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What Makes You Human

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What Makes You Human

Chapter One

Life went on, as it always does. It never seemed to stop for fucking anybody. This was a principal that Hank had realised long ago. It doesn’t matter what happens, no matter how tragic; or amazing; or revolutionary, time will continue to pass, and life will go on. Someone of Hank’s age had experienced this quite a few times in his lifetime, some more difficult than others, but with each time it got more and more easy just to shrug; say “fuck it” and continue to move on with it.

Of course, in saying this, things were a helluva lot more different this time around. The android revolution had been successful, and the government was working with Markus and Jericho on how to move forward in obtaining rights for all androids. It would be a long haul, especially since public opinion didn’t change overnight, but it was like every other fight for rights that had happened in human history: It just needed time.

Except this wasn’t human history. This was . . . android history? Was that a thing now? People always say things like ‘this is one for the history books’. Hank always wondered who the hell wrote these history books anyways. Maybe human history and android history would combine and just become . . . history? Fuck sake, this was too complicated.

The point was, androids were being given the rights they should have been given long ago. There would be laws put in place protecting them and their families. Androids could be free to live their own lives, no longer under the thumb of an owner or an organisation. They could be home owners; business men; parents; lovers . . . you get the idea. Hank could remember when the androids were being first introduced as lifeless plastic machines designed only to serve. Now they were actual people. Not necessarily living in the same way that humans were living, but alive in their own right.

It was for this reason that Hank had no clue why Connor still worked for the DPD. In fact, Hank himself had no idea why he was still working for the DPD. He had been so sure that when everything calmed down, they were going to be handed their asses on a plate because Connor had been discovered in the evidence archive before vanishing off the face of the planet for days. Maybe it was because Connor had located Jericho; or because of the new laws that were being implemented; or because of the peaceful demonstration Markus had orchestrated in front of the DPD, whatever it was, they had been spared the sacking that Hank had been convinced was coming.

Despite this, Hank had still believed Connor would leave. Fuck, if he didn’t have a mortgage to pay off and a pension to fill, he would have made dust of the DPD years ago himself. Spent his final years drinking into incoherency while training Sumo to do CPR like those old police dogs did. Just in case. You can never be too careful.
But nope, the android was still here.

“It’s in my programming” is what he said.

Why he was still concerned with his programming was beyond Hank, but he didn’t find it in him to complain. He had grow used to having the plastic idiot around and, maybe-but he wouldn’t admit it out loud-having a partner to work with made his days a little less intolerable. A little. Just a little.

And, thus, life went on. Life went on like the relentless bitch that it is, continuing to nag humans and androids alike out of bed every morning. Hank was sure he had even developed some more wrinkles in his face after all this android drama. Fucking life. It could at least have the decency to lay off his face for a while.

Hank dragged himself into work at the usual time of noon am, having been rudely interrupted from his sleep by a phone call from Gavin about some important case blah blah blah. Honestly, whenever Gavin opened his mouth, Hank just automatically tuned out. Captain Fowler wanted him in as soon as possible which, naturally, to Hank, meant noon am. Considering the fact he rarely liked to show his face around the joint before midday showed a lot of dedication on his part.

Connor was already at the office because of course he was, studiously writing away like some sort of school swot. Hank had no doubt that if Connor had went to school, his head would have been introduced to many a toilet bowl.

There was a coffee sitting waiting for him on his desk. His name was scribbled on the takeout cup, the ‘k’ barely noticeable so it looked as if it were addressed to a ‘Han’.

Hank had tried to get Connor to stop getting him coffee like some sort of errand boy, but it never seemed to sink in. It was like Connor was using his newfound freedom to bring coffee whenever he pleased. Which was just so totally Connor that it made Hank grow to become pleased at the sight of the takeout cup on his desk every day.

Popping off the lid of the takeout cup and taking a sip, Hank watched Connor, who was still scribbling away as if there was only two minutes left of his English exam and he noticed that he had made a major mistake on a comprehension question.

“What could you possibly be writing at this time of the day?” Hank eventually said.

Connor looked up at him, his hand still writing despite his eyes not being on the paper. “Is the time of day significant, Lieutenant?” he asked.

“When it’s barely noon and you’re writing like that, yes, it is,” Hank responded, throwing himself into his desk chair moodily. “You’ve not decided to write a memoir or something, have you?”

“No, Lieutenant. It’s the paperwork you refused to do yesterday,” Connor explained.

There was paperwork yesterday? Hank squinted, as if trying to recall the memory, and shook his head when it didn’t come. Fucking alcohol.

“Right,” Hank said slowly, lifting his cup to his mouth and taking a long sip.

Connor was still looking at him, but still writing at the same time. It was rather unnerving, but it made sense for an android to be able to do such a thing. That didn’t make it any less creepy to see.

Hank waved his hand. “Go on, don’t let me stop you.”

“I haven’t stopped.”

Hank huffed. It was too early in the day to be dealing with this shit.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Captain Fowler called them into his office.

Where life went on, so did crime. In the fallout from the android revolution, crimes had skyrocketed to an all-time high. It wasn’t surprising. There were humans out there who just couldn’t accept androids, and deviant androids who did not wish to live peacefully with humans. Add that on top of normal human on human crime, and that’s a whole lot of fucking crime going on.

“So, what is it this time that I have had to be called in at this ungodly hour?” Hank demanded to know, chucking himself into the closest seat possible. Connor chose to stand. Sometimes he felt like the grim reaper on Hank’s shoulder just waiting to strike. Other times it felt comfortable knowing that the android was close by.

Captain Fowler did not look impressed with Hank’s grumblings. “It’s twelve fifteen in the afternoon,” he said flatly.

“Exactly. Ungodly.”

Electing to ignore Hank and his complaints, Captain Fowler pressed on. “There is believed to be a cult that has been related to numerous deaths and disappearances, human and android alike.”

“Human and android?” It was rare for both sides of society to be the victims. Usually it was one or the other, usually borne from some sort of prejudiced belief or unprecedented hatred.

“Only android bodies have been recovered so far,” Captain Fowler explained, “but evidence suggests that whoever was involved in their deactivation was also involved in the disappearances of many humans, a lot of them extremely recent.”

“If I may ask, Captain Fowler, what makes you believe that these are the actions of a cult?” Connor enquired.

