Hank hits redial for the third time in as many minutes and the call goes straight to voicemail: Hello, this is Detective Connor, Detroit Police Department. I am not able to accept your call at the moment, but—
Hank hangs up and switches to text. Connor I’m outside the hotel. Hurry the fuck up.
He checks the address Connor sent him – precise down to the room number because it’s fucking Connor. He cranes his neck, car seat squeaking as he shifts to look at the entrance way. There is a valet standing under an awning – a moody looking youth in a mis-buttoned formal vest. He also sees some mid-thirties men in cargo shorts and custom-printed bachelor party t-shirts arguing over a street map, but there is still no sign of a certain prissy, eager-eyed android.
Hank gets out of the car, muttering as he slams the door and the whole frame of the vehicle rocks. He walks into the hotel lobby and scrutinizes the floor plan by the bank of elevators. The room Connor is in is on the top floor – a suite, no less. “What the fuck?” he says under his breath.
Hank swivels on his heel and approaches the reception desk where an android with blue hair smiles placidly at him. “Can I help you, sir?”
“Do you know what’s going on in room 503?”
“Oh, it’s a private party, sir. Do you have a noise complaint?”
“No,” Hank shows his badge. “Just looking for someone.”
“I can’t issue you a passkey without a warrant, sir.”
“No, that’s not necessary. I’ll just try the old-fashioned way and knock.” Hank walks away with a dismissive wave of his hand.
He takes the elevator to the fifth floor and walks to the end of a long hallway until he finds himself standing outside 503. A faint thud of music is audible from within. Hank presses his ear to the door and hears a low masculine voice followed by a blurt of high-pitched laughter.
What the fuck is Connor doing at a party? A human one, with music and laughter?
Hank raps on the door and gets no answer. He pauses, listens, and raps again. Just as he’s considering putting a shoulder to it, the door opens and there stands Connor, dressed in only a small towel around his waist. There are people behind him in the room, which is a kind of reception area – two women (one human, one android) sit on a camelback couch upholstered in faded purple velvet. The android woman is topless in a miniskirt, the human in a red balconette bra and matching panties. Behind them stands a buff, older guy with salt-and-pepper hair and designer stubble, his hands planted on the back of the couch. He might be entirely naked, but Hank can only see as far as his impressive chest-rug.
Connor looks much as he always does except with fewer clothes on. He has a smear of something whitish and translucent across his stomach. Hank does not need some fancy real-time evidence processing kit to know it is semen.
“Hank,” Connor says. “You’re early! I told you I wouldn’t be ready to leave for another fifteen minutes.”
“Huh,” says Hank. One of the women on the couch – the human – glances over at him and gives him a cool look of distaste before turning her attention back to her companions, touching a lock of the android’s hair and arranging its fall over her pert breasts. Hank can see figures moving in the far room – presumably a bedroom, just glimpses of shadow. He hears more talk and laughter, a slap and a cut-off groan. Someone says “yeah!” in a very loud and pointed voice that makes it very clear just what is going on offstage. Hank blinks – Connor is still staring at him quizzically.
“I uh… got impatient I guess,” Hank says, looking down at the hideous plaid carpet.
“Would you like to come in while I get dressed?”
“No!” Hank takes a step back into the hallway, raising his hands. “God no… I’ll… wait in the car.”
“Got it,” says Connor with that cocky two-fingered gesture. He closes the door.
Hank goes back to the elevator and stands listening to the hum of his own tinnitus, trying and failing to think of nothing in particular. He walks out of the lobby and climbs back into his creaking car, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel and looking straight ahead through the rain-streaked windshield. After a few minutes have passed, Connor climbs in the passenger side, startling him out of his numb state.
“Thank-you for waiting, Hank.”
Hank looks him over – Connor is prim as ever in his suit and tie; his hair looks faintly damp and he smells like fancy body wash.
“Connor,” Hank says in a very reasonable tone, “what the fuck was that?”
