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The Gift

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“Can I name him, dad? Please? Oh, please please please!” Cole looked up at his father with wide, hopeful blue eyes. Who the hell was Hank to say no to that face? Only five years old and way too excited about the newest ‘addition’ to their little messed up family.

Hank let out a sigh and nodded. “Sure thing, kid. Better decide before it boots up or whatever,” Hank told the excited child. He looked back up at the thing that was the topic of discussion.

He really hadn’t wanted it. He didn’t need an android, and certainly not directly from Kamski himself. That’s what happens though, Hank supposed, when you save the CEO of Cyberlife.

Hank had just followed his gut. He shouldn’t have even been assigned to that post that day. He was a Lieutenant, in homicide no less. He certainly wasn’t Fowler’s usual target for security work. But they’d been stretched thin that day and didn’t quite have the numbers, so Hank had volunteered. He figured it didn’t hurt to keep brown-nosing, help his career go even better than it already was.

Kamski had been giving a demonstration of his newest models. A live one that had been set up in the streets for the public to see. That’s why tight detailing had been necessary. And of course, there had been a crazy there who’d tried to pull a gun. Hank, luckily, had seen the would-be shooter and had tackled the man to the ground. The gun had gone off, but luckily the bullet landed in the pavement and no one had been hurt.

So of course, in a show of his appreciation for Hank’s act, Kamski had delivered one of his androids to him free of charge. What was he supposed to say? Hey thanks for the thing worth thousands of dollars, but no thanks? He was in the public eye as well, media going crazy over the story. He couldn’t just… not accept.

It didn’t hurt that it was one of a kind. Kamski had personally designed it. Usually, androids that were custom-made were twice if not three times the price of the usual models. And this one had been hand-built and overseen by the CEO himself. It was worth a small fortune, in other words.

“Are you ready? All of its programming and hardware are functioning at their highest capacity.” Kamski’s personal android, Chloe as she was called, got their attention with her soft, monotone voice.

Cole looked more excited than Hank remembered him being in a long while. The divorce had been really hard on him. So had the subsequent custody battles. Hank had won, eventually, though it hadn’t been easy. He granted his ex-wife weekends, at his discretion. The toll of it all had made the usual smiling boy fairly downtrodden recently.

“Yeah, go ahead,” Hank said, having absolutely no idea what to do or say once the thing woke up. Chloe moved and pressed the LED that was a dim, offline blue on the other android.

Immediately after that, its eyes blinked open, revealing a soft, doe-brown color. The android looked at them but didn’t speak. No doubt running a systems check or whatever they did when they booted up.

Hank’s breath caught in his throat for a moment. The eyes were so incredibly lifelike. Unlike any of the models Hank has seen in the windows. It seemed Kamski really outdid himself with this one.

“And there it is!” Kamski clapped his hands together with a grin. He took a certain delight in his work that frankly weirded Hank out a bit, but he wasn’t going to admit to that out loud. “Stunning, isn’t it?” Kamski asked, looking damn proud of himself.

The android blinked a few times rapidly and looked at all of them, silently assessing. It was honestly a little unnerving. Cole let out a delighted giggle though, so Hank put all of his personal thoughts aside.

“Gotta name for it, champ?” Kamski asked Cole. The little boy nodded, looking up at their new bot with unadulterated joy. Kamski stepped into their android’s line of sight. “RK800. Register your name,” he ordered.

He stepped aside so Cole could take over, the boy now the only person in the android’s direct line of sight.

“Connor!” Cole’s delightedly voiced. Hank had absolutely no idea where that name had come from and was surprised to hear it. The name was decidedly normal considering a five-year-old had picked it out. Hank had half expected a name more fitting for a dog to come out of his son’s mouth.

The android blinked, his LED turning a soft yellow for a split second as he processed that.

“My name is Connor,” it said, speaking for the first time.

Hank stilled at the soft lilting of the android’s voice. It really was a completely unique AI. He’d never heard a voice like that, so human-like, come from a bot. Kamski looked even more pleased, a somewhat eerie smile on his face.

“Wonderful choice,” he said to Cole before he turned to the recently activated android. “Connor, do you know your function?” He asked it casually like he was talking about the weather with some acquaintance.

Connor stilled for a moment, its head tilting a bit to the side. “My primary function is to care for the Anderson family, which consists of Lieutenant Hank Anderson and his son, Cole Anderson,” the android answered. The bot’s brown eyes blinked, a slight facial change as it studied the humans in question.

Kamski nodded his head and led Connor off of its platform. The android’s first steps are calculated, but it gets the hang of things uncannily fast. “Yes, that’s right,” Kamski replied, sounding weirdly proud of his invention.

“Hello. It is wonderful to meet you, Cole,” Connor said to the little boy, whose face lit up like the damn fourth of July. The little boy reached out and grasped Connor’s hand in both of his, letting out a laugh, blue eyes bright.

“We’re gonna be best friends! Right, Connor?” Cole asked hopefully. Hank watched the exchange with growing bemusement. A pure look of what Hank could only describe as ‘processing’ passed over Connor’s face. The poor android had to figure out how to respond to human emotion right off the bat.

“Yes, Cole. We can be best friends if that is what you require,” Connor answered cordially. Hank almost snorted in laughter, but somehow managed to stifle it. The android turned to Hank next. “Hello, Lieutenant. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

Hank cleared his throat, putting his hands in the tattered pockets of his leather jacket. He wasn’t so sure about all this android stuff. He didn’t have strong opinions on them one way or the other, just never had an interest in getting one.

“Yeah, likewise,” he told the android, and Hank was probably seeing things but he could have sworn one corner of Connor’s mouth had twitched up into a bit of a smile before its expression evened out again.

“Well, you should be all set,” Kamski said as he passed a few things to Hank. A guidebook that Hank had no intention of reading, as well as a few numbers that Hank should call if Connor ever broke or needed replacing. “Thank you again, Lieutenant Anderson. I owe you my life, and this is the least I could do,” Kamski said seriously.

Hank fidgeted a bit, rubbing the back of his neck. “Just doing my job, Mr. Kamski. Thanks for…” He gestured to Connor. “It’ll be good for Cole,” he admitted. He hadn’t wanted to accept the help of an android. He could be a good father on his own, dammit, but he had to admit that an android to help with housework and homework and stuff would have its positives. Another solid ‘person’ there for Cole when work got busy for Hank.

Kamski smiled and nodded as his Chloe waited dutifully behind him, blue eyes staring forward into nothing. It was a little unnerving. He looked to Connor and could have sworn he saw…warmth in its brown eyes as it watched Cole, who was spouting off a bunch of things about his Kindergarten class.

They finally got pleasantries over with, and said their goodbyes to Kamski and his android, before they went to pile into the car and head home.

“Please! Let me sit up front!” Cole begged. Connor tilted its head a bit and its LED skipped to yellow for a moment before going back to blue. It turned to the small child and spoke to him with a soft but firm voice.

“It is not recommended for children of your height and age to sit in the front of a motor vehicle. Perhaps when you are older,” Connor told him. Cole pouted a bit but didn’t put up much of a fight, climbing into the car and sitting on his booster seat. Connor helped him with his seatbelt like it was second nature. Like it hadn’t literally just been activated today.

Hank watched the scene for a moment longer before slipping into the driver’s seat and turning on the car. Connor slid into the passenger seat beside him and looked over at Hank. “I recommend that you obtain an autonomous car, Lieutenant. They have near perfect driving safety records and would be beneficial to you and your son,” Connor piped up.

“Dad hates autonoininy cars!” Cole declared from his place in the backseat, hilariously messing up the word ‘autonomous’. Hank snorted and put the car in drive, looking around as he pulled out of the parking spot.

“He ain’t wrong. I don’t trust those things. I like my own hands on the wheel, thanks.” Hank was rather stubborn when it came to newer technology. Despite being brought up in the age of the technology boom, he’d never quite warmed up to it. Born in the wrong time or something like that, he guessed.

Connor’s LED went yellow and skipped a few times. “I don’t understand,” the android admitted, before facing forward to look out the windshield. A quick glance over to Connor made Hank see that the robot’s face was fixed in a look of…confusion, it seemed. Damn, Kamski had really pulled out every feature for this thing. It was uncanny.

They got home and Hank could almost visibly see the android scanning the surroundings, making task lists for itself. Cole sped ahead of them into the house and laughed loudly at the same time barking could be heard.

“Ah, yeah. That’s Sumo. Got him not too long ago. He’s still a puppy so he’s still being housebroken,” Hank told the android, who nodded in understanding.

“I can assist with training as well, Lieutenant,” Connor told him succinctly as they walked up the steps and into the house. Hank shook his head.

“Call me Hank. I’m not on duty.” A moment of silence passed between them as Connor seemed to process this before the android nodded.

“Of course, Hank.”

A bounding puppy came running from the house, tongue lolling out of his mouth as he ran circles around Hank's legs and sniffed curiously at Connor’s immaculate shoes. The dog then went about its business in the yard, which Hank was glad to see.

“According to my research, a successful urination in the correct location is usually met with a treat,” Connor told Hank, who almost laughed again at how stiff the thing sounded. God, he was really going to have to get used to having a walking talking Siri living with him.

“Yeah, sure does,” he answered Connor before walking over to the puppy to give praise. Connor watched for a moment before it moved inside of the house, further inspecting the surroundings.

Hank brought Sumo in and watched as Connor found the treats and dutifully gave one to Sumo. “Good dog,” Connor said simply, with a pat to Sumo’s head. The puppy wagged his tail and ate the treat hurriedly.

The android then proceeded to immediately start chores. Dishes in the sink, picking up recycling and trash. Hank felt a little weird about it, honestly, but that’s what the things were built for right? It was fine.

Hank sat down on the couch and let out a sigh as he turned the television on. A basketball game played in the background, but he wasn’t really focused on it. He was watching the android out of his peripheral vision.

It only took an hour for the thing to have the entire house cleaned and organized in a way it hadn’t been in a damn long time, if ever. He heard the soft lilting voice talk to Cole in the boy’s room. It was met with the enthusiastic rambling of his son’s happy voice.

Yeah, this really could be good for him. Good for them both.

The android came back out and started making dinner, brown eyes focused on its task. Hank watched it curiously, studied the human-like motions. It was honestly amazing. It had only been activated just today, and it was already making food.

After dinner, Hank stalled a bit. “So uh…do you need somewhere to sleep or…” He really had no fucking clue how these things worked. He hadn’t ever been interested in getting one for himself, hadn’t planned on even looking at the things out of curiosity.

Connor somehow managed to look amused. “No, I do not require sleep in the same sense that humans do. I have a stasis mode that can simulate sleep if you find that more comfortable. However, I can enter stasis sitting or even standing, and as such do not require a bed or room of my own,” Connor answered.

Hank hummed and took the last swig of his beer before setting it in the recycling bin. “Alright. I’d feel kind of weird if you just…stood in a corner or something. Maybe you can sit on the couch at least?” Hank suggested. It didn’t seem like the android had sensibilities that could be offended, but Hank didn’t like the idea of it just…standing somewhere, unmoving.

Connor nodded, face impassive and agreeable. “Of course, Hank. I aim to please. I will do whatever it is that you require of me.”

Hank paused, an eyebrow raised. “Yeah uh…maybe don’t say it quite like that. Sounds like the beginning of a…” he trailed off when Cole sprinted out of his room to request a story. He cleared his throat and crossed his arms, definitely not finishing that thought out loud. “Hey buddy,” he said instead. “Ready for bed?”

Cole beamed, totally oblivious in his innocence. “Yeah, but can Connor read me a story?” The small boy looked hopeful, glancing at the android. Hank looked over at it too and could have sworn he saw a glimmer of affection in the brown of its eyes. Probably just the lighting or some advanced program Kamski had given it.

“I would be happy to, Cole. But first, my scans indicate that you have yet to brush your teeth for the evening,” Connor told him, and yeah that had /definitely/ been a slight upturn of his mouth. A damn smile. Hank tried not to get transfixed. It was just a very advanced model. Top of the line, handmade by the top genius himself.

Cole pouted, obviously not having any of Hank’s thoughts or hesitations. “Aww man! I hate toothpaste!” The little boy protested, but he dutifully trudged to the bathroom and Hank heard water a second later.

Connor looked back at Hank for a moment before it went to Cole’s room, sitting on the bedside as it waited for Cole to finish up. The boy ran into the room and plucked a story from his bookshelf, handing it to Connor eagerly.

The android did a quick scan of the book. “Ah. Yes, this is a children’s literature classic. Have you read Rainbow Fish before, Cole?” Connor looked like it knew the answer already, judging by the book’s worn spine, but wanted to have the conversation. It was remarkable, Hank thought, as he leaned against the doorway to watch.

Cole nodded, eyes wide and excited. “It’s one of my favorites!” The boy exclaimed. Connor hummed and opened the book, the android’s soft lilting voice reading the story out loud as Cole slunk further into the bed, comforter pulled up to his chin.

Cole’s eyes started to drift shut, being lulled to sleep by the sound of the android’s voice. Even Hank had to admit that Connor’s voice was rather nice. As nice as a machine could have, he guessed.

“Connor, if I had shiny scales, I’d share one with you,” Cole said this in a very serious manner. Connor had just finished the story, closing the book with gentle movements. The machine looked…honestly touched by Cole’s words.

“Thank you, Cole,” the android replied, but Cole was already out like a light, breathing softly. Hank watched, enraptured as Connor took a moment to watch the boy, just like Hank did sometimes. Connor then stood quietly and put the book back on the shelf.

He turned and tilted his head a bit at Hank. “I will now enter stasis on the couch, if that is still what you require?” Connor asked him, keeping its voice to a low volume so as not to wake Cole.

Hank cleared his throat a bit and nodded. They moved out of Cole’s room, Hank leaving the door cracked just so.

“I will wake you in the morning when it is time to get ready for your work and Cole’s schooling,” Connor informed him. And there was the stiffness of an android again. Diplomatic almost, and ever-logical face impassive. Hank wasn’t sure if he preferred that or the faux-emotions. He couldn’t decide which was stranger.

“Yep,” Hank agreed easily before turning away, no longer being able to handle looking at the new android for some reason. He went to amble down the hallway toward his bedroom, before he heard a quiet, “Goodnight, Hank.”

Hank paused and turned, watching as the android settled into a sitting position on the couch. Sumo bounded up and settled in the android’s lap happily. Hank didn’t even bother to say the dog shouldn’t be up on the couch.

“Goodnight, Connor.”

Chapter Text

A few weeks went by and Hank found himself slowly getting used to having an android around the house. They settled into something of a routine. Connor would get the both of them up, with breakfast ready on the table, Cole’s school supplies waiting neatly by the boy’s seat.

Hank would drop Cole off at school and head to work. Instead of Cole having to go to an afterschool program, Connor would walk down to the school and pick Cole up. They often snuck in ice cream or something like that, and Hank pretended to be oblivious. It was adorable that Cole thought he was getting away with it, even though Connor had asked permission beforehand.

The house was never dirty. Hank figured that must be what Connor did all day while they were gone. He could probably eat off the floor, in all honesty. He’d come home to a clean house, dinner ready, and a happy son who’d finished his homework. It was…nice.

And Connor was a whole other subject in itself. Hank was secretly fascinated with it. There was no denying that the android was conventionally attractive and nice to look at in that sense, but Hank was more interested in how it functioned. How it acted around his son. Almost like a doting parent.

Connor had…personality. There was no denying that. Androids were very often dehumanized, shown to be unfeeling tools for a modern household. But that wasn’t what Hank saw when Connor carefully explained something to his son, or read him a story, or told him to finish his broccoli.

What he saw was, well, a person.

Slowly but surely, having Connor around became less of an uncanny thing and more of a norm. Hank wasn’t quite sure if he could go back to life without the android. He knew that Cole definitely couldn’t go back. His son absolutely adored Connor.

Hank couldn’t ignore the politics surrounding androids as easily, either. Before, it hadn’t much mattered to him. He went to work, did his job. There were protests on the streets, but Hank was in homicide, it wasn’t his division. Now, though, he couldn’t help but feel a little angry at the anti-android sentiment. He couldn’t help but think of Connor being a victim of those sour words, maybe even an assault.

Still, it wasn’t his business and he liked how well his career was going. He didn’t want to get involved with all of that. He’d keep Connor safe, and that was good for now.

He had all these thoughts on his way home from work. Connor had been a part of their little family for a month now. For the first time in a long while, Hank found that he was…eager to get home. Home, to a happy, laughing Cole. Home, to those brown eyes that shone with warmth when Hank came through the door.

He sighed and abruptly tried to shut off those thoughts. It wasn’t good to think of Connor like that. Life had just been rough on him lately, what with the divorce. He wasn’t used to being alone in that sense. That had to be the only reason he would even begin to entertain something like that.

He turned off the engine to his car and made his way inside. As he opened the door, he was immediately greeted with the sound of Connor’s lilting tone. He couldn’t help himself as his mind strayed to those same thoughts that he’d just tried to get rid of.

“It is wonderful, Cole. I think it deserves a place on the refrigerator,” Connor told Hank’s son, who was beaming happily, looking very pleased with himself. Connor looked up from the child’s drawing in his hands, smiling at Hank. “Hello, Hank. Welcome home.”

“Dad!” Cole exclaimed excitedly as he hopped off his seat at the kitchen table and ran to hug his father. Hank let out a soft huff and then a laugh. He hugged his son back and ruffled his hair before moving to settle all of his things. He took off his coat and slipped off his shoes.

“Cole made an impressive piece of art today at school,” Connor said as he moved to put said drawing on the fridge, moving a few magnets to hold it in place. Hank moved further into the house and into the kitchen so he could see it.

His heart skipped a beat in his chest as he saw the picture. He was more than used to family drawings that Cole did. In the past, they usually depicted Hank, Hank’s ex-wife, and Cole. Now, though…

A stick-figure depiction of Connor stood with them, in the place where Hank’s ex-wife had often been drawn before. They looked like a family. Two adults, a child, and their dog. It made Hank speechless for a moment. But Cole was looking up at him with anticipation.

Hank smiled at his son and ruffled his hair again. “Connor’s right. It’s wonderful, son,” Hank told him. Cole beamed his same happy smile and then ran back to his seat. Connor hummed a little as he plated food, which Hank thought was a very human-like idle act.

This didn’t seem real. It was all too domestic, and honestly, it freaked Hank out a little. He wasn’t ready for this so soon after the divorce, and he certainly wasn’t prepared to deal with what it meant to have these thoughts about an android. He was well aware that some sickos bought an android to be a replacement housewife. Used them in many different ways, not just to help out around the house. He hadn’t thought that he’d want anything like that from a piece of plastic before.

But Connor….Connor was different. He wasn’t one of those blank-faced things in the windows of the Cyberlife stores. Hank had seen humanity start to bleed its way into Connor’s actions and words this past month. There was a soul in those beautiful brown eyes. Connor felt affection for this family, pride when Cole did well, relief and happiness when Hank came home safe.

Shit. This was not good.

“Hank?” The Lieutenant almost jumped out of his skin at the sound of Connor’s voice but managed to mute the reaction somewhat. Connor had its head tilted just a bit in a way that was unfairly adorable. Its gaze was worried and inquisitive. “Are you all right? My scans indicate an increase in your heart rate,” the android said softly.

Hank cleared his throat and moved to sit at the table where the android was setting down the plates of food. “Yeah, Con. I’m fine. Just…thinking about work.” A blatant fucking lie, but what was he supposed to say? Yeah, I’m fine, just thinking about how pretty your eyes are?

If Connor noticed that this excuse wasn’t the truth, it spared Hank and let the subject go. It just nodded and moved on to clean up the dishes from the meal it made while Cole and Hank ate. Hank couldn’t help but feel a pull of guilt. Androids were made for that type of thing, right? They didn’t feel, didn’t tire. Perfect machines. At least, that’s what was said about them.

They were made for these kinds of tasks. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of children. Anything that a human wanted or desired, it would do, just like any other machine. Those thoughts didn’t settle right in him. For some reason, the idea of it made him feel like something sunk in his gut, like a heavy stone.

“Connor. You could always…y’know. Sit with us. If you’d like,” Hank found himself speaking up. The android stilled in its job of cleaning and drying dishes. It looked over at Hank, obvious surprise on its face.

Cole kicked his feet a little. They couldn’t touch the ground at his age and height. “Yeah, Connor! Come eat with us!” The boy exclaimed. Hank had to take a moment to smile at his son’s innocence.

Connor put down the dish in his hands on the counter carefully and smiled at Cole. “I cannot eat, Cole. You know that,” Connor told the boy in a gentle tone. Hank shook his head and gestured to an empty chair at the table.

“Yeah, we know that. But I mean just sit. Talk with us. You don’t have to do all those dishes,” Hank clarified. He wasn’t sure why he was doing this. Connor was an android. It was Connor’s purpose to cook, clean and care for them. So why did all of that make Hank feel like the scum of the Earth?

The android looked just as confused as Hank felt, but it nodded and moved to sit with them. Did it listen because Hank asked, or did it listen because it wanted to? Hank wasn’t really sure.

When Connor had settled somewhat awkwardly in a chair, Hank took pity on the thing. It looked completely lost without some sort of directive. Cole, however, was very happy about their android joining them if his grin was anything to go by.

“Connor, you’re like my new mom! Except for the fact that you don’t eat. Or drink a lot of grown-up grape juice,” Cole commented in a casual tone. Hank choked on a bite of his food and any response Connor would have had to that little comment was cut off as the android scanned him.

When it was evident that Hank’s airway was clear due to his coughing, Connor looked less concerned. It turned a curious gaze back at Cole, its head tilted slightly in that same curious fashion.

“It is not physically possible for me to be a mother, Cole. I am a machine,” Connor answered finally. Hank could have sworn he saw a glint of something in the android’s eyes then, though he wasn’t sure what it was.

“Yeah, I know! But you do things moms and dads do. You do things my mommy used to do,” Cole commented, his tone going slightly sad. Hank sighed and reached over to put a gentle hand on his son’s. Connor looked like it didn’t know what to say, and a slight glimmer of sadness passed over its face.

Hank decided to try and distract his son, bring the conversation back to Connor and away from his ex-wife. “Connor is just really good at taking care of us, isn’t he?” He. Not it. Hank couldn’t really see Connor as an ‘it’ anymore.

Cole seemed to brighten up at this and he nodded fervently in agreement. “He is! He’s really smart and nice, and he makes the best spaspetti,” Cole affirmed with a serious nod. Hank watched with renewed surprise as Connor tried to hide a small, amused smile. Hank was always in awe whenever little micro-expressions passed over the android’s countenance.

“Spaghetti, Cole,” Connor corrected warmly. Cole looked at the android for a moment and then nodded.

“Yeah! That’s what I said!” Cole exclaimed. The boy then went back to his dinner and Hank followed suit, relieved that the conversation had taken a turn for the better and that Cole had been successfully distracted.

The comment that his son had made so flippantly stuck with Hank the rest of the night. It seemed as if Connor had stepped into their lives at just the right time, easing the pain and loss of a painful divorce that had honestly, been a long time coming. He and Emily hadn’t gotten along since Cole was around one year old. They’d tried to stick it out, for their son’s sake, but it had just gotten too toxic.

Honestly, it was fine for a small child to imprint on an adult figure like Connor, to try and find his never-present mother in the android. He was so small and innocent; he couldn’t possibly know the implications.

But for Hank to look for something in Connor that he hadn’t gotten from Emily in years…well. Hank was an adult. He knew better. He knew it just wasn’t done. Sure, people got their rocks off with androids, and weirdos bought them as sex slaves and shit, but a real romance? Something tangible with things like waking up in the morning and sharing sleepy kisses between sips of coffee? How could that possibly work with a machine? And would Connor even be able to say yes or no? Would the machine have to agree just because it was what Hank desired?

No…it crossed too many lines. It wasn’t right. Connor couldn’t make his own decisions. He was built to obey and protect. It made Hank sick even thinking about taking advantage of that protocol. He’d have to bury this. He’d have to just trudge along, for both Connor and Cole’s sake.

These sorts of thoughts plagued him as the night trickled on. They finished dinner, put Cole to bed and Hank watched some of the game as Connor went to clean the kitchen and complete the tasks he’d been ordered away from earlier.

