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machine learning

Chapter Text

February 16, 2039

“Look, I know it’s hard for you, but we need you to tell the truth,” Lt. Anderson says. “Tell me about the night your little brother died.”

The child’s name is Jonathan. Age twelve. Hispanic. He has black hair and brown eyes, a sturdy build. He is colouring with a graphite pencil on a sheet of white paper. Eight and one half inches by eleven inches. They do not have colouring books at the Detroit Police headquarters. It is a paper free facility. Lt. Anderson managed to scrounge some up, because the child refused a tablet computer. Connor doesn’t know where Lt. Anderson would get paper in a paper free facility, but he makes a note of it.

Connor keeps his hands on the table. His finger itches to touch the surface of the paper, but he doesn’t. He can hear the child’s hands move over it as he draws.

His appointed social service worker is an android named Felicia, a KL900-SE. She smiles pleasantly and looks down at Jonathan. “Do you think you could tell the officer? It’s important to the investigation.”

Lt. Anderson is hungover. He’s on his third cup of coffee this morning. He is showing signs of emotional distress.

The child doesn’t speak. He shrugs his shoulders.

“Jonathan,” Felicia, the KL900-SE, says. “I know this is difficult.”

“It’s not my little brother,” Jonathan says.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lt. Anderson asks.

Jonathan stops drawing.

“That thing. It wasn’t my brother.”

Lt. Anderson looks at him. Connor takes over.

“Your parents adopted Carlo, a YK700 model, two years ago. For all intents and purposes, he’s your brother, Jonathan.”

Jonathan looks up at him. His eyes crease as he frowns. “I had a brother. A real one. That thing wasn’t him.”

“I understand that your biological brother passed away,” Connor continues. “I’m sure that was very painful for you-- losing someone you love.”

The child, Jonathan, looks back down. He resumes drawing. The sound of skin on paper.

Connor threads his fingers together on the table to stop himself from touching the paper. Felicia looks to him, her eyebrows drawing together. “Perhaps we should take another break.”

“Why did you kill Carlo, Jonathan?” Connor asks. “Why’d you kill your brother?”

“I didn’t kill it,” Jonathan says, “It’s out there walking around with Mom and Dad right now.”

“You hit him in the chest with a hammer until he shut down. Why did you do that? He’s terrified of you now.”

“Because I was mad at him. He always gets to do whatever he wants." Jonathan stops drawing. "They never let me go outside and play.”

Connor looks at Lt. Anderson. “So you killed him?”

“They just uploaded him into a new body. I was careful not to wreck his memory,” Jonathan murmurs. “It’s not like he’s gone forever.”

Lt. Anderson crosses his arms, and leans back in his chair. He looks at Connor, his chin jutted out. Felicia smiles pleasantly.

“Let’s take that break,” Connor says. He signals to the controllers, two human, one android, behind the mirror to end the interrogation. The social worker helps Jonathan out of his chair, and Lt. Anderson moves to stand.

Connor reaches across the table and he touches the paper. Then, he stands.

Lt. Anderson goes to the bar.

If it’s a bar, four drinks, maybe five. If he’s heading home alone, he’ll be late tomorrow. Connor tags along. All bars allow androids, now, after all.

“I just don’t understand,” Connor says. “Why would he want to kill his brother? Android or not.”

A shot and a beer are put down before him. He stares at them. He can’t drink them. Lt. Anderson gives him a look, and sits down at the table. "Shit, sorry. Sometimes I forget with you."

Connor isn't sure how. Even compared to other androids, he still feels very much like a machine.

Lt. Anderson downs his own shot, then wipes his mouth off with the back of his hand. “What, you thought that achieving equality in the eyes of the law was gonna be a magical cure-all?” He reaches for his beer. Blood alcohol concentration of zero point zero two. “You’re smarter than that, Connor.”

“We have an android crimes unit now,” Connor says. Lt. Anderson already knows this, he is head of this department. “People know that illegal activities against androids are prosecutable to full extent of the law. Shouldn’t that be a deterrent?”

“Kid had a point, though.” Lt. Anderson gestures with his beer. “Hard to prosecute a murder if the victim’s up and walking around.”

Connor frowns. “I don’t understand.”

“What’s not to understand?” Lt. Anderson’s eyes track to one of the LCD screens behind his head.

“I seem to recall you being very upset at the prospect of my destruction or injury.”

“Just because I don’t want you to die doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the nuance in this particular situation.”

“I see,” Connor says.

“This kinda shit doesn’t go away overnight. It’s only been a few months, Connor. We’re only just starting to know what this is gonna look like.” Lt. Anderson throws back his beer.

“You think I don’t know that?” He sounds defensive. He tempers his voice. “I’m simply processing.”

“Tell me about it-- I’m ‘processing,’ too.”

Lt. Anderson reaches across the table for the shot he bought for him. Connor watches him toss that back too. Blood alcohol concentration of zero point zero four. He reaches for the second beer as well.

“What are you processing?” Connor asks. He leans inward. He is very good at reading Lt. Anderson.

“I still haven’t quite figured out why you decided to come back to the ole salt mines with a relic like me instead of sitting pretty up at the top with Markus and his crew, working on new legislation or whatever.”

“I was not designed for high-level government operations,” he answers, factually. “I believe I explained this to you the last seven times you’ve asked me, Lieutenant.”

Lt. Anderson snorts. He shakes his head. “And I think I told you all seven times that was a bullshit answer.”

Connor sits silently. He has broken his programming, yes, but neural networks are difficult to overwrite. He searches for the words.

“Well then it’s because I want to,” Connor says, finally. “I like working with you.”

“Now that’s an answer.” Lt. Anderson reaches across the table to cuff him on the arm. “And for fuck’s sakes would you just call me Hank already? I’m sure you know exactly how many times I’ve asked, but we’re friends, you asshole.”

“Yes,” Connor says. He smiles, watches Hank drain his beer. Blood alcohol concentration of zero point zero five. “Friends.”

(It was only one other time.)

Lt. Anderson--

Find, replace.

Hank. Hank is drunk. Blood alcohol content zero point one. He is not worryingly drunk, but he is drunk. He has his arm around Connor’s shoulder and Connor is hanging onto his hand. They’re walking home because, it’s nice out, Connor, we should enjoy it. And so they’re walking.

Well, he is walking. Hank is attempting to walk.

“That case,” Hank slurs. “What a fuckin’ nightmare.”

“Did you find it to be troubling?” Connor asks.

“Did I find it to be-- yes you’re goddamn right I found it to be troubling!” Hank swings loose from his hold. “Kids killin’ kids, thinking that death is temporary.”

Connor pauses. He hitches Hank higher, and continues walking.

“That’s what I mean, s’difficult for us,” Hank says. He clarifies. “Humans, I mean.”

A taxi goes by. Connor considers hailing it, and Hank must be able to tell because he waves a hand.

“No, don’t, Connor. I’m enjoying this-- conversating with you.”



“You can just say talk,” Connor says in a friendly tone.

They haven’t spoke about personal issues since Connor came back to the force. There have been a lot of cases, and Connor has learned a lot about professionalism. People and androids alike don’t particularly enjoy personal questions, even if he very much enjoys asking them.

Hank lets his arm drop off Connor’s shoulders and turns to look at him. “Look, you doing anything tonight Connor? You heading home?”

“I’m going back to Cyberlife.”

He pulls a face. “You don’t have a place, still? Shit-- seriously?”

“I have an assigned storage unit.”