“It was a social gathering.”
“Uh-huh. A fuckin’ orgy is what it was.”
“I’m well aware of what happens at an orgy, Hank.”
“What– don’t sass me, you little shit! What were you doing there?”
“I think you’ve already answered your own question.”
“Jee-zus,” Hank rubs his hands over his face.
“I don’t know why you’re upset,” Connor says. “I clearly said to pick me up outside the building at 10.23 PM. It’s currently 10.22,” he taps Hank’s dashboard clock. “Your display is twelve minutes fast.”
“Connor, you’re like ten months old. You’re not old enough to be into shit like this!”
“My date of manufacture has nothing to do with my cognitive function or ability to make informed decisions. If it’s my degree of agency you’re concerned about, well – I think you know what happens when someone gives me an order I disagree with.”
“Fuuuck,” Hank rubs his fingertips in a circling motion on his temples, trying to forestall the headache he feels coming on. “I mean do you even have the… equipment for this kind of thing?”
Connor folds his hands on his lap. “That’s a very personal question, Hank. You’re supposed to ask first – that’s only polite.”
Hank sighs, feeling his body slump. “Fine. Can I ask you a personal question?”
Connor beams at him. “Yes, Hank, you can.”
“Do you even have, y’know, the goods?”
“Of course. It would be considered a faux-pas to go to an orgy without genitals. I purchased some several months ago.”
“You purchased them?”
“Yes. The RK series doesn’t come with genital fittings as standard, so I had to upgrade. They’re very nice – top of the line. I have received many compliments.”
“Fuck me,” says Hank, rubbing his face again, then looks up. “That’s not an invitation, don’t get any big ideas.”
“I’m familiar with your idioms, Lieutenant.” Connor puts on his seatbelt with a click. “You mentioned a dead android?”
Hank turns the key in the ignition. “Yeah, another Saturday night, another hate crime. Lucky us.”
He pulls out onto the street, resolved to be business-as-usual in the face of Connor’s astounding revelations, but he only gets as far as the next busy intersection and red light before scratching his beard and glancing over as he asks: “hey, Con?”
Connor is still sitting with his hands on his knees like a good boy at Sunday School. “Yes, Hank?”
“What the fuck got into your head that you decided going to orgies was a real good way to spend your weekend? Not that I’m being judgemental–”
Connor raises an eyebrow. “Really? Because your tone is extremely judgemental.”
“Ok well I’m old, give me a break. Just… why’d you decide to jump into something like that? I mean, among humans, having sex with a group of strangers is considered kind of… extreme.”
“They’re not exactly strangers. There’s some vetting first – you meet the attendees in a non-sexual setting, initially.”
“Okay, but there’s no like… romance.”
“No, it is not romantic. I’m a person, not just a machine, but the finer points of inter-personal relationships are sometimes difficult for me to negotiate. I think I’ve been very successful in forging some friendships – with you, for example – but I haven’t felt the urge to attempt any greater levels of intimacy. Since I discovered an interest in sex, I thought it would be best for me to pursue it in a collegiate environment.”
“‘A collegiate environment’? Is that what you call a bunch of perverts in a hotel room?”
“Hank,” Connor says, turning his big brown eyes on him with lethal efficiency, “you’re being judgemental.”
“Jesus, you really care what the fuck I think about your petting parties?”
“Yes, your criticisms hurt all three of my feelings.” Connor gives him a knowing smile and Hank laughs and ruffles his hair.
“I just hope you’re being safe, y’know.”
“In what sense?” Connor blinks – Hank highly suspects that he is playing dumb. “I don’t bring my gun with me. That would be irresponsible.”
“Not that you fuckin’ idiot! I mean, y’know, the other kind of protection.”
“Ah, prophylactics? You don’t have to be concerned – I am not susceptible to human sexually transmitted infections and I can’t make anyone pregnant. Other androids pose a small risk but I keep my antivirus software updated and I don’t interface with strangers.”