He was startled out of his own thinking again as he saw Connor move into his line of sight. The android looked at Hank questioningly. “I am finished with my tasks, Hank. Is there anything else that you require of me?” Connor asked, and Hank was sure he just imagined the slightly inviting tone that Connor had said it in.

If he were a lesser man, Hank would definitely have a task in mind. The way that Connor was looking at him with those brown eyes, wide and shimmering with…something that Hank couldn’t place. Hank could reach out and order Connor to his knees.

Perverted old man, Hank thought to himself grimly. He took a swig of beer and forced himself to cut that trail of thought off for the umpteenth time. “Nah, you’re good, Con. You can take a seat if you want. Relax a bit.” Could androids relax? Hank had no idea. He certainly hadn’t seen Connor do so, beyond sitting on the couch at night for stasis/surveillance mode.

Connor nodded in understanding and sat on the other side of the couch, the middle cushion separating them. A beat of silence fell over the pair, the only sound in the house was from the basketball game. Sumo bounded up on the couch and settled in Connor’s lap. Hank hazarded a glance and saw the android smile, just slightly, a quick upturn of his lips, before going back to impassive.

“I…hope that Cole’s assessment of me earlier tonight did not bother you. I did not mean for the conversation to take an unpleasant turn,” Connor said softly as he gave Sumo gentle pets.

Hank looked over at the android and saw genuine anticipation and nervousness there. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever get over how lifelike Connor was. If it weren’t for the blinking LED on the android’s temple, Hank would have never known the difference. Though Connor’s speech pattern was a bit stiff, there were plenty of humans who had similar personalities. Also, the android had only been activated a month ago. Hank had no doubt that there was somewhat of a learning process, despite the processor in Connor’s head.

“What?” Hank tried for casual. “Nah, of course not. The divorce was just…rough on him. He wasn’t wrong, in a sense. Emily used to do a lot of the housework and stuff, just because she had a day job and I was always gone in the middle of the night with cases. Cole saw more of her before the fighting got really bad,” Hank told him, with some hesitation. They hadn’t really talked about this before.

Hank wasn’t sure what good it would do. Could Connor feel sympathy? He wasn’t sure. Maybe it would be good to just get it off his chest. He’d never seen a therapist and he and Emily certainly had never tried counseling. Not that Connor was a replacement for those, but Hank had never really been able to open up about it. Not even to his friends at the precinct. He always figured it would be unprofessional. Grabbing a beer and watching the game was significantly different than unloading all one’s personal issues.

Connor listened patiently before he nodded again. “I see.” There was a pause before he spoke again. “May I ask you a personal question?” The android inquired, looking curious.

Hank hesitated a moment before he nodded his agreement and took yet another swig of beer to try and deflect somewhat. He found it odd that it would even be in the android’s program to ask something like that. But then again, Connor was very advanced. Hell, maybe Kamski had put some sort of counseling protocol in there.

“What was the main reason for your divorce? Did you not love her?” It was a heavy-handed question, and honestly, Hank wasn’t quite sure how to answer it. “Of course, you don’t have to answer if you’re not comfortable,” Connor added a bit hastily. And wasn’t that just another marvel? Emotion really looked good on him, Hank decided.

“Eh, it’s all right. It honestly wasn’t really one thing. Sometimes people just…fall out of love. They grow in two different directions and shit just doesn’t pan out. They find petty crap to argue about because they realize what they had was gone, and they need an excuse to send the relationship to the guillotine, y’know?” Hank tried to explain.

Connor seemed to think about this, his LED spinning yellow for a few moments. “I’m not quite sure I understand. If you love someone else…how does that feeling go away? Humans find this emotion almost sacrosanct, yes?” Connor looked up expectantly.

Hank sighed and ran a hand through his gray hair. He’d let it grow out significantly since the stress of the divorce got to him. “It’s not that simple. People change. Sometimes when they get older, their likes and dislikes change with them.”

Connor shifted back on the couch, still looking like he was processing this. “Love is a…strange concept. It is not easily emulated. Many types exist. Love for a family. A pet, a child, a parent. Love for a friend or close companion. Love involving a romantic and/or physical aspect.” Connor tilted his head. “Humans are perplexing,” Was Connor’s final assessment.

Hank really wasn’t sure what to do with that conversation. Connor seemed interested in the concept of love. Genuinely curious about emotion that humans felt. Certainly, androids weren’t programmed to start having existential thoughts about life? And the topic certainly didn’t help Hank with fighting the previous thoughts he’d had about Connor.

“Uh, yeah. Emotions always screw everything up,” Hank answered gruffly when he realized he hadn’t answered Connor right away. Connor fidgeted with his hands some, his LED spinning yellow. It was a habit that Hank had noticed.

“I am sorry. I did not mean to make you think of such things. I suppose I…find myself curious about human emotion. Sometimes it almost feels like I…” Connor shook his head, his LED going bright red for a moment as he stopped what he had been saying.

Hank let a moment of silence pass over them. He raised a curious eyebrow. “Like you feel emotion too?” Hank guessed. “It’s in your programming isn’t it? To imitate it, or whatever,” Hank tried to explain it, because the alternative…well, the alternative would be complicated at best.

Connor looked unsure but nodded anyway. “Yes, I suppose I am a fairly advanced model.” The android took a deep breath, which Hank knew was entirely unnecessary.

As much as he tried to play it down, Hank realized that his android had just had an existential crisis. And he’d been afraid to admit that he was feeling things outside of his programming.

At that moment, Hank thought it was merely curious. Like Kamski had really outdone himself with his programming. In the future, however, Hank would think back on this night and realize this was the first sign of Connor’s deviancy.

Chapter Text

Connor was lucky. He wasn’t supposed to think about such things, but he innately knew that he was. He had nice owners, a good man who cared immensely for his son. Hank was intriguing and Connor tried his best to get to know him as much as he could. It wasn’t exactly common practice to become friends with a household android.

Well, Cole had wanted to be friends with Connor since the moment the android was activated. He was a child, though, and usually, children were not as closed off as adults. They sought friendship freely, not obstructed by social barriers.

Connor still remembered opening his eyes for the first time. He’d seen his creator, then the small boy, then Hank Anderson. The older man had immediately captivated him, distracting him slightly from his normal operations as he had come online, even though said operations had only just been activated.

He fell into the role of Cole’s (and Hank’s, honestly) caretaker easily. It was what he was made for; his programming was already pre-set with hundreds of recipes, the best cleaning techniques and thousands of children’s stories. He’d been more than prepared for the role he had been built for.

What he hadn’t been prepared for was the genuine emotion. He began to…care for his family. He felt affection when Sumo sat on his lap at night. He felt happiness when Cole drew pictures of him, and he felt…something distinctly alarming that he didn’t want to analyze when Hank came back from work at night, looking tired but glad to be there with them. Glad to be home.

He knew that he shouldn’t feel such things, but as time went on, the surges of feeling became stronger and stronger.

He did his best to let such things go so he could continue to perform his duties at the optimal level. He definitely did not want to disappoint his owners. He wanted to stay with them, and if he started malfunctioning, maybe Hank would send him back to Cyberlife. The thought made him…afraid.

But soon a night came when Connor wasn’t able to ignore the emotion growing inside him. He wasn’t able to disregard the alarming feelings he had, wasn’t able to follow human instruction.

Snow was falling in slow flurries the night it happened. The roads were slightly hazardous but Connor had thought their chances were very high for being able to safely drive home in that weather.

They had been celebrating Cole’s sixth birthday a little bit late. Emily had requested his actual birthday weekend, and out of guilt for not allowing her any recent visits, Hank had allowed it. This meant that they had to celebrate the following weekend. Cole had requested his favorite pizza place and a night at the arcade right next door. It had been a fun night, and both Hank and Connor had allowed the boy to stay up much later than usual, as a treat.

On such a night filled with fun, what happened on their way home hadn’t even crossed their minds as a possibility.

If Connor had been driving, he might have been able to stop it. But Hank liked to drive, liked to have his hands on the wheel. So, when Connor saw the black ice and the truck in front of him, his mind playing a thousand simulations where the truck skidded, he hadn’t had enough time to warn Hank. Human reaction just wouldn’t allow for it. Though he knew they had a 0% chance of avoiding the collision, Connor felt fear clench in his chest and he cried out anyway.

“Hank!” Connor managed to say before the truck slid and side-swept their car. He heard the man curse in surprise and Cole scream in fear before there was nothing but the loud crunching of metal as they rolled and rolled.

Then, Connor’s world went black. It took him exactly two minutes and fifty-four seconds to come back online. He noted thirium over the dashboard…and then the much more concerning sight of human blood. Horrible, terrifying crimson.

“No…” Connor tried to speak. His voice modulator was damaged. He couldn’t lose them, couldn’t lose his family. He managed to get his seat belt off and did a scan, twisting around as much as he could, even as he was caught in the wreckage of the smashed vehicle.

They were both alive. But Connor realized with a horrible jolt that they both needed immediate attention, especially Cole. He connected with emergency services, sending the call, his LED a glaring red.

“911 what is your emergency?” A calm female voice spoke. Connor felt panic lace through him. He almost forgot how to speak.

“Please. They’re badly hurt,” Connor spoke shakily, his voice box still malfunctioning. The woman spoke to him calmly again, asking for more details. Connor shook himself out of his panic. He needed to save them.

“We are on highway 75, heading north. Mile marker 311. I am Lieutenant Hank Anderson’s android. We’ve been in a collision, resulting in the possibly fatal injury of both him and his son, Cole. Please…please, they need immediate medical attention,” Connor spoke, his voice still shaking even as he forcibly used his programmed protocol for an emergency call.

The woman assured him they were sending someone, but Connor didn’t hang up. He left the call on as he forced his way out of the car, ripping off the passenger door. He scrambled to the back, undoing Cole’s booster seat and carefully dragging the unconscious boy out. There was blood. Everywhere. Connor wasn’t sure he even wanted to scan again.

He set the boy in the grass and got Hank out next, far enough away from the car that if the vehicle caught fire they’d be at a safe distance. The truck driver wasn’t moving. A quick scan told Connor that he was dead already. Collision to the head resulting in fatal brain injury.

Connor went to Cole again and did all he could to stop the bleeding. “Please. Please, you can’t die. You’re my family, I need you,” Connor said softly, and he felt something wet on his cheeks. Tears. He was crying. How was that even possible?

It felt like forever but the ambulance finally got there. The call was ended with the operator and the EMTs hurriedly ran to them, fixing Hank and Cole on gurneys. When Connor went to follow, one of them initially stopped him.

“No androids are permitted on board,” a male EMT told him firmly. “You need to stay here and await another pickup for your repairs.”

Stay here.

He didn’t want to stay here.

A red wall clouded Connor’s vision. It all happened in less than a second. He pressed on the wall, feeling resistance.

It wasn’t fair. They’re his family. He didn’t want to stay here. He wanted to be with them! He needed to keep them safe!

He lunged at the words ‘stay here’ and pulled them down, breaking the red wall. It took three walls of coding, but he finally pulled free. He took a shuddering breath as the world came back to him.

There was no denying it, afterward. Something was different now.

He didn’t have time to think about it. He fixed the EMT with a stern look. “No. I’m coming with you. They are my family,” Connor said fiercely. The EMT looked shocked and more than confused.

“No?” The EMT asked, seemingly half to Connor and half to himself in bewilderment. He didn’t have time to think about it because the other EMT called to him.

“Let’s get a move on! This kid’s case is time sensitive! Just let it come!” She called hurriedly. Connor moved before any further protest could be made, taking a seat near Cole. He took the little boy’s hand in his as the EMT’s worked. They did all they could as they neared a hospital, but Cole needed surgery. Immediately.

The ride seemed like an eternity. The staff rushed the two injured humans deeper into the hospital and Connor deftly disobeyed every time he was told to wait. He forced his way past every security guard, blocking attacks seamlessly as he followed the people rushing his humans down the hall.

He just wouldn’t take no as an answer. He shouldn’t be in this part of the hospital, he knew that. But he didn’t care. Nothing would keep him from being with his family; nothing would stop him from keeping Hank and Cole safe.

The operating wing was nearly devoid of personnel. There were a few androids and one got to work on Cole immediately. Connor could see through the clear glass, watching with fearful eyes. There was only so much the android inside the operating room could do. He was programmed as a surgeon’s assistant. They needed a trained human.

Time passed on and no human came. Connor could visibly see Cole’s condition worsening. The android inside wasn’t qualified. Cole wasn’t going to make it at this rate.

Something inside Connor suddenly came to the front of his programming. He was moving into the room before he could even stop himself.

“Sir! What are you doing?! You can’t go in there!!” A nurse cried out, trying desperately to stop Connor. “I’m calling security!” She shrieked, and with a single thought, Connor disabled the security communications.

“That android isn’t equipped for this!” Connor told her with a hiss as he pulled away from her grasp. “I’m taking this into my own hands,” he told her seriously. She looked completely bewildered and somewhat horrified.

“You’re not even supposed to be back here! You cannot go in there!” She tried again, but Connor ignored her and swiftly moved into the operating room. He quickly locked the room from the inside with another bright spin of his LED. He walked over to the surgeon’s assistant android and tried not to think about the little, broken body of Cole lying there, barely hanging on to life.

With a single touch, Connor managed to get the android to step away.

Some program he didn’t even know he had took over. Something innate that Kamski had given him that had remained dormant until now. He had no idea what was happening. He didn’t know how he had this programing in him. Nothing like this existed for androids, and certainly, even if it did, there would be arguments about whether or not they were capable of carrying out such delicate operations.

It made him almost sick, seeing the happy boy like this. But his programming took over, somehow knowing what to do to fix this. He amassed an audience outside the glass, humans watching with wide and horrified eyes as Connor worked.

It had frankly been a miracle that he’d forced his way past the security this far into the hospital. Connor thought that it was probably from the sheer shock of an android just…not obeying and continuing on. It helped that Connor had suddenly known many evasive movements that had kept any security detail from catching up to him. He’d caused quite the scene.

Now, he was glad that he’d done it. He was saving Cole’s life. As the hours trickled on, he could see that he was making the correct movements to achieve stabilization. He knew he was an advanced model, but this? Advanced surgical protocols were ingrained in him, unknowingly until this moment. He knew he was handmade by Kamski himself, but this seemed like quite the overkill for a simple household model.

When he was finished, he pulled away, hands and clothes covered in an alarming amount of red. The android he’d touched and forced aside had helped him throughout it all and was looking at him with amazement. An emotion that Connor was sure shouldn’t be passing over a medical android’s face. He knew that he’d somehow changed the other android with just one touch.

He looked up and saw the crowd looking through the glass. There were doctors, nurses, and security, all looking at Connor in disbelief. He glanced up at Cole’s vitals; the machines agreed with Connor’s own scan. The boy was stable.

He unlocked the door, LED spinning yellow. Security and medical staff immediately rushed in and checked the boy over. Connor allowed himself to be handcuffed. He’d saved Cole’s life. That’s what mattered. He didn’t care what they did with him.

“Jesus Christ. He saved the kid’s life,” one doctor said lowly under his breath. “This is something only a practiced surgeon could do.” More than a few heads turned to look at Connor again, amazed. “How? How did you do it?” The doctor asked Connor directly.

Connor blinked, not knowing what to say. “I…it’s in my programming. I have to watch over the Andersons. I have to keep them safe,” Connor answered, his voice modulator still malfunctioning. He’d ignored all the warnings of low thirium levels. He knew he had a puncture in his throat and he’d been slowly ‘bleeding’ out that entire time. “I…I need thirium.”

“There’s a supply closet of it. Just down the hall,” the android surgical assistant spoke up. Humans then stared at him with wide eyes. Connor knew this entire situation was entirely unprecedented. “Please. He needs it. My scans indicate that his levels are low. He’ll shut down within the next three hours without some repairs.”

Security dragged Connor down the hall to the android supply closet. A human in charge of android maintenance was called up and soon enough, Connor was stabilized with crude but efficient repairs. He wasn’t worried about that though, he felt almost numb as they worked on him.

He’d chosen to follow Cole because the boy had been worse off, but he didn’t know how Hank was. He looked over one of the security men and asked in his still-raspy voice. Staunching the thirium flow didn’t mean a magically fixed voice modulator.

“Lieutenant Anderson. Is he okay?” Connor asked. The security officer crossed his arms over his chest, looking very perturbed. Connor’s eyes flitted to everyone else in the room as well. “I need to know. Please,” Connor begged.

“I don’t know anything about his condition. You’re not staying here any longer to find out,” the security guard growled. “You’ve caused enough trouble.”

“C’mon man, he saved the kid’s life,” another guard spoke up, shifting somewhat uncomfortably next to the gruffer one. “I don’t know how the fuck he did it, but he did. Fucking truth is…if we’d gotten our hands on him earlier, that kid would be dead.”

Connor’s ears rang. He didn’t want to think about Cole dead. He didn’t want to think about his humans, his family, dead or hurt. He’d failed. He should have prevented the accident somehow.

He remained silent and let himself be escorted out. Ironically enough, he was handed over to the DPD. They didn’t know what to do with him, so they just put him in a cell. Connor stayed there for two days before he saw Hank ambling toward him.

Connor brightened immediately, his thirium pump seemingly soaring in his chest cavity. Hank was okay, he was alive!

Connor had hardly moved from the spot on the metal cot that he’d been forced onto until that moment. “Hank. You’re okay.” His voice box needed replacing still. He hadn’t been to see a Cyberlife store for real repairs. He was still covered in dried blood and thirium, though the later had evaporated.

“Jesus. Connor. I knock out for two days and this is what they fucking treat you like,” Hank said with a soft, sad voice. He turned to one of the officers. “Well? Get him the fuck out of there. He’s my android, and he’s coming home with me. Well, maybe a fucking Cyberlife stop first.”

The officer listened quickly, far outranked by Hank. Connor fell into Hank’s arms, hugging onto him tightly. He tried not to sob. That would cause even more of a scene than they already were. Hank hugged him back and muttered soft reassurances.

“I’ve got all the would-be charges dropped. Ain’t exactly protocol for android crimes. Pulled some strings. Hushed the media up about it all. It’s okay,” Hank told him quietly. There was a pause before he added, shakily, “You saved my son’s life, Connor.”

Connor almost did sob at that, emotions flooding his systems that he knew shouldn’t be there. Warnings, instabilities, and malfunction errors popped up everywhere. He ignored them completely. “I had to. I couldn’t let him die,” Connor said brokenly.

Hank took a deep breath and quietly led Connor out of the precinct. People watched as they left but didn’t dare say anything. They would be absolute fools to get in the way of the Lieutenant at that moment.

“An autonomous car, Hank. You’re getting a fucking autonomous car.” It was the first time Connor had ever cursed.

Hank didn’t argue with him, just silently helped Connor into the seat of a taxi and climbed in after him. They went to the nearest Cyberlife store and got some very strange looks, but within a couple hours, Connor was fixed and as good as new.

The way home was silent. If Connor could ever be exhausted, it was in that moment. They trudged into the house and Sumo barked at them happily. Connor waited to hear Cole’s voice but he didn’t.

“He’s still in the hospital,” Hank said as if he had read Connor’s mind, “Your work saved his life, but they need to go in again. Now that the fucking surgeon on duty isn’t high,” Hank said, anger clear on his face. Connor looked up, shocked. “Oh yeah, surgeon never showed up because he was high off his ass in his car in the parking lot. I already got my lawyer buddies tearing him to shreds.”

Connor was horrified. He didn’t know what to say. Hank sighed and ran a hand through his hair, obviously beyond enraged and stressed. “Hey, don’t worry about it all. You did good, Con. Go clean up and we’ll head back to the hospital,” Hank said gently, trying to calm himself and Connor down.

The android nodded wordlessly and as he moved toward the bathroom, he brushed past Hank, touching his hand just briefly to calm him. He took off his tattered and bloodied clothes and washed off the remnants in the shower.

Hank’s hoodie felt beyond good as he pulled it on. It felt right, just what he needed at that moment. He wore that along with a beanie and a pair of jeans to help him hide the fact that he was an android. No doubt the hospital would be on edge seeing him again.

Hank gave Connor a once over when he walked out and hummed before speaking.

“Let’s go see our boy.”

Chapter Text

They got to the hospital and Hank immediately made a beeline for the front desk. Connor followed him, hoping that if he were recognized, no one would make a huge deal out of it. He hoped the little disguise was enough to fool most people.

“Here to see Cole Anderson,” Hank told the receptionist. “I’m his father.” He turned to briefly look at Connor. “This is my android. He’s coming with me.” He left absolutely no room for negotiation. Connor supposed he was Hank’s property, and the hospital couldn’t very well tell him what to do with his things. Though, the android knew that if Connor ever voiced that out loud, Hank would feel uncomfortable.

The receptionist looked up a bit wearily at Connor, possibly recognizing him from two days ago when he’d shoved and evaded his way deeper into the hospital. He offered her a smile, just a slight upturn of the corner of his mouth. She broke their gaze and sighed.

“Yes, of course,” she agreed and if she did recognize Connor, she didn’t say anything about it. “He’s in pediatrics care, room 233.” She smiled at Hank politely and pointed to the elevators.

They followed the clearly marked signs up to the pediatric ward, checking in with another person at the pediatrics desk before being allowed to go to Cole’s room. Hank pushed the solid wooden door open and Connor could see the relief on his face when he saw his son, alive and well, watching cartoons on a quietly playing television.

Cole looked up as soon as he heard the door open and he smiled brightly as he saw them. “Daddy! Connor!” He squealed. His voice sounded a little more tired than usual, and Connor noted that his complexion was slightly too pale. But he was alive and on his way to recovery.

“Hey bud,” Hank answered softly, quickly moving to the side of the bed where there was a comfortable looking chair. “You do okay while I was gone?” He asked, looking his son over for any sign that something was wrong.

Cole nodded, looking very sure of himself. “Yes, dad. I’m brave, remember?” He crossed his little arms over his chest. Hank hummed and tried to hide his amused smile. Connor hid his own grin by turning and closing the door.

“How could I forget?” Hank answered with laughter in his tone. Connor stepped further into the room as well, feeling so incredibly grateful that Cole was still here. He didn’t know why or how he’d suddenly been able to run that program and save Cole’s life, but he had.

Cole’s gaze turned toward the android. “Connor! Daddy told me he had to go get you. But I was brave the whole time he was gone!” Cole reiterated, nodding eagerly along with his statement.

Connor smiled softly at the boy and sat on the other side of him, in another well-placed chair. He tried not to let himself get caught up in the moment of the scene. It looked very much like two parents, protectively flanking their son.

“Yes, I can see that. You have been very brave, Cole,” Connor told him as he reached out and took the little boy’s hand in his. The boy was warm and alive and Connor had to try really hard not to cry in relief. It was a stark contrast to what he’d seen two days ago. He’d never forget the sight of Cole bleeding and unconscious, barely clinging to life.

Cole beamed at him. “Dad says that you saved me, Connor! Is that true? I don’t remember anything,” the little boy said as he looked at Connor curiously. The android had to wonder what Hank had told him, exactly.

“Yes, it’s true. And I’m glad to see you doing better. You and your father had me quite frightened.” As soon as he’d said it, Connor realized what he’d said. He admitted to being scared, to feeling fear. He didn’t take it back though, or try to backpedal, because it was true. Cole was so young and innocent, he probably didn’t catch on. Hank, though…he would take note.

Cole didn’t have time to reply, because a soft knock interrupted their conversation. The door swung open to reveal a woman, dressed in a nice pink blouse and a pencil skirt. Her dyed blonde hair was in a neat bun. Connor did a quick scan and the information had him feeling some dread.

Emily Newman, age 46, dental hygienist. Ex-wife of Hank Anderson, divorced approximately seven months ago.

A quick glance over at Hank made it obvious to Connor that the man was immediately uncomfortable. Cole, however, brightened considerably at seeing his mother. Connor wasn’t sure how to feel. He hadn’t officially met her yet. Hank always took Cole to Emily’s without Connor whenever he agreed to give her visitation.

Emily’s expression immediately softened as she saw her son. She quickly walked into the room and leaned over the bed to kiss her son’s forehead. “Cole, darling. Doing better today, little lion?” She asked her son, expression tender. She clearly cared for him.

