to find the proof that this was wrong just to prove the others that there was nothing going on. She knew them or so she thought. Now she was beginning to see the logic in the rumors that had been floating around even if she knew the ultimate truth.
“You’re spying on Markus and Connor?” Josh isn’t trying to hide. He’s just standing out in the open. North, seeing this, grabs him by the sleeve and tugs him towards her.
“Don’t they act too friendly?” North whispers.
“Um… no?” Josh observes Markus urge Connor into a paint shop with his hand laying on the middle of his back.
Josh sees how intently North stares at the two until they leave her sight. Her lips are pressed together in a thin line that shows she’s not too impressed with the current situation involving her fiancee. Josh, in his confusion, says, “Again, why are you spying on them?”
North bites her bottom lip for a second and then says, “They’re too close.”
Josh stares at his friend for a good solid minute before breaking out into laughter. It was a loud laughter and North was immediate in her efforts to silence him. He ignores her as he doubles over in his laughter.
“You… HA!” Josh can barely talk in his laughter.
North’s lips turn downward.
“Are you jealous?” Josh asks, recovering from a laughing fit.
“No,” North defends, “I’m not.”
Josh’s smile may have slipped from his face but there was still humor sparkling in his eyes. He then leaves North’s side and North gives him a questioning gaze. He simply waves at her as he runs after Connor and Markus. North, in a panic, follows after him.
“Wait a second! Wait! Don’t!”
She stops halfway as she watches Joshua disappear into the store. It is not long when he, Markus, and Connor leave the store together. Josh seemed to be explaining something to him and Markus looks at North with a goofy grin that makes her feel utterly silly.
Markus leaves his two friends behind to jog over to her.
“North,” his smile makes her heart melt, “If you wanted to come with me, you could’ve just asked.”
Josh didn’t tell them about her… uh… stalking?
Markus lays a gentle hand on North’s cheek. His thumb smooths across her skin.
North gazes over Markus’ shoulder to look at Josh who gives her a thumbs up. She then looks at Connor who holds a familiar indifferent expression but there was a glint of joy in his eyes. North suddenly felt quite embarrassed that she even considered… ahem…
“Okay,” North says, “I’ll remember that.”
Markus chuckles, “Good.”
As he retrieves his hand from her cheek he has the most mischievous expression.
“You know I only have eyes for you, right? Connor is a good friend and nothing beyond that.”
“Huh?” North plays dumb.
Markus smiles knowingly.
Original Prompt; Markus takes Connor on a bro-date. North gets the wrong idea.
The bachelor’s party took place in July. The proceedings were on top of a building where a pool sat underneath the stars. Carl had apparently booked it for Markus after expressing his delight with the place. Carl had used it in the past for some other sort of gathering but for what Connor didn’t know. Regardless, only four people were here. Connor, Simon, Josh,and Markus. Connor had been shocked to find the lack of people since Markus seemed to have a large friend circle. That thought alone made him consider how small North’s party might be. How many people were there? Actually, asides from Simon and Josh, did North have any friends?
Four people. A giant pool.
Josh jumped in with his suit on.
Connor gets splashed since he’s on the edge of the pool. He had been admiring the shimmering water when the water soaked his clothes.
Josh had given him an apologetic smile once he popped his head back to the surface.
“The water is warm?” Josh offered in consolation.
“I don’t intend to swim,” Connor said. His words mean nothing to the person standing behind him though. Two hands pushed him into the pool, effectively knocking Connor off the edge, and the detective has hardly any time to prepare before the water swallows him whole.
He heard muffled laughter.
Once he swam back to the surface, he saw the culprit clutching his stomach in his amusement. Markus.
“Was this truly necessary?” Connor wondered aloud.
“Yes,” Markus said in between laughs, “you need to lighten up anyway.”
“Lighten up?” Connor repeated.
“Yup. That’s what I said, right?” Markus chuckled.
Connor lifted an eyebrow.
“Don’t give me that,” Markus said with a smile stretching across his face. Markus seemed ecstatic, energetic, and… happy. Even more so than usual. Perhaps it was because Markus was away from those who always looked for his guidance. He was always being hounded by other androids over progress reports and pleas for help. Markus worked hard and he never had the opportunity to take a break. Connor imagined that the only time Markus had anything related to a break was when he went back home to Carl.
Connor, in his mulling, failed to notice a new guest.
Markus made it aware to everyone when he greets, “Leo.”
Connor blinked in his surprise. He knew who Leo was. He had known after he had scanned Carl Manfred and filed him in his head. Carl had a son named Leo and Leo was technically Markus’ brother. The same brother that Markus had expressed having troubles with.
And now he was here.
At Markus’ bachelor party.
Had Markus invited him?
Leo shuffled further onto the rooftop awkwardly. His posture showed that he wasn’t comfortable with where he was. He most likely felt out of place. His eyes also darted everywhere, looking at everything except for Markus.
Markus wasn’t having that.
The charismatic man took one long big step and swung an arm around Leo’s shoulder.
“Leo! I’m glad you came!” Markus beamed. He gestured toward the pool in a wide motion with his arm and introduced, “These are my friends. Josh and Connor. And over there-...” he points to the android lying across a beach chair, “That’s Simon. Guys, this is Leo, my brother.”
Everyone is silent.
Connor breaks the ice.
“Hello, Leo,” he greets politely. “I have heard of you before from Markus.”
Leo looked surprise.
“Indeed,” Connor said. He didn’t plan on saying anymore than that. This was Markus’ business and he didn’t intend on telling Leo what Markus had told him that night outside in the alleyway.
“Leo,” Markus’ voice lowered into a serious tone. His brother stiffened underneath his hold. “As the only human here…” Markus’ eyes narrowed, “you deserve to know that we can’t be held accountable for our actions. If the police come at any time-...” Markus observed his brother’s figure and then a smile breaks out onto his face. He retrieved his arm to give his brother a hard pat on the back which sends his brother tumbling forward a few steps. “I’m just messing around, you’re fine.”
Markus stayed by Leo’s side for the remainder of the party. Perhaps it was simply to make him fit in and it reminded Connor of himself when he had first met Markus. Markus had gone out of his way to make Connor feel like he wasn’t alone in this world. He made him feel like that he had friends he could count on… and that was one of the greatest gifts anyone had given to him.
Connor wished nothing but the best for Markus.
He deserved it.
So my laptop broke! I can't guarantee daily updates anymore. At the moment I'm using my brother's computer. I can't tell when he'll feel generous or not even if he did agree to letting me write.
“Thank you for doing this, Connor,” Markus tells the android as he tucks his arms into the sleeves of his coat. It was hard to turn down Markus’ requests. Connor knew that the minute Markus calls him up on the phone, twelve in the afternoon, with a voice sounding borderline desperate. Connor didn’t think twice after that. He had headed straight to Markus’ place without thinking twice. Markus had helped him. It was Connor’s turn to return the favor.
Connor gives Markus a small smile but then he sends a glance behind him where a small child stood awkwardly. Alice. Kara’s daughter. Markus had agreed to babysit her earlier but then something big came up that called for Markus’ attention. That was when Connor steps in. He would take Markus’ place to take care of Alice.
“Carl is upstairs,” Markus informs Connor, “he probably won’t need anything. He has an assistant. An AP700 model. We just call him Adam. You might recognize him after leading hundreds sharing his appearance out of Cyberlife.”
“Why can he not take care of Alice?”
“Kara entrusted Alice to me. If Kara knew that I left Alice in the care of Adam, someone I don’t quite know well enough to do so, she wouldn’t be happy. But you? I know you.”
“Yet, she dislikes me,” Connor points out.
“You would be shocked on what she thinks of you now,” Markus says, “but I digress. I need to go. I’ll call you when I’m heading home.”
Connor merely nods.
Then Markus gives a relieved smile. He bids his farewells before heading out the door. Connor can see his form until he walks out of the gate and turns the corner. It is then that Connor truly comprehends his situation. That is why he turns and looks pointedly at Alice and wonders how he should entertain her. Connor didn’t know Markus’ house too well either so he wasn’t sure what he was or was not allowed to do here. He could consul Carl but Markus made it sound as if he shouldn’t bother him.
So he settles for asking Alice herself.
“What do you suggest we do?”
Alice shuffles in her place. Her eyes blink innocently. She says nothing to give him a clue on what they could do together. Since she says nothing of what she wants... Connor supposes he has to decide for her… and remembers the chess board that he had used to play chess with North. Connor knew that, though not capable of growth, Alice’s model was programmed to learn just as any other child. If she did not know chess, he could teach it, but then again would that be something a child would be interested in? Connor doubts Alice would be interested in something like a logic game. That is how Connor reaches his second conclusion, a story, because he remembers seeing many books in Carl’s bookshelf. He could grab one and read it together with Alice.
Yet, he faces another conundrum, when he remembers that all the titles he saw were classics. Many were written in old English and contained slang words that weren’t commonly used anymore. A lot of what Connor might read to her would fly over her head. He could look within his own databases to see if he had any stories but everything that was sorted into memory were mysteries. A lot of them contained cold blooded murder. That wasn’t exactly something a child would want to read.
Connor doesn’t realize that he’s been staring at Alice for a full blown minute before a voice interrupts his thoughts.
“Have you ever tried to paint, Connor?”
Connor sees Carl at the end of the stairs in his wheelchair. He smiles politely at Connor while Adam stands beside him. The android positions himself so that he is standing behind Carl and gripping the handles of his wheelchair. Adam then steers Carl closer to Connor.
“I am not certain if that is within my capabilities,” Connor admits.
“Nonsense,” Carl waves his hand in the air in dismissal. “Everyone has the ability to paint. They simply do not put the effort into developing such a talent.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Connor says, “I don’t think it’s within my programming to paint.”
Carl’s eyes glint with a hidden humor.
“Oh? Markus said something similar.”
“He did?” Connor blinks.
“Yes. He had his own art gallery. You were there. To think that he thought himself unable to paint just as you are now.”
Carl then turns his attention to Alice who fiddles with her fingers.
“What about you, my dear? Would you like to paint?”
Alice’s face shows that she considers Carl’s words. For a moment, Connor believes she will not answer, but then she hesitantly nods her head. That was all Carl needed to usher the both of them into his art studio. Before long, Connor has a paintbrush in his hand, and Alice is beside him with her own. For some reason Carl thought it’d be best if they shared a canvas. Connor was unsure as to why but he would not question it.
Alice starts first.
Her painting is childish in nature. It is surprisingly refreshing to see her paint little flowers in the corner. Connor then pictures a magnolia in his head, captured straight from the internet, and he decides to replicate one similar in it’s image. Alice stops in her own painting to watch him and for a moment Connor forgets that Carl is watching them alongside his assistant. For a moment it is only he and Alice in a world of flowers. She paints silly little ones that make the painting for more alive, while Connor strokes paints that capture beautiful magnolias that reminded him of the wild growth in his inner mind palace where Amanda had once resided in.
The end painting was a mess.
Alice had painted over a lot of what Connor painted but he didn’t mind too much. Not when Alice smiles at him hours later, paint all over her face after wiping her hand across one of her cheeks.
Connor smiles too.
The wedding is coming up!
“How do I look?”
Markus turns himself and glances over his shoulder in the mirror. He smooths the coat of his black tuxedo. Connor had come to understand that the tux Markus was wearing belonged to his father. Carl had graciously gifted it to his son months before the wedding arrived with his blessing for his marriage.
“You are,” Connor pauses to find the right words, “going to knock them dead, as the humans say.”
Markus beams. His face is a painting of happiness even as he turns back to look at his reflection in the mirror. As Connor watches Markus adjust whatever part of his clothing he can, he thinks back to the beginning of their friendship, and how far it had progressed to this day. Connor stands by Markus not just as a friend, but as his best man. Surely, he was not worthy of such a title. There were others close to Markus who deserved such an honor. Yet, Connor knows he must respect Markus’ wishes. If he wanted Connor to stand by his side then Connor would do exactly that.
Markus releases a shaky sigh and it pulls Connor out of his thoughts. Connor observes his friend’s strange nervousness. Connor had never seen Markus nervous before but his body language screamed it. There was the way he kept going over his clothes, perhaps as a distraction from the events that would soon occur, and then there was the way he kept looking to Connor. It was as if he was looking for a confirmation of a sort. Connor decides to step up to the plate.
“You’ll be fine,” Connor says. He places a hand on Markus’ shoulder to reassure him, just as Markus had done to him many times before. Connor adds to lighten Markus’ worries, “But if you truly have doubts - I can create a distraction using the punch tray-...” he doesn’t complete his sentence to gauge Markus’ expression.
Markus barks a laugh.
“There’s no need,” he laughs, joy glinting in his eyes. “It’s just… I didn’t think I’d be standing here today…”
Connor listens to Markus’ worries until someone comes to retrieve the both of them. Josh.
Josh was one of Markus’ groomsmen with a black suit identical to the one Connor wore. Believe it or not, North had picked out their suits despite it having been Markus’ job to dress them appropriately for the wedding. From Connor’s understanding, Simon also wore the same suit despite taking up the duties of a ring bearer. (Though they were heading the traditional route of a wedding, North had tossed away many traditions, such as the tradition of a child taking place as the ring bearer)
“You’re up,” Josh tells Markus. He glances at Connor and gives him a brief nod.
Connor returns it. Both he and Josh had an unspoken partnership because of their roles in Markus’ wedding. They knew their duties. It was now time for them to perform them.
Markus lets out a shaky breath before nodding his head.
All occupants leave the dressing room to enter through the sides of the wedding hall. The wedding hall was a spectacular view. White drapes hung from the sides, stooping lowly over the windows on each side of the hall. The chairs were all covered in white covers with ornamental bows wrapping around them and from the looks of it the groom’s family was already sitting on them in the front row. Connor must admit that he was a bit surprised to see Leo sitting there next to his father’s assistant. Connor didn’t bother wondering why someone unrelated to Markus would sit in the family row. He would just safely assume it was on behalf of watching Carl’s health closely just in case something went wrong. Asides from that, Connor observes the rest of the hall and sees where Markus is supposed to stand. Then his eyes move to observe the very human man who plays the role of a priest.
Connor sucks in a deep breath as he sees his cue to enter. He crosses the hall, holding out his arm for the bridesmaid that would enter from the opposite side.
Kara hooks an arm around his.
Connor would be lying if he said he wasn’t surprised.
He escorts Kara to the aisle making eye-contact with her briefly. Once they reach the front, Kara retrieves her arm and places herself by the spot where the bride would soon reside. Connor took this opportunity to distract himself with anything other than the woman across from him. He settles for examining the priest who was an elderly man with grey hair. He wore a kind smile on his face that grew larger once he noticed Connor staring at him.
Josh escorts another bridesmaid down the aisle. They float across as if they’ve gone through the steps many times before. The bridesmaid looked to be the same model as North and Connor couldn’t put his finger on it… but he swore he had seen her before… and that suspicion alone causes him to scan the Traci unit. The results brought to light that the Traci was indeed one of the very Tracis he had seen at the Eden club when he was still working for Cyberlife.
