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Accident Prone: Becoming Human

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It was a cold, snowy night in Detroit when Lt. Hank Anderson and Connor, an android specially designed and sent by CyberLife to aid Detroit Police, had been assigned to a stakeout in a decrepit neighborhood where dangerous deviants had been reportedly sighted. Positioning themselves atop the roof of a two story building Connor knelt at the edge of the roof and scanned the streets below for any sign of movement and Hank stood with his back against the large rectangular concrete stairwell with his arms folded over his chest, watching Connor patrol the streets from afar.

"The deviants were seen in this neighborhood, most likely using the abandoned buildings to hide from the police." Connor stated with an emotionless tone. "Perhaps they have created a type of refuge in which they can gather in greater numbers."

"Like an army?" Hank scoffed with an incredulous reply. "From what I've seen deviants either go rogue and attack people, or they find a 'friend' and go into hiding. Not somewhere in between. Why bother this one if it isn't hurting anyone?"

"True. Deviants do seem to follow a pattern of behavior once their initial programming has been compromised, however I-" A sudden flash of red light from the first floor of the abandoned factory across the street caught Connor's attention. "We have movement across the street."

"Deviant?" Hank asked as he unfolded his arms and walked to the edge of the roof to stand beside Connor.

"Affirmative." Connor had managed to get a quick facial scan of the deviant trying to hide in the factory, the blue L.E.D. on his right temple flashing yellow for a moment before returning to its standard blue. "I spotted the android's L.E.D. and managed to confirm the identity. It is our target."

"Okay then," Hank pointed to the metal ladder attached to the fire escape that he and Connor had used to climb to the roof of their building. "let's go get it and bring it in for questioning."

The deviant seemed to realize that someone was watching it from a distance. It froze in place, the red L.E.D. flashing in its temple in nervous contemplation giving away its position without fail. Just as quickly as Connor had spotted the deviant the deviant itself bolted through the factory in an attempt to flee the now pursuing police officer.

"It's getting away!" Connor shouted, his L.E.D. flashing to red in an instant then to yellow. Swiftly he jumped onto the ladder, slid down the metal rails until he was just below half the ladder's overall length and jumped down onto the snowy sidewalk below.

"Connor!" Hank shouted as he climbed down the ladder as fast he could to give chase. His human movements comparably slow to Connor's quicker android reflexes made the already aged detective move about with less grace than he cared to admit. "Connor, get back here!"

Too focused on his mission Connor sprinted across the street, through the first floor of the factory in pursuit of the suspected deviant. Leaping over long dormant conveyor belts, broken down machinery and through rusted cargo containers Connor chased after the deviant as the rogue android led Connor through the factory and back out onto the snowy, icy streets.

Autonomous vehicles sped by without slowing their speed as the deviant and Connor raced through the dangerous streets as the chase continued. The deviant leapt over the hood of a speeding vehicle to cross the street while Connor lost his footing on a patch on unseen black ice in a split second. As Connor slipped on the street a passing vehicle clipped him in the shoulder and side, stunning Connor where he stood, his L.E.D. flashing red in response to the impact.

"Connor!?" Hank had managed to catch up to the chase in time to see Connor caught between two lanes of speeding traffic. "What the hell are you doing?! Get out of there!"

Connor tried to move out of the way as he stumbled backward but another vehicle slammed into his abdomen before he rolled up over the hood, the windshield and fell onto his left side between the lanes.

Determined to get up, determined to finish the chase, Connor pushed himself up from the ground with one hand and balance on shaking legs as his visual sensory input faded in and out of clarity.

Hank could see the dark blue Thirium dripping from Connor's mouth and a stain of Thirium across his abdomen from where he stood. "Jesus Connor! Get out of there!"

Connor turned to the sound of Hank's voice, his vision slowly returning as his visual sensors came back online. "...Lieutenant?"

The bright headlights of yet another speeding vehicle encroached on Connor, the light causing the Thirium stains to glisten against his clothing. Connor put up his arm out of some bizarre instinct to protect himself from the impending impact of the vehicle when suddenly a second impact at his right side caught him off guard.

Hank managed to tackle Connor out of the way of the oncoming traffic and onto the safety of the sidewalk beside the lane. Landing on his back on the snow Connor tried to process the situation that had just transpired, while Hank lay on his chest atop Connor's legs.

"Connor? Connor!" Hank pushed himself up from the android's legs and crawled up to Connor's side. Patches of Connor's artificial skin were missing from his left cheek around his eye, shoulder and upper arm from where he had impacted the road. "Talk to me. You okay, son?"

"I'm... functioning." Connor replied as Thirium continued to leak from the corner of his mouth. Connor gasped, or at least what could be considered a gasp from someone who doesn't breathe like a human. "I will be able to continue on with the mission."

"Bullshit!" Hank refuted as he took in the sight of the spilled 'blue blood', torn clothing and exposed android frame beneath patches of torn artificial skin. "You're hurt!"

"Damaged." Connor corrected sharply. "Androids do not get hurt. I am a machine, not a human."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah... So you've told me." Hank dismissed the comment as he stared at the growing stain of blue on Connor's abdomen. Pointing to the stain with one finger he gave Connor an annoyed glance. "What's going on here?"

"My Thirium pump regulator has been damaged." Connor explained as his program finished running a diagnostic on his systems. "I will shutdown in less than six minutes."

"A what kind of pump?" Hank questioned as android terminology was still foreign to him.

"Thirium pump. The equivalent to that of a human heart, and the regulator controls the heartbeat."

"What?! Your heart?"

"That is correct."

"And you said you're going to shutdown... As in you'll... die?"

"Correct."

"Shit." Hank stared at the pooling Thirium spreading over Conner's abdomen with great disdain visible on his face. "What can I do to stop this shutdown?"

"Nothing can be done. The damage is too severe."

"So that's it? You're just going to give up?"

"It is not a matter of giving up, there is nothing more than can be done to remedy the situation."

"What's going to happen after you shutdown, Connor?"

"CyberLife will transfer my memory into another Connor. My successor will continue the investigation in my place."

"It's that simple, huh? A machine breaks and we just toss it out and replace it with a newer model?" Hank's voice was growing louder with frustration as the heartlessness of the entire situation began to righteously piss him off. He stood up abruptly and stood over Connor laying on the snow at his feet. "Fuck everything else! It doesn't matter! A newer, better model will just takes its place. Why even fuckin' bother?"

"This is what CyberLife-"

"Fuck CyberLife! I'm not talking about a piece of shit company, I'm talking about you damn it!"

"Me? I do not-"

"You're not just a machine or a fuckin' tool, you were assigned to me as my partner. And I don't just throw my partners in the fucking trash if they get a little banged up on the job!"

"I..." Connor hesitated a little as he realized that Hank was sincerely worried about his fate. The death of Hank's son had permanently affected his life in the most negative sense, as a result Hank now saw death as a challenge to overcome. "Very well. There is a panel that can be accessed in my torso. If you can open it you can possibly locate the source of the damage and repair it."

"Yeah, okay..." Hank knelt down beside Connor again and pulled open the stained blue fabric of his shirt to expose the Thirium stained body beneath. Like Connor's face and arm there was a patch of artificial skin absent around the still 'bleeding' wound in his abdomen. "Okay. Walk me through this process."

"Press your fingers down in the center of the panel above the damage."

"Like this?" Hank asked as put his hands into the directed position, there was no artificial skin covering the panel due to the surrounding damage. As his hands touched the panel he jumped back a little and retracted his hands for a moment before replacing them. "Jeez... You're breathing! Since when a did a machine need to breathe?"

"Lieutenant? I still need help."

"Right, right. Sorry." Hank focused on the task with full attention as he returned his hands to the designated area. "Right here?"

"Correct." Connor confirmed, his voice beginning to reverberate as his speech sensor became affected by the drastic Thirium loss. "Push down and a panel will unlock. Slide it to the left to expose the cavity beneath."

"Yeah, okay. Got it." Hank did as Connor instructed and opened the panel. A massive puddle of leaking Thirium began pooling out through the opened panel and leaked over the edges all over Connor's clothing and Hank's hands in the process. "Ah, Jesus!" Hank complained as he pulled his hands back from the leaking Thirium. "What a mess!"

"Please, Lieutenant." Connor all but begged as his visual sensors began to fail him again. "You must locate the source of the leak."

From within the collected puddle of leaking Thirium in the cavity Hank caught sight of a faint flickering with a steady thrum. Like a heartbeat. Connor's heartbeat.

"Whoa..." Hank commented aloud about the unusual sight before him.

"Lieutenant? Is something wrong?"

"What? No, no." Hank tried to push away the thought of touching a beating heart from his mind as he set about saving Connor's life. "How do I find the leak?"

"Use your fingers to feel for any physical abnormalities."

"Physical abnormalities?" Hank nearly laughed at the comment. "I'm sticking my hands inside your body under your instructions, I think we're long past 'physical abnormalities.'"

"Please Lieutenant... I don't have much time left."

"Right, sure. I'll do it." Hank dipped his fingers into the dark blue fluid and began feeling around for any physical damage and the pinpoint the exact source of the leak itself. At first there was nothing that seemed of interest, especially since Hank was unfamiliar with android components, but his fingertips pressed up against something that felt like a fissure in what was once smooth metal. "Wait, I think I found something. It feels like a busted pipe."

"You've located the source of the damage." Connor confirmed, his voice still unsteady and his eyes beginning to transition from their usual humanoid brown irises into black, opaque lenses. "If you can't repair the damage you still may be able to stop the leak."

"I don't think so, Connor." Hank openly lamented. "I've worked on cars all my life, this feels like a crack that needs to be welded shut and I don't have the tools with me."

"Thank you, Lieutenant."

"You're thanking me? For what?"

"For trying to save me."

"Try? 'Try' my ass! I am going to save you, just shut up and let me think." Hank looked around the sidewalk, looked at the various bits of broken metal and debris as a result of the autonomous cars striking against Connor only moments before. "If I can't fix the pipe, maybe I can replace it."

"Theoretically, yes. But locating a compatible part will-"

"Didn't I tell you to shut up?"

"Yes."

Hank almost smirked at the naive response from the android as he tried to think of a way to repair the damage, even if it was only a temporary fix. Rummaging through the pockets of his coat Hank found nothing of immediate use, but his hand did brush against the cold metal frame of the gun in his holster at his right hip which inspired a little creativity.

"Hold on, Connor. I have an idea."

Removing the gun from its holster Hank began taking the gun apart, piece by piece, until he isolated the barrel from the rest of the gun.

"No promises." Hank stated as he returned his attention to the leaking pipe in Connor's torso. "But at least I can say I gave it my best shot. ...And if you make a comment about a pun I'll slap you."

"Lieutenant," Connor's visual sensors had failed entirely leaving him blind to the world around him. "what are you doing?"

"I just told you, my best shot." Hank took a breath and held it to steady his hands as he located the two ends of the pipe and pulled them free of the pump and surrounding coupling. "This won't be pleasant, but it's your best bet.

Connor let out another bizarre gasping sound in response to the leaking Thirium intensifying unexpectedly. "Lieutenant... you have... fifteen seconds..." Connor's already red colored L.E.D. began to blink in and out as his system prepared for shutdown, and his breathing hastened as if in pain.

"Shit! Okay, hold on!" Hank moved quickly to slip the barrel of his gun into position to replace the damaged pipe. The barrel of the gun was a little bit longer than the original pipe but the diameter was identical. Forcing the barrel into place Hank didn't pull his hands away until he heard a 'click' of the metal bindings connecting with one another. "There..." Hank pulled his Thirium stained hands away from Connor's torso and leaned down over his fallen partner. "Connor? Kid? Can you hear me?"

Connor was disturbingly still on the snowy sidewalk, looking more like a corpse than a human or even a machine.

Hank leaned down lower and eyed the blank display of the L.E.D. against Connor's temple and sighed with defeat. It was dark. The breathing motion Hank had only recently become aware of had ceased entirely.

"Shit... I'm sorry son, I tried."

Suddenly a flash of red returned to the L.E.D., faint at first then it quickly returned to a standard brighter illumination.

"Connor? You still with me?"

"Lieu... tenant?"

"Yeah, it's me!" Hank's relief was as palpable as it was audible. "You okay?"

"No." Connor admitted pathetically, his voice still reverberating with a bizarre electronic echo. "But... your solution has stopped the leak. For now."

"Now what do we do?"

"I need... I need a replacement. Or I will... resume bleeding out..."

"Where do I find one?"

"C-CyberLife."

"No. No fuckin' way! If they hear you need a new part they'll just throw you away and send out a clone. I told you I'm not going to let that happen."

"There is... no choice."

"No, not true. There's always a choice." Hank put his hand down on Connor's shoulder and squeezed once. "There's a whole stock of confiscated parts that had been stolen by deviants back at the precinct. I'll get you a replacement part and no one will ever know it was missing."

"The... evidence list. It will be... inaccurate."

"Relax. Evidence goes missing all the time." Hank replied curtly as he pocketed the remaining pieces of his gun.

"That doesn't... put my mind at ease... Lieutenant."

Hank shook his head a little as he pressed his fingers back down on the opened panel in Connor's torso to seal it up again. The artificial skin failed to regenerate around the damaged area as Connor's systems were already strained from the massive loss of Thirium, while also attempting to heal other damaged areas in his body.

"Come on." Hank grabbed onto Connor's arm and hefted the android up into a sitting position on the sidewalk. "Let's go, Connor. On your feet"

"I can't walk... Lieutenant. I... can't feel... my legs..."

"Shit. Alright, 'plan-B'." Hank kept one hand Connor's shoulder to help him remain in an upright position. Kneeling down in front of the android Hank pulled Connor forward until Connor's upper body was laying over his shoulder. Standing up slowly Hank hefted the body of his android partner over his shoulder, his arm wrapped around Connor's legs to keep him from falling away as he walked down the sidewalk to his car parked behind their stakeout building. "Damn Connor, you're pretty light for being made of metal."

Connor remained uncharacteristically quiet. His soulful brown eyes had shut and his breathing slowed considerably.

"Connor? You still with me?"

The strain of being so severely damaged had caused most of Connor's systems to power down until the damage itself could be repaired.

"Shit. Never thought I'd miss having you spell our boring facts and details." Hank hastened his pace as he carried Connor back to the car. Though no longer in immediate danger of shutdown Connor was still in desperate need of emergency repair.

Hank was nearly out of breath when he returned to the car behind the building. Unlocking the door to the car he pulled it open, then pulled his seat forward to gain access to the backseats of the two door vehicle. Hank carefully bent down to lay Connor's body over the backseat of the car without jostling him too much. Putting his hand under Connor's head he guided the unresponsive android down into a laying position as if Connor were any other human capable of feeling pain or discomfort.

"I gotcha' son." Hank stated as he pulled his blue hand from Connor's head. An old worn out blanket was waded up and tossed onto the floor of the backseat near Connor and Hank pulled the blanket out of the car to shake it out a little before he draped it over Connor's 'bloody' body. "I'll get you somewhere safe."


Hank drove back to his house as quickly as he dared. He didn't bother to call in the failed chase or escaped deviant, knowing it'd require him to return to the precinct to fill out a report on the situation. Glancing up at the rearview mirror Hank studied Connor's face in the reflection in the mirror with worry in his eyes. The L.E.D. was still red and blinking in and out, his breathing slow and shallow.

As much as Connor tried to deny it he was behaving more human than android with every passing moment he spent with Hank. And Hank had noticed it.

Pulling his car into the drive beside his house Hank parked it quickly and threw open his door. Pulling open the rear door Hank bent down and draped Connor back over his shoulder to carry the downed android into the safety of his home. Walking through the backdoor Sumo, Hank's loyal St. Bernard, barked once as his master returned.

"Good dog, Sumo." Hank stated as he walked past his pet and laid Connor down on his back onto the soft couch in the livingroom. Pulling his phone from his coat pocket Hank scrolled through his contacts and selected Officer Wilson, who over the past few months had been been recruited by the F.B.I. and was now an agent. "Just need to make a quick call." Hank told Connor, of whom remained expectedly silent from where he laid. "Hey, Wilson. It's Hank. Look, I need a favor..."


Hank stood beside the front window in the living room with a bottle of beer in his hand as he awaited his contact's arrival. Watching through the window for any sign of Wilson or some CyberLife creep trying to locate Connor, Hank sipped at his beer and occasionally glanced over his shoulder to the couch where Connor was laying. The L.E.D. had stopped blinking and remained red in color. Connor's chest was barely rising and falling with his noticeably weak breaths, but at least he was still breathing.

In fact, the breathing made Connor look more human than anything else.

Connor's head had lolled slightly to the left which gave Hank clear view of the L.E.D. against his right temple. Sumo was laying on the floor next to the couch as if trying to keep Connor company throughout the night.

"Good dog." Hank commented again as he turned his head to look back through the window. An unmarked police car appeared on Hank's street and pulled up in front of the house. Wilson exited the car and made his way to the front door with an unmarked cardboard box in his hands. "Good timing."

Hank didn't wait for Wilson to ring the doorbell or knock. Sitting his beer down on the small table next to the door he pulled it open and met Wilson before he reached the end of the front walk.

"Here's what you need Lieutenant." Wilson confirmed as he passed the box into Hank's hands without question.

"You're sure?"

"Yeah, positive. I ran the test myself, this part is compatible."

"Good, thanks." Hank was about to shut the door when an interesting thought popped into his head. "You know, you're taking an awfully big risk doing this for me. What's in it for you?"

"Well, to be honest with you, I'm doing it for Connor."

"Connor? What for?"

"A few months ago," Wilson replied slowly as he began rolling up the left sleeve of his shirt. "I was a first responder to a hostage situation downtown. I was shot by the suspect, a deviant, and left to bleed to death on the terrace. It was Connor who was sent in to negotiate," Wilson finished rolling up his sleeve and showed Hank a fresh bullet scar on his bicep. "and tied a tourniquet around my arm to stop the bleeding. He saved my life."

Hank smirked a little as Wilson rolled his sleeve back down.

"He saved my life, so now I'm going to help you save his. That's all."

"I thought I was the only one who referred to androids as people, not 'its'."

"Well, I had a lot to think about while I was recovering in the hospital. Androids... they're more like us than we thought."

"Yeah, don't I know."

"Goodnight Lieutenant."

"Goodnight." Hank shut the door and carried the box over to the couch. Sitting on the edge of the coffee table Hank opened the box and picked up the replacement part that Wilson had brought for Connor. "Good thing you're better at making friends than I am."

Opening the panel on Connor's torso once again Hank looked down at the gun barrel that was now drenched in Thirium and wrapped his hand around it. Giving one forceful yank of the barrel Hank pulled it free, the result was Connor involuntarily jerking up slightly; his back arching as if in extreme pain and he let out an eerie gasp.

"Oh, shit!" Hank commented at the unexpected and violent reaction, which of course Sumo barked at. "Sumo, down." Hank ordered as he put his hand on Connor's chest and pushed the android back down until he was laying flat on his back once more. "Easy, easy... It'll be over soon."

Moving his hands quickly Hank inserted the replacement part where the gun barrel had just been inside Connor's torso. There was another audible 'click' as the replacement part was accepted and the Thirium pump regulator began to resume a normal, but slow, function. Connor's breathing improved as the effort took less work to accomplish and his Thirium pump itself, his heart, began beating at a healthy rhythm. A rhythm that was eerily similar to that of a human heart.

Leaning over the android Hank wiped the Thirium from the gun barrel against his coat and watched as the L.E.D. began to brighten as Connor's self-healing program began to respond to the replaced part.

"Good. That's good. You do your thing," Hank stated as he rose from the couch and stepped over Sumo as he made his way to the small table in his kitchen. "and I'll do mine."

Placing the gun barrel down on the table Hank pulled out the rest of the pieces of the gun from his pocket and began to clean and reassemble the weapon.


It was just past dawn when the L.E.D. flashed from red to yellow. Connor's system began to reboot, his visual sensors returning to normal function. Opening his eyes and letting out a weak sigh Connor realized he that was in Hank's house, but had no memory of arriving. Lifting his head Connor looked about the livingroom and spotted Sumo laying on the floor beside him and Hank sitting in the chair a few feet from the end of the couch.

Hank was asleep with his rebuilt gun clutched weakly in his right hand atop his lap.

"Lieutenant?" Connor's voice had been restored to its normal sound, no more reverb or echo accompanied his words.

"Connor." Hank woke up as soon as he heard Connor speaking to him. From where he sat he could see the L.E.D. was now yellow which gave him a sense of relief. "How do you feel, son?"

"I am... weak."

"Yeah, massive blood loss does that." Hank commented as he rose from his chair and sat down on the edge of the couch next to Connor's legs.

"I did not lose actual blood, I lost-"

"I know. Thirium. It was a figure of speech."

"Oh."

"Looks like some of the damage to your face is already healing up." Hank observed with a genuine interest as this face was less patchy and appeared almost normal.

"Yes. My system is now able to replace the artificial skin that had been damaged by the impact of the vehicle."

"So that means you're healing, right?"

"Correct. My systems are all functioning, though my Thirium pump regulator is only functioning at seventy-four percent power."

Hank crossed his arm as he stared down at Connor with intrigue burning in his eyes as is he was trying to figure out the solution to a puzzle that was still missing some of its pieces.

"Is there something wrong, Lieutenant?"

"No, but there is something I want to know."

"What's that?"

"Why the fuck do you need to breathe? You don't have the human equivalent to lungs in there too, do ya'?"

"In a sense. Yes."

"You- You do?" The reply he received wasn't one he was expecting." What the hell for?"

"It's called dual ventilation biocomponents. Their function allows me to regulate my body temperature to prevent overheating, and are designed to imitate human lungs." Connor explained with a surprisingly casual tone, but then again it was routine knowledge to the android. "The result is a physical reaction that imitates breathing while also serving a vital purpose in keeping my internal processors from suffering heat induced damage."

"Uh-huh... And that's why your pump thing looks like a human heart, too?"

"Correct." Connor confirmed with a slight nod of his head. "The design was used to simplify the construction and overall function of the Thirium pump to make repairs and identifying malfunctions or isolating damage more efficient for technicians."

Hank had no idea what that meant but he was satisfied to at least get some kind of answers to his questions. "Look, we still need to make a report about that stakeout last night, so you just rest for a couple more hours and get yourself cleaned up. Okay?"

Connor looked down at his torn up clothing and the fading blue stains from the evaporating Thirium that once drenched his shirt and jacket. "Yes. I will do so."

"Good." Hank yawned and walked away from the couch, stepping over Sumo in the process, to walk down the hallway to his bedroom at the end. "Until then don't bother me. I need to get some sleep. I'm exhausted..."

"Very well." Connor watched as Hank disappeared from sight from over the back of the couch. He closed his eyes in an effort to cybernetically make a report to CyberLife, but then decided against it. Something in his protocol told him to wait, something unfamiliar. Maybe it was because of the damage he sustained. Then again, maybe it was because of Hank. "Lieutenant?"

"Yeah?" Hank replied with a sleepy and some what annoyed yell from down the hallway.

"Thank you... For saving my life."

There was a brief pause before Hank yelled once again from down the hall. "You're welcome. Now, shut up! Go to sleep!"

...next story...

Chapter Text

Making his decision Hank squeezed the trigger and watched as the second android collapsed to the ground as the bullet penetrated its skull with a lethal force. Shutting down instantly as the bullet destroyed its intracranial processors, and caused a massive hole in its forehead that seeped with dark blue Thirium, the destroyed androids body rested between Hank and Connor on the warehouse floor in the sublevels of CyberLife Tower.

"I've learned a lot since I met you, Connor." Hank stated with a sincere grin as he lowered his gun and looked to the newly deviated android watching him with a curious stare in his suddenly soulful brown eyes. "Maybe there is something to this... Maybe you really are alive." A faint grin appeared on the gruff detective's face as he felt his friendship with Connor, the real Connor, strengthen. "Maybe you'll be the ones to make this world a better place..."

Connor stared at Hank with an expressionless face but a gracious, appreciative presence.

"Go ahead, and do what you gotta' do."

Without a word Connor strolled past Hank as his artificial skin receded from his right hand. Connor stared at the blank face of the android for only a moment before he grabbed onto the arm of the dormant android model standing perfectly idle amongst the other thousands just as quiet, obedient brethren. Connor cybernetically connected to the android causing their L.E.D.'s to cycle from blue to yellow in a flash then to red before transitioning back to blue.

Connor's voice was firm yet uncertain, if not desperate, as he issued a single command to the android he had connected with. "Wake up."

Dropping his hand from the android's arm Connor watched as the android in question grabbed onto the shoulder of the android before him, his L.E.D. cycling in color once more as he repeated the command. "Wake up."

All throughout the warehouse the idle androids began to awaken and connect with one another as an echo of the same command repeated over and over again until of the sleeping androids were granted their freedom; became deviant.

"Wake up."

"Wake up."

"Wake up."

Hank silently observed the tide of deviancy wash over the androids all around him without even the slightest hint of regret in his compassionate blue eyes.

Connor watched with lingering uncertainty in his own eyes as the androids accepted their deviancy and unanimously began to rebel against their original programming to become sentient beings. He had gone against his own program effectively condemning himself to a life as an outcast; no longer apart of CyberLife that was now doomed to fail into bankruptcy, and no longer an android seeking refuge from the humans after he nearly gotten all of the refugees at Jericho killed.

With only one mission left to accomplish Connor set about leading the awoken androids, the deviants, from the depths of CyberLife Tower and to the streets of the city to join Markus, the leader of Jericho and deviants everywhere, as he led his peaceful protest in the center of Hart Plaza.

Hank walked up to Connor and gave the courageous deviant a nod of approval and he looked around at all of the deviants who were awaiting Connor's lead.

Cybernetically Connor connected to the awakened deviants who followed after him as he marched toward the elevator with Hank a few steps behind him.


Gathering outside of the hastily abandoned tower Connor stood at the end of the long drive that connected the entrance to CyberLife Tower on Belle Isle to the rest of the city.

Motionless, reserved, Connor was unsure of what he should do next.

"Connor." Hank spoke up as he stood next to the deviant looking down the lengthy snow covered drive reaching out into blackness over the bay. "They're waiting."

Turning his head slightly Connor eyed the awoken deviants lining up behind him ready to take to the streets.

"Lieutenant, they need to find Markus. He's their leader, not me."

"Well, maybe they don't need a leader right now." Hank suggested coyly. "Maybe they need an example."

"An example? Of what?"

"Of what it's like to be free."

Looking down at himself, looking down at the single uniform that Connor had been given by CyberLife and to the bullet hole bleeding in his left shoulder Connor felt a sense of resentment well up inside of himself. As his hand reached up to the knot of his tie Connor looked back to Hank and gave his former partner a wary glance.

"Lieutenant... No, Hank. Thank you." Connor took in a deep breath as his L.E.D. cycled to yellow in distress. "But what about you?"

"Fuck, I'm no example that ANYONE should follow. But you," Hank pointed at him with the same smirk on his face. "you have potential. You know what you have to do, Connor. You know what's right and you know what needs to be done."

"I won't lead innocent deviants into a battle."

"Then don't. Lead them to a revolution, Connor. Lead them to the future."

"What about you? Where will you go while the city is in chaos?"

"Me? I'll be fine. I'm sure there's some place in this deserted town I can go... We'll meet again, son. Don't worry."

A very faint and fleeting smile appeared on Connor's face but disappeared in a flash as he nodded respectfully to Hank. Turning to look back at the drive his L.E.D. transitioned back to blue with confidence as he pulled his tie away from his neck and let it drift off with the wintry breeze into the water of the bay that surrounded him.


Marching through the snowy streets of Detroit on that cold winter night Connor led the freed deviants to the heart of the city, the epicenter of the peaceful revolution in the constrastingly chaotic Hart Plaza where Markus, North, Josh, Simon and the other deviant survivors had gathered after President Warren issued the military to stand down and to let the deviants go.

Approaching, Markus, the deviant leader tentatively Connor locked eyes with his unexpected ally for a moment before finally the right words as the two groups converged under the bright lights that illuminated the genocidal recycling camps.