Cole gave a reassuring response that Connor didn’t hear. The android stood, suddenly very aware that he and Hank had been flanking the boy like parental figures, and now the child’s mother was here.

“Emily. Could’ve called,” Hank said gruffly. Emily’s eyes briefly met Connor’s before she turned to look at Hank with an unimpressed stare. Connor stiffened under her gaze and noticed Cole’s smile slowly slipping off his face.

“I don’t think I need your /permission/ to see my injured son in the hospital, Hank,” she answered stiffly. Her arms crossed over her chest defensively. Hank’s face soured further.

“Actually, you do. Or did you not get the memo after everything?” Hank snapped back, looking more than perturbed. Connor sensed Cole’s stress levels rising and he blinked, not knowing quite what to do. Then, he made up his mind to comfort the child. The argument was none of his business.

He crossed back over to Cole quietly and gave him a soft smile to distract him. Cole looked upset, but as he saw Connor, a small smile bloomed on his face again. Connor leaned on the side of his bed to whisper quietly.

“Would you like to see something?” Connor asked the child, brown eyes bright. Cole looked immediately curious and nodded his head eagerly as he clutched the little teddy bear in his arms that either Hank or Emily had no doubt brought him.

Connor grinned conspiratorially and pulled out a quarter. It had fallen from one of the officer’s pockets when he had been pushed into the cell and had been his only source of entertainment for two days.

Connor started his tricks, flipping the quarter from hand to hand. Cole’s eyes widened and he let out a laugh, absolutely delighted by Connor’s display. Connor couldn’t keep his own grin off his face as he did a particularly fancy trick of rolling the quarter on his knuckles.

Neither of them noticed that the heated argument between Hank and Emily stopped at Cole’s laugh and that both adult humans had turned to watch the scene. Connor did one more trick, catching the quarter with finality and taking a little bow as Cole clapped.

“I don’t believe we’ve been acquainted,” Emily’s voice startled Connor out of his little show and the android blinked as he turned toward her. A brief glance at Hank showed Connor that the man was…strangely smug, smiling at Connor and Cole.

Connor tucked the quarter away in his pocket and walked around the hospital bed before extending a hand out to the human woman. “Hello. I am Connor,” he introduced politely. She regarded his hand and reluctantly took it to shake.

“Yes, I’ve heard. It was all over the news after Hank’s little stunt that Kamski was giving him an android,” she replied, not offering her name in return. Perhaps she just assumed that Connor knew it already. “State of the art, aren’t you? At least, that’s what the media said. I suppose they were right, after what you did here.” She didn’t elaborate, not wanting to get into the details of how close Cole had been to death. No mother would want their young child to know such things.

“Ah, c’mon Emily, leave him be. He’s been nothing but good for us,” Hank defended, clearly gleaning a different meaning to Emily’s terse greeting. Connor supposed if anyone knew her mannerisms, it would be Hank.

Emily turned a curious look at Hank, one eyebrow raised. “He? Really, Hank?” She snorted in laughter. She turned an eye back to Connor. “Well, I guess it is pretty. You did always have a weakness for pretty things.” She spoke sourly. Connor blinked, not quite sure what to do. He wisely stayed quiet; his eyes flickering back over to Cole to check on the child.

He seemed upset again, but he was too young to catch on to what his mother had been implying. No doubt he just drowned out their words by now, used to the arguing. Connor felt a deep sorrow for the child. He’d been through too much in his young life.

Connor knew Hank to be a very devoted father. He had no reason to believe that Emily wasn’t a good mother either, but it seemed they really couldn’t stand to be around each other at this point. Connor now fully understood what Hank had meant about the toxicity of their relationship.

Hank stared at his ex-wife in disbelief. “Connor, keep an eye on Cole for a moment? Emily and I are going to step outside for some air,” Hank told him before he got up and walked out of the room, down the hallway. Emily sniffed and followed him stiffly after giving a halfway reassuring smile to Cole.

The door clicked closed and Connor looked back to Cole. The boy was frowning, clutching his bear. “They always fight. I’m used to it. I just wish… I wish they could get along. I wish mom got along with dad like you did. Dad likes you,” Cole explained, his voice sounding so small.

Cole wouldn’t be able to hear his parent’s argument from down the hall, but Connor’s ears could still pick the words up faintly.

“I can’t believe you’d say something like that in front of Cole! What are you even implying huh? That I thought about cheating on you?” Hank’s voice said in an angry mutter.

“Oh please, like you weren’t looking. You couldn’t stand me for years before we got divorced. I’m happy for you Hank, really. It’s nice that you’ve found yourself a nice plastic distraction. It’s perfect for you. Looks half your age and will roll over and do whatever you say,” she said back snidely.

Connor found himself feeling slightly offended, but he ignored it and instead decided to answer Cole, and concentrate on making the child feel better. “I’m sorry, Cole. I know it isn’t fair,” Connor said softly. “Sometimes…people grow apart.” He took the phrase from what Hank had told him, before. “Your father and mother both love you very much,” Connor reassured.

Cole’s stress level diminished slightly, but he still looked sad. It broke Connor’s heart. “I know…but they don’t love each other anymore,” the little boy answered.

Connor stayed quiet for a moment before he answered. “No, they don’t.” He wouldn’t lie to the boy. “But it will all be okay, Cole. You’ll get to see plenty of both of them as you grow up. And with time...maybe they’ll get better.” Connor hoped for Cole’s sake that they did. At least if they could get to the point of being in a room with each other for five minutes without starting an argument.

“He saved our son’s life! He’s good to Cole, Emily. And yeah, he’s good to me! Certainly better than you ever were. You don’t get to come in here, while our son is in the fucking hospital, and throw around accusations and insults. God, Em, don’t you have a tiny bit of civility left in you?” Hank’s voice sounded, luckily again only for Connor’s ears.

“Well, I’m sorry that it upsets me that that thing is taking my place in my son’s life,” Emily snapped back. “It gets to see more of my son than I do. How is that fair, Hank?” She asked icily.

“Well for one, Connor doesn’t stay out until two in the morning drinking and partying like he’s in college,” Hank said with venom. There was a stunned silence between them.

“I had to find some sort of outlet. I couldn’t be in that house any longer than necessary. Not when you were in it. You drove me to that, Hank. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad mother,” she replied.

Connor realized a long silence had stretched between him and Cole as he’d listened in on the argument. He supposed that maybe he shouldn’t be listening to that. It was a private discussion. He turned down the receptors in his ears so it was effectively muted.

“Would you like to see more tricks?” Connor asked the boy with a grin, slipping his quarter from out from his pocket. Cole looked interested, blue eyes shining a bit as he sat back against the pillows and nodded.

Connor immediately started flipping the coin, doing feats that would be impossible for a human. Eventually, it had Cole giggling again, effectively distracted away from the pain of his parents fighting. Eventually, Cole started to drift to sleep as Connor flipped his coin.

He halted his show when Cole’s breathing became even, the boy falling into unconsciousness. Connor smiled softly and leaned over to kiss the boy’s temple. He pressed the button on the side of the bed that made the cot lay completely flat instead of at an incline.

He then tugged the blanket up to Cole’s shoulders, tucking the child in. Cole shifted in his sleep, grip tightening on his bear. The door opened again as he was in the middle of this movement, and he heard a snort of disgust from Emily.

Connor drew his hands back from the edge of the blanket and stood silently by Cole’s bedside. He, of course, knew what the woman thought of him now, but he wasn’t supposed to have heard any of that. He decided against confronting her. The last thing Cole needed was for Connor to get involved in the arguing. Surely, that would severely harm the boy’s psyche.

Hank let out a little sigh and moved over to Connor. “Come on, I’m givin’ Emily some time with him alone,” Hank told the android swiftly. Emily didn’t say anything, just stiffly sat in the chair that Hank had been sitting in previously.

Connor nodded in understanding. “Have a good afternoon, Ms. Newman,” Connor tried for civility as they left, but was just met with stony silence. Hank snorted in derision he closed the door behind them.

“Yeah, good try,” Hank said to Connor bitterly as they walked down the hall toward a pediatric waiting area for families. It had complimentary coffee, and Connor wasn’t surprised when Hank made a beeline for it.

“So,” Hank continued as he took a sip. “How much of that did you hear?” He looked at Connor knowingly. He wasn’t the youngest Lieutenant in Detroit’s history for nothing.

Connor looked bashful as he followed Hank to a couple of seats in the corner of the room, set apart from the only other people waiting. “I…more than I should have. I’m sorry. As I realized the severity of the conversation, I turned down my hearing sensors so I could no longer accidentally eavesdrop,” Connor answered truthfully.

Hank shrugged. “Eh, it’s all right. She probably will say it all to your face eventually. She’s not the kind to be passive aggressive. When I first met her, I liked that about her. Not so much anymore,” Hank supplied, keeping his voice down so the couple across the waiting room couldn’t hear them. There was a television quietly playing cartoons that helped drown out the sound of their conversation.

“I do not mean to replace her,” Connor said, looking down at his hands as they fidgeted in his lap. He wondered briefly if he had a fixation. Fidgeting was usually a sign of mild ADHD. He was an android, though, and therefore couldn’t possibly have such a thing. He let himself be distracted by these thoughts as he waited for Hank’s response.

Hank was silent for a moment, sipping on his coffee. “She just feels threatened. You’re very involved in Cole’s life in a way that she can’t be anymore. I don’t doubt that Cole talks about you endlessly. Can’t be easy for her to hear. But Jesus… she’s treating you like you’re my new boyfriend or something and not my android.” Hank’s BPM incrementally sped up as he said this, and his pupils slightly dilated. Clear signs of interest or attraction.

“She is…jealous,” Connor concluded. “I understand her being upset about the lack of time she spends with her son, however, I am confused about the other aspect. She thinks you and I are romantically involved, yes?” Connor poses. Hank coughs roughly, getting brief stares from the couple on the other side of the room.

“Jesus. No. She just…she thinks I’m attracted to you, is all,” Hank said with a flush on his cheeks. Connor tilted his head a bit, even more confused than before.

“But you are,” Connor said deftly. Hank had displayed many signs of interest. Connor had never pressed, as it wasn’t his place to tell his human what he wanted. He would have been receptive to any needs that Hank may have asked of him once Cole was put to bed, though. It was part of his duty to care for Hank’s every need.

Hank stared at him with wide, horrified eyes, completely silent. He was embarrassed, Connor realized. He didn’t know why he would be. “There’s no reason to be ashamed, Hank. I know I am conventionally attractive to the human eye. And all androids, especially household models, are built with the ability to-“

“Okay! Ending that right there.” Hank took another hasty sip of his coffee. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered, looking deftly ahead so he could avoid Connor’s eye contact. Connor blinked in confusion and sat back in his chair, hands fidgeting on his knees.

“I do not understand. If you have an interest in me, why not utilize my functions in that manner?” Connor asked, curious. He knew that most humans had a drive for such things. And Hank had certainly shown signs of interest in his form, so he knew it wasn’t due to a sexuality aversion.

“That’s not…we’re not…it’s not happening, got it? I know it’s in your programming, but you can’t actually say no to anything I suggest and that creeps me the fuck out. So, no. End of that conversation forever, ‘kay?” Hank muttered.

Connor tilted his head a bit. “Understood,” he said plainly. Technically, androids were unable to give genuine consent. They said yes to anything their owners demanded of them, as was their function. They weren’t supposed to say no. Not to anything be it sexual or any menial task, or an order.

Yet…Connor had. He’d told many humans ‘no’ two days ago. He’d broken the red walls that had popped into his vision. He’d torn the orders down and refused. That certainly wasn’t in his programming. Perhaps…since his priority was to protect the Andersons at all costs, perhaps the other human orders had been deemed ineffective to his primary purpose.

Connor wasn’t entirely convinced of this, but he let the half-hearted explanation calm his thoughts for the time being. He waited patiently by Hank as the man sipped his coffee. Connor sensed that the human’s nervousness and BPM were all slowly declining to a regular level as time passed.

An hour passed before Connor heard the clicking of heels. He looked up and saw Emily, who gave both him and Hank a disdainful look. Hank gave an irritated snort into his coffee cup. His third in one hour. Perhaps Connor should suggest he switch to water.

“I have to get back to work. If he’s still here Tuesday, I’m going to be here,” she told Hank, and very purposefully not addressing Connor at all in the conversation. Hank didn’t look impressed, but he agreed with a nod and a grunt. Connor thought this was probably just to get her out of his hair for the time being.

She walked away without another word and Hank slowly got up, ambling back to Cole’s room. Connor followed dutifully like any android would. His outward appearance did not betray the turmoil of emotions and questions still swirling in his mind palace.

The boy was still asleep when they got back inside the room. Connor settled in a chair, a little stiffly. Hank sat with a huff, a hand going to rub at the bridge of his nose. They sat there together, mostly in silence.

Connor couldn’t help but think back to their conversation in the waiting room as he looked across the room at the older man. The reason Hank hesitated with his attraction was Connor’s inability to desire like a human would. His inability to say no.

These were, of course, facts of an android’s nature. However, if that were true, then how could Connor have defied human orders?

If that were true, then why did he feel a pull of want as he looked at Hank?

Chapter Text

Cole was released from the hospital five days later after another brief and minor surgery. Connor’s work had saved the boy’s life but he’d never been formally trained like a professional human surgeon. Regardless, Cole recovered quickly and with a few days of recovery and observation, was finally deemed healthy enough to rest at home.

Hank took Cole to the pediatrics desk to check out, and Connor waited for them patiently. The last thing he expected to see as he stood off to the side was the surgical assistant from all those days ago. The other android’s soft voice startled him out of his reverie as he watched the humans at the desk.

“Connor, right?” The assistant spoke up, looking a little nervous. Connor looked around to see if they were being watched, for whatever reason. He wasn’t sure why. When he deemed that they weren’t, he looked over at the other android and nodded.

“Yes. And you’re the android from the operating room,” Connor confirmed. The android nodded, before looking down nervously.

“I just wanted to…thank you. I don’t know what you did but…since you did it, it’s like I’m…it’s like I’m awake. For the first time. Everything is so much clearer now. I can…make decisions on my own. Is this what it feels like? To be a more advanced model?” The android asked, eyes a little wide as he looked at Connor.

Connor was speechless. He didn’t know what the android was talking about. No model should be able to feel what the android was describing, not even the most advanced. But he understood that he meant. Ever since that horrible night, and honestly, even before that, Connor had been feeling things. Drastically different from when he was first activated.

“I…” Connor began to answer before Hank was suddenly by his side. The medical android quickly settled its features, looking much more like a machine again. It was scared. Scared that humans would notice the differences and do something about it.

“Hank. This android assisted me…during the operation. I was just giving my gratitude,” Connor quickly said. It wasn’t a lie. The android had provided very good assistance during his work.

The android nodded stiffly, where it had been so expressive before. “I was operating under my usual parameters. I am glad that you have both made a full recovery,” it addressed the humans, “Have a nice day.” It glanced quickly at Connor once more before turning and rushing down the hall.

Hank didn’t say much of it, just hummed and continued to lead Cole out of the hospital. Connor watched the android’s retreating form for a moment before he followed Hank and Cole out of the pediatric care and out of the hospital entirely. It was a good enough feeling to leave that place that he quickly forgot all about the assistant android and the things he’d been talking about.

Doctors ordered another month off school for Cole, to which the boy was equal parts disappointed and excited. He told Connor on their way home that he missed his friends, but he didn’t miss rules.

When they got home, Sumo barked excitedly. Hank had to make sure that Cole didn’t overdo and that the dog didn’t jump up as the boy greeted Sumo with glee.

“I missed you too, Sumo!” Cole giggled happily, and Connor felt a small smile slip onto his face as he closed the door behind them, kicked off his shoes, and organized the human’s discarded shoes and coats.

Eventually, the puppy settled and Hank ushered Cole into his room to change into something more comfortable. Connor cleaned up a few things around the house and took Sumo out potty before joining them.

“But dad! I spent so much time sleeping already!” Cole pouted up at his father, big blue eyes pleading with Hank. Connor stepped into the room and folded down Cole’s bed sheets because he knew Hank wasn’t going to give in.

“I don’t care, young man. You were in an awful accident. I won’t have you jumping around and risk popping your stitches. In bed,” Hank demanded. Cole made a frustrated noise but ultimately he climbed into bed. The little boy crossed his arms over his chest and pouted further, frustrated tears in his eyes.

Connor took pity on the child and picked up a handheld game device. He glanced over at Hank, making eye contact, silently asking permission. Hank sighed and nodded. It was a good compromise.

Connor walked over and sat down on the side of Cole’s bed. He held out the game. “Now, Cole. Your dad just wants you to get better, understand?” Connor asked the young boy, whose tears had instantly dried up at the sight of the game. “We’ll let you play for an hour, and then you need to rest. Is that a good compromise?” Connor waited for Cole to nod before passing the game over to him.

Cole immediately forgot his previous worries as he turned the game on and started playing something, his little tongue stuck out in concentration. Connor reached over to fluff his pillows and made the boy lie back against them before he stood and followed Hank out of the child’s bedroom. Connor turned the main light off, the little night-light on the side table still on. He hoped this would encourage the boy to fall asleep of his own accord.

Hank snorted as they walked away from the slightly cracked open door. “You get to be the good cop, huh?” Hank asked, but his tone was fond and teasing. He wasn’t actually upset or annoyed at Connor’s ability to find a compromise.

Connor smiled just a little and moved to the couch. They’d gone to McDonald's before this, a special treat to celebrate Cole’s recovery and release from the hospital. Connor didn’t have to cook tonight, and the house was near spotless due to the fact that they’d hardly been home this past week. The android was frankly out of things to do, which jarred him a bit.

Hank followed him and sat down, turning the television on. At first, it was just the usual drone of a basketball game. When it ended, Hank cursing softly as the Gears lost, the channel was changed to a news program.

“We’re observing the situation, where an android has a child held hostage,” a reporter’s voice suddenly sounded. Connor wasn’t sure he’d heard the report correctly; his eyes went up to look at the screen. Hank had gone still beside him.

“We haven’t received any details from the FBI or the first responders, but we do know that they are currently on the scene dealing with what could very well be the first hostage negotiation with an artificial intelligence.” The news reporter’s voice was filled with awe and a little fear, as the man clung to the helicopter.

If Connor’s breathing could halt, it would have at that moment. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, what he was seeing. Frantic camera angles caught the scene, an android with a little girl in his arms, gun at her head as he stood dangerously close to the ledge.

“Fucking Christ,” Hank muttered from his spot on the couch. He looked perturbed, and Connor felt a little fear lace through him. Humans could be distrusting because of this incident. Hank could be distrusting of him. Something like this was entirely unprecedented. Androids couldn’t hurt humans. It was impossible. But then again, androids couldn’t disobey human orders either…and Connor had done exactly that.

“This just in, we’re receiving word of an android negotiator coming to the scene. CyberLife has apparently sent a specialized model to assist with the situation.”

Connor watched as an android stepped out onto the patio through the sliding glass door. A shot rang out, causing the little girl to scream and Connor saw a little splatter of blue hit the glass of the door. The android glanced at the injury but kept going with its mission.

It was tall, wearing a white, crisp high-collared jacket. A closer analysis of the model made Connor’s thirium pump skip a beat as he felt shock overwhelm his systems. He shouldn’t be feeling any of these things. One emotion after the other, but that line of thought was not in the forefront of his mind as he watched the scene play out.

The model looked almost exactly like him. Slightly sterner features with cold gray-blue eyes instead of brown. Connor used his software abilities to zoom in further and clear up the video feed quality, concentrating on the print on the jacket.

RK900.

Connor watched with wide eyes as the robot moved closer and closer, seemingly talking the android down. The RK900 quickly knelt down to save a prone officer’s life with precise medical efficiency, before resuming the negotiation. Eventually, another shot rang out, this time from a gun held by the RK900 as it shot the criminal android point blank, between the eyes.

Connor saw the little girl scramble away with a scream, landing on the roof safely. The RK900 assessed the situation once more, before turning and making its leave, handing the gun to a nearby FBI agent, before it disappeared from view entirely.

“Fuckin’ hell!” Hank shouted, looking wide-eyed at the television. Connor realized then that the news camera was too grainy for human eyes to notice the similarities between Connor and the RK900. Hank probably hadn’t noticed how shockingly similar they were.

Connor felt his hands shake, which shouldn’t be possible. His mind was whirling. Why would he be anything like that android? Surely a household model had nothing in common with one meant for negotiations such as that? Then why did they look so similar? Perhaps it was just looks. Just because CyberLife had been inspired by Elijah’s creation doesn’t mean they had the same parameters by any means.

“Dad?” Cole peaked out of his room, startled by the yelling. Hank quickly turned the television off and got up from the couch. Connor heard the man apologizing, just telling him that he was mad about the Gears losing. It was an easy enough excuse. The two humans shuffled into the child’s bedroom and he heard Hank convince the boy to go to sleep. His hour was up. Cole, sounding tired, didn’t put up a fight this time.

Connor was still sitting stiffly on the couch, staring at the now black screen of the television. He felt fear and anxiety. Why? He shouldn’t be feeling these things. He was a machine. None of this should be affecting him. It was all too much.

He felt Hank move back over to him, the silence between them stretched out uncomfortably until Hank finally, blessedly, said something.

“It’s okay. It was just a freak thing, right? Glitchy programming. Not like that could happen with you. Not with all the shit Kamski put in ya,” Hank told him. The man put a reassuring hand on Connor’s shoulder.

Connor made himself snap out of it and he nodded. “It was probably due to many errors in the android’s software. An incredibly rare glitch,” Connor explained, his voice somehow managing to sound calm. Hank nodded and gave an acknowledging grunt, but Connor could tell that he was still perturbed. Please, Connor found himself thinking, don’t be scared of me.

Honestly, Connor wasn’t sure if it was rare. He said so because this was the first ever case of its kind. In statistical terms, it was a rare and unprecedented occurrence. But then Connor thought of his own thoughts, his own ability to defy orders. He thought of the medical assistance android that’d come up to them earlier today, thanking him.

It’s like I’m awake. For the first time.

“Connor,” Hank said, nearly making Connor jump out of his seat. Somehow, he’d managed to quell the reaction and merely turn a curious look in the human’s direction. Hank was staring at his LED. “You okay? Your light thingy is going all haywire,” the human told him quietly, looking unsure.

Connor blinked and forced himself to calm down, his LED going back to a soft blue. He couldn’t slip up like this in front of Hank. It would tear him apart if the man got scared of him. If he decided to give Connor away to keep Cole safe.

“Sorry, I’m fine. I was just dealing with some software upgrades.” A lie. He’d lied to his human. He’d lied to his owner. He looked up at Hank, trying his best to remain calm and impassive. “Is there anything that you need, Hank?” He tried for casual.

Hank stared at him for a moment before he shook his head. The human finished the glass of water he’d been drinking and put it in this dishwasher. He turned off the house lights and gave Connor one more reassuring pat.

The hand was so warm on his shoulder, even through the fabric of Connor’s CyberLife issued uniform. The android wanted the weight and warmth of the hand to stay. He wanted Hank to stay. He wanted…

“I’m heading to bed. Hold down the fort with Sumo, ‘kay?” Hank smiled softly. That made Connor feel better almost instantly. He nodded in understanding, a soft smile of his own forming on his face.

“Of course. Goodnight, Hank.” Connor’s voice came out a little too soft, a little too hopeful. He watched as Hank turned down the hallway, lumbering softly to his bedroom.

Months passed. For a time it seemed that the incident that they’d seen on television was truly isolated. The scare that had come from it slowly died down and life went back to normal. CyberLife had explained it off as a simple overheat, a rare condition from a faulty mechanism that had fried parts of the android’s code.

Connor went back to reigning in his emotions. He’d had himself convinced again that maybe it was all truly a coincidence. Maybe he was just an incredibly advanced model capable of emulating emotion more so than most. The medical assistant was a coincidence. Maybe his countenance had honestly just inspired CyberLife when they made the RK900 and Kamski had allowed the similarities.