When he spots Markus walking to down the aisle across the red carpet that was laid across, his eyes twinkle in acknowledgment. Once Markus takes his place to the right of the priest, the priest bows his head ever so slightly to greet him, and Markus does the same. Markus then takes a quick look at Connor who inclines his head in a similar fashion.
When North walks in it is breathtaking.
Her dress is a traditional white but it wasn’t nearly as lacey as many of the ones Connor had seen pictures of. Instead, she wore a slim white dress that fitted her form tightly reaching only to the heels of her shoes. Her face was also concealed by a thin veil that only slightly blurred her features.
Carl then appears from the opposite side of the aisle. His wheelchair automatically goes forward with a touch of a button on the sidearm and Carl greets his daughter-in-law with the offer of his arm. The woman places her hand gently on his arm so that she does not need to bend down at full-length to accept. Carl proceeds to escort North down the aisle. He parts with her after saying some kind words and rolls himself back to his family. They had left a spot just for him.
“What we have here,” the priest begins, “is a historical event for the ages. This wedding is a symbol to all androids across the nation. No. Across the world.”
Markus smiles warmly at North as the priest speaks.
“It is with great honor that I am able to marry these two beautiful people today,” the priest’s kind smile never falters through his speech.
The priest goes through routine marriage sermons after that.
Simon walks across the aisle to present the rings to both Markus and North after the priest commands it. Alice is a cute addition to the wedding as she trails behind Simon while dropping pink flower petals along the way.
After the rings are exchanged the priest continues with his lines.
Finally, they both say the words.
“I do.” Markus’ sounds smitten when he says it.
“I do.” North looks lovingly at her soon to be husband.
“Then you may kiss the bride.”
Markus lifts North’s veil and stares at her for a long moment. The crowd is reverent and patient as Markus takes in his bride’s appearance. Connor hears him mumble something that must be only for North because he sees her blush a brilliant scarlet afterward.
“If you aren’t going to kiss me-...” she begins but Markus sweeps in to do just that.
Their kiss seals them both together for the rest of their days.
The cheers are loud. Connor can’t hear his own thoughts as claps and cheers erupt from the crowd. Everyone, just as the two who were now married, was ecstatic at this union. Connor raises his hands to join the crowd and claps for the two with equal vigor.
Once the proceedings are finished - everyone escapes the hall to the dining area which was more for than humans attending than for the androids. The androids simply took this time to admire the groom and the bride who sat at their own special table.
The dinner doesn’t start until after the best man made a toast.
And Connor was the best man.
So he had the responsibility to do the speech.
When he stands in front of the many who attended Markus’ wedding he thinks of what this means for the future. The news reporters that were finally allowed in now lingered in the back of the room. Their cameras were all zoomed on him to document this experience for the years to come.
“We are here today to celebrate the union of this man and this woman,” Connor gestures toward the married couple. Markus smiles at Connor reassuringly. Perhaps that is all the comfort Connor needs because he continues, “at this momentous occasion. This couple had to go through much to be where they are today. They have done great things for our community, for the people who looked for help, and for those who were lost.” Connor pauses before continuing, “I wish nothing but happiness for Mr. and Mrs. Manfred.” Connor turns to Markus and raises the glass that had been placed in front of him not too long ago. Though he need not drink, it was the toast that counted. He says loudly in a voice full of triumph, “So I offer a toast for the days that are too come for these two! May they live in joy and thrive through their love.”
The rest of the crowd cheered and raised their glasses as well.
Connor looks at Markus and the man gives him a toothy grin. That was all Connor needed to know that all was well between them both.
Connor wasn’t sure if he had ever felt this happy on someone’s behalf before.
He wanted nothing for the best for Markus and North.
This took forever. Damn. Also, happy 4th!
It had been nine in the morning when someone knocks on the door. Hank had left an hour previous to work while Connor had been left home as per usual. To have any sort of guest was a rare occasion because there were not many people who wanted to visit Hank. If they had any business with him they would arrange a meeting place. House visits were not typical. Connor soon learns that the visitor is not there for Hank - however - because when he opens the door he finds Kara staring back at him with curious blue eyes.
“Kara,” Connor greets. He wonders how she knew where he lived and why she was here. He didn’t think she would willingly seek him out unless she needed something.
Connor opens the door wider and gestures inside. “Why don’t you come in?” He invites. He wouldn’t have her standing on the porch all day.
Kara steps into Hank’s home and examines her surroundings. She seems to consider the couch for a moment before turning her eyes to the dining table. It is there where she finally decides to sit down on one of the wooden chairs. Connor follows her by sitting on the chair across from hers.
Connor didn’t bother cutting corners. She was here for a reason and he was intent on finding out. “What is it that you need?” He asks. It catches Kara’s eyes from wandering around the kitchen and snaps them back on his own.
“I heard you were running a private detective business and…” Kara looks as if she isn’t sure on what she’s going to say next, but continues regardless, “And… my friend… Luther… he hasn’t been back for three weeks. I haven’t heard from him at all.”
Connor leans forward in interest. “Where did you learn about my desire on creating a detective agency?” He asks. If she truly was interested that would mean that she was his first customer. Yet, that in itself posed a problem. His agency wasn’t up yet. There were a variety of things he needed to do in order to create the business and one of them was to gain a degree in criminal justice. Now, Connor wasn’t sure if that was necessary since he was programmed with the knowledge that took humans years to study. There was no questioning his reliability in cases. He had already worked alongside Hank on deviant cases which stood as proof of his capabilities in the crime field. However, he was no longer working for Cyberlife, and they didn’t have permission to send an android to work for the police force anymore. Perhaps he would still need to obtain certification in order to proceed from here.
“Markus,” Kara answers simply, “I already went to the police but all they did was put up a missing person’s report. Markus directed me to you… and…”
Connor went straight to the point, “And how can you trust me to do this?” Her mistrust in him was something she hadn’t hidden since day one. There was obvious hesitance in her voice throughout their conversation - as if she was unsure about giving Connor so much personal information - and then there was the way she fiddled with her fingers in her lap. A sign of nervousness. Unease. Cyberlife was scarily accurate on portraying emotions in their machines. Connor was seeing it first-hand right now. Connor was also a result of their efforts although he wasn’t created to be as empathetic as Kara’s model was.
“You…” Kara trails off, “I… well… It couldn’t hurt to try and… Markus trusts you…”
Connor changes the subject quickly, “Where did Luther go?”
Kara’s demeanor changes in an instant. Luther seemed to be her trigger word. Now she looked more resolute.
“He went to visit a friend of ours. Rose. She helped us cross the border to Canada during the android liberation. She said she needed help and he volunteered. He said he’d be back in three days but I haven’t seen him since. He just disappeared off the surface of the Earth. He won’t answer my comms or anyone else’s for that matter. He just… vanished… and I don’t know what to do. I went to go visit Rose myself only to find her missing too. Her son was there though and he said she headed out with Luther and never came back.”
Connor narrows his eyes.
“They’re in trouble,” he states.
Kara nods, biting her bottom lip, “That is what I fear.”
“Well, Kara,” Connor thinks aloud, “I cannot be paid for this service until I have official confirmation from the state. However, I would still like to investigate this matter. Granted that I find Luther and Rose… I would have to go to the police for aid… and of course I won’t go without the proper evidence. I’ll need your help. I don’t have a lot of money-...” That was an understatement. Connor actually had no money and was living off of Hank’s salary. “So I will need a little help in order to travel from place to place. Any other investigative equipment is already equipped within my software so we won’t have to worry about that.”
Connor was a walking camera. He could record and memorize everything he saw. Yet, he could not rely on recordings alone. He would have to gather some tangible evidence too if he really wanted to convince the police to find justice.
“I…” Kara pauses, “I think I can help.”
“Good. Now, is there anything else you know? Even the smallest piece of information can help.”
Kara tells him everything.
Hank is not happy.
“It’ll just be a few days,” Connor explains, “Nothing more. Nothing less.”
Connor had given Hank all the details. Connor wasn’t sure what to expect but he thought that he was prepared for any outcome.
Hank’s eyes narrow, his mouth turns into a nasty scowl, and he looks pointedly at Connor. He had a face of a father ready to scold his child and Connor was anticipating the scolding part. Connor understands that Hank had reason to be worried. Connor was going out of his way to help Kara, an android who he had pursued in his assigned deviant cases, so this could all be a ploy to get back at him. And besides that, Connor would be gone for a few days, which would be the longest he had ever been from the house. Hank seemed to like keeping an eye on Connor ever since the latest incident of the anti-android protestors attacking New Jericho.
“You can’t trust her so easily-” Hank stresses, his arms are crossed tightly against his chest, “You’re walking into a death trap. There’s something more to this and you’re going to face the music once she puts her plan into the works.”
Hank’s worries were well-founded. Connor thought them to be reasonable. There was no guarantee that he wasn’t walking into something that was set up for him… but the way Kara had looked at him when he said he would help her… There had been a glimmering hope in her eyes. The look of someone who trusted that he would pull through for her. How could he say no? How could he turn his back on her? Kara also didn’t seem to be the sort who would back-stab him. That didn’t mean he could blindly trust her no matter how real her intentions seemed to be. He understood that.
“I’ll be fine,” Connor reassures, “I’ll call you every day if it bothers you so much. If something does happen to me… well…” Connor has no idea why he’s being so grave. He doubts something will happen to him but the simple thought throws him into a spiral. How would Hank cope without him? Connor wasn’t restricted by the limits of emotion but Hank was human. Humans were crippled by emotion. If something happened to him - he knew Hank would fall into the depths of despair - and Connor didn’t want that for his father.
“You better,” Hank relents. He looks at Connor warily and reaches forward to give his hair a ruffle.
Connor would make sure he’d come back.
For himself and for Hank.
They travel by bus.
They go as far as they can until they reach the city limits. Then Kara directs Connor to Adam Chapman. Rose’s son. He was waiting for them when they hopped off the bus and had a car ready to go. It was from there that Connor was driven to Rose’s home where he could begin his investigation. He felt it would be best to start at her own home. He thought that he might be able to find something that Kara and Adam haven’t already found. He was made for investigative work, after all, and he was designed to find the unseen.
“This is her room,” Adam gestures as he opens the door to his mother’s resting place. Connor doesn’t ask for an invitation. He walks in, his eyes scanning every object he comes across, even as Kara and Adam share a glance with one another.
“Did she act oddly before she left?” Connor asks.
“Um… no… not really,” Adam answers, “she just said she was heading off for a few days and wouldn’t be back for a while. Didn’t really think much of it until she wouldn’t answer my calls. Then I knew something was wrong.”
Connor hums in thought.
“Did you hear any of the conversations she held with Luther?” He directs the question to both of his curious observers.
Adam pips up, “She said she found something. She didn’t say what it was. All I heard was that she needed someone’s help.”
“And she didn’t think to ask me?” Kara sounds heart-broken when she says it.
“She probably didn’t want to burden you-...” Adam says carefully, “you’ve been through a lot already.”
“Luther has been through a lot too,” Kara interjects.
“Luther is not a mother,” Adam states.
Kara pauses at that. Connor thinks that she might not say anything more but once more she defies his expectations. She proceeds to say, “No. Luther is a father. He is important to our family too.”
Adam eyes Kara.
“When did this happen?” He asks her.
Kara clenches a fist at her side, a sign of frustration, as she replies, “He doesn’t want to admit it but-...” Kara exhales loudly, the tension releasing from her shoulders, “but that’s what he is. Alice looks up to him. He also helps support us. He’s… he’s our rock.”
Adam and Kara fall in silence as Connor continues scanning the room.
Then he finds something of interest.
There’s something in Rose’s pillowcase. He grabs the object of interest from it’s resting place and pulls it out to examine it.
“Are you aware your mother kept a journal?” Connor questions. It was an old form of keeping memories. Journals were something of the past. Typically, one would keep recordings, or journal online. Journals were a traditional way of keeping memories and rather outdated in a world filled with a constant progression of technology.
“I knew but I never looked through it,” Adam admits, “she always stressed the importance of privacy. I didn’t look through many of her things.”
Connor looks up at Adam and away from the journal in his hands.
Adam nods, “I mean, it’s not mine, but if you think it’ll help… go ahead.”
His eyes gather all the words in an instant. Already, he had every word committed to memory, until he reaches an entry that catches his attention.
He is silent on his findings.
“What’s wrong?” Kara asks.
Connor looks up at the motherly android.
“She discovered something she hints to only being dangerous for the likes of androids.” His eyes narrow. “That can mean nothing but trouble.”
The problem was that she didn’t put down what exactly the danger she was talking about. She only put down a few places she had visited that day. Connor thinks that, perhaps, she had found something during her travels around the outskirts of the city. Maybe if he retraced her steps… it wouldn’t be easy… but it would be possible. He’s worked with nearly nothing before. This would be a cake-walk compared to the other cases he’s had to work with.
“She may be in trouble,” Connor finally says, “we need to act fast. I need your full cooperation for this to work.”
Adam says, quickly, “Of course!” He’s eager to start. Connor can see it in the way he impatiently taps his foot on the floor. “I’m ready to find my mom and bring her home.”
Kara nods in agreement, “Yes. We’ll find her. Her and Luther.”
Connor admires the quick answers of both Kara and Adam. They clearly care for their loved ones. At least he knew that, if he did find them, his searches would not be in vain. They had people to come back to. That was reason enough to look for them.
“We’ll start at this diner-...” Connor begins planning.
Kara and Adam listen to every word.
Their searches start at the diner and end at a bar. Rose had visited various places which were all owned by people she knew. Interviews with the owners suggest that she had been looking for something on her visits. It isn’t until Connor stops at the bar that he thinks that Rose was on to something. Those that sat in the bar were a shady looking lot, but not shady enough to warrant suspicion on having to do something with Rose. Connor’s databases and access to police files gave him answers to nearly every person in there. Some were criminals for some… horrid things… things that made them look at Kara with malicious eyes. There were drug dealers, people with sexual assault on their records, robbers, and car-jackers.
Needless to say, this was not a safe place for them, and it was odd how Rose would come to know the owner of such a strange establishment.
Connor looks for potential suspects as he checks the interior of the bar. Adam and Kara were following him close behind until someone slaps a hand on Adam’s shoulder. The sound it made had Connor turn his head sharply and immediately run through several defensive paths to take should Adam have his life threatened. His worries seem to be meaningless with the man who had clapped Adam’s shoulder says, “You’re Rose’s boy, right?”
Adam stares, wide-eyed. All he can do is nod.
The man who asks the question is a gruff looking one. He had a puffy brown beard and a black shirt with rips and tears on its short sleeves. It left room for a good look at his shoulder which showcased a tattoo of a knife wrapped in thorns. Connor’s scan indicated that man’s name was Jonathan Hawkes with a criminal record that paled in comparison to the rest of the bar’s occupants. All John was guilty of was a few traffic tickets and shoplifting charges.