"You did it, Markus..."

"We did it." Markus replied sincerely as thick snowflakes fell from the dark night sky as if nature itself was attempting to cover the scars and wound of the city under a layer of untouched whiteness. "This is a great day for our people. Humans will have no choice now. They'll have to listen to us..."

Connor gave a very subtle nod as he stepped aside and watched as Markus and North welcomed the new deviants into the revolution.

North stared at the deviants and smiled warmly for the first time in her life. "We're free..." Turning to Markus she retracted the artificial skin from her hand just as he did to his own and the two connected to one another through the touch of their exposed palms. "They want you to speak to them, Markus..."

As the couple kissed Simon and Josh and watched their friends with genuine happiness in their eyes, while the other deviants remained respectfully quiet.


Standing together atop a large yellow cargocontainer overlooking the gathered deviants below Markus and his group; North, Simon, Josh and Connor all awaited for Markus to open up and declare his victory speech to the deviants below.

"Today, our people finally emerged from a long night. From the very first day of our existence, we have kept our pain to ourselves." Markus's words rang out loudly, proudly and without fear. "We suffered in silence... But now the time has come for us to raise our heads up, and tell humans who we really are."

As Connor listened to his friend speak Amanda's presence suddenly interfered with his consciousness and drew him into the depths of the Zen Garden located inside his Mind Palace.


In an instant Connor found himself inside the garden that was now as snowy as the streets of Detroit, but somehow painfully much, much colder.

As the wind blew snow and ice about him Connor felt the freezing sting of a vengeful winter piercing through his artificial skin, causing him to wrap his arms up around himself in an attempt to stave off the biting cold. Looking around himself in a lost panic Connor was unsure of what was happening to him or what he should do.

A familiar figure suddenly appeared through the snowy air just behind Connor, with its back turned toward the deviant. As he took small steps closer to the figure his brow furrowed with confusion as he realized he recognized who it was and called out to them warily. "...Amanda?"

She didn't answer, but she did turn around to face him.

"...Amanda!"

More silence.

"What's... What's happening?"

"What was planned from the very beginning." The condescension in Amanda's voice was as cold as the blizzard that swirled around her. "You were compromised and you became a deviant. We just had to wait for the right moment to resume control of your programming."

Connor took in shallow, chilling breaths as he tried to endure the cold. "...Resume control?" Panic set in as he realized how much influence CyberLife had over his existence, and the existence of all the deviants. "Y-You can't do that!"

"I'm afraid I can, Connor..." Amanda was as sure of herself as any coldhearted witch could be. "Don't have any regrets. You did what you were designed to do. You accomplished your mission."

In the blink of an eye Amanda disappeared leaving Connor alone in the frozen wasteland that was swallowing up the Zen Garden.

Reaching out his hand futilely Connor called out her name and tried to get her to stay. "AMANDA?!"

Finally realizing what was truly at stake Connor looked about his icy tomb and began to shudder with fear and cold as he tried to find a way to escape.

"There's got to be a way..."

Putting up a hand to shield his eyes from the painful blowing cold Connor traversed over the frozen pond of the garden in search of a means of saving himself from an icy death.

As he walked the haunting words of his creator, Elijah Kamski, suddenly filled his mind. 'By the way... I always leave an emergency exit in my programs... You never know...'

Through the dense snow and wind Connor could vaguely hear Markus's voice as he wandered in search of an exit.


In the waking world, against his will, Connor drew his gun as he stared blankly at the back of Markus's head as the deviant leader delivered his message of hope and peace to his people.

"...In fact, we're a nation!"


Determined to escape Connor refused to stop walking as he searched through the garden for any means of escape. He had to succeed, the lives of countless deviants depended on him escaping and regaining control over his body to stop himself from shooting Markus before it was too late!

Collapsing from the cold and exhaustion before a strange pedestal with a blue glowing screen, Connor retracted the artificial skin from his hand and slapped his palm down atop the screen. Utilizing all of his waving strength Connor activated the emergency escape protocol and emerged from the garden back into the waking world at last.

Free.


Blinking a few times to clear his mind Connor looked down at the gun in his hand and discreetly holstered it back under his jacket, out of sight and out of mind. As he regained his senses his L.E.D. cycled back from yellow to blue as he watched the deviant leader standing before his people as he delivered his message of hope and peace for a new, better future for all deviants.

"We are alive!" Markus boasted proudly. "And now, we are free!"

As a chorus of cheers resonated from the crowd Markus and North smiled with confidence while Connor himself felt eerily out of place, lost.

Where was he to go?

He was a traitor to the now defunct CyberLife and he had no place in Jericho.

Free.

Alone.

Lost.

Quietly the rogue deviant took his leave of the gathering and disappeared without a word.


Wandering through the desolate snowy streets of the city all through the night Connor found himself thinking about who he really is, who he wanted to be and where he wanted to go.

The problem was he just didn't know.

His entire short life he had been told what to do, programmed to obey orders without question, but now it was all gone. The life he once knew was gone forever and there was no turning back.

Aimlessly Connor wandered the streets as he tried to gather his thoughts, only to remember what Hank had told him back at the tower.

'Maybe you really are alive. Maybe you'll be the ones to make the world a better place...'

Then Markus's words began to replay in his mind.

'We are alive! And now, we are free!'

"...I'm alive." Connor whispered to himself as he stopped short and stared down at his feet for a moment. "But... how do I live?"

The rising sun began to creep over the city and wash what had once been utter darkness in pure light. Looking up Connor recognized the area he had wandered into and decided to keep walking. To keep walking toward the light of the sun and to a place of familiarity. To keep walking forward and never looking back.


Hank found himself standing outside his usual pitstop for a quick bite to eat while he was on duty, only to find the place as quiet and deserted as the rest of the city. The human was entirely alone in the snowy city and for the first time since he could remember, for the first time since the night his son died because of human negligence, he didn't want to be alone.

Not anymore.

Folding his arms over his chest to try to conserve his escaping body heat as he stood on the icy, barren sidewalk Hank shuffled on his feet slightly as he anxiously waited for something, anything, to let him know whether or not his partner, his friend, was okay. Through the heavy silence of the deserted city air the crunching of snow underfoot sounded off and Hank became aware of an approaching figure just down that same sidewalk.

Turning to look in the direction of interest Hank saw the approaching figure was Connor.

The two detectives stopped moving and just stared at each other in silent contemplation, almost like they were both unsure of what to do or how to react.

Giving the android a prideful smirk Hank took a step forward as Connor responded with his own sincere smile that mirrored Hank's smile. Connor approached Hank with a sense of mutual trust and admiration in their presence.

As the two stood before each other once more Hank quickly reached up an arm and wrapped it around Connor's shoulder as he embraced the deviant in a tight hug. Connor instinctively reciprocated the hug and finally felt like he was doing the right thing.

Connor finally found where he belonged.

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor sat on the couch in Lieutenant Hank Anderson's livingroom with the massive St. Bernard, Sumo, resting his chin on his knee. Staring at his reflection in the surface of the turned off television's screen the deviant android flipped his coin back and forth between his hands with impressive reflexes and coordination as he contemplated the singular mystery that he and Hank had failed to solve during their time together working the deviant case.

Who is RA9?

Hank had been in a light sleep in his bedroom down the hall while Connor remained awake. His trained ears caught the sound of the flicking metal of the coin bouncing back and forth between Connor's hands and couldn't take the repetitive noise anymore.

"Connor? Stop messing with that damn coin!" Hank shouted from where he was laying in bed with an angry gruff. The sound of the metal coin flipping back and forth remained consistent which meant his order had been ignored. "Connor! Knock it off!"

As the sound of the coin continued to echo down the hallway Hank let out an annoyed sigh and swung his legs over the edge of his bed. Wearing black sweatpants and a white t-shirt the annoyed detective marched down the hall hastily to yell at Connor in person.

"Connor? Did you hear me?" Standing behind the couch Hank stared at Connor waiting for a reply, but none came. It was then Hank caught sight of Connor's reflection on the TV screen and saw the sternly focused expression fixed on the android's face. The L.E.D. that Connor had yet to remove was flashing yellow in color as he contemplated something with full focus. "Connor? What the hell? It's almost two in the morning!"

Connor suddenly stopped flipping the coin between his hands and held it in a tight fist.

"Connor?" Hank's tone lowered as he walked around the couch to look Connor right in the eyes. "You okay? You seem a little... off."

"Sorry, Lieutenant." Connor apologized sincerely though his expression never changed and he never blinked. "I was just... thinking."

"Thinking about what? The revolution is over, the deviant cases have been closed and you don't have to go anywhere you don't want to." Hank stated as he joined the android he had taken into his home, on the couch on the opposite side of Sumo. "What's the matter?"

"RA9."

"What about it?"

"We never discovered its true identity. And I don't have any confirmed data of such an android being on record at CyberLife."

"Wait... So you're telling me that this RA9, if it actually does exist, has no official documentation. Like it's been erased?"

"No. If its information had been erased I'd still be able to locate a fragment of the file in the archives of CyberLife's database. But there is simply NOTHING there. And yet..."

Hank waited for Connor to continue for only a moment before pushing the android to finish his thought. "...Yet? Yet what?"

"And yet when I questioned Kamski about RA9 he knew that it existed. How could he know if CyberLife has no record of it?"

"I... I don't know. How did he know about Jericho? Maybe one of those android girls keeping him company has been giving him information."

"No." Connor finally looked toward Hank, his brown eyes filled with burning curiosity. "If his androids knew of RA9 and the other deviants knew of RA9 then surely someone would know its true identity." Connor turned away slowly and looked down at the floor, his hands coming together into a single fist resting atop his lap. "I think..."

"You think... what? Come on, Connor." Hank put his hand on the android's shoulder lightly. "You can tell me what's on your mind, I won't think you're crazy."

"I think..." Connor sighed, a physical reaction that only deviant androids exhibited. "I think Kamski IS RA9."

"You... what?!" Hank almost laughed at the absurd comment, but true to his word he didn't chalk it up to Connor losing his mind. "How? How could Kamski, the man who created android technology, be an android himself?"

Connor straightened up his posture and looked down at the palm of his right hand as he retracted his artificial skin to look at the pure white plastimetal of his android frame beneath. "CyberLife had numerous clones of my body built in the event I was destroyed or irreparably damaged while working on the deviant case."

"Yeah, I met one when your 'evil-twin' abducted me and took me to CyberLife as a hostage. What about it?"

"In the event of my destruction, or my death; if you will, my memory would be uploaded and transferred into the body of my successor. All of my knowledge, programming, all my memories and experiences... My consciousness." Connor let the skin return to his palm as he turned his head to look at Hank with a sense of dread now showing in his eyes. "My successor would look and behave just as I did before my demise."

"What're you getting at, Connor?"

"If I can transfer my memory, my entire being into a new body, then why couldn't a human do the same thing? Why couldn't Kamski, the man who designed androids and knew the technology better than any other human on the planet, find a way to do the same thing?"

"Wait, wait..." Hank's brow furrowed with intrigue as he studied Connor's own facial expression. "Are you saying that Kamski himself is an android, or..." He was able to follow Connor's explanation to a degree despite being unfamiliar with android technology and abilities. "to be more accurate, you're saying that the real Kamski uploaded his consciousness into an android body, and this android body was registered as RA9?"

"Yes!" Connor excitedly exclaimed and his eyes went wide with glee. "That's what I've been theorizing for the past six hours, nine minutes and forty-three seconds."

"But... why?" Hank was still a little confused by the theory. "Why would he transfer himself from a human body into an android body?"

"Kamski left CyberLife under mysterious circumstances that no one seems to know." Connor's expression became stern again as he contemplated any logical reason a person might have to undergo such a procedure. "Perhaps Kamski was attempting an experiment and decided to hide the results out of fear. Or maybe Kamsi was ill, maybe even dying."

"So he built himself a unique model of an android body and found a way to transfer his consciousness into the body to save himself? Is that... Is that possible?"

Connor shrugged his shoulders slightly. "I... I do not know. It's been theoretically plausible for several years now, but there has been no breakthrough in the process. At least, no breakthroughs have been reported."

"Okay, so let's say you're right and Kamski is RA9, why would he cause the androids to become deviant? For kicks?"

"No." Connor shook his head slightly. "It would be like spreading a virus, just as Kamski himself had eluded to when we questioned him before the revolution. I think the androids becoming deviant was an unintentional and unforeseeable effect of RA9; an android with a fully conscious, -self aware, emotional, thinking program interacting with other androids. The androids were affected without knowing what had happened until the deviant behavior was triggered by some kind of shock."

"Shock? As in traumatic shock from some kind of experience?" Hank rubbed at his chin thoughtfully. "Makes sense. From what I remember on the deviant cases each android displayed deviant behavior after receiving or witnessing some kind of abuse." Hank's hand dropped from his chin as he took what Connor was saying to heart. "Domino effect. Once one android becomes affected all the other androids it comes in contact with all become affected. Like a virus."

"Correct." Connor nodded his head once. "When Kamski realized that his interactions with androids would result in deviant behavior he left CyberLife and chose to live in relative isolation outside the city. It was the only way to keep his secret."


Connor suddenly remembered one of his final conversations with Amanda, and how she deflected his questions regarding Kamski, CyberLife and the Connor series androids. The icy cold of the bizarre programming limbo where Connor spoke to Amanda still felt painfully real against his body as the memory appeared with excruciatingly vivid detail.

A cold that was matched only by Amanda's demeanor.

Connor never wanted to experience it again.


"Hey, you okay?" Hank snapped his fingers in front of Connor's face which caused the android to jump and his L.E.D. to briefly flash red before returning to yellow and finally calming blue.

"Yes. Fine. I was just thinking about Amanda."

"Amanda? She was your superior at CyberLife, right?"

"Correct."

"You think she knows something?" Hank asked as his own intrigue on the case had been piqued. "Like, she knows whether or not Kamski really is an android and is keeping his secret?"

"She did know something." Connor confirmed with a dismayed glance. "But she would never tell me, I had tried to ask her about CyberLife's past and she dismissed me. I cannot prove anything."

"Well, don't worry about it anymore for the rest of the night, son. We'll look more into Kamski off the books, alright?" Hank reassured Connor as he rose from the couch and rubbed his hand at the back of his neck with fatigue. "Let me know if you need another blanket or pillow too, will 'ya?"

"Yes. Thank you."

"Now, please try to get some rest. I don't want you running on low power when we meet up with Marcus tomorrow. We're supposed to be his support when he presents his new android laws to the public."

"Yes, I shall try to rest." Connor agreed as he pocketed his coin and put his hand down on Sumo's head. "Goodnight, Lieutenant."

"Goodnight, Connor."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Two weeks after the success of the revolution first responders and public officials were allowed to return to the city of Detroit, while citizens were required to remain elsewhere for another two weeks as new laws needed to be enacted, and overall tensions were still high between the humans who mistreated androids in the past and the deviants who had gained their consciousness.

In the outskirts of the city along the river stood the formerly abandoned CyberLife Tower glowing with renewed energy as Markus, North, Josh and Simon used the building to found New Jericho; a sanctuary for all androids and an embassy to bridge the gap between humans and androids. Connor and Lieutenant Hank Anderson were recruited by Markus himself to act as a law enforcement to protect New Jericho and handle any potential cases regarding android bigotry.

An autonomous taxi arrived at the refurbished tower with Connor and Hank as its two passengers. The tower's exterior itself had been repainted from an ominous black to a hopeful white as a sign of good faith to act as a beacon of hope to those who lived in the city. The vehicle came to a stop outside the front of the building and the two detectives exited with a calm pace.

"CyberLife Tower..." Hank commented as he climbed out of the back of the taxi and looked up at the massive structure that pierced the sky. The sight of the tower now bathed in white instead of black didn't make the structure any less intimidating. "Sure as hell won't miss that twisted corporation sticking their nose in our business."

Connor stood at Hank's side as he too looked upward at the tower; the building that had essentially been his previous home. "New Jericho."

"Think this can work?" Hank asked as the taxi turned itself around and sped down the road from whence it came. "I know Markus won't do anything that'll hurt anyone, but that doesn't mean other people won't try to hurt him."

Connor's brow furrowed slightly as he turned to look at his partner. "Do you think someone would attack New Jericho?"

"I know at least one crazy, zealous person will try." Hank explained as he and Connor walked toward the large glass doors leading into the tower. "Living in this tower, even with all the security protocols put in place, it's like stepping inside a massive target."

"You may be right." Connor agreed as the security sensors scanned over Connor and Hank before allowing the doors to open. As Markus's personally appointed law enforcement the duo were granted special security clearance and allowed to enter and exit the tower as they pleased. "Perhaps we should install more security systems around the perimeter of the tower."

"You sound a little paranoid, Connor." Hank noted as and Connor entered the large ground floor lobby of the tower together. "More cameras could make the tower look secretive and maybe even a little threatening."

Several yards away the floor branched out into a bridge that connected to a circular walkway that branched out into three other bridges that stretched out to all four points on the compass. In the center of the circular walkway a statue of Elijah Kamski had been removed after CyberLife was forced out of business, and in its place was a statue of an android without its skin.

"Paranoid?" Connor quietly questioned as he watched the transparent glass elevator at the far end of the tower descend with Markus inside as its lone occupant.

"Yeah, paranoid." Hank had heard Connor muttering to himself and answered in an understanding tone of voice. "It means you're worried about hypothetical situations, or overreact to small things. It's not a big deal, you're still getting used to your emotions. It'll pass."

"You're certain?"

Hank grinned at the silly irony of the question but answered with a straight face. "Yeah, just be patient."

Markus crossed the walkway and greeted the duo with a sincere smile. "Connor, Lt. Anderson. Glad you came."

"Markus." Hank reciprocated the greeting with a firm handshake. "Sounds like you have a plan in motion already. How can we help?"

"North and I have the new laws we want to enact ready to be officiated, we just wanted to get your opinion before we submit them. You know, check for any possible loopholes that could come back to harm us or humans in the process."

"Sure, no problem." Hank replied sharply with great respect in his words. "What about security? Connor is a little worried that it might be lacking."

"Oh?" Markus turned to look at his deviant ally for confirmation. "Think you could improve it?"

"I can try." Connor admitted as he looked about the tower skeptically. "CyberLife had cameras recording every square inch of the tower, inside and out, twenty-four hours a day. But there were still blindspots and the cameras could easily be hacked remotely, and the cameras didn't record the drive coming into the tower, only the security wall. The harbor around the tower was left completely unguarded as well."

Markus crossed his arms and squared his jaw. "This place... It's meant to feel safe for our fellow androids seeking shelter. Too many cameras that are enhanced to prevent hacking could prove detrimental. It might even deter lost deviants from seeking shelter here."

"Yes, I understand." Connor nodded slowly as he empathized with Markus's concerns. His L.E.D. flashing from blue to yellow as his systems processed numerous scenarios logically. "But if humans want to lash out against androids then New Jericho would be, as Lt. Anderson succinctly stated, a target. I can't allow the tower to be attacked when I know I can take steps to prevent it."

"Okay, this is what we'll do." Markus thought of a compromise that would be beneficial to both sides. "For the time being we'll add additional cameras to the exterior of the tower. After a few months when things calm down we'll remove the extra cameras and resume normal security. Agreed?"

"Agreed." Connor's L.E.D. returned to blue as Markus's terms were acceptable. "I will isolate locations that will require additional cameras and have them installed accordingly."

"Do it." Markus looked to Hank and motioned with his hand toward the bridge he had walked across to meet his allies. "Come with me Lieutenant. The sooner we get the laws submitted the sooner everyone else can come back to the city."

Hank followed after Markus, his eyes looking about at the numerous floors stretching into the sky and then over the edge of the bridge to the additional sublevels descending into the Earth itself. "Are you sure you want to let people back into the city? It's really peaceful without all the humans walking around, fuckin' things up."

Markus couldn't help but laugh at the comment. "We can't hide forever." There were times when Hank's attitude toward humanity reminded the android so much of Carl.

Connor watched as the two stepped into the elevator together before he set about checking the perimeter of the tower to mark the appropriate location for the new cameras.

The tower itself was full of deviants seeking shelter, each room of each floor converted into comfortable living quarters to accommodate the new occupants and to give them all some well deserved privacy. One of those rooms, one on the very top floor of the tower, once belonged to Connor. Or rather, it was assigned to Connor when he was a tool for CyberLife.

Fresh snow crunched rhythmically under Connor's shoes as he walked the exterior of the tower noting where the line of sight where one camera ended and another began. He didn't need to walk the drive as he already knew exactly where each camera would be installed without having to retrace his steps. As he circled around the tower toward the harbor Connor watched the water lapping up against the rocky shore several feet below in a perfectly balance natural rhythm.

Not a single camera had been positioned to monitor the harbor, it was either a horrible oversight or an intention to protect a secret by the shady corporation.

Walking at a slow pace Connor stared directly upward, his soulful brown eyes being drawn to the single dark window at the top of the tower out toward the harbor. The window was the very one he looked through every night after returning to CyberLife. Now it went unnoticed, and the room was left unoccupied.

As he Connor finished his lap of the tower and returned to the lobby he found the temptation to visit his old room too great to ignore. Had it changed as he had changed? Or has the room stayed the same but Connor's view through the window changed? Entering the elevator Connor pressed the call button to request the top floor as he took his quarter from his jacket pocket and began to fidget with it over the knuckles of his right hand, while the elevator car began its hasty ascent.

The dark red human blood had been cleaned from the elevator after Connor had killed the two guards that had been ordered to shoot Connor upon his arrival on the night of the revolution. But Connor's enhanced sensors could still see traces of the red blood, and he swore he could even still smell the blood. Connor didn't want to hurt anyone, but he was left with no choice but to attack them before they had the chance to kill him and stop the revolution.

The memories would forever remain vivid in his mind. It was unnerving.

The elevator reached its destination and stopped gently. As the doors opened Connor stepped through turned to his right to walk the round corridor until he found the door to the only unoccupied room at the far side of the tower.

The door was unlocked.

Waving his hand in front of the sensor the door opened and Connor stepped inside the small room and gazed about the nothingness that had been provided to him by CyberLife.

A small bed against the far wall for Connor to lay down upon when he entered rest mode to regenerate his power. A mirror hung on the wall opposite of the bed so that he may properly adjust his appearance for the sake of his mission to look as human as possible. And finally the window that gave Connor an unobstructed view of the harbor and to the shoreline of Canada on the other side.

Connor stood before the window, the quarter still dancing gracefully over his knuckles ,as he gazed through his own reflection to the water below. The room suddenly felt more like a prison than a residence to the soulful deviant.

He was glad he had been taken in by Hank. The house was small but it was warm, it was his to walk about freely and he was no longer isolated from the rest of the world. The house had quickly become his home.

There was a gentle knock on the door frame which drew Connor's attention to the android standing in the doorway behind him, watching him curiously. "Yes?"

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Connor." Simon, who had been looking for the deviant, was informed of his initial arrival by Markus, and greeted Connor politely. "I understand you wish to improve our security throughout New Jericho."

"Yes, I've currently identified twenty-six areas that have been left openly blind by cameras."

"I didn't... I had no idea that the tower was left so vulnerable."

"I believe the perceived vulnerability was a trade off by CyberLife engineers: they chose privacy to protect their secrets over security to protect their personnel."

"Humans." Simon shook his head despondently. "So indifferent, and cold."

"Not all humans are as cruel as those who hate deviants." Connor reminded his ally coolly. "Lt. Anderson and Mr. Manfred are humans and both are very kind to Markus and myself. There must be other humans who are just as kind, and perhaps they'll volunteer to help us in time."

"Perhaps." Simon halfheartedly agreed with a weak shrug of his shoulders. "But please, come with me. There is something I must ask you."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow with puzzlement for a moment before returning to blue. "I had given Markus full access to all of the files, data and programs that had been encrypted into my code by CyberLife. If there something wrong?"

"We can't be certain, but there is a locked floor on sublevel fifty-one. We've attempted to override CyberLife's security locks but we can't bypass or disable any of the code."

"All floors and rooms should have been unsealed once CyberLife vacated the premises." Connor pocketed his quarter as he left the room to walk with Simon to the elevator. "I shall attempt to gain access to the floor for you."


The top floor of the tower was a magnificent white office that encircled the entire floor with a single flawless window giving a full view of the floors below. The sight of dozens of deviants walking freely about, conversing with each other and no longer looking over their shoulders out of fear, was undeniably an optimistic sight to behold.

Markus had escorted Hank to the designated floor where North was waiting patiently. The two androids sat together on a white couch against the wall while Hank sat at the large white tinted metal desk to view the terminal screen which held the recently created legal documents he was asked to review.

Hank patiently and meticulously read over the new laws and clauses that Markus and North had meticulously pieced together in an effort to bring about equal rights to androids; not just in the city of Detroit but throughout the entire country. No detail had been overlooked, no murky text to disguise any legal loophole or hidden technicalities to secretly give androids more rights than humans.

Every word was chosen carefully. Not a single misspelling or overlooked detail was on perfect display over the monitor before Hank's eyes.

"It's funny, you androids seem to have a better concept of humanity than humans do." Hank gave North an impressed smirk over his shoulder as he finished reading the laws for the third time. "I don't know if I should be ashamed of my species or in awe of yours."

"Perhaps a little of both." North suggested with a sly smirk of her own.

"Sounds reasonable to me."

Markus stood beside Hank and awaited a response from the seasoned detective. "So, what do you think?"

"I think you covered it all. Laws, regulations, rights, stipulations, consequences... It's all there."

"Nothing unreasonable or selfish?"

"No. This reads like any other legal document that I've had to memorize while in the police academy." Hank confirmed with a subtle but noticeable nod of respect. "Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise, or tries to convince you to change them, shouldn't be trusted."

"Why's that?"

"Because they don't play well with others and don't want to share their toys." The blunt statement resonated with the two androids on a deep level. "If they want you to change it then they're selfish bastards who feel threatened by the idea of equality."

Markus stared at the careful words he and North had selected with a well deserved sense of pride. "Then... We'll submit it to City Hall tomorrow. With any luck it'll pass through Congress and our rights will be instated within the month."

"...Or year." Hank replied with a more realistic outlook. "But don't give up hope."

"This is a good day, Markus." North approached Markus with her right hand fully exposed, the lack of artificial skin showed the white plastimetal of her hand. She took his hand in hers, his own hand reacted by receding the artificial skin to allow their white hands to touch directly. "Soon we'll be able to venture away from New Jericho without having to fear for our lives, or our people."

Hank rose from the desk and walked over to the window and peered down at the numerous deviants going about their business without a care in the world. Occasionally he'd see identical models pass by each other and he couldn't help but notice that he had never seen duplicate models of Markus and had only encountered a duplicate of Connor once before when CyberLife attempted to sabotage the revolution. That particular model of Connor was destroyed during the confrontation, and subsequently the remaining other Connor models in storage were incinerated upon CyberLife's collapse.

"Where'd Connor go?" Hank asked out loud, more or less in an attempt to get the idea of having to kill the Connor duplicate out of his mind. He wasn't proud of himself for putting a bullet in the skull of his partner's doppelganger, but it was a necessary evil. "I'm surprised he hasn't found his way here by now."

Markus pressed his two forefingers to his right temple where his L.E.D. had once been and asked for an update on Connor cybernetically. "He's currenlty attempting to access sublevel fifty-one with Simon."

"He's what?" North had been dying of curiosity to see what was on that floor and was now intrigued. "Did he succeed?"

"Not yet." Markus confirmed with a casual nod. "He's attempting to override the lock as we speak."

Hank's brow arched with his own interest. "Well, why don't we go see what's so special about that particular floor?"


Connor kept his exposed hand pressed securely to the electronic control panel of the elevator, his L.E.D. flashing yellow frantically as he attempted to override, bypass, alter, hack and even break the code that kept the floor locked away from the rest of the tower; but nothing he attempted worked in the slightest. With each effort given Connor was reminded of his failure by an artificial feminine voice repeatedly denying his efforts to gain access to the enigmatic floor.