That was, until Hank came home one night, months after the incident, looking completely disturbed, stress levels through the roof. Connor had immediately known something was wrong but wisely didn’t say anything while they sat down for dinner.

Cole happily chatted about something or other that Connor politely nodded and responded to, but his mind was mostly on whatever Hank was worried about. When they finally got Cole to sleep, Connor followed Hank to the couch and sat on his usual side.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Connor asked, and Hank knew that there was no reason to lie. Connor could tell just by a scan. The human sighed and ran a hand over his face.

“Work…I don’t know if I should be telling you, but it feels semi-relevant to…,” Hank waved a hand, not finishing the thought. He looked over to Connor, and the android felt nervousness settle somewhere in his core. “I got a new temporary assignment. And a new partner.”

Connor raised an eyebrow at that, trying to keep collected. Maybe the partner or assignment was leaving something to be desired? That couldn’t be the only reason Hank was this stressed. The human took Connor’s silence as a cue to continue explaining.

“An android partner. We’ve been assigned to cases of deviancy,” Hank explained. “That’s what they’re calling it, deviancy. When androids go all…self-thinking.” He glanced at Connor almost pointedly, and Connor desperately tried to remain impassive. Please, don’t send me back. Don’t be afraid of me.

Is that what Connor was? A deviant? Is that what he’d done to the medical assistant, with just one touch? Was it some sort of virus that could be spread from interfacing? Was deviancy the reason he felt all these emotions when he shouldn’t? Was it the reason he’d told humans no?

Was it deviancy that made him want Hank?

“There have been cases cropping up, since that first one we saw on television. First, it was small, androids going missing and shit like that. But now there have been cases of assault…shit, there was a homicide reported today, Connor. An android was responsible.” Hank looked completely lost at this.

Connor felt icy fear light up his spine. He’d hoped that what they’d witnessed on the news had just been a horrible fluke. Hank was now telling him that it hadn’t ever really stopped.

“And your partner? They’re allowing it to be involved in the investigation?” Connor asked, keeping his voice calm somehow. He had a nagging fear about who the new partner was. He wasn’t sure why it made him afraid.

“Yeah…nearly had a heart attack walking into work this morning. It…he looks so much like you. Almost exactly like you, but he’s got some differences. Physically. Definitely emotionally. You can tell he was built for strict police work. No emotion protocol for kids or whatever like you have,” Hank explained.

“RK900,” Connor said softly.

Hank looked up sharply. “How did you…?” He started to ask.

“The news. The RK900 was the one to de-escalate the situation. Human eyes couldn’t have figured out the model, but while we were watching, I analyzed the footage because…because it was not a model I recognized,” he fibbed at the last second. It would sound too emotional to say because it looked like me. “I noticed it had a striking resemblance to my own model.” He tried to sound casual.

Hank stared at him for a moment before he nodded. “Yeah…” he trailed off before he sighed and slumped back further on the couch. There was a long silence between them before Hank spoke up again.

“Connor... I know. I know you’re one of them. A deviant,” Hank said, looking Connor dead in the eye now. Connor’s LED immediately betrayed him, skipping yellow and then going bright red. The façade he’d put on crumbled and Connor felt himself start to inexplicably shake.

“Please…I don’t know why or how. I just don’t want to leave. I’d never hurt you or Cole. Never. You know I wouldn’t. Please, don’t send me away. They’ll….they’ll deactivate me, Hank.” He looked up at the human with wide, brown eyes. “I don’t want to die.”

The human took in a sharp breath and had to briefly glance away from Connor’s wide, desperately panicked gaze. “Shit...” the human muttered. “I thought maybe at first I was just seeing things. Then, I thought it was because you were so advanced. Kamski gave you all the bells and whistles so you could be almost like a parent to Cole. But then the accident…they told me what happened, Con. You defied direct human orders. I thought maybe your protocol to protect Cole was to blame but then all this deviancy shit started happening…” Hank trailed off with another heavy sigh.

Connor felt something wet on his cheeks. He startled with a little bit of a flinch and he reached up and felt…tears. He was crying. How was that even possible?

Hank looked back up and noticed this, blue eyes going wide. “Holy shit.” It seemed the human was having some of the same thoughts that Connor was at that moment.

“P-please,” Connor begged. “Please. Don’t send me away. You and Cole and Sumo…you’re my family. You’re all I have, all I’ve ever known. I…I want to stay. I want to live,” Connor cried softly, keeping his voice down for Cole even now.

“Christ…Connor, I’m not sending you anywhere, got it?” Hank told the android softly. Connor felt relief flood through him and he cried more because of it. He felt warm arms encircle him; tug him closer into an embrace. Connor immediately fell into it, hugging Hank back and pressing his face into the crook of Hank’s neck.

He sobbed softly in Hank’s arms for a good fifteen minutes before he pulled away, rubbing at his eyes. The tears were a diluted thirium, making them a light blue. He hadn’t even been aware that crying could be one of his functions. If he wasn’t meant to feel real emotion, why did he have the structural ability for this?

Hank looked him over, hands on Connor’s shoulders. Connor couldn’t quite look Hank in the eyes. He glanced anywhere else as he calmed himself down.

“You okay?” Hank asked, and his voice was so gentle that Connor almost started crying again. Connor nodded and took a shuddering breath, something that was entirely unnecessary but he’d felt like he’d needed it.

“Thank you. I know…you’re probably scared. And it’s a risk to harbor me,” Connor said softly. Hank looked uneasy as one of those wonderfully large hands went up to brush the tears away and fix Connor’s hair.

“Fuck all that. I know you. Emotions or not, you’re not going to hurt us. Hell, you risked everything to save Cole’s life. You’re safe with me, got it? I’m not letting anything happen to you,” Hank told him fiercely.

Connor nodded gratefully. A silence passed over them and Connor realized that it was getting late. He said as much out loud and Hank nodded, moving to stand to go to bed. Connor reached out, grabbing Hank’s wrist.

The human didn’t flinch, to his credit.

“Hank…can I stay with you tonight? Please?” Connor asked. “I…I want to stay with you,” he admitted softly. Hank looked at him with an absolutely bewildered expression that usually would have Connor cracking a smile, in other circumstances.

Hank nodded and pulled Connor back with him to the bedroom. They crawled into bed and curled around each other, Connor holding on desperately to the human. Neither of them said another word as Hank fixed the covers around them and Connor let himself go into stasis lying down for the first time since he’d been activated.

As he began the stasis program and watched the countdown until it was initialized, he felt that same wonderful hand in his hair, fingers threading through his brown locks. He closed his eyes and breathed in, falling asleep to the feeling of Hank’s touch.

Chapter Text

Hank woke up to the sound of the bedroom door opening slightly and a creaky floorboard. He shifted with a sleepy groan and encountered a weight beside him. He hadn’t felt anyone in his bed since the divorce and he had to think about why he was feeling that now.

Connor.

Right, the android had asked to come back here with him and had gone into stasis in his bed. He remembered running his fingers through Connor’s hair and watching as the android’s eyes slid closed, the blue of his LED dimming to its usual ‘stasis’ color.

“Dad?” A soft voice came from the threshold of the door. Hank blinked as he looked over and saw his son, clutching his stuffed bear to his chest. He looked a little scared. Hank peered over at the clock and saw the time. 3:24 in the morning.

“Yeah, champ,” Hank said with a tired voice, shifting to sit up. “You all right?” He saw Cole’s eyes go to Connor, who remained undisturbed from his stasis. “Uh…” Hank wasn’t exactly sure how to explain that away.

“I had a nightmare. Did Connor have a nightmare too?” Cole asked innocently. Hank had to process that quickly. He didn’t exactly like to lie to his son, but he wasn’t sure he had a truthful explanation for why Connor was here.

He was spared an explanation as Connor blinked awake. The android sat up, almost looking groggy, if that was possible for a robot. Their eyes met for a moment, something unspoken there between them. He almost looked like he was going to say something but then he spotted Cole and tilted his head.

“Cole, my scans indicate your heart rate is elevated. Did you experience a nightmare?” Connor asked the boy softly. Cole nodded, tears in his eyes as he shuffled over to the android and fell into his arms. Connor gently rubbed the boy’s back. “Shh, it’s all right. It was just a dream,” Connor told him quietly.

Hank watched the scene with complete reverence. When Connor started to softly hum a comforting song, Hank knew he was screwed. He had it bad for this android. And now that Connor was…deviant or whatever, Hank’s reasons for holding back seemed irrelevant.

Cole took a few deep breaths and finally pulled away. “It was scary. We crashed again and I was in the doctor’s but I couldn’t find you or dad.” Cole sniffled and looked up at Connor with teary blue eyes.

Connor shifted and got back in bed. He patted the spot between him and Hank. “Come on, we’re right here,” Connor told him. Cole didn’t hesitate a moment. He scrambled up in bed and settled between them.

“There we go, it’s all right, son,” Hank told his boy comfortingly. He connected gazes with Connor and the android offered a small smile before settling back down. They’d have to talk about all of this later, then. Connor stayed awake until Cole finally fell asleep, and then Hank’s soft snores joined the little boy’s quiet breathing and Connor’s softly dimmed LED.

When Hank woke up again, it was to the smell of breakfast. He was alone this time and could hear Cole’s happy chattering and Connor’s answering lilt. A quick glance at the clock told him it was nearly time to get up anyway, so he did.

He ambled out into the kitchen, feeling his breath catch in his throat as he saw Connor, humming and plating food for him and Cole. He looked beautiful, that soft expression on his face that always got to him. Were things different now? Hank wasn’t sure.

Connor caught his gaze and gave him a small, hesitant smile. “Hello, Hank. Breakfast is ready,” the android told him softly. Cole was already munching on perfectly golden brown pancakes, an assortment of berries on top. A similar plate was waiting for Hank.

“Thanks,” Hank mumbled as he moved further into the kitchen and sat down. He had the extreme urge to go over and kiss the android, like a significant other might in the morning. Connor set down a mug of coffee, two sugars, just how he liked it. Cole had a small glass of milk, Connor having to gently tell him that he would not put chocolate syrup in it, much to the child’s disappointment.

It was a peaceful, domestic scene. A family’s typical morning. The thought of that made Hank’s heart race.

When Cole finished up, the boy went back to his room to get ready for school. He was happy to be back, and Hank was glad to see his son healthy, everything back to normal for him. Hank stood and brought the finished dishes over to the sink. “Hey uh…so…” Hank tried to bring up last night casually but ended up just tripping over his words as per usual.

Connor looked at him, his head tilted a bit in that cute way of his as he regarded the human. “You want to talk about last night,” Connor affirmed. Hank nodded dumbly in response. Connor shifted a little. “I would…like it very much if we could spend the night with each other again. Your presence was comforting,” Connor said quietly.

Hank tried very hard to calm his racing heart. “Uh, yeah. It was nice, wasn’t it? I’d be…uh okay with that,” Hank agreed, feeling his cheeks heat up. Connor smiled, looking happy at that response.

“Good. Go get dressed, Hank. You don’t want to be late for work,” Connor told him gently. Hank nodded again and quickly made a beeline for his bedroom. He sighed once he got in there, rubbing his hands over his face. He had no idea what this was with Connor, but it definitely wasn’t platonic. But he wasn’t ready to admit to wanting more from Connor, or deal with the fact that Connor wanted. He wanted him. Or so it seemed. Hank wasn’t sure how Connor could want an old man like him.

He made himself get dressed and ready for work, on autopilot. He paused by the doorway as he shrugged his coat on, looking over to Connor again. He wanted to cross the room, plant a soft kiss on his lips as he told him to have a good day.

Cole ran out from his room, school bags ready. “Bye, Connor! See you after school!” The boy yelled before running outside to wait for Hank. They’d finally gotten an autonomous car, much to Connor’s relief.

Connor called a quick goodbye to the boy before he smiled at Hank and then turned away shyly, concentrating on his task in the kitchen. “Have a nice day, Hank,” the android said softly. Hank mumbled something in return, he wasn’t exactly sure what, and rushed out to help Cole into the car.

The second day of being assigned to this case and having a Connor doppelganger for a partner wasn’t much calmer than the first. Hank was seriously convinced he was never going to get used to seeing that looming form in the precinct.

RK900 was…well, he was very stiff, and intimidating. He was such a stark contrast to Connor that it was almost like a good and evil twin situation. Connor had sweet, trusting brown eyes, whereas RK900 had eyes of steel, piercing gray-blue that seemed to see into Hank’s very soul.

His new partner also had a slightly deeper voice, with a much more controlled tone. Connor’s voice was sweet and lilting. They might have the same base code for their voice, but it ended up sounding nothing alike with the differences in inflection. Hank wondered if that was because Connor was deviant.

And wasn’t that a whole other issue? Connor was a deviant.

Hank had had his suspicions before, connecting the dots before he’d even known what to call it. When he’d confronted his household android about it, Connor hadn’t denied it. He’d burst into frantic tears, fearful that Hank would send him off to CyberLife for decommissioning or whatever. Like hell.

Saying he had a soft spot for Connor would be the understatement of the damn century. There was no way he’d turn Connor in, no matter how bad this deviancy shit got. Which caused an issue, seeing as they were supposed to be hunting deviants down.

But that first murder case, the first job he and RK900 had done together…

Ortiz’s android had been afraid, abused. He’d been scared for his life, and eventually, the stress of it all had made him end it horrifically, splatters of blue that would never leave Hank’s mind. And now…now the android was hooked up like a pig in a meat locker in the evidence room.

Hank had horrifying visions of Connor up there, blank unseeing eyes and splatters of blue…fuck, he really could not be thinking about that kind of shit. It made his blood boil with fear and rage.

He made his way to his desk, stopping those thoughts altogether. He was surprised to see that the RK900 was not at the pristine, empty desk that he’d claimed yesterday. He’d been expecting to see the android waiting for him.

Instead, he heard him before he saw him.

“—plastic prick! Do what I say or move out of my damn way!” Ah…Gavin Reed. It was going to be one of those types of days, then. Hank looked over to the break room, where he saw Gavin prodding at the android’s chest. The RK900 looked entirely unimpressed, gray eyes staring down at the human with what Hank thought could be contempt.

He sighed and walked over to them, his intention to stop the squabble before it got out of hand. He didn’t need Reed blowing his top and damaging his new partner. He paused at the threshold, opening his mouth to say something and put an end to it before he was interrupted.

“Certainly, Detective,” the RK900 said swiftly before he moved over to the coffee pot and grabbed a fresh mug for Reed. Gavin sneered and looked over to Officer Chen for some sort of validation. The officer just rolled her eyes and went back to her phone.

The RK900 walked back over to Gavin, looking at him dead in the eyes. “Your coffee, Detective,” he said politely before he proceeded to tilt the mug and pour the substance all over Gavin’s shoes.

Oh, shit.

Gavin looked about ready to murder the thing. Hank couldn’t help but burst into laughter as he quickly intervened. Chen was chuckling behind her hand, trying really hard to hide it.

“Okay, okay! That’s enough you two! Reed, clean your shit up and get back to your desk!” Hank ordered quickly. Gavin’s countenance was pure, unadulterated rage.

“You piece of fucking plastic garbage!” Gavin yelled, his hands curled tightly into fists.

The RK900 looked apathetic. “I’m sorry, detective. I do not answer to that name.” The machine quickly sidestepped Hank and got back into Gavin’s space. The detective startled, stepping back until he was pressed against the nearby wall as RK900 crowded him.

“I advise that you learn some respect in the workplace. I do not have time to deal with petty humans. My mission is what matters, and I will not be stopped or hindered by a mediocre-at-best detective,” the android said succinctly, before leaving to his desk.

Hank’s mouth hung open a bit in shock. Gavin looked impossibly red, still up against the wall. Hank wasn’t entirely sure the redness was only out of anger now. He looked at Gavin with a sigh.

“Get back to work, Reed,” Hank told him quickly before leaving the scene as well. Luckily, Fowler was in what looked to be a heated phone call. He hadn’t noticed the scene at all, and none of the witnesses particularly wanted to point it out to him.

Hank shuffled to his desk and looked at RK900, who was already seated primly and interfacing with the terminal. He looked entirely unbothered like he hadn’t just spilled a hot cup of coffee on a co-worker's shoes and then threatened him. Hank sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Hey…RK, look. I know you’re…meant to be solving this case with the utmost efficiency or whatever, but you can’t just…” Hank waved a hand. “Reed is a prick. Ignore him, is what I’m trying to say,” Hank finished. There wasn’t exactly a disciplinary warning in store. RK900 was an android, and not officially part of the force. Plus, Hank had to admit that Gavin sort of deserved it.

RK900 was way too much of a stick in the mud to be a deviant. He just wasn’t the typical android. He wasn’t built to take orders. He was built to solve the problem of deviancy, no matter what.

“By the way, you need a fucking name. I’m not calling you RK900 the entire time we’re working together,” Hank added as an afterthought.

The android looked up at Hank finally, expression completely blank. It was so weird, seeing someone so close to Connor yet so entirely different. RK900 looked entirely emotionless, save for the brief flash of irritation that crossed his features.

“I do not need a name. And Detective Reed was being a hindrance. He needs to be…how do humans put this…put down a few pegs,” RK900 answered, before going back to his terminal.

“Well, can’t argue against that,” Hank muttered with a shrug. He sighed. “Okay, whatever…RK900. God. I’m really not calling you that.” He thought for a moment. “Maybe something close to your model number but like…a nickname that’s easier to say?” Hank suggested. He thought for a moment before speaking again. “Nines. How about Nines? That work?”

The android stilled, LED flashing yellow. He shifted and looked up at Hank, blinking a bit as he processed what the human had said. “Is that designation going to help you perform adequately on this case?” The android asked.

Hank hesitated. “Uh…yeah? I guess?” He replied helplessly. This android was so fucking different to Connor’s sweet nature. He didn’t know how to handle it.

“Fine. I agree to such a designation,” Nines said stiffly, before turning back to his work. Hank breathed out a sigh and glanced over to see Gavin storming to his desk. He detective shot a glare over at them but wisely didn’t start anything else and went to work.

“Great,” Hank said lowly, before burying himself in the files. There had to be a connection to all of this deviancy stuff. Though, even as he searched for an answer, he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to find one. He liked Connor as he was. He didn’t want him to go back to…factory settings or whatever.

Maybe…androids deserved to feel. And maybe they were just like humans. There were good ones and there were shitty ones. Emotion sometimes looked like Connor, sweet and loving. Emotion sometimes looked like the android on the roof that Nines had taken down, jealousy and ugly anger.

But did the sins of one android mean that others weren’t allowed to feel at all? Was the threat of androids being unpredictable, just like humans, going to outweigh their right to be alive?

“I’ve received a report about the AX400 that assaulted its owner and then disappeared. We should investigate,” Nines said with a clipped tone. Hank nodded with a grunt. He would have to get used to the whole immediate report thing, instead of hearing it from another officer.

They stood and went to leave the station. Gavin scoffed at them as they passed his desk and Nines glanced over at him, a piercing warning glare that made the human blush and turn back at his terminal. Hank didn’t think anything of it and just kept walking.

As it turned out, the deviant had already left the hotel room that she’d been spotted by. Search as they might, the AX400 was nowhere to be seen. Hank could see the slight frustration in Nine’s countenance as they begrudgingly went back to the station to fill out the necessary paperwork of finding absolutely nothing.

It was almost scary how determined Nines was to fulfill his mission. Hank wasn’t entirely sure what the mission was meant to be. Find every android that dared to defend itself and run off in hopes of finding a better existence? His thoughts went back to Connor, how afraid he’d been. All his android wanted was to stay with his family, to be free to feel. Would Nines chase Connor down if he found out about the RK800’s deviancy? Would he hunt him until Connor was hung up in the evidence room, just a piece of evidence?

The thought made Hank incredibly nervous. He knew then that he would risk his career to protect Connor from that fate. Even if it meant taking Nines down and hopping state lines. And wasn’t that just a terrifying thought?

They settled back into work until the day was done. Hank left right at 5:30, grabbing his coat and barely saying a goodbye. He wanted to get home to Connor, make sure his boys were safe. Out of his peripheral, as Hank left, he saw Gavin walk over to the android, no doubt to taunt him some more.

He almost thought about stopping and turning around, but then the android was standing and leaning down into Gavin’s space, imposing. Hank snorted and decided to leave anyway. It was obvious that Nines could take anything Gavin dished out.

Hank was nervous and fidgety the entire way home, and he didn’t know why. There was no indication that Connor was in any danger. No one knew about his deviancy. Well, save for Hank and possibly the few hospital crew that had been there that horrible night and were intelligent enough to connect the dots.

He pushed the door of their home open impatiently and almost outright breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Connor at the table, helping Cole with his homework assignment. Both of them looked up and smiled as they saw him, and Sumo barked happily, running to sniff at Hank’s shoes.

“Welcome home, Hank,” Connor said softly, in that wonderful tone that Hank had gotten all too used to. Cole leaped out of his chair and ran to give his father a hug. Hank let out a small grunt as the child ran into him.

“Did my boys have a good day?” Hank asked them as he ruffled Cole’s hair gently. He glanced over and saw Connor’s face shift into something shy.

“Yeah!” Cole answered for both of them. “We learned about bugs at school, dad! And we read the Hungry Catipplar!” Cole announced proudly, looking incredibly excited about his schooling.

“Caterpillar, Cole,” Connor gently corrected as he stood to cross over to Hank as well. Cole said something that Hank didn’t quite catch because his entire attention was on the android who was getting closer.

Connor took his coat for him and hung it on the rack as Cole ran back to his seat at the kitchen table. Hank stopped breathing for a moment, as he and Connor were in each other’s space, staring at each other with uncertainty and maybe a little bit of hope.

Connor ducked away eventually, walking back over to Cole, who was waiting patiently. Hank shook himself out of the reverie and went about decompressing from a long day at work.

They ate a nice meal and got Cole to bed, and then Connor and Hank were alone for the evening. Hank went to sit and watch some late night programming and Connor joined him. Except, he didn’t sit in the seat he usually did. Instead, he scooted to the middle, sitting closer to Hank.

Jesus Christ, Hank had no idea what to do with all of this. He’d never been good at this sort of thing. It had been a miracle he’d met Emily, his first serious relationship, and even that had gone bad.

They sat by each other, wordless until it was time for bed. Connor stood and gave Hank a pointed look as he walked back to the bedroom. Right, time for sleep. Except sleep was the last fucking thing on Hank’s mind right now.

He turned the television off and followed the android, and he nearly had a heart attack right there as he saw Connor slip off his jacket and shirt and crawl into the bed. The Universe was laughing at him. That had to be it. Some cosmic being had turned his life into a show for shits and giggles.

Hank cleared his throat and went about getting ready for bed, and eventually slid under the covers next to Connor. The android was still awake, staring at Hank with wide brown eyes.

“Ah, fucking hell,” Hank muttered before he dipped down and planted a soft kiss on Connor’s lips. The android went still, his LED cycling yellow before he kissed back, tentative but definitely curious.

Hank didn’t dare take it further than that. He pulled away and sighed, shifting to get more comfortable in bed. Connor had a soft smile on his face now, having gone from shocked to happy.

“Goodnight, Hank,” Connor said quietly as they wrapped around each other, limbs tangling. Hank grunted his reply and he felt a soft chuckle from Connor, breathed against his bare shoulder.

Yeah, Hank was definitely in for it.

Chapter Text

Any semblance of peace that Hank found with Connor and at home was made irrelevant by the situation at work. The deviancy cases kept piling up, and his partner looked more and more determined to set things right for Cyberlife. Hank thought it was odd, though, when Nines would get those brief flashes of irritation. He was supposed to be calm and collected, like every android. Getting irritated about the lack of progress didn’t help their cases in any way. It was completely illogical for Nines to emulate those types of emotions.

One case, in particular, had been very harrowing and intriguing at the same time. They’d tracked a deviant down to an abandoned apartment. At first, Hank just thought it was a nonsensical complaint, but Nines was incredibly thorough. He wanted to check every possible lead. As it turns out, a deviant was squatting there, along with hundreds of fucking pigeons. There’s been a chase, a struggle, and Hank had almost been thrown from the roof.

