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learning curve

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It starts, as most things do for Hank these days, with Connor and his dumb fucking face.

They’re working a case in a bar out the ass end of Detroit where android rights are still more opinion than fact. Hank leaves Connor alone for all of two seconds to check something with the manager, and when he comes back Connor is staring bemusedly at a frosty glass of something fancy and incredibly alcoholic.

“What the fuck is that?” Hank says, sinking into the stool beside him. “We’re here for work, not pleasure, you know that, right?”

“Androids do not drink,” Connor says, which answers exactly no questions and raises about a dozen.

“Then why did you order a damn cocktail?”

“I didn’t. Somebody purchased it for me.”

Hank pauses to take that in. Connor’s LED is spinning calmly and his face is completely impassive, but Hank has learnt enough about him by now to read puzzled amusement in his silence.

“What the fuck for?” Hank finally thinks to say. “What did they think you were gonna do with it if you lot can’t drink? Put it in your pocket and take it home to cherish forever?”

“I am uncertain,” Connor says, “but I think the gesture was intended to be an indication of interest.”

Hank is less surprised by the fact that Connor’s apparently been propositioned than he is that Connor actually realized the intention for what it was.

Leave it to fucking Connor to walk into a building that has anti-android propaganda splattered along all the walls, and somehow still manage to charm somebody effortlessly without so much as saying a word.

Connor had once told him that CyberLife has specifically designed him to be approachable and friendly. While Hank thinks only somebody who has severely misunderstood the definition would ever call Connor ‘friendly’, they had not only hit ‘approachable’ right on, but well and truly surpassed it.

Most androids are super-model gorgeous by design, so attractive that it makes them obviously, painfully inhuman to look at. Only plastic could ever achieve that level of perfection, and Hank thinks it says a lot about humanity as a whole that even the most basic androids look like they’ve just finished walking down a runway.

Connor though, he’s… softer is probably the word for it, even if it makes Hank want to hurl. With his dumb hair in his face, and that light smattering of freckles, he manages to walk the fine line between inhumanely handsome and casually enticing.

Trust me, his face is designed to say. Come closer, trust me, and tell me all of your dirty little secrets.

Sometimes it makes Hank uncomfortable to remember that Connor had been designed to be the perfect spy - other times it makes him uncomfortable for other reasons entirely.

“Well,” Hank says, leaning forward in his stool and hearing it creak alarmingly, “seems poor form to let it go to waste.”

Connor watches blandly as Hank plucks his drink from the bartop and knocks it back in one smooth move. It goes down strong and leaves a strange aftertaste at the back of his mouth, but Hank has perfected the fine art of drinking years ago now and doesn’t so much as wince.

“I thought we were working?” Connor observes.

“We sure are,” Hank agrees, hauling himself up and out of his stool. Typically, Connor is up and beside him in barely more than a heartbeat. “Come on, I don’t wanna be here all fucking night, so let’s speed this up a little.”

They spend the next hour casing the bar, talking to patrons, trying and failing to find anybody who’d actually witnessed the crime. Normally, this doesn’t bother Hank in the slightest. Contrary to what people might believe about him at a glance, it’s motivation Hank tends to lack, not persistence.

Tonight though, there’s something caught beneath his skin, rubbing along his nerves and tearing at his patience. He feels antsy, distracted. It doesn’t help that it’s really fucking warm in the bar, and Hank can feel himself sweating like a goddamn pig, all the more obvious when he’s standing next to Connor who looks as fresh as a spring daisy.

Another thing to be fucking mad about, he supposes. Seems real fucking unfair that Hank’s the only one who ever has to suffer between them.

“Alright, thanks for your help,” Hank says to their last lead for the night, who has been helpful to the investigation the same way a bullet hole might be considered helpful to a healthy body. “Call us if you think of anything else.”

She nods, takes the card he holds out, and disappears back into the crowd. Hank grunts, wiping a hand along his forehead, and wincing in disgust as he feels the slick of sweat against his palm.

There’s a heat in his gut he cannot place either, something familiar and itchy that is making him incredibly aware of every inch of his skin.

“Are you okay, Lieutenant?” Connor asks.

“I’m fine,” Hank snaps, adjusting his coat and wishing dearly he could take it off. “It’s just hot in here.”

Connor’s LED whirs. “My sensors indicate that the temperature in the bar is within optimal range for human comfort. Perhaps I could -.”

“Do not,” Hank cuts in sharply, holding up a hand, “scan me, I swear to God, Connor. I’m an adult, I don’t need to be babied. Just mind your own business.”