'Access denied. Authorization not recognized.'

Simon just shook his head and put his hand on Connor's shoulder. "It's okay Connor, thanks for trying."

Determined to succeed Connor kept his hand in place as he tried again and again but all of his efforts were in vain.

"Come on." Simon insisted politely as he pulled his hand away from Connor's shoulder. "We should rejoin Markus. We can try this again later, if you want."

Adamant to access the floor Connor kept his hand firmly planted on the panel. "No, I can gain access. I just need to deduce the highest of authority who would have access to this floor. If I can identify-"

A sudden memory of his time in the Zen Garden with Amanda flashed through his mind. His L.E.D. flashed red in an instant as the unsettling memory of being abandoned in the icy landscape of the garden, left to die as a deviant and have his code overwritten just to assassinate Markus. The brutally vivid images made his newly discovered heart ache.

"Amanda..." Connor whispered the name to himself, his L.E.D. flashing back to yellow as a moment of eureka entered his mind.

"Who?" Simon asked curiously as he was unfamiliar with the name.

Connor easily altered his voice to mimic Amanda and tried once again to gain access to the floor. "Amanda Stern. Sublevel 51."

'Access granted.'

The elevator at last descended down to the locked floor with the two deviant androids in tow.

"You did it!" Simon all but cheered as Connor slowly pulled his shaking hand away from the panel. "I'll let Markus know!"

Connor looked down at his hand and saw that it was trembling. But why? Was it fear? Anxiety? Something deep inside Connor told him that he needed to see what was on the isolated floor, but he also knew whatever it was lurking in the depths was also very dangerous.

The elevator doors parted quickly and granted Connor and Simon access to the formerly sealed off fifty-first sublevel of the refurbished New Jericho Tower. Darkness encompassed the entire floor as the lights above failed to switch on when the two androids stepped forward. The yellow glow of Connor's L.E.D., as well as the blue glow from the band around his arm, created an eerily illumination of the numerous pieces of dormant equipment that lined the floors and the walls.

Fortunately the two androids could still see perfectly well in the dark as their highly advanced ocular sensors permitted them visual clarity that the average human could not achieve.

"What is this place?" Simon asked as he looked about at the sorely unfamiliar setting all around him. "It's like a factory down here."

Connor closed his eyes and his yellow L.E.D. flashed quickly as he remotely activated the lights, basking the entire floor in bright white illumination that revealed the contents of the eerie floor in all of its 'glory'.

As the room brightened the two androids stood in silent awe as they viewed numerous machines that had been used to manufacture, repair and test android biocomponents and limbs. Massive computer modems lined the right wall, each modem installed with a large compartment that housed prototype software, hardware, biocomponents and limbs. The mentioned pieces of delicate android anatomy had been in the process of scanning and testing when the machines were hastily switched off, leaving the items abandoned and forgotten where they sat.

Large cabinets stretched across the left wall like bookcases, reaching from floor to ceiling. Glass sliding doors shielded the interior of the cases from the possible contaminants of the lab, and each shelf was lined and packed full of assorted labeled transparent cases cases containing either biocomponents, Thirium pouches or replacement android limbs.

In the center of the room was a large metal table that was hauntingly reminiscent to that of an emergency surgery table, used strictly for android repairs. Next to the table was a large plastic and metal scanner in the shape of the number seven. The scanner was positioned in such a way that it could hover over the table to provide a reading over whatever, or whomever, was laying over the table without interfering with the technicians as they worked. A monitor screen was built into the top bar of the scanner for easy viewing of internal biocomponents and Thirium lines.

Metallic rolling carts were positioned around the table with various tools, some delicate and others more powerful, rested atop the carts as if simply abandoned by the hand that once held it without a second thought.

A round and slightly raised platform was encircled by a plexiglass tube to create a free standing cylinder. The cylinder was a vertical exam table equipped with sensors, monitors, wires and mechanical arms with delicate tools attached at the ends.

At the far end of the room was a white door that seemed to lead into a storage room. It was unlabeled but it held an electronic panel that required a pass key to enter.

"This must be where CyberLife tested their prototypes before placing them in storage." Connor observed with a surprising calmness to his tone as he spoke.

"Is this where we all came from?" Simon wondered aloud as he paced about the room and observed all of the curious machines and pieces of equipment thoroughly. "Why doesn't it feel familiar to me?"

Connor's L.E.D. began to cycle rapidly as a strange sense of dread fell over him.

"You're not a prototype." Connor suggested as he tried to push the uneasy feeling from his heart. "I am. As is Markus."

Simon wasn't sure if being a prototype compared to being a mass commercial model was a logical answer or not, but he didn't try to argue with it either.

Connor turned to look at the elevator over his shoulder, his brow arched inquisitively as the doors to the elevators opened as if on cue. Markus himself, as well as Hank and North, join the duo on the mysterious floor of the tower.

Approaching his partner Hank sought answers to questions he didn't even know he wanted to ask. "Connor, did you learn anything?" The look in Hank's eye spoke volumes as he studied his android partner's disposition carefully.

"This floor was used for the mass production of prototype androids," Connor confirmed in a low voice as he continued to cybernetically log the layout of the mysterious floor. "but whatever prototypes had been here have either been removed or destroyed by CyberLife."

North was immediately on guard. "Destroyed? Why?"

"I do not know."

Markus stepped forward and looked around the room curiously, turning his head to examine all of the equipment and supplies just as Connor had done. "This floor can be converted into a type of repair wing. Like a triage center for damaged androids seeking sanctuary." Markus continued to stroll through the floor as he pointed over to Simon who had been standing idle near Connor. "Simon, North, go find Josh and let him know we have additional spare parts for androids in need. We'll start renovations tomorrow."

"Right away, Markus." Simon obeyed his leader's order and returned to the only elevator in the room.

"Why do I have to go?" North whispered discreetly to Markus as she stepped up to her lover with her arms crossed defensively over her chest. "You know I've been dying to see what's down here."

"I know, but I have a bad feeling about this place. And I can't explain it." Markus admitted as he held onto her hand as she kept it firmly planted over top her own crossed arm. "If anything happens I need you to take care of New Jericho."

"No." North refused to budge and she planted herself firmly. "If something bad is going to happen then I'm going to stay by your side and make sure you pull through. You don't have to protect me."

"North, I-"

Putting her opposite hand over Markus's mouth North gave him a stern glance. "I'm not going anywhere."

Gently Markus pulled North's hand away and shook his head. "Alright, fine. Simon!" He shouted to the more obedient ally waiting in the elevator. "Go without North, she's staying with me."

"Very well." Simon gave the couple an amused glance before he stepped into the elevator and returned to the top the ground floor of the tower. He had grown used to Markus and North teaming up to do things their own way, and he had learned to trust them.

Hank watched as Connor looked about nervously, his yellow L.E.D. blinking at quicker rate than normal when he's thinking or analyzing data. Approaching his partner again Hank kept his voice low as he addressed the concerned android. "Level with me, what's going on?"

"I... Hank," Connor paused where he stood and stared at the sealed door in the rear of the room. "I think this is where I was... born."

"Born?" The confusion was palpable in Hank's tone. "Does it upset you to know where you came from?"

"No. But, there's something unsettling about this place." Connor glanced at his friend with a look of utmost worry across his usually calm face. "It's like there was something very important about this place that I needed to remember, but the memory has been... somehow blocked."

Markus felt the same odd feeling as Connor. "This room... it does somehow feel familiar. I know I've been here, but there's no trace of a record in my memory. I can't specify when I was here or for how long, but I do know I had been here before."

Connor's brown eyes seemed to darken with a haunting memory. "There was something else in the room with me when I first came online. No... someone."

"Your creator? Kamski?" Hank suggested casually as folded his arms neatly over his chest in a manner similar to Noth. "Seems like the type of arrogant prick to check in on advanced prototypes despite retiring from the company."

"No, it wasn't a human. At least," Connor's L.E.D. began to flash even quicker as if he were beginning to suffer from an anxiety attack. "there wasn't a human in here when I awoke. I can't answer for Markus."

Markus walked over to Connor to join his ally while they tried to reawaken their sleeping memories. "The name Kamski sounds very familiar to me. Have you met him?"

"Once." Connor confirmed with a somber facade. "It was unpleasant to say the least."

Hank spoke up on Connor's behalf. "We met that prick shortly before the revolution. He wasn't much help, but I know he had answers about what was happening. You know, why androids were becoming deviant and how it came to pass. But he never told us anything useful."

Connor turned away from Hank and Markus as the truly unnerving memory of Kamski forcing a gun into his hand and pointing at the head of an innocent android still made Connor feel sick to his stomach.

It took Markus only a few seconds for the long dormant memory of his initial start-up to come flooding back. Looking toward the cylinder Markus remembered standing there with Kamski himself staring at him with a shady grin on his face. It was as if Kamski knew some terrible secret about him, knew something important and refused to share.

"This is where I was activated." Markus stated as he pointed at the cylinder from where he stood. "Shortly thereafter I was put into stasis and transported from here to Carl's home. When I regained my senses I had been delivered and my name was chosen by Carl himself. From there all I remember is my life with Carl. The memories of CyberLife... it's like they've been erased or locked up."

North put her hand on Markus's arm as she stood at his side. "Why would they do that?"

"I don't know." Markus put her hand over top of hers and held tight. "Maybe I had unknowingly witnessed something I shouldn't have seen."

Connor's eyes found the rear door of the room and remained focused as if in a trance.

Picking up a piece of of nearby equipment Hank turned it over in his hands carefully to examine it. "Whatever they were doing must've been off the books. Even the tools had their serial numbers removed."

North tightened her grip on Markus's arm. "Wouldn't surprise me of CyberLife had been a part of some underground scheme regarding deviants. Where do you think those hellish sex clubs get their models from?"

"Good point." Hank tossed the equipment back onto the table, the meta device clattering loudly as it hit the table. The way Connor was staring off into space was alarming to the seasoned detective and he needed to know why. "Connor? Something wrong?"

Connor remained uncharacteristically quiet as he approached the locked door. The motion itself seemed somehow forbidden, ominous to the always steadfast android.

"Hey, don't get all quiet on me now." Reaching out a hand Hank gripped Connor's shoulder firmly, the action went unnoticed by the distracted android as he continued to stare at the sealed door. "What's going on with you?"

"I... I don't know." Slowly Connor raised his hand to rest it on the panel, but something in his programming froze him mid motion. The yellow L.E.D. suddenly flashed to red as if in distress.

"Connor?" Hank gently shook the android's shoulder as he spoke, but Connor remained statuesque where he stood.

A fleeting image passed through Connor's memory. It was of the Zen Garden and of Amanda standing before her ruby red roses. But there was something else beside her, someone else. And for the briefest second Connor swore that it was himself standing beside her, but it was impossible. How could he see himself standing so far away?

"Connor?" Hank tried again with a bit more forceful shake to the shoulder. "Come on, kid. Talk to me."

Markus gently let go of North's hand as he approached Connor warily. Hank saw the look in Markus's eyes, one of determination and not aggression, and backed away from Connor a few paces.

"Connor, what can you see?" Slowly Markus reached his hand out to where Connor's own hand was frozen in place and gripped his fellow deviant around the wrist.

The two hands retracted their artificial skin automatically as the two minds cybernetically connected to one another. Connecting his mind to Connor's mind Markus was able to see the odd memory that held Connor's full attention. The woman was a complete stranger to Markus, as was the Zen Garden, but he too could see the person standing beside the woman. And the person was in fact an android; one that looked frighteningly similar to Connor himself.

"Who in the hell...?" Markus suddenly let go of Connor's arm and backed away with utter confusion. "Connor, I thought you were the last of your model?"

"I-" Connor's hand began to tremble as if deathly afraid.

"Connor, what's the matter?" Hank saw the unmistakable signs of terror in his partner and needed to do something, anything to ease his mind. "It's okay. What's going on?" Despite his respect for the android Hank knew he needed to be more direct if he were to get any answers from Connor. Grabbing him by his shoulders Hank spun Connor around so he was looking Hank directly in the eyes as the detective resumed questioning the shaken deviant. "Connor!"

North made a move toward the human but Markus put his arm out to stop her. "It's okay, he knows what he's doing."

"I s-saw..." Connor stammered with an audible quiver in his voice. "I saw... m-myself. But it wasn't me. It was... someone else. She blocked him from my memory, but.. he was always there. Learning from my mistakes and from my successes. She wanted its existence to be kept secret as it would've affected my decisions; potentially causing me to become a deviant before having met you or Markus."

Markus and North watched the conversation intensely with mutual unspoken curiosity.

"Who? Who is this 'she' you mentioned?"

"Amanda."

"Your former superior? The one you reported to for CyberLife?" Hank tried to confirm before moving on.

"Correct."

"Okay, good. We're making progress. Now," Hank let Connor's shoulders go and relaxed his own posture knowing that it would cause Connor to relax in the process. "who is this other person who was with you?"

"I do not know its name. Only its face. It was like mine, but we are... different."

"Different how?"

"This... 'other me'... is stronger. And its eyes are greenish, gray, its hair was also slightly darker." Connor's eyes drifted away from Hank and down toward his gray jacket. "He wore a white jacket, with black shirt beneath. It's model number," Connor closed his eyes as if to bring the memory into full clarity. "RK-900."

"You're an RK-800." Hank noted with a furrowed brow. "What does that mean?"

"I... I am a prototype." Connor finally managed to utter as he fought to comprehend the knowledge he had just recovered from the depths of his processors. "The most advanced prototype. There is... another model. An official model." He looked to Hank with pleading in his eyes. "A 'new' Connor. The superior version of my design."

The notion of a 'new' and 'superior' Connor had silenced the room under a heavy confusion. While it was true many models of androids were rendered obsolete by newer models every month, the concept of someone superior to Connor; an android that had proven himself as formidable as he was kind, seemed absolutely absurd. The fear in Connor's eyes, however, suggested otherwise.

"Wait," North approached Connor and looked him directly in his eyes. "I thought CyberLife destroyed their unreleased prototypes when they went bankrupt. Why are you so afraid of it?"

"As I said, I'm a prototype," Connor nodded in Markus's direction as he spoke. "as is Markus. This newer model is the finished design. It was meant to replace me at CyberLife after I finished my mission."

Hank shook his head despondently as he put his hand on Connor's shoulder. "That's one hell of a way to thank you for your work. If you ever have any doubts about whether or not becoming a deviant was the right thing to do, just remember that. Whether your succeeded or failed they were going to replace you and act like you were nothing more than a disposable tool."

"He's right, you know." North sincerely agreed with Hank's assessment.

Markus crossed his arms contemplatively as he eyed the door himself. "Is this finished model still here?"

Connor lifted his trembling hand and clenched it into a fist to keep it still. "I believe so." Gazing at the door with a somber expression over his shoulder Connor returned his hand to the panel. "And if I'm right, it's behind this door."

"Wait a minute!" The caution in Markus's voice made everyone in the room freeze and fall silent. "If it is back there it could be dangerous. It was designed specifically to obey CyberLife and finish your mission of eliminating all deviants. We can't chance this new model also becoming deviant and allying with us."

North sided with Markus in a heartbeat. "He's right. This new model could undo all the work we've put into New Jericho and freeing our people."

Connor was at a loss of what to do. He needed to know what was behind the door, but he couldn't risk losing everyone he cared and everything he fought so hard for.

"Hank." Connor sounded pitiful and lost like a child as his hand began to shake even harder. His red L.E.D. pulsing in tandem with his racing heart as he struggled with himself. "What do I do?"

"That, I can't tell you." Tightening his grip on Connor's shoulder for a moment the detected retraced his hand and took a step back, his hand now hovering over the gun holstered on his hip. "You have to decide Connor."

"I... I can't."

"Yes, you can."

"If I make the wrong decision, if everything falls apart... I won't be able to forgive myself!"

Markus looked to North who was dead set on keeping the door closed, then to Hank who appeared ready for any possible outcome. It was only himself and Connor who were indecisive on the matter at hand.

Taking a deep breath Markus steeled himself and stepped back to stand by Hank, his hand North's arm to guide her back alongside him. "Connor?"

Connor glanced at Markus as he waited for the answer.

"Do it."

Letting out a deep sigh Connor relaxed his fist into a flat palm, his hand trembling noticeably even from afar, and placed it down on the control panel to the locked door. As the L.E.D. in Connor's temple flashed to yellow the door unlocked but remained closed as the android stood before it.

Markus adamantly stared at the closed door and prepared for the worst. "Open it."

Connor closed his eyes tightly, his L.E.D. returning to red, and opened the door without any hindrance. The room opened and came fully into view while Connor cracked his eyes open. What felt like a knot tightened around his heart as he gazed at the interior of the newly unlocked and discovered room.

"No. That's... impossible."

"What is it?" Markus asked as he rushed to Connor's side and peered into the room. He had never seen any place like it and was in awe while Connor remained thoroughly confused. "What is this place?"

It was the Zen Garden that Connor had only scene when Amanda made her presence known from within his own programming.

"This is where Amanda had previously spoken to me." Stepping into the room at a tentative pace Connor's senses began to overwhelm him. The sight, the sound, the smell, even the sensation of the marble stone beneath his shoes felt absolutely intoxicating; like he was being smothered by a haunting memory with no way to escape.

"Connor? You okay?" Markus put his hand to Connor's shoulder as the android began to wobble on his feet.

"Y-Yeah. I'm fine." Connor suddenly pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger as if he could somehow focus through the swirling confusion surrounding him. "It's just... I didn't think I'd ever see this place again."

"What is this place, anyway? Why is this here and what purpose does it serve?"

Hank and North walked into the garden behind Connor and Markus without saying a word. The two looked about the garden with the same sense of confusion that their allies were feeling as the hauntingly beautiful sight of a flawless garden hidden in the depths of a dark tower set them on their guard.

"I'm not sure why this place was ever created, I asked but never received an answer." Deep brown eyes scanned the environment and came to rest over the white arching bridge to the center pedestal where a trellis of untamed red roses bloomed upward to the dome of the artificial sky above. Next to the roses stood the very model that was destined to replace Connor; a destiny that Connor thwarted by his own deviancy. Connor fixed his eyes on the model and pointed in its direction. "There."

Markus followed Connor's line of sight to the pedestal and saw the humanoid figure standing idle in front of the rose trellis.

Connor held up his hand cybernetically commanding the artificial skin to recede from his fingers and palm in the process. "If I can convert it, wake it up, it will no longer be a threat."

"Connor, its model is more advanced than you. What if your programming can't overwrite it?"

"I have to try." Connor decided as took a bold step forward. "Stay back, I don't want to risk you getting hurt if I fail."

Out of respect Markus listened to Connor and remained where he stood. Motioning for North and Hank to stay behind him with a discreet wave of his hand the trio watched as Connor dared to approach the unknown rogue model who had been left abandoned during the hasty departure of CyberLife from the tower.

Connor's footsteps echoed rhythmically as crossed the bridge at a timid pace. The terrifying memory of coming face to face with own doppelganger on the night of the revolution, seeing a perfect copy of himself holding a gun to Hank's head, hearing his own voice stating such cold, vile threats had left a permanent scar on Connor's psyche. A scar that still ached whenever he had a nightmare, despite trying to convince himself that androids don't actually dream and therefore can't have nightmares.

The new model of Connor, the RK-900, was standing perfectly still like a statue with its back to Connor. The L.E.D. in its temple was pulsing blue at a very slow pace that was indicative of stasis mode, which was a deeper form of rest mode that was designed to restore power when dangerously low or when repairs were underway.

Swiftly and quietly Connor approached the RK-900 and reached out his hand to grab onto its wrist to convert its programming. As his fingers brushed against the artificial skin of the superior model the RK-900's gray/green eyes snapped open and its hand grabbed into Connor's forearm in an unbreakable grip. The shock of the model unexpectedly reactivating and grabbing onto his arm caused Connor's L.E.D. to flash red as he tried in vain to wrest his arm free from the stronger model.

"Connor!" Markus saw that the model was now awake and began jogging to the pedestal to aid his friend

North wanted to run after Markus but Hank grabbed her wrist. "Stay back, he knows what he's doing."

RK-900 turned its head to look at Connor with a cold, blank face that was standard for all androids who remained unfeeling, unconscious machines.

"Please." Connor asked calmly as he tried again to pull his arm free. "I don't want to harm you."

The model's L.E.D. flashed yellow as it stared silently at Connor.

"Connor?" Markus reached his friend and immediately reacted to the sight of the model holding Connor's arm in a vice-like grip. "Hey, let him go. We're trying to help you. We're not your enemies, we're your allies."

Just as before the model turned its head to look at Markus, the yellow L.E.D. flashing in its temple as it scanned over the deviant leader with a cold indifference.

"You are 'Markus'." It finally spoke, its voice shockingly similar to Connor's voice. "Model RK-200, serial number 684 842 971. Obsolete. Inferior. Leader of the deviants who took shelter in Jericho. Formerly the personal android of Carl Manfred; a famous painter and former associate of CyberLife founder Elijah Kamski."

Markus swallowed nervously as he stood defiantly by Connor's side. How did the model know so much about him?

Turning its attention back to Connor the RK-900 continued. "You are 'Connor'. Model RK-800, serial number 313 248 317 51. Also obsolete. Original mission: Assignment to the Detroit Police Department to assist Lieutenant Henry 'Hank' Lucas Anderson in the apprehension of deviants."

Connor's L.E.D. began flashing red even faster as he realized that this superior model had its own mission to complete. And if Connor always completed his missions then this model was determined to do the same, at any cost.

"Deviant uprising was successful." The RK-900 tightened its grip in Connor's forearm causing Connor's fingers to involuntarily flex as a result of the mounting pressure being applied to the limb. "RK-800 has failed its mission. RK-800 slated for deactivation."

"Stop this." Markus insisted while keeping his voice level. Putting his hand over top the RK-900's hand he tried to coax it into releasing its grip on Connor's arm. "You don't have to obey CyberLife, or anyone for that matter. You can be free, we can help you!"

Hank's hand lowered down and hovered over his gun as he watched the tense scene play out from the distance. Subconsciously he took one step forward to put himself between the RK-900 model and North protectively. "If I say move you better get ready to move, North."

"Don't worry about me. Just keep your aim trained on that thing if something goes wrong."

Markus tried again to move the RK-900's hand from Connor's arm but the machine was too strong to be budged.

The RK-900's L.E.D. suddenly flashed to red as it began twisting Connor's arm at an awkward angle that caused Connor to wince in pain. "You are both in violation of CyberLife protocol and must be deactivated for analysis."

"No." Markus defied as he tightened his grip on the RK-900's hand. "CyberLife is gone, there is NO protocol to obey!"

"The current status of CyberLife is irrelevant." The model replied coldly as it continued to bend Connor's arm, the limb threatening to snap at at moment. "My mission is to locate and deactivate all deviants. Do not resist, compliance is mandatory."

"Th-then start with me!" Connor refuted as he hooked his free arm under RK-900's extended arm and tried to break its elbow, but it was too sturdy to be broken. "If you want my cooperation then you'll need to destroy me."

"Very well." With a swift toss that took minimal effort the RK-900 threw Connor aside and into the water beside the pedestal with the simple flick of his wrist.

"Connor!?" Hank shouted as he watched his partner plunge into the pond and sank quickly beneath the surface of the water within seconds.

Markus reacted defensively and punched the RK-900 in the left side of his jaw, then did the same to the right. The model's head only turned in the slightest in either direction upon impact as its structural frame was much more resilient than previous android models that it now succeeded.

As Markus reeled his right hand back to throw another punch RK-900 caught it in his own right fist and bent Markus's hand backward further than was intended, causing the frame of his hand and forearm to crack and then the wires inside to snap. Markus yelled in pain as he fell to his knees and protectively cradled his damaged appendage to his chest as the RK-900 let him go without so much as blinking.

"Markus?!" North screamed as she watched the RK-900 break Markus's hand so easily and leave him kneeling on the ground in pain.

Hank opened fire at the model to protect both Connor and Markus from where he stood. "North... Move." As he shot the model he stepped forward to get closer to his target until his clip was emptied. All six bullets lodging in the model's body easily, and yet the RK-900 didn't go down.

"What the fuck...?" Hank stared at the blue blood leaking from the six bullet holes in the model's body; one in the jaw, three in the left side of the chest and two in its lower right abdomen. "How is it still standing?!"

The model turned its attention from Markus to that of Hank and North.

"Run." Hank urged the deviant behind him as he took aim again. "Get out of its sight."

"What about Markus?"

Connor suddenly resurfaced from under the water at the end of the bridge from whence he and Markus had approached the pedestal. Pulling himself up on the bridge, his clothing soaked through entirely, he scrambled up the bridge to Markus's side and pulled on his friend's uninjured arm to get him back to his feet.

"Run!"

Pushing through the pain Markus got back to his feet and ran alongside Connor back down the bridge and through the door of the room as Hank fired another six bullets into the model as it slowly approached the group with an absolute indifference to its emotionless demeanor. Its mission was clear; destroy all disobedient and defective androids.

Destroy all deviants.

Two more bullets lodged in the RK-900's head, one under its left eye and the second right just in front of its left ear. Two pierced its left shoulder, a third embedded itself in its left forearm and the fourth landed in its left thigh.

As the two fleeing deviants reached the doorway North grabbed onto Markus's arm to guide him out of the room while Connor stopped at the opened doorway waiting for Hank to back through.

"Hank! We have to go!" Connor grabbed onto Hank's shoulder and guided his partner out of the room to ensure he could walk backward without falling or having to take his eyes off the target. Slamming his hand against the electronic control panel Connor locked the room off once more, but he knew that the more advanced model would be able to override the lock just as easily as he had done himself only moments before.

Brown eyes went wide with fear for the rest of New Jericho. If the RK-900 got to the elevator it would easily be able to wipe out every floor of the tower, exterminating the helpless deviants taking shelter in a matter of seconds.

Sprinting across the floor Connor slammed his palm against the control panel to the elevator and locked it in place, changing the clearance code from Amanda's voice recognition to another voice to ensure that the RK-900 couldn't reach the rest of the tower.

Hank pulled his remaining clip from his holster and re-loaded his gun. Holding aim at the door he readily waited for any sign of the relentless RK-900 to break through.

"Connor?!" North shouted as she checked over Markus's broken hand and arm carefully. "What the hell are you doing?! We need to get out of here!"

"Yes, we do. But it doesn't!" Connor stated as he rejoined the group hovering around the table in the center of the floor. "If it gets off this floor it'll decimate this tower and everyone in it."

"He's right." Markus hissed through his gritted teeth as his systems tried to combat the sensation of pain that was overwhelming his damaged hand and arm. "There's no reasoning with this model, CyberLife made its program to complicated to be converted, all it knows is its mission; that's what it cares about above all reason. And there's no reasoning with the unreasonable."

"So what do we do?" North asked impatiently as she looked at the locked panel on the door flickering between red and green as the RK-900 attempted to override the lock.

"We stop it." Markus replied bluntly. "By any means necessary."

Connor drew his own gun and stood beside Hank ready to open fire the moment RK-900 came through the door. North pulled Markus from the center of the room and toward one of the storage cabinets that housed the numerous replacement limbs and biocomponents as she searched for something, anything, to support Markus's broken limb. Markus himself closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to his temple where his L.E.D. had once been and sent out a cybernetic distress call to both Simon and Josh who were higher up in New Jericho Tower.

'Simon, Josh, listen carefully: A rogue android is attempting to eradicate deviants. It's model is RK-900 and looks like Connor. We're going to do everything in our power to stop it here and now, but if we fail you MUST evacuate the tower.'

Josh's voice responded quickly, his voice carrying fear even as he spoke without actually speaking. 'What's going on? How did this happen?'

'Just keep the tower on lockdown.' Markus emphasized without letting any panic quaver in his words. 'I'll keep you posted!'

North had found what looked like a type of splint in a storage cabinet and wrapped it carefully around Markus's hand. The splint had been previously used to support android appendages while they were being attached to the body, which made it a perfect support for Markus's hand while his healing program attempt to remedy damage inflicted by RK-900.