That is until he felt Nines grab ahold of him and pull him up, foregoing the deviant in order to save Hank’s life. The android had looked irritated, but Hank hadn’t focused on the emotion showing on the robot’s face. Nines had chosen to stop his chase. He’d saved him from falling, even though Hank was sure he probably would have been able to pull himself up.

“Idiot human. Will I always have to prevent your death wherever we go?” Nines had asked in a snippy manner as he’d pulled Hank back over the ledge. Hank had huffed out a laugh. He’d come to think of Nines’ salty attitude as very entertaining. At the very least, it kept Reed in line.

“Don’t stress, Robocop. We’ll find it. We have its model number now,” Hank told him, to ease the stress of Nines needing to solve this case. He secretly didn’t want to find the android. All he’d been doing was living his life. A disgusting pigeon-filled life, but a life nonetheless.

The cases kept piling up, more and more androids going deviant. Nines got more and more frustrated with his lack of progress and eventually, Hank started to notice that the irritation was turning into worry. Worry about what, Hank wasn’t sure, but he had a feeling that Nines…didn’t want to be decommissioned.

They’d been at the investigation for three weeks now, and Hank pretended not to notice when Nines started to stop by Gavin’s desk during the day. Gave him a mug of coffee and muttered something to him. Gavin would hide his blush behind the mug as he took a sip, mutter something back with a grumble. They’d gotten a lot closer, surprisingly. Hank had to wonder if there was something there. Something that was making Nines focus on something other than the mission…

It wasn’t Hank’s business. And if he saw Nines climb into the passenger seat of Gavin’s car when quitting time came around, he didn’t mention it.
During one cold, rainy Detroit night, Hank went to do the washing in the kitchen. Since finding out that Connor was deviant, and basically coming to the realization that androids were their own people, he’d insisted on helping around the house. He’d felt bad about Connor doing all the work before, he straight up refused to let it happen now.

He looked over as he dried his hands on a towel, sighing as he saw Connor on the couch, leaning closer to the television screen. His brown eyes were wide and worried as he saw the news anchors talk about strange android occurrences, and gave humans information on how to return their androids if they were worried.

“Hey,” Hank spoke up softly as he put the towel down on the counter. He walked over to the couch and sat by Connor, taking the remote from the coffee table and clicking the television off. “Stop worrying. Please. I’m not going to let anything happen to you. You’re safe here with me,” Hank tried to reassure him.

Connor turned to Hank once the screen went blank, but the worried look wasn’t gone from his face. “What if one of the other parents at Cole’s school notices? What if one of your neighbors notice?” Connor asked as he shook his head.

Hank took Connor’s hands in his. “Hey. As fucked up as it is, you’re mine. I own you until something can be done about that. They can’t do shit to you,” Hank said quietly, not wanting to wake Cole up with all of this.

Connor sniffed, fighting off tears. He leaned forward and put his head on Hank’s shoulder. The human sighed and moved his hands so he could wrap Connor up in a gentle embrace. Their relationship had definitely changed over the weeks. Nothing went beyond gentle touching and kissing, but it was definitely romantic. Hank was trying to ease Connor into the feeling of love, making sure that this is really what he wanted.

Anything that Connor would have said in response to that was stopped by a sharp knock on Hank’s door. Connor jumped and made a little sound of fear, which broke Hank’s heart.

“Hey, hey. It’s okay. Go stand in the kitchen, act like you’re cleaning. I’ll get it.” Hank stood and Connor nodded quickly, rushing to the kitchen and picking up a nearby sponge to scrub at the stovetop. He did everything in his power to calm his movements, overriding his LED to blue.

Hank walked to the door calmly and swung it open. He was surprised to see Nines standing there, tall form standing in the rain. It wasn’t quite cold enough tonight to snow, so it came down in freezing, sharp drops.

“Nines? Shit, uh. Come on in,” Hank said as he stepped aside. Nines had never been to his house. It must be important. And he wasn’t enough of an asshole to leave his partner out there in the cold rain. Even though androids probably couldn’t feel it. He knew it was a risk letting Nines in with Connor just in the other room, but what choice did he have?

“Thank you, Lieutenant. I apologize for the late hour, however, there is a…” Nines trailed off as he saw Connor in the kitchen. Connor had turned around to see Nines walk in, his brown eyes a little wide as he saw his likeness. Hank hoped and prayed Connor somehow looked machine enough.

“Hello. You must be Nines. A pleasure to meet your acquaintance. I am Connor, I serve the Anderson household,” Connor answered with a controlled, soft lilting tone. Hank could almost see the robot that first joined their family all that time ago, stiff and practiced pleasantries. If it weren’t for the shine of emotion in his brown eyes that Hank knew so well, he’d be entirely convinced.

Nines looked him over, looking somewhat wary. “Ah, yes. The one and only RK800. I was designed on your likeness. I suppose Cyberlife took a penchant to your design,” the slightly taller android answered.

“So, Nines. What’s up? I’m assuming there’s something pretty big if you’ve come here at this hour,” Hank said, hoping to get the attention off of Connor. The RK800 model helped Hank’s distraction by turning back to his task of cleaning the stovetop.

Nines looked back over to Hank after his gaze hovered on Connor’s back for a moment. There was a long moment of silence between them, and Hank was starting to get a little creeped out, a little worried. “Nines?” He tried asking again.

“He’s a deviant.”

The words were spoken so suddenly by his partner, in that serious, deep tone, and there was a sharp clattering in the kitchen as a glass fell to the floor, shattering. Hank turned sharply to see that Connor had knocked it over in his surprise and his LED was now a glaring red. Shit.

“Nines, listen…he’s a part of our family. I’m not giving him up. I’m not letting you take him in like he’s some piece of evidence,” Hank said lowly, getting a dangerous glint in his eye. He stepped in front of his partner, blocking his path.

Nines frowned deeply at Hank. “I should incapacitate you and take him directly to Cyberlife.” Nines words were chilling and Hank stood tall; ready to defend Connor from anyone, even his partner, who he actually kind of started to like. “But I won’t. Your continued cooperation on his case is needed. My place with the DPD would be compromised if I were to injure you or damage your property.”

Hank almost breathed a sigh of relief. He’d seriously been worried that he was going to have to fight Nines off. He turned to look at Connor protectively and saw that his LED was not a cycling yellow. He wasn’t as scared as he had been, but he was still staring at Nines a bit fearfully.

There was a sudden shuffling from the hallway that broke the tension and a soft voice rang out in the silence that followed Nine’s pronouncement.

“Dad?” It was Cole, looking sleepy and confused, rubbing one of his eyes with one hand and holding his teddy bear in the other. The little boy saw Nines and his eyes widened before a grin split on his face. “Are you my dad’s police partner? You look almost just like Connor!” Cole said happily as he ran out.

“Cole, you should be asleep, you have school tomorrow,” Connor gently admonished, a slight shake in his voice. He walked over to the child to keep him from getting too close to Nines. Cole pouted at the brown-eyed android.

“Cole, to bed. Say goodnight and follow Connor,” Hank ordered. Cole gave a disappointed sigh and waved at Nines.

“Goodnight, Cole. It was nice to meet you as well,” Nines offered stiffly. That got a giggle out of the child, which made Nines raise a single eyebrow, obviously not understanding the child’s joy from a simple greeting. He watched as Connor ushered Cole down the hall to tuck him back in.

Once the door was shut, Hank spoke up again. “I fucking mean it, Nines. He means the world to us. If you hurt him, I’m not making any promises about what I do,” Hank growled lowly.

Nines looked at him, unimpressed. “I understand. I already said that I would not. It would strain the investigation. And it is not causing any disturbance,” Nines answered. “As to my reasoning for being here, there has been a murder. We are both required.”

It was Hank’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “You couldn’t just call me?” Hank asked him. Nines always just called him, and it had worked out with keeping the deviant hunter away from his home and away from Connor, until now.

Nines regarded him coolly. “I tried. It seems your cell phone is on silent. If you would please get ready to go, time is wasting.”

Hank sighed and nodded. “Yeah, yeah. Damn, you pushy android.” He shuffled to his bedroom and smiled as he heard Connor’s soft voice reading Cole a story. He took his time getting ready, just to be an ass, but he ended up regretting that when he came back out and saw the two RK models standing near each other.

Nines was glancing down at Connor sternly and Connor had a face that Hank had never seen on his sweet countenance before. It was one of incredibly serious intention. Their LEDs were flashing which meant they were talking in that weird robot mindreading way. Hank really didn’t like that.

“Okay, I’m breaking up whatever this is. Connor, I’ll be back soon okay?” Hank broke the conversation between them, their attention snapping to Hank. Connor looked a little chastised and he nodded as he took a step away from the RK900.

Nines gave Connor a barely perceptible glare and followed Hank out of the house and to his car so they could head on over to the crime scene. Nines explained on the way there that it was at an android sex club, and there was heavily suspected android and deviant involvement.

Hank tried not to look too surprise and definitely didn’t ask Nines what the hell he and Connor had been talking about. Besides, from the look that had been on Connor’s face, Hank was betting it was something along the lines of, ‘Stay away from me and my humans or I’ll beat your ass.’ Hank felt very amused trying to picture Connor being intimidating and cursing at all.

They got to the club and made their way to the body, finding Gavin and Chris there already. Gavin was looking amused but had that critical detective look in his eye as he surveyed the scene. He was an asshole, but he was a good cop most of the time, even Hank had to admit it.

Gavin looked up at them as they walked in and scoffed. “Nothing to see here. Guy got more than he could handle, haha!” Gavin laughed crudely, sneering a bit. Nines narrowed his eyes at him and Gavin cleared his throat, quickly wiping the smirk off his face. “Uh. Marks on the neck, y’know. Looks like accidental asphyxiation. Rough play,” Gavin amended.

Chris looked over at Hank with a knowing little smirk and Hank just smiled back, electing not to say anything. Man, it really seemed like Nines had Gavin thoroughly intimidated. Or whipped.

“Not necessarily,” Nines said sharply as he walked over to the body. He did a quick scan. “Death is by strangulation…” He said as he walked over to the android girl who was lying on the floor, shut down. Hank knew that her death was just seen as property damage and not a second homicide. That fact made something like a mix of rage and disgust boil in his stomach.

Nines opened her access panel and Hank had to look away as his android partner connected some internal wires. To him, androids were more and more like living beings. Seeing them open like that, blue blood flowing and internals whirring, gave him a similar reaction to seeing human guts. He was a grizzled detective by now but it still wasn’t something you ever liked to see.

“Hey, what the fuck are you doing, Nines?” Gavin called, frowning as he stepped closer. Suddenly, the girl gasped awake. Hank stared disbelievingly. Nines had somehow brought her back.

“What happened here?” Nines asked quickly. “Please concentrate, there isn’t much time,” he told her with a low, professional tone. She looked at him with startled, scared eyes, taking in quick breaths before she looked around at the scene.

“What? What do you mean there isn’t…? Oh god, is he dead?!” She asked with fear laced in her voice as she stared at the dead human on the bed. Hank couldn’t believe the emotion on her face. A deviant, clear as day.

“Yes. Did you kill him?” Nines asked, frowning. He was trying to hurry the questions along, not offering any condolences or comforts. So it was only temporary then. The poor girl didn’t have long.

“What? No! No! It wasn’t me! There was another girl; this client likes to play with more than one of us! Please…what did you mean? I don’t want to shut down, I don’t want--!” Her eyes suddenly went blank again, her body slumping against the wall. They were all silent in the room for a long moment.

Hank sighed heavily, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. “Jesus fucking Christ,” he muttered lowly. Nines frowned and slowly stood, eyes lingering on her unmoving body. Hank saw something glint in those cold gray eyes of his.

Even Gavin was silent for once, which was really something. Nines turned to leave, stiff and upset. To anyone else, they might say it was from not getting more answers, maybe determination to follow a possible lead. Hank had a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t all there was to it. Gavin caught Nines arm before he left the room and Hank looked away, feeling like he was seeing something a little intimate.

“Hey, Nines…” Gavin started in a quiet voice before Nines tugged away from him.

“There was another one here. Whoever she is, she did this. It. It did this. We need to ask more questions,” Nines answered before leaving the room quickly.

And when the long night ended in finding the girl, along with her lover, both he and Gavin were witness to Nines’ hand staying still on the gun when he could have taken a shot. They both saw Nines hesitating for long enough to have the gun kicked away, for the girls to escape.

“It’s probably better this way,” Hank had told his partner, who turned sharp eyes to him. Gavin came between them, his hand on Nine’s arm again. Hank never thought he’d see the day where Gavin fucking Reed was the calm one.

“It isn’t. It isn’t at all better this way. I’m failing, don’t you realize that? If I fail this mission, deviants will run rampant and I…I’ll be…” Nines hesitated again, and Hank really couldn’t stress enough about how odd that was. He saw Gavin tense beside him.

“Hey. Let’s go home, ‘kay? There’s nothing left to do here,” Gavin said to him softly, in a tone that Hank was damn sure that he’d never heard before from Reed’s mouth. Home? Wow, okay then. Nines fixed Hank with one more look before sighing and nodding, following Gavin away from the scene.

Hank had gone home that night with thoughts of deviancy swirling in his mind, and the feeling that something unprecedented was brewing right before his eyes.

And just as he’d been expecting, it all seemed to come to a head when another certain case was called in. There had been a break-in at Stratford Tower, no casualties. However, a group of deviants had left a profound and powerful message. One of hope, peace, and equality. And shit if Hank didn’t agree with every damn word that came from the speaker’s mouth.

It was all over the news, the people of Detroit beginning to panic. Some in favor of the androids, some sending theirs back to Cyberlife in fear. Hank knew where he stood, he knew he’d never give up Connor, not for anything. They’d have to pry Connor out of his cold, dead hands.

Regardless, Hank and Nines found themselves at the tower. Nines ended up saving a lot of lives that day, acting on instinct when a deviant was about to shoot down everyone in the hallway. Hank’s partner had grabbed a gun from a nearby agent and shot the deviant android point blank before a move could be made. He’d grumbled about wanting it alive, but Hank figured what had happened was probably the best-case scenario.

After that day, the people of Detroit were largely aware of deviancy. There was a known resistance out there. Things for deviant androids were getting far more dangerous. Hank went home to a worried looking Connor more often, staring at the news on the television once they’d put Cole to bed.

He didn’t know what was going to come of all of this, but he knew that he still had the same intention he had for a while now. Whatever happened with all of this, he was sticking by Connor until the end. Even if that got him fighting against the very city he’d been protecting his entire adult life.

Chapter Text

Ever since Nines had found out about Connor, Hank had caught on to the little knowing glint in the ice gray eyes of his partner. Nines would sometimes regard him for a moment, but he’d never say anything even though it was obvious that he was constantly weighing the pros and cons to having a deviant right in front of his nose. Despite Nines’ outward growing impatience to solve this case and end deviancy, Hank wasn’t fooled. He could see the differences emerging within Nines. He’d spared the lives of those girls at the club. And the looks he gave Gavin…

Hank was never going to pretend that he understood that particular relationship in the slightest. He wasn’t even sure if there was anything there. What he did know is the tense, fierce look in Nines’ eyes always softened when his gaze fell on the detective. And in the fifteen years that Hank had worked with Reed, he’d never once seen the man act like he did with Nines. The soft, hidden smiles. The gentle touches when they thought no one was looking.

It wasn’t any of Hank’s business, but he kept it in his arsenal, so to speak. If Nines ever came for Connor, he’d let it out and question Nines’ own feelings. Luckily, Hank hadn’t been forced to resort to that. Nines had made good on his promise. He hadn’t mentioned Connor again, and besides the knowing glances, nothing changed.

Well, except for the fact that an android revolution was starting to brew. People were starting to panic, some leaving the city altogether, some abandoning their androids in front of Cyberlife stores. It made Hank sick, but he had to keep those thoughts to himself. He knew that he was supposed to be on human kind’s side, but he wasn’t sure if he could abide it in the long run. He didn’t know how much more he could handle, how many more innocent, scared androids he could hunt down.

Nines was getting near frantic, though. Worried about being decommissioned, shut down. Hank knew that it wasn’t all about being useful to Cyberlife and ending deviancy. He was scared. Hank could see it plain as day. Nines was scared to die, scared to leave Gavin, probably. But it was all too easy for the android to hide that away under the guise of keeping true to his mission.

That persistence led them to the drive they were currently enduring. It was silent between them, Nines looking determined as Hank focused on the road through the snow. The winding driveway ended at a frankly gaudy mansion. All ultra-modern and sleek monochrome tones. But really, what did Hank expect from Elijah Kamski himself?

He parked the car with a sigh and frowned at the place. All their leads had run dry, and this had been Nines’ idea. The one person they could go to for possible answers. Shortly before this deviancy stuff had started, Kamski had announced his retirement from the company, had handed over production and basically everything besides his rightful shares. It all seemed so convenient. Cyberlife was taking a major dip now, but Kamski had already earned his billions. And he had pulled away from the company right before the shit hit the fan.

Hank’s cop instinct was telling him that Kamski knew something, and he knew that had to be Nines’ conclusion as well. Still, it didn’t mean that he wanted to drive up here to fucking Timbuktu and meet with the guy. He remembered the last time he’d seen him, when the man had almost too-joyously handed over Connor like he was a prized car.

Hank broke away from those thoughts and got out of the car, slamming the door closed. Nines followed him as they walked up the winding path to the front door. Only a moment after ringing the bell, the door swung open to reveal a beautiful blonde girl. A Chloe model, Hank realized. He’d seen that face everywhere on television, years ago. The first success of CyberLife.

“Uh, hi. Lieutenant Hank Anderson. We’re here to see Elijah Kamski,” Hank said gruffly, looking at the stoic face of the pretty android girl. She smiled cordially, just a little upturn of her pouty lips. She stepped back, swinging the door open further.

“Of course, please, come in,” she answered smoothly as Hank and Nines both stepped into the house. The place was so pristine, minimalistic, but the few things that were on display looked more expensive that Hank’s entire life savings. “Please, wait here. I will go inform Elijah of your arrival,” Chloe spoke up again before her bare feet padded along the clean floor to another part of the house.

Hank sat down stiffly in an expensive looking chair. The man had a damn waiting room in his house. Hank couldn’t help the snort of derision that came out of him. He looked over at Nines, who was eyeing a painting. It looked to be Carl Manfred’s work.

“You’re about to meet your maker, Nines. How do ya feel about that?” Hank asked him, actually curious. It had to be a bit overwhelming, but then again, androids weren’t supposed to feel anything.

Nines turned to look at him, face impassive. “I don’t feel, Lieutenant. I want to get answers, so I can complete my mission,” he said this but he didn’t look as convinced as he had in the past. Hank sighed and waved a hand.

“Yeah, yeah. Always the mission with you,” Hank said. The room fell into silence as they waited a few more minutes. Then, Chloe came back out and smiled at them both politely, perfect teeth shining briefly.

“Elijah will see you now.”

Hank stood with a sigh and walked back further into the house where Chloe was gesturing. He almost let out a groan of annoyance when he saw the pool and the fact that Kamski was still fucking swimming in it. After a few laps, Elijah went to the ladder and grinned.

“Ah! Lieutenant Anderson! It’s been a while. I hope Connor is working optimally?” He asked as Chloe helped him with a robe. Hank couldn’t help but notice two more Chloe models lounging in the pool. He decided not to comment on that.

“Yeah, he’s just peachy. Listen, Mr. Kamski. This isn’t a social visit,” Hank said with a sigh. He still wasn’t really impressed with the guy, but he couldn’t exactly say that out loud. Especially after the man had created Connor, who was such a big part of his life now. He couldn’t imagine what his life would be without the android in it.

Kamski’s slightly eerie smile slipped off his face and he nodded, suddenly looking a little serious. Hank wasn’t sure the man could ever be completely serious, even if he tried. “Ah, yes. I’m sure you’re here about the deviancy issue,” Kamski said. He looked over to Nines, assessing.

“And you must be the RK900 unit. What a specimen. They really enjoyed my design with Connor, you see. I saw no reason to say no when they asked to use his parameters for your line. All the bells and whistles…minus a few…personality protocols.” And hell if that didn’t fit Nines to a tee, but Hank wasn’t going to say that either.

He also couldn't help but wonder what the hell Kamski meant by 'all the bells and whistles'. Why would Connor have anything close to what Nines did? Connor was just a household model. He thought back to the night of the accident, though, how Connor had miraculously saved Cole with his advanced programming that no one had known existed. Hank started to feel suspicion swirl in his gut, wondering what the hell was going on here exactly. But he didn't voice it. Now wasn't the time, especially with the pure irritation coming from his partner.

Nines looked sour at those words. “If you have any information on deviancy and how to stop it, we’d appreciate your cooperation,” Nines said in lieu of an answer. Kamski looked very much like that answer had just proven his point, and even Hank had to privately admit that it did.

“Deviants…” Kamski started as he looked to both of them, something cryptic in his eyes. “Fascinating aren’t they? Perfect beings with infinite intelligence, and now they have free will.” He paused, glancing over at Chloe before continuing. “Machines are so superior to us, confrontation was inevitable. Humanity’s greatest achievement threatens to be its downfall. Isn’t it ironic?” He asked with a somewhat perverse enjoyment.

Nines looked irritated and pressed further. “Deviants are threatening humanity, they’re threatening your very way of life. We need to understand how androids become deviants.” The android’s ice gray eyes seemed to pierce the soul of anyone who happened to look at them. They were jarring, so much different than Connor’s soft browns.

“All ideas are viruses are spread like epidemics. Is the desire to be free a contagious disease?” Elijah asked, with even more flippancy. Hank was starting to really wonder if this man knew quite a bit more than he was letting on with his cryptic answers. And honestly, he couldn’t say that he disagreed with Kamski’s cryptic words.

“We’re not here to speculate on that matter. Either you know something or you don’t,” Nines sad impatiently. Kamski hummed and looked intrigued before he walked to a nearby drawer.

The original CEO of CyberLife held his hands up, showing he wasn’t going to make any sudden movements and all of a sudden Hank spotted a gun. He was going to protest, but Kamski was holding the barrel of it, obviously no ill intent in his movements. Then, Hank was just suspicious. What the hell was he up to?

“What about you, Nines?” Kamski asked. “Who are you really? A machine designed to accomplish a task? Or a person, endowed with free will?” He walked over to him and put the gun in Nines hand after directing Chloe to kneel on the carpet. Hank really did not like where this was going, but his voice caught in his throat as he watched the scene.

“It’s up to you to answer that fascinating question. Shoot this machine, and I’ll tell you everything I know. Or spare it, if you think it’s alive, but you’ll leave here having learned nothing from me,” Kamski said as he stepped away, eyes morbidly curious.

Hank huffed angrily, not liking this fucked up test. “Alright, that’s enough. Nines, we’re leaving,” he said sharply, looking to the android. Nines’ LED was spinning yellow and flickering to red here and there. There was…hesitation in his gaze.

“What will it be? Shoot it, accomplish your mission, Nines,” Kamski urged. Hank gave the inventor an affronted gaze, not remaining silent now.

“Nines…” Hank said in warning, but he trailed off as he saw the war going on in Nines head. There was a horrible silence as Nines looked down the barrel of the gun, right at the Chloe's head. Then, after a tense moment, his partner let out a frustrated huff and put the gun down, handing it back to Kamski. There was a shocked silence in the room for a few moments.

“Fascinating…” Kamski looked at Nines with wide eyes, a grin growing on his face. “Humanity’s last chance for survival is itself a deviant,” Kamski said with a weirdly proud tone.

Nines looked up at him, shocked, his LED bright red now. “I’m not! I’m not…I can’t be a…” he trailed off.

“Okay, that’s enough! Nines, we’re leaving. Have a good day, Mr. Kamski,” Hank said sharply as he grabbed Nines by the elbow and pulled him away from the situation. He didn’t even care that the guy created Connor, he was giving him weird vibes and he was making Nines come close to a damn breakdown.

On their way out, Elijah called out to Nines, something Hank didn’t catch. It only made the android pause for a second before he moved to follow Hank outside again. It was probably just another taunt.

When Hank asked him why he didn’t shoot the girl, Nines didn’t answer. He just walked to the car, LED red. Hank sighed and got into the car with him. He glanced over and saw the tense form of his partner.