Connor’s lips purse ever so slightly. “If you insist.”

“I do, so drop it.” He’s shaking now, just a little. The smallest of trembles chasing up-and-down his shoulders. It’s so light he can barely even feel it, but he knows he’s kidding himself if he thinks Connor can’t tell. “Come on,” he says, because Connor’s getting that determined look on his face like he’s about to start challenging Hank’s boundaries again. “This place was a bust, we might as well go.”

He’d expected Connor to protest, but he doesn’t say a word, leads them out of the bar without so much as a backwards glance. Hank trails after him, rubbing his hands along his arms like he can will away the awful feeling growing in his bones.

It’s still cold out, but it’s not snowing, which is a marked improvement. Hank’s car is where he left it, parked crooked against the curb, but as he heads for the driver’s side Connor sidles in front of him, directing Hank aside with one gentle hand to his waist.

“Oh, for the love of -.”

“I think I should drive us,” Connor says in what he probably thinks is a reasonable tone. “You do not look well.”

“I’m fine,” Hank snaps, even as he knows that it’s a blatant lie. “I can drive my own damn car, Connor. I’m not giving you the keys.”

“I did not expect you to,” Connor says, and the hand on Hank’s waist retracts so Connor can hold up the keys he’s so effortlessly lifted from Hank’s back pocket.

Hank wants to be mad, like fucking hell he does, but Connor’s close enough that Hank could count his freckles, his back against the car, and the shine of Hank’s keys bright in his long, pale fingers.

Oh, he thinks darkly. That’s it, that’s the whole thought. Not just ‘oh’ but ‘Oh’.

Finally he places that familiar heat in his gut, and the mortification is enough that he almost wishes he could kill himself right then and there.

“Alright,” Hank says sharply, pushing Connor away hard enough that he almost stumbles. “Drive, what do I care?”

Connor adjusts his jacket carefully, hands flying up to the knot in his tie. Hank’s stomach flips and he turns, hurrying away to the passenger seat because the idea of watching Connor’s clever fingers right now seems more than he can reasonably be expected to bear.

The passenger door creaks as he opens it and the car sinks unflatteringly as he throws himself into the passenger seat. Ideally, he’d like to blame that on shoddy suspension, but Hank’s a pragmatist and he knows he could probably lay off the beer and burgers a bit too.

Connor slides into the driver’s side and starts the car. Immediately, he turns the heater on and directs the vents towards Hank without a word. For a second it’s on Hanks lips to protest before he remembers that it’s not precisely a gesture of selfless generosity on Connor’s part - he has no need for the heat.

Honestly, neither does Hank. He feels hot all over, aching and sore, and now that he’s aware of what, exactly, is causing his fascination with all the little perfections of Connor’s face, he cannot help but hyperfocus on it.

If Hank gets a fucking hard-on right now he thinks he might very well walk off the nearest cliff.

“Where are we going?” Connor asks as he pulls away onto the road.

“Drop me home,” Hank asks, massaging his temple. “You can take the car if you want. I know you’ll be at my doorstep at ass o’clock in the morning to pick me up for work anyway.”

“You are correct,” Connor agrees. “I’ll be there no later than eight.”

When Connor says ‘no later than eight’ what he really means is he will be ringing Hank’s fucking doorbell at exactly seven-fifty-nine like he has for the past two months straight. If Hank hadn’t already gone off the deep end years ago, he thinks that might have done it.

“Of course you will,” Hank says, and reaches over to flick on the music before Connor can take that as an excuse to try and start an awkward conversation.

The drive is longer than Hank remembers, longer than he thinks it should be. Every second the car gets hotter and hotter, and his skin feels tighter and tighter. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Connor’s hands, the careful curve of his fingernails, the smooth ridges of his knuckles. His thumb is brushing idly against the underside of the wheel, one of Connor’s constant fidgets that make him seem far more human than he is.

Hank has never seen an android as constantly twitchy as Connor is. His hands are always moving; riding a coin along his knuckles, tugging and tugging at his tie. So many nervous little tics. If he were human, he’d make a shit poker player.


Hank starts and glances up to find Connor looking at him, which is how he realizes he’s been staring at Connor’s hands for the better part of several minutes now. Long enough that they’ve pulled up in Hank’s driveway and he didn’t even have the wits to notice. Detective of the fucking year he is.

“I’m fine,” Hank says gruffly.

Connor is looking at him intently, hands still on the wheel. He meets Hank’s gaze unwaveringly, and then drops his sightline to Hank’s lap. “You have an erection,” Connor says.