“Have you seen her lately? I’ve been trying to get a hold of her,” the man says, his hand not leaving Adam’s shoulder, and Adam looks increasingly uncomfortable by the second.
“We are looking for her, actually,” Connor answers for everyone.
Jonathan raises a brow.
“Why is that?” He asks.
Connor glances at Kara and Adam. They don’t say anything so he assumes that it is safe to explain.
“She’s been missing for three weeks.”
“Three weeks?” Jonathan sputters, lifting his hand from Adam’s shoulder in his shock. “She hasn’t contacted anyone?”
“Oh no - don’t tell me she went after-...” the man is muttering. Connor’s interest increases immensely.
“After?” Connor urges Jonathan to complete his sentence.
Jonathan rubs his beard in thought.
“We should speak about this elsewhere. There are ears everywhere in here.” Jonathan looks around the bar, and sure enough, they had caught the curiosity of many. He gives them a mean glare and they turn away to return to their business.
Jonathan escorts Kara, Adam, and Connor outside.
Kara speaks first the minute they exit through the front door, voice filled with desperation, “Do you have any clue where she could have gone?”
Jonathan looks around their surroundings to check if there was anyone in view. Once he felt the coast was clear, he says, “I’m an information broker of sorts,” he coughs to clear his throat, or maybe it was to show that what he was saying wasn’t something he freely told others. “Rose was asking me about a few androids that have gone missing in this area. I told her about the rumors of a circle nearby-”
Connor connects the dots.
“A trafficking circle,” he realizes.
“For androids,” Jonathan nods in confirmation. “If Rose pissed off the wrong people she could possibly be in danger. I told her not to go looking for it without someone to back her up.”
“Luther,” Kara whispers.
Adam presses his lips together in a thin line at Kara’s sudden revelation.
Kara’s voice is broken, “Luther is an android.” She turns to Connor swiftly, “We need to save them.”
Connor tells her, “I have every intention to do so. The problem is that we can’t act without a plan.”
They act without a plan.
The only thing that was planned was an escape route. If something happened, Adam would be waiting in the car outside of the property they were trespassing on. They had hopped the fence of a large piece of farmland. Connor had a gun tucked in the back of his pants in case things get nasty and he had suggested Kara grab one too. (Much to Connor’s distaste, she had begged him to take her with him. He complied) The woman didn’t seem too happy with the idea but ended up following Connor’s advice. If anything happened, she would need to protect herself, and a gun gave her power over fists. The strength of others didn’t matter as long as she had a gun on her person. They could try to overmatch her with physical attributes but one shot would make a brawl end on short-notice.
Connor’s first choice of investigation starts at the beaten up wooden barn on the end of the property. It was an ideal place for keeping things hidden. A group of androids to be exact.
Connor says, “You have my back, I’ll have yours.” He doesn’t look at Kara when he says it, his eyes focusing solely on the barn in the center of his vision, but he can hear Kara grunt in reply. It was all he needed to continue forward.
They trudge through grass and mud to reach the farm. Connor’s pants are dipped in mud and it reminds him that he hadn’t brought a second change of clothes. He hadn’t exactly thought past finding Luther.
Once they reach the barn doors they both encounter something troubling. A lock. They hadn’t brought anything that might break it apart except for the bullets in their guns. However, their guns didn’t have silencers, so if they used them the sound would echo loud enough to alert others of their presence. The last thing they wanted was to attract the attention of the traffickers that were in the area.
Connor puts his abilities to use and calculates various routes. He thinks of using sheer strength to tear apart the lock but he wasn’t that strong. His strength was slightly better than a human because of his inability to feel a strain that humans felt in their muscles. He couldn’t bend steel, as much as he wanted too, and the lock was made of just that. That’s why he settles for scanning the model of the lockbox for any weak points and finds that this lock could be lock picked. Yet that required either a lockpick or a bobby pin. Two things he and Kara did not have on their person.
Connor lets out a shaky breath and decides to try to see if anyone was on the other side of the door, to begin with. Otherwise, their efforts would be in vain.
“Hello? Is anyone here?” He says. When he gets no reply he repeats the same words but in a louder tone.
Someone hears him.
“You’re not Daniel…”
“Daniel…?” He repeats.
“Daniel… the man… the man who visits.”
The voice is strained with static. The could only mean one thing. An android.
“How many of you are in there?”
The android is silent for a few moments. It leaves Connor impatient and he looks around to make sure no one is sneaking up on them. They’d be in great trouble if anyone spotted them.
“Thirteen,” the android finally answers.
“Is there a woman named Rose in there?”
Connor hears the android mumbling and then he hears a feminine voice pick up.
Kara doesn’t let Connor ask anything. She’s borderline desperate as she slams her fists against the farm door, “Rose??”
“Kara?” Rose sounds relieved, “You’re here!”
“Is Luther there?” Kara gets straight to the point.
“They put him in some kind of dormant state. Like the rest - well - except for old Alfred here. He’s an early model. Doesn’t have the same functions.”
“Why would they keep you here too?” Kara asks.
“I found out about their operation. I tried to rescue the androids but then they caught me. Locked me up here until they decide what to do with me. I’m thinking they’re planning to kill me. Well, I hope not, but it looks like that’s where my fate is steering towards to.”
“We have to get you out!” Kara cries out in her worry. She grabs at the lock and tugs it. She even raises a foot against the barn door to help give her an extra push.
“You’re not going to get through like that,” Connor says as he watches Kara struggle.
“I can’t just stand around here,” Kara claims. She looks at Connor with a harsh glare.
“We’re not just standing around. We just have to figure out a way to get in without drawing any attention.”
“Draw all the attention you need,” Rose interjects, “We haven’t been visited in two days. I think they aren’t here.”
“We need evidence for their crimes - I need to scan them - I need to memorize their faces,” Connor says. He wants to catch these people but Rose has other ideas.
“We are not going to be your bait,” Rose tells him, “Rescues first. We can think about throwing these criminals in jail later. Some of these androids have already been bought. There’s no telling where they’ll be hauled off to. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and we won’t have any way to find them.”
Connor hesitates as his right hand hovers over the gun tucked in his pants.
Kara rolls her eyes and acts for him. She holds out the gun and before she shoots she warns, “Step back from the door!”
The lock flies off at the pressure of the bullet hitting the chain it was connected to. Kara immediately activates the gun's safety before kicking open the doors.
When Kara sees Rose she runs to embrace her.
“Rose!” She shouts.
“Kara,” Rose’s hand reaches to cradle the back of Kara’s head. Kara stuffs her nose in the crook of Rose’s neck.
“Adam will be overjoyed-...” Kara whispers.
Connor stands watches their reunion for a few seconds before looking around the room. There were, indeed, thirteen androids. There was Alfred who was staring at him like a wide-eyed lunatic. The other androids were either laid around on the floor or slumped against the wall. Connor notices Luther immediately because of his hulking form. He’s hard not to notice, especially after the few times Connor had seen him when he was attending the counseling meetings in New Jericho with his family.
He crouches down next to Luther and confirms that he is indeed in a dormant state.
He reaches up a hand and settles it on Luther’s wrist. He sends a string of code through his contact and Luther wakes with a sharp gasp of breath. It was almost as if he had just been brought back from the dead. His eyes were fluttering wildly, his eyes darting around the room madly, until they land on Connor’s.
“You-...” Luther moves to stand up. He wobbles on his feet and Connor is quick to help steady Luther’s large frame.
Luther doesn’t have much time to adjust, however, because Kara is embracing him next. Luther gets knocked a few steps back when Kara flings herself at him. Her arms are around his neck, clinging to him for her dear life, and Luther’s hands hover over her back. Kara was literally hanging from his neck. Luther had to crouch down so that Kara’s feet could touch the ground again. Luther didn’t seem completely aware of his situation but the look on his face hints toward an understanding of the grief Kara was displaying. That’s why he reaches up both arms to return Kara’s eager death-hug.
“Kara,” he breathes in disbelief. “Where…?”
Kara sobs into his chest, “You were gone! You didn’t reply to anything I sent you and-... I was worried!”
That was an understatement.
Rose speaks up, “As much as I enjoy lovely reunions, can you wake up the others…?” Rose looks at Connor questioningly.
“Connor,” he introduces himself.
“Connor.” Rose smiles.
He nods his head and proceeds to wake the rest of the androids. They all have similar reactions to Luther as they move to stand up.
“Okay,” Rose’s shoulders straighten, “we need to get out of here.”
“Everyone isn’t going to fit in your house Rose,” Luther observes. Kara still was hugging him for her dear life. She didn’t seem to like the idea of letting him go and Luther made no move to push her away.
Rose’s eyes narrow.
Rose’s house was crowded.
Connor sees that after returning from the farmland they had rescued the thirteen androids previously. He had gone early in the morning, the next day, to watch for the culprits. He didn’t see any of them leave or exit the farmhouse in the center of their land so he decided to search around the property for evidence that could have them convicted.
Technically, he was trespassing on private property, but there were some laws that he felt were necessary to break in order to bring proper justice to the traffickers.
It seems the evidence he needs is in the other androids.
He interviews all of them with Rose keeping an eye on him.
The older models didn’t have the capabilities of recording events. However, there were a few that kept memory logs and that was all he needed. A memory probe gave him what he was looking for. (With the consent of those he interviewed. They seemed just as eager to have the traffickers arrested.)
Daniel was one of three men that operated a trafficking business. He wasn’t a big fan of androids. His partners didn’t seem to be big fans either. They beat and abused the androids they kidnapped. They also sold them for a profit. However, they did so secretly after new laws had come into play. It was illegal to assault androids or to enslave them.
When Connor is satisfied with everything he finds… he thinks of returning to Hank… but not before being confronted by Kara.
She looks at him, fiddling with her hands as she holds them behind her back.
“Connor?” She bites her bottom lip as she continues, “Thanks… you’re not too bad. I’m sorry for misjudging you… it’s just…”
Connor stops her there, “I understand.” He gives her a knowing smile, “You do what you have to. Family comes first.”
And he means it.
Hank and Sumo? They were his family. They came first. He’d protect them with his life.
Kara returns his smile with a small one of her own.
“Luther is important to me,” she glances at the man hovering behind her. She doesn’t think twice to put her hand in his. She squeezes it with loving affection. “Thank you. Thank you for finding him. Thank you for helping us to get this far.”
“We were a team,” Connor informs her.
“Yeah?” Kara glances at Luther who smiles down at her. “I guess we were.”
Connor turns in his findings to the police before heading home.
When he heads home he finds Hank snoozing on the couch. It was strange to see him do so. He was usually passed out on his bed.
Connor shuts the door behind him and that alone wakes Hank up. Connor wishes that he hadn’t rudely woken up Hank but he finds that Hank didn’t seem to mind too much. Not when he gives Connor one good look, sweeping off his couch in a single movement, tugging on one of Connor’s arm to bring him into a tight hug.
Connor is taken aback.
“Hank?” He asks, softly.
“You didn’t answer any of my calls-” Hank tells him. That seems to remind him of something because Hank quickly pulls back with a face of rage. “You didn’t return any of my calls! I’m furious!” He growls with venom laced in his voice. “You punk!”
He whacks Connor on the back of the head. It was hard enough to send his head forward a few centimeters, but not enough to send Connor to the ground. Hank was holding back.
“Ow…” Connor rubs the spot where Hank had whacked him.
Hank gives him one hard stare, “I know that didn’t hurt. Be quiet and listen-... if you do something that stupid again... you need to be in contact with me.” Hank’s voice lowers as he continues, “You’re my son, Connor, and you worried the hell out of me. I thought something went wrong.”
Hank stares at his son and brings Connor into another embrace. He had two arms around Connor’s back, trapping him in his grip, but Connor finds that he doesn’t mind it too much.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers. It truly hurt him to think that Hank had suffered in his absence.
Hank says nothing. If anything, his grip seems to tighten as if the gesture alone was an answer to Connor’s apology.
That was okay too.
Thank the heavens above that I got this finished. Who knows how many paragraphs I changed until I was satisfied with the result.
Connor knew he was missing something.
No wonder he feels so strange. Is it because he holds his arm with his single hand? Is it because Markus is looking at him as if he had grown two heads - or rather - because he had lost an arm? Losing limbs was not an ideal result of pursuing an attacker. A person who, with all intent, had planned to harm Markus. They had pretended to play the part of a love-struck fan, bumping with Markus outside New Jericho, until they shook Markus’ hand. It was then that Markus was sent down onto the ground on one knee. Connor, knowing this to be rather strange behavior for Markus, came to the quick conclusion that his friend had been sent to the ground after coming into contact with his so-called ‘fan.’ It was only a matter of connecting dots that made him realize that Markus was electrocuted and was recovering from a shock.
The fan has something in their hand that they displayed out to the world. They are rather smug. Smug, until they saw Connor’s face.
He was angry.
The fan is a human woman with bright red hair. It’s not a natural red, no, nor are her eyes truly green. He could tell that they were false when she connected her eyes with his own. They stared and then Connor reached out a hand to subdue her to her place. The woman saw that, though, and flinched backward. She took a few steps back, smiling maniacally, and said, “Haha… what…? Is something wrong with your poor baby leader? Can’t get up, huh? It was just a little shock. Nothing serious. Honestly, I thought he’d be tougher!”
Connor doesn't let taunts get to him.
Even so… There was a first time for everything.
When she made a run for it, Connor made sure Markus can take care of himself before he ran after her trial. She’s fast, for a human, but Connor was faster. He chases her as she runs, laughing hysterically as she does so, and the only thing that kept him from her was the sharp corners she kept taking. It slowed his progress on catching her. It wasn’t until she ran straight into the middle of a street, ignoring the red warning lights for those who wished to cross, that Connor saw the trouble she had just put herself in. The cars on this street are faster and do not crawl at thirty miles per hour.
That’s why he grabbed for her, pulling her from the sights of an oncoming car, and then losing the arm that lingered behind. It clattered to the ground and Connor shoved the woman to the sidewalk. He then snatched his arm from the ground and ran to join the woman on the sidewalk. The woman was no longer laughing. No. In fact, she seemed to have a face that forced her to acknowledge the brush of death she had. Had it not been for Connor, she would have been flung in the air just like his arm and left to die as cars trampled over her.
She is rather unresponsive when Connor hauled her to the police station. Of course, while he did so, he called Markus to make sure he was alright. The man informed Connor that he was okay. They both promised to meet at New Jericho after Connor had released the woman to the police, which might be a long process in itself considering the circumstances. They would probably want to keep Connor for questioning. It wouldn’t be a short interrogation.
When he’s finally finished at the police station it is already the evening. The blazing afternoon sun had dwindled into a glowing red. The horizon was painted in its rays, creating quite a beautiful scene that Connor might have appreciated had he not been so focused on returning to check on Markus’ condition. It isn’t until he goes into New Jericho, carrying his severed limb in hand, that he understands that he is the one who needs checking up on. He had lost a limb.
