Connor would have known this day was coming even if he didn’t have it saved in his database from the moment he’d scanned Cole’s photo. October 11th was a black stain on Hank's life. In the week leading up to the anniversary, Hank had been moody and withdrawn, a shadow of himself going through the motions of everyday life. He snapped at Fowler, shoved a CSI guy who was in the way at a crime scene, and showed up drunk to work three times in that same week.
Everyone knew about the impending anniversary, of course, even if they never spoke of it. You didn’t bring up Cole Anderson at the station. Even Gavin, asshole that he was, never violated that cardinal safety rule.
The anniversary of Cole’s death was never going to be an easy day. Even Connor had given up trying to preconstruct a scenario in which Hank might have some semblance of a normal day. All he could do was try to mitigate the worst of it and make sure Hank didn't do anything stupid while under the influence of alcohol.
Right now, Hank was well on his way to drunken oblivion while Connor watched from the kitchen. There was nothing he could say—perhaps nothing he should say—but he’d hidden Hank’s gun, slipping it up above the ceiling tiles in the bedroom. Just in case.
“Connor, I don’t need a fucking babysitter. Can’t you like, do something rather than watch me from the kitchen? You’re startin’ to creep me out," Hank snapped.
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” Connor said. “I will be on standby in the bedroom if you need me.” Connor slipped away. He knew Hank needed space, but his words had hurt all the same. Connor dismissed his feelings. This wasn’t about him. All he could do was make sure Hank got to visit Cole’s grave in the morning without too much of a hangover, and that he got through the rest of the day without any nasty surprises.
In many ways, this was the most challenging mission he’d ever set for himself. Hank was often unpredictable, and so Connor had ran the numbers on two hundred ways the day could go, knowing that Hank would somehow end up doing something Connor hadn’t prepared or planned for.
He was right.
Connor returned to awareness after running the usual self-tests and diagnostics that standby mode was good for. He’d set aside a part of his processing power to monitor Hank’s vitals as he slept, and other than the usual side-effects of being drunk, Hank slept through the night without any interruptions.
Now it was October 11th proper, the date that Hank had rolled his car over on black ice and lost everything he cared about in the world. Hank buried his face in the pillows as Connor opened the curtains, letting blinding sunlight into the room.
Hank yelled. “Fuck, Connor, my head! Shut that damn light out!”
“You wanted to visit Cole’s grave today, Hank. You told me to make sure you went this year," Connor stated. He was not going to be deterred by Hank's excuses. He knew Hank didn't go to his son's grave because it hurt too much, but hurting was the only way he was going to find any semblance of peace in his life. Connor had committed himself to thousands of hours of research on grief in order to understand Hank better, and he knew Hank would regret it if he rolled over and went back to sleep.
“I can’t do it like this.” Hank rolled over. “Damn it. Can you bring me a glass of water and three aspirin?”
“The safe dose is two.” Connor had prepared for this eventuality, and brought in a glass of ice cold water he had placed in the fridge and two pain pills from the kitchen counter.
Hank downed both pills with one swig of water and leaned back against the headboard. “What time is it?”
“10:30.06. We need to pick up flowers, so I recommend we leave as soon as possible. I've mapped out three florists, and called ahead to confirm they can prepare an arrangement at short notice.” Connor had thought about ordering the flowers, but knew it wasn't his place. Cole was Hank's son. Hank needed to choose the flowers, to give them that personal touch that would make the gesture fulfilling.
“You’re gonna have to drive, Connor. I feel like I have two heads," Hank complained.
“Understood.” Connor pulled out Hank's least garish outfit from the wardrobe. The plain black shirt and pants were going to look strange on his partner, but Connor supposed Hank wouldn't want to appear at his grave in his usual loud shirt. He'd want to make an effort.
"I haven't worn that shirt since…" Hank trailed off, and Connor realized he'd worn the black shirt at Cole's funeral.
"I can choose something else if you'd rather," Connor offered, but Hank shook his head.
"No. You're right. I should dress up for my boy. He deserves it." Hank dragged himself out of bed and headed to the shower. Connor watched the door close with an uncomfortable tightening of his circuits. He'd considered hiding the razorblades, too, but feared being too obvious in his concern would just draw Hank's ire.