You have an erection. A passive observation, a slight uptick of puzzlement at the end but not an ounce of shame to be had. Fair enough, because Hank’s got enough shame right now for both of them.

“Jesus fuck,” Hank announces, and throws open his door, stumbling out of the car like hell is on his heels.

Another thing he hadn’t even fucking noticed - had been too busy gawking at his damn android, getting turned on like a highschooler catching his first glimpse of skin. Hank doesn’t do embarrassment, but he does do fury, and he has that in spades right now.

He doesn’t get a chance to stomp into the house and slam the door because Connor’s already rounded the car, cold hands on Hank’s shoulders as he pulls him from his slouch with enough force that Hank swears something in his back pops.

A hand lands on Hank’s cheek, tilting his face up slightly.

“What the fuck do you -.”

“Excuse me for this,” Connor says, interrupting.

“Excuse you for what, you -.”

Hank doesn’t get to finish speaking, because quite suddenly his mouth is full of Connor’s thumb, the surreal feeling of it scraping along his tongue, Hank’s teeth catching at the base of it in sheer shock.

What, Hank thinks eloquently, the ever loving fuck?

The thumb withdraws, wet with Hank’s spit, and he watches, baffled, as Connor pops it into his mouth. His LED is spinning yellow, processing, and Hank can’t help but think it’s a damn fucking good thing he doesn’t have one because he’s reasonably certain he went braindead the second Connor’s hand touched his face.

A second passes, two, and Connor’s LED returns to blue. His thumb brushes against his own lips as he pulls it free. “You’ve been drugged,” he says, and it takes Hank’s scrambled mind a moment to understand. “I detect high traces of a synthetic compound known as JM-998 - common street name, Velvet. It’s a high potency aphrodisiac intended to cause arousal without confusion and -.”

“I was on a drug task force for years,” Hank snaps. “I know what Velvet is. But me - Drugged?” Hank hasn’t been drugged a day in his fucking life. He’s nearly two hundred pounds of grumpy old man, saggy skin, and alcohol issues - there ain’t a folk alive who’d look at him and pick him for a mark. “What -.”

“At the bar,” Connor says. “I believe it was when you consumed my drink.”

“They tried to drug an android?” Hank says, his disbelief at the sheer stupidity of it momentarily outweighing his indignation.

“They purchased me a drink I cannot consume,” Connor says. “I do not believe we are dealing with best and brightest Detroit has to offer.”

Fucking hell. Tonight is just Hank’s fucking night, isn’t it? Pumped full of manufactured arousal and stuck with the epitome of human desire given form who follows him around like a lost puppy.

“Fuck,” Hanks says again and slams his car door so hard the whole thing wobbles on its wheels before he storms to his house.

Connor is on his heels, slipping past Hank to unlock the door and guide him inside with a hand resting between Hank’s shoulder blades that he shakes off meanly.

He’s incredibly conscious of it, even through all of his layers. The idea of being touched right now when his heart is going a mile an hour is more than he can deal with.

“I’ll get you some water,” Connor announces as Hank shoulders his way to his bedroom. “The more hydrated you are the sooner you’ll be able to flush the toxin from your system.”

Intellectually, Hank knows Connor is right. He feels parched, throat far too dry. He’s probably lost more water than he knows with all his damn sweating.

He doesn’t want the water. He wants Connor to take a damn hint for once in his life and leave Hank alone to ride this out miserably so they can pretend it never happened.

Hank fights his way out of his coat, tossing it to the floor. The shaking is worse now, and his fingers fumble along the buttons of his shirt. His skin itches, and the feeling of anything touching him is so very amplified he almost can’t take it.

He’d had a girlfriend when he was younger who’d used Velvet once or twice recreationally. She said she liked the feeling it gave her without the confusion of a high - right now Hank thinks a high might be the least he deserves for the overwhelmed misfiring of his brain.

“Do you need assistance?”

Hank looks up to find Connor standing in his doorway, a misty glass of water in one of his hand. The request is completely benign, simply Connor looking to be useful anyway he can, but it rubs wrongly along Hank’s fraying nerves.

“Do I look like I want your fucking help right now?” He snaps.

Connor wisely chooses not to answer. Instead, he enters the room and presses the chilly glass into Hank’s hand. He takes it on reflex, shaking still, and reluctantly brings it to his mouth.

While he’s distracted Connor’s fingers dart like quicksilver and begin to work their way down Hank’s buttons. The heat in Hank’s gut flares, and he can feel his miserable erection twitch, and it takes everything he has not to push Connor off forcefully.