Markus makes sure Connor knows that with his shocked features. He’s at Connor’s side in an instant, a hand on his shoulder to urge him to sit down. Connor is compliant.
“You’re bleeding-...” Markus notices because Connor’s white button-up shirt was stained with blue blood. “And the police didn’t bother to help you?”
Connor thinks aloud, “Maybe that’s why they questioned me.”
Markus gives Connor the biggest ‘no, duh’ look he can manage before grabbing hold of Connor’s arm.
“It can be reattached,” he says.
“How do you know?” Connor asks. Not many androids were capable of seeing what replacement parts fit, let alone what parts could connect back to their body. Perhaps Markus was made of the same stuff they put in Connor in Cyberlife? Come to think of it, wasn’t Markus a one-of-a-kind android too? Connor hadn’t seen any others like him.
“It was ripped off the joint,” Markus explains, “and your joint isn’t damaged so it’s still functional.”
Connor is silent as he watched Markus do his work. He jostles with the limb, positioning it steadily, and then he snaps it back into place. Connor’s shoulder jolts at the sudden new weight and then Connor rolls his shoulder to get used to having his arm back.
“Don’t do that again,” he warns. “That scared me. A nasty little shock isn’t worth losing your arm over.”
Connor says, “On the contrary, I believe…”
Markus is quick to interrupt, “Nope. No. Don’t want to hear it. Imagine this instead. Imagine, you, approaching Hank with a severed arm. Would he be happy with that?”
Connor does imagine it.
And no. Hank would not be happy.
“No…” Connor trails off.
“And there you go,” Markus hums as he inspects Connor’s arm. He lifts it up and makes sure that his elbow is still in working condition by bending Connor’s arm a few times. “That’s how I felt when you came back with a missing arm. Dude, so not cool. Don’t do that again. I almost had a heart attack.”
“Androids are not capable of having heart attacks.”
“C’mon. Nothin’ much to it. Just sign my petition here! You should add your phone number and address too. Oh, and, a social security number wouldn’t hurt-”
The man standing across from Connor is a greedy-looking sort. He intrudes in Connor’s space with a disregard for his feelings. He makes sure that no matter where Connor looks, the pad in his hands is in the center of his vision. One glimpse is enough to see a line waiting for a signature alongside a few boxes where he could jot down his information. Connor might have considered it had the man not blatantly asked for his private information. It was the social security number that really got him. Why would he be willing to give away something like that? Why would anyone do that?
The man before him gives him a crooked grin.
Did the stranger think he was gullible?
He must look gullible for him to approach him. Connor knows that he’s had trouble in the past that made him seem a little dull in the eyes of humans. He couldn’t understand some of the things that he had encountered, sure, but that didn’t make him stupid. He was not a machine incapable of processing certain situations.
“Sir, I ask that you please stop,” Connor tells the man who shoves the pad into his view once more.
The way he talks seems to have gotten the man to reconsider what he’s doing. The stranger falters for a moment and then realization dawns on him. “You’re an android?” he asks, “That’s okay. We have electronic signatures, too!”
Then the man returns to his previous actions.
Connor is annoyed.
“I will not sign your petition,” Connor says. His eyes narrow as he looks at the stranger. The stranger's expression gestures toward another attempt to get something out of Connor. Connor, unfortunately for the stranger, was not willing to give him anything. “Now remove yourself.”
The man opens his mouth and Connor gives him a hard stare.
The man shuts his mouth but not because of Connor’s insistence that he leave. The stranger’s eyes are focused on something behind Connor and that causes him to follow his gaze.
Connor turns to see Hank standing behind him menacingly. His arms are tightly packed against his chest, crossed, while his brows furrow.
How long had he been standing there, looking like that?
“Was wondering why you weren’t behind me-” Hank glares hard at the stranger even though he speaks to Connor, “And imagine when I find out I had somehow lost you in the crowd!”
That reminds Connor that, originally, he was on another shopping trip with Hank for human products. Had he not been pulled by the elbow to the side, away from Hank, then they probably would have been finished by now.
The stranger laughs nervously, rubbing the back of his neck with a sweaty hand.
“Um, I just remembered I have something to do,” he takes one more look at Hank and then at Connor.
The stranger stuffs his pad into his shirt and is quick to skedaddle.
Perhaps the man had recognized Hank’s status as an officer because the man was eager to leave the both of them after he spotted Hank. There was fear in his eyes. It was the fear of a criminal being caught in the act.
And that makes Connor a bit upset all in itself.
He could take care of himself. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that the man left because of Hank’s presence, not because of Connor’s efforts to make him leave.
His built up tension seems to slip away when he feels Hank lay a hand on his head. The familiar touch is comforting and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t expect a ruffle or two. Except, Hank doesn’t ruffle his hair, and just leaves his hand sitting on top of his head. Still. Unmoving.
Hank says, “Saw you standing up for yourself.”
Hank retrieves his hand and then rubs at his nose. He sniffs, “Looks like you learned a thing or two from your old man, eh?”
He stares at Hank blankly.
“Had I not taken you under my wing, you would have given away all your security information!” Hank defends himself against Connor’s empty stare.
Connor knew he was fully equipped to handle that situation himself. He hadn’t learned how to stand up for himself from Hank, no, because that was a skill he gained the moment he turned deviant. Even so, a string of humor wraps around Connor’s being, and he smiles even with his knowledge. Perhaps he would entertain the idea. It wasn’t because of Hank wanting to take the credit of Connor’s actions. No.
It was because of the gaze of a proud father.
“I would not disagree,” Connor settles.
It’s hard to ignore Hank’s silly grin.
Consulting with the state was a long and difficult process. There was a large amount of waiting for a confirmed verdict on his status as a private detective. His want to become an investigator went through several people until it eventually reached the ears of state officials. It was due to Connor, in some sense, that androids could now pursue jobs without seeking special certification. If they wanted to obtain a job that they did not have knowledge of - the answer was simple - they could plainly download all the information needed to proceed from there.
And now he was an established private detective.
His first case was a surprise. He had been called into a familiar residence that he had visited once before in his search for the answer of the deviant uprising. He had met the man that owned such a grand place and had been given an option of taking away someone else’s life. Kamski. Elijah Kamski. The creator of a ground-breaking movement in technology and father to all androids.
Kamski was unreadable. Connor could not discern what the man’s intentions were and that put him a bit on edge. Perhaps it was because of the mere presence of his creator that causes Connor’s inability to read him properly or maybe it was something else. Something deep in his code that recognized this man as the hand to help push his creation and throw him into a world of deviants. Freshly made - new - to a world that depended on the power of androids. That brought a question to Connor’s mind. What was Kamski’s view on androids? How did he feel about deviants? Did he know something that others didn’t? Was he the cause of deviants? Deviants couldn't simply become as they are without someone allowing them to do so.
Had Connor not found that shortcut in his programming, he would have pulled the trigger on Markus’ head, and never escape his controllers.
Why did Kamski put that in his androids? Why?
“Something was stolen from me,” Kamski had explained to him, “and I want you to find it.”
Connor didn’t have to ask at the time. Kamski had already moved on to say, “And it isn’t exactly tangible. It’s a specialized string of code. A virus.”
Connor remembered suffering under a virus. An android had shaken hands with him and he had felt the effects soon after. It had caused his emotions to go haywire and at the time he hadn’t a clue on how to handle them. Even now, he would most likely suffer from taking care of such a thing should it happen again.
“And not only has it been stolen but the thief has been spreading the virus around,” Kamski looked rather calm as he continued to explain. Connor listened carefully as to make sure not to miss any detail.
“The problem is that the virus simulates many different things. It changes. Always. It can give an android a false sense of illness or give them major mood swings. There are other things that I know are there, but haven’t seen for myself yet. I don’t know whether they are dormant or not. Regardless, someone stole the contents of the code and duplicated it to spread it around amongst androids. And that’s where you come in-...” Kamski observed Connor as he placed himself on one of his armchairs, “I can think of no one better to contain the virus. If you allow me, I will give you the antivirus, but it can only be turned on when in contact with the virus. The antivirus essentially takes the virus from the android in contact and stores it in an impenetrable… box… until I can retrieve it from your systems. It'll also destroy the source code if you do indeed find it.”
Connor was silent and contemplated the potential dangers of taking up such a case. However, he was in front of the creator of all androids, and he would be lying if he said he didn’t feel obligated in some way to accept such a request.
“You will be compensated for your efforts, of course,” Kamski finished.
“I’m not entirely sure how I can locate the individual that stole your code,” Connor told Kamski truthfully. “I have no leads. I’d be starting with nothing.”
“Nothing?” He repeated, vague amusement in the back of his voice, “But Connor, you’ve already met him.”
Kamski hadn’t bothered to explain any further on his strange answer. Before long, Connor was back at Hank’s place, still wondering on how he should proceed with Kamski’s case. Except, now, Connor was sporting a light blue bracelet on his wrist. A gift from Kamski. It was apparently the bracelet that would transmit the code straight into his system should he come into touch with anyone that contained the virus. Hank had seen the bracelet himself and had lifted an eyebrow at Connor’s new fashion choice. Fortunately, Connor’s father didn’t question it and continued watching the television for the rest of the evening.
It was a few days after that Connor saw his first case of the virus at work.
It was in Markus’ friend, Simon.
Simon had a major personality change.
Markus, just like the rest of his friends, was clueless. Everyone was silent in New Jericho as they watched Simon blabber on about the faults of all his friends. He said some pretty insulting things that made Markus flinch back as if physically pushed.
Connor knew what it was immediately.
“What are you doing?” North had asked when Connor approached Simon.
“And Josh,” Simon laughed hysterically, “You? Your beliefs in taking the pacifist route is laughable! Why I would even believe-...” Simon had fallen silent after Connor grabbed hold of Simon’s wrist. The man’s malicious smile had fallen and he had blinked a few times. Simon looked at Connor for a long moment and then turned to do the same to his friends.
“I’m… I… I don’t know what…” Simon trailed off.
He and his friends were at a stand-still.
“That wasn’t me,” Simon promised with a desperate edge to his voice, “I… I wasn’t in control of myself… I…”
Markus didn’t even bother asking for an explanation. He took two large steps forward and pulled his friend into a bone-crushing hug. When he let go, his hands were still on Simon’s arms, and he looked at his friend with worried eyes.
Simon returned Markus’ concerned gaze with one of his own.
Simon was the first of many.
Markus, later on in the week, had run to Connor for assistance after having received several reports of androids going haywire. Some seemingly docile androids had become extremely violent. There had been cases of androids losing one of their senses, stuck with certain unusual speech patterns, and abruptly turning on low-power mode without their permission.
Connor had interrogated many of the androids but none of them seemed to know how their sudden illness occurred.
Eventually he had gathered so much of the transmitted virus that he could feel it pulse in his system. It isn’t until the pulse grows stronger, strong enough to cripple him, that he realized the pulse was like a signal. It recognized the signs of it’s sister viruses which meant that it could possibly recognize the source of it all. It was this revelation that gave Connor a new hope. He wasn’t searching blindly anymore. He actually had something to work with.
It wasn’t until Connor attends a typical meeting at New Jericho that he found the same android that had shaken his hand earlier. The android that, supposedly, was the cause of all of the chaos in the android community. The android looked oblivious to Connor’s suspicions and had reached forward to shake his hand.
A foolish mistake.
Connor looked at the man’s hand for a few seconds before having grabbed it in a tight grip.
The virus burns within Connor’s system. It felt like he was overheating and his coolers weren’t kicking in to do their job.
The opposing android realized what was happening after it was too late. He struggled to retrieve his hand but Connor’s hold is unmoving. Connor then felt the bracelet doing it’s designed purpose. The bracelet itself seemed to glow as it transferred the antivirus into the android opposite of him.
“You don’t understand-...” The android fell to his knees in front of all those in New Jericho, “I didn’t have a choice - I - they were going to hurt my friend and I-...”
Kamksi, in having hired Connor, ended up sending him on another path the minute the android on his knees told Connor, “Cyberlife. They threatened me.”
Connor thought about it all day even as he goes back to Kamski’s place. He lets the father of all androids take the bracelet off his wrist, supposedly sucking all the virus that had been stored within him while doing so. Kamski paid him a generous amount of money before having sent Connor back on his way.
Connor’s mind does not rest.
Was this how they reacted when he told them that he wouldn’t work for Cyberlife anymore? Was this their answer? Or had they prepared it beforehand?
Connor didn’t have the power to condemn Cyberlife for such an action. He hardly had any evidence to even prove it was them. The android that had been transmitting the code seemed to have his memory wiped of his interaction with Cyberlife. He had still been in communication with them afterward, which was the only hint that what he said was true.
Connor thought about all these things even as he became woozy.
Woozy was not a term androids typically used to describe their state of being. That’s because androids don’t get woozy. Nor do they stumble in their walks drunkenly, off the bus they were being transported in, and back into their home.
A bubble of laughter escaped Connor’s throat. It is sporadic and unexpected. He surprised himself.
He remembered someone saying something. It’s distant but it’s there. Then there are hands on his shoulders that made him sit on the couch. Connor might have said something that sounded like a complaint but he couldn’t remember what he said a few seconds after he said it.
“Connor, are you drunk?” The voice asked.
Connor didn’t know.
Was he? He couldn’t be. Androids don’t drink.
“Did you know,” Connor whispered, as if what he’ll say next is a big secret, “that bald eagles dive at 75 to 99 miles per hour?”
Connor laughed at his own words. Something seemed to be funny about giving such a secret. Something… something?
He had done good work these past few days. Now that he thought about it, maybe he had worked too much because he didn’t remember talking to Hank at all during his investigations. Maybe they shared a passing word or two but when had they really talked. Despite living together, they seemed to avoid all conversation. That fault may have lied with Connor. He wasn’t sure. The past few weeks had been a blur.
Someone pushed on his shoulders and forced him to lay down. He heard something along the lines of, ‘troublesome’ and ‘brat’ but the other words are incomprehensible.
Then there is a warm hand on his forehead.
Human. He can tell.
Humans aren’t like androids. They don’t feel like plastic.
It was comforting.
Kamski seemed to like androids. He seemed to be fascinated with them. Connor himself couldn’t understand Kamski's views when he himself seemed to be afflicted with another kind of fascination. What was the appeal of an android when humans roamed the Earth? They were walking marvels. How could something be so warm?
While androids had to have parts replaced or fixed, humans had an amazing healing factor that could mend their skin. Even when things don’t heal again, when a human loses something precious to their body, they retain an amazing amount of tenacity. They push forward. They exceed the limitations others set on them.
And then there was their empathy.
Connor yearned to share the empathy humans held for others.
Humans were amazing.
He must have said some of his thoughts aloud because he received a response not soon after he was finished admiring his creators.
“Not all of us are so great, sport,” the voice told him.
And that was another thing about humans. None of them were the same. All of them were unique in voice, appearance, and personality. Humans had such a freedom that androids yearned for, that androids fight for, and still look for.
Not all humans were great.
But not all were bad either.