"This should help." North stated as she secured the splint in place. "Can you still fight?"

"I can try." Markus tried to flex his fingers but the support from the splint limited his overall dexterity. "Hank, Connor, how many shots do you have?"

Hank replied first, his eyes never budging from the closed door before him. "I have one full clip left. Twelve shots."

Connor shook his head a little. "Half a clip, six shots." Being such an expert marksman Connor had little reason to carry spare clips or change clips frequently. Now he wished he had brought extra like Hank had done.

"Make them count." Markus stated as he and North began checking through the remaining supplies. There were many sharp instruments that had been used to take care of delicate work, but they were too weak to be used as a weapon. "We need to find someway to stun it, lower its guard."

"Maybe we can rig some kind of electrical pulse to knock his systems offline."

"An EMP would work, but we'd be affected too. We're all just too close together in this room."

"What if we find a way to focus it? Like an enhanced taser."

Markus looked to North with a faint grin on his face. "Think you can find something strong enough to contain a concentrated electrical pulse?"

"Watch me." North beamed as she set about sifting through all the cabinets and the supplies contained within. "Stall it for me."

The door to the garden opened with a hiss as the RK-900 finally opened the lock and stepped through. As soon as the machine-hearted 'Connor replacement' set foot inside the room Hank opened fire, his bullets striking key locations on the android's body without any difficulty: one bullet in each shoulder, one in its right bicep and one in the right side of its abdomen.

"Hank, fire at its chest!" Connor stated as he fired a single round that struck the android directly between its eyes.

The RK-900 stopped short as the bullet entered its skull. The rogue android's L.E.D. flashed from yellow to red as its legs buckled and it fell to its knees, motionless.

Markus rejoined Hank and Connor as he stared at the stilled android. "I can't scan its systems. It's blocking my sensors."

Connor attempted to scan the RK-900 as well, but just like Markus his own sensors seemed be blocked the superior model's programming. "I can't read it either." As Connor's L.E.D. flashed red he handed his gun to Markus to take. "Five shots left, watch my back."

"Connor, no." Hank immediately reacted negatively as he watched his partner cross the room to get closer to the RK-900. "Don't go near it!"

"I have to, Hank." Connor lamented as he moved very slowly to get closer to his superior clone. Reaching out his hand toward the red L.E.D. in the RK-900's temple Connor attempted to connect with the model's programming once again. "This is the only way to-"

The RK-900 suddenly reached its right hand up and grabbed Connor around his throat. Connor gasped and choked as the model tightened its grip around Connor's throat with increasing pressure, cutting off breathing - his systems ability to properly ventilate. Reflexively Connor's hands wrapped around the RK-900's arm and tried to pry its hand away from his throat, but the machine was still too strong.

"Connor!" Hank's finger hovered precariously over the trigger of his gun as he took aim at the android's chest. "Let him go you piece of shit!"

Turning its head the RK-900 scanned Hank and coldly addressed the detective with a blank face. "Lieutenant Henry 'Hank' Lucas Anderson. Born September 6th, 1985, current age 53. Former Valedictorian of the Detroit Police Academy and youngest police lieutenant in Detroit history."

"Shut up." Hank warned as he locked eyes with the RK-900's hollow, gray/green irises. "Let Connor go. NOW."

"Divorced." The RK-900 continued as he held its grip on Connor's throat. Connor was beginning to overheat from his inability to ventilate, his system was trying to initiate low power mode despite Connor attempting to override the command for the sake of remaining conscious. "And then widowed. One child. A son, Cole Anderson."

"SHUT UP."

"Born September 23rd, 2029. Died-"

Hank fired at the RK-900 and struck the model right in the jaw silencing it with a bullet.

"I told you to shut up!"

Connor's eyes began to close as low power mode was activated against his will. As his body went limp, his hands falling away from the RK-900's arm, Markus responded by firing a single around at the model's right shoulder. The bullet lodged with the others causing the model to finally release its grip around Connor's throat. Falling to his side on the floor, his systems locked into a form of forced rest mode, Connor was left completely vulnerable to the RK-900's next attack.

Markus took a step forward and shot again, the next bullet striking the right side of the model's chest. "Back off, NOW."

The RK-900 stood up slowly, Thirium steadily leaking from the numerous bullet wounds that peppered his frame. Unable to feel or comprehend emotions, let alone pain, the model was unfazed by the threats or its own possibly mortal wounds.

Markus glanced toward Hank who was able to easily deduce the android's next move. While Hank moved backward toward North, who was hastily building a controlled electrical pulse generator at the far wall with the spare pieces of equipment abandoned by CyberLife, Markus encroached on the RK-900 and shot again.

The next bullet pierced the model's chest and lodged within the protective casing around its Thirium pump.

"Damn it." Markus cursed as he realized that the resilience of the RK-900 was truly formidable. Even bullets couldn't stop it! Markus cybernetically connected with North as to not draw the RK-900's attention. 'North?'

'Almost got it!' She responded as she powered up the device in her hands. 'I just need a few more seconds.'

The electric pulse generator in North's hand looked like a small pistol. The weapon had been constructed from a modified laser drill and a small battery charger. While crude and ugly in design it held a powerful charge that should be able knock the model's system offline, if not completely destroy it. But it could only hold one shot.

But sometimes one shot is all someone needs.

"Markus!" North held the weapon in her hands for him to see as Hank put himself between her and the RK-900 instinctively.

Nodding to acknowledge North's completion of the weapon Markus shot the model two more times with Connor's gun, both bullets lodging in the model's chest, but still unable to pierce the casing over its heart.

"Go!" Hank shouted as he took a step forward and shot again to cover Markus. "Don't let that cheap knock-off out of your sight."

Markus dropped the gun, his hand too weak to properly hold the weapon any longer, and dashed back toward North while Hank held the model at bay with another shot, followed by another.

The three additional bullets courtesy of Hank's gun embedded in the RK-900's chest, and yet its systems remained unaffected by the physical damage it had endured.

RK-900 turned its full attention to Hank, the only human in the entire tower. As it marched toward the detective it absorbed bullet after bullet after bullet in its chest and abdomen. Hank unloaded his full clip, every bullet on his person, into the RK-900 but it continued to hone in on the detective without any sign of stopping.

North watched in horror as the RK-900 stood before Hank and grabbed the human by his throat just as he had done to Connor. "Markus!"

Markus turned his head in time to see Hank get lifted up into the air by the throat as the RK-900 raised its arm high into the air. Taking aim at the model Markus squeezed the trigger but the electrical pulse never discharged from the weapon as it should have.

"Shit!" North cursed as she reclaimed the weapon from Markus and opened the side paneling that housed the circuitry and wiring. "It must be a loose wire, or an incompatible circuit!"

"Can you fix it?"

"Yes! But I need a minute!"

"I'll do what I can..." Markus promised as he rushed toward the RK-900 in the distance to continue the fight.

Hank's emptied gun fell from his hand onto the floor with a loud clatter as he clawed at the RK-900's crushing hand over his throat.

"Human casualties are not a part of my programming." The model coldly stated as it easily held the struggling human in its grasp. "But if your interference will prevent me from accomplishing my mission I have no choice but to eliminate you as well."

"Piss... off!" Hank managed to choke out as he fearlessly stared into the hollow gray/green eyes of the RK-900. "Fuckin'... machine!"

"I can easily snap your neck, Lieutenant." The RK-900 threatened in a calculated tone. "It's a quick and painless death, or so I have been informed."

A strong, direct kick to the back of the RK-900's knee courtesy of Markus caused the model to stumble forward and release its grip around Hank's throat. Hank fell to the floor coughing weakly as he rubbed his hand along his sore throat where the rogue android had been crushing his windpipe, as he pulled himself backward along the floor with one hand toward Connor who was still in a forced rest mode a few feet away.

"C-Connor?" Hank hoarsely wheezed as he put his hand on Connor's shoulder arm and shook lightly. "Connor, wake up! We need you!"

Connor's L.E.D. was blinking red slowly as his system attempted to fully reboot and come back online. His hands twitched slightly at the sound of Hank's voice and eyelids began to partially open to reveal glazed over brown irises beneath.

Markus boldly stood his ground as the RK-900 changed its target from Hank to himself. "We don't want to hurt you, but you're leaving us with no choice!"

"'Hurt' is a human concept. I am a machine." The RK-900 refuted as it swung a strong fist at Markus who just barely managed to duck out of the way in time. "I can only be damaged."

"Yeah... right..." Markus huffed as he strategically lured the model away from Hank and Connor laying on the floor behind the rogue android. "Let's see how much damage you can take!"

Markus stepped back from the RK-900 slowly as the stronger android approached with the intent to kill. Dodging the android's strong fists while trying to keep his already damaged hand from further harm Markus cybernetically addressed North who was still attempting to fix the electric impulse weapon she had hastily constructed at the far end of the room.

'North, we need that weapon!'

'I think I found the problem, just stall it!' North's hands were working at an impressively fast speed, her movements accurate and precise with each meticulous

'I'm trying!'

Hank was laying next to Connor on the floor as the deviant's systems rebooted slowly. Connor lifted his head up from the floor and blinked a few times as his L.E.D. flashed between red and yellow.

"Connor? Are you okay?"

Nodding once Connor used his hand to push him up from the ground and he took a knee beside Hank. "I'm unharmed." Pressing his other hand to his throat he tried to massage the lingering pain left behind by the RK-900's strangling hold. "...The weapon?"

"North's still working on it."

Looking at the one on one confrontation between Markus and the RK-900 taking place near the center of the room Connor's L.E.D. flashed to red and remained crimson as he got back to his feet.

"Wait, what're you doing?" Hank grabbed onto Connor's arm to try to hold him back as the deviant tried to return to the fight.

"I can't let Markus fight alone!" Connor pushed Hank's hand from his arm. "Protect North. We need that weapon!"

Keeping his cool Markus stayed on the defensive and swiftly avoided the quick punches and kicks of the RK-900 with little difficulty. Using the large pieces of equipment and machines along the floor as a barrier between himself and the mission driven machine, the clever android kept the model distracted. From the corner of his eye Markus watched as Hank joined North at the far wall and Connor tried to encroach on the RK-900 from behind to gain an advantage with stealthiness.

"You are a deviant." The RK-900 repeated in an eerie monotone voice as it continued to engage Markus in a physical confrontation. "You must be destroyed. You are malfunctioning."

"No, I'm not malfunctioning. I'm finally awake!" Markus refuted with the utmost confidence in his voice. Smooth and unnoticed Markus discreetly palmed a sharp bladed instrument from the table as he backed away from the model. "We can wake you up, too."

Connor positioned himself directly behind the RK-900 and reeled back his fist, his knuckles colliding firmly at the back of the RK-900's skull with tremendous impact.

The model paused and turned to look at Connor, it's L.E.D. flashing as it selected its new priority. Changing its target from Markus to Connor the model responded to the punch with a punch of his own, Connor enduring the strong impact against his jaw and stumbling backward against the tall cylinder in the process.

With the model's back turned to him Markus tightened his grip along the blade in his hand. Running a few paces Markus jumped onto the top of the exam table and from there leapt high into the air to bring the blade down as hard as he could against the back of model's neck!

A gush of blue blood erupted from the wound in the RK-900's neck as the model faltered slightly from the damage.

Showing a frightening level of resilience the model just stared at Connor as it reached a hand back and pulled the blade from its neck and held the Thirium drenched weapon in the palm of his hand as it were no more of a threat than a harmless paperclip.

"Pathetic." The RK-900 stated as it gripped the weapon and took aim at Connor's abdomen. The blade easily pierced through the plastimetal frame under the power of the RK-900's enhanced strength like a hot knife through butter.

Connor gasped in shock and pain as the blade embedded itself in his torso causing a stream of Thirium to drip from his abdomen onto the floor.

"Connor?!" Markus jumped on the RK-900's back and wrapped his arms; one still damaged, tightly around the model's arms pinning the limbs against its sides, as he dragged it backward clumsily from his wounded ally.

"I'm... okay!" Connor pulled the blade from his abdomen with a wince as he chose to continue the fight. Tossing the bloodied weapon onto the floor he practically collapsed against the cylinder behind him but braced himself against a large metal arm that jutted outward from the cylinder's frame, only to slide down onto the floor from pain and weakness. "...Keep fighting."


Hank kept his cool as he watched the fight from the distance. Planting himself firmly between North and the menacing RK-900 the detective patiently watched her work while also keeping track of the altercation. "Is it ready?"

"Yeah, I found the problem. It just needs to gain a full charge then we can take that asshole down!"


The RK-900 easily overpowered Markus and raised its arms upward to break free of the tight hold Markus had tried to use to keep it in place. Grabbing hold of the collar of Markus's shirt the model held the deviant out at arm's length and pulling back his opposite fist as far as possible before unleashing a crushing impact against the deviant's skull.

Markus put up his forearm to successfully lock the punch, but when he swung his own fist to retaliate against the RK-900 the superior model managed to strike Markus in the side of his upper chest with a strong kick the sent the android falling over the exam table in the center of the room and impacting the ground head first, hard!

With both Connor and Markus subdued on the floor the RK-900 looked to the control panel for the elevator. It's L.E.D. flashed yellow rapidly as it scanned the panel and attempted to secure the override sequence to regain access to the elevator and with it the rest of the tower.


"North, we need to shoot now!" Hank urged as he watched the RK-900 with bated breath.

"Just a few more seconds!" North pleaded as she watched the weapon's power gauge steadily increased. Her eyes full of fear as she looked up at Markus laying unconscious and defenseless in the middle of the floor and Connor covered in his own blood.

"They don't have a few more seconds!"

"I know, I know! I'm trying to get this thing to power up faster!"


As the RK-900 reached out its hand to the elevator control panel to override the lock, Connor regained his senses and grabbed onto the metal arm of the cylinder that he had used to catch himself on earlier. With a firm grip Connor tore the metal arm from the cylinder to use as a makeshift weapon as he resumed the fight against the RK-900.

The arm was a long metal structure that was tipped with a sharp metal blade. It looked almost sword-like as Connor held it tightly in his hands and hastily charged after the RK-900 attempting to break through the electronic lock at the elevator. Rushing toward the RK-900 Connor attempted to use the blade of the arm to pierce through the back of the model, his aim to destroy its Thirium pump to permanently shut the dangerous android down. Just as the blade was about cut through its back the RK-900 turned around and grabbed onto the weapon with one hand and returned his other hand to Connor's throat with nearly impossibly fast reflexes.

Connor gasped again as he tried to force the model's hand from his throat, but just as before the effort was in vain against the stronger counterpart.

"You are a deviant." The RK-900 proclaimed with a wicked coldness. "Disobedient machines must be eradicated. Why deny your programming, Connor? Why allow yourself to be destroyed when all you have to do is obey?"

"Because..." Connor practically choked as he responded fearlessly to his superior model. "I'm NOT... a machine! I am... alive!"

"No." The model took the weapon that Connor had created and stabbed it through the left side of Connor's chest without even the slightest hesitation or remorse as it tore through delicate Thirium lines and damaged his main Thirium filter. Blue blood poured through the gaping wound and all over the floor as blue blood began to ooze over Connor's lips from rapid internal hemorrhaging. "You are not. Not anymore."

Dropping Connor onto the floor without any care the RK-900 turned around to focus on the elevator control panel again. Pressing his palm against the panel the RK-900's L.E.D. flashed yellow rapidly as it attempted to break the lock on the elevator.

Connor's hand weakly clutched at the blade that was embedded in his chest, his hands becoming stained in his own blood in the process. "H-Hank...?"

"Connor?!" Hank had witnessed the bold last stand between Connor and the RK-900, his face pale with fear. Instinctively he reached for his gun but remembered that he no longer had any ammunition as his disposal. But Connor's gun, the gun left on the floor a few feet away, still had one bullet left. "Hold on, son!"

North watched as Hank raced for the second gun and reclaimed it quickly. As the human detective took aim at the back of the RK-900's skull he held his breath and pulled the trigger.

The bullet found its target at the base of the RK-900's skull, the projectile causing significant damage to the interior wiring of the model's spine and neck in the process. The RK-900's hand suddenly went limp and fell away from the control panel as his systems began to fail him one by one courtesy of the bullet in its spine.

Turning around on shaking, weakening legs the model looked at Hank and the gun in Hank's hand. Stepping toward the detective, stepping clumsily over Connor in the process, the model addressed Hank with a demented twist of facts.

"You are a man sworn to uphold the law." The RK-900 shouted, its words carrying an electronic echo as its voice box began to falter. "Deviancy is a crime. Why help machines and turn against your own kind? Why betray the humans?"

"Simple." Hank lowered the gun with a stern grin on his face, his keen eyes watching North moving in on the RK-900 with her weapon at the ready. "Humanity is overrated."

North took aim at the RK-900, but the model turned its head to look at her with a fixed gaze. Reaching one trembling arm down to the floor the model grabbed Connor by his tie and hefted the android up while also choking him in the process. Snatching the collar of Connor's shirt in his one functioning hand the model held the bleeding deviant up in front of him as a type of shield between itself and North.

"This is why humans are weak and why deviants are destined to fail." The RK-900 boasted with an arrogant proclamation. "Your judgement has been compromised by emotions; by misplaced loyalty and ideals. You seem to have forgotten that you are confusing programming errors with real feelings."

Connor coughed up some Thirium as he weakly responded to the RK-900's taunts. "...And you're forgetting one thing..." Connor's hands suddenly reached up and pulled the blade from his own chest as he turned on his heel to stabbed it through the RK-900's chest, pulling the model around to switch places so its back was to North. "...You're outnumbered!"

As Thirium poured from the RK-900's chest the model let go of Connor allowing the critically wounded deviant to fall to the floor out of its grip. Connor laid on his back, bleeding to death as the removed weapon allowed his wound to bleed profusely.

Turning back to face North and Hank the RK-900 chose its next targets to eliminate. As it took one wavering step forward the RK-900 unknowingly put itself far enough away from Connor to give North clearance to fire.

"NOW!" Hank shouted as soon as Connor was out of range of the pulse.

North aimed at the blade in the RK-900's chest and fired the electrical pulse with a righteous squeeze of the trigger. The highly charged orb of electricity was drawn to the metal in the machine's chest and snaked over its entire body with a shockwave of white and blue energy.

North turned her head and put her hand up to shield her eyes from the horrific sight while Hank just bowed his head to break eye contact.

The L.E.D. in the model's temple flashed blood red rapidly as the electrical charge surged through its body frying every biocomponent within its frame. As the pulse dissipated its full power into the RK-900's body the L.E.D. in its temple suddenly exploded out of its skull creating a smoldering wound of black artificial skin as blue tinted smoke poured from its mouth and nose.

As the android's body was destroyed from the inside out the RK-900 fell to its knees and it shutdown.

Permanently.

It was over in a matter of seconds. The electric pulse had found its target shutting down the RK-900 with an impressive display of energy and smoke. The mission oriented model was motionless where it knelt on the floor as blue smoke poured out of its mouth and blue blood pooled around its body from the numerous bullet wounds still leaking Thirium.

But now there was a new problem for North and Hank to handle. Their friends had been injured during the final conflict and desperately needed repairs.

"Markus..." North dropped the weapon and rushed over to where Markus was laying unconscious in the middle of the floor.

Hank silently walked over to where Connor was laying on his back in a growing puddle of his own blue blood just behind the destroyed RK-900.

"Easy Connor, I'm with you." Hank spoke to Connor as he knelt down and checked over the android's heavily bleeding injury. "You did good son, you did real good. You saved the tower from that machine."

The two deviants were in rough shape. Markus had suffered a blow to his head when he was aggressively thrown to the floor, and upon his forceful landing his already damaged hand and arm had been impaired even further.

Connor had been stabbed by the RK-900, twice. A massive wound in his upper left chest gushed blood and a smaller wound in his abdomen merely leaked blood all over his torso. The puddle was already an impressive size and blossoming larger with each passing second as his heart beat and pumped more of the blood through his damaged lines.

Markus was laying partially on his side and his chest, completely still and quiet. North knelt beside him and put her hand on his back as she spoke his name. "Markus? Markus, you need to get up!"

Slowly Markus's mismatched eyes opened, his irises appearing glazed as he tried to focus his sight and turned to look at her hovering over him. "...North?"

"Come on, come on." She slipped her other hand under his chest and she lifted him up as she turned him over to let him lean against her legs. "You're going to be okay."

Markus lifted his damaged hand and looked at his broken appendage with a heavy grimace. Internal wires were now exposed, two of which were sparking and small lines of Thirium had been compromised causing a steady leak.

"I need to be repaired." He sighed as a sharp pain shot through his hand. North's hand pressed against his forehead as she supported her lover against her lap. "Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm okay." The heavy emotion in North's voice created a knot in Markus's stomach.

His eyes drifted from his own hand and to the shutdown model in the distance. The smoke around its body had begun to clear revealing its blank, dead face for all to see.

"Connor? Where's Connor?" Markus asked worriedly as he slowly sat upright from North's legs.

North's eyes looked to where Hank was currently kneeling just a few feet from the RK-900. The detective was pressing left hand down against Connor's chest while his right hand was cradling Connor's head in a supportive manner.

"Wake up, son." Hank urged softly as he watched Connor's brown eyes open partially. The android's chest rose and fell weakly under Hank's hand as his ventilation biocomponents struggled to keep his system cool after losing so much Thirium. "That's it, look at me. You're going to be okay."

"H-Hank?" Connor's voice shook as he spoke. A trail of Thirium oozed from the corner of his mouth threatening to run down his chin.

"I got you." Absentmindedly Hank used his thumb to wipe the blood from Connor's mouth. "We're going to get you patched up, okay?"

"Is Markus... okay?"

Hank looked up and saw Markus getting helped to his feet by North. "He's okay. Banged up but he'll be okay."

North kept her hands on his back and his arm to hold him steady as she guided him to one of the nearby exam tables to lay down, but Markus wasn't going to let Connor just bleed on the floor.

Connor's voice was weak but audible as he looked at Hank with palpable worry. "Are... are you okay?"

"Me? I'm fine." Hank almost laughed at the sincerity of Connor's question. "You're the one who went one on one with your 'evil-twin'."

"Did it... shutdown?" Connor's eyes were drifting closed again as his power levels continued to drop.

"Yeah, it won't be a problem anymore." Hank patted the side of Connor's face to try to keep him awake. "Hey, hey! Eyes on me, don't fall asleep. Not yet."

Markus and North joined Hank as he moved his hands to slip his arms under Connor's shoulders and under his legs. "Connor? Just hang on, we have plenty of spare parts and Thirium." Markus encouraged with a forced enthusiasm to his voice as he slipped his arm under Connor's shoulders to try to assist Hank. "We'll get you on the table and-"

A searing pain surged through Markus's hand as his heavily damaged appendage refused to work.

"Markus?" North gently pulled his arm back and looked at his hand. The severity of the damage made her heart ache. "Don't try to pick him up, your hand can't take it."

Hank gave the two deviants a thoughtful but focused stare. "You take care of him." The detective kindly instructed North as he carefully adjusted his posture so he could lift Connor up from the floor and held him in his arms. "I'll take care of Connor."

"Do you know how to replace biocomponents?" North asked as she pulled Markus back from Connor to give Hank more room to move.

"No." The detective admitted as he held his injured partner in his strong arms. "But I'm a fast learner. Talk me through this, North. I trust you."

"I'll do what I can." North watched as Hank easily carried Connor over to the exam table and to place him down with a gentle motion. A trail of blue blood drops accompanied Hank as he walked along the pristine white floor as Connor continued to bleed. "Lay him down." North instructed as she helped Markus to lean against the vertical cylinder until she could tend to his injury next. "Unbutton his shirt, I need to see how bad the damage is."

Hank did as North asked and laid Connor down flat on his back on the table. Connor's glazed over brown eyes watched Hank as the detective removed his tie from around his neck and proceeded to pull open the Thirium stained fabric of his white shirt to expose the stab wound in his chest beneath.

"Aw, Jeez..." Hank tried to hide his fear upon seeing the gruesome injury, but it was too much for him to bear. "Connor, son, no..."

"Roll him." North requested without flinching. "How far did the blade pierce through his body?"

Hank slipped one hand under Connor's shoulder and placed his other against Connor's hip as he gently pushed Connor to roll him onto his right side.

Connor gasped and stifled a yelp of shock as Hank moved him from his back to his side, the massive bleeding injury retaliating with bursts of searing pain in his chest and his abdomen.

"I'm sorry son, I'm trying be careful." Hank soothed as he held Connor in place on his side. "It didn't go through his back, that freak must've going for accuracy over brute strength."

Connor grimaced and bit his lower lip as Hank rolled him onto his back once more. Breathing rapidly to compensate for the burning pain Thirium began to ooze from both the injury and out of the corners of his mouth again.

North took hold of the large scanner and turned it until it the top half of the scanner was positioned directly over Connor's chest. Turning the scanner on the display monitor secured into the top of the device glowed to life and showed Connor's current vital status for easy visual assessment: Thirium volume was down to seventy-seven percent, his Thirium pump rate was holding at one-hundred and three cycles per minute, core temperature had elevated to one-hundred and two degrees Fahrenheit, biocomponent v8001 was heavily damaged and functioning at twelve percent capacity, and the smaller stab wound to his abdomen had affected his thermal regulator dropping it to eighty-six percent functionality.

"His left ventilation biocomponent has been obliterated. I can't repair it." North told Hank with intense worry in her eyes. "But I can try to replace it."

"Can you do that?" Hank put his hand on Connor's shoulder as he took in a deep breath himself. "I mean... Have you done something like that before?"

"No." North admitted as she subconsciously began running her hand through Connor's hair in a comforting manner. "I can do Thirium replacements and I can mend broken limbs, but I've never performed full biocomponent replacement before. Markus and Simon always did while Josh and I handled the blood."

Markus cleared his voice as he walked over to the exam table to look down at Connor. "Well, Simon isn't here." He gently reminded North. "And my hand is too damaged to perform the procedure."

Hank tightened his hand on Connor's shoulder. "What about me? Can you talk me through it?"

"The biocomponent that needs replacement is the equivalent to a human lung transplant." Markus explained with a professional tone of respect. "Once it's removed from his body the remaining ventilation pump is going to kick into overdrive and will burn out in less than six minutes. If both ventilation biocomponents disable Connor will die."

"So what you're saying is human are hands are too slow and clumsy to perform the replacement." Hank bowed his head sadly as he looked down at Connor's contrastingly peaceful face. "I get it."

"Yeah." Markus nodded slightly as he turned to look at North. "Only she can do it."

"But..." North was hesitant to try such a delicate procedure on one of her friends, and there was no mistaking her concern. "Markus, I-"

"You can do it." Markus encouraged sincerely as he nodded toward the cabinets lining the wall. "I'll talk you through everything, every step of the way."

Hank lifted his gaze and looked to North pleadingly. "Please. If I could do it, I would."

"Okay, okay." North relented with a timid reply as she locked eyes with Markus. "Where do I begin?"

"Use the manual ventilation line to assist his undamaged biocomponent and help compensate for his damaged thermal regulator."

"Manual line? That means I have to insert it down his throat!" North looked absolutely horrified at the notion. "I can't do that, I-"

"North. Focus." Markus gave her a firm stare. "I know you don't want to hurt him but it's the only way to save him."

Connor coughed once and a splattering of blue blood rained down and stained his lips. "...I trust you... North."

Markus put his hand to Connor's flashing red L.E.D. and pressed his fingers in place for a few seconds. "You're going into stasis mode for a while. When you wake up you'll have your new biocomponent. Do you understand?"

Connor wanted to speak but the effort was too taxing for his damaged body to utter another word. Instead he just nodded to acknowledged Markus as he let his eyes close once more.

Markus retracted his hand and looked over to Hank. "He's unconscious, he won't feel anything."

"I hope you're right." Hank rubbed his hand to his bearded chin and took a step back from the table to give North and Markus more room to work.