“Do you never listen to a damn word I say?” He grits out, stepping back and slamming the water down on his bedside table. “This is embarrassing enough without you up in my space, Connor. I know you’re not human, but surely you realize that this is the part where you leave and we pretend tonight didn’t happen?”

“There is nothing to be embarrassed about,” Connor says earnestly. “You’ve been drugged, Lieutenant. Your body is simply responding to the stimuli the only way it knows how. It is a biological imperative; I know it is not a reaction to myself.”

He’s right (mostly) but it doesn’t soothe Hank any.

“Look -.” Hank starts to say, but Connor speaks over him.

“I could help if you would like.”

Impatiently, Hank tells him, “I already told you I don’t need any help.”

“Not like that,” Connor says. “Your arousal is causing you significant discomfort. It stands to reason that if you act on it you may find relief.”

Hank’s a smart guy, past choices notwithstanding. Still, it takes him a very long moment to decipher what Connor is actually offering.

“Are you…” He can hardly get the words out. “Are you offering to have sex with me, Connor?”

“While sexual activity is not my default purpose, I do possess the capability,” Connor says without so much as batting an eye, unaware that he’s completely shattered Hank’s world view in one single sentence.

It’s one thing to objectively know that Connor is attractive - that’s fact, that’s design. It’s another thing entirely to think of him as a sexual being, something that Hank has been intentionally not thinking about for a very long time now because he hadn’t considered it a possibility.

Connor is still looking at him, head at a puppy-dog tilt while he patiently waits for Hank’s response. It doesn’t seem to have even occurred to him that propositioning your professional partner out of nothing more than the detached desire to be helpful is the kind of thing humans frown upon.

An image flashes before Hank’s eyes: Connor on his hands and knees on the bed, the long nape of his neck exposed, Hank’s hands on his hips hard enough to bruise if only Connor’s skin would.

It’s gone just as quickly, but Hank feels one more thought away from combusting. It’s all he can do to keep his composure and he’s shoving at Connor’s shoulders, pushing him out the door before he has a moment to second guess himself.

“Out,” he snarls. “Leave me the fuck alone, alright? Just for fucking once.”

“I was merely -.”

“The thought is appreciated,” Hank says, with as much patience as he can which is none at all. “Thanks but no thanks. Get gone, Connor.”

He slams the door, catching the briefest glimpse of the downward turn of Connor’s brows. It’s silent for a second, and he can picture it clearly; Connor standing on the other side of the door, looking at it in bafflement, unsure what little human line he’s overstepped this time.

Then, “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Lieutenant.”

Footsteps as Connor finally - finally - leaves. Sumo barking, a brief pause as Connor doubtlessly stoops to pat him - and then the slam of the door.

Hank lets out a breath and rests his head against the door. He lifts it up and bangs it; once, twice, three times. His mind does not clear and the world is still fire on his tight skin.

He fumbles with his belt, then his fly, and shoves his hand down his pants with all the delicacy of a man whose patience has long since snapped.

The relief of his own hand on his dick is instant, and Hank groans, miserable and aroused, working himself quickly and efficiently. He just wants tonight to be over, wants to drink away the memories of it and crawl into bed and not move for the next eternity.

He’d thought he’d go off like a fucking gun at the first touch, but time mounts as he fists his dick, and despite the burning pleasure rolling through him he just can’t seem to hit that crescendo to push him over the edge.

“Come on,” Hank grunts, slamming his head against the door again as he thrusts desperately into his hand.

He’s close - sofuckingclose - but it’s not enough, the touch alone is not doing it for him, and half-deliriously Hank casts out, searching for any thought, memory, imagining, that’ll be enough to finish him.

Connor - hands and knees, back bared, moving with Hank’s thrusts; counting how many more freckles he was hiding underneath his clothes.

I do possess the capability, he’d said. What does that mean? To what extent? Does it feel good to him? Can it feel good to him? Just how human is he, what would it feel like for him if Hank knotted his fingers into his hair and held him against the sheets, Connor’s thighs parted for him, Hank in between them, fucking him -

That’s it; the thought alone is enough that Hank finally hits the peak he’s been chasing. For a moment the world roars in his ears and his hips stutter uselessly against his fist. To call the orgasm pleasant would be a lie - it’s painfully artificial, pulled from him desperately - but the intensity of it nearly brings him to his knees.

For a moment Hank just stays like that, leaning limply against the door and panting furiously with his hand around his aching dick. The fantasy in his head is falling apart, curling at the edges and disintegrating like a fading photograph.