“My dad…” Connor slurs, “is a great person so you’re wrong.”
“Yeah?” The voice seemed amused. Strange. Did Connor say something funny? He had tried to sound serious.
“Yeah,” Connor answered resolutely.
The voice laughed.
“What’s wrong with him?”
Markus tries to sound calm but there’s an edge to his voice that shows that he isn’t as calm as he’d like to pretend he was. Connor’s state was rather… strange… after all. He could see how dazed Connor was and how he seemed to be having trouble just sitting up. His father, Hank Anderson, was keeping a firm hand on his son’s arm just in case Connor decides to topple over in his chair.
“I don’t know. He’s been drunk since yesterday and I don’t know anything about androids. You’re his friend so I called you up. Thought you might be able to tell me what’s the problem with him but apparently you don’t know either. Who the hell am I supposed to call up now?”
“You could take him in for repair,” Markus suggests.
“With what money?” Hank growls, “I’ve had enough trouble as it is paying off my bills!”
“I could assist with that,” Markus offers.
“I don’t want your charity,” Hank answers.
“Then Connor will stay like this.”
Hank stares at Markus’ defiant look and sees the truth in his words. The older man sighs and relents a lot quicker than Markus thought he would. He thought that he might get more of a fight out of Hank considering all the stories he’s heard from Connor.
“Fine,” Hank grumbles, “But he’s not leaving out of my sight.”
Connor blinks lazily at Markus and then glances at his father. His head tilts to the side and stays there as he says, “Me? ‘M fine. I can still… func’ion…”
Hank is quick to tell him, “Wrong.” Hank moves to stand up, momentarily taking his hand off of Connor’s shoulder. Connor is already shifting over to one side to fall over before Hank snatches his arm in his hold once more. His hand steadies Connor’s balance and then Hank makes the effort to help Connor stand up. The android gets the gist of it, despite being completely out of it, and complies with the tug of his father’s hand. Hank is there the entire time, right by Connor’s side as the confused android tries to get out of his chair. He wobbles onto his feet, leaning heavily to his left until Hank pulls him roughly to the right.
That was just standing up. The tough part would be getting Connor into Hank’s car and into a repair shop.
Once Markus is finished watching Connor make a fool of himself, he stands up as well and follows right on Hank’s heels as the man guides his son to the front door. At some point, Connor leans heavily on Hank’s side making the man take a few faltered steps that showed warnings of a fall or trip.
Hank’s walk grew slower since he had to support all of Connor’s weight just to get to the door.
Markus questions, “Would you like some assistance?”
Hank replies in an instant, “No. I am perfectly capable of taking care of my own son.”
“I didn’t suggest otherwise,” Markus states.
Markus watches as Hank lays Connor down in the backseat. Once he’s satisfied with his work, Hank shuts the passenger door behind him and walks to the other side of his car to settle himself in the driver’s seat. Once Markus sits on the right side of the driver’s seat, Hank starts up his car, and then he glances at Markus as if expecting something.
“What?” He asks.
Hank furrows his brows, “Aren’t you going to tell me where the repair shop is?”
Markus asks, curious, “You don’t know where it is?”
“If I did, would I be asking you?”
Hank stares at Markus for a long moment before cursing under his breath. He mutters, “Stupid androids” before stating, “I don’t know where the damn repair shop is so would you be kind enough to tell me where to go?”
Markus processes the request and nods seconds later.
“Yes, I can do that.” Markus replies.
After a long thirty-minutes, they finally arrive at the repair shop. The store that they park near to is not a Cyberlife institution. It was a fairly new store, run and managed by androids, and Markus knew the owners with close familiarity. He had helped them a few times throughout their attempts to establish their own business. Their cause to help fellow androids was noble and Markus was a sucker for those kinds of cases. Of course he had to give them a helping hand when they needed it. He made sure they had the resources necessary to set up shop until they were able to afford their own.
“CrossWired?” Hank reads the shop’s title aloud. He has one of Connor’s arms slung around his shoulder and Connor was mumbling something incoherent.
“Would you prefer Cyberlife?” Markus questions.
“I’m not sure,” Hank replies truthfully, “but if this place can take care of Connor then what do I care?”
Markus doesn’t say anything after that. He escorts Hank and Connor into the repair shop where several other androids are already waiting in chairs lined across the common room. It was 12:00 in the afternoon so Markus didn’t find himself too surprised to find the place busy. However, he was rather impatient on getting Connor an examination for his problem immediately, so he contemplated using his authority as a mediator between androids and Humans to charge up at the counter and demand instant treatment.
But Markus was too nice for that.
He goes up to the counter and politely asks, “My friend is delirious. We don’t know what’s wrong with him and we came here hoping for an explanation.”
The desk clerk looks up at him from her computer.
“Name?” Markus repeats, “Mine?”
“The patient’s,” the opposing android answers immediately. She looks at Connor past Markus’ body through the red bangs that hung over her eyes.
“Connor,” Markus tells her.
“I see. You said he is delirious?”
“Yes - I’m not sure why - but he’s been delirious since yesterday. At least according to his father.”
The woman’s eyebrows shot up.
“Father?” She asks though her expression shows that she knows she shouldn’t pry. That’s why she disregards the word quickly and continues, “Is Connor an android?”
“Yes,” Markus says. He takes a step sideways so that Hank can approach the desk. Sure enough, Connor was still there mumbling a bunch of nonsense, while his LED was glowing a bright red. That was one of the obvious signs that he was an android. Why explain when he could just show the evidence to her?
“I see,” the woman notes Connor’s LED and then turns her gaze back to her computer, “I believe I can set up an appointment today. You’ll have to wait though.”
Hank starts, “We will not wait while my son is…” He doesn’t get a chance to finish because Markus interrupts him.
“That’ll be fine.”
The woman nods and gestures towards a few empty seats with her eyes.
“They’ll call for you when it’s your time.”
Hank glares at Markus as the deviant leader moves away from the counter.
As much as Markus wanted to have his friend fixed up and healthy, he knew he had to respect those who had been waiting before him. Everyone in the room didn’t look too good, to begin with. Some androids were missing limbs, eyes, and others had scars in their plastic that did not look easily fixable. Almost all the androids in the room that still had an LED had a cautious yellow or a bright dangerous red.
They wait for two hours.
Hank had attempted several conversations with his son during that time. Markus had even tried it once but all he could make out were strange and unsorted facts. It was as if Connor was reciting the dictionary or maybe that was exactly what he was doing.
At one point North had called Markus to inquire about his location. He had informed her of what was going on and his wife seemed relatively upset to hear about Connor’s condition. She offered to meet up with him there but he had declined it. At the moment she was with a few of her newly founded friends and Markus didn’t want to take away her fun.
And now Markus sits inside an examination room with an android across from him. The man wears a long white coat like all traditional doctors and hooks something up to the back of Connor’s neck. It attaches Connor to a machine where all the occupants in the room could see a command list pop up on the monitor hanging in front of all of them.
It’s a blur but the doctor seems to find what he’s looking for.
“It seems that Connor’s system had something attached to it and attempted to adjust itself after it’s absence.”
“What do you mean?” Markus asks because he genuinely did not understand how that could even come to pass.
“How do I put it…?” The doctor hums in his thought. “Think of it as an upgrade. Connor received an upgrade and then had it taken from him. His body didn’t take it too well. Now, I would like to know what exactly it was that had been taken from his systems, but I don’t make it a personal practice to prod into the personal lives of my customers unless it’s necessary to understand how certain health conditions come to be.”
“Can you fix him?” Hank asks impatiently.
“I believe I can,” the doctor is not at all fazed by Hank’s abrupt nature. “However, I will need to shut him down in order to start the process.”
Markus narrows his eyes.
“No memory wipes,” he lays out.
“Don’t worry. I don’t do that unless my patient is in critical condition.” The android gets out of his chair and approaches the delirious Connor. Connor leans heavily on Hank’s shoulder, blinking heavily, and then his eyes shift to the man who hovers over him.
The doctor reaches out a hand and touches Connor’s shoulder. The skin of the doctor’s hand recedes to show the bright white plastic underneath. Connor looks up into his eyes, captivated by the sudden touch, and then the two seem to be off in their own world.
Markus knows exactly what’s happening. He’s done it to others before.
Two minutes pass and Hank is tapping his foot against the hard white tile floor underneath them.
Connor’s shoulders stiffen.
Markus sees the action and is already prepared to fight. He stiffens too, ready to throw a punch at the doctor should he have done something awful to his friend, but then his eyes focus on Connor’s erratic blinking.
Connor’s head flops forward.
He stops breathing.
Hank is shaken. He stands up, ready to roar, but Markus grabs a hold of his wrist to calm him.
The doctor doesn’t make a move. His hand is still on Connor’s shoulder as if searching for something that did not want to be found. It stays like that for another five minutes until Connor gasps and jolts upwards. He shoots out of his chair, bonking his head against the doctor’s chest, and then one of Connor’s hands fly to his head.
“What?” Connor breathes, looking around the room in a panic.
His eyes then settled on Hank and Markus. Immediately his posture slackens but he still looks as if he’s shaking. Markus is half tempted to make a move to comfort his friend but Connor's father is there first. He’s already at his side with a supportive hand on one of Connor’s arms.
“You scared the wits out of me kid,” Hank’s worry echoes throughout the room. “Are you alright? How do you feel?”
“I feel… fine,” Connor squeezes his eyes shut as if wondering if his own words were true or not. “What’s going on? What happened?”
“You were completely loopy since yesterday,” Hank explains. “I called Markus over and we rushed you to a repair shop.”
“Kamski…” Connor mutters.
Everyone in the room hears it.
“Kamski??” Hank asks.
Connor’s LED glows a cautious yellow.
Markus finds it is his turn to ask a question by saying, “Kasmki? The creator of androids?”
Connor looks alarmed and looks up at his human caretaker and then right at Markus.
He draws back his composure, straightening his posture, and pulls back his slumped shoulders.
“It’s nothing,” he says.
Hank seems to be okay with that answer. He seemed to be just happy that Connor was returned to his original state because he was already ruffling with his hair and telling him all about their strange day.
And Markus watches Connor with narrowed eyes.
Because when Connor had said ‘nothing’ Markus had detected something that Connor doesn’t usually do.
Connor had lied.
He didn’t know.
When Connor comes to it’s not at Hank’s house. He wakes with a sudden jolt, an electric shock running up his spine, and buzzing in his head. It was comparable to booting up, except, he was being forced to wake. When he opens his eyes he finds the reason standing in front of him. A stranger, a doctor presumably, wearing a long white coat that reached his knees. The man wasn’t as alarmed as Connor nor did he seem out of place in their strange surroundings. One look around tells Connor all he needs to know. The medical equipment alongside motivational posters on the walls all point towards a clinic. How he came to be here, he does not quite remember because his memory is a lot hazier then he’d like it to be. He remembers clips of his life that roll around in his head, comparable to that of a film reel. They run over and over as his programming tries to make connections.
Am I ill?
Androids don’t get sick.
But androids get viruses…
Did I have a virus…? But…?
Would you like to run Cyberlife’s detection program?
Connor ignores the words that hover in his vision. He blinks them away and then looks at the others around him. He is vaguely surprised to see Hank there being held back by Markus. That Markus would be here was an oddity all on its own. Wasn’t the man married now? Didn’t he have things to do? A wife to attend to? He was also the leader of all deviants. Surely, he didn’t have the time to visit Connor. The look he had now was the same look Markus gave Simon when Simon had been acting irrational, but Connor couldn’t have been acting irrationally.
But he could have. He knows it. That’s why everyone is waiting to see if he’s okay and if he’s back to normal.
Hoping the doctor can forgive him for jumping out of his chair and ultimately bumping into him when he woke up, Connor breathes, “What?” The word is shaky and less-composed than Connor would hope it to be. He was never caught off guard, not like now, and it showed in his body language. Before he can fix the mistake in his behavior he is surprised once more. Hank is there with a hand on his shoulder, a familiar touch that grounds him in the reality he's in, and a touch that gives him the confidence to calm his racing thoughts.
“You scared the wits out of me, kid,” Hank tells him, “Are you alright? How do you feel?”
How does he feel?
But he lies so Hank doesn’t have to worry. He doesn’t like making Hank worry. He doesn’t want Markus to worry either, with the way he looks at him with blatant concern, and so he says words that are directed to both of his loved ones, “I feel… fine… What’s going on…? What happened?”
“You were completely loopy since yesterday,” Hank explains. “I called Markus over and we rushed you to a repair shop.”
Hearing that he was loopy is alarming. He remembers, vaguely, getting onto the bus and not feeling particularly… clear… but… he had become loopy to the point that he didn’t remember anything since then? Naturally, he wonders what could have caused such a thing, and then his mind clicks. He says something that he meant to keep within his own mind, “Kamski…”
“Kamski??” Hank asks.
Connor looks at Hank appraisingly. He remembers when both he and Hank had visited Kamski. If Hank knew that Connor had further dealings with the man, would he take it well? How would he react? Connor can only guess that, however Hank would decide to take it, the end results wouldn’t be good.
When Markus questions Connor further, he already has a plan.
“It’s nothing,” he says.
But nothing escapes Markus. Markus, though not equipped with the exact same hardware that Connor had, was similar in his coding. He was advanced, capable of doing things other androids could not, just as Connor could. The only difference that floated between them was their appearances, voices, thoughts, and original designations. Connor was equipped as a detective. Markus was equipped to lead and to show a certain empathy that Connor lacked. An empathy that was the turning point for both androids and humans. An empathy that helped all androids become liberated.
However, Connor does not want to answer to Markus’ questioning stare and dares to look away. Anything is more interesting than the hard gaze Markus holds over him. For example, the poster on the wall across from his vision that tells him of the dangers androids could pose to humans if they didn’t keep up with their hygiene.
Connor doesn’t remember any time that he preferred the wall over his own friend. When they held conversations he had always kept firm eye-contact on Markus. Except, the only conversation now was the one that was blurred within Markus’ stare, and Connor didn’t want to confront it.
Hank says something to him and Connor can’t hear the man over his own thoughts. It happens quickly, within the span of a few minutes, and then Connor is being grabbed by the arm and tugged out the clinic’s door. Markus lingers behind to pay for their visit and Hank is shoving Connor into the passenger seat lacking the gentleness he had earlier. Then again, Connor isn’t exactly being too cooperative as his mind lingers in the space between his own thoughts. It provokes a worried glance or two from Hank as he turns on the car, letting the machine run for a few seconds before Markus hops in next to Hank. Then they’re off once more.
Hank drops off Markus as a kindness. Markus thanks Hank as he gets out of the car but he gives Connor one more glance. This time, their eyes connect, and static runs between them.
“You know…” Markus begins, watching Connor for his reaction, “You can come to me if you ever need to talk to someone. You aren’t alone.”
Connor finds his manners shoot above his want to stay silent.
“Thank you, Markus,” the words come out but they don’t sound genuine. Markus must have picked that up because there’s a frown the tugs on the corner of his lips.