“The androids are missing a lot of parts. It has not been determined yet whether these parts were taken before or after deactivation, but if I had to guess, I would say that the android was killed for the parts,” Fowler explained.

It was a big step for someone like Captain Fowler to even use the word ‘killed’ in reference to an android’s murder. Sure, he still said deactivated once or twice, but at least he was trying.

“How do you know the parts weren’t just ripped off as some sort of sick hate crime?” Hank asked. “Sounds to me no different from when a human gets tortured before they’re killed. It’s sick, but it happens.”

Fowler shook his head. “The parts were taken,” he said firmly.

“I suppose the perpetrator told you as such?”

“Actually,” Fowler pulled the case file from his desk and flipped it open, pushing it across the desk for Hank to see, “they did.”

Hank could feel Connor looming over him to also see what Fowler had presented. He barely registered it, though, as his attention was solely on the picture in front of him.
The photo was of a note. It seemed to be written in Thirium, but it was neat. Like whoever wrote the note had dipped a quill into an inkwell of android blood and carefully scripted the note.

Thank you for your sacrifice. You have served a higher purpose.

“Where was this found?” Connor asked after a brief pause.

“Tucked into the most recent body’s jacket pocket,” Fowler answered.

The whole ‘served a higher purpose’ bullshit certainly sounded like some cult crap. Hank had dealt with many cults in the past. In a way, they were some of the most difficult cases to deal with. Not only did cults have strength in numbers, but these were dedicated numbers. Dedicated; indoctrinated; obsessed; and loyal numbers. Dedicated; indoctrinated; obsessed; and loyal numbers with violent tendencies.

“Right. So, I assume you want us to locate the cult so that it can be neutralised?” Hank said.

Fowler nodded. “I want you both to discover the cult’s location and purpose. Bring us the evidence we need to have it eradicated.” He flicked the case file shut and passed it to Hank, who immediately passed it to Connor subconsciously. “You never know, this could be the first organisation that gets taken down in the new Detroit.”

New Detroit. Old Detroit. Middle aged Detroit. Either way, the cult needed to be stopped before they invaded on more of Hank’s sleeping schedule.

“It certainly wouldn’t look good if there’s a pile of android murders when Jericho is working with the President for peace,” Fowler added. “We can’t have it seem like the DPD aren’t doing anything to aid slain droids.”

Hank briefly wondered if Fowler wanted this case solved because it would make the DPD look good, or if he genuinely cared about the androids that were being murdered for their parts. Captain Fowler had certainly had a distaste for Connor when he had first arrived to aid the deviant case, and it definitely seemed like he was trying his very best to become tolerant and accepting, but that kind of change didn’t happen overnight.

If the DPD’s image wasn’t on the line, or it wasn’t linked to human disappearances, would these murders remain at the bottom of some filing cabinet listed as unsolved? Before the Jericho uprising, android murders weren’t even considered murders. People threw their androids in front of cars; out of windows; down the stairs in fits of rage and all they had to do was take the damaged body to the nearest repair shop to have the android replaced or fixed. Now, everything was different.

“Here’s the list of missing people who have been linked to the murders,” Captain Fowler said, sliding another file across the desk. Hank picked it up and, once again, absentmindedly handed it to Connor. “Try and catch these guys as quickly as possible. The last thing we need is another PR nightmare amongst everything else that is currently going on.”

Hank rolled his eyes but didn’t comment. He nodded with a tight smile and exited Fowler’s office, not having to even glance behind him to know that Connor was following. He could practically hear the android’s LED flickering as he consumed the information from both files as they walked.

“PR nightmare? Jesus Christ, that man certainly has his priorities in order,” Hank complained as they returned to their desks. “So, what are we thinking?”

“All the missing persons seem to be young, in their early to mid-twenties,” Connor answered, passing Hank the file on the missing persons. “It makes the possibility of a cult a lot more likely. Young minds are impressionable, meaning that if they’re being indoctrinated then they are easier to manipulate than older men and women would be.”

Of course, Connor was right. Hank scanned the pictures of the people in question, and they were all incredibly young. Young; easily manipulated; and impressionable. A recipe for the perfect recruit.

“I don’t see how these disappearances are connected to the android murders, though,” Hank admitted.

“If you flick to the seventh file, Lieutenant, you’ll see that Stacey Johnston left a note for her parents. It was found on her bed when it was discovered that she had disappeared.”

Hank thumbed to said file. He was greeted with a beaming face. Despite being twenty-one- according to her file-Stacey looked a lot younger because she still had braces on her teeth. Poor sod. A moment more of flicking and Hank found what Connor was talking about. There was another photo of a note paper clipped to the back page.

It was written in thirium again, but the handwriting was not the same as the other note. It still seemed like someone had decided that thirium worked better than ink because the girl’s handwriting was not scrawled. It was written carefully, like she had filled her biro pen with android blood and wrote that way.

I’m going. I will become better than you all. They need me.

Ah, the ominous ‘they’. The pronoun game was common with organised cults. They thought it made them sound more menacing. Hank thought it made them sound more pretentious and stupid as fuck.

“I’ve already taken note of important factors such as the smudges indicating that she is left handed and the torn edges of the paper showing that she tore the page out of a bound book,” Connor explained. “What I can’t understand is the correlation between these notes and the choice to use thirium to produce them.”

“Maybe that’s the cult’s purpose. They want to ban the use of ink and write with the blood of their enemies,” Hank sarcastically replied.

Connor’s LED flickered as he considered such an outcome. Hank forgot that sarcasm went straight over Connor’s head 95% of the time and the remaining 5% was solely from when Connor managed to be sarcastic without knowing he was being sarcastic.

“While it is possible that this is a group of people who despise androids, the probability of such a reason for violence is less than”-

“Yes, yes, I know,” Hank waved Connor quiet. “It’s more likely that they are either trying to send a message beyond the words they’re writing or they’re trying not to be detected through the stationary they use.”

“If I were given access to the notes, I could easily identify the models from which the thirium was extracted from,” Connor responded.

This caused Hank to cringe, furrowing his eyebrows at the android across the table from him. “You’re talking about that disgusting licking thing you do, aren’t you?”

“It is the best way to get accurate results.”

“Ah, Christ, I thought I told you not to do that anymore.”