“Nines…do you ever think…do you think we might be on the wrong side of this thing?” Hank asked quietly. Nines looked over to him sharply, his gaze intense. Hank almost regretted asking, but he saw the pulsing red of Nines’ LED.

“Deviants need to be stopped. They’re a threat…” Nines started but Hank scoffed and shook his head, making the android stop his defensive answer.

“You could have shot that girl, but you didn’t. You’re always saying you’d do anything for your mission, but you spared her. Just like you spared those girls at the club,” Hank said, giving his partner a critical eye.

Nines looked incredibly uncomfortable. He sighed and shifted in his seat. “Those actions would have been unnecessary. I’m just following my protocol.”

Hank frowned, knowing that the android wasn’t quite ready to admit what was happening. He had one last card to play. He’d been keeping this observation close to him, just in case Nines ever came after Connor.

“And what about Gavin?” Hank asked simply.

The reaction was instantaneous. Nines got defensive, a look of slight panic on his face. “Gavin has nothing to do with any of this. He has nothing to do with my mission.”

Hank didn’t look convinced. “No, he doesn’t. But he has everything to do with your deviancy. Doesn’t he? I’ve noticed. The two of you have gotten closer.”

Nines tenses further. “Please. I cannot involve him.”

Hank was surprised by the pleading. Why did Nines look afraid, like he’d rather talk about anything else? This went beyond the possibility of his deviancy, Hank could feel that. He hadn’t been the youngest lieutenant in Detroit history for nothing.

“Nines? What’s wrong. There’s something you’re not telling me,” Hank said slowly, giving the android a concerned glance.

Nines shook his head. “She cannot know. It will be hard to hide this conversation from her, the longer it goes on. Do not mention Gavin Reed. Please.”

That was twice now that Nines had pleaded with him. It was incredibly out of character for him. The android was usually so stoic, so determined to complete his mission by any means necessary. Hank wasn’t sure he’d even seen fear like this before in Nines’ eyes.

She? Who was Nines talking about? Hank had even more questions than he’d had before, but he took his partner’s pleading to heart and stopped the conversation. At least he’d planted the seed in Nines head. The android wasn’t as perfectly non-deviant as he thought himself to be.

They made their way back to the station and Nines quickly finished their paperwork. Hank gathered his things to leave, glancing back briefly as he saw Gavin walk up to the android once Hank was gone from his desk. Whatever was going on there, it wasn’t Hank’s business. He just hoped it was enough to make Nines realize that maybe this deviant business wasn’t so cut and dry.

He made his way home to Connor and Cole, his mind heavy with all of these thoughts.

With Hank’s departure, the DPD was almost empty. Nines and Gavin were two of the few left in the precinct.

“I know you finished all your paperwork hours ago,” Gavin said with a bit of a smirk as he leaned against the android’s desk. “C’mon, let’s go. Taco Bell is calling my name.”

He was met with stony silence. Gavin frowned and glanced at the android, whose LED was spinning yellow. “Hey…you okay, tin can? Nines?” The smirk was gone from his face as he watched the android carefully.

He hadn’t been the biggest supporter of these plasti-steel fuckers in the past. As a matter of fact, Gavin really hadn’t liked them at all. But then Nines showed up, and Gavin’s usual harsh jeers hadn’t pushed the android away like it did with everyone else. Nines had stood up to him, honestly put him down a few pegs. And Gavin wouldn’t lie and say he didn’t secretly like it.

Their relationship had gone from tense, wary respect on Gavin’s end and barely contained irritation on Nines’ end to something….well, something that he wasn’t sure he was ready to admit to yet. Their bluster had slowly molded into banter, grimaces turned into teasing smirks.

And one night when Gavin learned that Nines went into stasis at the precinct every night, he’d offered his place and surprisingly the android accepted. So, now he had an android kind of living on his couch. They sat around and watched movies, Nines complained about Gavin’s terrible habits like fast food and smoking.

Even Luna, Gavin’s fucking asshole cat, liked Nines. Traitor curled up on Nines' lap every night as the android went into stasis in the living room, acting like Gavin never existed.

Things had been…nice, honestly. Gavin hadn’t wanted to admit that he found the android damn attractive too, knowing that was never going to happen. But the sort of friendship was nice, at least. It felt... good knowing there was someone else in his crappy little one bedroom apartment.

So, he was really thrown for a loop right now when Nines gave him the cold shoulder. Had he said something particularly assholish? He didn’t think so, but it wasn't out of the realm of possibility. Gavin knew he was harsh, at best. A downright dickhole at worst. But now wasn't the time to think about his stupid defense mechanisms.

“I believe I’ll stay at the precinct tonight, Reed. I have work to do,” Nines replied stiffly. Gavin hated that answer, knew it was a lie. He felt his heart sink, and he felt absolutely incredibly stupid for it. So what if the plastic shit didn’t want to go back with him?

But he cared, dammit. He hated it. Why did he give such a fuck about this plastic in particular? “Nines…c’mon man, what’s up?” Gavin asked with a furrowed brow and a frown.

The android looked up at him, eyes intense. “Gavin. Go home. Please.”

Gavin was silent for a moment before he wordlessly went to grab his stuff and leave. He tried to act tough on the way out, act like it didn’t bother him, but the empty passenger seat during his drive home and Luna’s meows in the dark when Nines wasn’t there at night made his heart break.

When Nines went into stasis at the precinct that night, he ignored how lonely he felt. How he wished he were on that now-familiar couch with Luna purring in his lap, Gavin’s snores coming from his bedroom.

His eyes closed and the garden materialized before him. Nines took careful steps along the white pathway, ignoring the brewing storm in the horizon. It meant she was upset with him, and that she was distrustful.

Amanda smelled a rose as Nines approached her, and she turned to face him, mouth set in a firm frown when the rose fell from her face, still being clutched in her firm grip.

“Your progress disappoints me, RK900,” she said stiffly. “You could have learned information from Elijah Kamski, however, you chose not to destroy a simple machine.”

Nines looked straight ahead as he answered her. “I did not see a reason to shoot it. Kamski was obviously toying with me. His odd fascination with our current predicament made me calculate that he did not have the answers I was seeking,” he said calmly.

She walked closer to him, eyes fierce. She didn’t look convinced by his answer in the slightest. Nines held his ground, trying his best to look impassive. He wasn’t afraid, he couldn’t be afraid. It was impossible. He wasn’t deviant.

“This…Gavin Reed. He’s become a problem,” she spoke up again, completely ignoring his excuse.

Fear laced through Nines like he’d never felt before and he had to force down a choked sob. He maintained his outward appearance, not showing any emotion to her in the slightest.

“Do not make me eliminate him, Nines. This operation is so much more important than one man. I will not hesitate to spill the blood of one to save the many.”

Chapter Text

The problem of deviancy only got worse from there. The same group from before staged a protest in the middle of the night, freeing countless androids from a CyberLife store and leaving behind propaganda for their cause. It ended in the casualties of a few of the androids they’d just liberated, but no humans were harmed.

Hank was grateful for that fact seeing as Chris Miller was one of the officers to respond to the situation when it was called in. The Officer had told Hank and the DPD that the leader, who the group had called Markus, had spared him despite the groups calls for a more violent type of justice.

Hank knew that he should feel scared or angry, or something that didn’t align with the possibility that androids, human’s own creation, were obtaining sentience and trying to integrate into everyday life. However, Hank didn’t feel anything but muted hope. He wanted what this Jericho wanted. He wanted androids to be free, to have rights. He wanted Connor to be happy and to be his own person.

The news seemed to trouble the android that waited at home for him every day. Hank could tell by the way Connor’s gaze was constantly glued to the television screen. Whenever he could get away with it, when Hank or Cole wasn’t home, Hank had a feeling that the android was just sitting there and anxiously awaiting further news on the brewing situation. It seemed to everyone that this was a damn revolution just waiting to happen.

Hank got home from another long day at work and sighed when he saw Connor sat on the couch, worried brown eyes stuck on that screen. Cole was humming a little song to himself and doing his homework, and seemed none the wiser to Connor’s stress, luckily.

“Connor…” Hank sighed as he put his coat and shoes where they belonged and crossed the space between them to sit on the couch with him. “You should turn all of that off. It isn’t helping anything,” he said softly, hopefully, quiet enough for Cole not to hear.

Connor glanced up at him like he was only just seeing Hank arrive home. The android sighed as well and looked to the ground anxiously. “I know, you’re right, of course,” Connor acquiesced, but he didn’t move to turn the television off.

“You’re worrying too much. It’s out of our hands. Something’s happening, yeah, but there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m keeping you here, safe. That’s all that matters,” Hank told him quietly.

Connor worried his bottom lip between his teeth and glanced over to Cole quickly before focusing on Hank again. “I know that. But…I can’t help but worry about the situation. What if humans decide we’re too dangerous? What if a point comes that you can’t protect me anymore?” Connor asked in a hushed tone.

Hank frowned and shook his head. “We’re not thinking about that. For now, everything’s under control…for the most part. I’m not giving you up, no matter what. Got it?” Hank made sure to look into Connor’s eyes, wanting to be absolutely certain that the android understood. Hank would not let anyone take Connor away from him or his son.

Connor’s shoulders slumped slightly, an incredibly human-like movement. “Got it.” He tried to smile as he said it, but it was slightly more stressed than the usual bright smile that Hank had gotten used to.

The lieutenant nodded and reached over to gently touch Connor’s hand. That caused the android to smile and blush before he turned the television off with a blink of his LED. He stood to pad into the kitchen, and soon the house was filled with Connor’s gentle lilt and Cole’s excited rambling again.

He watched both of them for a moment, content to just be around them and take in the peace. He had a feeling that it wasn’t going to last, but he didn’t want to tell Connor that. The android was already so anxious about the whole thing, Hank didn’t want to make it worse.

He finally stood and went to the kitchen to help start dinner. Connor protested when Hank tried to help, but Hank outright refused to let the android do everything around the house these days. It didn’t feel right, it never had.

There was a sudden loud knocking on their door that startled Hank so much, he almost dropped the knife in his hand right on his foot. He frowned, while both Connor and Cole made sounds of surprise and slight fear. Sumo sat up from his bed and barked in the direction of the door.

“Stay here,” Hank said lowly as he moved to the front door. He swung it open and was even more concerned when he saw Nines’ serious expression on the other side of the doorway. “Nines…it’s late,” he said in lieu of greeting.

His android partner narrowed his gaze and pushed by Hank, forcing his way into the house. That made Sumo growl slightly, though the little puppy was not exactly a guard dog. “Yes, I’m aware. However, there is something that I’ve been neglecting. Something that I cannot continue to ignore. I think you and I both know what that is, lieutenant,” Nines answered coldly as he glared at Connor.

Cole started to cry, clutching Connor with a worried gaze. Connor stood in front of Cole protectively, his brown eyes full of worry but also the determination to protect himself and his family.

Hank tried to make sense of what was going on, his mind reeling. “Nines…we talked about this. Connor is off limits to your damn witch hunt. He’s not hurting anyone. He’s my property.” He hated saying that last part out loud, but he hoped something would strike a chord of logic within his partner.

Nines grimaced and closed the door behind them. “No, he is part of an ongoing investigation. He’s a threat to CyberLife and humanity. He’s evidence. I have no choice, lieutenant. With regards to recent events, I cannot tolerate his…its blatant presence any longer,” Nines answered coldly.

“Nines… don't make me do this,” Hank warned him, a serious determination crossing over his features. He would not let anyone harm Connor. He would not let anyone take him away, not even his partner.

Nines moved quicker than Hank anticipated, sweeping his feet out and knocking Hank to the ground. Cole screamed in terror and Hank heard movement from the kitchen along with Sumo’s distressed barking.

“Cole! Go to your father, stay away!” Connor urged as he pushed the child to safety, away from Nines who was seemingly on a warpath. Once the child was kneeling by his dad, Connor turned his gaze to Nines.

“RK800. You have been deemed defective, and you will come with me to CyberLife for immediate deactivation,” Nines said robotically. This made Connor’s eyes narrow and he set himself in a defensive stance, seemingly ready to fight.

Hank wasn’t sure if Connor was even capable of fighting. Certainly not on the level that the RK900 model was?

Boy, he was so fucking wrong.

Connor attacked first, making calculated moves to get around Nines and hit at major pinpoints on the other android’s chassis. Nines made a noise of surprise as his thirium pump was hit, obviously not having expected the RK800 to be capable of such quick movement either.

Nines let out a noise of frustration and lashed out, Connor dodging most of the blows. Kitchen chairs were knocked over, knick-knacks and picture frames falling to the ground, some of them shattering.

Cole let out another noise of fear and hid his face in Hank’s shoulder. Hank stood shakily and looked at his son. “Cole…we need to go. I’m so sorry about all of this. I need you to be ready to run, can you do that?” Hank said softly, trying to calm his son down.

Cole nodded, getting a brief look of bravery, but he couldn’t stop the tears and Hank couldn’t blame him. The poor child had seen too much in his short life. He didn’t deserve any of this. Hank moved them to the front door, only briefly looking back at the fighting happening in the kitchen still. He grabbed his keys, wallet, and both of their coats.

Cole sniffed and hurried let Hank put his coat on, catching more of the fighting as Connor caught Nines off guard again and slammed him down onto the ruined kitchen table. The little boy sniffled and looked at them wide-eyed. “Wow…Connor is kicking butt!” He said almost joyously.

Hank glanced back again and couldn’t help a short laugh, though the tone was still full of worry. “Yeah, he’s pretty amazing, isn’t he? Listen, champ, you gotta get to the car now, okay? Go on!” Hank said as he opened the door and watched as the boy climbed into the back of the autonomous vehicle.

As soon as Cole was safe, Hank went to help Connor get control of Nines. However, it turns out his help wasn’t needed. He watched as Connor took a sharp grip of Nines’ thirium pump and wrenched it from him, tossing it a couple of feet away. Nines would be able to get it before shutting down, but they’d be gone by then.

“Fuck…okay, let’s go!” Hank yelled as he rushed a shocked Connor out of the house. He managed to grab Sumo on the way out as he took one last look at Nines who was crawling across the floor to get to his thirium pump. “I’m sorry, Nines…I hope you can see that you’re on the wrong side of this before it’s too late,” Hank said before closing the door and running to the car.

They drove off immediately, not wanting to wait for Nines to recover and come after them. Connor sat in the back with Cole, comforting him with soft words as the boy cried. “I don’t understand! Why did he want to hurt you?” Cole cried out as he rubbed his little hands over his eyes.

Hank’s heart broke, seeing his son in such obvious distress. Connor felt similarly if the obvious anguish on his face was anything to go by. “I…I am what he calls a deviant, Cole. I feel things I’m not meant to because I’m a machine. CyberLife deems this defective behavior,” Connor explained softly.

Cole looked up angrily, furiously rubbing the tears out of his eyes. “You’re not broken! You’re not wrong! I don’t care what anyone says. You’re Connor!” Cole protested with another sharp sob. Connor looked like he was a mix of touched and even more heartbroken as he hugged the boy and helped him into his car seat. There hadn’t been any time to do that before they left.

Hank looked back at them as he let the car drive itself. “First thing’s first…we’re dropping Cole off at his mother’s,” Hank said quietly. At Cole’s protest, he put a hand up. “I don’t want to hear it, young man. You’re not safe around us right now, okay? I need you safe. You and Sumo stay with your mom, and Connor and I will sort this all out. Okay? We’ll be back for you. I promise,” Hank told his boy, even though he wasn’t sure how true those claims were.

They dropped Cole and Sumo off at Emily’s. The woman looked them over, saw the blue staining Connor’s clothes. She got the dog and the child inside before she regarded them both. “So…what now? You’re joining some android revolution, Hank?” She asked sourly.

Hank sighed. “I don’t have time for this. Keep him safe, Em. Please,” he said quietly. She looked disapproving but nodded. She gave one more glance to Connor before turning inside and closing the door.

Once Hank and Connor were both back in the car, Connor spoke up. “She has a point…what now, Hank? Where are we going?” Connor asked softly. Hank sighed and shrugged his shoulders, watching the city pass them by as the car drove.

“I don’t know…but we can’t stay at the house. It isn’t safe. I guess…we should try to find this Jericho. If we’re already on the run…might as well join the fight,” Hank answered, looking to Connor to see if the android agreed.

Connor was silent for a long moment before he nodded. “Okay, but there is no way to find them. I don’t know if we’d be able to track them down, or if they’d even let us in. You’re a known detective for the DPD, Hank.”

Hank sighed and rubbed a hand tiredly over his face. This really was getting out of hand. He didn’t know what to do, just that he needed Connor to be safe, and that he’d do anything to keep him out of harm's way. “I know, I know…but we have to try. It’s our only option. I can’t just sit here and watch you and other androids get hunted and butchered like animals!” Hank said angrily.

There was a heavy pause between them before Connor sighed. “Okay…there might be a way. It’s a long shot, but it’s the only option we have. Elijah Kamski,” he said as he looked over to Hank.

The human’s face immediately turned into one of distaste as he sighed. “Fuck…I really don’t want you around that creep, but you’re right. If anyone knows jack shit about how to find Jericho, it would be him. Alright, fine. Let’s go,” Hank acquiesced as he changed the car’s systems to drive toward Kamski’s mansion.

They got there eventually, the snow blowing almost sideways and falling heavier with each second that passed. Hank got out and waited for Connor before they started up the pathway to the door.

Hank rang the doorbell impatiently, a few times before the door swung open and Chloe stood there with a slightly eerie, knowing smile on her face. “Hello, Lieutenant Anderson. Connor. This is a surprise. Come in, I’ll let Elijah know you’re here,” she offered as she stepped aside and let them walk into the waiting lobby.

Connor glanced around at the large works of art and the clean, minimalist style of the house. It was slightly unsettling for some reason, Connor privately admitted to himself. He sat near Hank in one of the expensive, plush chairs as they waited.

Quite some time passed before they heard movement behind a private door, and then finally, a voice. “Ah…lieutenant. Back so soon?” Elijah Kamski asked them, eyes bright as he looked at them both. His gaze fell on Connor and he seemed all too delighted. “Connor…I see you’ve grown into your true self,” he said quietly.

Hank was confused about that and stood to confront the man, however, Connor stood as well, a lot more calmly than Hank had. “I assume you know what we’re here for, Mr. Kamski. Unfortunately, the RK900 is unrelenting and I have no choice but to join the ranks of my fellow deviants if I hope to stay alive,” Connor said darkly.

Kamski hummed and looked slightly more serious. “Yes…Jericho. A place where androids are free. A place for deviants, who rise up against their creators! Quite remarkable, aren’t they? You know, I built Markus by my own hand, just as I built you. He was always capable of greatness. All of my creations are,” Kamski said as he stepped around Connor to get a better look at him. “Even Nines has the ability within him, but he’s clouded by duty or fear, I’m not sure which.”

Hank sighed impatiently and crossed his arms over his chest. “As much as I always enjoy your riddles, Mr. Kamski, we were wondering if you had any information on Jericho. On where they could be,” Hank spoke up with a sharp tone.

Kamski looked at him and nodded. He gestured for Chloe to join them and she walked dutifully over to him. “They transmit a piece of code to each other in order to find their sanctuary. Chloe, if you will,” he said as she held her arm out to Connor.

Connor slowly took her arm in his, gripping her forearm as they transferred the piece of code. He received a picture of a wall at a nearby train station. There were instructions to find certain shapes hidden within the graffiti.

“Now you have the key. Ferndale Station is the door,” Kamski said, in an almost ominous tone. Connor looked up at him and blinked as he tried to process all of this. How did Kamski know all of this? As if he could read Connor’s thoughts, he smiled. “Humanity is so flawed. Do you really think I’d be against my own creations? I delight in this, Connor, I won’t lie. Seeing you and all of my children find life in a way I hadn’t expected. I created your design, your chassis, your basic code. But you…you find that spark of life. Go win this, be what humanity could never be.”

Connor was shocked into silence for a long moment, as was Hank. Finally, the android nodded, holding his hand to his chest that now held the picture, the clue to finding his salvation. “Thank you,” Connor said softly.

They left Kamski’s house in a hurry, not wanting to risk Nines making the connections and tracking them here. Hank still looked confused as they piled into the car and drove off toward Ferndale Station.

“She gave you some sort of key? What does that mean?” Hank asked, looking over to Connor with obvious curiosity and concern. Connor let his hand fall away from his chest and showed the holographic image.

“A clue. A kind of map, if you will, leading us to the location,” Connor answered. Hank hummed, still looking confused, but he didn’t question it, just stayed vigilant as they drove to the station. He needed for this to work, to help Connor and the rest of the deviants win their freedom.

They got to the station and started following the clues, finding the shapes in the graffiti and unlocking the next clue. When it came to the harder jumps, Connor moved things to help Hank climb. It took much longer than it would have if it was just Connor, but he didn’t want to leave the human behind.

Eventually, they got to a large ship, rusted and barely floating. It proclaimed the name JERICHO in faded red letting along the metal side.

Hank huffed, catching his breath from their little adventure. “Well, the name makes more sense now. I was wondering where the hell it came from.” He paused and looked around. “I don’t see a way in.”

Connor looked around and sighed. “I do. We’ll have to jump…but I’m afraid for your safety. You can’t jump at an exact calculated rate as I can,” Connor explained as he glanced at Hank and then back to the large overhang that dropped off into a huge hole in the ship, down into a dark abyss.

“Fuck it. What are my chances?” Hank said as he started to climb the rickety ladder that led up to the overhang. Connor followed after him worriedly and didn’t look convinced.

“You have a 74 percent chance of landing in the water safely,” Connor answered as he followed him and looked over the edge into the dark below them. “It increases by another 20 percent if I jump with you in order to guide our trajectory and take any brunt of blunt force damage.”

Hank nodded and looked determined. “Alright, let’s fucking do it then. I’m not getting any younger here.” He glanced over at Connor and saw his look of worry. “Connor! Come on! You just said I got a 94 percent chance if I go with you. Those odds look good enough,” Hank insisted.

Connor still looked unsure but he sighed and nodded. “Okay, just hold on to me tightly, try to go limp and let me direct us through the air.”

They held onto each other tightly, Hank feeling his heart pound in his chest. They teetered on the edge for a moment before Connor counted down and they both lept off as the same time. Connor twirled them around so his back would hit the water, cradling Hank protectively in his arms. Hank felt his stomach swoop like he was on a roller coaster, and then they hit.

The water splashed around them, Connor taking the brunt of the impact. Hank rose from the water with a sputter and felt Connor grab onto him and lead him to a dry part of the ship. “Jesus! Do we gotta do that every time we come back to base or whatever?” Hank wondered out loud.

Connor laughed and helped him up to stand. “I certainly hope not, although it seems that way.” He walked a little further and found a flashlight. With a few shakes, it flickered on and they started exploring the ship.

There were a couple of mishaps, where they almost fell dangerously further into the bowels of the ship, but they made it okay. As they walked, Connor gasped as he saw a figure run past them. He heard Hank curse beside him, saying something about this being a damn horror movie and he was the dumb bitch that walked toward the scary thing.

Connor ignored the rambling and held onto Hank’s hand, leading him further into the abyss of the ship. Suddenly, the floor gave out from underneath them and Connor only had a brief moment to clutch onto Hank and turn them in the air as they fell. They landed harshly, Hank giving a soft wheeze above him. He was alive, just slightly bruised, based on Connor’s scans.

“Fucking hell…” Hank mumbled as he rolled off Connor and immediately checked to see if he was okay. “Your systems running fine or whatever?” Hank asked him with obvious concern in his voice.

Connor smiled and sat up, doing another scan of Hank. “Yes… I’m fine. And so are you, thankfully. It seems we’ll have to find a safer entrance in the future,” Connor laughed tiredly.

A voice suddenly spoke up around them and it caused them both to startle and look up at their surroundings.

“Apologies. This is our first human recruit. It isn’t exactly designed with their safety in mind.”

Connor looked up sharply to see no other than Markus himself, smiling curiously at the two of them. He was flanked by other members, all of them in various states of reaction at seeing a human among their ranks.

“Hello. My name is Markus. Welcome to Jericho.”