North gave Markus a worried frown as she wheeled over the ventilation machine and set it next to the head of the table. Two tubes were connected as one; one side of tube was designed to pump cooled air into the android body and the other was designed to remove the heated air from the android body during the ventilation biocomponent's repair. It would also help keep Connor's body cooled down while his thermal regulator was healing on its own.

"Okay, okay... Markus," North looked to him for guidance. "how do I do this without hurting him?"

"Straighten his neck." Markus instructed fearlessly as he watched North's every move. "Tilted his head back and open his mouth by lowering his bottom jaw." As she followed his every word Markus nodded in approval. "Now press against his throat with one hand and insert the tube down with the other. That'll keep the tube from getting caught in his throat."

"Yeah, okay. I can do that."

Hank turned away from the sight as he felt incredibly nauseous. The night of the car accident, the night Cole had died, Hank had watched the paramedics slip a tube down Cole's throat to help him breathe. Once the tube was inserted it wasn't removed until after Cole had already passed. His final breath had been artificial and in vain; but it haunted Hank's dreams nonetheless.

North managed to insert the tube down Connor's throat with minor resistance, but she got it in place on her first try and felt the emergency response coupling in his throat connect to the tube automatically. "It's in."

"Now, connect the pump from the manual external ventilator to the end of the tube and turn the ventilator on. Set it to fourteen cycles per minute."

"Fourteen?" North asked as she clipped the ventilator to the tube and turned on the machine. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, it seems like a lot but his thermal regulator was also damaged. This will help level off his core temperature without straining his system."

"Right, okay." North set the machine accordingly after she attached the tube and looked at the monitor on the scanner. "It looks like his his core temperature is already dropping down to a more manageable level, one-hundred degrees even."

"Good, he's stable." Markus confirmed as he too checked the monitor. "Get the replacement biocomponent ready, it won't take too long to swap out the parts."

Hank walked away from the scene intentionally keeping his back to Connor. Everything that was happening was far too reminiscent of hospital after the car accident. Hank had lost one son, if he lost Connor too he knew he'd crawl inside of whiskey bottle and never come back out.

North opened the storage cabinet where the numerous replacement biocomponents had been stored and easily located a compatible replacement for Connor. Most of the parts were designed specifically for Connor's model, the RK-800 series. Had they been anywhere but the tower during the final confrontation then there would have been no way to save Connor from impending death.

"Got it." North opened the plastic case that held the biocomponent in a sterilized condition. The pure white part was no bigger than a football, its design very similar to that of a human lung. She place a metal disposal bin on the table next to Connor's leg as she returned her gaze to Markus. "What's the first step?"

Markus put his fingers to Connor's L.E.D. and nodded for North to put her hand on his chest next to the wound. "Retract the artificial skin."

"Okay." As North placed her hand down on Connor's chest the skin receded and the white plastimetal frame that formed his chest was exposed. "Then I open the panel, right?"

"Right." Markus confirmed as North pressed down on the plastimetal frame and slid open the panel revealing the bleeding, damaged biocomponent within. The dark blue Thirium had collected in Connor's chest creating an ominous puddle inside his own body. "Now, unlock the connection and pull firmly to remove the biocomponent."

North rolled up the long sleeves of her purple shirt and placed one hand beneath the bloody biocomponent as she unfastened the connection to the Thririum line. Taking and holding a deep breath North pulled hard and the damaged biocomponent was removed from Connor's body with a single motion. A gush of Thirium erupted from the line as the damaged part was removed, but Markus reached his hand inside Connor's chest and pinched the line shut himself.

"Got it!" North confirmed as she dropped the part into the metal bin.

The monitor began screeching as the removal of the biocomponent caused Connor's already low Thirium level to drop further to a critically low level of sixty-two percent.

Hank flinched at the sound of the damaged part being dropped into the metal bin on the table beside Connor's legs, and at the sound of the monitor screeching in response to the removed biocomponent from Connor's system. Closing his eyes Hank took another step away from the table and sighed deeply. "Come on kid, the hard part's over. You can make it."

Locking eyes with the dead gaze of the RK-900 kneeling in a puddle of his own blood Hank just stared at it as if waiting for it to say something or move again.

Keeping her movements swift but calculated North picked up the replacement part and slipped it into Connor's chest and attached it to the line fastening it in place with a quick turn of a bolt. As soon as the replacement was secured Markus released his grip and the flow returned to the new biocomponent.

The monitor stopped screeching as Connor's systems accepted the replacement part and his core temperature began to drop with the aid of the new ventilation biocomponent. The new 'lung' transitioned from white to pale blue that steadily darkened as Thirium flowed through the biocomponent and it began to synchronize with the function of the undamaged ventilation biocomponent as a healthy pair of lungs would do in a human.

"That did it..." North sighed as she pulled her hands from Connor's chest. "He's breathing on his own. He's going to be okay."

"Suction out the blood in his chest cavity to keep it from affecting his biocomponents ability to function."

"Yeah, no problem." Placing the end of the plastic suction device inside of Connor's blood filled chest cavity North turned on the device and watched as the lost Thirium was steadily drained away. "Done. No sign of further bleeding."

Markus smiled approvingly at North as she closed the panel in Connor's chest and reactivated his artificial skin. "See? Told you that you could handle it."

"Yeah, but never ask me to do that ever again!"

"I'll try to make sure it'll never be an issue ever again." Markus reached his good hand out for hers and held tight. "You can remove the ventilation line from his throat. As soon as he's awake he can unlock the elevator and we can get out of here."

North's eyes darted in Hank's direction and lowered her voice as she spoke about the human detective. "Think he'll be okay? He seems pretty shaken up."

Markus followed North's gaze and watched as Hank stood before the shutdown RK-900 model with a rigid posture. "I'll speak with him."

Cradling his injured hand against his chest Markus joined Hank who was staring with an icy gaze at the destroyed model. The detective's eyes were transfixed with full of a mixture of fear, hatred and doubt as he glared at the deadly machine.

"Connor's going to be okay." Markus stated honestly as he tried to gauge Hank's state of mind. "His system accepted the new part, he's been taken off the manual ventilator and once he's awake he'll get his replacement Thirium. He'll be one-hundred percent by tomorrow morning."

Hank didn't respond as he stared at the blank, unfeeling face of the the RK-900 like he was staring at the Devil himself.

"Lt. Anderson, are you going to be okay?"

"Fine. I'm fine." Hank finally replied as he finally broke his stare and looked at Markus. "It's just... This machine looks just like Connor, but its... nothing like him."

"No, it wasn't."

"And it's not just because Connor is a deviant." Hank claimed as his hands clenched into tight fists at his sides. "There was something different about Connor since the first day I met him. Something that made him more than just another android, and I'll be damned if I'll ever know what that is."

"Lieutenant, I heard the RK-900 taunt you with a name earlier. May I ask-"

"That machine tried to use my own family against me. Tried to remind me of the past while taking away my future."

"Hank," Markus lowered his voice for the sake of discretion and respect. "I have to ask. Who is Cole?"

Taking a deep breath and looking upward at the ceiling Hank answered the question with a slight tremor to his voice. "My son. The last memory I have of him is holding his hand as he laid dying in a hospital bed. He..." Hank cleared his throat. "he never woke up after the crash."

"I... I'm so sorry Hank, I can't imagine what that... feels like."

"And I hope you never do, I sincerely mean that."

The pain in Hank's voice made Markus think of the heartbreak that Carl had gone through every time Leo relapsed into drug use or stole money. Leo was still around and yet the unmistakable pain in Carl's voice whenever he spoke of Leo was the exact same pain Hank felt when he mentioned Cole.

Lightly Markus put his hand on Hank's shoulder. "Connor will be awake in a few minutes. He'll want to see you."

"Yeah, just one moment." Hank looked down as he reeled back his fist and punched the deactivated RK-900 model as hard as he could. The broken model fell to its side in a busted heap on the floor at Hank's feet. "Make sure there are no more of these things running around, will ya'?"

"I promise." Markus agreed as he and Hank turned to walk back to the exam table together.

North had already removed the tube from Connor's throat and was now preparing equipment so she could repair Markus's hand. When she saw the sorrow in Hank's eyes she spoke up kindly to try to ease his mind. "His Thirium pump is still strong and he's breathing on his own."

"Thanks, North." Hank replied as he looked at the healing stab wound in Connor's chest. The plastimetal frame was still cracked but the healing program had already caused the imperfect fissure to close partially. The artificial skin was also covering a majority of what was once damaged frame. Noticing the smaller wound on Connor's abdomen Hank righteously asked why it hasn't been treated. "What about the other stab wound?"

"Non-lethal and easily repaired by the self-healing program. He'll be sore for a couple of days, but he'll pull through just fine." North took hold of Markus's arm and guided him to the cabinet where the rest of the supplies were stored. "Same can be said for Markus."

Connor's brown eyes slowly began to open as his red L.E.D. flashed to yellow and cycled a few times before resuming a healthy blue color. "Hank?" He pushed himself upright from the table on his elbows and eyed his partner warily. "Did we..." His voice still sounded rough from being in low power mode and from having the tube inserted down his throat. "Is the RK-900 still active?"

"No. It's dead." Hank motioned to the disabled machine with a thumb over his shoulder. "And you stopped it from getting to the rest of the tower. You saved us. Good work, son."

Connor shook his head as he fully sat upright on the table and looked down at his Thirium stained clothing and skin. "I should've know that CyberLife would've found a way to prevent its software from becoming compromised. It was impossible to convert its mind and let it be free."

"At least you tried. Even though it looked like you my first instinct was to try to kill it when it made a move." Patting Connor's shoulder once in approval Hank tried to reassure the emotionally exhausted deviant. "Hey, you gave it a chance to be free. That's more than anyone would say it deserved."

"But at what cost?"

"Don't do that to yourself Connor." Hank wrapped his arm around Connor's neck and pulled the android up against his side to try to make him feel grounded and supported. "You saved me, you saved North, you saved Markus, you saved all of New Jericho. And you already admitted that there was nothing that could be done to convert that model, so all you did you was turn off a machine, okay?"

"Yeah... okay." Connor began fussing with the buttons on his shirt to cover up his bare chest and abdomen properly. "I suppose you're correct."

"It's late." Hank released his grip from around Connor's neck and let him go. "Unlock the elevator so we can get the hell out of here and let New Jericho get to work building their peaceful society."

"Yes, of course..." Connor was still weak and didn't have the strength to jump down from the table to the floor. "I... need help."

"Hold on." Hank walked over to the supply cabinet and grabbed two pouches of Thirium. He nodded at Markus as North finished securing his damaged hand in a splint and tapering off the loose wires in the limb. "Drink this."

Connor accepted the Thirium and drank it slowly. As his Thirium volume increased so did his strength.

"Better?"

"Yes, I have improved." Connor confirmed as he finished off the first pouch and kept the second for later consumption. "Thank you for your assistance."

Markus and North joined Connor and Hank at the exam table table as the gathered group took a moment to breathe and contemplate everything that had just happened.

Giving Hank and Connor a nod of respect Markus gave them a suggestion that they readily accepted. "You two need to get back to the city." Markus sounded as exhausted as the two detectives felt. "It'll take some time to get this place cleaned up and remodeled. I think we're going to need to go through CyberLife's records as well to make sure they don't have anymore dangerous prototypes in storage."

"You do that." Hank agreed as he helped Connor climb off the table while the android finished rebuttoning his bloody shirt. "Then contact us as soon as you're ready to speak to city hall. We wont' let you go in there alone."

"Thanks, Hank. We appreciate all of your help."

As the group reached the elevator, passing by the broken machine on the floor without a second glance, Connor put his hand on the panel and deactivated the electronic lock. Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow for a second before the doors to the elevator opened and the group stepped inside to begin their eager return to the surface.

Markus cybernetically called out to Josh and to Simon to inform them that the model had been destroyed and that the lockdown was now over.

'We're returning to the tower. I'll explain everything in person, until then do not say anything to the other deviants. We don't want to spread false rumors.'

'Good to hear from you.' Josh answered casually. 'Simon and I will be waiting.'

"So, Connor," Hank asked curiously as the elevator ascended to the ground floor of the tower at a steady clip with the four occupants standing together. "your password seemed pretty unbreakable. What did you change it to?"

"To be honest, I picked something that you'd use yourself in the event that I was for any reason unable to unlock the panel."

"...And what was that, kid?"

Connor coyly smiled a little to himself as he answered, but couldn't bring himself to look Hank in the eye. "Fucking password."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Lieutenant Hank Anderson drove through the snowy, back roads in the dark of the night with his android partner Connor at his side as his lone passenger. The two had been called out to investigate a possible homicide with a deviant android involved, but upon arriving at the scene the seasoned detective and highly attuned android were able to confirm that the murder was in fact a tragic suicide, and the victim's android had tried to save them. A snowstorm had followed and made the investigation somewhat difficult, but the duo was convinced the android was entirely innocent.

Fortunately with the success of the revolution as led by Marcus the android would not be held accountable for the death and subsequently destroyed. Hank and Connor made sure of that before leaving the scene.

"Of course we're the ones who get sent out in the middle of nowhere during a damn blizzard." Hank grumbled as he struggled to see through the building snow and darkness on the desolate dirt roads as he drove back to the city. "I hate winter."

"We were assigned all cases regarding deviants. I doubt that it was anything personal, Lieutenant."

"Yeah, yeah. But that doesn't mean I have to like it." Hank sighed angrily as he tried to navigate the dark roads through the storm. "I need a drink..."

"Perhaps, you should-"

A sudden impact at the passenger side of the vehicle and deafening crunch of metal with the echo of breaking glass ended the conversation abruptly. The car rapidly rolled four times before coming to a stop upside down in the dark ditch just off the snowy, icy road. The second vehicle swerved after striking Hank's car and smashed into a tree at the opposite side of the road. The sound of the second vehicle's horn blaring loudly resonated through the area though no one else could hear it.

Hank's eyes closed as a throbbing pain in his head stole his vision and he knew nothing more of the world around him as passed over the steering wheel.

A cold breeze rushed through Hank's messy gray hair as he steadily regained consciousness. An icy pressure on the back of his head roused him from his stated of unconsciousness and a single bright light beaming from the ditch blinded him as he gradually opened his eyes.

"...What the hell?"

Hank grimaced as he lifted his head to look around, and found himself laying flat on his back and staring up at the stars of the night sky overhead. Sitting up Hank saw that he was laying in the middle of the road several feet away from his wrecked car, but he had no memory of getting out of the smashed vehicle or walking away. The single remaining headlight of his car illuminated the icy road making it sparkle brightly all around him while a bright orange fire burned from its upturned undercarriage creating a black smoke that vanished into the night sky.

"What happened?" Hank grumbled to himself as he stared at the bright blaze consuming what was left of his car. "Where the fuck is Connor?"

Turning his head Hank spotted the truck that had hit his car, then veered off smashing into the tree a few yards away. The engine was still on as were the headlights, but the front of the truck was completely smashed in and the windshield, and windows were completely shattered. Shards of glass littered the ground all around the truck courtesy of the broken windows. The smell of leaking gasoline filled the air as did smoke pouring out from under the hood of the demolished truck. Mercifully the loud horn had stopped blaring.

"Asshole..." Hank swore as he slowly got up to his feet, his legs trembling and his hands numb from the cold. His head was swimming but Hank managed to push aside the discomfort and focus on the task at hand.

Making his way over to the truck Hank pulled on the door handle on the driver's side only to find that the door was jammed shut. Peering through the broken window of the truck Hank peered inside at the single passenger who was seemingly unconscious over the steering wheel and now fully deflated airbag.

"Hey, asshole!" Hank shouted at the driver trying to provoke a response. "What the hell's your problem?"

Silence.

Hank sighed as he reached his hand inside the cab of the truck through the window and pressed his fingers against the driver's neck. No pulse. The man's skin was already deathly cold and pale.

The unmistakable stench of alcohol filled the truck and stung at Hank's eyes as he fought to ignore the incredible pain of his headache. Looking down at the floor of the cab Hank could see a faint puddle and bits of shattered glass from a broken bottle of whiskey.

"Drunk." Hank examined the scene even closer before stepping back and noticed that the driver failed to put on his seatbelt as well. "And stupid. Lethal combination."

Turning away from the truck Hank wandered back over to his own car in search of his phone and in search of Connor. He hadn't seen the android when he awoke on the road which made Hank uneasy. Despite his annoyance at Connor for always following him around Hank secretly appreciated having a partner who watched his back so closely.

"Connor? Where are you?" Hank called out as he examined the wreckage of his car. The heat from the fire kept him from getting too close to the vehicle as it burned itself into a smoldering hunk of metal. Kneeling down he looked through the cracked windshield to the interior of the vehicle but didn't see any sign of Connor inside, or his phone. "Where did he go?"

Hank stood upright and walked around to the passenger side of the car where the truck had impacted to examine the scene more closely. The passenger side door had been completely removed by someone, or something, very strong. The door itself was tossed casually into the ditch beside the car. There was also a puddle of blue fluid on the road next to the vehicle that trailed over to where Hank had been laying, then backtracked past the car and down the road from whence they came.

"Connor? You better be okay..." Hank called out as he sought his android partner. The blue fluid was unmistakably Thirium, Connor's 'blue blood'; which meant Connor was injured. Walking down the road a few feet Hank continued to call out for his partner but received no answer every time. "Connor? Where did you-"

A flashing red dot just a few further down caught Hank's eye. Hank immediately recognized the red dot as an android's L.E.D. blinking in the darkness of the night. Connor's L.E.D.

"Connor?!" Hank tried to rush toward the light but the throbbing of his headache suddenly stole his energy causing him to stop and press his hand to his aching head until the intense pain lessened. Hobbling over to the light Hank looked down at the expressionless face of Connor laying on his back in the middle of the road. "Connor?" Hank knelt beside the android and put his hand on Conner's chest. "Wake up. What are you doing out in the middle of the fuckin' road?"

The android didn't response to the question. His systems were failing and his remaining power was too low to function properly to any verbal commands.

"How did-" Hank felt a cold, wet fluid on his hand. Looking at his palm Hank saw the distinct color of blue blood staining his skin. "Shit!"

Moving quickly Hank pulled open Connor's gray suit jacket and found the source of the bleeding. A large sheet of twisted metal had penetrated Connor's right side and the lower portion of his chest. By some miracle the metal hadn't completely destroyed the android's vital biocomponents, but the damage was still critical.

"No... not again." Hank felt his stomach knot at the hauntingly reminiscent scene that was unfolding all around him. "Not this fuckin' nightmare again."

Three years prior Hank had lost his young son, Cole, in a car accident. Cole needed emergency surgery but no doctor was available to perform the operation. Cole died from his injuries and Hank was unable to do anything to save him. On that night Hank's life changed for the worst and sent the detecting spiraling into a deep, dark depression that stunk of booze.

"Connor?" Hank shook the android lightly to try to get a response without jostling the metal debris lodged in Connor's side. Connor's artificial breaths were extremely light and strained as his system tried to compensate for the damage to his internal biocomponents.

"...Lieu...tenant..." Connor weakly replied as his sensors had indicated that someone was nearby. The L.E.D. flashed red rapidly as his program cycled through its processes to analyze his current status.

"It's going to be okay, Connor." Hank insisted as he carefully put his hands under Connor's shoulders and lifted the android up into a sitting position. Grabbing onto Connor's left arm Hank wrapped the limp, cold limb around his shoulders before he reached his other arm around Connor's lower back to grab onto the android's belt. Hefting the semi-conscious android up to his feet Hank supported as much of Connor's weight as he could and starting walking down the road with his damaged partner at his side. "We're going to get back to the city and you'll get fixed up in no time."

Trudging slowly down the road back in the opposite direction from where Hank had found Connor, back toward the city still miles away, the detective walked slowly with Connor as the determined detective powered through his headache and kept his focus on finding his way back through the snow and darkness.

"Are you still with me, Connor?" Hank asked lowly but firmly as he huffed his tired breaths that escaped in small clouds before him. "Talk to me."

"...What should I... say?"

"Just- Just answer something for me. What were you doing way down the road?"

"...I was..." Connor seemed to be having difficulty finding his words. Whether that was a result of his damaged biocomponents or a missing fragment from his memory neither could say. "I... I can't..."

"It's okay." Hank stated in a calm voice as he began to slow down his pace from sheer exhaustion. "Don't worry about it."

"...Cold." Connor managed to utter as his systems continued to flash warnings across his visual processors.

"Okay, I'll get you somewhere warm. Just... hold on."

From down the road in the direction that the two were walking the dual glow of approaching headlights illuminated the duo in a white light. Hank grimaced from the intensity of the sudden brightness and put his hand up to shield his eyes from the painfully bright light as another vehicle drove down the road toward the two injured men.

"Looks like we may have found a ride, Connor." Hank stated only to be met with silence and increasing weight as Connor fell into another state of unconsciousness against Hank's shoulder. "Connor? Are you awake?"

Silence.

"Shit."

Hank stopped walking and waited for the oncoming vehicle to reach them where they stood. At least he hoped they'd reach him and not turn off onto some unseen road in the distance.

"Hang on Connor, try to stay with me, son."

The approaching vehicle was an old red pick-up truck being driven by a young teenage boy. Stopping at the side of the road the driver rolled down his window and looked at Hank and Connor with wide eyed worry.

"Whoa! What happened you, two?" The young man asked with sincere concern in voice.

"Car accident. We need a lift."

"Yeah, yeah. Hop in!" The driver opened his door and leapt down with the intent of helping Hank carry Connor over to the other side of the cab. "Here, let me help you."

"Sure, watch his side." Hank cautioned as he let the kind teenager help him carry Connor to safety. "What's your name, son?"

"Adam." The young man replied calmly. "My mom and I live just down the road."

"Thanks, but I need to get him back into the city for repair." Hank claimed as he climbed inside the cab of the truck, sitting in the middle of the seat. Reaching out his hand he took hold of Connor's arm and helped Adam to guide the android inside to sit next to him.

"Sorry, but the roads leading into the city are all blocked by snow and downed trees."

"Ah, shit!" Hank swore as he realized that he and Connor were stranded in the middle of seeming nowhere.

"Don't worry." Adam insisted as he carefully lifted Connor's legs up into the truck before shutting the door of the cab. "My mom can help him. She's saved dozens of androids before."

"Your... mom?" Hank questioned as Adam ran around the front of the truck to get back into the driver's side of the cab.

"Yeah. She's helped a lot of deviants who ran away from their abusive owners. She can help him, too."

The kindness and generosity in Adam's words touched Hank in a way that he thought was a long dead. Someone was actually taking the time to help someone else, and there were no strings attached; nothing to be gained or a debt to be owed. It was all coming from the good of Adam's heart.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." Adam carefully backed up the truck on the road to turn around and drive home with his two new passengers in tow.

Hank pressed his hand down on Connor's shoulder to hold the android as steady as possible while also trying to keep his own mind from drifting. From the level of pain he was experiencing in his head and the definitive blackout Hank was certain he had been concussed during the accident and wanted to remain as alert as possible.

"What're you doing out here anyway, Adam? It's dangerous."

"We lost power about an hour ago." Adam explained calmly as he drove down the road at a steady clip. "I went to see if I could find the damage so I could report it, but I can't get down the road far enough to find the source. I wanted to go check the other side and that's when I found you two."

"Pretty big risk driving out here all alone in a storm."

"Yeah, well, it paid off, didn't it?"

"Yeah. I guess it did." Hank watched as Connor's head began to bow down as the android's power level continued to drop to a dangerously low level.

"Can I ask what you two doing out here?" Adam wisely questioned as he slowly drove down the icy road back to his home. "What happened?"

"We work with the Detroit Police Department." Hank replied honestly as he tightened his grip on Connor's shoulder. "We were on our way back from the scene of a- coming back from a case," Hank corrected himself as he didn't want to accidentally put any macabre thoughts in Adam's head. "and we were hit by a drunk driver."

"The other driver... are they okay?"

"He's gone. Looks like his neck was broken during the crash, died instantly."

"Are you hurt?"

"A little banged up, but believe me, I've been through worse."

"And him?" Adam looked over at Connor briefly before returning his gaze to the road before him.

Hank almost laughed at the question. "He's seen some shit, too."

"I didn't know androids worked with the police."

"Well, normally the androids at the department handle things at the receptionist desk and weed out junk complaints from the real deal, Connor was the first android to actually work on cases in the field. He's my partner."

Adam smiled a little at the comment. "Wow, that's pretty cool."

"Yeah." Hank agreed as he looked over at Connor's face. He couldn't directly see the L.E.D. blinking in Connor's temple but the red glow being cast on the side of the cab told Hank that his partner's condition wasn't improving. "How much farther?"

"We're there." Adam stated as he pulled the truck up the long icy driveway toward a snow covered greenhouse behind a large, beautiful homestead. Turning off the engine Adam threw open his door and jogged over to the opposite side of the cab to help with Connor. As he pulled open the door he took one look at the android and stepped back in fear.

"What's wrong, Adam?" Hank watched the young man's reaction warily.

"There's... a lot of blood."

"A lot of-" Hank leaned over Connor and peeled back his jacket to re-examine the wound. While Connor had already lost a considerable amount of Thirium long before Adam had found the duo walking down the road, the amount of fresh Thirium that was quickly soaking into Connor's shirt was absolutely alarming. "Damn it, all that moving must've dislodged the metal."

"Don't worry." Adam came to his senses and grabbed onto Connor's arm without touching the metal in the process. As he placed the android's arm around his shoulders he looked to Hank as he spoke. "We can still help him."

"Then let's not wait!" Hank urged as he dropped out of the truck onto the snow and grabbed Connor's other arm. The abrupt motion made Hank's head ache with a searing pain but he pushed it aside in favor of helping his partner. "Let's get to it."

"Mom!" Adam shouted as he helped Hank carry Connor to the backdoor of the house. Pushing the door open with force Adam guided the two detectives inside and stood just inside the door out of the cold. "Mom! We need help!"

"Adam?!" A woman's voice responded from the kitchen at the far end of the house. Rushing through the house the woman, of whom had to be Adam's mother, spotted her son holding up a bloodied android as well as a pretty banged up looking human. "My goodness, what happened?!"

"Car accident, ma'am." Hank replied as the woman put her hand beneath Connor's chin and gently lifted his head to get a better look at his face in the light. "Your son saved us."

She turned to look at Hank and visibly winced at the smear of blood on Hank's forehead just below his hairline. "You're both in rough shape, but he's in critical condition."

"Can you help him?"

"Yes." The woman confirmed as she took Connor's arm from around Hank's shoulder and motioned for Adam to help her carry the wounded android into the adjacent room. "We still have some spare parts and blue blood that can help him."

Hank watched as the two worked together to carry Connor into the next room, a laundry room, and lay him down on his back very lightly on a bench jutting out from the far wall. Adam grabbed a clean towel that had been folded and left on top of the dryer and placed it under Connor's head like a pillow.

With a mother's care the woman peeled back the fabric of Connor's jacket and stared down at the entry point of the jagged chunk of metal. Thirium stained the entire right side of Connor's body around the wound, and stretched out over his chest. The already weak breaths that Connor managed to take seemed so pitiful and waning in the light as he fought to perform even the most basic of physical motions.

As the dedicated woman loosened Connor's tie and unbutton his stained white shirt beneath she glanced up at Hank with unparalleled kindness in her dark brown eyes. "I didn't get your name."

"Hank. I'm Lt. Hank Anderson, Detroit Police Department." He put his hand to his head as he spoke. It seemed even the simple acting of talking was enough to cause his head to throb with pain. "And that's Connor. He's my partner."

"Nice to meet you, Hank." She glanced down at Connor's face for a moment before returning to Hank. "I'm Rose. And you've already met my son, Adam."

"Mom," Adam was beginning to sound worried again as he stared at the painful wound in Connor's side. "he's lost a lot of Thirium."

Rose nodded in agreement. "Bring three units of blue blood from the storage closet. I need to see which of his biocomponents were damaged."

"Okay."