There was a twinkle in Connor’s eye when he simply repeated, “It is the best way to get accurate results.” Was the little shit getting amusement from Hank’s disgust? Of course, he was. Anything that wound Hank up somehow amused the freckled fiend.

It was a small price to pay to have Connor smile. He was still learning how to express himself more freely. Where before he had always remained robotic and indifferent with his personality shining through the cracks only a little, now he was growing accustomed to not having to worry about smiling or laughing or even being angry or upset.

“If I can identify the model whose blood Stacey Johnston used to write her note, and the note which the perpetrator wrote his with, it could be the best place to start,” Connor continued.

Hank sighed. “I guess a starting point is a starting point.” He downed the rest of his coffee and threw it into a nearby bin. The cup bounced off the lip of the bin and fell onto the floor. Ah, a perfect summary of Hank’s day so far. “Come on then, let’s go to the evidence archive. Maybe this time you can come out in one piece.”

“From what my memory banks recall, I was in, as you say, ‘one piece’ upon entering and exiting the evidence archive on my last visit. It was they who actually”-

“Oh, shut up.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

“I really don’t know why it bothers you, Lieutenant. It is not like I can contract anything from the thirium I analyse.”

Hank stood at the computer, his nose still turned up from watching Connor lick the thirium from Stacey Johnston’s note. The LED on his head was whirling yellow, doing some sort of processing shit.

“It bothers me because that’s technically your people’s blood. It’s like me entering a murder scene and lapping the blood from the floor,” Hank responded.

Connor looked troubled for a moment. “Why would you do that, Lieutenant? You don’t have the equipment needed to analyse”-

“Okay, okay, never mind. What did you find out?”

Rubbing the thirium between his fingers thoughtfully, Connor answered, “It is from an RT600 model.”

“What? Like those Chloe droids?” Hank remembered when androids were first beginning to be marketed to the public, and the RT600 droids were the only ones available. They had been considered so modern at the time. Now the androids had come so far that nobody had an RT600 apart from Elijah Kamski himself.

“It appears so.” Connor carefully placed Stacey’s note back onto its respective shelf and returned to Hank’s side by the computer terminal. He pulled up the digital notes on the case, flicking through the pages as if he had not already memorised all the notes anyways.

“Check to see if any RT600s were murdered,” Hank suggested, nudging Connor out of the way and bringing up the list of slain androids. He typed the model code into the browser and up popped three files. “I didn’t even know they still made RT600s.”

“Maybe these models were previously owned before the uprising and had just been freed,” Connor suggested. “They are considerably cheaper than newer models.”

Hank lightly scoffed. “What? Like you were?”

“I was given to the DPD for free to aid in the deviant investigation.”

“Yeah, and if they had chosen to manufacture more of ya for other precincts I doubt they would have handed you out like candy.”

Android manufacturing had been halted as part of the conditions of the Jericho uprising. There was no need to continue to produce more androids when they were still straightening out the new laws and regulations regarding them. Android manufacturing in general had to be completely changed. Should they create more? How could they determine how many to create at once? Constantly pumping out androids would lead to overpopulation, especially due to the fact that they were basically immortal if they weren’t attacked or murdered.

“Do you normally hand out candy for free?” Connor enquired.

Hank’s eyes rolled up in his head and he stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Candy on Halloween. Let’s just go with candy on Halloween, alright?” he replied. He returned his gaze to the screen. “Three RT600s were found in similar condition to the body with the cult note in it.”

A list was included of all the parts that the RT600s were missing. Whoever had done this had taken so much, Hank was surprised there was anything left for the DPD to find.

“What could they possibly want with all of this?” Hank muttered. “Are they building some sort of mega android? A weapon, maybe?”

“The androids’ RAMs and processors were also taken,” Connor noted. “Possibly a super computer?”

“That wouldn’t explain why the eyes and the joints and the wires were taken,” Hank mused. “Arms and legs too. Jesus, did they leave anything behind?” He brought up a photo from one of the RT600s’ murder scenes.

There really was just scrap pieces left behind. A lot of slashed up synthetic skin coated in thirium and some hair. A piece of a thigh and a piece of a forearm. This killer clearly needed all these parts for something, but what? Maybe it really was just a crazy android hater who was ripping them apart and the cult aspect came in because they were sacrificing the pieces to some God or something? Hell, if he knew.

“It’s not even like the RT600s are the only ones being targeted. There’s too much divergence in model,” Hank muttered, flicking mindlessly through the list of the deceased. “It seems to be a random killer.”

“There seems to be a trend in ‘Traci’ models,” Connor noted.

“Most likely because they’re easiest to get alone.” Hank had also noticed the Traci trend. He was surprised that there was still Traci bots willing to work in places like The Eden Club. Maybe it was similar to Connor’s reasoning for staying in the DPD. It was in their programming, deviancy or no deviancy.

A lot of the androids were not accustomed to freedom and stayed in their original professions until they could get their shit in order. The difference now was that androids had to be paid a wage of some description. A fair wage. They had to be paid what a usual working-class human would be paid.

A thought suddenly came to mind, irrelevant to the case.

“Have you set yourself up with that wage upgrade yet?” Hank asked.

Connor opened his mouth, as if to answer, said nothing and then closed it again. “No,” he eventually admitted.

“And why the hell not? You need to get paid for being in this shithole. Trust me, it helps,” Hank insisted.

“What need do I have for money?” Connor asked curiously. It didn’t seem to matter what he was doing, he always had this soft expression on his face. At first, Hank had believed it was a blank, emotionless expression, but now he could see the androids’ quirks and mannerisms in his face that were his way of emoting. He had even grown to like the stupid droid’s stupid face.

“Shit, Connor, what anyone needs money for. A house, stuff . . . things?” Hank answered.

Connor tipped his head thoughtfully. “I don’t need a house. I go back to my Cyberlife pod every night.”

“Cyber-what? You’re going to need a house, aren’t they shutting those pods down in favour of proper accommodation? That’s what the wages are for. To help you when Cyberlife closes down.”

The cogs seemed to be turning in Connor’s head. “I had not considered that,” he admitted.

“Of course, you didn’t,” Hank sighed. “Look, do it, okay? Even if you didn’t have your pod thing, you must get paid for your work. Otherwise it’s slave labour.”

Connor looked extremely blank all of a sudden, his LED spinning yellow.

“Connor? Yoo-hoo? Hello?”