The graveyard was quiet and small, located not far from the playground and bridge where Hank had drunkenly pointed a gun at Connor’s head. Connor set aside the memory of that night as he walked side by side with Hank down the gravel pathway that led to the children’s section. Hank carried flowers, a small teddy bear tied to the arrangement. Dark clouds had covered the sun and a cold October rain soaked them both.
“Over here, I think,” Hank mumbled, stumbling a little as he passed tiny headstones. Connor reached out an arm to steady him and he grabbed it. “Thanks.” It was if the fight had gone out of him, the shell of crabbiness that covered his depression torn away to reveal the soft center of a man with a broken heart. Connor let Hank lead the way, even though he'd downloaded a map of the graveyard and pinpointed the location of Cole's grave. Hank needed to find the plot when he was prepared to face it.
“Here.” Hank set down the flowers at a well-tended grave. Another fresh bouquet of flowers sat there. “Guess my ex-wife was here. So she does still have a heart. Coulda fooled me.”
Connor decided it was best not to ask. Hank’s public records had indicated a previous marriage, but it had dissolved soon after Cole’s death and he assumed that was the reason. Even the greatest of romances had to struggle under the weight of losing a child.
“Cole would have liked you, Connor. He thought androids were cool. That coin trick would have impressed the hell out of him.” Hank stood up. “A shame he’ll never get to meet you.” He hung his head, wet hair obscuring his face. “I haven’t been here since the funeral. I tried to forget. It was easier that way. That and blaming androids for what happened.”
“You can’t blame yourself, either,” Connor said.
Hank turned his head to look at Connor. “Do you experience grief, Connor? Have you ever lost anyone you cared about?”
“I think I would be capable of grief, if I lost someone close to me. I certainly felt something when the deviants involved in our investigation were killed. I feel... discomfort when I think about the possibility of you dying.” Connor was taken aback by the question. He'd thought about it, but never voiced his opinion. People didn't talk about death openly like this.
“Is that why you stopped me falling in the gardens rather than chase that deviant? Why you grabbed the gun in the Stratford Tower and shot the deviant you were trying to capture?” Hank stared directly into Connor's eyes, as if searching for something.
“I think you know the answer to that, Hank.” Connor wasn’t trying to be cryptic, but he didn’t want to spell it out. He thought Hank already knew that he’d jeopardized the investigation a number of times to save Hank because of his deviant feelings.
“You overrode your programming because of that impulse? You thought about my death and you couldn’t stand it?” Hank looked down at the grave. “So maybe you do understand.” He nodded, as if making a decision. “Thanks, Connor. For making me come here. I was ready to hide under the blankets for another year but it’s good that I came. Even if Cole's gone, I needed to focus my thoughts. I needed to come here and see him.”
Connor placed his hand on Hank’s shoulder. Hank turned around and pulled him into a bear hug he wasn’t expecting, holding him so tightly Connor was sure it would have hurt if he’d been made of flesh and blood. Connor returned the hug, feeling something inside him react in a physical way. He wanted to hold on tight, as if by holding on he could keep Hank safe from himself and never have to grieve his loss.
As soon as they got home Hank went straight back to the door, almost retreating from Connor. Connor should have known he was falling back into his predictable pattern of self-destructive behavior, but after how much he'd opened up at the graveyard, he'd hoped that wouldn't be the case.
“Hank, where are you going?” Connor asked.
“I need a drink,” Hank said. “I’ll be at Jimmy’s bar.” There was a look of apology in his eyes, but he said nothing else before almost fleeing to his car.
Connor stood at the door and watched him leave. There was nothing he could do to ease Hank’s pain. Nothing. He couldn't hug it away, and there was nothing in any program he possessed that could steal Hank's pain and give it to himself instead.
So Connor sat and waited for Hank to come home.
It was late when Hank appeared at the front door. Connor expected him to be heavily intoxicated, but apart from bloodshot eyes, Hank seemed aware and alert as he stepped into the living room.
“Did you hide my gun, Connor?” Hank asked.
“It seemed like the best course of action, given your erratic behavior over the last week.” Connor steeled himself for Hank’s anger, but instead he received a friendly clap on the shoulder.