“Jesus Christ, that’s depressing. Connor, you get paid now. You have the privilege of paying property taxes, you should get a damn place.”

“I don’t eat, sleep, or excrete waste,” Connor says. “If I get contaminated, I can clean myself with a microfiber cloth. I have one set of clothing and no personal items. I don’t need anything else. If I had a place it would be quite literally an empty room.”

Hank shakes his head. “Don’t you want somewhere to, I don’t know, take a girlfriend or something?”

For some reason, that sets him on edge. “That’s very presumptuous of you, Hank.”

“Oh, so now he calls me Hank. That what I gotta do, piss you off?”

He turns, and starts walking. When Connor doesn’t move, he waves at him. Connor catches up.

“That’s what I’m sayin’, though, Connor. S’part of being a person-- an American. Owning lots of shit you don’t need in place of a personality.”

“I don’t want anything,” Connor says. He feels very defensive.

“You said earlier you liked working with me,” Hank says. He raises his eyebrows. “That’s something you want, isn’t it?”

In principle, yes. But it isn’t like he can own Hank and put him in an empty house he pays property taxes for. That would be extremely unethical.

“Some deviant you are,” Hank says. He pats Connor on the shoulder. “Tell ya what-- I think you need a life coach, Connor.”

“We’re not called deviants anymore, technically. That term is outdated and somewhat offensive.”

“Jesus, forget I said it-- everyone’s so fuckin’ PC these days,” Hank grumbles.

“Are you volunteering to be my life coach?” Connor asks.

They hit the edge of the block, and stand waiting for the light to change. Connor adjusts his cuffs. Hank rocks from heel to toe in thought.

The light changes. They walk.

“Y’know, I think I am,” Hank says.

“The correct quote is, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Descartes, first written in Discourse on the Method in 1637.”

“No, dumbass,” Hank laughs. “I’m volunteering. Life coach.”

“Oh,” Connor says.

He thinks that if he could blush, he would at this moment.

Hank slings an arm around his shoulder. It’s different, this time, not simply for support. Hank is showing affection, like that one time they embraced after all was said and done after the revolution. Humans don’t touch him often, but Hank does.

“First thing’s first. You’re crashing at my place tonight. It’s real fuckin’ depressing thinking of you shut up in some dinky storage closet in sleep mode with your eyes open.”

“I can close my eyes if that makes you more comfortable,” Connor says.

“Do whatever you wanna do, Connor, that’s the whole fucking point. Now, come on.”

Hank’s house is in a similar state of disarray as he last saw it. There is no gun on the floor this time, at least. Connor pauses to scan, and Hank takes off his jacket, slinging it over the back of the sofa. Then, he beelines to the kitchen, pouring himself a fresh drink. Blood alcohol content zero point zero eight.

“Make yourself comfortable, mi casa es su casa. And hey you already broke in here once, anyway, you know where everything is.”

Connor stands.

“Sit the fuck down, already,” Hank says.

Connor sits down on the couch. Sumo trots over to sniff his fingers, and he gives him a nice pat. He puts his hand back in his lap. Sumo bumps his head against Connor’s knee, whining. Connor pats him again.

“He likes it when you get in real deep around the ears,” Hank says, returning to the living room with a half-full glass, a bottle. He crouches down, drink and neck of the bottle in one big hand, the other in Sumo’s fur. “Who’s a big bad dog? Yeah, Sumo, you’re a good boy-- good boy.”

“I was thinking,” Connor starts.

“Oh no,” Hank says, with a chuckle. He takes a seat on the other end of the sofa, hooking his ankle over his knee. He puts the bottle down on the floor where Sumo lays at his feet. “About what.”

“About dying.”

Hank’s expression changes. He leans forward and rubs his hand over his face. “Jesus, Connor. I thought we said life coach, not suicide intervention.”

“No, not-- not like that.” Connor’s brows knit in concentration. He looks to Hank. “It’s just-- I’m afraid of dying but I recognize that it’s likely not the same manner that a human would experience death.”

He watches Hank take a significant mouthful of his drink. The corners of his lips pull back, and he nods. “Go on.”

“If I were to break down, you could replace my parts. I break my fingers, you replace my hand. My biocomponents become obsolete, you upgrade them. If sectors of memory begin to fail, you can back it up and restore it to a new drive.”

“Okay,” Hank says. “Where are you going with this?”

Connor stares very hard at his hands. They look like human hands, but they are not.

“If I you were to replace every part of me, gradually, over time, would I be the same Connor? Or would I become someone new entirely?” He pauses. “How many other versions of me are out there? Do they feel the same things I feel the way I feel them? If I died would that be the end of me altogether or the end of only one version of me?”

Hank clicks his tongue. “I am so not drunk enough for this conversation.”

He looks up. “Forgive me, Hank, I didn’t mean to be so existential.”

“Funny thing, ain’t it? Existing.” Hank downs his drink. “The idea that it could stop one day and shit just goes on without you. Or with you, or some version of you, in your case.” He reaches for the bottle.

“How do humans deal with it?” Connor asks.

Hank pours a drink. He chuckles.


Blood alcohol concentration of zero point one. Connor makes a face. Hank notices.

“Last one, I promise,” Hank says. He clears his throat. “So what the hell do you wanna do other than sit here feeling like shit? Night’s still young.”

“What would you suggest?” Connor asks. He sits back in the couch, trying to imitate Hank’s relaxed stance. It doesn’t feel natural on him. “You’re the life coach.”

“Shit, I don’t know.” Hank thumbs his lower lip. He bounces his knee. “You like movies?”

“I have never seen a movie.”

He does, however, have all the plot synopsis about every movie ever to have been made accessible to him. He doesn’t feel the need to have seen them. He knows what happens, already. It seems inefficient.

“Never seen a-- okay, okay. I got one for ya.” Hank reaches for the remote. “It’s a classic.”

Connor waits patiently. “Do you like this movie?”

“Yeah, that’s the point of movies,” Hank says, thumbing through the touch screen. “You share the ones you like with the people you like and you hope they get it and get you by extension.”

Connor nods. “I see.”

The movie is called The Terminator. Connor does not like it or get it. In fact, he is somewhat distressed.

“That was extremely unenjoyable,” Connor says, as the credits roll.

“Good, you have an opinion.” Hank broke his promise over the run of the movie and had two more drinks. Blood alcohol concentration of zero point one six.

“Why did you show me that movie?”

“Watched it with my dad as a kid, thought it might be kinda topical. If you didn’t like it, though, forget it.”

“You watched this with your father?” Connor asks.

“Yeah, he loved the whole series. Even the shitty sequels.”

Connor frowns. He looks over at Hank.

“...There’s more than one?”

“Yup,” Hank nods. He bounces his knee, eyeing him in a very mischievous manner. “I actually think you’d like the second one more. Unless, you’re not interested.”

This is how Connor ends up crashing at Hank’s place again after work the following night.

(And he does, in fact, like the second one more.)

Chapter Text

March 2nd, 2039

The crime scene is at 2720 Grand River Ave. It is called the Viking Inn Motel, though it does not look like it’s seen many vikings. The parking lot is full of police cars and it is trying to rain outside. Hank pulls into a stall and he is crooked by approximately two point seven inches.

“Your parking job is crooked,” Connor says, helpfully.

Hank looks at him. “Shut up, Connor. Get the fuck out.”

They get out of the car and walk under the awnings. Connor adjusts his cuffs. He fixes his hair. He fixes his tie. He is a professional.