Connor pulls his skin back on his hand and shows the pale grey plastic underneath. “When androids touch like this. We sync memories and information.”
“And is that… hot for you?”
Connor gives him an amused, fond look. “You have some very strange ideas, Lieutenant.”
Hank was so much happier before he knew about Connor’s pastimes. He decides this as he sits next to his partner on the couch in front of a Detroit Gears game. Connor still dresses like a missionary when left to his own devices, but Hank has a rule about no suits and ties in my fuckin’ house, so when Connor comes around he borrows one of Hank’s old DPD sweaters and takes off his shoes, leaving them neatly placed inside the front door where he also hangs up his jacket and tie.
Connor is like that: he will follow the letter of an instruction, but never the spirit of it. He sits as upright on the couch as a maiden aunt, Sumo’s big, heavy head on his lap. Connor smooths his fingers over the dog’s skull in a regular repetitive motion as Sumo looks up at him like he hung the moon and invented Beggin’ Strips.
Hank sucks moodily on one of the low-alcohol beers Connor brought him. He wishes he had a glass of whisky but Connor will make a disappointed face and he can’t have that on his conscience. Connor stares at the TV, eyes darting around the screen as he no doubt calculates probabilities on shots and updates statistics in real time. Occasionally he throws out a remark like “Did you know that Andre Nelson is the team’s top scorer, with an average of 19.3 points per game?” and smiles at Hank like this constitutes a heart-to-heart.
It was much better not to know. It used to be that when Hank looked at Connor’s face he could tell himself it didn’t mean anything – sure, the chocolate brown eyes and the kiss-curl and that fucking chin dimple were all ruthlessly calculated by CyberLife to make anyone who so much as looks at Connor want to spill their guts and cooperate, but that wasn’t something Connor was doing from his end, so to speak. He was gorgeous, sure, but not sexy – couldn’t be sexy, given that he probably had Ken doll parts and no idea what fucking was, beyond whatever bland anthropological summary his makers had seen fit to upload to his brain.
But now Hank knows none of that was true. Connor has genitals for which he has received numerous compliments, apparently. He not only knows what fucking is but throws himself into it with gay abandon every chance he gets, apparently. It’s… jarring – the contrast between that knowledge and how Connor is in person, which is to say an irrepressible dork.
More than that, he still looks innocent – vulnerable, even. Hank’s old sweater is still too big for him and it slips off his shoulder every now and then. Hank glances surreptitiously at the bare freckled skin on show and thinks about putting his hand over it, sliding his thumb into the hollow of Connor’s clavicle. Jesus, what a gross old pervert he’s become. He sucks down the warm dregs of his beer and heaves himself off the couch.
In the kitchen, Hank wedges his empty bottle into the recycling box and crosses to the fridge. He stares into its cool, lighted depths while rubbing the back of his neck and squinting absently as if it might hold some kind of answer to his problems. After thirty seconds of this he sighs and pulls out another light beer. Closing the door, he jumps as Connor comes into view, looming in the doorway like an unquiet spirit.
“Jesus Reginald Christ! Don’t sneak up on me like that.”
“Sorry, Hank.” Connor buries his hands in the front pocket of the hoodie.
“You want something?” Hank asks, though of course Connor doesn’t require normal houseguest things like refreshments.
“I just wanted… can I ask you something?”
“Is it one of your personal questions?” Hank uses the edge of the counter and one smack of his hand to lever off the bottlecap, sending it flying off into the sink.
“I guess you could say it’s personal. I can’t help but observe that things have been off between us lately. Our interactions seem… awkward. You seem less uncomfortable in my presence than you have been in recent months. Have I done something to offend you?”
“No, Con – of course not! I’m just…” Hank makes a circular gesture with one hand as he stalls for time. “In a weird mood.”
“For an entire week?”