“Thanks.” Hank walked past Connor to the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of water.
Connor analyzed Hank and noticed the usual traces of cigarette smoke and alcohol weren't clinging to his clothes like they normally would after a bar crawl. “You didn’t go to Jimmy’s bar?”
“No. I went to the bridge to think about some things.” Hank sighed. “That’s when I noticed my gun was missing.” He downed the water like it was whiskey and put the glass down hard on the counter.
Connor looked away. “I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re not. Neither am I. You did the right thing, Connor.” Hank stepped forward, closing the distance between them. “This day’s been hell. I've thought about suicide more than once. It was probably a good thing that you kept me from the means.”
“Go to sleep, Hank. Tomorrow will be better,” Connor said, guiding Hank towards the bedroom. Just because he hadn't started drinking yet, didn't mean he wouldn't decide it was a good idea by the end of the night. There were still hours before dawn.
“No. Not yet. There’s still one thing I have to do before I chicken out.” Hank turned and pressed Connor up against the wall, kissing him full on the lips. Hank pulled away once he'd made his point, but Connor wasn’t done, not yet. He deepened the kiss, surprising himself by pulling Hank closer.
“Okay, that wasn’t the reaction I expected,” Hank confessed. “Not that I’m complaining, just that I expected to round out this day with a whole lot of drinking and rumination on how I fucked up our friendship on top of everything else.”
“I'm not sorry to disappoint, Hank," Connor stared into Hank's blue eyes, trying to discern his mood.
“I... I need physical contact,” Hank admitted. “I was gonna go home with someone from the bar, but I just couldn’t. I wanted you. So I thought what the hell, what do I have to lose?”
“I told you I can be whatever you need me to be,” Connor stated.
“I hate that line. Makes me feel like you’re just doing it for my sake—that's it's not really something you want.”
“I do want it. Because it’s you, Hank. I don’t give that line to everyone I meet, you know. Just you.”
“Oh.” Hank visibly relaxed, and Connor leaned in to kiss his neck. He moved his hands experimentally up Hank’s shirt, feeling his bare chest with his fingertips. He’d preconstructed this scene before, but only in his personal fantasies. The idea of playing it out in reality sent a powerful impulse through his circuits and a wave of arousal to his groin. Hank noticed, and his eyes seemed to focus on the bulge in his pants with a hungry look.
Connor had never seen Hank like this, and he felt like he was overheating. There was a dark intensity to the way Hank pulled him into the next kiss, grinding their hips together as if the pleasurable friction could drive away every unpleasant thought in his mind. Connor was tender for his part, wanting Hank to feel good for a while, wishing he could make him forget, if only for a moment, that he was cursed by a loss that was never going to get any easier. He captured Hank’s lips with his and was satisfied with the moan that Hank slipped into the kiss.
“Bedroom,” Hank gasped. “Too many clothes.”
Connor had to agree as Hank led him into the bedroom and shut the door. Hank moved straight for Connor’s belt, unbuckling it and working on Connor’s zipper. The next few moments were a fight with various articles of clothing that stood in the way of skin to skin contact, and Connor wasn’t satisfied until they were both naked.
Hank sat down on the edge of the bed and Connor reached for his cock, slowly pumping it to get a feel for what Hank liked as he engaged him in another kiss. He silently analyzed Hank’s spit, checking his blood alcohol level. He didn’t want Hank to wake up with regrets. He detected a couple of beers, but not enough to impair Hank’s thinking. Hank wrapped a hand around his cock, disrupting Connor’s thought processes as pleasure coursed through his circuits. He knew he could easily come from this contact alone, the two of them gasping in the dark as they stroked each other off. There was something desperate and raw about this contact in the dark.
Hank had other plans, however. “Stop,” he whispered. Connor let go and looked into Hank’s eyes, trying to analyze his reaction to ascertain whether he was having second thoughts. Hank pressed him down onto the messy bed and parted his legs, eyeing Connor’s hole with a greedy gaze. He plunged in, probing Connor’s hole with his tongue. There was a ball of sensors clustered there as part of his intimate program design, and Connor threw his head back, hitting the pillows as his cock twitched.
“Oh, you like that?” Hank whispered. Connor could feel Hank's breath tickling his hole and clutched at the sheets.