Connor blinked, snapping out of his reverie. “Oh.”

“Oh?”

“I have unintentionally overlooked a potentially important detail.”

“A potentially important detail?”

“Yes.”

Hank waited. “Well, what is it?”

“Cyberlife is closing its doors at the end of next week,” Connor explained.

“Jesus, Connor, really? For fuck’s sake, you have endless access to information and that is what you overlook?!” Hank exclaimed.

“It did not occur to me,” Connor shrugged.

“Well, what the hell are you going to do?!”

“There’s a shelter being opened for androids who haven’t obtained work or income yet, it seems.” Connor’s eyebrows drew together. “I am surprised that I missed this. It seems important.”

Hank resisted the urge to strangle Connor. “Seems? It is important!” Hank couldn’t imagine Connor in a shelter. How did they even sleep? Would it just be a bunch of androids standing around? If it was anything like ordinary human shelters, it certainly wasn’t going to be anything like this pod Connor had had at Cyberlife.

“Fuck me,” Hank huffed. “I have a bed in my garage. It’s nothing special but it will keep you sorted until you get your shit together. Jesus, I never expected you to be this disorganised.”

“It seems that freedom has made me slightly careless,” Connor replied.

For the most recent model of android with endless of information at his fingertips; a head full of combat and defence knowledge and capability; investigative talent beyond human means; and a smart-ass mouth that an android really shouldn’t be capable of, Connor was extremely obtuse.

It never seemed to occur to Connor to think about himself.

“Slightly is an understatement,” Hank scoffed, returning his gaze to the computer. “I think we should go to The Eden Club to see if there are any patterns in the murdered Tracis. See if anyone knew them and recognised similar behaviours or clients. Traci androids always seem to be very close due to their line of work so surely they noticed something strange going on.”

With a quick yellow whirl of his LED, Connor said, “The Eden Club does not open until five in the evening on this particular day.”

“Well, then we’ve got some time to kill. Best use it to our advantage and examine more information from the files Fowler gave us,” Hank concluded. He rubbed his hand over his forehead, already feeling a headache coming on. “Maybe if I wish really hard, this case will solve itself.”

“Does that usually work?” Connor frowned.

“No, that’s why it’s so shit.”

On their way back up the stairs, Hank noticed that Connor had begun playing with his coin. The habit was a coping mechanism, it seemed. Whether it was built into Connor to do such a thing when he was feeling worried or it developed on its own, he always seemed to have some loose change on him in case it was needed.

“You feeling alright, Con?”

“My stress levels seem to have raised above 40%,” Connor answered, his deft fingers flipping the coin around effortlessly.

“Why is that? Is it the case? Those scene photos were pretty grim,” said Hank. This was Connor’s first case working on android murders, after all. He would not be surprised if it was a bit overwhelming for Connor to see such gruesome scenes, especially since he had originally been designed to investigate deviancy, not murder.

“No,” Connor frowned. “I am concerned about my carelessness. I have overlooked personal details that I should have known were important, such as the closing date of Cyberlife.”

Hank rubbed the side of his nose with his thumb and shrugged. “You forgot, Connor. That’s perfectly normal.”

“Not for an android, it’s not.”

At the top of the stairs, Hank stopped and leaned back against the railing. “As you said so yourself, it’s a side effect of your freedom. Your don’t need to be”- He waved his hands around his head vaguely, gesturing to whatever the hell goes on inside Connor’s head-“All the time. Forgetting things? Shit, sometimes I forget that my dog is in the room and he scares the bejesus out of me when he moves.”

If Hank wasn’t mistaken, he swore he saw Connor’s lips quirk upwards into a smile before they returned to an expression of concern. “But what if such carelessness affects my work?”

“Nothing is one hundred percent perfect. We’re all careless in one way or another. It simply means that you’re more human,” Hank answered. “Even if you do overlook or forget some shit, your processor RAM thingy will be of more use than the entire precinct combined.”

Connor smiled. “You’re very comforting, Hank.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it. I don’t do it often.” Hank would never admit it, but he didn’t like thinking that Connor was stressed in any way. It created this frown that caused wrinkles to appear in the android’s forehead, making him look extremely upset and distressed. Hank didn’t like that look. He liked to get rid of it.

Connor’s coin fiddling slowed down until he stopped completely, pocketing the coin as they entered the main office again. “Do you forget Sumo’s presence often, Lieutenant?”

Hank could hear the amusement in Connor’s tone as he followed behind him and he scowled, “Don’t start or I’ll take back everything I just said.”

“Is it possible for words to be put back into one’s mouth after they have been spoken?” Connor enquired curiously.

Hank stopped walking so that Connor could catch up and said, “I’ll make it possible.”

Connor was clearly trying not to snicker at him. It was better than him being upset, Hank supposed, but that didn’t mean that he enjoyed being the butt of the joke. Besides, Hank only forgot Sumo’s presence whenever the dog was particularly quiet and Hank himself was drifting off for a nap. It wasn’t like he forgot about his dog all the time, constantly jumping out of his skin any time the animal appeared in the room.

The older man was glad that Connor had been cheered up, though. This whole freedom shit wasn’t easy, and Hank knew that it was going to take the android some getting used to before he fully adjusted to it. Forgetting stuff was part of being more human and less obligated to examine every detail. Connor would have to stop expecting perfection off himself or else this transition was going to be so much harder for him.

Hank would never say it out loud, but he was prepared to help Connor along with the transition. Even if it meant giving his garage space out for free. He barely used it anyway, so he was hardly going to miss it.

“Well, if it isn’t Hank and his twink.”

Gavin’s voice always invoked the same reaction in Hank. He internally groaned and looked at the younger cop flatly. “Who invited you over here?” he deadpanned.

“It’s the direction of the archives, Hank. Surely you aren’t so senile as to have forgotten that?” Gavin responded acidly.

“If I may interject,” Connor said, “Hank is only in his early fifties and, due to the rise in the average age of mortality which occurred after the invention of androids, he is not even considered half way through his life yet. Senile is a highly inaccurate term to use to describe him.”

Hank could have kissed Connor on the spot for saying that he wasn’t even middle aged yet. However, that was a can of worms that he was not prepared to open just yet. The look on Gavin’s face gave him the same type of satisfaction anyways. Sort of.

“Is this how it works now? You get your talking blow up doll to defend you?” Gavin snarled.