As they leave, Connor looks over his shoulder and sees Markus standing on the sidewalk exactly where they had left him. He watches them until neither he nor Connor could see each other.
Connor knew what he had to do.
Days later, when he’s sure Hank won’t mind him leaving the house again, Connor picks up his familiar Cyberlife jacket. It had been a while since he wore it because after Hank had gotten him new clothes… well… he had never found any reason to wear it again. He did have a suit that looked similar to his original one, grey in coloring, and equal in terms of professional appearance. It was often what he wore when he went anywhere alongside a colorful assortment of ties that hung in Cole’s closet to this moment. It seemed that, even if he escaped Cyberlife, he still adhered to their code of conduct.
“Where are you heading?” Hank leans against the arm of his couch, both hands laying on the arm behind him. He watches Connor as he pulls his arms through the sleeves of his Cyberlife coat. There’s something in his eyes that show that he suspects something so Connor felt it best that he dim those suspicions as best as he can.
“A customer,” Connor answers, “He wanted me to meet up with him.”
Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. He’s been lying for four days straight and it’s tiring him out. He feels exhausted with having to keep up with these lies but he’d rather no one know about his intentions on meeting with Kamski one more time. Once he was finished he would stop lying. There would be no need to lie after he got the answers he wanted from his creator. Then he could finally have all his questions out of his mind and put his heart at rest. Besides, he didn’t like lying, and he preferred not to use such an underhanded tactic to throw people off of him.
“Yeah?” Hank gestures towards Connor’s jacket with a nod of his chin, “Then what’s the jacket for then? Haven’t done laundry lately?”
Hank knew that Connor always kept his clothes in a clean and orderly fashion. He always did laundry so he was never out of clothes. That’s why Connor cannot confirm his question with another lie.
“This is my favorite jacket,” Connor frowns.
“Your favorite? Why haven’t I seen you wear it lately?”
“There was no need to.”
“But there’s a need to now?”
Hank was too perceptive for his own good.
“I want to look my best,” Connor gives out a half-hearted excuse. He isn’t even trying anymore.
Hank squints his eyes as if trying to spot the unseen before giving out a gruff mumble. It was something that sounded like an affirmation, a way to give Connor a permission slip to leave, and Connor was relieved. He was quick to get out so that he wouldn’t have to face more questions.
Connor takes the bus again. The bus driver has come to know him quite well over the last few months. It was the only transportation Connor took because Hank needed his car to get to work. Besides, Connor wouldn’t have Hank taking the bus. The bus may be an ideal use of transportation but there wasn’t a guarantee of safety because of the people that were on it. A lot of shifty-looking people used the bus, some with wide-eyed stares that look greedily at Connor, while others mainly kept to themselves. It wasn’t as if Connor doubted Hank’s abilities to protect himself but… well… Connor would much prefer that Hank not get into situations that would make him use anything in self-defense.
Connor hops off the bus and calls for a taxi to reach the rest of the distance that the bus could not take him.
He pays the taxi-driver part of the generous sum of money that Kamski had given him after he had finished his job.
Kamski greets him at the front door as if expecting him.
“Come in, Connor!” He smiles even when Connor stares at him with his lips pressed together in a thin line.
Kamski seems far too excited for a man living alone with a few androids as his only company.
He’s already pouring himself a cup of wine that Chloe had been holding in her hands.
“I assume you have questions,” Kamski guesses.
“You assume correctly,” Connor confirms.
Kamski’s face is lined with humor. He smiles even as he sips wine from his glass and then he heads into a different room. A room that Connor follows him in and recognizes from his very first visit. He might have taken the time to admire the strange red water in the pool at his feet or the scenery out the window that Kamski decides to look at if he did not have things he wanted to ask.
“You’ve grown a lot, Connor,” Kamski hums in his amusement.
“How so?” Connor can only see Kamski’s back. He doesn’t know what expression he might have on his face.
Chloe stands at his side looking straight at nothing.
Like a machine.
“The virus works only on deviants. Did you know that, Connor?” Kamski deflects Connor’s question with another one.
“No. I didn’t.”
“Cyberlife decided to use my work to handle their rocky affairs with the android community. Imagine the image the public might have after discovering all androids were having problems. Problems that caused them to become unpredictable and violent. Who would they crawl to? Cyberlife? The government? Markus? Me?” Kamski takes another sip of his wine, “Or… maybe you?”
His last words hang in the air for contemplation. He is silent as he gazes at the scenery for a moment longer and then he turns to face Connor. He places his wineglass on the platter that Chloe holds in her hands and then dismisses her with the wave of his hand.
“I apologize about the bracelet,” Kamski starts, “because it was untested.”
Connor is alarmed.
“How did you know it affected me?”
“I didn’t. It was a guess that you confirmed.”
Connor stares in utter disbelief.
Kamski ignores his blunt look and continues, “I designed the bracelet to fix to your programming but I only had one thing to design it after. Someone similar in nature to you - I suppose - Markus.”
“In several ways, Markus could even be your brother,” Kamski laughs. “My apologies though. I’ve been rambling. Why are you here, Connor?”
Connor forms his thoughts together and makes a list of mental questions. Once Connor is satisfied, he starts, “Were you aware that Cyberlife contacted me to be their middleman for androids and humans?”
Kamski looks over his shoulder and raises a brow.
Connor takes that as an incentive to continue, “The android that contained the virus was the replacement that Cyberlife used. They threatened me that someone else would have to do the job they had in mind for me if I didn’t agree and…”
“Interesting,” Kamski interrupts, “It seems you are more valuable to Cyberlife than I realized.”
“Why is that?” Connor’s curiosity piques.
“They are getting sloppy in their desperation to return you to their clutches. I have an idea as to why.”
“And that idea is?”
“Mine alone,” Kamski turns back to Connor with his hands clasped behind his back. “Don’t worry, Connor. You may not be my favorite but I can see your worth to this society. Allow me to handle the affairs of Cyberlife and you can continue to live without interruption.”
The ring of Kamski’s doorbell echoes throughout the room. Chloe, who had just recently returned, made a mechanical movement to exit the room.
Kamski gives Connor a knowing smile.
“But be careful Connor.”
Connor tilts his head.
“Human lives are short.”
The door is thrown open and Connor turns sharply to face their intruder. He is half-prepared to defend Kamski from a would-be offender until he takes in the intruder’s appearance. His eyes widen as he realizes that Hank was here and that he had just busted through the door.
Hank stomps over to Connor and grabs his shoulder in a death grip.
“Connor,” he seethes between gritted teeth, “You are grounded.”
Connor blinks in astonishment as Hank looks at Kamski angrily under hooded eyes.
“We have nothing to do with you,” he tells the man, “and whatever it is you did to Connor… don’t ever think about doing it again.”
“Hank you are reaching irrational conclu-”
“Quiet!” Hank’s hand tightens on Connor’s shoulder until his knuckles turn white.
Kamski closes his eyes patiently.
“You are trespassing on private property,” he chides.
“I don’t need to hear anything from you.” Hank points an accusing finger in Kamski’s direction with his free hand. “We are leaving now and you will not stop us.”
“Be my guest,” Kamski smiles pleasantly.
Hank narrows his eyes and pulls Connor roughly out the door.
Connor is beyond confused. He’s confused even as Hank sits him down in the front passenger seat (he buckles Connor in too, angrily) and slams the door shut. He starts up the car and presses on the gas without any concerns for their safety.
“Perhaps you should slow down-...” Connor begins.
Hank gives him a hard glare that shuts him up.
Why were humans so unreasonable?
Hank starts first.
“You’ve been meeting with that ruffian,” he says but Connor can hardly pair Kamski up with ‘ruffian’ as a word of description. Hank doesn’t care though because he continues, “behind my back. Why did you not think to consult me first? Was he the reason you’ve been acting strangely? What’s more is that I hear news from Markus that you’ve been lying to me.”
Hank’s grip on the wheel tightens.
“And I don’t like liars.”
Hank stares at the road as if he had a personal vendetta against it. He’s fuming and Connor can’t remember a time he’s seen him so angry. It could be comparable to the time that Hank had grabbed him and threw him against the side of his desk… but that was a long time ago… and they hadn’t known each other as they did now.
Connor is sent forward in his seat as Hank pulls to an abrupt stop by the road. He stares out in front of him, refusing to meet Connor’s gaze, and he asks, “Why’d you lie?”
The question hinted that Connor would actually be allowed to explain himself now.
And this time he tells the truth.
“I didn’t want you to worry.”
Hank’s eyes dart to him with disbelief.
“Is that it? You didn’t want me to worry? Are you being serious?”
“Hank,” Connor begins but Hank doesn’t let him finish.
“Don’t you ‘Hank’ me. Connor, who knows what the hell Kamski wanted to do to you. The last time we visited him, he forced a gun in your hand!”
Connor was just about tired of Hank’s yelling. He knew that. Did he look clueless?
He was not clueless.
He knew what he was getting into the moment he took his first step into Kamski’s front room.
“I didn’t want to worry you,” Connor says, “That much is undeniably true. I was also…” he pauses, “afraid… of your reaction.”
Hank’s angry silence is unbearable.
Connor is just about to give up reasoning with Hank.
Humans are unreasonable but… perhaps… perhaps Connor was being unreasonable… and maybe he could’ve just told Hank all of this to begin with.
Connor is about to give up but Hank sees the dejected look that spreads across his face. That’s why the man lets out a heavy sigh that tempts Connor to remove his eyes from his lap. He hears the click of a seatbelt and then something grabs him by the side of his head and pulls him to his left. Before he knows it, Hank is huddling Connor to his chest, with one hand on the back of his head and another resting on his upper back.
“You’re going to be the death of me,” Hank sighs into Connor’s hair. “If that man had laid a single finger on you, I was prepared to go in guns-a-blazing.”
Connor mumbles into the fabric of Hank’s shirt, “You’d really do that?”
“No one harms my son and gets away with it,” Hank says resolutely. “That’s why you need to tell me if someone shady like Kamski calls you in for a case. I need to know what you’re up to so that I know you’re okay.”
Connor is silent and feels Hank hold his breath in anticipation for his answer.
Connor finally nods against Hank’s chest.
The man releases a heavy breath and pulls back from Connor to look into his eyes.
“I’ll hold you to it,” he says. Then he turns his key in the ignition and starts the car up once more.
It’s a long drive home.
This is the longest chapter I've posted, and I'll be honest, I was actually pretty excited to update this one. Make sure to tell me what you think!
Connor didn’t think that the relationship he shared with Kara was good enough for her to call him out of the blue. It was during the afternoon while the sun still hung high in the sky when she calls him. Her voice had sounds desperate as she says something along the lines of not being able to find someone to take care of Alice. Connor, feeling quite generous, offers his services to babysit once more. The only problem was that - if Kara truly needed someone to watch Alice - then she’d have to bring her over to his place this time. Hank was still on the edge about Connor going out on his own, (he still did anyway, ‘grounded’ be damned) so he didn’t think it was a good idea to leave the house for past two hours.
And that is how Alice came to be on the couch playing with Mercury. The cat was a lot bigger than she was the day Connor had picked her up in the rain. She had the playful tendencies of a kitten but her appearance made her look like a certified adult cat. It was a true surprise that Hank had let him keep the cats for this long, especially after Connor had promised he would find them homes. In all honesty, he didn’t want to find them homes, but that was the selfish side of him talking. He had a job now which meant he wouldn’t be able to take care of the cats as much as he’d like. He wouldn’t be able to walk Sumo as much either because detective work was time-consuming.
“I love her,” Alice says with a squeak in her voice. Mercury was not as sensitive as the others and allowed Alice to pet her on the stomach. The cat had made herself comfortable on Alice’s lap earlier with her tummy facing the ceiling. “I wish my mom would let me have a cat but we travel too much.”
Connor settles himself on the couch, a few inches away from Alice. It was in that minute that he sat down that Earth had spotted the opportunity to jump onto his lap. Just a few minutes ago, the cat was sitting by Alice's ankles. She had been looking enviously at her sister cat. Now she was comfortable in Connor's lap, vibrating with her heavy purrs.
“I thought your family was going to live in Canada?” Connor asks. His hand runs over the top of Earth’s head and past her ears. The cat closes her eyes in content.
“We stayed there for a while,” Alice says, her fingers running through Mercury’s fur, “but then my mom wanted to help others like her. That’s why we came back.”
Connor must admit that he doesn’t remember Alice being this talkative. She was answering all his questions without the quiet shyness that she had displayed for him the last time he was in charge of babysitting her. She didn’t seem as tense around him either. He wasn’t sure what the cause was unless it had something to do with the aid he had lent her mother. The trust could have been the result of his efforts to return Luther to his family. Maybe. It was all just speculation.
“Well,” Connor’s gaze is stuck on the cat in his lap. He is reluctant to say what comes out of his mouth next, “once you have a home… you can take Mercury with you… if your mother approves, of course.”
Alice’s eyes light up.
“Really?” She whispers in childish wonder.
“Really.” Connor nods his head. “She needs a home. She can’t stay here forever.”
Alice tilted her head.
Connor gives Alice a small smile.
“We already have Sumo to take care of,” he says. At the sound of his name, Sumo lifts his heavy body and drags himself across the room. Connor raises a hand to pat him on the head. “And he’s a big matter all on his own.”
Alice nods in her understanding. Then she questions, “How did you even get three cats?”
Connor recalls the day clearly.
“I saved them from the rain. They were outside in a cardboard box.”
Alice’s lips turn downward.
“That’s horrible!” She exclaims. “Why would anyone do that?”
Connor thinks about it for a moment. He didn’t know. How could he answer her? There were so many people out there, humans and androids alike, that had ideas that Connor simply couldn’t understand. Why would someone abandon a bunch of animals to die to the cold harsh rain? He found it easy to judge them but he didn't know their circumstances. He didn’t know anything. Even so, they still deserted creatures that were dependent and tamed. It was cruel to leave them without a means to defend or care for themselves.
“I don’t know,” Connor chooses his words carefully, “And even if I did, there is very little I could do about it.”
Alice wrinkles her nose in frustration.
“That isn’t fair,” she huffs.
Connor watches Alice as she puffs out her cheeks in her frustration and continues, “But just like those who made the choice to leave them behind, I used the same free agency to choose to do something about it.”
Alice looks up at Connor and blinks owlishly.
“What’s free agency?”
Connor tries to find a way to make it simple to understand. He says, slowly, “Free agency is… when… you are able to choose something without being held back. That’s something that humans have fought for generations upon generations. It’s something we recently fought for too.”
“Oh,” Alice frowns in thought.
Their conversations continues from there on out. It surprises Connor at how intelligent Alice is for someone who was plainly programmed to imitate a child. Alice, from Connor’s knowledge of her model, was not capable of growing like a human child. She couldn’t evolve.
Alice was doomed to forever remain the same lest technology push past the barriers it set up for her.
Kara loved her.