You just used Connor to get off, Hank thinks to test the strength of the thought.

It feels about how he expected it to be; bigger than his tiny, exhausted brain has the room to contain.

Grimacing, he staggers up right, wiping his hand on his trousers.

It’s fine. It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. Just one more fucked up thing in a long train of fucked up things. Hank can deal with it; it’s fine, it doesn’t have to change anything. It’s not going to fucking change anything.


It changes everything.

See, the problem is that before that night Hank’s attraction to Connor had been abstract; distant, unapproachable. Anybody with functioning eyes appreciated the sight of him, it didn’t actually mean anything.

I do possess the capability.

What is Hank supposed to do with that?

The next morning Connor is on his doorstep at seven-fifty-nine on the dot, ringing Hank’s doorbell like it’s done him a personal wrong. He doesn’t so much as blink when Hank throws it open, grumpy and irritable, shoulders tense.

Hank feels like shit, but it’s not worse than a typical hangover. He supposes it’d defeat the purpose of a drug intended for pleasant recreational use to leave him feeling like he’d met the wrong end of a bus.

“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Connor says, just like every morning.

“Yeah, yeah, good morning,” Hanks says, shouldering past him and heading to reclaim his car. “Let’s get a move on, I don’t wanna be late.”

Connor does not point out that it has never bothered Hank before, just slides into the passenger seat obediently and hands over the keys without prompting. “I have received a lead about the case, so if you would like we could head directly there?”

“Give me the address,” Hank grunts, and Connor does.

The shriek of his car pulling out onto the road is strangely soothing, and Hank does his best not to think about the smooth caress of Connor’s hands on this wheel only last night. He definitely does his best not to think about all the other things he imagined those hands doing.

For a moment it’s silent, and Hank manages to actually convince himself that Connor has finally managed to learn some tact. It does not last.

“How are you feeling today, Lieutenant?”

Hank slams the breaks and the both of them lurch in their seats. Behind them a car honks and swerves, but Hank’s a cop and they can suck his fucking dick for all he cares.

“Drop it,” he says sharply. He gestures between the two of them. “We don’t talk about last night ever again, okay? Didn't happen. Forget it.”

It’s silent for a moment, awkward and heavy, and then Connor say, “It’s against my protocol to erase memories without sufficient reason.”

He’s joking, or trying to anyway. He’s still pretty bad at it, but he’s learning, and Hank appreciates the effort for what it is; Connor meeting him halfway, trying his hardest to make Hank comfortable.

“Yeah, well, amount of memories you’ve got up there I’m sure you’re gonna fucking crash one of these days anyway,” he mutters as he throws the car back into gear and peels back out onto the road.

“You have a fundamental misunderstanding about how androids work,” Connor says.

“Why do I gotta understand jackshit? I’m sure you’ll let me know if there’s anything important I’m missing out on,” Hank says, when what he really wants to say is yeah, no shit.

Until last night Hank hadn’t thought Connor even possessed a dick. He’d just sort of assumed he was… a fucking ken doll, or something. He wants badly to ask, knows Connor would tell him, but he can’t bring himself to sink that low.

“Alright,” Hank says as they pull up out front of their newest lead, hauling himself out of the car. “Let’s get going.”

Connor climbs out after him and gestures forward. “After you, Lieutenant.”

This lead is slightly more useful than their last, and Hank manages to pull his mind from the gutter for long enough to make decent headway on the case. They drive halfway across the city, back again, and then an hour in the opposite direction chasing something that eventually turns out to be a dead end.

It feels good though. Productive. It’s well into evening by the time they actually make it back to the station, and Hank is feeling every one of the long hours stuck in the car, his muscles cramped and tight.

He makes a beeline for his desk, dropping into his chair with a groan that rattles his bones. “Fuck,” he says with feeling, reaching up to rub at his shoulder. “Hell of a fucking day.”

Connor makes what could loosely be called an agreeable noise and perches on his favourite spot on Hank’s desk, near enough that their knees could knock if Hank just turned his chair ever so slightly.

He does not, but there’s a temptation there.

“We made good progress,” Connor offers. “You seem exhausted.”

Hank has been exhausted since he woke up, but he’s hardly going to admit as much. That’d be touching far too close to what happened last night, and Hank has never been so determined to ignore something in all his life.

“I’m not made of plastic and bolts,” Hank says. “I’ve done enough harm to my body as it is without putting it through the torture of a whole day trapped in the fucking car.”

“You should eat something,” Connor says helpfully. “It has been seven hours and forty-seven minutes since your last meal.”