“I mean, it works, doesn’t it?” Hank smirked. “Why should I bother insulting you when Connor can just dismantle your arguments? Makes it easier for me and gives him the satisfaction of shutting you up.”

“No android will shut me up,” Gavin answered. He eyed Connor with distaste. “I’m not even convinced you are human.”

“I feel the same about you, Gavin,” Connor responded with a smile.

Gavin looked taken aback by Connor’s response. With a scowl, he shouldered past them, making sure to shove them both apart along the way. Hank and Connor watched him disappear into the archives, shaking his head and muttering about ‘fucking plastic people’.

“That shit stain has some issues,” Hank commented, returning his gaze to Connor. “Ignore what he says, he’s a fucking balloon. I’m sure you know that by this point anyways.”

“I assume that the term balloon is being used in a derogatory manner in this context,” Connor noted. “If so, then yes, I realise this. I do not concern myself with his opinion anyways.”

“Good.” Hank threw himself back into his desk chair and spun around to face his computer. They had a lot of work to do before going to The Eden Club later that day. Hank was dreading it. He hated that place. It made him feel edgy, especially when he was there with Connor. He could never put his finger on why, but he didn’t like the sensation nonetheless.

“Hank?” Connor asked from across the way.

“Yeah?” Hank rolled his head in the android’s direction, taking in his thoughtful expression.

“What is a twink?”

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

Hank was not unfamiliar with establishments like The Eden Club. It was one of the main vices he used to cope with the agony and emptiness that followed in the wake of Cole’s death. That and alcohol. Of course, he went to human versions, but the principal was still the same. Come in; have a drink; pay a dollar a minute for a fuck; and then leave.

He had never had a personal preference towards who he fucked. Ever since his divorce, his ‘I-don’t-give-a-shit-what’s-in-your-pants’ attitude just grew stronger and he just went with whatever he was in the mood for. He didn’t have to worry about judgement and, honestly, by this point in his life he found it hard to give a shit even if someone tried to judge him.

As they entered the Eden Club, Hank couldn’t help wondering if androids had particular preferences in regards to sex. They certainly had the capacity to form bonds with one another. The girls from the last cast they had at the club certainly proved that. Maybe it was a privilege granted only to deviants? Jesus, they had had androids in their world for so long but still knew nothing about them. They had so much still to learn.

Hank was curious about Connor. His partner barely spared a glance to any of the androids in the entranceway and main floor. Maybe because he was designed to be a detective android such things weren’t in his programming? Hank couldn’t help thinking how unfair that must be. But, then again, sex might not be as good for androids as it was for humans. The Traci models had always done it because it had been what they were designed for. They had to do it. Now that they had a choice, did they want to?

Everything had become so much more complicated. So many questions and who the hell was going to answer them? Connor? That be rich. ‘Hey Connor, just wondering, do you get horny?’

The unfortunate part was that Connor would probably answer him straight up; straight faced; no bullshit. The weirdo probably wouldn’t even blink. It would just be another question to him.

There was a man prowling the main floor like some sort of creepy tiger. He looked like your classic backstreet pimp, and that was how Hank knew that he was the guy to go to. Owners of these places always looked like they were preparing to smack women with their ring hand.

At least it was a bit more bearable being in the club this time around. No more clones in glass cages. They were free to roam and entice of their own free will. It felt a lot less . . . wrong to be there now that they were free to move as they wanted to.

“I’d have them all back in their cages if I had my way,” the man said as they approached. “Look at them, wandering around like they own the place.”

“Without them, you would have no business,” Hank pointed out.

The man scoffed. “There’s plenty of people willing to take their clothes off for a couple bucks,” he muttered. “Never mind brainless androids.”

It was pretty ironic hearing that from some sleazy pimp who probably didn’t have a qualification to his name.

“I’m Lieutenant Hank Anderson and this is my partner Connor,” Hank said, not caring enough about the saddo to bother starting a fight.

“Another android,” the man sneered, peering down his nose at Connor before returning his gaze to Hank. “I’m guessing that you’re not here to wet your dick with thirium?”

“We’re here to talk about the murdered Traci models,” Hank explained, having to fight to keep the distaste from his voice. “Is there anything that you can tell us? I don’t know, similarities? Patterns in behaviours? Any connecting factors?”

“Apart from the fact that they were all ripped arse to tit?” The guy chuckled. “Not sure, honestly.”

Hank huffed. “You could have a bit more class about it.”

“Whoops, sorry. Afraid I’ll hurt your plastic partner’s non-existent feelings?”

“Rest assured, it would take more than a few crude words to cause the glitch in my coding that would cause the sensation of wounded emotions,” Connor answered.

It was so strange how Connor would rhyme off such technobabble without as much as a stammer. It was also immensely satisfying, the look on the guy’s face being worth the initial insult tenfold.

“This is why I hate droids. Can’t even speak fucking English,” he muttered.

“You haven’t given us your name,” Connor pointed out.

“Bracken. Bracken Fitzherbert. I own this place.”

“I don’t remember seeing you around here when we were investigating the deviant murders,” Hank noted.

Bracken shrugged. “I was on holiday. Trust it to be when I’m trying to get a tan that a patron gets murdered by a fucking whore bot. I lost two androids that night. Set me back a day’s worth of income.”

Hank tilted his head. He had done this spiel many times before. When people of different race and colour were given equal rights. When the LGBT community were given equal marriage. It’s all the same when an oppressed group are finally given the freedom they deserve. Not everyone was going to be happy and by fuck were they going to make sure their voices were heard.

“Those models that you lost were in love with one another,” Hank pointed out.

Bracken rolled his eyes. “As if they’re even capable of that.”

“Evidently, they are.”

“Can you think of anything connecting the murdered androids?” Connor cut in.

It didn’t make sense to Hank how Connor could listen to Bracken talk about his people like that and not be annoyed by it. Hank wasn’t even an android and listening to the idiot insinuate that the androids weren’t capable of love was getting on his nerves. This time last year? He probably would have agreed with Bracken. The time he had spent with Connor had changed him for the better. Made him less of a bitter old man.

He was still a bitter old man, rest assured. Just less so now.

“I don’t fucking know. Ask one of those guys.” Bracken gestured vaguely at the other Traci bots who were not currently in a private room. “I think that whore on the pole knew one of the ones that were murdered.”