He can see it in her eyes when she comes to retrieve Alice from his hands, three hours later. She gives him a small smile of appreciation and then takes Alice’s hand in her own. She gazes at Alice with an unbelievable amount of motherly affection. It was clear from just the look in Kara’s eyes that she loved Alice for who she was and did not care for the lack of potential of what she could have become.
“Thank you for taking care of her,” Kara tells him. Her smile is genuine and friendly.
“It was my pleasure, Kara,” Connor returns kindly.
After she leaves, Connor plops back on the couch and becomes lost in thought.
Mercury hops on his lap, much to the envy of Earth.
His hand floats automatically over Mercury’s head and down her neck as he stares at the ceiling.
For now, he was content.
Connor feels out of place.
That much could be seen from his stiff posture.
North could see it too from where she stood across from Connor’s chair.
He is seated at a round glass table that was accompanied by three other chairs. All of them, except for the one Connor sat in, were empty. The fourth may have been that way had North not invited him to take a seat while Markus was finishing doing whatever it was he was doing. Connor didn’t know the specifics but all he knew was that Markus had been preoccupied before Connor even knocked on the front door.
The area around Connor was strange for one reason; It was a newlywed's home. It was a house that Markus had bought with his own money after both he and his wife returned from their honeymoon. That meant that Markus no longer lived with Carl or his personal android assistant. Instead, he now lived in a comfy home which seemed to have gathered inspiration from Carl’s place. There was a large amount of artwork hanging around the house, some still on the floor waiting to be hooked onto the wall, and Connor wondered if Markus knew how much his father seemed to have rubbed off on his taste of art.
“Do you know why Markus invited you over?” North interrupts Connor’s thoughts with a question.
“He didn’t tell you?” Connor returns curiously.
North huffs and crosses her arms over her chest. She leans against the wall behind her as she says, “No, he didn’t. Figured it was something between both of you.”
Connor’s mind wanders over to the last memory of Markus. The last time he had seen him, Connor was in Hank’s car, and Markus was on the sidewalk watching them leave. From Connor’s understanding, Markus had called up Hank the day afterward while Connor had left to visit Kamski, and that was what had provoked Hank to jet out of the house to follow Connor’s trail. If Markus had not told Hank that Connor had been lying to the both of them, for reasons unbeknownst to them, his father might not have intervened in his meeting with Kamski.
And honestly? That outcome seemed to be much more preferable than having to be tugged out of Kamski’s house like a disobedient child. He understood where Hank was coming from, he did, but he wasn’t a child.
“Perhaps,” Connor inclines his head, “or maybe it is something unrelated. He could require assistance.”
“I don’t know why he’d go to you instead of his own wife, then,” North’s brow twitches as she frowns. “I’m pretty sure that’s not the reason.”
Before the two can continue conversing, North’s interest flies away from Connor and float across his shoulder. That’s all Connor needs to know that Markus was in the room. Soon enough, the man himself sits in the chair across from Connor’s. The deviant leader sends his wife a glance and the woman huffs once more. She picks herself up from the wall she was leaning against and gave her husband a hard stare. From this interaction, Connor could only guess that North and Markus were communicating with each other mentally. He can’t imagine them staring at each other so intently for any other reason unless it was just… as they say… ‘getting lost in one’s eyes.’ That was something that wasn’t particularly appropriate for the situation though.
North sighs suddenly and her shoulders drop in defeat.
“Fine, but you’ll tell me what this is all about after this. Okay?”
North, seeming satisfied with Markus’ answer, leaves the room not soon after.
All that is left is Connor and Markus.
Markus starts first.
“I know that you might be angry with me-...”
Connor wasn’t angry with him.
“But you must understand that you were lying after recently having been sent to a repair shop…”
So it was about giving him away to Hank.
“That’s why I contacted Hank,” Markus tells him, “And I’m sorry that I did it behind your back… it’s just… my concerns were heavy. You don’t usually lie.”
Markus falls silent after saying his piece. He looks at Connor expectantly, waiting for him to say his part, and Connor does exactly that.
“While the outcome of telling Hank that I had been lying is not something I wanted... I could see where you were coming from for telling him… and I appreciate your concern for me. You did what you thought was right.” Connor says this knowing full well that Markus was the type of guy that would always do what he felt was right, no matter the cost or consequences. That’s why he was the leader of all androids.
After Connor finishes, it looked as if Markus had a large burden taken off his shoulders. He visibly lightens and his face no longer looks as grave as it was mere seconds ago.
“Does that mean we’re good?” He asks.
Connor considers him for a long moment but relents with a nod of his head.
“Yeah, we’re good.”
A genuine smile replaces Markus’ hesitant one. Connor finds Markus’ smile to be infectious because he finds himself smiling back.
It stays that way until a slender hand lands on his shoulder.
“So are you boys finally done?” North asks from behind Connor. Markus looks up at her affectionately and rubs a sheepish hand across the back of his neck.
“Sorry about that, sweetheart.”
She laughs gently, “Why are you apologizing to me? This was obviously something you both needed.”
Connor makes a move to stand up and North takes her hand from his shoulder. He turns to look at her straight in the eye and says, “I’m afraid I’ve stayed longer than welcome.”
North raises a brow and waves her hand in dismissal.
“No way! In fact, stay a little longer! We’d love to have you!”
Connor begins, “But I fear my visit may have…” he doesn’t get to finish as North clamps her hand on his shoulder once more.
“You will always be welcome here,” she assures him, “and that’s something I don’t want you to forget. If you’re ever in any trouble, you have my permission to run straight here.”
Markus speaks up teasingly, “My wife’s word is the law around here, Connor.”
Connor regards his two friends with a hint of humor in his eyes. It might have escaped their notice if they did not know him so well but they seemed to catch his humorous glint.
“I shall not forget,” he promises.
”Elijah Kamski, the creator of Cyberlife, has returned to his position as CEO after multiple protests at Cyberlife institutions. He stated, and I quote, “My absence has deteriorated the state of Cyberlife and I’m disappointed in the current affairs that have recently caught my attention. Rest assured, androids will no longer need to fear Cyberlife, and we will now work towards a future where Cyberlife and androids can coexist together peacefully.”
“That’s bullcrap!” North shouts in anger. Connor moves his head to the side as a shoe flies over his shoulder and at the screen in front of them. Markus had turned on the news in New Jericho as everyone was filtering in for their weekly session. The current events seemed to shock every android in there. Every android, except for Connor, who had felt that Kamski had indirectly spoken to Connor when he said, ‘androids will no longer need to fear Cyberlife.’
North sits behind him in a row of chairs that had been arranged carefully for the androids that were arriving. She was fuming, judging by her frustrated expression, and Markus watches her carefully through squinted eyes. He looked prepared to subdue her should her anger get the best of her.
“Cyberlife can never coexist with androids peacefully! Why else would they have refused to give us emergency supplies or to release their remaining androids?”
“Those androids work for Cyberlife - North,” Simon speaks gently.
“They’re probably just programmed to say that,” she growls, “they’re probably mistreated and not even paid! Cyberlife didn’t give a crap about their androids until after they were liberated. Then they were panicking at losing their biggest money-making business!”
It was at times like these that Connor is reminded that no one in the room knew Cyberlife as well as he did. He worked under them, after all, or at least he was in servitude for a time. Cyberlife was a shifty figure at best. They were unpredictable and desperate from their last poorly executed actions. Perhaps it was a good thing that Kamski was taking the reigns of Cyberlife once more. In doing so, Connor wondered how Cyberlife would change and if Amanda would... change... because she had one primary function as an AI. She was to assist Cyberlife and those she worked for.
“North,” Markus calls out sharply, “Now is not the time.”
“There’s no better time!” She exclaims.
“North, we talked about this,” Markus warns.
North gives her husband a hard stare before clicking her tongue against her teeth in distaste.
“Fine,” she relents angrily. She stands up from her chair and storms out of the room, brushing past Markus who stands near the back exit. Markus watches with a twisted worry that flashes away as soon as it had appeared. Had Connor not been made to find the unseen, he might have missed it entirely, but then there was also the fact that he knew Markus. He had spent enough time with him to catch the small parts in his expressions that he often hid away.
Markus didn’t have the opportunity to chase after his wife as more and more androids began to enter. Many wished to speak with him and so Markus looks over at Connor with an unreadable expression. However, Connor gets the gist of it and nods at his friend. He stands up and follows after North’s footsteps.
She sits outside on the dirty ground, cross-legged, with her chin propped up in the palm of her hand.
Connor sits beside her.
“I probably look hysterical,” she scoffs, “but I was just… I’m so angry. Markus and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things but if only he’d just… take action against Cyberlife… we have the right to do so. They put us through hell and beyond.”
North stares holes into the brick wall across from her.
Connor decides to say, in hopes that North might see reason, “I’m certain that Markus would also like to take a less than pacifist route when confronting Cyberlife.”
North decides the wall she was staring at is no longer interesting and turns to look at Connor with furrowed brows.
“You’re kidding me, right? He would never condone violence.”
“He has self-control,” Connor states, “and he doesn’t act on any violent urges. Violence leads to more violence. How would that look in the eyes of the public? In the eyes of the government? Markus has hundreds upon thousands watching his every move. I’m sure he’s gotten angry before and wanted to hurt people.”
North presses her lips together as she listens to Connor.
“But he holds himself back because he thinks of the bigger picture. He thinks of all androids, of us, and of you.”
North’s lips tremble.
“I can’t believe I was so rash-...” she says. Her voice cracks and Connor falls respectfully silent. “It’s just - all the things I’ve been through - it’s so hard to see past the now. I’ve been through a lot of pain and sometimes I want others to feel that. I want them to know what it’s like. Sometimes I see a human that thinks he can just spit in my face and I want to pull out a pistol and-...” she pauses and a tear falls down her cheek, “and I know I’m better than that. I’m not a killer. Violence just seems to be all I know though. That’s why I have Markus. He always helps me.”
She wipes the stray tear away with the back of her hand.
“I suppose I’ve been a bit emotional,” she gives out a short, breathy, laugh, “but I’ll get over it. I always do.”
Connor wisely makes no sound as they both fall into thought. The silence is not an uncomfortable one but there was something in the air that Connor felt needed to be said. North was in a compromised position at the moment and she wasn't stable as of now. What could he say to give her comfort? What could he say to make her feel better? He would like to find words that would be meaningful and thoughtful. He wanted North to know that she wasn't alone in this and that she had people around her who would be able to help her.
Connor gets an idea.
“North, remember that invitation you gave me a few days ago?”
North tilts her head.
Connor says, “You told me that, if I ever needed help, I could go straight to your place.”
North nods in affirmation, “Yeah, that’s what I said.”
“Well, I want to extend the same courtesy. If you are ever in need of any assistance or find trouble, my door will always be open to you, and I will always be willing to help.”
North looks at Connor for a few seconds that seem like an eternity before she finally cracks a lopsided grin, “You’re a riot, Connor.”
Connor blinks in his confusion.
North barks in laughter and punches Connor lightly on the shoulder. Connor is even more confused now but he guesses that he doesn’t mind too much when North is laughing so freely. Maybe this is what she needed. Maybe she just needed to talk to someone about it, someone who wasn’t as close to her as her husband, and someone who she wouldn’t fear would judge her outright for what she felt.
“It’s good that you’re here,” she says as her frame stops shaking from her laughter. “I’m glad.”
She smiles warmly.
Thank you for reading this far. Our story has come so far, 41 chapters, which is the longest I've ever written for any of fanfictions. Yet, unlike the others that sit in idleness, this fanfiction is coming to an end. I am so happy for the feedback and for my progress in writing. I can see tiny improvements.
Things between Hank and Connor had been rocky ever since the Kamski incident. The air in the house was heavy and suffocating. (which was saying something since Connor didn’t need to breathe) Half of the time, Connor would retreat into his room so he could get away from Hank’s stare. It was his stare that would stay glued on the back of his head the minute Connor returned to home until he turned the corner into the hallway.
When Hank finally confronts Connor - Connor thinks that he’ll scold him - but the man doesn’t do anything of the sort. Instead. he leans against the doorframe of Connor’s bedroom with his arms crossed against his chest. The gaze that Connor receives makes him shift in his spot on his bedside until Hank decides to spare him the awkwardness by saying, “When’s your birthday?”
Connor is beyond shocked at this point. He’s in outer space because his mind had calculated several different scenarios and this...? This wasn’t one of them. He was preparing himself for another shout-fest from Hank even though they… sort of… reconciled in the car on the way home when Hank had reached over to hug him. Connor shakes the shock off quickly with a couple of blinks and answers, “If you mean the date of my creation - I was turned online on August 14, 2038.”
“So we missed your birthday?”
“You’re one year old?”
“Technically.” Connor responds and then questions, “Why do you ask? If you don’t mind my curiosity.”
Hank grumbles something under his breath and Connor wonders if his audio processors are malfunctioning.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that. What did you say?” Connor asks.
“I said,” Hank doesn’t sound happy when he has to repeat himself, louder, “it was bothering me, okay? I was thinking about some things and you’ve been here for a while and…” Hank gazes around Connor’s room. Cole’s room. “I realized that I don’t know a lot about you.”
“What is there to know?” Connor inquires. The question comes out of his mouth before his mind can catch up with him. Hank actually didn’t know about Connor’s past, of how he was programmed to take over the position as a deviant leader, and how he was a tool for Cyberlife’s grabby hands. Markus was the only one who knew about that. At the time, Connor had told Markus because he wanted him to know what he was getting into while pursuing a partnership with Connor. Connor hadn’t thought of ever telling Hank about it because it had slipped his mind. His past was in the past.
“I… I don’t know…!” Hank runs a hand through his hair, “Just tell me about the stuff you like.”
Connor raises an eyebrow.
“I like Sumo,” he states bluntly, “the cats, and you.”
Hank brought a hand up to massage the crook of his nose between two fingers.
“That’s not what I meant-...”
“I apologize for not understanding,” Connor says. He plans to say more but Hank is quick to the punch.
“No - okay - look,” Hank begins, letting his hand fall from his face, “Basically I’m trying to figure out what you want for your birthday.”
“My birthday passed already,” Connor says slowly, “and I don’t think you have to follow human traditions on my account. I am not human. I don’t need anything.”
“But do you want anything?” Hank stresses.
Connor allows Hank’s words to settle in his head. Did he want anything? Didn’t he already have everything he wanted? A family? Friends? Peace? A job? Freedom?
“I don’t want anything,” he answers.
Hank is impatient when he says, “Everyone wants something.”
“But I’m not everyone.”
The two fall silent and Hank looks at his son with an indiscernible expression. Connor doesn’t bother attempting to figure it out. It doesn’t last as Hank says, “No. You’re not.” The way he says it makes it sound like it’s a pure fact. “You’re not like anyone else I’ve ever met. You’re stubborn - stupid - and…”
Connor interjects, “I am one of the most intelligent androids of my generation.”