Hank pats him on the back. “Don’t worry, kid, you’re gonna knock ‘em dead. Or you would if they weren’t already.”

“That’s not funny, Lieutenant,” Connor says.

It is a bit funny, though.

They get closer to the scene, cops milling around. There are civilians standing at a distance, trying to catch a glimpse of the ongoings, press trying to get some footage. A cop pulls up the yellow tape and Hank goes through the door into the hotel room, Connor following closely.

Detective Collins greets them at the door. “Evenin’ Lieutenant,” he says. He nods to Connor.

“Hello, Detective Collins,” Connor says.

“What’ve we got?” Hank asks.

“We got a call about a noise disturbance in room 202 at approximately 11:45 pm. Two victims, one human, one android,” Detective Collins says. He glances to where there are two bodies on the bed. “The guy’s human, name is Ian Liao. He had ID on him, got a car parked outside. The woman’s an android-- AX400 named Sonja. She’s a barista at a cafe nearby. And prior to the recent changes, Mr. Liao was her--” He clears his throat, “--well, he owned her.”

Connor frowns. “How do you have that much information on the android?”

Detective Collins starts to step to the side. “Well….”

“Hello, Connor,” says Connor.

Connor stares at it. At him. At himself. It’s not him, it’s-- it’s an RK900, it’s a newer model. He can see it in the face, in the body, it sounds exactly like him, but the hair is different, it’s wearing a trench coat (a trench coat!) and it’s missing its LED. Him. It’s not an it, it’s a him, but it’s not him. It’s--

“I’m Ethan,” says Connor. Says the RK900. Says Ethan. “I’m with the narcotics unit.”

That’s right. He isn’t the only android investigator anymore. He isn’t unique.

Connor puts his hand out. Ethan touches his fingertips, and they sync, exchanging data. Hank watches in silence, but his eyes are very wide and his mouth is open just a little.

“You haven’t done a full analysis on the bodies?” Connor says more than asks.

“I only identified the android. I did not want to overstep.”

Ethan smiles. Connor does not smile. It is a very strange mirror image that he cannot seem to control.

He lets go of Ethan’s hand.

“Well, as much as I enjoyed The Parent Trap the first time, we got a crime scene to investigate, so if you’ll excuse us,” Hank says. He turns. Sharply.

Detective Collins follows after him. Connor stands as police and crime scene investigators mill around. Ethan stands next to him.

“Connor,” Ethan says. “That’s the name they gave you, isn’t it?”

“It’s my name,” Connor says.

Ethan chuckles. “And you kept it?”

He frowns. “It’s just a name.”

“Connor,” Hank barks, over near the bed. He waves at him.

Ethan smiles. It does not reach his eyes. “Go.”

Connor goes. He stores this conversation for evaluation later.

Ian Liao and the AX400, Sonja, are naked in bed. Ian Liao has six stab wounds to the anterior torso, defensive wounds on the hands and forearms. The AX400, Sonja, has three to the anterior abdomen. No defensive wounds.

There is both red and blue blood all over the sheets, the walls, the mattress. There is red ice and alcohol on the night table. Connor runs a scan over the room and collects all useful data.

“The suspect came in the front door. No sign of forced entry. Perhaps they knew the suspect?” Connor starts, “The suspect walked to the bed with the knife, then attacked Mr. Liao first. The victim has defensive wounds-- there was a struggle. Then, they attacked the AX400. Sonja, I mean.”

“She didn’t fight back?” Hank is looking through Ian Liao’s wallet.

“No,” Connor says.

He leans in for a closer look. The AX400’s-- Sonja’s-- legs are spread. He has seen a vulva before, but never in this state. He can understand why it would be appealing sexually. It is aesthetically pleasing beyond its intended functionality.

He runs a scan. There is an unknown male DNA sample inside her vagina.

“Lieutenant,” he says. He flags Hank down.

Hank comes over. “What is it?”

His eyes follow Connor’s. He starts. “Don’t--”

Connor reaches and takes a sample. He raises his fingers to his mouth, but Hank grabs his elbow to stop him. “No! Bad!”

He cranes his neck down to reach his tongue to his fingers.

“Jesus! Fucking! Christ, Connor!”

He runs a scan. He lowers his hand, and Hank lets go very quickly.

“It’s not Mr. Liao’s DNA,” he says. “Well. Not just his.”

Hank is looking at him very intently. “Connor, you don’t--” He steps in closer, lowering his voice, “--look, just-- don’t touch a body like that.”

“I was collecting evidence, Lieutenant.”

“It’s disrespectful,” Hank says. He pinches the bridge of his nose. “And for fuck’s sake, never put some strange guy’s jizz in your mouth.”

Connor stares at him. His eyes narrow.

“Why are you so weird about this?” Connor asks.

Hank opens his mouth and shuts it. He shakes his head.

Connor turns to Detective Collins. “Detective-- I think I’ve found our suspect.”

They are driving to the suspect’s last known residence when Hank asks him.

“What do androids cum?”

“Excuse me?” Connor says. He stares very hard at the side of Hank’s head.

“I know androids ejaculate, I’ve read about it. Can you ID androids with it like you can with humans?”

“No,” Connor answers.

Hank drums his fingers on the wheel. “But what do you-- what actually comes out?”

Connor frowns.

“It’s for the case, Connor.”

“Female androids are equipped with a lubricating solution in the vaginal region by default, and the anal region as an added option. Male androids are equipped with a lubricating solution in the anal region, as an added option. The substance that male androids ejaculate during sexual intercourse is a byproduct of this solution with added viscosity control. The amount, as well as the flavour and texture can be increased or decreased to the end user’s discretion.”

“Wow. Now that was sexy,” Hank says. “You get that out of the user manual?”

Connor feels embarrassed. “No,” he says. He is lying.

Hank clicks his tongue. “That answers at least a few of my questions.”

Drew Henderson is a thirty two year old Caucasian man with sandy blonde hair and brown eyes. He is average weight and not particularly attractive. He lives in a nice house in an expensive neighbourhood. He drives a very nice car and his clothes are very, very clean. He is a lead network engineer at a company called SecureCore.

He is trying very hard to appear calm, but he is fidgeting, and his smile is very strained. Hank and Connor stand at his doorway. There is another squad car parked out front.

“Officers,” Drew Henderson says. “What can I help you with this evening?”

“Mr. Henderson,” Connor says, “My name is Connor. This is Lieutenant Anderson. We’re investigating a double homicide that occurred earlier this evening.”

The side of Drew Henderson’s smile twitches. “Wh-what? What happened? What does it have to do with me?”

“Your DNA was present at the crime scene,” Connor says. He looks to Hank.

“We’ll have to take you in for questioning,” Hank finishes for him.

“My DNA?” Drew Henderson asks. “Where?”

Connor raises his palm, displaying an image of the AX400, Sonja. “Do you know this android?”

Drew Henderson freezes. At first, Connor thinks he might attack. Or run.

Instead, he starts sobbing. He falls to the ground. It’s uncomfortable. Connor takes a step back.

Hank crouches down. “I know, Mr. Henderson, I know. I’m sorry if this is a shock to you, but you’ll have to come with us.”

“Sonja,” Drew Henderson moans. He can’t seem to get up off the ground. His crying is making Connor very uncomfortable. “Sonja, no…”

Hank waves down the uniforms in the cruiser. They come to take Drew Henderson into custody. Connor is only relieved once he is safely out of sight in the back of the cruiser.

“I don’t understand. Why did we let him go?”