Bracken was referring to a Traci bot that was dancing on the pole in the middle of the room. She had bright green hair, so she wasn’t hard to miss.

“Thank you.” Connor was even able to smile at the scumbag before they left.

“Don’t assholes like that bother you?” Hank asked, not even bothering to lower his voice. The music was loud enough to drown what he was saying out of Bracken’s large ears anyways.

“I only bother myself with the opinions of people who I respect, Lieutenant,” Connor responded, as if it were obvious.

“Yeah, okay, but do you not get even the slightest inclination to defend your people?” Hank pressed.

“I don’t believe it would help. It would only have enraged him more and it would probably have led to a fight,” Connor explained. “Provoking Bracken had a 35% probability of success-in this case satisfaction from fighting back-and a 75% probability of failure. Furthering our case was the more important outcome.”

Hank sighed heavily. “It must be a party inside your head.”

“The inside of my head is made up of a series of components that”-

“No, no, you’re fine, you don’t need to explain. I don’t understand shit about mechanics, there’s no point.”

Connor shrugged. “Fair enough.”

The Traci on the pole had stopped dancing and was watching them approach. Gone were the same standard black bikinis stamped with their model type. This Traci was wearing a purple floral netted dress that was nearly completely see through with matching underwear beneath. She crouched down so that she was face level with them and said, “You’re the guys from the DPD. You were here when those girls went deviant and that man was murdered.”

“Did you know them?” Connor asked.

The Traci shook her head. “No, not personally. I had seen them around. I’m glad they escaped. It’s a shame they left when everything is so much better here now. I’m happy for them though, they’re doing what they want to do. That’s what the entire revolution was supposed to be for.”

“What’s your name?” Hank asked.

“Dawn,” she answered.

“Good evening Dawn, I’m Lieutenant Hank Anderson and this is my partner Connor. We would like to ask you some questions about the recent Traci murders. Bracken informed us that you knew one of the victims?”

Dawn nodded, sitting down on the platform to be more comfortable. “You’re talking about Deandra; Emma and Stevie, aren’t you?”

“Those names correlate with victims in our list,” Connor confirmed.

“They were murdered so brutally,” Dawn said. “I heard there was barely anything left of them.”

“We were wondering if there was anything you could tell us about them? Was there anything linking them together? Were they part of any groups or knew the same people before they died?” Hank sat down beside Dawn, watching the thoughtful expression on her face as she considered the question.

“They didn’t even know each other,” Dawn shrugged. “I knew them individually, not as a group. I remember that Emma died first. Then Stevie, then Deandra. They weren’t the only ones, I know that too. They were simply the ones I knew.”

“Can you think of anything at all that could link their murders together?” Hank asked again. He felt a lot more at ease speaking to Dawn than he felt talking to Bracken. She felt like any other human he had questioned in his long career. It said a lot about her and a lot about Bracken. She even still had her LED processor on the side of her head and she still seemed more human that the club’s owner.

“I don’t know,” Dawn said, shaking her head. “We have only recently been able to wander the club on our own and leave the place when our shift ends. We were only just getting the opportunity to know one another properly before they were killed. I didn’t know anything about their private lives or anything like that.”

Connor took a step closer and reached his hand out. “May I?” he asked.

Dawn nodded, reaching up and allowing Connor to hold her forearm.

Hank watched curiously as both android’s skins pulled back, exposing the white armour beneath. Both of their LEDs were going crazy, blinking yellow and red as Connor shifted through anything that could be useful to them.

Going back to his earlier thought, maybe this was how androids connected with one another? Through their hands? Or maybe they pulled their skin back completely and that was their way of becoming exposed to one another? Hank’s curiosity as going to kill him someday, because now he was wondering what Connor looked like in his android form. Had he ever needed to do it yet?

Why did any of this matter?

A second later, Connor released Dawn’s arm. “Did you find anything?” she asked.

“It seems that Deandra; Emma; and Stevie were all visited by the same client on the nights before they died,” Connor explained.

“Did you get a lock on their face?” Hank asked.

Connor shook his head. “They were wearing a mask. The same mask each time.”

Dawn’s eyes widened slightly. “I know who you are talking about, I remember seeing him enter the club, but I never knew who he went to. I thought he was just into some kinky shit or didn’t want to be recognised in an android sex club and that’s why he wore the mask.”

“A fair enough assumption,” said Hank. He scratched his beard thoughtfully. “Anything else Connor?”

“On the night that the third victim-Deandra-was murdered, he dropped a book on his way out,” Connor explained. “Is there a lost and found?”

Dawn nodded. “It’s in the staff room where the deactivated models used to be kept.”

“Thank you for helping.” Hank patted Dawn’s arm and stood up.

Hank and Connor turned, knowing exactly where the staff room was from their altercation with the Tracis, when Dawn’s voice stopped them. “Be careful,” she said. “These people are killing the androids and taking their parts for something. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.”

“Don’t worry, we can look after ourselves,” Hank replied.

“I believe you. All I’m saying is that whoever this murderer is, they are taking android parts for something and if they need android parts, what is stopping them from going after the newest parts on the market.” She nodded at Connor. “You’re the only functioning RK800 model. Cyberlife didn’t get the opportunity to make any more. If you draw too much attention to yourself, whoever it is doing all this killing might start noticing.”

“Don’t worry about me,” the smile that Connor granted Dawn was a lot more relaxed than the one he had given Bracken. It was a lot more comfortable and a lot more genuine, “this is my job. I know what I’m doing.”

Hank had not considered the possibility that this case could be dangerous for Connor. The fact that he was the only functioning RK800 had not occurred to him but now that Dawn had voiced it, it certainly made a lot of sense.

“Maybe we should get someone else assigned to this case,” Hank suggested once they were out of earshot.

“Why is that? Because of my model type?” Connor asked. “Do not worry about me, Lieutenant. I feel that is important that an android works on this case, especially when tensions are so high at the moment.”

Hank wasn’t so sure. All he could think about now was Connor becoming a mess of random parts and clothing. It was not something he wanted to see come to pass.
Sensing Hank’s unease through his silence, Connor enquired, “Would you rather someone like Gavin was assigned to the case?”

Hank cringed. “God, no, he would half ass it. This is a serious case.”

Connor grinned. “Exactly.”