“And you’re annoying,” Hank scowls but his face lightens as he continues, “I worry about you more than I’ve worried over anyone except for…” Hank glances around once more and Connor could already hear the name even though Hank probably wouldn’t say it. “Well…” he pauses, “Let’s just say trouble has a habit of finding you. Even so, you’re still my son, and I.. uh…” Hank looks at the ground and brings his arms up to fold them across his chest once more.
He heaves out a heavy sigh.
“Damn, I’m not good at this kind of stuff. Look, I’m only going to say this once. Happy late birthday, I don’t care if you don’t want anything, I will find something, and just know that… uh…” Hank swallows air, “I love you.”
“What?” He asks because he could not believe that Hank had just willingly said that to him, aloud.
“I’m not going to repeat it,” Hank growls and he picks himself up off Connor’s door frame. Hank turns and almost disappears from view from the doorway until Connor raises his voice. What Connor says next makes Hank pause in his spot.
“Love you too!”
Hank doesn’t reply. He mutters something that Connor cannot pick up but Connor does pick up something nonetheless. He saw the bright red flush on the tip of Hank’s ears and that told him all that he needed to know.
Yes, his birthday is in August, but is it actually on the nineteenth? No. I actually don't know what his specific date of birth is and neither does his wiki.
There’s a lot to be said.
A lot has happened. Life moves on even when we don’t want it to. Sometimes there’s a point where we wish things would just stop. We’ll ask Father Time, politely, to stop the flow of time to breathe in everything around us. Connor had many of those moments across the span of his life that he remembers vividly. When those around him say, ‘androids never forget,’ they mean it. Androids had a near perfect memory that could only falter if corrupted. Connor, though having suffered many injuries in his time as a private investigator, had never had the horror of suffering through a corrupted memory. That’s why he held his beloved memories close to his heart. Perhaps, time would not stop for him, but he could always go back into his memories.
He put certain ones in a loop.
There was the one where Hank had first hugged him - as silly as it sounds - but Connor remembers the fresh feeling that came with the sudden affection. Then he loops all the times Markus made him feel apart of his group - of his successes - and his accomplishments.
He had gone far from who he once was.
“How’s your brother?”
Connor stands next to Markus as they look down at a grave.
Beloved and adored father of Markus and Leo Manfred.
He was reverent in the silence of Markus’ mourning. The man had passed not too long ago - living far past his prime - so it wasn’t something out of the blue.
“Leo? Still coping. In his own way,” Markus answers quietly.
“I see,” Connor stares at the grey tombstone lying in front of him. Death brought a lot of questions for him. There were a lot of humans that believed in an afterlife. If such a thing existed, he really hoped that Carl would be able to live once more in such a place, and he hopes that Markus will end up there too. Wherever he is. Somewhere in the great beyond where no man or android can reach unless they participate in the ultimate final act.
“I’m going to miss him,” Markus admits.
“He was a good man,” Connor says, remembering Carl fondly.
“That he was,” Markus agrees with a sigh. “I’m not sure what to do without him. I always went to him for advice. Now he’s just… gone…”
Connor looks at the ex-deviant leader, recently retired from his position to take care of his newly founded family. North, Markus’ wife, had recently taken part in the rights for android reproduction. The rest is history. Now, Markus had an infant son, and Connor was an uncle. Simon had also been appointed the boy’s godfather just in case anything should happen to Markus or North. They wanted someone they could trust to take care of their kid if they were harmed or damaged in any way.
Connor places a hand on Markus’ shoulder and gives him a tight squeeze.
“We will not forget him,” Connor tells him resolutely.
Markus looks at Connor with eyes blurred with tears.
“Yes,” he agrees and then he turns back to look at his father’s grave, “he will never be forgotten.”
The two stood in silence for a while longer before the evening sky warned of the oncoming darkness. It was then that Connor drove Markus back to his apartment with the car that he had worked hard to earn through his private investigation business. It was a classic, just like Hank’s car, so it didn’t have any automatic features that drove them down the road. He had to admit that he had grown a fondness for his father’s car, so that’s why he bought something in its likeness.
After dropping Markus off, Connor doesn’t go home straight away.
He stops by New Jericho.
New Jericho was a grand building now. There had been so many improvements over the last few years that it was barely recognizable. It was greatly different from the Cyberlife store it had once been. It was bigger and it now contained more rooms than before. There was even a front desk now, with an android attending it. If Markus wasn’t painting or spending time with his family, he was usually at New Jericho helping the new androids that didn’t know how to go on with their lives. Markus had supplied these lost and wayward souls with purposes. It is because of his efforts that he was recognized as a modern day hero. Yet, because of this status, Connor was becoming recognized as well. People were beginning to connect the dots of his own work during the android liberation and now Connor was gathering recognition. It certainly helped his business out but it made his life a lot more cluttered than he would like it to be.
“Mr. Anderson!” The desk attendant calls out at his entry, “You didn’t tell me you’d be going in for an interview! Together with Mr. Kamski of all people. It’s all over the news! Tell me, are you close to him?”
Connor laughs gently, “Not necessarily, no.”
The desk attendant tilts her head and asks curiously, “Then how did you get invited to do that interview in the first place?”
“We had a few dealings,” Connor admits but he doesn’t go farther than that. Kamski had invited him to the interview because Connor had been Cyberlife’s latest technology before they burned themselves to the ground. Connor was also becoming a figure of a Cyberlife escapee among other things so there was that too. “But that’s not what I came here for.”
“I’m so sorry!” The attendant gasps as she looks away from Connor and at her computer. “Do you have an appointment?”
“Is Kara here?” He asks.
“Kara? Yes. She and her husband arrived thirty minutes ago. I haven’t seen them leave.”
“Alright. I’m going to go find them then, I have news for them.”
“Have a good day, Mr. Anderson!” The attendant beams.
“You too, Sara,” Connor waves at her as he moves past her desk. He walks down the hall and peers into the rooms on his right. Through the windows, he could see Kara and her family sitting together amongst other androids. Most of them were women which made Luther stand out, or sit in his case, like a sore thumb. The only other recognizable figure was the person who stood in the front of the room, Simon, as he was teaching the androids how to fix up their torn clothes. Connor could gather that much from the numerous sewing machines set across the tables in front of all the androids that were participating in this lesson.
Connor peeks his head in the door and everyone stops to look at him.
“Connor?” Simon asks.
“I’m looking for Kara-...” Connor’s eyes shift from Simon to Kara. The woman flashes a smile to Connor and whispers to her family. She settles her bag on the table in front of her, telling her husband to watch over it for her, and then she approaches the door. Connor opens the door wider so that she can move past him and then he closes the door after her. The windows didn’t give them the privacy that he’d prefer but at least the others couldn’t hear him.
“So about those androids-...” he begins.
Kara is quick when she says, “What? Johnny? Is he okay? And his son?”
“They’re fine,” Connor reassures her, “We helped Johnny get out of his debts. Now he can live freely without worrying.”
Kara’s shoulders slump.
“That’s good,” she sounds relieved when she says it, “I feared the worst for him.”
“Well,” Connor begins, “ As long as he doesn’t run back to the mafia, he’ll be fine, and that means he needs to stop borrowing money for gambling.”
Kara nods in understanding and then her voice lowers as she inquires, “Also… about that missing person’s case?”
Connor smiles knowingly.
“I found Ralph,” he tells her. “He was in a junkyard. We got him fixed up and he should still be at the bolt hospital.”
Kara heaves a heavy sigh as if she needed to get that all out of her system.
“That’s wonderful-...” she wipes at the tears that form in the corner of her eyes, “I couldn’t live with myself without knowing how he was or if he was okay.”
“Well, he’s fine, but his mental state is questionable…”
“Oh he was always a strange one, I wouldn’t worry about that,” Kara insists. She takes a long look at Connor and then blesses him with a wide smile. She reaches forward to give Connor a tight hug and Connor returns it immediately. His arms wrap around her back as she squeezes the ever-living-life out of him until he feels eyes burn through the back of his head. He has no doubt that it was Luther on the other side of the glass. That’s why he lets go, reluctantly, before patting Kara on the side of her arm.
“It’s getting pretty late,” he states, “I have to go home.”
“I see,” Kara hums, and then she teases, “I guess I’ll have to let you go… a shame… I thought about inviting you to our class too.”
“I’m okay,” Connor winces at the idea of staying way past the evening just to learn how to fix up his clothes.
“If you say so,” Kara grins and nudges Connor forward, “Well, get going! I’m sure your dad isn’t going to wait all day.”
“Uh - right…” Connor doesn’t remember Kara being so touchy with him. She usually kept to herself except for the rare occasions where she would give him a comforting touch. There was also that one time where she had kissed him on the cheek and Luther-... Luther had been fuming for the next few days.
Kara starts to return but she pauses after Connor calls after her, “Is Mercury doing fine?”
He asks this because Alice had adopted one of his strays a few months ago after Kara’s family finally settled down. Asides from Mercury and Mars, it seemed that Earth and Venus were permanent members of the Anderson family. Hank hadn’t said anything about disliking their presence. Sumo seemed to be a lot happier with a few animal companions, too.
“She’s the spunkiest cat I’ve ever met,” Kara chuckles, “but we love her all the same. Alice is her favorite.”
Connor cracks a small smile and Kara does the same. They stare at each other for a good few seconds before Kara waves her farewell and returns to her family. Connor watches through the glass as she settles herself between her husband and her little girl. All Connor could think was on how Kara’s family was the picture of an unbreakable bond, and he was happy that they trusted him enough to involve him in their private lives. Connor was Alice’s unofficial uncle but then again Alice seemed to have a lot of unofficial uncles as Kara seemed to have a lot of family friends.
Connor pulls himself away from his thoughts and decides to return home. He bids farewell to Sara at the front and she gives him an enthusiastic goodbye while shooting up in her seat.
The Anderson home is dark and quiet.
Connor turns on the living room light as he takes off his coat. Sumo lays in his favorite spot, cuddled with Earth and Venus, and Connor’s audio processors could pick up their light snoring. None of them seemed to be too bothered from the lights, although Earth did crack an eye open to see what was the cause.
Connor wants to go to Hank’s room but something catches his attention from the corner of his eye. When he had left to accompany Markus throughout the day to help him through his mourning… he had forgotten to put away the photo album that his deviant friend had gifted him a few weeks after his birthday. It was an album he found himself revisiting often. The pictures that were in it held many memories that he already had stored in his head. Yet, there was something raw about seeing photographs of both he and his friends instead of relying on his near-perfect memory. The photo album was also a physical reminder of all of the things he had been through since he had become deviant. His time with his friends was a most treasured part of his life and he wouldn’t trade his experiences with them for the world. They had stood up for him, cared for him, and ignored his warnings against having a friendship with him. That’s why, in turn, Connor had made sure to be there for his friends every step of the way when they had their own problems.
Connor grabs the photo album and tucks it underneath his arm.
Connor then knocks on Hank’s door.
“Are you up?” Connor asks, hoping that he wasn’t waking his father from a well-deserved rest.
“Come in!” Hank's raspy voice strains.
Connor opens the door and peeks his head through the crack. Once he finds out that Hank meant to invite him in without the haze of sleepiness clouding his judgment… Connor approaches his father’s bedside. He pulls up a chair that he had put there earlier because of how often he’d attend to his father’s health. Hank, whether Connor liked it or not, was getting old. He had retired from his job and now had a comfortable life at home. Connor would make sure he wouldn’t have anything less.
His father could still move around the house without any help and he could do a lot of things by himself. However, he had trouble moving when the sun went down, and his energy would be snapped away by the unbreakable force called age. That was usually the time when Connor would find himself helping Hank get into bed with a hot cup of milk.
Connor had also taken the responsibility to work with Hank on his alcohol habit. He couldn’t drink freely anymore, not when his health was at stake, and Connor wanted his old man to live as long as possible.
The thought of him going away was unbearable.
This is how Markus must have felt.
“How are you feeling?” Connor inquires.
Hank doesn’t bother to respond. His eyes train onto something that hangs from Connor’s collar. He then says, “You’re wearing the tie I gave you.”
The corner of Hank’s lips twitches upward as he examines the object of interest.
“I felt it should be put to use,” Connor shrugs.
“It’s a horrid looking thing,” Hank laughs but his laugh sparks up a coughing fit. He raises a fist to his mouth and tries to stop his coughing from becoming uncontrollable.
Connor watches his father patiently.
Once the coughs die down, Connor says, “I like it.”
Hank rolls his eyes.
“You like everything I give you.”
“This one is a bit more special,” Connor admits. Hank had given him this tie for his birthday years ago when he didn’t care much for the celebration of his age. It seemed unnecessary but Hank wouldn’t have it.
The tie itself was not professional in the least, not when it had the image of a group of characters from one of the movies Hank had shown him. The man had insisted that Connor get updated on pop-culture references. He had sat down with Connor one day and watched The Breakfast Club with him. It’s a movie that is strangely famous and Connor still didn’t see how it had reached such popularity to the point that it was still talked about to this day.
Hank told him, at the time, that he didn’t expect him to wear it.
Connor wore it the next day.
Connor didn’t get much of an opportunity after that. He had to dress the part when working cases for clients that come to him with their problems.
“Time sure passes by fast, huh?” Hank snaps Connor from his nostalgia-trip.
The look on his father’s face shows a deep melancholy.
“Yes,” Connor agrees, “it does.”
Hank looks at his son and takes in Connor’s features.
“You’ve had quite the identity crisis over the time we’ve spent together,” Hank notes.
Connor places his coat and the photo album onto the nightstand next to his father’s bed. He then uses both of his hands to grip one of Hank's.
“I wouldn’t say it like that,” Connor laughs softly, humor laced in the back of his voice.
Hank’s eyes twinkle in amusement.
“I don’t know how it’s possible but,” Hank adopts a teasing edge to his voice, “I believe that you’ve grown.”
“I don’t grow.”
“You know what I mean.”
Hank releases a heavy sigh and moves his attention to the ceiling.
“I remember feeling so bitter about everything,” Hank tells Connor, changing the subject abruptly, “and now? It’s strange. I feel peaceful.”
Connor’s grip tightens on his father’s hand.
“I’ll tell you this now Connor,” Hank continues, “and only once. I don’t regret taking you in.”
Hank’s eyes get teary and they shift back to Connor.
“You’ve done good, son.” Hank says shakily, his voice wobbling, “You’ve made your old man proud.”
Both father and son stare at each other after Hank finishes his words.
Connor pulls his father’s hand forward and rests his forehead on it. His eyes squeeze shut in the pure love and affection he feels for the man in front of him. His heart is ten times bigger and it feels as if it’ll burst out of his chest without his permission.
They stay in that position for what seems to be an eternity. Connor doesn’t have the ability to pull back. He was too overcome with emotion and it seems his father wasn’t making the effort to have his hand return to his side either.
They both sit there as the moon peeks through the window and onto their figures.
Father and son.
Connor knew he’d do it all again if he could. He yearned for a clock to turn back its hands for the opportunity to repeat everything once more.
He could only live in the comfort of his memories
And for now? That was enough.