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A Tourist In A Dream

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Chapter 1

In which Hank gets interrogated by – surprise! – an android that’s not Connor.

 

January 2039

 

Markus wants to meet Hank.

It’s Connor who attends him to that fact, a few weeks after the chaos – the protests, the president’s peaceful interference, the evacuation, and the changes in the law. Personhood, freedom.

Detroit a ghost town, and then people slowly trickling back in.

Riots in the streets; brawls, fights. But also photos and videos going viral; of androids supporting each other, and of humans supporting them. It’s such a weird time, but people are getting more vocal.

The androids’ voices are being heard, and people are starting to fight back against the system.

Connor hasn’t been spending too much time with them – Markus and the rest of the ‘droids from Jericho – but he was instrumental in conjuring up a fucking android army and tipping the scales of their movement. It’s not something you just walk out of without saying anything.

Besides, what they’re fighting for, what they’re working towards – it’s important.

Connor is a deviant, after all. A person.

So Hank’s aware of the fact that Markus sometimes checks in with him, and there are times when Connor comes home late without much explanation. Hank never asks.

But when Connor tells him that Markus wants to see him, that still puts Hank at a loss.

He isn’t quite sure how to facilitate that or how to feel about it – the leader of the android rebellion taking an interest in him, washed up cop with a life that barely hangs together by the threads of whiskey, sleeping in, and a big old hairy dog.

(He doesn’t consider guns anymore. Not since that day Connor picked him up off the kitchen floor.)

Anyway, the DPD station doesn’t seem like a good place to meet; you’ve got pricks like Reed walking around looking for an excuse to explode, and with all the tensions going on everybody is going to have some sort of reaction to the presence of the fucking android leader.

Not to mention that Perkins, the little shit, might still be lurking somewhere behind a cubicle waiting to strike.

Hank’s favorite burger stand is downtown Detroit. Dark, dank, small-time criminals; not a perfect spot either. Especially not since androids don’t seem to eat, so he can’t even offer Markus something to eat or drink to ease the tension.

But all of that is just practical, pragmatic thinking. The real question is why.

Hank might be old and cranky and done for, he’s still a cop. And he’s always been a smart one.

Markus doesn’t seem the type to contact him for his connections. To weasel his way into the government or to get more leverage by using his ‘friends’ at the DPD. If anything, the charismatic android has been nothing but transparently honest.

Fair.

Hank can’t imagine that Markus wants him for his talents, either – with the recent hate crimes and the country still generally in tumult, Fowler is already putting Hank and Connor on all the fucking android cases. He understands why, but surely Markus must realize that too. So it’s probably not for a case, and not for detective work.

That leaves just one link connecting the two of them.

Connor.

Hank isn’t sure if he wants to pursue that train of thought to its inevitable conclusion, so he just waits.

In the end, Markus calls him like anyone else would, and leaves an address. Designated time and date. It’s uptown Detroit, and frighteningly easy to cross-reference – Hank remembers the reports about a deviant who attacked some rich painter’s son.

He gives the mansion one look-over and hums.

Rich indeed.

He scuffles his feet on the gravel of the front lawn, and somewhat reluctantly makes his way up to the large, double doors. The doorbell rings once, and then Markus appears.

He inclines his head. “Hank,” he says, door swinging open. “Thank you for coming. Please, follow me.”

People always look different from TV and photos when you meet them in real life.

People, Hank thinks with something akin to shock, and something in his heart pangs as he steps into the house.

That’s how easy it is, seeing Markus as a human. A living being. Though he moves with the easy, smooth confidence that Hank sees with Connor, too. Always perfectly balanced, one foot precisely the same distance before the other as they take their steps.

But if Hank hadn’t known, if Hank hadn’t seen Markus on TV protesting before the android camps, if he hadn’t seen Markus raise his arms and cry for freedom and peace –

He awkwardly clears his throat while Markus pours him a shot of whiskey without asking. He could probably smell it on Hank’s breath when he stepped in.

“Well, cheers,” Hank mutters gruffly, raising the glass to Markus. “So, why’d you want me here, huh?”

He looks around the living room, and it’s all lacquered wood and glass tables. Paintings and books along the walls; tables and cupboards covered with statuettes and other expensive trinkets. A piano; a chess set. Classy, rich people things.

So this is where Markus grew up. If androids do that, anyway.

“I want to know more about you,” says Markus, arms folded neatly in front of him.

Hank blinks. There it is, that disarming honesty.