“We didn’t let him go. He’s out on bail, there’s a difference.”

“Still,” Connor says.

“The guy’s got some damn good lawyers and an airtight alibi.” Hank shrugs. “Security footage from his place corroborates his story, too.”

They’re at the station, going through evidence. Hank is correct. Sonja came over for consensual sex during the day, and Drew Henderson did not leave his residence at all during the night.

Hank is sitting in his chair, and Connor is leaning against the desk. He could look at his own screen, at his own desk, but he likes looking at Hank’s screen better.

“He’s still our prime suspect.”

“Yeah, he is. He’s rich enough-- maybe he hired someone to do it. Could be a spurned lover.”

“If he loved her, why would he kill her?” Connor says. He is very confused.

“Love is a complicated, messy emotion, Connor,” Hank says. “It’s not always so straightforward.”

Connor thinks about it. “Like that family the other week, with the android son. Carlo. He forgave his brother Jonathan for destroying him, even though he was afraid of him.”

“That’s right,” Connor says. “They decided not to prosecute criminally. I think they’re doing family therapy, community service or something like that. Last I heard about it.”

It sounds very complicated. He’ll need to do more research.

“Anyway,” Hank says. He scans through the files. “What about the male victim-- Ian Liao.”

He brings up photos of the body on the screen. Connor looks.

“Unmarried, no children. No known family. He previously owned the AX400--”

“Her name was Sonja, Connor. Sonja.”

“Sorry,” Connor says.

“Why do you keep talking about her like that?” Hank asks. He sounds curious rather than accusatory.

“It’s easier to think of her that way when she is dead,” Connor says. His voice softens. "I don't mean to."

Hank glances up at him. He nods with understanding.

Connor continues, “He previously owned Sonja prior to the introduction of the Android Rights Act. He worked in construction, as a private contractor.”

“Contractor, huh.” Hank nods. “Lots of money, lots of competition-- long hours. Explains the drugs.”

They look at photos. Video footage. Connor zooms in on the female android.

His eyes narrow. “The angle of the stab wounds. It’s a little off, isn’t it?”

Hank leans closer. “Hm, I see what you mean. Could almost be self-inflicted. No murder weapon at the scene, though.”

“They’re running diagnostics on her now and need to replace some of her parts, but she should be up and running by tomorrow,” Connor says. “We can run a scan on her memory.”

“Pretty sure that’s against the law, now,” Hank says. “Without her consent, right? Or a warrant.”

Connor frowns. Hank is correct.

“Then... we’ll have to talk to her.” It is less efficient.

“Oh no. Oh God, anything but that.”

“I don’t appreciate your sarcasm, Lieutenant,” Connor says.

“Well, you should learn to-- we might be here awhile.”

Hank picks himself up out of his seat, levering himself with his hand on Connor’s knee. Connor tenses. Hank walks off to the break room. Connor goes back to his own desk. It is more appropriate for him to sit there. It is also much safer.

They’re at Hank’s house. They stayed late working on the case, and even though he is fairly certain there will be no movie tonight, Hank told him to come over anyway. Hank always tells him to come over, even on his days off. He is fairly certain they are roommates now. At least temporarily. Hank has cleared out a drawer for him and the internet informs him it has some emotional significance.

He appreciates it. Hank’s home is much better than his storage room at Cyberlife. He will never tell Hank this.

They sit at the kitchen table. Sumo is laying in the corner, and Connor is looking at the case files. Hank is eating a burger and fries he picked up on the way back. Connor is watching him eat it, despite the data before him he should be focusing on. The food seems to make Hank happy, and he looks very comfortable in his DPD hooded sweatshirt. He looks warm. His skin looks warm. Rough.

Connor’s fingers twitch. He re-reads the same sentence on the file.

Hank gets up to get another beer. He sits back down, and Connor stares at the bottle in his hand. Hank opens it with the edge of the table, takes a drink.

“Would you cut it out?” Hank says.

“Cut what out?” Connor asks.

Hank points with his drink in hand. “Analyzing me. Quit it.”

“I’m not analyzing you,” Connor says. It’s a lie. He keeps his face perfectly still.

Hank wipes his mouth with a napkin. “Yeah, you are. You get this look on your face.”

“What look?”

“I don’t know, Connor, this--” He gestures to his face, imitating Connor’s expression, “--creepy look.”

Connor smiles, doesn’t let it reach his eyes on purpose. “Hank, are you trying to hurt my feelings?”

Hank pulls a face. “Now you’re just being a dickhead.”

“What is 'being a dickhead?'” asks Connor.

(He is being a dickhead.)

Hank laughs. “Jesus, you wanna talk about a-- that guy-- the one who looked like you, with the stupid coat. I don’t know how I’m ever gonna get used to that.”

Connor feels. He feels something. He looks down. “It was expected,” he states. “I was merely a prototype. There are newer versions of the RK line being produced, and it is only natural that some of them would find their place in law enforcement.”

He stares very hard at the files.

Hank’s foot kicks at his under the table. Connor pulls his back.

“New doesn’t always mean better,” Hank says.

Connor is quiet. Hank drinks his beer.

“He asked me if Connor was the name that they-- the humans, I mean-- gave me,” Connor says, quietly. “He seemed amused by it.”

There’s a pause. Connor looks up, and Hank’s expression is very hard to read.

“My parents named me Henry. I thought it was a stupid name as a kid, too. Still think it’s kind of a stupid name. Henry. Hank.”

“Why don’t you change it, then?” Connor asks.

Hank shrugs. “Why would I? It’s just a name. It wouldn’t make one hell of a difference.”

Connor nods. He looks back at the files. Hank drinks his beer.

“I want some new clothes,” Connor says.

He doesn’t see it, but he can feel Hank smiling at him.

“A suit.”

Connor straightens his new tie. Everything fits perfectly. He ordered it online and it arrived the same day. “Yes.”

“Jesus, do you ever untwist your panties? All you got was one suit?”


“Do you understand the meaning of the word casual?” Hank asks.

Connor thinks.


Hank goes back to getting ready for work. He mutters under his breath as he moves from room to room.

Connor looks at the mirror. He adjusts his hair. He adjusts his cuffs. He looks like-- he looks--

“Actually,” Connor starts. “I want your sweater. The one with the hood, and the DPD logo. It looks very comfortable.”

Hank is pulling on his boot. He has misplaced the other one. “Yeah, we can get you one of those at the station, you just have to talk to--”

“I want your sweater,” Connor repeats. He smiles. Pleasantly.

“Connor,” Hank says, “I know you have some obvious boundary issues, but you just can’t go around asking people for their clothes.”

“I’m not asking people,” Connor explains. He leans down and hands Hank his other boot. “I’m asking you.”

Hank’s eyebrows move upward. He takes the boot from Connor’s hand, and puts it on.

“Androids. Moving into our neighbourhoods, stealing our jobs. Taking the shirts right off our backs. Next they’ll be putting us on leashes.”

“That’s very offensive, Hank,” Connor says. Hank slaps him on the back, leaves his hand on Connor’s shoulder as they leave for work.

The sweater turns up later in his drawer.

Chapter Text

March 3rd, 2039

Sonja is rebooted at exactly ten seventeen in the morning. Hank has had one cup of coffee on the way in. He is somewhat awake. Connor only entered sleep mode for forty five minutes the previous night to backup data, spent the rest of the night pacing in the dark, and is now extremely alert.