The lost and found box was underneath a table stacked high with lingerie of different colour, design and gender. There was a lot of crap inside it. It was truly amazing the sort of shit people brought into strip clubs. Yo-yos; jam jars full of clothing pegs; phone chargers. Who thinks hard enough to bring their yo-yo to a strip club and then forget to bring it home with them?

Connor salvaged the book out from beneath a wallet that had one of those old anime characters on it. It flipped it over to examine the front cover.

CYBERLIFE MANUAL

HOW TO FIX YOUR ANDROID AT HOME

“A Cyberlife manual?” Hank frowned. The fuck?

“If my memory banks serve me correctly, these were distributed when there was an influx of androids being sent to Cyberlife for repairs and the company was at capacity. They sent these out so that people could repair small faults at home.” Connor flicked through the pages of the book, his LED turning red as he absorbed the entirety of its content.

“Maybe it was a kinky patron who really loved androids and just coincidentally spent time with the victims the night that they died,” Hank mused.

“No, there are notes in the margins, look.” Connor handed Hank the open book and ran his finger down the margin along the notes that were scribbled on the pages.

Optical units easiest to install; interior organs more difficult; synthetic skin impossible?” Hank read. “What the hell does this even mean?”

“It sounds like the book’s owner was making notes on building something. Something that is not an android but needs android components,” Connor mused.

“So, the parts are definitely being stolen for some sort of agenda.” Hank thumbed through some more of the book. There were notes of a similar littered everywhere.
“What do you suggest our next move should be?” Connor required.

Hank chucked the book to Connor, who caught it with ease. “There’s a library stamp on the interior cover. I say we check out who has taken this book out in the past few months.”
“Excellent idea, Lieutenant.”

As they made their way across the main floor on their way out, Hank noticed Dawn, who was dancing at her post again. They caught eyes and she pulled a sympathetic face. It made him think about what she had told Hank.

“You’re the only functioning RK800 model. Cyberlife didn’t get the opportunity to make any more. If you draw too much attention to yourself, whoever it is doing all this killing might start noticing.”

Hank closed the walking distance between himself and Connor, feeling extremely uneasy about the situation. It was ridiculous, because the distance between them wasn’t going to make Connor any safer or any more in danger. Especially since Connor was a much more apt fighter than he would ever be.

Still, being closer to the android made him feel better.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

The library reminded Hank of his High School exam days. Hours upon hours of cramming with an unhealthy amount of coffee in his system. He used to be there so often that the librarian would trust him with the keys so that he could stay after hours and lock up when he was done.

Even back then he knew that he wanted to work with the DPD. He had had so much determination and passion at the idea of being a detective, it now reminded him of how much he had lost since then. He lost his passion for a lot of things when his marriage fell apart and he lost Cole. The therapist he briefly saw told him that that was a perfectly normal reaction to such loss. He just had to work through it and his enthusiasm would return. He was still waiting for that to happen.

Although, even though he would never admit it, his case with Connor had reminded him of how much he used to enjoy working things out and piecing together scenarios to reach a logical conclusion. Before the android had been forced on him, he had half assed all his work. Connor had not allowed that and, in a way, forcing him out of the precinct and into the fray helped him a great deal.

If someone had told him when he was studying that in his future he would be working with an android, he would have told them to fuck off and wise up.

There was something about the smell of books that was very homey. Hank wasn’t a massive reader of fiction, he only ever opened a book if he had to, yet whenever he entered a library of any kind, he felt like he was entering a familiar place. A safe place. That was something about the warm smell of books that was comforting. With everything being electronic these days, Hank was glad that libraries had survived the technological revolution.

“I suppose you could consume an entire book by flicking through the pages?” Hank gruffly mentioned as they passed the rows of shelves.

“If I chose to, I could read at a human pace,” Connor answered.

“Would you choose to?” Hank asked.

Connor thought about it for a moment before nodding. “The purpose of reading a book is to slowly consume a story, am I correct? There wouldn’t be much enjoyment in discovering everything all at once.”

With every passing day since his deviancy, Connor was becoming more and more human in varying ways. He wanted to do things the human way; feel things the way humans do; to experience the world the way humans do. Hank had never imagined that the uptight bot that had been sent to him from Cyberlife could ever become deviant, yet here he was, forgetting things and wishing to read books like Hank himself would.

There was no one at the reception desk. Hank peered over the desk, trying to see if he could locate whoever was supposed to be at their post. Probably busy gossiping in the storeroom or something stupid like that.

“Is there anything you would recommend?”

“Sorry?” Hank looked at Connor with confusion.

“Books,” Connor said brightly, his eyes shining. “Is there anything you would recommend?”

“Oh. Ah, I was never a big reader, to be honest,” Hank admitted. He paused. “I mean, there’s Harry Potter. There wasn’t a kid in my childhood who hadn’t read Harry Potter. It was like a rite of passage into fiction.”

Connor tilted his head the slightest bits and turned on his heel. “I wonder if they’re here.”

“Can’t you like,” Hank gestured at his temple, “use your whirly-gig to download them or something?”

Connor raised his eyebrows. “We are in a library, and you are asking me to order a book digitally? Isn’t that what endangered books in your age?”

“I mean, yeah, but”-

“I would like a physical copy,” Connor interrupted. He passed the Cyberlife manual to Hank and wandered off in the direction of the ‘R’ section of the fictional novels.

Hank watched the android disappear amongst the shelves with slight disbelief. He had only mentioned Harry Potter because they were the only books he had ever bothered himself to read, and that was because he felt left out at school. Connor had taken to the suggestion so quickly, in a way Hank had not expected.

Bloody android kept surprising him. At this point, Hank didn’t know why he bothered being surprised. He should be automatically prepared for Connor to do something against what he thought he would.

“Hello, can I help you?”

Hank turned around. The receptionist had returned, a pile of papers in their hands.

It was another android, a male this time. He was wearing glasses and, when Hank looked twice, he noticed that the man had a damaged optical unit. Realistically a result from an angry human patron.

“Hi, I’m Lieutenant Hank Anderson and my partner . . .” Hank looked over his shoulder and sighed. “My partner Connor is about here somewhere. What’s your name?”

“David. David Brett,” the receptionist reached out a hand, piling his papers into one arm in order to do so. Hank shook it dutifully. “What brings you here, Lieutenant?”

