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Enjoy Your Drink

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Hank had been up for nearly 48 hours.

He’d been up for nearly 48 hours without a drink, and he needed one, badly. The problem was that he couldn’t get away from the case, so he found himself instead hiding in the maintenance closet, stealing sips from an old silver flask he hadn’t used in years, one that was filled with some kind of nasty-ass cheap whiskey, which was putting him in a somehow worse mood than if he hadn’t been drinking at all. He wondered, as he often did, why he’d bother, but it was easier to unscrew the cap and take another swig than to look at his own reflection in the chrome.

“Lieutenant,” Connor startled him enough to make him jump, hitting his head on the shelf directly above him, “I found a lead that you might—” he trailed off, processing. “Are you drinking in here?” His tone was icy, still. This was an interrogation.

“What of it?” Hank asked, slowly, deliberately, shamelessly taking another sip from the flask.

Connor frowned. “You’re on the clock,” he accused.

“I’m always fuckin’ on the clock,” Hank argued, “with you around. Gotta live sometime.”

“Drinking is not living, Lieutenant,” Connor pointed out. Hank scoffed.

“What the fuck would you know about living?”

Connor’s LED flashed yellow for a moment, then he broke eye contact.

“I guess nothing,” he admitted tersely; he intentionally censored the next statement. Hank could see it happen.

“You’re not saying something,” Hank taunted.

“I’m not saying anything,” Connor agreed, and whether it was the two-day-waking haze or the alcohol, his fucking human-appeasing program didn’t sit right with him. Connor had the unique ability to hold his tongue when a human couldn’t. Hank always knew what Gavin thought of him, what Fowler thought of him; fuck, he even knew when he pissed Sumo off. But with Connor, he felt judged in a way that didn’t make sense, in a way that he shouldn’t care about, in a way that made him feel like a deadbeat dad or the let-down brother. And Connor wouldn’t tell him so. He pushed Connor up against the wall of the closet threateningly, holding him by the shirt.

“Say it,” Hank instructed, snarling when Connor looked genuinely confused. “You know what I’m talking about; don’t act like you don’t.”

“Lieutenant, I—,” Connor started, but he didn’t have a chance to finish what was sure to be a bullshit placating response, because Hank punched him in the stomach.

And suddenly he was sober.

He’d punched a coworker in the stomach. He’d punched CONNOR in the stomach. The kid dropped to one knee, holding the spot where Hank had hit him, but his face was expressionless. When Connor stumbled back to his feet, his LED was solid red, then yellow, then red again as Hank apologized.

“Fuck, kid,” he swore, “I didn’t—I’m—”

“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” Connor apologized calmly, his LED still red, “I can handle the lead on my own. I shouldn’t have bothered you.”

Hank blinked. “What?” he asked incredulously. “What the fuck are you apologizing for?”

“I clearly upset you,” Connor said. His hand was still hovering over the place Hank had punched him. Hank didn’t know what he broke, but Connor wouldn’t keep his hand there like that for no reason, and something clearly needed repairs. His LED was yellow again, cycling and cycling but turning no more blue.

Hank shook his head. “No, kid; I shouldn’t have—”

Connor cut him off by turning toward the door. “I’ll… I’ll be running some background checks on our—my—lead.” Hank didn’t miss how stiff he was when he turned to leave. “Enjoy your drink, Lieutenant.”