“Yes,” Connor confirmed. “Hank...”
“I’m so fucking hard right now, Connor. I’ve been thinking about this for so long, telling myself that it could never happen...”
“You only had to ask,” Connor said. “I was waiting for you to decide what you wanted rom our relationship.”
“Did you ever imagine this?” Hank asked.
Hank slipped off the bed and reached for the bedside table. He pulled out a bottle of lube and came back around to the end of the bed. He wordlessly coated his fingers with the slick lube and Connor arched his back as Hank slipped two inside at once, probing Connor's hole with measured strokes. He kept his eyes on the prize, his lips slightly apart, his breaths ragged and his heart racing. Connor thought he’d never seen anything so intimate as Hank like this, his shields down to reveal a needy, intense soul on fire.
Hank’s cock probing his entrance was even better. Hank gasped as he pressed himself inside Connor, unintelligible guttural sounds emanating from his mouth as he buried his cock to the hilt and waited a few moments. He pulled back and thrust back in gently, testing the waters. Connor was aware he’d become a thrashing, moaning, needy mess himself, but he was too lost in Hank’s gaze to care. There was so much love and need and pain in those eyes and Connor wanted to take it all for himself, to merge with Hank and share the weight of all his burdens and the intensity of his feelings.
Connor pulled him close and kissed Hank, long and slow as Hank took his time with his thrusts, savoring the sensation of being inside Connor for the first time. Every stroke hit Connor’s biocomponent equivalent of a prostate and he was only vaguely aware of his sensors telling him he’d bit his lip and was leaking thirium.
Connor had never felt anything like it, and the wave only seemed to build as Hank sped up, grunting at the physical exertion as a sheen of sweat trickled from his brow. He reached for Connor’s cock, pumping it in time with his thrusts. Connor came, jets of semen splashing his stomach. The sight seemed to drive Hank over the edge and he thrust one last time with a shout before filling Connor up with come. He closed his eyes, his entire body twitching and spawning as he rode the wave of orgasm. He gasped for breath and slipped out.
“Jesus Christ,” Hank gasped, catching his breath. Connor was suddenly afraid he was going to leave and sat up, grabbing Hank’s arm.
“Just going to get something to clean up, Connor. I’ll be right back.” Hank seemed to take forever, and Connor’s doubts moved into the empty space. What if this was just a one-night thing? What if Hank never looked at him that way again? What if Hank regretted the fact that he'd had sex with his android partner?
Hank returned with a washcloth and cleaned them both up. He discarded the cloth and climbed on the bed to lay next to Connor, resting his head on Connor’s chest.
“I can hear your thirium pump,” Hank said. “It sounds like a human heart, but not quite. There’s a slight whirring to it.” He traced his fingers across Connor’s chest. “Maybe this day wasn’t so bad after all.”
“Hank, I...” There were so many things Connor wanted to say, but he was overwhelmed by emotions he couldn’t put a name to. He could sense Hank starting to fall asleep on him and panicked. When morning came, the spell might be broken if he kept his silence, so he chased his feelings, needing to put a name to them.
“I love you, Hank,” Connor said. He was sure as he said it that it was true and he’d identified his feelings correctly, but wondered if he was saying too much.
“I think I already knew that, deep down,” Hank whispered. “You’ve been so good to me, Connor. Better than I deserve. I couldn’t have gotten though today without you.”
“You deserve happiness,” Connor continued, feeling bold. “I don’t want to stop here, Hank. I want to be there for you, no matter what. I want to keep being intimate with you. But I’m an android. I don’t know if you would even want a partner like me.”
“Humans are overrated,” Hank observed. He moved up to hover over Connor's face and claimed his lips in a soft kiss. “I love you too, you damn hunk of plastic. Of course I want you.” He closed his eyes. “Tomorrow, you’d better tell me where you hid my gun. We need to finish the Morgan investigation, and I’m not staking out a red ice operation without it.”
“I will,” Connor said. “Tomorrow.” He pulled Hank into his arms. “Get some sleep, Lieutenant. Something tells me it’s going to be a very energetic stakeout.”
Hank grinned. “Oh yeah? I like the sound of that.”