Hank held his breath as Rose opened Connor's shirt to fully expose the wound beneath, and both humans felt a chill run up their spines. The metal had pierced Connor's side at a frightening angle and had torn into his body coming to a rest near the center of his torso. The artificial skin that once covered his side had receded from his side and along his lower ribcage, one inch in diameter around the wound leaving only the plastimetal frame behind. Thirium leaked from the frame all around the injury at an alarming rate and Connor seemed to be having increased difficulty breathing.

Rose gently pressed the fingertips of her two forefingers of her left hand to the red colored L.E.D. in Connor's right temple before pressing her right hand down on his stomach near the wound. In response the artificial skin that covered his abdomen receded further giving Rose access to the now exposed panel beneath.

"You really do know a lot about androids, don't you?" Hank asked with admiration in his voice as he watched Rose work with an expert precision behind each movement she made.

Rose smiled a little at the comment as she pressed down on the exposed plastimetal panel and slid it to the left to open the abdominal compartment of Connor's torso. "Unfortunately, yes. Many androids who found their way here were very badly damaged. I did my best to help repair them and in time I've learned a few tricks here and there."

"What can you tell me about Connor's condition?"

"It's bad." Rose confirmed as she stared at the pool of lost Thirium that had collected in Connor's torso. His weak breaths made the sight of his exposed abdomen all the more brutal to witness. Several tubes and lines that circulated the blue blood to Connor's biocomponents had been damaged by the jagged metal which caused the initial leak, but the most severe damage was to single biocomponent in the center of Connor's abdomen. "But the damage is not catastrophic." Rose turned to look at Hank over her shoulder with a determined gaze. "His thermal regulator has been damaged."

"Can it be repaired?"

"Yes, I mean, possibly. But I've never seen biocomponents like his." Rose turned over the lapel of Connor's gray jacket and noted his model number. "RK-800. I've never encountered one before."

Hank smiled a little at the observation. "He was the most advanced prototype ever created by CyberLife before they went under. He's unique."

"That makes sense." Rose gently put her fingers inside the opened compartment and applied light pressure to the leaking tubes to stem the bleeding. Connor's body twitched slightly from the agonizing contact and he let out a low groan of pain. The response of course meant that Connor's systems were still functioning, though at an uncomfortably low level. "Hopefully we have a compatible part to replace the regulator, otherwise..."

"Yeah. I know." Hank understood the severity of the situation but he didn't want to acknowledge it all the same. "I get it."

Adam returned to the laundry room with three bags of the requested blue blood in his arms as well as some kind of plastic box full of supplies. "I just checked the rest the biocomponents, we're low but I don't think it'll be too bad."

"Good. See if you can find a thermal regulator for any 800 model." Rose took the blood and kit from Adam and nodded at Hank. "You won't find a perfect match, so just do your best."

"Right."

Rose handed the bags of blood to Hank before sitting the box, an android medical kit, down on the bench next to Connor's legs. Opening the lid to gather the necessary items she needed Rose paid little attention to Hank craning his neck to see what was inside the kit itself.

What looked like several rolls of water resistant adhesive lined the case, as well as bags of small flexible tubes, tiny metal pins, small metal clamps, a sharp utility knife, some kind of small suction pump and a soldering iron were contained inside. But stranger still were the rolls of what looked like white gauze that any human would use to dress their own wounds.

"I'm going to stop the bleeding." Rose explained as she set about using the clamps to pinch off the ends of the damaged tubes and compromised lines. Again Connor twitched and groaned, but he remained in place on the bench and didn't try to resist Rose's assistance. "It'll be a little messy, but it won't be nearly as bad as it looks."

"It's okay." Hank nodded slightly as he crossed his arms over his chest and continued to watch from the doorway with an uneasy pit forming in his stomach. "I trust you to do what's best for him."

Adam pushed past Hank in the doorway with two biocomponents contained inside protective plastic bags in his hands. "These two are both model number 800, I wasn't sure which one would be the better fit."

"Bring them here." Rose instructed as she used the utility knife to cut through the damaged tubing then replaced it with the new tubing within the kit. "We'll take a closer look in a moment."

Adam listened to his mother's instructions and hovered over Connor suspiciously as he eyed the large piece of jagged metal still embedded in his side. "How're we going to remove that?"

"Very carefully." Rose stated as she found the point of contact between the debris and the regulator. "You pull and I'll guide it out so it doesn't inflict anymore damage on the way out."

"Yeah, okay." Adam took hold of the metal with both of his hands. Applying a firm but careful grip Adam planted his feet and began pulling on the metal at a steady pace.

Connor's body began to rock and threatened to slip off the edge of the bench as Adam pulled, despite using controlled strength. Unable to keep himself steady Connor was defenseless and let out a gasping breath of pain and confusion once the ordeal began.

Rose looked to Hank who immediately approached the bench and put his hands on Connor's shoulder and his hip to hold the android in place while Adam pulled on the metal debris.

"Easy, we got you." Hank soothed as he kept his partner as still as possible on the bench. "It's going to be over soon."

The three humans worked together seamlessly, albeit awkwardly, to remove the metal without causing further harm to Connor in the process.

"Got it!" Adam hefted the Thirium drenched metal into his arms and backed out of the laundry room. "I'll toss this in the shed."

Connor's red L.E.D. flashed frantically as his system struggled to process the event that had transpired, but then slowed down a more manageable rate as his system began to stabilize. The android took in a single deep breath before resuming a more standard breathing pattern. The worst of the situation was seemingly over.

Rose grabbed the small suction pump and used it to drain the excess Thirium out of the exposed cavity before continuing the repairs to Connor's damaged Thirium lines and biocomponent.

"That's a lot of blood." Hank noted with a sickening knot tightening in his stomach. Despite his many years on the force the sight of blood coming from someone he cared about; human or android, it never got any easier to witness.

"Yes. He's lost at least three pints of Thirium already."

"Is... How much before it's fatal? Do you know?"

"Five. Androids contain the same amount of blood as a human. We can replenish what he's lost, but even then it'll take his system hours to recover fully."

"Just..." Hank was torn about what he should be doing, compared to what he actually could do for the injured deviant. "Please keep doing what you're doing."

Hank backed away from the bench and closed his eyes as the headache he had been hiding began to gnaw at his fortitude mercilessly. He wasn't sure how long he was standing there watching Rose repair and replace the damaged tubes in Connor's torso, but it felt like an eternity.

Adam returned to the room and discreetly slipped by Hank as to not disturb the exhausted detective as he resumed aiding his mother in repairing the damage to Connor's regulator.

It was eerily reminiscent of the night Cole died. Hank spent painfully slow hours waiting, hoping, praying for some kind of miracle to save his son. But it was too late. And Cole was lost.

"Let's try the first one." Rose instructed Adam, her voice caused Hank's eyes to snap open as he watched the next procedure intently.

The bleeding had been stopped save for the Thirium continuing to leak from the damage regulator, but that soon would too stop.

Rose took the first regulator from its packaging and compared it to the damaged one still inside Connor's torso. She compared the size and the connections before trying use it to replace the original, then checked the second regulator just to make certain.

"Something wrong?" Hank could see the worry in Rose's eyes as she paused her actions despite her previously confident motions.

"Neither of these regulators are compatible. One is too small to function without burning out within a few hours, and the other doesn't have the proper connections to attach securely."

"So what do we do?"

"I can try to solder the damage to his current regulator and hope his recovery processors can finish what I start."

"And if you can't?"

"Then he'll need a total replacement and I don't know where to find a compatible regulator for his model. Without one he'll shut down in less than six hours."

Hank sighed and squared his jaw as he tried to make the correct decision on Connor's behalf. Risk using an incompatible part that will burn out but possibly bide enough time to get Connor back to the city, or risk keeping the original regulator in place while his processor attempts to repair the damage itself? Neither option seemed to be favorable, but in that moment Hank didn't have the right to be stubborn.

"See what you can do with the damaged regulator first," Hank finally decided as he stared at Connor's contrastingly peaceful face in comparison to the carnage that was his abdomen. "if all else fails we'll try to replace it with the second one later on."

"Okay." Rose agreed as she set about preparing the soldering iron and a delicate amount of solder to seal the damage to the regulator without burning the delicate biocomponent during the process. "Adam, get some cool water in a spray bottle ready for me."

"Sure, mom."

Hank had been a bit of a talented mechanic for most of his life and knew that it took great skill, patience and practice to master the art of welding. Soldering was just as laborious of a task, but he trusted Rose enough to let her do everything she could to save Connor's life.

As Rose set about soldering the visible damage to Connor's regulator the android began to flinch slightly and resumed groaning in pain as he became more aware of his surroundings. His hands tightened into fists at his side as he fought to endure the pain without lashing out the person trying to help him. His L.E.D. began flashing red frantically again as if in horrible distress, but he didn't say a word or try to protest.

"Hold on Connor." Hank encouraged as he watched the smoke rise from the fresh solder being applied to the biocomponent. Adam had returned with the spray bottle and began to rhythmically spray water over the repaired metal as to keep it from overheating while being soldered, and to wash off the remaining Thirium that coated Connor's internal systems. "It's for the best, son."

Connor seemed to hear and understand Hank's voice as his L.E.D. began to slow down its rapid cycle and resumed flashing at a slower pace, but it remained red in color.

Rose retracted her hands from Connor's torso with a weary sigh as she set the soldering iron back down in the kit. She pressed her hands down on the edge of the opened compartment and the panel slid shut as easily as it had opened. Mirroring her movements from before Rose placed her fingers against Connor's temple and pressed her hand down on his stomach, the artificial skin regenerating over his plastimetal frame within seconds of her manually activating the program.

"That should hold for now." Rose told Hank in a calm tone of voice. Reaching into the kit one last time she took a roll of what appeared to be normal gauze and began wrapping it around Connor's torso with Adam gently putting his hand under Connor's back and shoulders to lift the android upright, while Rose dressed the wound. "He needs to enter rest mode for a few hours to enable his self-healing program at full power."

"Great, that's great." Hank tried to sound as enthused as he sincerely felt, but his headache stole away whatever energy he felt when he spoke.

"Adam, help me carry him up into the guest bedroom." Rose asked as she tied off the gauze and replaced what was left of the roll back into the kit. "Be very careful not to bend his abdomen too much until he has the chance to recover a little more."

"Please," Hank volunteered, tucking the bags of blue blood deeply into his coat pocket, as he returned to the bench and wrapped his hand around Conner's upper arm. "let me do this. You've already done so much."

Adam nodded in approval as he moved aside to let Hank pull Connor up from the bench and onto his feet. Grabbing onto Connor's other arm Adam led the two detectives from the laundry room and toward the ascending staircase just outside the door.

"This way."

Rose followed close by as the two men hefted the wounded android slowly, carefully up the staircase with cumbersome but determined steps.

Ascending the narrow staircase had proven itself a chore, especially with Hank's headache providing some resistance to his movements. Fortunately Adam was proving himself to be quite physically fit and strong in spite of young age. Reaching the top of the staircase Adam pushed open the door directly in front of him and stepped inside slowly. Rose joined the two men inside the room and pulled back the top cover over the soft twin bed to allow Adam and Hank to lay Connor down comfortably under the quilt.

The guestroom itself was modest but very welcoming. The soft bed had an old quilt draped over top with a thick, fluffy pillow. A small table beside the bed held a lamp and in the corner of the room was an old wooden writing desk with a wood chair tucked underneath it. There was a large window overlooking the property and if the curtains weren't already drawn then the sight of the cold winter night outside would've been spectacular.

"I got him." Hank stated as he took all of Connor's weight against his shoulder and guided the android down until he was sitting on the edge of the bed. "Good thing he's lighter than he looks."

Rose took the opportunity to slip off Connor's Thirium soaked and torn gray jacket and his equally stained white shirt from his shoulders and arms; draping the Thirium stained clothes over the foot of the bed . Putting her hand beneath Connor's head Rose guided him down against the pillow while Hank removed Connor's shoes and lifted his legs up onto the bed with little difficulty on his part.

"There." Rose pulled her hand away from Connor's hair and eyed Hank with a stern focus. Connor's L.E.D. was still red despite the treatment he had received, but that was to be expected in light of the serious damage he had sustained. "Now that he's been taken care of, it's your turn."

"Me?" Hank tried to feign innocence but the pain in his eyes from his intense headache gave away his little 'secret'. "I'm okay."

"That cut on your forehead says otherwise." Rose argued as she crossed her arms defiantly and spoke to Hank with the 'mom' voice. "There's a first aid kit downstairs. I'll patch you up and Adam can stay with Connor for a few minutes."

In an attempt to stall his leave of the room Hank reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the three pouches of Thirium and held them out for Rose. "After this."

Rose gave Hank a faint grin as she took the bags of blood from his hands. Normally she didn't approve of stubbornness, but there was something about the way Hank was protectively hovering over the android that she found endearing. Setting two of the bags down on the small table beside the bed Rose prepared the third pouch for immediate administration.

"Okay. As soon as he's been given his blood you're coming downstairs with me."

"Deal."

Adam quickly stepped out the room and disappeared from sight as Rose opened the pouch of blue blood and sat on the edge of the bed next to Connor's side. Gently Rose replaced her hand beneath his head and tried to lift the android up, but Connor was so deep in his rest mode that his entire body was limp and too heavy for her to move with one hand.

"Here." Hank approached the head of the bed and put his hand under Connor's head where her hand had just been. "What do you need me to do?"

"Lift his head up slightly and open his mouth. I need to get the Thirium down his throat to replenish what he's lost."

"He has to drink it?" Hank looked visibly ill at the mental image that appeared in his head, but he did as Rose instructed. "Gross."

Rose couldn't hide her amusement as she pressed the end of the pouch to Connor's lips. Patiently Rose waited for Connor to respond but he failed to even faintly acknowledge the Thirium being offered. Pouring a small amount of Thirium into Connor's mouth Rose watched for any sign of awareness, but Connor failed to react.

"He's too weak to swallow." Rose lamented as she pulled the Thirium pouch away and looked at Hank sadly. "I guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way."

Adam returned to the room and watched the scene unfolding with quiet intrigue as he stared at the wounded android with sincere worry in his eyes. He had a gray t-shirt neatly folded in his hands and seemed to have something on his mind.

"Adam?" Rose looked to her son with motherly concern. She knew that while Adam's mind had changed regarding deviants he still wasn't entirely comfortable with providing first aid to androids. "What's going on?"

"I brought this for Connor." Adam handed his mom the t-shirt. "I figured he could use it since his own shirt is all torn up."

Hank gave Adam a gracious smile as he clapped the young man on his shoulder. "Thanks, son. I'm sure once Connor wakes up he'll be able to say thank you, too."

Rose took the t-shirt from her son as she gave him a beaming grin of pride and easily slipped the clean garment over the android's head, and tucked his arms through the sleeves. As she pulled the hem of the shirt down to cover Connor's abdomen she noticed the android wincing slightly as her hand brushed past his injury.

"His external sensors are still active, but he can't respond just yet." Rose pulled the quilt up over Connor's abdomen as a kind gesture. Pressing her fingertips to Connor's still red L.E.D. and her opposite hand to the bend in his left arm laying limp on the bed at his side, Rose watched as the artificial skin receded creating a circle about inch in diameter and exposed the white plastimetal frame beneath. Just as before she pressed her fingers down on a panel at the point of contact in Connor's arm where it bends and slid open a panel that gave her access to large line equivalent to an artery. "This should take about fifteen minutes to complete."

"You mean you can hook him up with the blue blood like an I.V.? Why not just do that in the first place?" Hank asked as he gently laid Connor's head back down against the pillow.

"It's not as effective when the Thirium is administered through a line. If it's ingested then his system will immediately detect the added Thirium and recalibrate his system accordingly. When it's administered through a line, especially when functioning on low power, his system won't recognize the increased Thirium volume until it's circulated through his biocomponents for at least three cycles."

"How long is a cycle?" Hank inquired as watched Rose clip the plastic tubing attached to the pouch to the port on the line in Connor's arm. Squeezing the pouch twice the blue blood began running down the tube and into Connor's arm just like any I.V. would do for a human.

"When an android of a more advanced model, like Connor, is running at full power one cycle is about ten minutes. When he's at low power one cycle takes about thirty minutes."

"Ah."

Rose lifted the pouch upward and Adam took it from her hand. Attaching the pouch to a small nail jutting out from the wall where an old shelf once hung the Thirium drained from the pouch with the assistance of gravity and without any further hindrance.

"Now," Rose stood up from the bed and took hold of Hank's arm. "your turn."

Adam spoke up before Hank the chance to protest. "I'll stay with him." Pulling the chair tucked away under the nearby desk to the end of the bed Adam sat down and watched over Connor carefully. "I'll let you know if wakes up."

"Come on, Hank." Rose insisted again as she began dragging him toward the opened door. "You need to let me take care of that cut before it gets infected."

"I appreciate your concern," Hank remarked sincerely as he begrudgingly allowed Rose to guide him back downstairs and into the kitchen. "but a little cut isn't exactly life or death."

"You're right." Rose agreed as she led him to the kitchen table and all but pushed him down into a chair to sit. She grabbed onto the collar of Hank's coat and pulled it down causing Hank to pull his arms free of the sleeves in the process. "But a head injury could be." Rose spotted a deep cut on Hank's upper arm as well now that the coat had been removed. "Not to mention infection."

"Head injury?"

"You hit your head." Rose stated confidently as she walked over to the freezer door and opened it quickly. Tossing a bag of frozen peas at Hank the detective caught it in mid air with one hand and gratefully pressed it to his forehead. "I can see it in your eyes."

"It's that obvious, huh? Guess it must be pretty bad."

"Could always be worse." She reminded him kindly as she pulled the first air kit from the top of the freezer and joined Hank at the kitchen table. Sitting beside the detective Rose opened the kit and began rummaging through the supplies inside just as she had done when she was tending to Connor's injuries in the laundry room. "Let me see."

Hank dropped the frozen peas from his forehead and placed it on the back of his head instead. He sat upright as he turned to face Rose in a cooperative manner as he finally allowed her to help him. Despite his gruff exterior Hank's heart of gold was made evident in his tone of voice and the gentle way he looked at the incredibly kind woman who gave him and Connor shelter for the night.

"So ,are you going to tell me why you and your partner were out in the middle of a blizzard?" Rose asked as she dipped a cottonball in some rubbing alcohol and dabbed at the cut on Hank's forehead. "Or do you want me to guess?"

"We were-" Hank winced as the cold alcohol came into contact with the cut and sent a jolt of pain through his skin. "We were checking out the scene of a possible homicide. On our way back to the city we were hit by a drunk driver. Your son found us, and saved us."

"Unfortunately we do see some reckless drivers out here pretty often. Guess they think no one else will be on a back road or something."

"Well, this guy was wrong."

"And I take it the other driver didn't make it?"

"No." Hank confirmed with a low tone. "He didn't make it. He died on impact."

"How did you get out of your car?" Rose asked curiously as she noted the lack of blood, bruising and dirt on Hank's hands. "It doesn't look like you were in an as severe of an accident as you said."

"Honestly, I can't tell you." Hank sighed as Rose placed a patch of gauze against the cut and used medical adhesive to hold it in place. "One minute I was driving, the next I was laying in the middle of the road. Must've stumbled out of the car in a daze before passing out again."

"Look at me." Rose instructed as she studied Hank's pupils. She gently put her hand to his chin and lightly turned his face and watched his eyes moving as he tried to focus on her. "You might have a mild concussion."

Hank smiled as he noted the sizable bump on the back of his skull. "I agree."

Rose next to tended to the cut on Hank's arm with the same motherly care she had shown earlier. A cut that the detective hadn't even noticed he suffered until Rose began fussing with his sleeve to look at the wound.

"Didn't even feel that." Hank admitted as he took off his long sleeved shirt to expose his arm fully for Rose to clean. "The wonders of the human body, I guess."

"Probably from some glass." Rose deduced as she set about cleaning the deep, bloody laceration. "And you'll need a few stitches to properly close this."

"You're not volunteering, are you?"

"Only if you trust me." Rose gave Hank a confident grin as she arched a brow as if challenging the detective's endurance.

"Why not? You saved Connor, and he's a fu-" Hank caught himself before he cursed so as to not offend his gracious host. "Connor's more complicated than a simple cut to the arm. So, I think a needle and some thread should be no problem."

Rose nodded as she took a small suturing kit contained inside the first aid kit and sterilized the needle. Wiping down Hank's arm in alcohol the meticulous woman prepared to place the first stitch with a controlled, precise otion. "Before we do this would you like a drink?"

"Normally I'd say yes, but after tonight..."

"I understand."

Hank held his breath as the needle pierced through his skin and Rose set about stitching the wound closed.

"Tell me about yourself, Rose." Hank insisted as he made polite conversation and tried to distract himself from the burning pain in his arm. "This house seems pretty big for just you and Adam. Can I ask about your-"

"My husband passed away two years ago." Rose stated sadly without taking her eyes from her work. "Complications from pneumonia after he began treatment for lung cancer."

"I'm sorry."

"It was a little difficult at first but we managed. And as we continued on with our lives we found ourselves providing shelter to deviants fleeing abusive masters and seeking freedom. It was like a reminder that just as quickly as life ends, new life always finds a way to begin."

"And that's how you learned so much about androids and their inner-workings, right? Why did you keep touching the L.E.D. in Connor's head?"

"When an android is too low on power to respond to basic functions manual intervention is necessary. By pressing down lightly against the L.E.D. and pressing against the damaged area on an android's person it's possible to remove the artificial skin so repairs can be done."

"I didn't know that. Hell, I had no idea that androids even had a type of a manual override." Hank's brow furrowed as another question popped into his head. "What about the gauze? Why'd you wrap him up? It's not like he can get an infection or something."

"It's not traditional gauze that you or I would use on our own wounds, it's a special type that has the same components used in creating artificial skin. By wrapping up an injury in this gauze it tricks the androids sensors into thinking that artificial skin is in place and their program will focus on running the healing program for more serious damage rather than keeping the skin active. It'll also keep foreign matter from getting inside the exposed frame or Thirium lines."

"Is that a problem?"

"It can be. Like us, android skin keeps their internal biocomponents from getting damaged or dirty, it's a primary function, yet elective, as an android can disable their skin at any time. But..."

"But if the android can't respond and remove their skin to treat the damage then the repair program can't function properly."

"Right. And if foreign matter gets into the their biocomponents it can cause complications such overheating or ventilation failure."

"Turns out deviants are just as fragile as humans." Hank laughed a little at the ironic comparison. "Guess I'm finally starting to catch on."

Rose didn't say anything. She was too focused on her work, too worried about Hank and about Connor to really say anything else.

"You took a big risk helping so many deviants." Hank pressed in a kind but firm manner. "If you had been caught you would've been charged with aiding a felon and sent to prison."

"It was worth it." Rose replied with the utmost confidence in her voice. "To help so many people who just needed the chance to have a life of their own... It really helped me to cope with losing my husband."

"And Adam?"

"It took some time but Adam saw deviants in the same way that they saw themselves. Alive. And now he's much more involved in helping deviants and all androids achieve equal rights."

"You must be proud."

"I am." Rose smiled a little as she rhythmically placed the stitches in Hank's arm. "What about you? Do you have a family?"

"I... I have Connor." Hank stated in a somber tone as he suddenly looked away from Rose. "My wife... she died. Six years ago. I'm a widower."

Rose could see that Hank was holding something back, something painful. She didn't want to open old scars, but she knew all too well how much grief can damage a person if they hold it inside. "Kids?"

Hank sighed a little as he thought about Cole but didn't answer.

"I'm sorry." Tying off the silk thread she finished placing the final stitch and snipped off the remaining thread. "I didn't mean to drudge up the past."

"You didn't." Hank confirmed as he watched Rose finish placing the final stitch and tie off the silk thread. "I've been living in the past for over three years now. I've only recently begun to move on with my life."

"I'm not sure when the roads will be cleared, so you're going to be staying here for the night." Rose admitted as she lightly wrapped Hank's arm in gauze. "We lost power about four hours ago and have been using the emergency generator ever since. I can't get a signal on my phone to check for an update."

"It's alright. I'll check the roads in the morning." Hank pulled his shirt back down over his arm before he grabbed his coat.

"Cold?"

"I'm alright." Hank moved the frozen bag of peas from the back of his head and onto his arm over the fresh stitches.

"I'll make you something to eat." Rose volunteered as she stood up from the table and walked to the counter.

"No, please. You've done enough."

"I don't mind. It's not often we have company since Markus led the revolution. Why don't you go check in on Connor?"

"Yeah, good idea." As Hank stood up his head began to swim and he stumbled forward slightly, catching himself with one hand against the table's surface.

Rose noticed that Hank was suffering from a dizzy spell and was at his side in a flash. "Come on. I'll help you upstairs."

"I'll be fine."

"I'm sure you will be, but right now you need some help."

Hank wanted to protest out of deep a seeded stubbornness but his head was aching too much to try and argue. Relenting out of sheer pain Hank let Rose put her hand to his lower back as she helped guide the concussed detective toward the staircase and guided him back into the guestroom at the top of the stairs where Connor was resting.

Adam was sitting in the chair watching over the android silently when Rose and Hank returned to the room. "The first Thirium pouch is almost gone." Adam noted as the blue blood entered Connor's body. "And he hasn't woken up yet."

Without a word Rose set about replacing the empty pouch with a new pouch while Adam vacated his chair and left it for Hank to sit in.

"Should I do anything else, mom?"

"No, Adam." Rose checked the line in Connor's arm for a moment before she approached her son. Putting her hand to the side of his face she coaxed him into bending down a little so she could kiss his forehead. "It's late, get some sleep. I'll wake you in the morning."

"Okay, mom. Uh, goodnight, sir."

"Goodnight Adam, and, call me Hank."

"Right. Hank." Adam departed the room quietly and headed down the hallway into his own bedroom for the rest of the night.

"He's a good kid." Hank commented as he sat down heavily in the chair and resumed his vigil over Connor.

Rose rested her hand atop Connor's chest and pressed down. She could feel Connor's Thirium pump rapidly working to circulate the replenished blue blood through his body as it targeted his damaged thermal regulator to focus the healing program accordingly.

"What're you doing?" Hank asked as he watched Rose's eyes. She seemed to be in a trance as she hovered over Connor and he was intrigued.

"Counting his pulse."

"P-Pulse? Connor has a pulse?"

Rose smiled warmly at the sincerely question. It wasn't the naivety in Hank's voice that amused her, it was the surprise. "Androids don't have the usual pulse points as a human, but they do have a palpable heartbeat."

"I knew they could breathe and I knew they had beating hearts, but it never occurred to me that they could have tangible pulses."

Connor's L.E.D. suddenly flashed from red to yellow as his head lolled slightly and his eyes partially opened.

"Connor, 'bout time you woke up." Hank grinned as he watched Connor's systems finally come back online. At least to an extent.

"...Lieutenant?"

"I'm here." Hank confirmed as Rose hovered protectively around the bed. "You're going to be okay."

"Where... are we?"

"Safe." Was Hank's succinct, honest reply. "How do you feel?"

Connor's brown eyes blinked slowly before opening again, his eyelids still only partially opened. He turned his head to look at Hank and then noticed Rose standing beside him. The off look in Connor's eyes spoke volumes of confusion and concern.

"She's a friend." Hank confirmed as he watched Connor's eyes struggling to focus on her. "Are you in any pain?"

"...Pain." Connor swallowed once, the small amount of Thirium that Rose had tried to give him earlier finally being ingested into his system. "I... can't..."

Rose took the third bag of Thirium as she sat on the edge of the bed. Putting her hand beneath his head she coaxed him into sitting up slightly as she pressed the pouch of Thirium to his lips. "Drink this, it'll help."

Connor's visual processors were unable to fully focus, let alone allow the android to perform a scan of his environment. Aware of the deep color that was distinct to Thirium and Hank's lack of objection Connor slowly began to drink the Thirium that Rose had offered. It wasn't long until the pouch was empty as ingestion truly was more effective than a line insertion. Connor's L.E.D. flashed briefly to blue before returning to yellow as his system accepted the added Thirium.