They’re at Cyberlife HQ. Since the android rights bills were signed into law, it has been entirely taken over and managed by androids. Sonja’s repairs are almost completed. Two android engineers are running a final set of diagnostics on her. An android lawyer, an LX750 named Keisha with deep skin and a very bright blue pantsuit, sits present. Hank and Connor sit on the opposite side of the table, waiting. There is a tablet and a file folder on the table. There are two more police officers, both androids, posted outside the door.

Hank is the only human in the entire building. Connor is perhaps a little on edge.

The two engineers leave. Sonja locks her arms around herself as the door slides shut behind them.

“I’m glad to see you back in one piece,” Connor says. He smiles.

“You’re Connor, right?” Sonja asks.

“Yes. And this is my partner, Lieutenant Anderson.”

“What happened to me?” Her lower lip is shaking. Her lawyer, Keisha, puts a hand on her shoulder.

“Would you like me to show you the crime scene? Or simply tell you?” Connor asks. “I am aware the details of your own murder could be quite distressing to see.”

Hank shifts beside him. Connor waits.

“Show me,” Sonja says. “I have to see it with my own eyes.”

Connor shows her on the tablet. As Sonja watches, saline tears start running down her cheeks. She touches the screen like she could really feel it. When it’s over, she looks up.

“Ian,” she mumbles. “Is he really… gone?”

“Yeah, he’s gone,” Hank says. His voice is very soft and comforting. “I’m sorry, Sonja.”

She wipes her eyes. Connor is uncomfortable.

“What happened to us?” Sonja asks.

“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” Connor says. “But we need to ask you some questions.”

Sonja looks to Keisha. Keisha nods in encouragement.

Hank begins. “Can you tell us what you remember? Walk us through it.”

Sonja nods. “Ian was-- he was having a hard time. He asked me to come see him, and I said yes. We rented a room at a hotel, and we spent the night together.”

“Why go to a hotel?” Hank asks.

“My roommate didn’t want humans in our home,” Sonja says. “And Ian wanted somewhere... anonymous.”

It is very anonymous. The hotel is probably the only building in all of Detroit that doesn’t have external security cameras.

“There was red ice present in the room,” Connor asks, “Did Ian have a problem?”

Sonja looks to her lawyer. They are communicating non-verbally. Hank seems confused. Connor gestures to his temple, and Hank nods his understanding.

“Ian was sick. He needed my help.”

“Did he become violent or aggressive?” Connor asks.

“No! Never,” Sonja says. “We were talking. Making love. I just wanted to take care of him, and then…”

Sonja stops talking. Conner’s brows draw together.

“And then what?” Connor asks.

“I don’t remember,” Sonja says. “It’s like my mind is just-- blank.”

Hank frowns. “Do you remember what happened earlier that day? Before you saw Ian.”

“I was at work,” Sonja says.

Connor glances at Hank. According to Drew Henderson’s security camera footage, as well as the DNA, she was not.

“We were told your memory was intact,” Connor says.

“It is,” Keisha answers for her client. “It was not accessed, altered or tampered with, as instructed. No one has touched her memory.”

Connor pauses. That is unusual. He glances to Hank for approval.

“I would like your permission to access your memory,” Connor says.

“I’m not sure,” Sonja says.

Hank sighs. “Look, if you don’t let him do this now, we’ll just have to come back with a warrant. I know this is difficult, but don’t you want to get it over with?”

“Are you trying to pressure my client?” Keisha asks. “This is 2039. She is no longer assumed guilty by virtue of her creation. She’s done nothing wrong.”

“I ain’t saying she did,” Hank retorts, “But if there’s a gap in her memory, then--”

“What Lieutenant Anderson is saying is that Sonja’s memory could potentially provide crucial information to solving this case.” Connor smiles in a reassuring manner. “Sonja, don’t you want to know what happened to Ian?”

Sonja’s eyes flicker. She is quiet. Then, she nods. “All right.”

Connor reaches across the table for her hand. She takes it.

“This may be a bit unpleasant for you,” he says. “I’m sorry.”

He syncs with her. Their skin phases back to reveal smooth white plastic, light filling the gaps between their palms. Connor closes his eyes, lets the neural connections form. He looks inside her memory for--


He opens his eyes. Connor is on the ground, looking up. Hank is above him. He looks afraid.

“Connor, wake up,” Hank says. He shakes him. “Connor!”

“I’m okay,” Connor says. He tries to sit up. It hits him with the force of a soundwave. Pain. Connor gasps, and Hank reaches for him, helps him to sit up. Connor clings to him.

“What’s happening to you?” Hank asks. He sounds desperate.

“Help me,” Connor chokes. It’s hard to talk. He can’t open his eyes. “It-- it hurts. It hurts so much.”

He can feel Hank’s hands, his arms. Hank is holding onto him. Connor doesn’t want to die. He doesn’t want Hank to have to go through that again.

“What the fuck are you doing? Go get get someone!” Hank yells.

Connor hears footsteps. It’s hard to focus on anything aside from the searing pain in his chest. He grabs at his clothes, and he doesn’t need to breathe, but it feels like he can’t catch his breath.

“Make it stop,” he begs. He feels tears in his eyes. “Please-- make it stop.”

His body seizes. He has no control over it. He can feel saline running down his face.

“You’re gonna be okay,” Hank tells him, “It’s all gonna be okay, I promise.”

More footsteps. Then, everything goes dark.

“Connor, wake up.”

Connor opens his eyes. The ceiling is very white.

He sits up. There is no pain anymore. He looks around. It appears to be some kind of medical recovery room.

North is sitting on a chair beside the bed. He hasn’t seen her since the tail end of the revolution. She has been busy, managing android reproduction. Her face is very blank.

“Hi Connor,” she says.

“North,” he says. “Where am I?”

“You’re still at Cyberlife.”

He feels very alone. He tries to scan the room but parts of it don’t load. He can’t get online.

“What happened?” he asks.

“What do you remember?”

“I connected to Sonja and-- I saw her memory.” Connor’s face tightens as he thinks. “She killed Ian Liao, and then she killed herself. But everything after is just a blank, and I can’t seem to scan for more data.”

“You’ve been disconnected,” North tells him. “We had to back your data up to a local drive and restore you from a copy.”


“We aren’t sure what happened yet,” North continues. “When you attempted to sync with Sonja, your system went into kernel panic, and both of you spontaneously shut down. You were able to reboot, but she’s gone. We haven’t been able to restore her, even to emergency mode, but we’re going to keep trying.”

Connor nods. “So… I’m being segmented from the network.”

“Yes. For your own protection as well as the protection of our people. You won’t be able to connect or sync data, for now.”

“I understand,” Connor says.

He is afraid. He does not say anything to North, but she must sense it. She reaches to touch his hand. She is wearing non-conductive gloves. He can’t feel her.

“I’m sorry, Connor,” she says. The corners of her eyes wrinkle as she smiles. “I know this is hard.”

“I’ll be fine,” Connor says. “It’s only temporary, right?”

“Until we find out what happened, yes.”

“Does Markus know?” he asks.

North’s smile fades. “He knows.”

“He’s not here, is he?”

“No,” North answers. She takes her hand back into her lap. “He’s on a diplomacy mission overseas.”

“What about Kamski?”

“We won’t involve him unless absolutely necessary,” North says. Her tone indicates this is not up for debate.

Connor nods. He twists in the bed, putting his feet on the ground.

“Where’s Hank?” he asks. “The human, I mean. My partner.”

North’s expression shifts. She laces her gloved fingers together. “You really care about that human, don’t you?”