“We’re investigating the recent android murders and their connection to the disappearances of multiple humans. I was wondering if you could tell me who was the last person to book this manual out?” Hank dropped the Cyberlife manual onto the desk.

David put his papers down beside his computer and picked up the manual. Flicking through the pages briefly, he cringed. “Whoever it was, they didn’t respect that the book wasn’t theirs. Look at the scribbles! I hate when people write on books.”

“Do you have some sort of record? You need library cards to take out books, right? Do you have some sort of list or register?” Hank asked.

“Yeah, yeah. We like to do things the old-fashioned way here so there’s a stamp on the front of the date the manual was last taken out,” David explained. “So, I should be able to . . .” He slid into his chair and began typing on the computer. “. . . find whose library card was swiped on that date for this book.”

Hank appreciated businesses that tried to do things the old way. He had never imagined that his childhood would be embodied in the equivalent of a 60’s diner but here they were. The only snippets he got of his younger days were old photographs and places like this one that chose to use a stamp instead of a scan on a book.

“It seems to be under the name Tilly Mayweather.” David frowned. “If I correctly recall, Tilly is an elderly woman in her nineties. She used to come here all the time, but I personally haven’t seen her in months. Last I heard she was severely unwell. Unless, of course, she’s been giving her library card to someone else to get books out for her. That can be done if there’s a signed note from the card’s owner.”

“So, you believe that the manual was booked out by someone with permission to use Tilly’s card?” Hank enquired.

“If I had to guess,” David replied. “I can’t, however, recall anyone having her card. It might not have been on my shift.”

“Do you have Tilly’s address?” Hank asked.

David nodded. “Yes, of course.” He quickly scribbled Tilly’s address onto the back of a business card and passed it over to Hank. “I’m sorry I can’t do more.”

“Don’t apologise, you’ve done all you can,” Hank assured.

Connor appeared by Hank’s side, his arms full of books.

“Oh, for God’s sake, you were being serious?” Hank exclaimed.

“I’m always serious, Lieutenant,” Connor responded.

Hank examined the books his partner dumped onto the receptionist’s desk. He had collected up to the Order of the Phoenix. “What? They didn’t have the last two?” he asked dryly.

“Of course, they did. I didn’t want to hog them all,” Connor answered like this was obvious.

“Right, how could I be so stupid?” Hank muttered sarcastically.

David smiled. “I’m assuming this is the partner, then?”

Hank blew out his cheeks as Connor nodded and explained, “I’d like to take out these books.”

“Do you have a library card?”

“No, but I’d like to sign up.”

Hank watched in bafflement as Connor filled out the forms required to get a library card. He had actually been serious about checking out those damn books. There was something so . . . mundane about the entire situation that it threatened to make Hank smile. Connor was going to be walking around with a library card in his pocket. Connor, an android who could order anything he wanted with a quick whirl of mechanism. Just so that he could read Harry fucking Potter.

“Here, I’ll give you a bag, so you can carry them easier,” David said, retreating into the back room for a moment before re-emerging with a thick plastic bag. It had some sort of slogan on it, but Hank couldn’t read it properly at its current angle.

“Thank you,” Connor smiled, sliding the books into the bag. He turned to Hank. “Did I miss anything?”

Hank sighed. “I’ll explain on the way out.”

“You don’t often see human and android partners,” David commented, picking up his papers again, “you look like a sweet couple.”

Hank immediately started to splutter, while Connor just looked at the receptionist dumbly. Them? A couple? Was David insane?

“We’re work partners,” Hank was quick to correct.

David’s eyebrows shot to his hairline in disbelief. “You could have fooled me,” he chuckled. “I apologise for the assumption.”

“No, don’t worry about it.”

David smiled and nodded his head in farewell before taking leave.

There was a thick silence. Or, at least, Hank found it thick. Thicker than your usual library silence.

“Say something,” Hank demanded.

Connor blinked. “About what, Lieutenant?”

“About that, I can’t bear you just standing there like a ghost.”

“Oh, you mean about David’s assumption of us being physical partners instead of work partners?” Connor asked.

“Christ, do you have to put it like that?” Hank cringed, rubbing a hand over his burning face.

Connor shrugged. “He apologised for the assumption. I don’t see what the problem is.”

“So, you weren’t bothered by it?”

“No. Were you?”

Hank didn’t know why he felt so jilted by David’s assumption. Surely if David thought so, other people surely did. Why did he care? Why did he feel like he had just been exposed like an open wound to the world? Like that simple assumption had delved deep into his skull and bared his brains to anyone who cared to look?

Doing what he always did when confronted by emotions he didn’t understand, Hank pushed them away and buried them. Out of sight, out of mind.

“Of course not. I was worried about your reaction.”

Connor smiled brightly. “No cause for concern, Lieutenant. I would never incite anything that would make you uncomfortable.”

Hank opened his mouth, but no words came out. Wait, what? He watched dumbly as Connor turned and started walking to the exit. He followed in the android’s wake.

Rain was pounding the earth when they got outside. They hurried to Hank’s car, Connor shielding his book bag like it contained the secret to life inside it. Hank explained everything he had learned once they were safe from the rain. Connor listened intently, as he always did, his books cradled in his lap like a warm takeaway.

“I don’t see a point in visiting Tilly tonight,” Hank explained. “If she is as old as David says she is, then there is no way she would be awake at this time. Especially if she is ill.”
“Good call, Lieutenant,” Connor replied.

Hank was able to see the slogan on the bag properly. It wasn’t a slogan at all, it was a quote.

“Everyone is a reader . . . Some just haven’t found the right book yet.”

Hank almost laughed. It was cute, especially considering how Connor was holding onto his borrowed set like he was expecting someone to attempt to steal them off him.
“I’ll drop you back to Cyberlife. You should get your things together soon. Better moving out sooner than they kick you out,” Hank said as he pulled off the curb.

“Good idea, Lieutenant. Thank you for offering to take me in.”

“Don’t mention it,” said Hank. “Like, really, don’t mention it. It’s nothing, really.”

Connor nodded dutifully.

As he was driving through the rain, what Connor had said in the library suddenly occurred to Hank. He had not said that there was no cause for concern because he had no interest in Hank that way, he had said that he did not intend to incite anything that would make Hank uncomfortable. The hell did that mean? It had to be some sort of automatic response programmed into him, surely.

Yeah, that was it.

Had to be.