“Figured,” he says, twirling his glass. “Just wonderin’ why.”

Markus’ shoulders shift; his posture is loose, relaxed. His head tilted at a slight angle, his unmatched eyes take their time roving over Hank’s form even though he must’ve already seen everything; analyzed everything the moment Hank stepped through that door.

His face is stern, and serious. There’s a little frown between his brows that makes Hank wonder whether Kamski put it there or whether the android rebellion did.

“Thought you’d have more to do than talk to an old guy like me,” Hank grins. “I’m not that high up when it comes to federal government issues, y’know.”

“You’re important to Connor,” Markus says, eyes flicking back to Hank’s face. “I also think you did more for the rebellion than you seem to realize.”

Hank gives him a look. “And? You planning to recruit me for your cause?”

“Not necessarily,” Markus says, a small but amused smile playing at his lips, “but I can appreciate having an ally.”

It’s sincere. It’s one-hundred percent completely and utterly sincere, and that nearly sends Hank reeling.

He takes a quick sip of his whiskey, and nods. “Alright. So, what do you wanna know? Anything I can tell you that you haven’t seen in the files?”

He pauses, circling through the living room to examine the chess set. It’s an antique, and it looks gorgeously crafted. “Anything you haven’t heard from Connor yet?” he adds, looking up.

Markus’ smile grows. “So far, you are meeting my expectations.”

Hank grins, stopping to flick his fingertip against the crown of the white king. The chess piece wobbles.

“Am I meeting yours?” Markus asks, the words carefully chosen. Somehow, they hang heavily between them as some tension seeps into the conversation.

Hank snorts. “I don’t do expectations. People can only ever disappoint you, so it’s best not to rely on them too much. That’s just life.”

There it is again.

People.

“Hmm,” says Markus, before looking away briefly. “I respectfully disagree. People can do anything they set their minds to, as long as they’ve got heart for their cause.”

Hank nods, slowly, and takes another sip of his whiskey. “Yeah, sure. People like you. Doesn’t really apply to people like me.”

Markus’ gaze turns sharper. “No? You didn’t set out to save your partner’s life and didn’t try to get him reinstalled at the police force after the rebellion? Even before people started coming back from the evac?”

Hank dips his head, hiding his expression beneath his shaggy mane. “Sure. But that’s…”

“Come on, Hank,” Marcus says then with a familiarity that’s almost uncanny, “you might never come to the office before noon, but you have your convictions.” A pause. “Like I have mine.”

Hank looks back up. “Is there a point to this?” he asks, tone challenging.

He’s pretty certain that Markus can tear through him in about one-point-three seconds. But uneven odds never stopped him anyway.

“I want to know that Connor can rely on you,” Markus says, hands clasped behind his back. “A lot is going to change, and that’s not going to happen overnight. He hunted deviants, he was CyberLife’s finest, and now he’s stuck somewhere in the middle.”

Hank frowns. “Why are you looking out for him? ‘Cause he went deviant because of you?”

Markus raises an eyebrow. “Do you really believe that?”

Trains, thoughts, inevitable conclusions. A steady arm around his shoulder guiding him to the bathroom, holding back his hair at the nape of his neck. Legs dangling over the edge of his desk, and wild, expressive hand gestures. Coin tricks, and never taking orders.

A warm, genuine smile in the snow, and the way he’d ducked his head to fit it against Hank’s shoulder.

“I don’t know,” says Hank, voice hoarse. “I don’t know what I want to believe.”

Markus nods, pursing his lips. “Humans so easily delude themselves.”

That throws the chasm back between them that Hank felt disappearing ever since he stepped into the mansion, and for some reason that ruffles his feathers like nothing else.

“Yeah, well, fuck you,” he spits over the rim of his glass, shaking his head. “A lifetime of fucking shit will do that to you.”

Markus doesn’t seem perturbed. “If what you believe in is worth it, illusions can be worth dying for.” He steps in, taking the empty glass from Hank’s hands without asking. “Do you believe in the androids’ plight? In what Connor helped us achieve?”

The frown on his brow is still there, and his expression is serious.

“I don’t even believe in myself,” Hank snaps, turning away.

“Must you?” Markus asks, raising an eyebrow. “I know an android woman who moved the world to save a child. Whether or not she believed in herself was irrelevant.”

Hank sighs, long and deep, looking down at his hands.

It seems impossible to explain. Too big and all-encompassing, and not something you throw out to a kind-hearted but stern android jesus who’s just looking out for his own. It has jagged edges, and even Hank doesn’t really know where or when they’ll cut.