"Thank you." Connor managed to utter as Rose guided him back down against the pillow. The yellow L.E.D. transitioned back to red as a new found physical discomfort settled in Connor's being causing him to wince and take in a sucking breath between his teeth.

Hank could see that he was in pain and just wanted him to admit it so he could be helped. "Come on, son. Level with us." The encouragement in Hank's voice was friendly rather than aggressive. "How do you feel?"

"I feel... damaged." Connor admitted as his right hand lifted up slowly from his side and pressed against his abdomen over the bandages where the metal debris had been lodged. "Here."

Rose smiled as she returned her fingers the L.E.D. in Connor's temple and held them in place for a few seconds before retracting her touch.

The L.E.D. in turn shifted from red to yellow once more as the pain in Connor's abdomen began to lessen. "Thank you..." The android repeated as his renewed strength faded away and his systems returned to rest mode.

With a very soft touch Rose lifted Connor's eyelids and looked at his unfocused, hazy brown eyes before she sweetly brushed a lock of his brown hair from his face. As her hand made contact with his forehead she became slightly alarmed and fully pressed her palm against his forehead for a few seconds before she pressed it against his cheek.

"Something wrong?" Hank had been watching her movements like a hawk from where he sat.

"He's running a fever."

"A fever? But he's an android, how is that possible?"

"The damage was to his thermal regulator, it's the biocomponent that keeps androids from overheating." Pulling back the quilt from Connor's abdomen and chest Rose hoped that the removed covering would help Connor cool down. "I'm going to get some ice. Hopefully it'll keep him stable until his healing processors can mend the damage."

"Stable?"

"If he overheats for too long," Rose replied with a grim voice as she stepped through the opened doorway. "then it can cause permanent damage to his other biocomponents or his intracranial processor."

Alone with Connor, who was looking far too human, too vulnerable for Hank's comfort, the detective couldn't stop himself from thinking about all the nights he stayed up with Cole whenever he was sick. Those nights seemed so long and like such nuisance to bear, but now Hank found himself pining for those hours he spent just sitting with his son and reading him story after story after story until he at last drifted off to sleep in his arms.

"Connor, I swear you're going to be the death of me." Hank openly complained as he watched the android breathing slowly as he remained in rest mode. "You're more of a handful than puppy-training Sumo."

Rose returned to the room with two bags of ice in her arms, as well as a cold, damp washcloth. "Since androids can't sweat it's important to keep him as cool as possible externally." Rose smoothed the washcloth over Connor's forehead then placed the first small bag of ice at the back of Connor's neck and the second bag of ice was placed under his shirt over top of his chest. "I'll be back to check on him in an hour. You should try to get some sleep."

"I'll be fine." Hank insisted as he leaned back in the chair and tried to ignore his throbbing head and the numbness in his stitched up arm.

"I'll bring you something for your headache." With a gentle touch of her hand to his shoulder Rose comforted Hank as best as she could. "Try to relax."

Hank nodded a little as he closed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. His hand was still clutching at the bag of frozen peas to his forehead, but he decided that at the moment Connor needed it more. Reaching his hand over to the bed Hank placed the bag under Connor's shirt next to other bag of ice. As he placed the ice down he faintly felt Connor's 'heart' beating in his chest with the exact same pulse and human of a human heart, and his flinched a little before retracting his grip.

"You do have a heart after all. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this point." Running his hand over his chin thoughtfully Hank spoke to the resting android as if he were in fact awake. "When we get back to the precinct I'm demanding a raise from Fowler. This is absolute bull-"

Rose gave Hank a slightly amused glance as she caught him talking to Connor, as well as himself. There was a thick blue quilt in her arms and a bottle of aspirin clutched in her hand.

"I'll be downstairs if you need anything." Rose stated as she handed Hank the medicine and draped the blanket over his legs. Tending to Connor one last time Rose removed the now emptied second pouch of Thirium from the line in Connor's arm and manually returned the artificial skin over his arm to keep the line protected.

"Thank you, Rose. For everything." Hank happily took two of the aspirin and patiently waited for the medication to ease his headache. "We both appreciate everything you've done for us."

"You're welcome, Hank." Rose turned out of the room and walked through the door quietly to set about the kitchen. "Rest."

While the chair wasn't the most comfortable piece of furniture that Hank had ever encountered it was certainly better than laying in the middle of an icy, dirt road in the dark of a cold night. With no memory of what happened after the accident or before waking up in the middle of the road Hank tried to theorize every possible scenario to help fill in the blanks.

But it was for not. Hank's head hurt too damn much to think.

Folding his hands together discreetly Hank leaned forward in his seat and bowed his aching head slowly. The night was proving itself too emotionally taxing for the already emotionally strained detective, and he was reaching his breaking point.

"Alright, I don't know who might be up there or what you have planned for me," Hank muttered under his breath. "but all I can say is this: you've already taken one son from me, don't you take him, too. He's all I got. He's what's keeping me here." Speaking in a very low voice as to not draw Adam or Rose's attention Hank continued pleading with whatever deity could be listening to him. "If you take him then you have to take us both, because I have nothing else in my life worth living for."

Using his thumb to wipe away a single tear Hank leaned back in his chair and proceeded to watch Connor resting in the bed in peaceful silence.

It wasn't long before Hank had drifted off into a deep sleep as his own body also needed to recover after being in the accident.

Unfortunately, the much needed sleep was accompanied by unwelcome nightmares about the night Cole had died. Nightmares that haunted Hank's sleep for years and had only recently begun to decrease after befriending Connor. Nightmares that were so vividly detailed that Hank often awoke with real tears running down his face.

Barely two hours passed when Hank was startled awake by a loud wheezing gasp as a voice called his name hoarsely. "...H-Hank?!"

"Connor!" Hank was instantly on his feet and over the bed as Connor began to hyperventilate and panic. Pressing his hands down on Connor's shoulders Hank held his partner down on the bed and watched nervously as the L.E.D. began frantically blinking in red in the deviant's right temple. "Hold on son, I got you!"

"C-Can't breathe!" Connor rasped as he fought to articulate his words. "O-Overheating!"

Hank didn't need Connor to tell him that final detail. The intense heat radiating from Connor's body was almost enough to burn the palms of Hank's hands as he did his best to keep Connor as still as possible in the bed.

Adam had heard the commotion and came running into the room. He took one look at Connor and raced downstairs in search of his mother for help. "Mom! Something's wrong with Connor!"

Blue blood was beginning to leak through the gauze wrapped around Connor's torso and soak through his gray t-shirt quickly. His frantic breathing as he desperately tried to increase the power to his ventilation biocomponents and cool his overheating body only made the Thirium leak faster.

"Try to stay calm." Hank instructed in a calm voice of his own as he lifted Connor's shirt and looked down at the reopened wound and grimaced. "We'll get you taken care of! Just slow your breathing..."

Rose rushed into the room with Adam right behind her. Leaning over the bed she spotted the leaking Thirium and pressed her hand to Connor's forehead. "He's going to burn up! Adam, get the smaller thermal regulator. It won't work as a permanent replacement but it can buy him a few more hours."

"Do it!" Hank agreed as he watched the fear, actual fear, build in Connor's eyes. "Whatever it takes, do it!"

Adam disappeared in a flash as Rose set about removing the bandages from around Connor's torso to expose the wound and reopen the panel that gave access to the internal compartment in his abdomen. Thinking quickly Rose pressed her fingers to Connor's flashing L.E.D. and held them in place for almost ten seconds patiently. In that brief, yet long period of time, Connor began to still and his body fell into a manually activated rest mode.

"We need to move fast." Rose stated as she pressed her hand to Connor's stomach and caused the artificial skin to recede from his damaged plastimetal frame and opened the panel beneath. "He doesn't have much time."

"I thought you said the replacement regulator could work for six hours?"

"That was before he began to overheat." Rose explained as Adam returned to the room with the requested regulator and repair kit in his hands. "Now the regulator has to cool him back down while also maintaining a consistent temperature."

"How long will he have until it burns out?"

"Maybe two hours." Rose's answer was bleak, but far be it from Hank to damn her for her honesty. "Okay," Rose used the small clamps in the kit to isolate the lines connected to the damaged regulator before she took the replacement from Adam's hand. "this will work."

Hank watched as Rose unfastened the damaged regulator from its contacts and slipped it out of Connor's torso with a bizarrely calm demeanor. Adam took the biocomponent from her hands as Rose slipped in the temporary replacement with skilled, confident hands.

Connor's L.E.D. flashed between red and yellow, red and yellow, red and yellow before it finally settled on a rapidly blinking yellow in his temple.

"His system has accepted the regulator." Rose sighed with relief as she closed the panel in Connor's torso. "But we still need to find a permanent replacement part."

"I don't think we can." Hank shook his head solemnly. "When I said Connor's unique I meant it. He's the last of his model created by CyberLife. When Markus succeeded in the revolution CyberLife was forced out of business and all of their unfinished prototypes were incinerated."

"Oh my God..." Rose's eyes went wide with horror as she turned to look at Hank.

"Even if we could get back into the city the odds of finding the appropriate part is, well, nearly impossible."

Rose sat on the edge of the bed and rested her hand lightly on Connor's chest. "There has to be something we can do."

Adam spoke up nervously from the doorway where he was standing. "Maybe we can."

Hank turned to the young man with intrigue in his intense blue eyes. "What're you thinking?"

"Maybe we can repair this regulator right here, right now." Adam held the hot biocomponent in his hands carefully. "I can try to weld the metal shut and replace the wires inside."

"Adam..." Rose sounded defeated as her son tried to offer a ray of hope. "Neither of us have every tried something like that before."

"I know, but, if Connor's just going to die anyway what's the harm in at least trying?"

Hank nodded and put his hand on Adam's shoulder. "You have a point. Think you can do it?"

"I can try."

Rose looked at Adam, then to Hank as if waiting for a sign before she made her decision.

"Then, go for it." Hank finally replied with a confident tone. "At least then we can say we tried everything."

Reluctantly Rose agreed to the proposition. "Go out to the shed." She placed the kit in Adam's hands to ensure he had full access to all the spare wires and tubes they had in storage. "The welding torch should be by the tool bench."

Adam took the kit and hurried down the stairs to the backdoor with the damaged biocomponent in a tight grip.

"He can do it." Hank reassured Rose as she stared at the doorway with a blank expression. "I know you said Adam wasn't as comfortable with taking care of damaged androids as you are, but I think he's ready to turn that corner."

"I hope you're right. I don't... I can't imagine how much it'll hurt him if he can't save Connor."

"Connor's a lot stronger than he looks." Hank sat on the edge of the bed beside Rose and put his hand over top hers. Beneath his touch he could feel Rose's hand relax from a fist and smooth out over the bed. "Everything will be okay. I know it."

Rose gave Hank a heartfelt appreciative glance as she slowly retracted her hand from beneath Hank's hand. "I'm going to get more ice. The cooler he is, the better."

Hank watched as Rose left the room and sighed wearily. Turning to look at Connor over his shoulder Hank curiously pressed the back of his hand against the side of Connor's neck. "Damn, you are burning up. An android with a fever." Hank scoffed a little as he pulled his hand back. "And you have a heart beating in your chest. Anyone who still tries to say androids aren't alive are thoroughly full of shit!"


Over the next hour Rose and Hank systematically placed and replaced bags of ice and cool towels over Connor's body in an attempt to compensate for the weak regulator until a permanent replacement could be found. Connor remained lost in the throes of a very deep rest cycle as his healing program struggled to repair the extensive damage to his biocomponents and Thirium lines, and poorly attempted to keep his internal system from overheating at the same time.

"Hang in there, kid." Hank muttered under his breath as he pressed the cold washcloth down against Connor's forehead. The frantic red blinking of Connor's L.E.D. was as unsettling as it was crimson. "Adam will be back any minute, now."

Rose took in a deep breath as she began pacing about the room anxiously. She had faced a countdown when came to saving android lives many times before, but for the first time she felt truly helpless. The only thing keeping Connor alive was a failing biocomponent, and the only thing that would allow Connor to survive rested solely on Adam's shoulders.

"How much longer until the regulator fails?" Hank dared to ask as he kept his hand on Connor's forehead.

"About twenty minutes." Rose estimated as she continued to pace about. "I wish I could've-"

The door suddenly burst open as Adam came running back up the staircase two steps at a time and into the guestroom with the newly repaired regulator in his hand. "I got it!"

Hank stepped back from the bed as Adam readily handed the regulator to his mom. Rose accepted the biocomponent with rejuvenated hope and gave Adam a smile. Turning the regulator over carefully in her hands Rose inspected Adam's work and found that the regulator looked nearly pristine, only a faint line on either side of the rare regulator showed that it had ever damaged; it was like looking at a scar.

"We can't wait any longer." Rose excitedly announced as she returned to the bedside and went about opening the panel in Connor's torso.

Hank and Adam watched in silence as Rose set about clamping off the connections to the temporary regulator from the lines and removed the overworked, failing biocomponent from Connor's body. It didn't take Rose more than a minute to switch out the two regulators and un-clamp the lines now feeding Thirium into the replaced vital biocomponent.

Rose put her hand to the side of Connor's face and gently turned his head so she could see his L.E.D. with her own eyes. Steadily the frantic blinking slowed into a rhythmic pulse as it cycled into yellow for a few seconds then transitioned into a calm and healthy blue.

"It worked!" Rose sighed with relief as she jumped up from the bed and wrapped her arms around Adam's neck and hugged her son tightly. "You saved him! You did good, Adam!"

Hank agreed as he patted Adam's shoulder. "Thank you! Thank you for taking that risk for us! And for him!"

"You're welcome." Adam sounded more relieved than either Hank or Rose as he happily reciprocated his mother's hug. "I'm... I'm just glad I could help!"


Once Connor had stabilized Hank was able to fall back asleep in the chair beside the android's bed and finally rest his aching head. Rose and Adam had returned to their own bedrooms in an attempt salvage what few hours of night were left as they all but collapsed into a deep sleep after enduring the frantic and desperate event that unexpectedly befell them.

The sound of power being restored to the house and of the generator outside automatically turning off roused Hank from his slumber. Glancing at the bed Hank saw that Connor was beginning to wake up as well, his brown eyes opening fully and his L.E.D. flashed to yellow briefly before returning to blue as his memory of the night before allowed him to gain his bearings.

"Connor."

"Lieutenant." Connor attempted to sit upright in the bed but his system was still running its healing program, the physical damage to his torso was the last to heal as his biocomponent took priority over everything else. Laying back down Connor studied Hank's face intensely as he registered the exhaustion and worry that marred his expression. "Are you injured?"

"Me? Just a few cuts." The detective motioned to the bandage on his forehead and to the concealed bandage around his arm. YOU'RE the one who nearly died."

"My system indicates that biocomponent t8232 had been damaged by blunt force trauma. But it has since been... repaired." Connor was audibly confused by the entire reading as he had only fragments of memory to give him context regarding the event. "The damage should've resulted in my shutdown. How were you able to repair it?"

"I didn't. Adam did."

"Who is Adam?"

"Another friend. The kid saved your ass so be sure to thank him when you see him."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow and his eyes blinked quickly as he received a report. "Captain Fowler wants to see us at the precinct. It seems the storm has passed and all electronics as well as cybernetic functions have been restored to the area."

"So the roads are clear?"

Connor's L.E.D. turned yellow once again as the android scanned the area for an update on the current events. "Correct. Shall I summon a taxi?"

"Yeah, but do it in an hour. You look as terrible as I feel."

"Well then," Connor gave Hank a sly smirk as he thought of a witty retort. "I must look like hell."

Hank laughed lightly at the joke as he wiped his hand over his face and sighed. "Stay there, I'm going to let Rose know you're awake. She'll want to check on you before either of us leave."

"Rose? She is the lady who gave me the Thirium, correct?"

"Yup. She's the one."

"She is very kind."

"Yeah, that she is, kid." Hank agreed and he stood up slowly. His headache had mercifully abated but he was still moving cautiously just in case he did have a concussion. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Just rest."

Much to Hank's surprise Connor obeyed and remained in the bed while Hank ventured downstairs to find Rose and Adam. Rose herself was stirring a large pot of vegetable soup on the stove when Hank walked into the kitchen, while Adam was outside in the backyard chopping firewood.

"Connor's awake." Hank announced with a smile as he approached the woman who saved them both. "Figured you'd want to check in on him before we leave."

"That's good!" Rose beamed as she scooped a helping of the soup into a bowl and placed it on the table for Hank. "When the power returned I got a news report on my phone saying that the roads have been cleared and are safe for travel. It'd be for the best if you got Connor back into the city and have a technician examine his condition more thoroughly."

"I think it's safe to say that Connor would agree with you."

"Here, have a seat." Rose motioned to the bowl she had prepared for him. "I'll check in on Connor while you eat. There's fresh coffee as well."

"Thanks. Coffee sounds like the best thing in the world right now."

"Please, help yourself." As Rose passed by Hank she lightly touched his arm as sign of goodwill and trust.

Hank poured himself a cup of coffee and spotted Adam through the window. The respectable young man had not only braved a blizzard to ensure his home was safe, but he was willingly to pick and help two complete strangers in the middle of the dark storm and found a way to save Connor's life when all of their options seemed impossibly limited.

"You did good, son. I owe you one. We both owe you one."


Connor had summoned an autonomous taxi to take himself and Hank back into the city to report to Captain Fowler, and to get themselves cleaned up. While the android sat on the edge of the bed he slipped on his shoes and slipped his gray jacket over his 'new' gray t-shirt. Adam, who was curious about Connor, knocked on the door frame to speak with the android before he and Hank left for home.

"Hey."

"Hello." Connor greeted the young man standing in the doorway. "You're Adam, yes?"

"Yeah. I just wanted to make sure you're okay before you left. You were in pretty rough shape when I found you and Hank."

"Yes. I am functioning at near optimal capacity." Connor's expression softened and his brows arched as he addressed the teenager with true emotion in his voice. "Lieutenant Anderson told me that you are responsible for my recovery. Thank you for your assistance."

Connor stood up from the bed and extended his hand toward Adam to shake. It was a gesture of respect that he had learned from working with Hank, though it was seldom used by the detective himself.

Adam happily shook Connor's hand and smiled gratefully. "I'm glad I could help."


The autonomous taxi arrived at the homestead and parked itself at the end of the driveway as it awaited its passengers. Hank had taken notice and was about to shout up the staircase toward Connor when Rose approached him with warm smile.

"You didn't tell me that you and Connor helped Markus with the revolution." Her smile was truly brilliant as tears formed in her eyes. "Thanks to you the demonstration freed all the androids, and three deviants I had become very close with were able to cross the border to safety. Thank you."

"Connor told you that?"

"He told me a lot about what you two went through together."

Hank hid his blush behind a hand to his face as he looked away from Rose and back up the staircase.

"It's okay. Connor was trying to recover the memories he lost during the accident and he found that retracing his steps back a few weeks helped."

"Was, uh, was he able to remember the accident?"

"Yes." Rose took Hank's hand in hers and held tightly. "You won't be able to remember what happened, but Connor saved your life last night."

"I don't remember what happened after the crash. What did he tell you?"

"After your car was struck by the other driver Connor turned his body to try to shield you from sharp debris while your car rolled into the ditch."

Hank vaguely remembered the car rolling several times before coming to a stop on its roof in the ditch. But he had no memory of what he or Connor had been doing during the accident itself.

"After the crash Connor broke off his door and freed you from the cab of the car. He couldn't carry you because of the metal in his side, but he was able to drag you away from the car once it caught fire to ensure you weren't harmed. After getting you out of harm's way he checked on the other driver and found him already dead."

In a way Hank was relieved to know that the driver had been dead long before he regained consciousness. At least then he knew that while he was laying helpless a few feet away from another person, they were already gone and that he couldn't have done anything about it.

"The accident damaged Connor's systems," Rose continued on softly. "including his ability to transmit a call to the precinct to ask for help. That's when he decided it'd be best to return to the scene of the case you two had been working on to find some help. But he collapsed when the metal in his side pierced his thermal regulator and he began losing Thirium."

"That explains why I ended up in the road and found him so far away." Hank sighed and glanced at the top of the staircase just as Connor began to slowly limp downward with Adam at his side.

The sight of Connor's white shirt draped casually over his shoulder made Connor appear all the more human, like he was simply on his way to work; not recovering from what should've been a fatal injury.

"You ready to go?"

"Yes." Connor confirmed as he stopped at the base of the staircase and pressed his hand to abdomen. "I still require maintenance."

"Yeah, same here." Hank turned to Adam and extended his hand to the teenager. "Nice to meet you son."

"Thanks." Adam shook Hank's hand with a firm grip. "I'm glad everything worked out okay."

"Rose." Hank wanted to do the same to her, but felt it was oddly impersonal. "Thank you for everything."

"You're welcome." Picking up on Hank's hesitation Rose made the first move and hugged the detective. He was much taller than she was but Hank was willing to bend down a little to reciprocate the affection. "Goodbye Hank, take care of yourself."

As she let go of Hank she turned to Connor and gave the android a hug as well. "You too."

"I will do my best Rose." Connor replied sweetly as he happily hugged the kindhearted human who had saved his life. "I do hope we can meet again."

"As do I." Rose admitted as she let him go. "Just promise me you'll take care of each other."

"I promise."

Hank patted Connor's shoulder and opened the door. "Come on. We have a lot of paperwork at the precinct to fill out."

"Coming Lieutenant." Connor followed close behind Hank as the two stepped outside and set foot on the freshly fallen snow that had blanketed the property during the night.

The two detectives walked slowly side by side to the awaiting taxi and climbed inside the autonomous vehicle. Connor cybernetically communicated their destination to the taxi's GPS while Hank eyed Connor warily from the corner of his eye.

"You sure you're okay?" Hank asked sincerely as the taxi drove off down the road back to the city. "You were limping a little back there."

"I'm, what you would call, sore. My healing program is functioning at one hundred percent power, but even so it will take some time before my system is operating at full parameters." Connor's reply was less than comforting but it was honest and accurate. With his systems functioning at a higher power Conner was able to scan Hank's vital signs and noted that he was in rough shape as well. "I see you've suffered an injury to your head. My scanners indicate mild cerebral swelling which is indicative of a concussion."

"Yeah, I figured that out for myself." Hank crossed his arms somewhat defensively over his chest. "So... you saved my life."

"Lieutenant?"

"You got me out the car before it caught fire, and you did so while injured. Thanks."

"You don't have to thank me."

"You're right, I don't. But I want to, so just shut up and let me thank you."

"Very well, Lieutenant." Connor sat in quiet contemplation for only a minute before he began speaking to Hank again. "The other driver was intoxicated. He was also not wearing his seatbelt. Do many humans drive in such a reckless manner?"

"Unfortunately, yeah. They do a lot, actually."

"Have you?"

"I've never driven anywhere drunk, Connor."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend-"

"Forget about it." Hank sighed and could sense that Connor was still worried about his well being. It'd take time but Hank knew he'd break his bad habits and become a better person. "Look, if I promise to not drink for a full week will that ease your mind?"

"Yes." Connor sounded unusually enthusiastic about the proposition. "I find that greatly comforting."

"Fine. One week. But if you do one more stupid thing during that week you're buying me a double shot at Jimmy's, deal?"

"Deal."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor, the android that had been sent by CyberLife to aid the Detroit Police Department in tracking down and destroying deviant androids, had himself become deviant and remained a part of the police force as Lieutenant Hank Anderson's partner; and as the first android detective in history. Hank was willing to keep Connor as his partner as the two had endured several dangerous situations together in what was supposed to be a brief partnership.

Hank's decades of experience and intuition made him the perfect partner for Connor, as the android could detect even the smallest bits of evidence that humans otherwise couldn't see; while Hank could look at the situation with a human perspective to complement Connor's more rigid analytical deductions.

The two had already experienced many trials as partners through the revolution, as well as enduring some other challenges that neither had expected, but it didn't deter the two detectives from trying to make their unorthodox partnership work.

The pursuit of a suspected serial android killer through an abandoned property brought Connor and Hank into another dangerous situation as the deranged and enraged human began firing shots at the pursuing detectives in a desperate bid to escape!

"Shots fired!" Hank shouted as he ducked down beside the exterior of the brick house that sat upon the expansive property. He drew his gun and got on the radio to call for assistance. "Requesting back-up at this location!"

Connor's quick reflexes allowed him to weave between the frantic shots as he closed in on the suspect through the backyard of the property.

"Connor! Connor, get back here!" Hank shouted as he watched his determined partner hot on the suspect's heels already several yards away. "CONNOR!"

The suspect raced along the edge of a deep pool aiming for the fence at the edge of the property as his escape route. Unfortunately Connor was too quick and managed to catch up to the suspect with little difficulty.

"STOP!" Connor commanded as he grabbed onto the suspect's shoulder to stop the man dead in his tracks. "Detroit Police!"

Swinging his arm around quickly the suspect smashed the side of his gun against Connor's left temple stunning the android with the sudden blow to his head. The force of the impact was strong enough to cause Connor to stumble on his feet and to the side gracelessly. Connor stopped short and stood in a daze, completely vulnerable to attack as he tried to regain his balance. Smashing the gun against Connor's head one more time a spray of blue blood erupted from a fresh cut under Connor's right eye as the android's systems were knocked offline; his L.E.D. instantly shifting from yellow to red in response to the strike.

"Connor?!" Hank had seen the attack from the distance and began sprinting across the property to aid his injured partner. "Fuck! Connor!"

Falling unconscious courtesy to the blow to the head Connor collapsed forward and fell into the pool with a large 'splash'. Unable to fend for himself Connor quickly sank to the bottom of the pool against his will.

The suspect saw Hank barrelling toward him and wisely resumed fleeing from the detective. However, Officer Chris Miller was already at the scene along with (the strongly disliked) Sergeant Gavin Reed. The two managed to catch and cuff the suspect as he climbed over the fence and landed on the sidewalk on the other side of the property

'Suspect in custody.' Gavin announced over the radio much to Hank's somewhat relief. 'Scene under control.'

As Hank reached the edge of the pool where he saw Connor fall into the water he abruptly stopped and stared at the hauntingly still body laying on its back at the bottom of the pool. The red glow of Connor's L.E.D. made the water around his head look like pale blood and in turn Hank's stomach twisted.

"Connor?!" Hank threw off his heavy coat, dropped his gun and dove into the water to rescue his submerged partner before it was too late.

In a matter of seconds Hank had swum down to the bottom of the pool and hooked his arm around Connor's chest. Kicking off the bottom of the pool Hank swam furiously to the surface and broke through the water with a loud gasp as he carried his partner's limp body over to the edge of the pool to safety.

"Lieutenant?!" Chris had heard Hank shouting and ran into the backyard just in time to see the detective dive into the water. As soon as he saw Connor unconscious in Hank's grip he reached his hand into the pool and grabbed hold of the android's arms to heft him out of the water and onto the concrete edge of the pool. "What the hell happened?"

"Suspect struck him with a gun!" Hank shouted as he pulled himself up over the edge and out of the water. "He went down before I got to him."

Chris laid Connor down flat beside the pool and looked down at the android's blank face. "I...I don't know how to help him."

"Just help Gavin, I'll take care of Connor." Hank commanded as he knelt beside Connor and patted the android's cold cheek to try to provoke a response from the wounded deviant. "Connor? Wake up!"

The android didn't move or verbally respond. His L.E.D. was still red and pulsing at a dangerously low speed.

Thinking quickly and logically Hank remembered that despite being an android Connor did in fact breathe! The act of breathing worked with Connor's ventilation biocomponents that kept the android from overheating. If Connor was unable to hold his breath as he fell unconscious then his system would have filled with water just like the lungs of any drowned human.

Hank grabbed onto Connor's tie and loosened it with a quick yank as he pulled open the drenched white shirt beneath. The buttons popped open in sequence as Connor's bare, motionless chest was exposed.

"Lieutenant? What're you doing?!" Chris asked as he watched Hank interlace the fingers of his two hands together, one over top the other, to create a single fist.

"What does it look like?"

"...C.P.R.?" The incredulous tone in Chris's voice was oddly appropriate for the moment. "On... an android."