“Seems that way. Hank leans his hip against the kitchen counter and swigs his cold, tasteless beverage. “Hey, listen – I know I’m not exactly great company. You don’t have to humour me by coming over – I know you have way more exciting activities you could be doing instead of keeping an old man company while he yells at sports personalities.”
“I enjoy your company, Hank. You are my first and best friend.”
Hank puts his beer down with a thud, causing it to foam over on the counter. “Aw hell, why’d you have to go and say a thing like that? C’mere, bring it in.” He holds his arms open and Connor comes to fill in the other half of the embrace, resting his chin on Hank’s shoulder as Hank gives him a few hearty pats.
“Hank,” he asks, still embracing him, “does it make you uncomfortable that I participate in group sex?”
Hank takes him firmly by the shoulders and puts some distance between them. He hangs his head and a muscle in his jaw twitches. “Con, it is none of my fuckin’ business whatsoever what you do with your free time. Why would you say that?”
“Perhaps you thought it strange that I was being silent about this aspect of my life, given that I talk to you about all my other hobbies.”
Hank rolls his eyes. “You sure do.”
Connor, as an android who doesn’t eat or sleep, has a jampacked schedule of classes and groups he attends: wood working, textiles, pot-throwing – even a fucking book club where a bunch of wine moms fawn over him in between desultory comments on the latest bestseller.
He makes Hank frequent gifts of the things he crafts and Hank makes encouraging noises – it’s quite like having a pre-schooler again except the things Connor creates are always exquisite – tiny whittled animals with details too fine for the human eye; scarves that would put any grandma to shame. Hank now knows way more about tabby weave and treadle looms than he ever wanted or thought possible.
“I didn’t mean to be secretive,” Connor continues, “but I’m aware that humans consider sexual activity to be private and even taboo, so I refrained from discussing that aspect of my life. I’m sorry if finding out was a shock to you. I will continue to be silent on the subject if you find it distasteful.”
Hank grips his shoulder. “Listen, I don’t want you to think I’m some pearl-clutching moralist or something. I had my wild days a few decades back – maybe they were a hell of a lot tamer than yours, but I did ok. You should do whatever makes you happy – as long as it’s safe, sane and consensual, right?”
Connor nods with a grave expression. “I consider safety and consent very important. I always ensure my partners are agreeable to what I’ve preconstructed before proceeding with a sexual encounter. I have declined some acts with humans that I did not think were very advisable – breathplay, for example.”
“That’s good, kid,” Hank pats his shoulder. “They’re real lucky to have you.”
“I’m going to an all-male group tomorrow night,” Connor continues, as if Hank has said ‘please tell me more about orgies’. “From initial discussions it appears they’re more into BDSM and kink. I’ve been reading up on the best practice and I’m very much looking forward to learning more.”
Fucking Connor. He’s as bright-eyed and eager as a boy scout thinking about how a bunch of leather daddies are going to pound him three-ways-till-Sunday. He’s done freaking homework.
Hank frowns. “Listen, if those guys are too rough for you, you know you can leave.”
“I know. What I was most concerned about is the fact I am unable to feel pain, as this seems to be a significant component of many of the activities. But I talked at length with one of the hosts and he reassured me that there are lots of ways to enjoy kink and not everyone likes pain. I’m excited to find out if I’m dominant, submissive or a switch.”
Submissive, Hank thinks, because fucking look at you – but then he reconsiders, thinking of the hard, efficient look Connor gets on a case; how ruthless he can be during interrogations – threatening and soothing by turns to keep the suspect on edge. His cock gives an interested twitch inside his sweatpants and he has to turn away and force down three gulps of fake beer to regain his equilibrium. He coughs, wipes his hand across his mouth and says, hoarsely. “I’m happy for you, Connor. I hope you have a real fuckin’ good time.”
“I do, too. Have you ever experimented with BDSM, Hank? I’d be interested to know your experiences.”