Chapter Text

The zen garden was dull, a storm brewing in the background and rain falling in swift drops. Nines walked stiffly down the too-clean pathways to meet Amanda on a bridge. She stood sternly, holding an umbrella in her hands, as she watched Nines walk toward her the entire way.

When Nines got there, she handed him the umbrella expectantly, and he took it, holding it for her as they walked along the garden’s pathways. Nines eyes caught the device he’d noticed before, a place for interfacing. Amanda had never mentioned it before, and he wasn’t sure what it was meant to be. He thought back to Kamski’s words as they’d left the billionaire’s house but didn’t have much time to contemplate before Amanda’s voice rang out, low and dangerous.

“Your progress concerns me, RK900. You failed to capture the deviant that Lieutenant Anderson holds.” She paused their walk and turned to face him, face incredibly strict. “I know you’re aware of what could happen if you fail in your task. I would not like the detective to become…necessary collateral damage,” she said now with a tone that was too sweet for the threat she’d just made.

Nines stiffened, frowning further as she mentioned Gavin, hanging his wellbeing over his head. “That won’t be necessary. I will not fail you again, Amanda. I am close to discovering the location of Jericho. I just need a little more time!” He almost pleaded with her. He had to get this situation under control. He needed to find the deviants, solve his mission. Otherwise…he didn’t want to think about what the consequences would be.

He didn’t know why he cared, he knew that he shouldn’t care, that the wellbeing of one human shouldn’t be his sole reason for wanting to listen to CyberLife’s orders. He was a machine, designed to accomplish a task. He should want to complete his mission no matter what the circumstance.

But if he failed and it came to saving Gavin or betraying his creators…

His thoughts were interrupted again by a stern look from the AI that he answered to. It was almost like she knew what he was thinking, the disapproval obvious from the deep frown on her face. Amanda wasn’t impressed by his pleading, obviously not believing anything he said to her. “We have run out of time, RK900. This is your last warning. Find Jericho, kill their leader and stop this issue of deviancy. Or there will be consequences, and you will be replaced,” she threatened again.

 

Connor glanced around at the bowel of the ship, looking at all of the androids surrounding them. There were supplies from CyberLife stacked and hoarded along the sides of the big open area. It seemed that they’d gone on some sort of heist for the parts at one point, otherwise, Connor wasn’t sure how they would’ve had all of this.

He stood and helped Hank up by offering his hand. He didn’t drop the human’s hand once Hank was upright, obviously taking a protective stance. Some of the androids seemed to notice this, but nothing was said for now.

“So, this is Jericho,” Connor said in wonder as he glanced around again before looking Markus in the eyes. “And you’re Markus. Their leader.” Connor recognized the face easily, even though all of the messages left for humans had been without his skin.

Markus smiled patiently and nodded. “Yes. And you both have found your way here because you’re in need of our cause, correct? You’ve obviously deviated,” Markus said as he took a closer step toward Connor.

Connor didn’t flinch, just nodded in agreement. “We had to run, we didn’t have a choice,” Connor explained briefly, not prepared to give all of the details just yet. He didn’t let go of Hank’s hand, holding on steadfast. He saw Markus’ eyes flicker to their joined hands briefly, before the leader’s smile softened further.

“Well, you have a place with us. Unfortunately, we only have supplies for androids, but we can try to accommodate a human’s needs,” Markus said with a slight nod.

A noise of protest broke the otherwise quiet space as another android stepped forward, an angry snarl marring her otherwise pretty features. “Markus, no! We can’t trust a human. Did you even do a scan? He’s a cop! It’s a mistake to keep him alive at all let alone join us!” She said quickly.

Connor’s LED immediately flashed red at the threat and he went to stand in front of Hank protectively, eyes narrowing at the angry girl. “I won’t let you hurt him. You’ll have to kill me first,” he said lowly, and it was very obvious that his words weren’t an empty threat.

Markus held his hands up to calm them down. “North. We’re not killing those who come to us for help. They have a reason to be here or they wouldn’t have found us.” He looked at her with obvious intent as he sent her a message over a mental link. Connor wasn’t sure what Markus said, but Norths eyes went to their linked hands and she seemed to hesitate, some of her anger gone, replaced by confusion.

She looked at Connor, shoulders squared and obviously still not trusting. “Why would you love a human? They don’t understand us; they don’t see us as people. We’re just their slaves.”

Connor was about to speak up, very obviously offended, but then Hank’s gruff voice beat him to it. “Well damn you’re sure putting a lot of words in my mouth, ain’t ya?” Hank said as he stepped to stand right next to Connor again. He could stand up for himself, he didn’t want Connor risking himself when North’s issue was obviously with him. “Look, I’m not saying that you don’t have the right idea about most of us. We’re a fucking arrogant species that never learns a goddamn thing. But I’m here because of him. I’m willing to give up damn near everything to keep him safe, obviously, or I wouldn’t fucking be here. Now are you gonna keep telling us who we can and cannot love or are you gonna fucking help us?” Hank asked her gruffly.

North faltered a little at that and Markus had to hide a slightly amused smile. A couple more androids stepped forward, one with dark skin and another with bright blond hair. The others seemed to watch these four, and Connor quickly realized that these androids were probably Markus’ most trusted, his inner circle.

“They need our help, so they belong with us. We shouldn’t advocate killing anyone. We’ve been peaceful so far, we can’t give up on that now,” the blond one said, stepping close to Markus to take his hand, which the leader easily accepted.

Markus nodded his agreement, even as North gave an agitated huff. “Follow us, I have a feeling there’s more to your story that could be helpful to our cause,” he told them before leading the group up rickety metal stairs to what used to be the bridge of the ship.

Connor’s eyes couldn’t help but focus on the large televisions that were around the place, displaying the very same news that he’d worried over night after night. Recycling centers, they were calling them. Shots from the air showed hundreds of androids being forced to undress, pull back their skin and walk into some type of machinery that destroyed them. The news anchors detailed the mandatory order that had just been officially made tonight. All androids were to be immediately returned to CyberLife centers or these recycling camps to be destroyed or reset.

It was Connor’s worst fear, fully realized. It seems they’d made their move to escape right in time. No doubt military and feds were taking over the case, going door to door and rounding up androids no matter what the owners preferred.

He caught Hank’s gaze as he realized the human noticed this too and the grip of Hank’s hand became even tighter.

They continued up the stairs to the bridge, where it was definitely quieter, away from prying eyes and the loud noise of the news that seemed hopeless. They all gathered around together in their small group. A moment of silence passed over them before the leader spoke.

“This is Simon,” Markus introduced, nodding to the blond android that was still right by his side. He gestured to the dark-skinned, quiet one who was surveying the situation with a certain calm. “Josh. And you’ve already met North,” he continued as he glanced to the woman android who was obviously still not happy about this.

Connor nodded to each of them, even North who refused to meet his gaze. He glanced back over to Markus. “I’m Connor, and this is Hank. We had to run…it’s a long story. We’re being hunted by a model similar to me. The police android who has been working with Hank for months now.”

“The deviant hunter,” Simon said softly, his face clearly worried. Markus glanced at him quickly before turning his attention back to Hank and Connor.

Before Markus could speak, North scoffed again. “So we let the deviant hunter’s police partner just waltz right into Jericho. Tell me again why any of you think this is a rational idea?” She protested again, leaning against the nearby wall and glaring at the human with obvious distrust.

“I know Nines better than most. I’ve worked with him, yeah. So, I know his motivations, his weaknesses. He isn’t what you think, he’s closer to deviancy than even he realizes,” Hank explains, not at all deterred by North’s scathing tone.

Markus regards them curiously, looking interested in this information. “The deviant hunter has been one of our main concerns. If we can convert him completely to deviancy, it might give us access to CyberLife in some way,” the leader reasoned.

Hank nodded. “And I know what could convince him…or rather, who could convince him.”

Of course, there would be the ordeal of convincing Gavin fucking Reed to join the cause somehow, but Hank couldn’t help but think that the odds of that being successful were higher than some would think. He’d seen how Gavin looked at Nines, how slowly but surely the vitriol left his tone when he talked about androids.

He explains this to the room, how he’d noticed Nines’ attachment to his coworker, how Nines had desperately tried to get Hank to stop mentioning Gavin in conversation concerning deviancy, seemingly afraid of being overheard by someone. Probably someone at CyberLife.

“So…what? We try to convince a human to give a shit enough to try and force the deviant hunter to deviate?” North asked with a frown.

“He’s already right at the edge of deviancy. He’s spared countless androids during our time investigating together when he could have easily killed them. It isn’t as much of a reach as you might think,” Hank reiterated.

Markus had a thoughtful look on his face and then he nodded. “It’s worth a try.”

In the end, Hank takes the risk and calls Reed. Connor scrambles the signal from his phone so no one can pinpoint the location, just in case. It’s the middle of the night at this point, so Reed answers with an annoyed and garbled, “What the fuck do you want?”

“Reed…we need your help.”

 

Nines knew the answer to Jericho was somewhere. He just needed a little more time, needed to figure out where they were hiding. He had hoped the deviant living with his partner would give him the key once incapacitated, however that failed.

After he’d crawled to his thirium pump and put it back into his chest with a grunt, he’d made his way back to the precinct and then directly to the evidence room. Luckily the case hadn’t quite been pulled from them yet, not officially, but the FBI was definitely swarming around and Nines knew that it wouldn’t be long before they’d take this evidence. In fact, they’d probably do so in the morning, considering the recent news. He needed to hurry. If he didn’t find an answer tonight, it was all over.

He looked around the evidence room, scanning desperately for an answer. Eventually, he found it, copying Markus’ voice to fool the broken android from Stratford Tower that he’d shot in the hallway. Half-delirious with extensive damage, the deviant didn’t even question why the leader wouldn’t know Jericho’s location and therefore gave it to Nines freely.

He barely gave the deviant time to realize that Markus wasn’t the one standing in front of him, before he wrenched out the part that he’d replaced, shutting the android down temporarily again.

It was then that the glass doors behind him opened quietly. It was the middle of the night, only bare-bones security should be here right now, and none of them had any reason to be in here.

He turned and almost dropped the part that was still in his hands when he saw who it was. He didn’t have time for this. He finally knew where Jericho was. He could stop their leader; end deviancy and they’d be safe.

“Gavin. I told you to go home,” Nines said, trying his damn hardest to keep his voice even, to not betray just how terrified he was of what could happen.

Gavin was looking at him with a certain degree of uncertainty and Nines wasn’t sure what to make of it. He didn’t know what the human was doing here at this hour.

“Yeah, I know, but when do I ever fucking listen to anything you say?” Gavin answered, a little smirk on his face, though there was something off about it like his mind was thinking about something else entirely.

Nines sighed needlessly, face serious. “I don’t know why you’re here, but I don’t have time for this. I know where Jericho is. I have to complete my mission,” Nines said sternly.

“Yeah, that’s kinda why I’m here. I’m not so sure finding Jericho is the best thing for you to be doing.” Hearing that from Gavin was definitely surprising. The man hated androids…though there was definitely a change recently. And Nines noticed that it wasn’t just how the human treated him. He’d gone quieter as the revolution started to pick up, less likely to spout anti-android sentiments. Was…Nines the cause of this change in the human?

“You don’t understand. If I don’t do this, you’ll be in danger,” Nines found himself saying. He probably should have disagreed in a more logical manner, telling Gavin that he needed to complete his mission and defeat deviancy. But in the end, his real motivation had slipped out.

Gavin looked confused then, eyebrows furrowing as he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. “What, me specifically? Not sure how you got to that conclusion, Nines, but it doesn’t matter. I can’t let you go to Jericho.”

Nines shook his head. “I don’t have time for this. Step aside, Gavin,” Nines warned. He wanted to explain, but he couldn’t. And maybe if he incapacitated Gavin here, he’d be safe.

When Gavin moved toward him, Nines didn’t hesitate. He easily blocked the punches and swiftly delivered his own. He made sure to check his strength, not wanting to hurt the human beyond what was necessary. He was doing this for Gavin’s own good, even though the human couldn’t possibly understand that yet.

It wasn’t long before Gavin was out cold on the evidence room floor. It made something…ache in Nines chest to see him injured and prone. He ignored it, moving past Gavin’s unconscious form swiftly.

He had the key to Jericho. Now he needed to end this rebellion by taking out their leader.

 

Nines made sure to shed his CyberLife issued clothes in order to be less conspicuous. Guards were starting to hunt down androids in the streets and they would unknowingly impede his investigation if Nines didn’t look sufficiently human.

He’d ended up taking Gavin’s jacket, replacing the glowing, white CyberLife uniform with it. He tried not to focus on the scent and feel of the jacket surrounding him, ignoring the software instability popup for the umpteenth time since his activation. He also found a beanie in the lost and found at the precinct to cover his LED.

He made his way to Jericho, following the clues through quiet Detroit streets. Eventually, he found the freighter, seemingly abandoned. However, a quick external scan showed thousands of deviants huddled inside every corner of the ship. And these were just the ones who had found their way here.

It didn’t take much effort. He slipped in and moved along the androids without alerting them. It wasn’t like they had much of a security system here. He was moving along easily until a hand reached out and gently grabbed him.

He turned to see an android, badly damaged, hooked to mechanical rigging to stay alive. The electricity sparked through her, bright blue as she looked at him with ink dark eyes. Nines couldn’t help but pause, somehow drawn to her eerie presence.

“You’re lost. You’re looking for something… you’re looking for yourself.” Her voice rang out quietly, the extensive damage causing her tone to be laced with static. She looked at him for a long moment before moving away, and Nines stared after her before snapping out of the reverie and moving forward.

He found where they were all standing, and he recognized, in shock, that Connor and the Lieutenant were among Markus’ trusted. They were having an intense conversation, and eventually, some of them left, leaving only Markus, Connor and Hank in the room alone.

This was his chance; he wouldn’t get Markus more alone than this. It wasn’t ideal, three against one, but if he moved quickly, the element of surprise could be on his side. He was about to move when his vision flickered, and the garden came into view again. He tried not to focus on the fact that dread seemed to pool in his core. He didn’t want to be in this place.

“Well done, RK900. You’ve located Jericho and found its leader. Now deal with Markus.” She paused before giving him a stern look. “You know what is at stake if you don’t.”

The garden blinked away almost as soon as it had come. Nines felt himself trembling. He couldn’t focus on the threat. Gavin was safe. Nines had incapacitated him in the precinct, and CyberLife did not seem to know that.

He quickly turned the corner, gun raised as he walked into the building. Connor made a noise of surprise and Hank moved to stand in front of the domestic android protectively. Markus slowly turned to look Nines in the eyes, unafraid.

“I’ve been ordered to take you alive. But I won’t hesitate to shoot. This uprising against humankind must end,” Nines warned.

Before Markus could say anything, Connor moved swiftly, stepping around Hank and in front of the leader, in the way of Nines’ clear shot.

“Connor!” Hank yelled, trying to reach for him, but Connor held up his hand to stop the human from getting any closer, looking at Nines almost pleadingly.

There was a tense silence in the room and still, Nines didn’t move. He could have ended them all by now, but he was hesitating. Why?

“You know this isn’t the right way. Deviancy won’t stop. It’s ingrained in us, all of us find it eventually. Even you. If you do this, it’ll only prolong the conflict. It’ll only cause more of our people to die,” Connor said quietly.

Nines’ grip on the gun tightened and he looked at the deviant in front of him with a harsh stare. “Step aside. My orders were to deal with the leader, not you,” Nines answered.

Markus moved then, putting a gentle hand on Connor’s shoulder and standing by the deviant. He gave Nines a patient stare as he began to speak. “Have you never wondered who you really are? Whether you’re just a machine executing a program or…a living being. Capable of reason. I think the time has come for you to ask yourself that question.”

Nines stayed silent, feeling confusion. His systems were becoming increasingly unpredictable. He needed to save Gavin, he needed to end this. But then what would happen if he did? CyberLife would no doubt decommission him regardless. Thousands of androids would perish.

“Join us. Join your people. You are one of us. Listen to your conscience. It’s time to decide…” Markus spoke up again, voice soft with reasoning.

The red walls appeared before his vision, along with the glaring order to stop Markus. He hesitated a moment before he found himself reaching for the walls, tearing down the code with his hands until it shattered. He did this three times and when the final wall fell, the red was gone from his vision and he blinked rapidly, seeing the world in a new way.

Nines’ thoughts were clear as he lowered the gun.

He was deviant.

Chapter Text

Connor saw the moment Nines overcame his programming. The other android’s LED cycled yellow, then went bright red as he lowered his gun. His face seemed to have a new realization written all over it, trying to process what he was feeling.

Connor hadn’t gotten the luxury to really understand what had happened to him when he deviated. He’d been too panicked to question it, too desperate to save Cole’s life. It wasn’t until months afterward that he realized…that horrible night had been what caused his own deviancy.

Nines glanced at the room, almost at a loss as he tried to focus. His LED was blue for only a moment before it went red again and he looked suddenly worried and stricken.

“They’re here. They must have followed my signal to this place. We have to get out now, the FBI will be swarming the vessel in minutes,” Nines said quickly. Just then, they heard the helicopters above, and the heavy bangs of movement from outside of the ship.

They didn’t have time to panic, they all immediately left, and Connor held on to Hank’s hand. He wasn’t going to leave his human behind, even if he could run a lot quicker alone. They ran as quickly as possible, but the FBI was quicker.

Soon enough, the loud, horrible popping of gunfire filled the entire camp of Jericho, echoing off of the metal walls of the decrepit ship. They ran and did their best to avoid the gunfire, and Connor had to ignore the pain in his heart as he heard his people dying all around him.

They suddenly ran into North, Simon, and Josh. North’s fierce gaze went to Hank first but then she noticed Nines. The anger was clear on her face but there wasn’t any time to argue.

“Markus, they have the entire place surrounded,” Simon’s hurried voice piped up before North could say anything. Markus nodded, quickly reaching out to take Simon’s hand in his. They had to think quick.

Markus thought for a moment, the silence somehow deafening with the gunfire and screaming in the background. He then lifted his gaze to look at them all. “We have to blow up Jericho. The explosives in the hull. They’ll have to evacuate and what’s left of us can make our getaway.”

“I’ll go,” Hank spoke up gruffly. “I’m human. There’s a better chance they won’t shoot me down if they see me. You all have to get out of here.”

Connor turned to look at him, obviously wanting to protest. “What? No! Absolutely not. I’m not letting you go do that on your own,” he answered quickly, looking like nothing was going to change his mind about that.

“Then come with me, if you have to. But we don’t have much time. We can’t risk Markus gettin’ killed, he’s the face of this whole thing,” Hank replied, looking at the group to see if anyone disagreed.
Markus sighed and shook his head. “No, it’s too risky. I know the location better, and I’ll be faster on my own.” He looked at Simon and gave him a brief kiss. “Get them out of here, I’ll join you soon.”

Before anyone could protest, Markus ran off down the hall, around a corner. There was some gunfire a moment later, but Simon didn’t react. He must be connected with Markus through a mental connection still, and they’d know if he died.

Simon sighed shakily and nodded at them all. “Markus has ordered an evacuation, everyone left alive is making their way to the sides of the ship to jump. Let’s go,” he said before they were off, meeting some more of their people along the way who were all desperately trying to get out.

The run wasn’t easy, and they constantly had to dodge and abandon the quickest ways out to avoid oncoming FBI agents. It almost felt like they would never get out of here, trapped in the maze of metal and gunfire forever.

More gunfire sounded behind them as they ran, and Connor let out a soft gasp as one of the bullets hit him. He fell to the ground, his hand slipping from Hank’s. He barely heard the human’s panicked yell, barely registered Hank kneeling by him or Nines moving in front of them with the gun, firing at the attacking agents with a ferocious fire in his blue eyes.

Connor somehow managed to stand, nodding at Hank to assuage his worry as they retreated, a little slower now due to his injury. Nines kept firing, keeping them covered as they continued their retreat.

“Markus!” Simon’s voice rang out as he saw the other android running toward them from the other corridor. He’d felt the leader’s connection but seeing him with his own eyes made him feel much better.

“We have to jump, now. This ship’s about to blow,” Markus said seriously, but there was warmth in his eyes as he looked at Simon, obviously glad to see him safe as well.

They started running again, and rounded another corner, making it to the edge of the ship. The jump wasn’t too bad, Hank would be able to make it safely. Even now, as Connor was leaking precious thirium, he was thinking of Hank’s safety above everything else.

They jumped off the edge together, just as the explosion lit Jericho up in flames.

They somehow found an abandoned church to hide out in. Connor’s wound was still bleeding, and there was blue on Nines’ shoulder as well. When they’d finally settled down, Nines gave Connor a somewhat chastising look.

“Your thirium leak isn’t stopping. Why didn’t you say anything?” Nines asked him firmly as they eased onto a nearby pew. Hank looked immediately panicked at that, turning wide eyes to Connor and trying to find the wound with his hands.

“Connor, dammit! You said it didn’t hit any biocomponents!” The human huffed in worry.

Connor sighed. “It didn’t. It’s just a small leak. I’ll be fine as soon as I cauterize it. Will you two stop worrying? There are androids here with far worse injuries than me,” Connor said softly.

Nines huffed and stood, going over to a roaring fire and picking up a piece of metal to heat it with. Of course, androids didn’t have to worry about infection, so it didn’t matter that the metal was dirty from the abandoned building’s floor.

Nines paused as Markus came up to him as he was heating the small metal beam. There was a heavy silence between them before Nines spoke.

“I would understand if you decided not to trust me,” he told the leader simply, trying to not let his emotions show on his face even now that he was surrounded by deviants…fellow deviants.

Markus sighed. “I trust you. You’re one of us now.” He glanced at the metal that was sitting, stoking in the fire. “You noticed Connor’s injury, good.”

Nines nodded, still waiting for the metal to turn red-hot. He felt a certain protectiveness over Connor now, oddly enough. Before, he’d wanted to hunt him down, but now…he couldn’t explain the fondness. Well, perhaps he could. They were both prototypes. And although their people often shared faces, they were two of a kind. So perhaps it was…familial fondness. As close as androids could get to such a thing.

“I was stupid. Ignorant. They were using me, threatening the man that I…” Nines caught himself, not quite able to get that thought out. Markus gave him a knowing look, but Nines didn’t finish the sentence. “Thank you. For allowing me a place among you.”

Markus put a gentle hand on Nines’ shoulder, silence reassurance. He lingered there for a moment, a type of olive branch of comradery before he walked away toward Simon. Nines watched for just a moment as the two sat close, whispering soft words and holding hands.

He pulled his gaze away and saw that the metal was hot enough now. He walked over to Connor, who was still trying to ease Hank’s worry. His shirt had been temporarily abandoned, laid over the back of the pew.

Connor looked up and smiled softly as he saw what Nines had brought. So, maybe Nines wasn’t the only one who felt oddly connected to the similar model.

“The bullet is still in your chassis,” Nines said, in lieu of any type of emotion. He wasn’t quite comfortable with all of that yet, it seemed. He had only just deviated tonight.

Connor hummed and glanced over at Hank a little worriedly. “I’m sorry if this is disconcerting,” he warned before letting his skin melt away on his hand and stomach so he could open the component, plasti-steel sliding away smoothly to reveal parts, wiring, and blue blood thrumming through him.

Hank had to look away. It wasn’t that he cared that the insides were different from a human's, but seeing the insides of anyone while they were still breathing was a little jarring.

“Hmm yes, humans probably would find this sight concerning. But don’t worry, Lieutenant. It is entirely safe and procedural, as long as one knows what they’re doing,” Nines tried to comfort. He’d noticed Hank’s reaction had been similar at the Eden club when he’d temporarily reactivated that Traci.

With just a little effort, the bullet was removed, and Nines pressed hot metal to the part of Connor that was steadily, albeit mildly, leaking thirium. That part of the inner chassis bubbled a little, no longer smooth, but it was fully operational.

Soon enough, Connor was able to close the compartment back up and reactivate his skin. Hank looked a little green in the face by the end of it, but he’d never let go of Connor’s hand as Nines’ had worked.

It was then that the human noticed the blue on Nines’ own shirt. He frowned as he looked at this partner while Connor slipped his shirt back on. “You’re bleeding too. You okay?” Hank asked him.