“Later,” Hank says dismissively, thinking despairingly of the frozen pizza waiting for him at home. “Once we finish up this paperwork we can call it a day.”

Connor nods agreeably. His LED flickers yellow for a moment, but it’s back to serene blue before Hank can ask. “I’ll start with this,” he says, leaning forward across Hank to pluck the file sitting by his far elbow.

Unfortunately, doing so puts him right into Hank’s space, the nape of his neck in Hank’s direct view. There’s a mole there, right where his hair just barely covers it, that Hank has never noticed before.

It seems so pointless; what purpose could one more freckle in a place nobody is ever going to look possibly serve? What was CyberLife even thinking?

Hank wants to touch it impossibly badly.

Connor straightens up, file in his hand, and Hank clears his throat and glances away. He does a passable impression of looking like he’d been staring at his computer screen the entire time, and he has about a dozen excuses on the tip of his tongue should Connor ask him about anything at all.

“Do you need assistance with anything else?” Connor asks, either not noticing Hank’s discomfort or (far more likely) doing them both the favour of ignoring it.

“Just get a start on that and I’ll let you know,” he says. Connor nods agreeably and gets to his feet, rounding the desk to his side where he settles into his chair easily.

Hank lets out a breath and leans back, rubbing at his eyes.

(I do possess the capability - don’t think about it, compartmentalize it, not important, not relevant.)

They work in companionable silence, flicking through screens and shuffling outdated papers. One by one people begin to trickle out of the office, and with every person that leaves Hank grows more and more relaxed.

He’s a born introvert, and he never did learn how to be comfortable in a crowd. He can fake it well enough to get by - has to, as part of the job - but he’s always preferred his own company over anybody else's.

He hits a rhythm, gets so caught up in his work that he doesn’t even hear somebody coming up behind him until they clears their throat and Connor reaches out from across the desk to lightly touch Hank’s elbow, prompting him to look up.

It’s a delivery guy - a human, not an android - holding a carton of something that smells absolutely delicious; just the right kind of spicy and warm for this weather.

“Can I help you?” Hank asks.

“I have an order for Anderson?”

Hank frowns. “I didn’t -.”

“Thank you,” Connor cuts in smoothly. “You can set it on the desk.”

The delivery guy sets the food down and turns to go without a word, even though Hank hasn’t paid him, which is how he knew precisely what has happened. He thinks back to the brief glance of yellow from Connor’s LED.

He spins around in his chair and gives Connor a hard look. Connor folds his hands in front of him and blinks innocently.

“You,” Hank said, “never listen to a single word I say, do you?”

“My research indicates that this particular dish is best eaten while fresh,” Connor says. “Best not let it get cold, Lieutenant.”

“I am a grown man,” Hank says, as he pulls the carton over and pries the lid off eagerly, “and if I’m hungry I’ll order my own damn food, Connor.”

“I am merely concerned about your wellbeing and your own personal history of neglecting it.”

Hank points up at him with the plastic fork he has just shimmied free from its wrapping. “You watch your mouth.”

“That expression is fundamentally impossible,” Connor says. “Even androids do not have that capability.”

“You really suck the fun out of everything, you know that?”

The corner of Connor’s mouth turns up the bare minimum which is basically his equivalent of a broad smile. Hank scowls at him in return and faces back down to his food. It’s his regular order from his favourite Chinese place down the road, and Hank knows better than to ask Connor how he got that information.

If there’s one thing Hank has learnt since Connor became a semi-permanent fixture in most avenues of his life, it’s that it’s best to brush the little things under the carpet.

Hank eats. It’s good, which is no surprise at all. Across the desk Connor watches him impassively, LED spinning. It’s making Hank a little uncomfortable honestly, and he hunches over, staring fixedly down.

“You know it’s fucking creepy when you do that, right?”

“You’ll have to be specific. You find many of my functions ‘fucking creepy’, as you put it.”

“Watch me eat like a dog begging for scraps,” Hank says. “Just… do your paperwork or something, Jesus. You’re making this weird.”

“I like watching you eat,” Connor says, completely unashamed. “You look like you’re enjoying yourself.”

Hank chokes a little on his next mouthful and has to pound himself on his chest. “Stop saying shit like that.”

“Like what?”

At this point Hank doesn’t know if Connor is fucking with him, or if he’s honestly completely unaware of how half the shit that comes out of his mouth sounds. It can be hard to find the line between Connor’s obliviousness and his developing sense of humour.

“How about you just stop saying anything at all if you can’t figure it out? Might solve two problems at once.”