“Me?” Hank splutters again on his beer. “Nah, not my scene at all. I mean, maybe some tame stuff with old flames – handcuffs in the bedroom, a few swats on the butt. But I could never get into all that lick-my-boots-and-call-me-master shit. Too complicated, too many rules. I’m more…” he waves his hand in a circle, “y’know… spontaneous.”
“Spontaneous,” Connor repeats, as if the concept is foreign to him – which of course it is. Connor runs through his options so fast it can look like spontaneity to a human, but anything he does, from hand-to-hand combat to making small talk, is logically processed first.
“Yeah. I guess I’m not fixated on certain acts, I don’t plan shit out. If I’m with someone it’s ‘cause I like them. I just want to make them feel good.” He feels awkward under Connor’s intent, quizzical gaze and he scratches his beard and looks away. “Aw, I’m just an old fuckin’ romantic if you have to know the truth of it.”
Connor’s eyebrows lift. “That sounds admirable, Hank. I think you must be a very good sexual partner.”
“Connor, you can’t just say shit like that to a guy.”
“Why not? It was a compliment.”
Hank groans and rubs his face. “Let’s just watch the rest of the game, ok?”
Hank suffers through the remainder of the play forcing his eyes to stay on the screen and not on Connor. Connor takes his leave once it ends and Hank sends him off with another pat on the shoulder and a cheery “have fun at your sex party!”
Connor insists that he will.
Hank lets Sumo out for one last snuffle around the yard before retiring to bed, tired but not buzzed enough to drop immediately into unconsciousness. His dick is quick to assert itself now that he’s warm and cosy under covers and Hank grunts as he cups himself through thin cotton. He tries to keep to well-worn fantasies starring porn actors and the figures generated by his imagination, but his thoughts keep veering back to a certain man with neat brown hair marred by one wayward lock and a blue light circling at his temple.
Hitching the waistband of his boxers down under his balls, Hank takes his dick in hand and gives it a slow stroke, telling himself that Connor wouldn’t mind. Connor isn’t a human, full of shame and useless body hang-ups. He’s a wholesome rake, an angelic slut. His likely reaction to Hank confessing masturbating to the thought of him would be “thank-you, I consider that a compliment.” He’d probably smile, even, and give a dorky thumbs-up.
Hank fumbles open his bedside drawer and gets out the lotion he uses to moisten his grip. He sighs at the cool feeling as he closes his hand around the base of his shaft again, biting down on his lip as he starts to imagine what must have happened at that party in the hotel before he busted in to ruin Connor’s evening. He thinks about Connor lying between a woman’s thighs, her hand brushing tenderly against the side of his face and pushing his hair behind his ear as he goes down on her with a look of earnest concentration. Connor’s tongue is visible in flashes between the pink folds of the woman’s labia, he opens his mouth wider over the top of her slit to suck and work the flat of his tongue against her clitoris. She gasps and rewards him with a low murmuring of praise.
Connor breaks away and his chin is wet, his eyes dark and wide. A man rubs the back of his neck with one large hand and leans in to kiss him (do people kiss at orgies? They do in Hank’s imagination). The man – older, barrel-chested – puts his hands on Connor’s hips and guides him into place on top of the woman, who arches her back and moans in anticipation. Connor slides into her and she grasps a handful of his hair to push his face between her breasts as he keeps up the thrusting of his hips, focussed on the mission as ever.
Hank’s hand is moving faster on his dick now, having reached the tipping point where the shame he feels at imagining his partner like this is spurring him on rather than acting as a deterrent. The scene cuts to Connor on his back, two people either side holding his legs back and spread as the barrel-chested guy takes his place. The man has the physique of a leading man from the days of old Hollywood – muscular, vital, but a little running to fat. He has a short beard (dark, not silver – Hank won’t put himself in that place, that would be a step too far) and his hand is curled around his fat cock, stroking in the same languorous rhythm Hank is using on himself. The man stares down at Connor, spread eagled with his perfect dick curving up against his hip. Connor is hairless in Hank’s imagination, his ass is slick and ready.