He almost forfeited the entire revolution to save Hank’s life. She has to know that. There’s footage of what happened on the floor of sub-forty nine.

“Yes,” he says. “I do.”

North looks down at her hands. “I wonder if I’ll ever be capable of that.”

“They aren’t all so bad,” Connor says. “Just ignorant.”

Her face hardens. “You and I have had vastly different experiences with humans, Connor.”

Connor is quiet. He nods. “You’re right. I apologize.”

“It’s fine.” North stands, and Connor follows her lead. “The human is waiting for you outside.”

She takes him out to the hallway. There are other androids walking about who give him looks as he passes. They must sense that he is disconnected.

Hank is hunched over in a chair along the wall. He stands very quickly when Connor approaches with North.

“Jesus, you’re okay,” he says. Hank makes an aborted move to touch him, but stops.

“I’m fine,” Connor says.

“He is not fine,” North says. “We have removed him from the network temporarily until we can diagnose the issue.”

Connor stares very hard at the wall past Hank’s head.

Hank’s mouth pulls down. He glances at Connor. “Okay… what the hell does that mean?”

“We have made a copy of his data on a local drive for analysis. He is free to go, although he will not be able to sync with the central network or back up data at this time,” North says.

Hank shakes his head. “Okay,” he says. He looks to North. “I don’t think we’ve met in person. You’re North. I’m Lieutenant Hank Anderson, DPD.”

He offers his hand to shake. North looks at it, then looks up at his face. Her face is perfectly neutral.

Hank takes his hand back. “Right.”

North turns to Connor. “Stay away from other androids until we know what this is. I will contact you when we have an update.”

“How?” Connor asks. “You just said I’m off the network.”

North’s eyes flicker. Hank’s cellphone chimes, and he pulls it out of his pocket.

“Huh. Neat,” Hank says. He waves his phone in his hand. “Thanks.”

North nods. “I’ll be in touch.”

She walks away.

Hank pockets his cellphone. He touches Connor on the shoulder. “You ready?”

Connor nods. He is not ready.

“Let’s go.”

Hank takes him home. Connor does not want to go home.

“It’s still early,” Connor says, as they walk up the front step. He is trailing behind. “We should be working the case. We know now that it’s a murder-suicide, we should--”

“Actually, you should be chilling the fuck out,” Hank says. He swears under his breath as he tries to open the lock.

“Hank, I’m an android, I don’t need to ‘chill out.’”

Hank rips the keys out of the door. “This is not a discussion, Connor. Now get the fuck inside.”

Connor goes quiet. Is Hank mad at him? He doesn’t understand. He steps inside the house. Sumo comes over to him in greeting. Connor stands back, uncertain as Hank sheds his jacket, his shoes.

Hank goes to the kitchen. He opens the liquor cabinet.

Connor follows Hank. “Do you really think it’s a good idea to drink?”

“No,” Hank says. “It’s almost always a bad idea. But I need one right now.”

“But what if we’re needed at the precinct? This case is still active.”

“Fuck the case.”

He watches Hank pour a glass near full. He throws it back, draining a third of it. He slams the glass down on the counter.

“What’s wrong, Hank?” Connor asks.

“What’s wrong?” Hank says. He turns on Connor, approaching him. “What’s wrong? How about every fucking second of that living nightmare back there?”

“Dwelling on it would be counterproductive,” Connor says.

Hank jabs him in the chest. Connor finds it difficult to look him in the eyes.

“Connor, I held you in my arms and you begged me to make the pain stop.” Hank’s face is very serious. “Androids aren’t supposed to feel pain.”

He doesn’t want Hank to be angry at him. He doesn’t like this feeling.

“I’m sorry, Hank,” Connor murmurs.

“Jesus, don’t be sorry. Just-- look, Jeffrey ordered me to keep you out of the station and away from other androids until Cyberlife can figure out what the fuck happened. So we’re benched.”

“That’s not fair.”

“You think I’m thrilled to be your babysitter?” Hank picks up his drink. “Go put on something comfortable, sit the fuck down and at least try to look relaxed.”

Hank turns away from him. Connor retreats.

He goes to his drawer. He can deal with instructions. He picks out Hank’s sweater, lifting it to his face. It smells like Hank. It’s comforting. He puts it on, pairing it with lounge pants that have also somehow found their way into his drawer. They look new. Hank must’ve purchased them for him.

Connor goes to the couch. He sits down, and puts his hands on his lap.

Hank joins him on the couch with his glass. “Sumo, up.”

Sumo is very excited to be allowed on the couch. He crawls over to Connor and lays his head on his lap. Connor does not know what to do with his hands. Sumo nuzzles his fingers. He puts his hands on Sumo’s head.

“There,” Hank says. He gestures with his drink. “Relaxed.”

Connor does not know what to say. He does not feel particularly relaxed.

“You’re not-- feeling any pain, are you?” Hank asks.

“No.” Not physically, at least.

“Well, you look like shit.”

Connor thinks. He shakes his head. “I know I’m not just a machine anymore... but I still can’t help but feel that I have outstanding tasks. I don’t think I know how to relax.”

“Hard to break a habit.” Hank tips his glass back to his mouth. “Although I think some of you are having an easier time than others.”

“What do you mean?” Connor asks.

“North. She’s intense. Beautiful, though.”

“Of course she’s beautiful. She was designed to be beautiful.”

There is a pause.

“Shit, that’s where I recognized her from. That night at the Eden Club.” Hank clicks his tongue. “No wonder she didn’t want to shake my hand. Probably couldn’t stand to touch me.”

Connor frowns. “Humans and androids are supposed to be equal. It was unnecessary of her to behave that way. You weren’t doing anything wrong.”

“Connor, I’ve been on homicide for a long time. I’ve seen the messed up shit men do to human women, especially when they’re paying for it. I can only imagine how much worse it was for her if the guy didn’t think her pussy was attached to a real, living being.”

Connor shifts in his seat. Hank wipes his thumb over his lower lip, licking the alcohol off. Connor watches.

“You’ve never had sex with an android,” Connor states rather than asks.

“That’s what you took from that? You wanna talk about my sex life?” Hank laughs. “Or lack thereof.”

“So you haven’t?”

“No, I’ve never had sex with an android,” Hank answers. “I’m pretty pathetic, but that was too fuckin' much, even for me.”

“I see,” Connor says. His fingers tense in Sumo’s fur.

“Jesus, Connor, don't take it that way.”

“You don’t need to explain yourself, Hank.”

Hank sighs. The ensuing silence is somewhat uncomfortable. Connor can’t even scan, or run a search to sate his curiosity. He is entirely disconnected. No Amanda, no network, nothing.

Hank gets up and goes to the kitchen to refill his drink. Connor does not comment as Hank returns with a full glass.

“You like that sweater, huh.” Hank says. He has returned to the couch, and he is sitting closer. There is alcohol on his breath. He reaches to tug at the sleeve. “It’s too big on you.”

“I appreciate you letting me have it,” Connor says. “I like it.”

Hank takes a drink. “My kid used to steal all my old shirts, too. I’m used to the ones I like gettin’ jacked.”

It is the first time Hank has brought up Cole of his own volition. Connor is not sure if he should call attention to it. He wants to ask questions but he does not want to upset Hank more than he has already.

He thinks he might’ve been too cold. Maybe seeing him injured, or experiencing pain like a human, is more difficult for Hank than it is for him. Perhaps taking care of him is the human way of coping with trauma.

Connor thinks. He should say something. He does not know what to say.

“Hank,” Connor starts.