The corner of his mouth twitches just slightly. “If that’s what you want, Lieutenant.”

Hank snorts around his fork. “Yeah, like you’ve ever listened to me a day in your life.”

“Statistically, I have obeyed your orders 33.05 percent of the time.”

“Jesus Christ, you’re not even rounding in at half on that,” Hank marvels. “You’re a fucking menace, Connor.”

“Society would agree with you,” he says blandly, and for a second Hank thinks he’s overstepped, but the corner of Connor’s mouth is still ticked up and he realizes that he’s joking.

“I think I liked you better before you developed a sense of humour,” Hank observes.

“You did not,” Connor says. “And if my humour is lacking, it’s a reflection on the fact I am learning it through the present company.”

It takes Hank a full moment to realize what Connor’s saying there, and when he does he slams down his fork and flips him off. “Oh, fuck you.”

“I suggested as much last night, and you very empathetically turned me down.”

“I said we don’t -.”

Connor’s chair rattles as he pushes it back from the desk, and Hank startles, looking up as Connor sweeps the papers from the desk into his hands. “I’ll file these,” he says pleasantly. “Once you finish eating we may head home. Enjoy your meal, Lieutenant.”

He disappears briskly out of the bullpen before Hank can get another word out, and he’s left sitting there with his mouth partly open, and his food going cold.

Sometimes, Hank really does not understand Connor at all.


On Thursday they get the kind of case Hank has been dreading for weeks now.

He’s seen some shit in his time, some truly fucked-up instances of humanity’s worst behaviour, and comparatively speaking this shouldn’t even break into the top ten. Honestly, six months ago, it’d have barely made him blink.

This is not six months ago though, this is now, this is after the android revolution - after Connor - and Hank’s world view just isn’t the same anymore, his priorities have irreversibly shifted.

“Jesus,” Hank says, leaning against the car and grinding the heels of his palms against his eyes. “Ain’t the world just a fucking gemstone these days?”

Connor is standing beside him, hands neatly behind his back and watching Hank with a blank expression that seems far more careful than usual. “You seem distressed, Lieutenant.”

Hank drops his hands and gives Connor an incredulous look. “Brilliant fucking deduction there, genius. Are you not distressed?”

Connor’s LED flickers. He’s silent for a moment, longer than Hank knows it takes him to process things, then he says, very slowly, “I am… uncomfortable with the nature of this crime.”

Hank can tell exactly how difficult it’d been for Connor to actually say that, for all that it had the emotional depth of a shallow puddle. Connor’s been expressing emotion for almost as long as Hank’s known him, but it’s usually spur of the moment, an impulsive reaction to his own instability.

It’s difficult, he knows, for Connor to realize that he no longer has to quash any and all deviant thoughts from his mind, that he has permission to express them, that he’s encouraged to express them, especially when with Hank.

“I knew there’d be a rise in android hate crimes,” Hank says, “but seeing it first hand is fucking exhausting.”

That’s not exactly right though; Hank knows how he’d be able to deal with it if it were something as simple as an android hate crime. Awful, unforgivable, but ultimately something he’s dealt with before. He knows how to compartmentalize.

This though, this is too close to home. This is an android dead in the back of a bar because he’d had the gall to try and love a human.

Hank does not want to think of the parallels there, but his mind can’t help but latch at them, and every time he closes his eyes he sees the picture so clearly; the dead android, eyes open and LED empty.

It’s easier than he’d like to picture it as Connor, and his stomach turns fiercely.

“We’ll see more of them in the coming months, I’m sure,” Connor says, and Hank does not think he imagines the minute tightening at the corner of his mouth.

“Yeah,” Hank sighs, breath misting in the air in front of him while he tucks his hands into his armpits. “Ain’t that just a cheery thought.”

Connor’s eyes flick over him, head to toe, and Hank knows without asking that he’s just been analyzed. He’d be more mad about that if he wasn’t so exhausted.

“You are cold,” Connor announces. “You should stay in the car while I finish up here.”

“Not a chance,” Hank grunts, pushing himself off the car. “You stay here, and I’ll finish up inside.”

Connor opens his mouth to protest, but just this once Hank is faster. “The lot inside aren’t exactly what I’d call android-friendly. Just…” I’m not comfortable with you being around those kind of humans right now, has more emotion behind it than Hank is strictly comfortable expressing. “Just stay behind, okay? Just this once.”

Connor closes his mouth. His LED spins. He nods sharply and steps aside, and Hank lets out a breath.