The man feeds his cock into Connor’s willing body, pets his throat and chest – Hank’s hand falters in its rhythm. Why the hell is he imagining Connor so passive? It’s pretty, sure – picturesque to see him open-mouthed and wondering – but it’s not exactly in-character. Connor is not an ingenue; he approaches even unfamiliar tasks with narrow-eyed focus and determination.
Hank conjures up another image in his mind’s own porno-reel: Connor on top, pretty dick bobbing as he fucks himself on Mr Old Hollywood’s thick shaft, pinning the guy’s wrists on the mattress to keep him in place, just where Connor wants him.
Hank is getting close now, hand working rough and fast on himself, precome glistening on his tip. He thinks about Connor kneeling down on the floor, eager and attentive as he licks and sucks at another woman’s pussy; two burly men flank him and he has a cock in each hand, multitasking. The woman shudders and gasps as she comes, holding the back of Connor’s head almost tenderly. She takes a step back from the circle so the men can move in and paint Connor’s cheek and parted lips with streaks of pearly semen.
For a brief moment, Hank allows himself to imagine being one of those men, looking down at Connor’s face as he strokes himself furiously, both in fantasy and real life. Connor’s mouth opens, Hank sees a hint of pink tongue and suddenly he is coming – coming with the kind of trembling punch he hasn’t felt in quite a while.
Hank fumbles to catch the mess in his hand, then lies panting for long moment before he rolls out of bed to go and clean himself up. He squints at his own face in the light of the bathroom mirror as he washes his hands, not liking what he sees: grey hair, broken veins, a beard badly in need of trimming. He needs to add a new post-it note to the array, one that says STOP BEING A PERVERTED OLD MAN or HE’S YOUR PARTNER, DUMMY.
Hank dries his hands and pulls his boxers back up to cover himself but he doesn’t like his reflection any better. He pats his gut, turns sideways and tries to suck it in, then realizes how ridiculous he’s being. Who do you think you’re kidding?
He turns away, flips off the light and walks out into the hallway. Sumo is lying half in and half out of his bed, snout resting on his paws as he looks towards the front door. He raises his head as Hank emerges and lets out a low whuff.
“I know, buddy,” Hank says, leaning against the doorframe and crossing his arms. “But listen, he’s young and gorgeous, he’s got better places to be than hanging around here with two old timers like us.”
Sumo whines, tail thumping.
“You got that right.” Hank turns back to the bedroom. The unscented lotion is still sitting on Hank’s nightstand, uncapped. If Connor came in he’d be able to reconstruct exactly what happened at this particular crime scene. Hank closes it and tosses it back in the drawer, then straightens out the rumpled covers for some extra plausible deniability before climbing back into bed.
He turns off the light and sighs, trying to think of nothing in particular. Clearing his mind doesn’t work too well – nothing has ever been able to bully his restless brain into shutting up except a good half-bottle of Black Lamb. But on the off-chance he’s called in tomorrow, Connor will know that Hank is hung-over – a mint won’t cut it, the android will be able to detect the alcohol fumes on his breath and seeping from his pores down to a fucking microparticle.
And so what? says the rebellious part of his brain. The fucking tin can aint the boss of you. It’s true – Hank’s still hanging on to this lieutenant rank by the skin of his teeth and Connor is in no way his boss. Doesn’t mean he hasn’t weaponized those big brown eyes though. There is nothing Hank hates more in the entire world than kind and understanding disappointment.
Hank tosses and turns for a while before he gives in and tries one of those bullshit breathing exercises he learned at a stress-management course Fowler sent him on – ‘Mindfulness for the Workplace’ – fucking Buddhism for Business, more like. He breathes in on count four, out on count four, repeats and repeats and waits to get bored enough to conk out. After ten dogged minutes it finally seems to be working, but as he slips under his rebel hind-brain gives one last kick, summoning up an image of a black glove resting on the nape of a bare neck, the scene lit by the faint blue glow of an LED.