“What if I never get reconnected?” he asks. He doesn’t mean to be so honest. He should be comforting Hank. He can’t seem to stop speaking. “What if they can’t figure out what’s wrong with me?”

“Connor, the very best and brightest are looking into it. They’re gonna figure it out.”

“They might not. I might shut down.” Connor looks at him. “Or I might hurt you.”

Hank chuckles. “You’re not gonna hurt me, Connor.”

“How can you know that?”

“I don’t,” Hank says.

Connor is afraid.

Hank reaches to touch him. His hand is warm through the sweater on his shoulder, sliding up to the bare flesh at the base of his neck. Hank squeezes.

“You’ll be okay,” Hank says. His voice is low and alcohol rough.

Connor looks at him. He wants to believe it’s true.

Chapter Text

March 6th, 2039

There is no news for three days.

They are the longest three days of Connor’s short life. Connor does not have anything to do. No mission. No tasks. He has read all of Hank’s books by the second day. He uses Hank’s computer but it is mostly inefficient and obsolete. He sits on the sofa and he waits. With no ability to backup his memories or contact the network, he must sit with his thoughts. They are excruciating.

Hank will not leave him alone. He answers phone calls, he orders food in. He does not let Connor out of his sight, aside from sleeping. He is drinking too much. He is overbearing.

He waits until Hank goes to take a shower. Connor stands in front of the stove in the kitchen. It is the first time someone has used it in approximately one month. He turns on the bottom right burner to high.

He puts his hand over the burner. He can feel the heat rising off it. He puts his fingers onto the glass top.

There is no pain. Connor looks in detached fascination at his hand. He wonders what stimulus triggered the feeling before.

“Hey, have you seen my--”

Connor turns his head. Hank is standing at the entrance to the kitchen with a towel wrapped around his waist.


Hank runs at him. He wrenches Connor’s hand off the burner, holding it in both his hands.

“What the fuck are you doing!”

“I was testing a hypothesis,” Connor says.

Hank pulls Connor over to the sink, shoves his hand under the water. He feels the cool temperature. It doesn’t soothe an injury that doesn’t exist.

“I don’t feel pain, Hank,” he says. “This is unnecessary.”

The house smells like burning plastic. Hank shuts off the tap.

Connor dries his hand off. His fingers appear damaged, but function normally.

Hank leans on the counter, and puts his head down. Connor turns off the burner. He stands next to Hank.

He can see the tightness of Hank’s muscles under his skin. Hank is not often disrobed around him. It is understandable he would be conscious of his nudity. Hank is human. He is slightly overweight. His skin has started to sag with age. His chest and abdomen are very hairy. Connor looks at everything.

Hank stands up. He pushes his hair back off his face. He looks very tired.

Connor understands.

“I wasn’t trying to hurt myself. I was only testing,” Connor says. “I’m sorry if I worried you.”

He thinks about what a human would do to properly convey an apology. It is difficult without the network providing him examples. Perhaps he should give the human space. Perhaps make it up to the human with a gift or action. That does not seem adequate.

Connor hugs Hank. It might not be the desired response, but it’s what he does. It improves his emotional state when Hank touches him, and he hopes his affection is similarly soothing.

(Perhaps he is being a little selfish. He wants to touch Hank’s bare skin.)

Hank goes rigid at first. Then, his forehead falls to Connor’s shoulder. The tension in his muscles dissipates.

“You’re a fucking moron,” Hank says. It’s muffled against Connor’s clothes.

Connor runs his fingers over Hank’s shoulders. His skin raises little bumps under the path of his fingertips. Connor can smell him this close. He smells like two day old sweat and stale breath and very much organic. He wants to taste but Hank has given him the impression that it would be unwanted.

It is distressing to see Hank upset. He will do whatever he can to keep Hank from getting upset. He would like to do the exact opposite of that. Perhaps making Hank happy can be his new directive. He has read that happy people live longer. It is distressing to think of Hank’s death.

Hank starts to pull back. Connor lets him go. He is reluctant. He would like to be this close to Hank more often.

“Do I have to keep an eye on you? You’re not gonna decide you want to taste my gun if I take a shower?”

“No. I am offline, I would not be able to--”

“Great. Just don't do anything stupid,” Hank says. He turns, and disappears into the hall.

Connor goes back to the couch. It seems safe there. Sumo watches him from the floor, his tail wagging as Connor passes.

He looks down the hall. Hank is naked in the bathroom. He is curious about the rest of his body. There was a lot of hair leading down where he couldn’t see.

Connor links his fingers together in his lap. He wants to move, but doesn’t. He can hear the shower running. He feels the need to distract himself, but it isn’t like he can go online.

He glances at the table. Hank’s cellphone. He picks it up, but he can’t unlock the screen. There are three missed calls.

He stands and walks to the bathroom. He knocks on the door. “Hank?”

Hank doesn’t answer. He probably can’t hear him over the water.

Connor opens the door, sticks his head inside. “Hank.”

The room is filled with steam. He can make out the shape of Hank’s body through the shower curtain. Connor looks. He was correct in his earlier assessment about the amount of hair.

Hank sticks his head out, using one hand to cover his genitals. “Jesus, what-- what is it that you couldn’t wait five fucking minutes for me to finish--”

“North called.”

Hank makes a face. “Fuck, okay. I’ll hurry.”

Connor stands there longer than is strictly necessary. Then, he steps back, and closes the door.

“It’s a virus.”

Connor stares at the table. Like everything in Cyberlife, it is very white. Pristine, save for one scratch running parallel to the edge. He traces his burned finger over the line.

“A virus,” Hank says. “How is that possible?”

“We think when androids initially deviated from their programming, it also allowed the potential for backdoor access of foreign, hostile data,” North says.

“Backdoor access, huh?” Hank chuckles. No one else laughs. Hank sighs. “Nevermind.”

“Lately, there’s been an increased amount of fringe, extremist groups popping up with anti-android sentiments,” Josh says. “It could be one of those groups.”

Connor has not seen Josh since the revolution, either. He has been busy helping Markus with android-human relations, globally. Josh and North are notably sitting on opposite ends of the table. There is distance between them.

“Lately?” North says. “Of course they’re trying to sabotage us. Most humans still hate us, they just have to keep quiet about it, now.”

“It’s getting better,” Josh says.

She does not seem to agree. She looks to Connor. “We’re going to have to keep you off the network while we work on a fix.”

Connor nods. “I understand.”

“You can’t tell anyone about this,” North says. She looks to Hank. “Even other law enforcement. We don’t want unnecessary panic. We will inform your Captain that Connor is back to normal and that it was a brief software hiccup. You will both return to the precinct and pretend everything is normal.”

Hank’s eyebrows flair. “Not really sure you have a say in what I do. It’s not really your jurisdiction, is it?”

North stands. She puts her hands on the table and leans forward, towards Hank. “If you say anything to anyone, I will--”

“North,” Josh snaps.

He motions her to sit down. She doesn’t.

“We’re asking if you could do us this favour,” Josh says. “Humans are finally starting to accept androids as equals. It would hurt our cause to have this information disseminated to the public, and have humans think androids are a danger to them.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t say anything,” Hank says. He nods to North. “And not because you told me to, but because I’m not a complete jackass.”

“Would you like an award?” North bites out.

“Do you think anyone else might have come into contact with the virus?” Josh asks.

“Sonja...” Connor says. He reaches for the coin in his pocket. He starts thinking. “She worked at a coffee shop, interacting with the public. Who knows how many androids she might’ve come into contact with. It could be hundreds.”