It takes him the better part of fifteen minutes to wrap things up. Nobody really wants to listen to him, be reminded that the body has to be transported to the nearest hospital morgue, that the next of kin has to be notified, that they’re not allowed to just throw it on the nearest trash heap and call it a day.

Hank cannot wait until the ripple effects of the revolution finally change minds as well as policy.

When he staggers back out of the bar Connor is waiting for him exactly where he left him - but this time he’s holding a steaming cup of coffee in his hands.

Hank stares at him.

Connor holds the coffee out to him. “For you,” he says, like it hadn’t been obvious.

Hank feels a little like he’s slipped into a parallel dimension. He reaches out to take it. It’s the perfect temperature, which means Connor timed his coffee run to directly coincide with his projected estimation of Hank’s return.

It should make him feel happy. And it does, a little. Mostly he just feels uncomfortable. “You don’t have to do this, you know.”

“Do what?” Connor asks.

Hank takes a sip. It’s just how he likes it. Another thing he never told Connor. “You’re my partner, not my… errand boy.”

The corners of Connor’s mouth tug down ever so slightly. Christ, Hank feels like he’s kicked a puppy. “I’ve disappointed you. I do not understand.”

“Oh, geez,” Hank says, dragging his hand down his face. “You should… do what you wanna do, Connor. Not what you think you should.”

The displeased, confused expression on Connor’s face clears instantly. “Oh,” he says. “Your discomfort is with the fact you’re concerned you’re treating me like a servant and that I am doing tasks for you unwillingly.”

“If you’ve figured it out you don’t gotta announce it to the world,” Hank snaps, swinging the door open and hauling himself into the car so Connor doesn’t see the irritated fluster at his neck. A life of too much drinking and too little sun has given Hank the kind of splotchy complexion that means his every emotion likes to express itself with his skin as the canvas.

Connor follows after him, clambering into the passenger seat quickly and efficiently and reaching over to halt Hank’s hand before he can start the car. “You do not need to worry, Lieutenant,” he says. “I am doing what I want to do. I did not bring you coffee because I thought I should, but because I thought it might…” He pauses. Hank can actually see him searching through his infinite databank for the right words. It’s a thing to behold.

“You thought it might...?”

Connor’s LED spins yellow, yellow, blue. He looks up, brown eyes guileless, and says, “Cheer you up, as it were.”

There’s probably a correct response to that declaration, but Hank cannot find it.

From another human, it’d be a nothing sort of gesture. But Connor isn’t human, although the line between android and human is getting thinner and thinner lately. For him to have noticed Hank’s discomfort is one thing; for him to decide it displeased him personally, and cheering Hank up would be beneficial to him, is another thing entirely.

It’s got to mean something. It has to. Hank doesn’t have a flying fuck what, though.

(I do possess the capability.)

Hank pulls his hand free from Connor’s grip and starts the car. For a second Connor stays like that, leaning forward with his hand hovering where Hank’s had been a second before, but then his shoulders straighten and he pulls back.

If Hank were a better sort of man, he thinks he’d know how to handle this. He’s not. More than anything these days, he’s terrified of projecting, of seeing only what he wants to see, or reading more into Connor’s words and action than he rightfully intended.

It’s distracting, and it makes Hank feel like the dirty old man he’s tried very hard not to be. He has no illusions about himself; he drinks too much, talks too little, has a sagging gut, and his hair is already starting to thin at the scalp.

Hank’s well and truly past his prime. He’d had a couple of good years there, back before the world had gone to shit. He’d gotten more than he’d deserved out of them, and for the most part he’s spent the last ten years being okay with the fact the path life took him down ends with him dying angry and alone.

For a second he just sits, hands on the wheel and car idling noisily. One of these days he’s going to have to cave and replace it with one of the flash models the station is always trying to convince him he needs.

(Hank does not trust self-driving cars, can barely stand to be in them without feeling sick to his stomach, but that is neither here nor there.)

He clears his throat. Connor perks up, looking at him attentively.

“Thanks,” Hank says, and then tacks on, “for the coffee.”

Connor does not possess the emotional range to beam, exactly, but his expression brightens instantly, and Hank feels incredibly undeserving.

“You are welcome, Lieutenant.”

Don’t read into it, Hank thinks. Don’t read into it, don’t read into it.

It’s hard though, and Hank’s only human. He doesn’t have Connor’s ability to break a moment down, understand the motivations and intentions. All he’s got is a desperate hole widening in his gut and the desire to run his thumb along that hidden freckle at the back of Connor’s neck.

He throws the car into gear, shrieks out onto the street, and refuses to take his eyes off the road again.