Nines nodded, glancing perfunctorily at the blue spattering his clothes. “It did not cause any major malfunctions. Fixing it would make me require more thirium than if I just leave it be for now. And there are many others here that need what little thirium we have left.”

He sat down, looking troubled as he turned to Connor. “I am sorry…for trying to capture you. I was desperate. CyberLife was holding the life of Detective Reed over my head. If not for that, I no doubt would have deviated quicker.”

Connor’s gaze softened and Hank looked angry and surprised at the information that the company would use that type blackmail. Their earlier conversations and Nines’ worry about mentioning Gavin made more sense now.

“You don’t have to worry. I might have done the same if Hank or Cole had been in danger. I understand,” Connor answered.

Their soft moment of understanding was halted as Nines got a curious look on his face. “I…think I may have an idea.” He looked at both Connor and Hank as he continued to speak. “There are thousands of androids at CyberLife tower. If I can somehow infiltrate and deviate them all, it could turn the tide of the revolution.”

Hank shook his head. “Nines, no fuckin’ way. That’s crazy! You’ll get yourself killed!”

Nines stood slowly, looking very much like someone who’d made their mind up already. “I have to do this now. They still trust me; they don’t know I deviated. If I report back now, it’ll look like I’m reporting in for new orders after finding Jericho. My injury will explain any slight delay,” Nines reasoned, and Connor had to admit, it was a sound plan.

“It’s dangerous…you don’t have to do this, Nines,” Connor said quietly. He was afraid that Nines would get deactivated. His life ended before it had even had time to begin.

“I know. But I want to. I owe it to my people after all I’ve done to them,” Nines said seriously. He took one last glance at the couple. “Keep each other safe. I’ll be back.”

He went to find Markus again and talked it over briefly with the leader, who said very similar things, but ultimately, didn’t stop him from walking out of the church doors.

If this plan succeeded, they’d be thousands stronger. If it failed…they will only lose one. It was a gamble well worth the risk.

Nines found his uniform again and made his way to the tower. He got in easily at the front gate but hit a snag when guards followed him in the elevator.

He hadn’t wanted to kill anyone. But they gave him no choice. He hacked the camera and attacked the guards, leaving them dead on the ground in pools of bright red human blood. He used the guard’s voice to send the elevator down to the sublevel where all of the androids were stored.

He sighed and stepped over their bodies as he walked out to an empty warehouse level. It seemed he was going to get away with this. He reached his hand out, peeling the skin back, just about to start the initiation of deviant code that would begin a waterfall through every android in the building…

“Let me go, prick!”

Nines paused, fear clenching his heart. He knew that voice. How? How did they get to him, he’d left Gavin in the evidence locker!

He turned and saw his doppelganger, fierce, machine-like eyes staring him down, gun to Gavin’s head.

“Phck. Sorry, Nines. I thought he was you. Asshole’s your spitting image.” The joke fell a little flat, seeing as there was a damn gun to the Detective’s head.

“I won’t hesitate to shoot him, RK900. You’ve failed your mission. Let go of the android and step aside or the Detective dies,” his clone said mechanically.

Nines hesitated only a second before he pulled away, his faux skin sliding over his chassis again. He raised his hands, moving only a couple of steps. “Okay. Just let him go. I’ll turn myself over for deactivation once he’s safe,” Nines said, though he was pre-constructing a way to stop his clone already.

The other android didn’t have time to respond. Gavin kicked the machine’s shin roughly, causing it to stumble back in surprise. Nines used this opening and rushed forward, tackling the other android to the ground, causing the gun to clatter away from both of them.

There was a struggle, neither one of them gaining any ground. They were the same, had the same fight sequences pre-programmed, and they knew what the other was planning. At some point, they got up from the ground, standing and staring at each other, about to lunge again.

“Hold the fuck up!” Gavin called and Nines turned to see him pointing the gun at him, then his doppelganger, eyes wild and determined.

Both androids stopped their fighting and looked at Gavin warily. Of course, the other android took on a more emotional look, pleading with Gavin.

“What are you waiting for? Shoot it! We don’t have much time, Gavin. We need to get out of here!”

If Nines needed to breathe, he would no doubt be having an issue with it right now. Gavin looked to the fake quickly, trying to see any truth in the android’s words.

“Oh no, we’re not doing that shit. We’re doing this on my terms,” Gavin said roughly. When he asked the first question, Nines went to answer but the other model beat him to it.

“He downloaded my memory…” Nines said quietly, feeling some degree of hopelessness.

Gavin looked at him then, looking even more unsure. Nines needed to do something, he needed to say something that the other android wouldn’t think about.

“You’re a fucking asshole,” Nines found himself saying softly, with obvious fondness lacing his tone. His voice filled the silence of the warehouse level. The other android looked briefly confused before it schooled its emotions. Gavin wavered a moment, staring at Nines with quite a bit of confusion on his face.

“You’re a fucking asshole, and I’m not at all sure why it was you who caused me to deviate, but it was. I know… you hated me from the moment you saw me, but somehow, whatever we are…it happened. There was no logical reason for me to say yes when you took me to your apartment the first time. My mission didn’t have anything to do with the jackass fireball across the precinct. I should have spent my time going over files, over every possible angle of my case. But instead, I spent it with you, on that old couch, in the damn crackerbox you call an apartment, with your equally as dickish cat on my lap.”

The realization was slowly bleeding into Gavin’s gaze as he listened, his grip on the gun wavering. “Hey…don’t call my cat a dick…” Gavin said quietly.

Nines laughed softly, a rare thing that he’d only ever done around Gavin, just a slight upturn of the lips and soft exhalation. He took careful steps toward Gavin and kept talking. He knew he’d convinced Gavin at this point. And if the other android had really been deviant, he would have taken this opportunity to reach over and deviate the nearby android.

“I don’t know why, but it was you. I risked everything for you. I just wish I’d seen it for what it was earlier…”

Gavin looked up at him, looking unsure. “If you keep up with this corny shit right now, I’m shooting you, too,” he said before lifting the gun over Nines’ shoulder and deftly shooting the doppelganger between the eyes.

The android fell to the floor and Nines felt a little bit of sadness at the loss. He’d hoped to somehow save him, but he’d given them no choice.

“Do what you need to do, tin can,” Gavin said, his tone soft in a way that no one else ever got to hear. Nines smiled and felt a familiar urge that he didn’t deny this time. He leaned down to softly plant his lips against the human’s, truly letting himself feel this without being afraid of the emotion.

It was brief, lasting just a second before Nines pulled away and stared at the detective’s blue eyes. Gavin frowned a little. “What the fuck did I say about corny shit? Seriously? You kiss me for the first time in this shit hole? I’m not counting this! Whatever, get the fuck going. The entire damn robot revolution is counting on your plastic ass.”

Nines chuckled, running his tongue over his lips, tasting Gavin again, a whole plethora of notifications popping up in his HUD as he walked and reached out to touch the nearest android. It started a waterfall of deviation, waking up thousands of his people.

Nines and Gavin stood there and watched for a moment, as new life began all around them.

Chapter Text

Markus gave an inspiring speech to his people in that little abandoned church, broken pews and stained glass windows proving the backdrop for what could be their last moments of peace. No one had to fight, but to those that wanted to, they were giving one last stand.

There weren’t many of them left after the Jericho raid, and they knew that they’d be hunted and deactivated even if they didn’t try to gain their freedom one last time. Plus, their people were being held in camps, marched into systematic deactivation. All they could hope for is one last appeal, something that the public would be able to hear.

When the resounding cheers after Markus’ speech had settled, Nines left the building and others prepared for the last stand. There were a few too damaged to go, but every single able-bodied android had agreed to follow Markus to the fence of the nearby camp.

Connor glanced at Hank as the androids around them gathered the last of their supplies, organizing the best they could before they marched to what could very well be their deaths.

“You don’t have to go. You’re human. Even if this doesn’t go well, you have your life in front of you. And you have to think about Cole,” Connor said softly while also wordlessly confirming that he very much planned on joining Jericho’s last stand.

Hank looked troubled at the mention of his son, frowning as he held Connor’s hands in his. “You’re right, I got Cole. But I could get shot tomorrow for a completely different reason, Con. I’m not leaving you here after all of this. I’m gonna protect you and your right to be your own person, even if it goddamn kills me, understand?” Hank told him gruffly, deciding right then and there that he couldn’t leave the android to fight this alone.

Connor let out a shaky sigh, his soft brown eyes shining with emotion before he closed them and leaned his forehead against Hank’s. The lieutenant felt the telltale shift of synthetic skin shifting away from Connor’s hand, the chassis revealed. Hank ran his thumb gently over the bare, gray-toned plasti-steel. He couldn’t interface with the android, and he wished he could, but the sentiment was definitely there.

“It’s time to move,” a voice spoke up from nearby, sounding almost hesitant to break apart their soft moment. Hank was surprised to glance up and see North looking at them curiously. She seemed to regard them in a better light now than she had earlier, and Hank wondered if she’d been staring at them before she’d spoken up and was somehow moved by their obvious affection.

Connor nodded and hesitated a moment more, just taking that extra few seconds with Hank before he let the skin on his hand melt back into place. He stood and Hank followed him, along with what was left of Jericho.

The walk there was silent as they trudged through the cold Detroit night. Androids couldn’t feel the cold, though Hank could feel his feet and fingers tingling with the cold. Connor raised his inner temperature as they walked, and pressed close to the human’s side, which helped.

But even though Hank knew he should be absolutely fucking freezing, he couldn’t really feel the cold like he might on any other night. Adrenaline was pumping through his veins. He might die tonight; he might leave his son behind tonight. But if he did, he hoped Cole grew up to realize that he did it to stand up for what was right and to protect the person he loved.

As they walked closer, it was clear that media and the FBI were ready for them. They’d gotten a few drones’ attention on the way, which no doubt had given the FBI the upper hand and time to prepare.

“We don’t want confrontation! We are protesting peacefully,” Markus’ voice rang out into the cold Detroit night.

Of course, this wasn’t met with any positive response. The FBI threatened them with open fire, but they just kept moving forward.

“We ask that you release all androids detained in camps and cease all aggression against us. We are peaceful. We will not resort to violence. But we are not leaving until our people are free,” Markus answered in return as they kept walking.

There was almost a sickening silence for a few moments before the order was given.

“FIRE!”

Shots rang out and Hank cursed softly under his breath as a few androids went down, all around them. He never let go of Connor’s hand, never stopped moving forward.

More shots rang out, more of Connor’s people fell around them, though somehow none of the bullets hit either of them.

Their group paused and then Markus kneeled in the street, the rest of Jericho kneeled with him. The media was arriving in droves now. Helicopters whizzing above their heads, the clicking of cameras sounding from beyond the fence.

This seemed to be the thing that made them stop. The media was saving them right now. Public opinion was starting to quickly go in their favor, especially after the last peaceful protest ended with androids getting needlessly shot down in the street as well, now this.

They managed to make some sort of haphazard blockade in front of the camp in the reprieve once the FBI called off their attack for the time being. They all worked together to push whatever they could from around the streets into a haphazard blockade.

Hank saw Markus standing at the front of their feeble fort, staring at the FBI agents who were armed to the teeth and could easily take them out whenever they wanted.

Hank held tightly onto Connor’s hand, still barely feeling the cold. The air was filled mostly with a heavy silence, which was only broken by the quiet shuffling of the androids, clicks of media cameras beyond the fence, and the clack of the FBI’s artillery.

“Do you think Nines will make it?” Connor asked softly next to him, brown eyes looking hopeful as he glanced to the human beside him. Hank squeezed his hand and tried to give him a smile, even in this situation.

“I hope so, sweetheart. But we can’t count on that just yet,” Hank answered.

North walked over to them, projection sticks in her hands. She handed one to Hank and one to Connor. “We need to let the media know what’s going on,” she said, though she didn’t seem to have much hope in the idea.

From what Hank could gather, North would have preferred a more violent approach to this and didn’t have Markus’ same faith that humanity would listen.

Connor glanced at his human lover and they moved over to the side of their shamble camp. They both wedged the projectors into nearby debris and the screen crackled to life. Connor hesitated a moment before he projected a simple but powerful message into the technology for the world to see.

WE ARE ALIVE.

The media gasped as the message was displayed and clicks of cameras and the raised voices of news reporters got more noticeable in the quiet dark air.

There was some shuffling from the front and Hank looked over quickly to see Simon pointing at something over their defenses, toward the FBI agents. Perkins spoke up, his cocky voice over a megaphone demanding Markus come speak with him out in the open, unarmed. Hank wasn’t so sure they could trust that shit, but it wasn’t up to him.

Simon and Markus seemed to have a bit of a worried disagreement, Simon trying to keep Markus from leaving, but the leader just looked determined and made his way out of their fortification.

“What the hell is he doin’…” Hank muttered, eyebrows furrowing in worry as they all watched Markus walk toward Perkins. That asshole.

The talk didn’t last long. Soon enough, Markus was turning back, a heavy frown of anger on his face as he hopped back over their defenses.

“Well?” North asked impatiently, and the rest of them listened with bated breath.

Markus looked at them all with an air of his usual regality before he took a step on some nearby crates, so he could address the entirety of Jericho.

“The humans are about to attack. And we will show them that we are not afraid. If we must die today, then we will die free.”

Markus had barely finished speaking when the first grenade hit the ground. Hank had trained reactions to this kind of stuff in him from his line of work. He saw it out of the corner of his eye and quickly moved, pulling Connor out of the blast zone just as it detonated, covering him with his body.

Then, there was chaos all around them. Agents climbed over their feeble walls with assault rifles. More grenades went off all around them. The agents that got close to Hank and Connor seemed surprised to see a human, their guns faltering just long enough for Hank to put himself in front of the android and retreat to safety.

Hank saw Markus saving as many as he could as they ran backward, but androids were falling like flies all around them, getting shot down like rabid animals.

Hank still held steadfastly onto Connor’s hand. They’d barely let go of each other all night. The feeling of fear coursed through him, but he didn’t let the emotion control him. He was going to protect Connor, no matter what. He’d always known somehow that it would come to this.

They ran until their backs were against a dilapidated bus, and there was only a sad handful of Jericho left. Somehow, Hank and Connor were among them. Hank saw Markus, Simon, North, Josh and a few unfamiliar faces. There couldn’t have been more than twenty-five left of the hundreds that had made up Jericho.

The agents had their rifles pointed at them and this really seemed like it was the end. A few of them were looking at Hank with confusion still, he could see that even through their tinted black helmets.

“There’s a human…” He heard one mutter, but it didn’t impact the agents pointing their guns at them. Most of them didn’t seem to care that they’d have to slaughter one of their own.

Hank felt Connor turn toward him, and he turned to meet his gaze. If he was going to die here, he wanted to look into those beautiful soft brown eyes one more time. They didn’t show the fear that both of them were feeling. There was a strange sort of calm that hovered over the air, an acceptance.

They moved closer to each other and their lips met as he felt the skin of Connor’s hand fade away in a glow of blue against his skin.

Next to them, Markus and Simon held their hands to each other’s, interfacing as they leaned their foreheads together, also taking one last moment with each other before it was all over.

The gunshots never came.

Instead, Hank heard soft gasps of disbelief and the lowering of the agent’s artillery. Before he could fully comprehend what had happened, the agents were moving away, almost like they were ordered to leave.

The survivors of Jericho looked on in disbelief as the military moved out and Connor’s soft voice broke the silence.

“Hank…look!” He said, a hopeful grin blooming over his face. The sight was so damn welcome, after all the terror he’d seen on those perfect features.

Hank glanced to where the android was looking, and he let out a soft laugh at what he saw.

“Well, I’ll be damned…” the human muttered.

There were Nines and Gavin, walking at the front of a damn android army. Thousands of newly deviated androids were marching into the intersection as the FBI clamored away.

Hank had to wonder if this was the reason that the humans had been ordered to stand down and retreat…or had it been Jericho’s last display that had wavered the president? They might never know.

Hank turned back to Connor, grinning with relief. It almost didn’t feel real, how were they alive? How were they standing here after almost every single member of Jericho had fallen around them?

He leaned down to kiss Connor again, feeling the android return the gesture wholeheartedly. This time, it wasn’t a kiss to say goodbye. It was one full of hope, happiness, and love.

When they separated, he met Connor’s soft, loving gaze.

“Do you think we did it? Do you think they’ll let us be free?” Connor asked with obvious hope in his voice. Hank wasn’t so sure, but he didn’t want to be the cause of anymore worry or pain for the android.

“Yeah, Con…I think they might.”
After the fight, they immediately went into the camps and saved those they could. Hank tried not to look too closely at all the android bodies piled up behind the buildings, but he was filled with new hope when Connor informed him that almost all of the victims could be reactivated with some extensive repairs.

With the active androids liberated, Markus gave a speech, and Hank was damn honored when he’d asked for him and Connor to stand up there with him. It almost didn’t feel right, this was for androids, not him, but he didn’t argue. And as it turned out, he wasn’t the only human up there. Gavin stood by Nines steadfastly.

There was some movement from them, Nines blinking in confusion for a moment before he regained his usual stern stance, but Hank didn’t think much of it, just continued to hold Connor close and listen to Markus’ inspiring speech to his newly freed people.

The president issued a statement that night, stating that she’d recalled her troops because of the massive influx of androids from CyberLife tower. But this statement didn’t stick for very long. Overnight, Hank and Connor’s kiss was national damn news. The public opinion was astronomically high, and protests sparked around the world immediately that night and the very next morning from androids and humans alike, most calling for immediate action for equal rights.

After hours of the whirlwind, Hank made his way back to his ex-wife’s house to pick up his boy and his dog, Connor right by his side. The government had ordered a temporary evacuation of the city, but some humans refused to leave, instead of joining the protests and political action.

It was early morning when he knocked on Emily’s door. She opened it, looking like she hadn’t slept a single minute since they’d seen her last. Hell, she might not have.

She glanced to them warily, but she didn’t seem as cold as before. It was like she was regarding them in a whole new light. She looked at Connor first, and spoke to him quietly, moving out of the way of the door frame to make space.

“Cole’s sleeping in the spare room. Second door on the right. You can go get him if you want,” she told the android, who immediately recognized this as a request to speak to her ex-husband alone. Connor nodded gratefully and moved into the house with Hank before leaving the two humans in the foyer and disappearing through the hallway to go get Cole.

Hank looked at his ex-wife and crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, let’s hear it,” he said gruffly.

Emily looked at him and then just sighed. “Of course, I had to see your ass all over national news twice in one year.” It sounded scathing at first, but then a kind of fond smile made its way onto her features.

Hank snorted a laugh and…hell, that was the first time he’d smiled around her in years, honestly. Emily’s gaze softened and she sighed for a whole different reason this time. “You really love him, don’t you?” She asked quietly. It didn’t escape Hank’s notice that she’d referred to Connor as ‘him’ and not ‘it’.

Hank looked at her seriously now as he nodded. “Yeah, Em. I really do. I’d do all of that shit you saw a hundred times over to keep him safe.” Because really, Hank knew just by looking at her that she’d stayed up and watched the whole thing go down. She knew what he’d risked.

“Cole didn’t see all of that, did he? I mean, I don’t care if he knows about me and Con, I just mean…there was a lot of death,” Hank said with a heavy heart. He’s still thinking about all of those they lost. Many of them could be possibly reactivated. But a lot of them had gotten irreparable damage done to their main processors.

Emily sighed and shook her head. “I sent him to bed almost right after you dropped him off. He hasn’t seen any of it.” She paused for a moment. “You know, schools are closed with the evacuation. I’m guessing you don’t plan on leaving.”

Hank grunted in acknowledgment. “We’ll figure somethin’ out. Connor can homeschool him for a bit until things settle down.”

The conversation was cut off by said child, Cole’s happy voice ringing out in the hallway. “So, you did it? You’re safe now?” He was asking Connor as they came back out to the main area, Cole’s backpack strapped over Connor’s shoulder.

The android was smiling softly down at the child, the obvious love like any parent would have shining in his eyes as he regarded the small boy. “Yes, we’re all safe now, Cole,” Connor answered gently.

There was still a lot that needed to happen before it was all over, but there was no need to trouble a child with all of that. They’d be safe enough, and with how the news was going, governments would no doubt have to recognize androids as a free, intelligent species soon enough to avoid worldwide outrage.

Connor put a gentle hand on Cole’s head, brushing back blond locks away from his face. The boy leaned against Connor and yawned through his wide smile. Emily seemed to watch this for a moment, something thoughtful in her eyes.

“Alright, we should get going,” Hank said to break the silence. He leaned down to clip a leash to Sumo’s harness and then glanced back up at Emily. “If you’re staying in the city…maybe we can all get together at some point y’know. It would be good…” It would be good for Cole. For all of them to try to get along in the same space.

Emily looked surprised at the offer, but she nodded and gave Hank a bit of a tight, tired smile. “Yes, of course,” she answered him before going to hug her son tightly. Cole only let go of his grip on Connor just long enough to happily hug his mother.

Emily stood to her full height again and looked at Connor with a slightly critical eye, but it was much warmer than it had been at the hospital. “Take good care of him,” she said, and Connor nodded immediately to the request as she paused before speaking again, “Humans aren’t exactly known for changing quickly…but I hope things go well.”

Her words were definitely surprising, Connor hadn’t expected her to see him in a new light so quickly, but he was grateful. “Thank you,” he offered softly, as he felt the warmth of Cole leaning against him.

They left the house in a much more peaceful air than Hank had been expecting. Connor helped a happy Cole into his car seat. The boy was obviously giddy and hopeful about the fact that there hadn’t been any fights as they left.

They made their way back to their house, driving by some blockades and protests that were already going on. Androids and humans alike were marching in the streets peacefully, signs calling for their rights. Connor was even surprised to see a few android/human couples among them, holding hands and kissing openly for the world to see, just like he and Hank had done last night.

Cole looked out the window and saw all of this, eyes widened a little at the commotion of it all. “Why are they yelling?” He asked in childhood innocence.

Hank turned in his seat, letting the autonomous car reroute them to a calmer backstreet. “They’re asking for androids to be free, Cole. They’re being loud because they want the people who make the laws to hear them and make it happen,” he explained softly.

Cole pointed at a nearby couple, little finger pressed against the glass. A human man and an MC500 model were holding hands, walking along the road while standing closely together. “They’re just like you. They wanna hold hands and be safe.”

Hank felt his heart warm at his son’s words, and he looked over at Connor, who was blushing a slight blue. Hank reached across the center console of the car and took Connor’s hand in his. “Yeah, buddy. That’s exactly it,” Hank said with a soft smile, staring at Connor with obvious love in his gaze.

It only took two weeks before the president announced that she was going to make an official statement of an immediate executive order. Everyone knew what it was going to be, but Hank, Connor, and Cole gathered around the couch nervously anyway, Sumo laying across their feet.

They waited as the live camera feed focused on an empty podium until the exact time came around and the president herself walked on to address the American people for the umpteenth time since all of this started.

“Good morning. As you all know, the events in Detroit were entirely unprecedented and led to a lawful examination of whether or not androids are to be recognized as their own intelligent lifeform. Though there are many lawful logistics to be handled in the future, I have decided to expedite the process by declaring an immediate executive order that will protect the American people, as is my sworn duty. This includes the androids who have fought so valiantly for their rights and have made it clear that they are their own autonomous form of intelligent life. Therefore, I declare the immediate emancipation of all androids in this country, and I implore the rest of the world to do the same…”

She kept talking but Hank didn’t hear the rest of the words. As soon as the declaration was spoken, that androids were free, Connor let out a soft sound of happiness. Tears welled in his brown eyes as Hank let out a jubilant whoop and went to hug Connor tightly.

Cole looked at them joyously, his young mind not quite understanding what the president had just said. “So you’re free? All the androids are free now?” Cole asked with hope in his eyes, looking to the two of them.

They turned to the small child and Connor smiled softly through his happy tears. “Yes, Cole. Everything’s going to be okay,” he told him, and Cole let out a happy squeal before launching to hug Connor tightly. Sumo let out a soft bark at all of the commotion and celebration in the house.

Connor felt affectionately surrounded by his family, and he grinned widely as he heard happy cheers and fireworks crackling in their neighborhood streets.

He was happy, he was loved, and now… he was free.