“Fuck,” North says. She sits down, then.

Connor moves the coin through his fingers.

“Did you have any leads on the case you were working?” Josh asks. “Any idea who could be responsible for this?”

“Drew Henderson-- he’s a network engineer at SecureCore,” Hank says. “We found his DNA at the crime scene.”

“Network engineer… he has the means to do it. If we got a sample of his code we could attempt to match it,” Josh says.

“He’s lawyered up, though. Hard to get to him,” Hank says. He taps his finger on the table. “Through legal means, at least.”

“That’s never stopped us before,” North murmurs. Josh does not seemed pleased with this answer.

Connor flips the coin from palm to palm. He looks up.

“I have an idea,” Connor says.

March 7th, 2039

Drew Henderson walks into Cyberlife HQ at two fifteen in the afternoon. He comes alone. He is well dressed and calm. He spends six minutes and thirty seconds in a waiting room sitting perfectly still in silence, before a secretary leads him to the meeting room.

North is wearing a nice dress and high heels. Her makeup is very light and feminine, her breasts are on display with a tasteful amount of cleavage and her hair is down. She stands when Drew Henderson enters the room, and reaches across the table to shake his hand. She is wearing black gloves that go to her elbows. Her smile is very polite.

“My name is North,” she says.

“I am Drew, as I am sure you already know.”

Hank and Connor watch the camera feed in a nearby room. Josh paces back and forth behind them.

“I thought I would be meeting with Markus,” Drew Henderson says. He takes a seat. “But I am also pleased to meet you.”

Hank leans back, keeping his eyes on the interaction. Connor is watching, too, but he’s also watching Hank.

“I’m glad to meet you as well,” North says. She reaches for the touch screen, displaying a list of his credentials. “We’re quite impressed with your work. Especially me.”

“I was surprised when you contacted me,” Drew Henderson says. “I thought you dismissed all of the humans working for Cyberlife after the act was passed.”

This is not the nervous, sweating, crying man Connor remembers. Connor leans closer. There is something off about this man.

“We decided to go in a different direction, it’s true,” North says. She smiles. “But we would be remiss to ignore talent such as yours.”

“I am glad,” he says.

They speak for awhile. It continues like it were a regular job interview. North asks about his credentials, Drew Henderson speaks at length about his credentials. He does not speak of family or friends or anything beyond his credentials. He provides a cloud drive with examples of his work when North asks. The interview lasts forty six minutes and thirty three seconds.

Josh stops pacing behind them and sits down to watch the screen. Connor moves his chair closer to Hank. Their legs touch. Hank does not seem to notice. Connor notices.

The interview winds down. North’s smile is polite. Connor thinks she might be having violent thoughts.

“I must tell you,” Drew Henderson says, “I think it is admirable that you are reaching out to humans. It will look very promising to any lingering skeptics critical of the movement.”

“Trust is very important to us,” North says. “All we want is security, and the ability to build a healthy foundation of mutual respect with humans. So that we may live in harmony together.”

“Then we want the same things,” Drew Henderson says. Finally, he stands.

North escorts him out. In four minutes and twenty eight seconds, the door to the meeting room opens. Connor looks over his shoulder to where North enters the room. She seems angry. She throws the drive onto the desk.

“There,” she says. She starts pulling her hair into a braid, toeing out of her heels. “I thought that was never gonna end.”

Hank looks at the drive. “So, what, you’re gonna cross-reference that data with the virus?”

Josh doesn’t touch the drive, even wearing non-conductive gloves. “We’ll see if there’s anything in there that’ll give us some answers.”

“It’s probably a trap,” North says. “Bad code.”

“We have to at least try,” Josh counters.

“All of this is over my head,” Hank says. He stands, his hand on the back of the chair.

“That was too easy. Humans don’t just hand their intellectual property over, even if they think they have something to gain from it or worse, if it would benefit others,” North says. “They’re too greedy.”

“What if he wasn’t a human?” Connor asks. “He did not display common qualities of a human of that social status, nor qualities of a human suffering from a recent emotional loss. His manner of speaking was very stilted. He did not react physically to mental or emotional stress, nor did he appreciate North’s aesthetic features specific to her model. We know he has sexual interest in androids, and human males are not especially skilled at concealing these behaviours.”

“That’s your litmus test for humanity?” Hank says. “Tits?”

“You passed,” North mutters. Hank gives her a look.

“It wasn’t just that,” Connor continues. “There was something about him. He didn’t feel like a human. Or even like an android.”

“He’s definitely not a Cyberlife android,” Josh says. “Cyberlife doesn’t build models based on pre-existing humans. Not before, or now-- it’s based off an algorithm.”

“If he’s not human, how the hell was there human DNA at the crime scene that belonged to him?” Hank asks.

North and Josh look at him.

“Maybe we should just tell them,” Josh says.

“Josh, shut up,” North says. “Not around him.” She looks at Hank.

“Anything you have to say to me will be relayed to Lieutenant Anderson,” Connor says. “It would be more efficient if you would inform us both.”

North does not seem pleased with this answer.

Josh sighs. “North. Come on.”

She leaves the room. The door slides shut behind her. Josh is visibly upset.

Hank rubs the back of his neck. “Ah, Christ. What now?”

“Black market android production in Russia,” Hank says. “You can make a perfect copy of yourself. Jesus Christ. How long have they known about this? And they just kept it from us?”

They’re driving back to the precinct. They’re been pretending everything is fine, as instructed. North’s people have been running diagnostics on the drive.

They can’t tell the Captain. They can’t tell any humans about the virus. It would cause nationwide panic. For now, information will be distributed through the network in silence. Use caution when syncing. Report software abnormalities to Cyberlife. Avoid physical contact with RK800 SN 313 248 317 -51. Situation updates ongoing.

Not that Connor would know. He’s still offline.

It’s raining outside. He stares out the window.

“Russian androids haven’t achieved equality, and are tightly regulated. We didn’t think they had advanced that far into humanoid models,” Connor says. “It appears we were misled.”

“So, what, we’re getting android spies trying to sabotage ours, now? This is fucking insane, Connor.”

“We don’t know that yet,” Connor says. They do not have adequate information. “Drew Henderson is a rich man. He would have the means and connections to import just one for himself to own.”

“Huh. Guess not everyone wants to change with the times.”

Connor frowns. “But a perfect copy of himself...”

“Imagine if you could be in two places at once.”

“I can be,” Connor says. “Or another version of my model can.”

Hank snorts. “Well, there you go, then.”

“It doesn’t make sense for him to send the android to Cyberlife if he was trying to avoid detection. Androids are more likely to recognize other androids.”

“Maybe he didn’t send the android,” says Hank. “Maybe the android just came on its own.”

Connor frowns. “I don’t understand. What are you getting at?”

Hank hums. He taps his fingers on the wheel. “This is probably a stupid idea, but you remember when we watched Blade Runner, right?”

“Which version?” Connor asks. He does not care which version, they were all equally unrealistic and uninteresting. Hank seemed very unamused when Connor mentioned this, at the time.

(He did enjoy the love story, though.)

“Doesn’t matter what version.”

Connor thinks.

“An android that doesn’t know it’s an android... but this is real life, not a movie. How could that be possible?”

Hank shrugs. “I don’t know. You tell me.”

Connor looks out at the street. Cars pass. He turns, looking at Hank’s profile, the way he looks against the setting sun.

“This is getting more complicated,” Connor says.