It’s something he’s kept rotting inside of him for years. Dead garden full of dirt.

“Guess I don’t,” he murmurs, shoulders sagging. “But there’s more to life than a beat-up old cop.”

Markus inhales a breath he doesn’t need, swaying briefly on the spot. “I’m sure Connor is well-aware. But he still chooses to remain with you.”

Hank shrugs. “We’re partners at the force. It’s no big deal. He can stay at my place for as long as he fucking likes.”

And then, suddenly, Markus smiles. Fully and genuinely, showing all his blinding warmth, and it’s like a sun just broke through a cloudy, overcast afternoon.

Hank blinks. Fucking hell, he thinks, it really is android fucking jesus.

“Well,” Markus says, hands smoothing over his thighs. “I’m glad Connor has you. Be sure to look after him, Lieutenant.”

“Oh, we’re back to ‘lieutenant’ now?” Hank asks, shaking his head. “Is that my cue to shut up and leave the premises?”

Markus rearranges the tray with whiskey bottles and glasses, and the smile he wears now is definitely amused. “Feel free to come and go. I’ll have company later, but I’m sure they could handle you.”

Company.

He’s never breached this threshold. Connor doesn’t speak about what he discusses whenever he contacts Markus, and Hank never asks. Part of being a person is having your own private affairs, and your own secrets.

But Hank never bothered to learn much about androids, and sometimes he wishes he did.

One hand already on the doorframe, Hank looks back. “That being your girlfriend?” he asks as casually as he can.

“If you mean North by that, yeah,” Markus answers. “Josh and Simon are coming over, too.”

Hank dallies, and he isn’t sure why. “The ones who marched with you,” he says, even though they’re both aware of that.

Markus looks at him a little quizzically. “Yeah. The ones who marched with me,” he echoes.

“You kissed her – your girlfriend,” Hank continues, awkwardly. “Saw it on TV. And there was the thing with the…” He trails off, gesturing vaguely in mid-air.

Markus holds up one hand, letting his synthetic skin peel away smoothly. “Interfacing,” he says. “Androids sharing their memories and feelings through touch.” A pause. “It’s a way of being intimate.”

“Is it,” Hank half-stutters, trying to find words, “is it a, uh, a partner thing? That androids do?”

Fucking hell, he thinks when the words leave his mouth, bumbling fucking idiot.

And Markus knows, because his expression goes from quizzical to neutral to just a slight side of smug. “It can be, yeah,” he says slowly, nodding and stepping closer. “Elbow-to-elbow is usually less… affectionate.”

Hank nods, pretending he understands. “So that’s what you do with your buddies?”

“Josh and Simon?” Markus asks, a look of utter sincerity on his face. “Oh no. We’ve all interfaced at various levels.”

“Oh,” says Hank, feeling completely lost and wondering whether he was just told about a massive android orgy that he had no business knowing about. “Well,” he says, trying to sound chipper and gesturing towards the door, “I’ll – I’ll be going now. If that was all you wanted to discuss.”

Markus is smilingly knowingly. “My door is always open.”

“Yeah,” Hank says, loosening his collar unconsciously, “uh, thanks. See you around, Markus.”

When he’s standing outside on the sidewalk, Hank’s thoughts are a mess.

He’s pretty sure he just got interrogated by Markus, and that he passed some sort of test that proved he was good enough to be Connor’s partner. He’s also pretty sure that Markus is frighteningly smart, and can read people on a level that Hank never fully reached – not even as a detective.

He groans.

It’s too early, and his head hurts.

When he drives home, he tries not to think too hard about androids and interfacing. Doesn’t try to think about all the things that make up Markus; the honesty, the humanity, the sincerity in the way he lives and breathes and exists.

His hand, palm up, skin slowly peeling away in an echo of the way he touched North on TV.

Hank’s own palm is suddenly too human; all crinkly lines, scars on his knuckles and grey little hairs on the backs of his fingers. Blue veins under his wrists, thick and heavy with having carried a gun almost his entire life.

“Shit,” Hank says to no one in particular, closing his hand into a fist and looking at the grey clouds overhead.

No sun like there was in Markus.

He leans back in his seat, the leather squeaking, and sighs.

A way of being intimate.

Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t. And if he tried, it’d look like a cheap fucking imitation.

“Believe in your own illusions, huh,” Hank mutters angrily. “Well, fuck.”