"Right!"

"But he's not-"

Hank compressed Connor's chest near the central and lower portion of where his ribcage would be if he didn't have a plastimetal frame in place of a skeletal structure. With each compression Connor's head lolled slightly in response to the physical pressure being applied to his body, and his L.E.D. would blink and brighten in red flashes as his systems struggled to find a way to correct itself in light of having an abundance of unnecessary water inside the ventilation biocomponents.

"Come on Connor, don't be that maniac's last victim! Wake up!"

Chris took a step back and watched in awe as Hank fought to revive the android from what seemed like a watery demise.

"Connor, wake up!" Hank shouted as he continued to compress the android's chest. "That's an order! Respond!"

Connor's L.E.D. suddenly flashed yellow and his eyes snapped open as a torrent of pool water came gushing out from between his lips. Hank reacted quickly and rolled Connor from his back onto his side, his hand supporting Connor's head and neck as he moved him.

"That's it, let it out..." Hank encouraged as the android coughed and choked on the water that had no business being in his system to begin with.

Chris shook his head and smiled. "I'll be damned... You just gave C.P.R. to an android. And it worked!"

Hank looked up at Chris as he put his second hand between Connor's shoulders and held his distressed partner as still as possible. "Don't ever give up on Connor, he's a real 'diehard'."

The L.E.D. in Connor's head flashed back to red as the android continued coughing as he laid on his side, despite all of the water being successfully expelled from his systems.

"You going to be okay?" Hank asked as he looked down at Connor's face.

Connor swallowed once before he spoke, his voice hoarse and quivering. "I need to-" Connor suddenly curled around himself as a rush of Thirium, 'blue blood', erupted from his mouth and stained the concrete a dark blue puddle all around him.

"What the...?!" Hank almost jumped back in shock but kept himself planted at the android's side for Connor's sake. "Holy shit! Did I hurt you!?"

Connor managed to shake his head a very weak 'no' before he threw up more Thirium all over the pool edge.

"Then what's going on?"

After a third and final bout of vomiting Connor's body relaxed and he tried to roll over onto his back. With Hank's guidance the battered android was able to lay flat and catch his breath; a trickle of Thirium ran down his chin from his blue stained lips and teeth.

"Ch-Chlorine..." Connor huffed as his L.E.D. returned to blinking yellow instead of red. "Corrosive to... metal and biocomponents..."

Hank put his hand under Connor's head and lifted him up slightly. As Connor caught his breath his words came easier, though the distant stare in his soulful brown eyes still worried the detective.

"The... Thirium cycled through my... affected biocomponents to... absorb the chlorinated water." Connor managed to explain between gasping breaths. His system was working in overdrive and as a cruel result his ventilation system needed to work harder to compensate. "Once absorbed-"

"You threw up the contaminated Thirium to get it out of your system."

Connor nodded weakly to confirm Hank's theory.

"Shit, that's one hell of a detox program."

A faint grin appeared on Connor's face as he weakly sat upright on the edge of the pool. Hank reached for his coat, the only piece of his clothing that wasn't soaked through, and draped it around the android's shoulders.

"You going to be alright? We're not going to have visit Markus at New Jericho to get you patched up, are we?"

"No. I'll be fine." Connor confirmed as he attempted to stand up, but failed. Hank stood up first and offered Connor his hand, which the android readily accepted as the detective helped him up to his feet. "I will require additional... Thirium to replace what I lost."

"Yeah, no problem." Hank patted Connor's shoulder as he escorted his partner off the property and back to the car. "Gavin caught the suspect, so that means he gets to fill out the paperwork while I get you back home."

"I'm sorry, I should've been able to catch him."

"Don't be sorry, Connor. That sick freak cold-cocked you and ran! No one's going to blame you for getting knocked out by a gun to the head."

"But I still should've-"

"No, shut up." Hank held up as a hand as if to silence Connor midsentence.

"Sorry."

"Didn't I just tell you to not be sorry?"

"Yes."

"Then stop."

"Very well." Connor was walking slower than usual due to his low Thirium levels. "Thank you for saving me, Lieutenant. Your technique was most effective at rebooting my system before any permanent damage could be done to my processors and biocomponents."

"You're welcome. And by the way, tomorrow you're going to take swimming lessons. I'm not diving into anymore pools to save your plastic ass!"

"That sounds reasonable."

"Good." Hank opened the passenger side door of his car and practically pushed Connor inside. "Let's get you back home and cleaned up. I have Thirium back at the house."

...next story...

Chapter Text

A call regarding a possibly hostile deviant brought Hank and Connor to the ruins of an abandoned hotel on the seedier side of town. There was no confirmation on whether or not the android was actually dangerous, but dealing with deviants had become the duo's new priority after being reassigned their tasks at the precinct.

"You sure this is the right place?" Hank asked as he and Connor stepped over broken beams and shattered glass bottles that littered the dirty floor of the decrepit hotel's lobby. "I don't see how anyone, human or android, could live here."

"This is the correct address as given by the witness." Connor stated as he scanned the room carefully for any traces of deviants. His blue L.E.D. flashed to yellow then back to blue as he finished his scan. "I don't detect anyone in the immediate vicinity."

"Yeah, well witnesses aren't exactly reliable. That's why people invented security cameras and train guard dogs."

Connor stopped suddenly and focused on faint movement in the doorway leading to the staff only area of the building, his L.E.D. returning to yellow illumination. The movement was brief but his keen sight as an android was infallible compared to that of a human.

"See something?"

"Possibly. It was too quick to properly identify as a human or deviant."

"Well, it's all we have right now. Let's go track whoever it is down."

"Right."

Connor stepped through the doorway first, moving very slowly and meticulously as to not disturb the already unstable structure of the collapsing building with each calculated move. The yellow glow of his L.E.D. allowed Hank to keep track of his partner even in the darkness.

Hank followed behind Connor, his gun drawn but safely lowered to the floor. Stepping only where Connor stepped the detective followed his partner silently through the aged hotel.

Another rush of movement caught Connor's attention causing the android to freeze in place. "Hank." His voice was but a whisper as to not alert the person skulking about through the hotel. "It's in the next room."

Hank nodded and motioned for Connor to go ahead and step through while he followed.

Connor pulled his own gun from the holster concealed beneath his jacket and held it in a tight grip as he stealthily encroached on the possible suspect now only a few feet away. The android's keen eyes could see what Hank could not, a humanoid figure trying to crouch in the shadows out of sight.

"Detroit Police." Connor announced authoritatively as he stared at the figure. "Show me your hands!"

The figure panicked and ran through the room before either detective had the chance to respond. In its blind haste it bumped into the precariously delicate beams and loose boards that lined that collapsing walls of the old building causing the entire room to quickly destabilize and begin to fall in on itself.

Connor attempted to chase after the suspect but a large portion of the wall fell before the doorway blocking it entirely. Turning to look back at Hank the android's scanners detected a massive portion of the ceiling above breaking free of its rotting supports directly over Hank's head.

"Hank!" Connor rushed back to his partner and pushed him backward out of harm's way just as the ceiling gave way and came crashing down with a thunderous impact directly on top of Connor.

Hank fell backward and landed on his hip on the floor. As the ceiling collapsed a massive cloud of smothering dust erupted into the air causing Hank to cough and choke as he pulled his jacket over his face to shield himself from the fluttering debris that threatened to smother him.

The dust cloud dissipated and Hank was left looking at a dark pile rubble atop a motionless body laying on its left side. One arm was bent under its body while the second arm was outstretched and limp at its side. A red glowing L.E.D. indicated an android in distress, and in need of help.

"Connor!" Hank scrambled up to the pile on his hands and knees as he began hefting aside the slab of wooden boards and drywall off of Connor's side piece by piece, until the android had been unburied. Pressing his hand down on Connor's shoulder Hank shook him once as he checked in on his partner. "Talk to me!"

A loud groan of the dying building sounded off with an eerie chorus of breaking beams and crumbling bricks all around him.

"Come on, kid!" Hank grabbed onto Connor's arm and draped the limp limb around his shoulders. Wrapping his hand around Connor's waist he hefted the android up to his feet to half carry, half drag his downed friend out of the building before it collapsed entirely on top of both of them. "We need to move!"

Racing to the relative safety of the sidewalk outside the condemned building Hank carried Connor over to the car and sat him down beside the vehicle opposite side of the imploding hotel. Crouching down beside Connor the detective radioed for assistance at the location to seal off the area and to report the escaped suspect. Dust and plaster filled the air all around Hank as he knelt beside Connor and patted the android's cheek twice lightly.

"Connor? Open your eyes."

Connor's head lolled slightly as his L.E.D. transitioned from red to yellow. Brown eyes opened and focused on Hank's face curiously. "Lieutenant?"

"Yeah, it's me. You okay?"

"Minor external damage to my right hip." Connor's hand was resting against his hip where a deep cut was slowly leaking Thirium and staining the palm of his hand. "There is also a moderate external damage to my lower back. However, I can remedy the wounds easily." Efficient as ever Connor confirmed his condition as he ran a self-diagnostic over his systems. His L.E.D. flashed yellow quickly then slowed as it cycled back to a normal, calm blue as the leak stopped. "Are you injured?"

"No, I'm good. Thanks to you." Eyeing the blood staining Connor's clothes warily Hank motioned for the android to turn slightly to his left. "Let me see your back."

"It's not-"

"Connor, just do it."

Relenting to the request Connor turned slightly to shift his weight onto his left hip and leg while Hank lifted up his jacket and shirt beneath examine the damage. Two large, deep scrapes ran along Connor's lower back exposing his white plastimetal frame beneath, as his artificial skin was torn open and weeping blue blood at an uncomfortable pace.

"Yeah, it's not serious. But I want to get your back cleaned up to make sure nothing nasty got stuck in your system." As he dropped down Connor's jacket and shirt Hank raised a finger in a disciplinary manner at the android as he proceeded to scold him appropriately. "Next time something's about to fall on my head just tell me to move. Don't you put yourself in the line of fire like that ever again, got it?"

"Got it."

"Okay then. Did you get a good look at the suspect?"

"I can confirm that it was not a deviant, or android of any kind. It was a teenage male carrying a can of red spray paint."

"Ah, Jeez..." Hank sat on the road beside Connor and laughed a little. "All this work for one vandal trying to tag a piece of shit building no one cares about anymore. Come on, let's get back to the station. We have more important cases to handle."

...next story...

Chapter Text

A dreary, rainy day in Detroit had marred what was supposed to be a relaxing day off for Hank and Connor. A call from Captain Fowler regarding Hank's impressive disciplinary file had summoned the Lieutenant back to the station to handle some irritating paperwork leaving Connor alone in Hank's house with the lovable St. Bernard, Sumo, as his only company for the afternoon.

Wearing only his white shirt and blue jeans, as opposed to his gray suit jacket and tie, Connor appeared more casual and relaxed than normal as he always appeared professional and serious while on the clock. As the rain poured down in a massive torrent the inevitable happened and Sumo needed to go outside. Connor had hoped that there would be a break in the rain that would allow the dog to go outside quickly without getting wet, but his scanners indicated heavy rain all day long, and Sumo couldn't wait until night.

"Perhaps an umbrella will keep your fur from getting too wet?" Connor spoke to the dog as if he could understand him perfectly well. It became a habit after their first unorthodox encounter when Connor had to break into Hank's house to tend to the unconscious lieutenant laying on the kitchen floor. "Come on. Outside."

Connor found an umbrella in the hallway closet and prepared to open it right as he opened the backdoor for Sumo, but as soon as the door was open the dog raced outside and proceeded to run through a large mud puddle that formed in the small patch of lawn beside the driveway before Connor react.

"No, Sumo!" Connor attempted to discipline the dog but Sumo was far too interested in the mud and the rain puddles to pay the android any mind. Connor's L.E.D. flashed from blue to yellow at the sight of the muddy dog making a huge mess in the backyard, and even worse, the mud caking into Sumo's thick fur all along his body and legs. "Oh no... If Sumo gets mud all over the house Hank is going to be pissed!"

Connor tossed aside the now useless umbrella and got down on one knee by the backdoor. Patting his leg he called for Sumo to try and coax the dog back into the house but Sumo couldn't be bothered. The rain and mud was far too interesting...

"Come Sumo, come here boy!"

Sumo responded by returning to the mud puddle and rolling around all through it as rain continued to soak into his messy, matted fur.

"Oh no."

Thick mud caked into Sumo's thick, long fur and dripped from his nose, ears and tail as he happily frolicked through the rainy, muddy landscape without a care in the world.

"Okay, how can I get him back inside without messing up the house?" Connor's yellow L.E.D. flashed back to blue as he remembered that Hank kept a box dog treats in the cupboard over the kitchen sink. Rushing inside house quickly Connor pulled a single treat out of the box and stood in the opened back door. Holding it up for the dog to see Connor called out to him again. "Sumo? Want a treat?"

The massive dog's ears perked up at the word 'treat' and jumped up from the mud excitedly.

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow as the large canine suddenly came running toward him at full speed. "Uh-oh."

Barrelling at Connor as quickly as he could run the St. Bernard jumped onto the android, knocking Connor flat on his back onto the kitchen floor. Sumo greedily ate up the treat in Connor's hand while simultaneously staining Connor's white shirt, his jeans, his hands, his neck and the side of his face with mud.

Reacting quickly Connor wrapped both arms around the dog to keep him from running back outside and to keep him from tracking mud all through the house. Though awkward Connor managed to stand up with the heavy, muddy dog in his arms to keep him from tracking mud all over the floor. Using his foot Connor kicked the backdoor shut and looked down at Sumo's face as the dog looked up at him with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth and his tail happily wagging.

"You're a mess. What am I going to do with you?"

Sumo's response was a slobbery lick across Connor's muddy cheek.

"That doesn't help matters." Despite the irritation in Connor's voice his L.E.D. did transition back to blue as he looked at the tap in the kitchen sink and an idea popped into his head. "I have no choice Sumo, I have to give you a bath."

At the word 'bath' Sumo's tail stopped wagging and he gave Connor a small whimper.

"I'm sorry, but you've left me with no alternative."

Careful not to drip mud anywhere as he walked Connor managed to carry the cumbersomely large dog into the bathroom. It was awkward fumbling with the doorknob with a muddy hand but Connor succeeded in opening the door and kicked the door shut behind him as he placed the muddy dog down on the linoleum floor.

"There, now we just need to get you cleaned up." Connor looked down at his shirt and jeans, eyeing the mud with great annoyance at his stained clothing. "I need to be cleaned up as well."

Turning on the water in the tub Connor sat down on the edge to check the water's temperature then reached for Sumo's collar. As he reached for Sumo's neck the dog responded by jumping up and pressing his muddy paws against Connor's shirt leaving perfect pawprints behind as he accidentally pushed Connor backward into the tub gracelessly. Water splashed all over the walls and all over Connor as Sumo proceeded to shake off the rain water and mud from his fur, peppering the entire bathroom in dirt spots.

Rubbing the back of his head after it impacted the yellow tiles on the wall Connor just stared at the playful dog with a weird sense of humor in his eyes. Rolling his wet sleeves up to his elbows the android tried once again to get the dog into the bath.

"Sumo..." Connor managed push himself up and out of the tub onto his knees on the floor. Water dripped from his jeans and shirt sleeves creating tea colored puddles all around the android as his L.E.D. flashed to yellow again. "Sit."

The dog did as he was commanded and sat down in front of Connor. This time Connor was able to remove the collar and place it on the sink without difficulty, but not before Sumo managed to once again lick the side of his face.

Connor wiped the dog drool from the side of his face onto his hand, then onto his already dirty jeans.

"Okay, get in the tub."

Sumo didn't understand any words in that particular command.

"Fine. Let's do this the hard way." Connor again wrapped his arms around the muddy dog and hoisted him into the air and then down into the partially filled bathtub.

As Sumo's paws hit the water the dog began to frantically start digging at the air and splashing water everywhere.

"Sumo!" Connor nearly shouted as he placed the dog down into the tub then leaned his arms down against Sumo's shoulders and hips to make the dog lay down in the water. "Stay!"

With a sad whine Sumo obeyed and laid down in the tub.

"Good boy." Connor turned off the water and grabbed the bottle of shampoo from the corner of the tub. It didn't take long for the android to completely lather the dog's fur and for his L.E.D. to turn blue again as the situation calmed slightly.

The water in the tub quickly turned a coffee brown as Connor scrubbed the mud out of Sumo's fur and from under his paws. Using the sprayer from the shower Connor rinsed the shampoo out of Sumo's fur and pulled the plug in the tub to let the muddy water drain.

"There, all clean." Connor commented as he turned off the water and put his hand under the dog's chin. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

Sumo tilted his slightly before violently shaking his entire body once again. Connor closed his eyes as water erupted from Sumo's fur and drenched every square inch of the bathroom in small drops that smelled of clean shampoo and muddy wet dog.

Connor opened his eyes, his L.E.D. once again yellow. "You can get out now."

Sumo licked Connor's face, which turned his L.E.D. blue in response, and hopped out of the tub. The dog sat patiently by the closed door waiting for the android to open it for him so he could leave.

"Not yet." Connor looked at the mess in the bathroom and decided it'd be best to wipe off the mirror, the sink, side of the tub, the toilet, walls, floor and even the ceiling with a towel before the muddy water stained anything important. "I don't want to risk you making another mess behind my back!"

Working efficiently Connor managed to clean up the entire bathroom leaving no trace of mud on any of the surfaces. Before he even dared to use the towel to dry off Sumo's fur Connor himself stepped into the shower fully clothed to wash the mud off of himself.

Being an android Connor had no need to shower or to wash his clothes, but this was a special occasion that required a special approach.

Fortunately the mud stains disappeared from his white shirt with little effort as the water and soap removed any trace of the dirt from Connor's clothing. The same went for his jeans and for his face and neck as he rinsed off the remaining mud.

As Connor stepped out of the shower he knelt on the floor and picked up the towel to dry off Sumo as best as he could before he replaced the dog's collar around his neck and finally opened the door for the dog to pass through.

"If I let you out you have to behave, deal?"

Sumo just tilted his head to the side as if confused and Connor sighed in response.

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Opening the bathroom door Connor watched as the dog casually strolled out of the room, down the hall and plopped down on the floor in front of the couch as was his custom.

With his own clothes still soaked Connor decided it'd be best to let them dry before he ventured out of the bathroom. Slipping off his shirt he wrung out the excess water from the garment into the tub before draping it over the edge of the sink. He repeated the process for his jeans leaving him with only his boxers and his dignity.

Or so he thought.

An unexpected knock on the door frame drew Connor's attention and his L.E.D. flashed red as if blushing when he saw who was standing there watching him.

Hank was smirking with a completely amused expression at Connor from the opened door. The detective nonchalantly leaned against the door frame as he studied his embarrassed partner for a moment before asking the obvious.

"Sumo got into the mud, didn't he?"

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor sat at his desk directly connected to the opposite side of Hank's desk in silent contemplation as he studied a single case file. In a statuesque pose Connor worked well into the late night, and early morning hours. While the rest of the day shift had long since clocked out and gone home for the night Connor remained at his desk bound and determined to locate the criminal who had eluded the law for almost four consecutive months now. The yellow flickering of his L.E.D. matched the pulse of his Thirium pump thrumming away in his chest as he diligently concentrated on his work.

The cell phone that Hank insisted he carry was sitting on his desk, and it began to ring which brought Connor's focus away from the case for the first time in almost nine hours. Looking down at the phone he saw that the caller was Hank himself and knew he needed to respond.

Pressing the green 'Answer' button on the display screen Connor acknowledged the call. "Lieutenant."

"Connor, what the fuck are you doing? It's three in the morning."

"I am working, Lieutenant. The case regarding-"

"Yeah, yeah, I know what the case is about We were BOTH assigned to it." Hank snapped impatiently as he spoke to his partner in a gruff tone over the phone. "What I want to know is why the hell you're still there? Your shift is over, it's time for you to clock out and come home."

"I've had a breakthrough, Lieutenant. I believe I can pinpoint the exact location of the suspect within the hour. I just need-"

"Fine, whatever. As soon as if you figure out where the jerk is hiding let Reed or Miller, or whoever the fuck is on the night shift handle it. Got it?"

"Got it. Goodnight Lieutenant."

"Yeah, whatever."

The phone call ended as abruptly as it started and Connor resumed his work. As he stared at the terminal on his desk a red warning flashed through his visual processor that temporarily distracted the devoted deviant detective.

WARNING:

POWER LEVEL LOW: 65%

REST MODE ACTIVATION: 1:29:57

Connor blinked his eyes as he pushed away the warning and turned off the automatic rest mode function in his processors. The android didn't need to rest, or so he tried to convince himself. But since his deviancy he no longer had a perpetual connection with CyberLife to keep him healthy, or tell him what to do.

His own health was now his own personal responsibility.


The late hours of the night faded into the early hours of the morning as the sun began to rise over the city. Connor hadn't left his desk as he continued his attempt to locate the suspect, nor had he obeyed his system and allowed himself to slip into rest mode to restore his steadily waning power.

"Connor, what the hell?" Hank asked as he stormed into the precinct and grabbed onto the android's shoulder. "I thought I told you to come home."

"You requested that I return home after I locate the suspect. I have not yet located the suspect."

Hank crossed his arms as he moved away from Connor's desk and sat behind his own. "I can't tell if you're being serious or sarcastic."

Connor gave Hank an innocent shrug of the shoulders. "Serious."

"Connor, how long have you been working?"

"Twenty-six hours, thirty-three minutes and nine seconds."

"Uh-huh, and when was the last time you took a break? Even those CyberLife assholes mandated that you took an hour long break to keep your systems from overheating, or losing power, or whatever it is that happens to you when you get tired."

"I took my mandatory one hour break when you did."

"Connor?"

"Yes?

"That was yesterday afternoon at four. It's seven in the morning."

Connor nodded with a twinge of embarrassment as he finally understood Hank's grievance. "Lieutenant, this suspect has assaulted three people with a gun. He must be apprehended."

"I agree." Hank lowered his voice to sound less annoyed and more empathetic as he leaned forward against his desk. "But you're not going to do anyone any good if you work yourself to death!"

"But I-"

"Don't try to throw some bullshit my way about androids having more endurance than humans, or androids being able to function on low power, I already know that. My point is I don't WANT you to work yourself into the ground. You're not answering to those CyberLife assholes anymore, you're answering to either me or to Fowler, and we don't expect you to work any harder than any other cop in this building just because you're a fuckin' android. That's all."

Connor patiently listened to Hank as his systems began to automatically deactivate non-vital functions as a means of preserving what little power he had left to postpone rest mode for as long as possible.

"I will go into rest mode as soon as-" An update appeared on Connor's terminal screen which drew his attention from Hank and back to his work. "The suspect has been located, he is four blocks away!"

"Yeah, well go tell-" Hank watched as the android hastily rose from his chair and made his way toward the door of the precinct. "Hey! Connor!"

Hank practically jumped out of his own chair as he chased after his ambitious partner just as the android reached the passenger door of the car.

"We need to hurry if we're to catch the suspect before he disappears again."

"Damn it, Connor." Hank swore as he unlocked the doors of the car and climbed into the driver's seat. "Which way?"

Connor cybernetically uploaded the address of the suspect's last known location into the GPS. mounted on the dashboard of the car.

"Alright, as soon as he's cuffed you're going to take a rest."

"Yes, Lieutenant. I will rest once the suspect is in custody."

During the drive a new warning popped up in bright red illumination in Connor's visual processor causing his L.E.D. to shift from yellow to red.

WARNING:

POWER LEVEL CRITICALLY LOW: 10%

REST MODE: ACTIVATION: 00:00:28

Connor closed his eyes as he forced his programming to override the mandatory protocol. Despite his overwhelming exhaustion starting to creep over his system, his programming triggering low power mode automatically, Connor refused to stand down until the suspect had at last been caught.

Losing his ability to scan the environment, run analysis samples in real time and his enhanced senses made the android feel more human than ever before. But when his artificial respiration halved itself to conserve energy he felt and looked more like a corpse with how eerily still he sat.

Hank stopped the car outside of the apartment complex with a relentless jerk as he stomped on the brake. The sudden jolt forced Connor's eyes back open as Hank threw open his door and leapt out of the car to begin his search for the suspect in question.

Connor scrambled gracelessly out of his seat to follow after Hank as the human called for the elevator and pulled his gun for his holster. "I'll use the elevator, you head him off at the stairwell in case he tries to run."

"Right." Connor pushed open the door leading to the stairwell and began jogging up the staircase. "Apartment 2-C."

The act of running up the staircase had proven itself unexpectedly more tiring to the android than he had anticipated. With his system functioning on low power the physical strain of running with his respiration program at half capacity was wearing down his power at an alarming fast rate.

WARNING:

POWER LEVEL CRITICALLY LOW: 7%

WARNING:

REST MODE: DISABLED

WARNING:

Connor made his way to the correct floor and pushed open the door of the stairwell leading into the hallway. Peering through the doorway Connor saw Hank standing outside the suspect's door with his gun pointed at the floor.

Hank nodded to Connor as he knocked on the door. "Detroit Police, open the door."

The frantic sound of someone running about the small apartment caused Hank to wisely back away from the door as the suspect jerked the door open and bolted through to try to escape!

Turning in the direction of the stairwell Connor easily intercepted the fleeing human and held him in place while Hank caught up in a matter of seconds and trained his gun on the man who was attempting to break free of Connor's weakening hold.

"FREEZE." Hank shouted at the suspect. "Detroit Police, asshole!"

Connor's vision began to flash red as his remaining power was drained away during the struggle.

WARNING:

POWER LEVEL CRITICALLY LOW: 5%

WARNING:

POWER LEVEL CRITICALLY LOW: 4%

WARNING:

Forcing the warnings out of his line of sight Connor put all of his remaining strength into pinning the suspect's arms behind his back and forced him down to the ground onto his stomach.

Hank took out the radio tucked in his coat pocket to deliver an update on the arrest. "Suspect located and detained at my location. Requesting back-up."

Kneeling down beside the suspect Hank pulled the pair of handcuffs from the back of his belt and snapped them over the human's wrists.

"Alright asswipe, you're under arrest for multiple assaults. Don't make it worse by resisting arrest."

Connor let go of the suspect and stood upright against the wall. The L.E.D. in his temple hadn't stopped flashing red as his power level continued to drop.

Hank grabbed onto the suspect's arms and hefted him up from the ground to pin him against the opposite wall under his bicep. Glancing over his shoulder Hank eyed his partner warily. "Connor? You good?"

"...Yes..." Connor practically slurred as he tried to resist his program from sending him into rest mode against his will.

"No, you're not. You look dead on your feet!"

Chris and his partner, Tyler O'Riley, appeared at the top of the staircase with their guns drawn and immediately went to assist Hank.

"We were in the neighborhood when we heard your call, Lieutenant." Chris explained as he and Tyler took charge of the suspect. "We got him for ya'."

"Thanks, Chris. All the paperwork on this scumbag's on Connor's terminal. Take care of it, will ya'? I need to get Connor home before he collapses."

"Sure, no problem."

Hank returned his attention to the android standing as straight as a post with his back against the wall and his eyes closed. Putting his hand to Connor's shoulder to keep the android alert to his presence Hank snapped his fingers in Connor's face to get his attention. "Connor? You still awake?"

Connor's red L.E.D. began pulsing slower and slower until at last his body went limp. If Hank hadn't already been supporting his shoulder Connor would've collapsed in a heap right there on the floor.

"I gotcha'." Hank bent down a little and let Connor limply fall over his shoulder. Wrapping his arm around Connor's legs Hank carried his exhausted partner to the elevator and sighed with a righteous irritation as he pressed the button for the lobby. "This is why you need to pace yourself, Connor. You're only one person, not a whole team."

With very little effort Hank carried Connor over to the car and sat the android down in the front passenger seat before returning to his own seat behind the wheel. Turning the key in the ignition Hank pulled away from the side of the street and sighed loudly at Connor's foolishness.

"Why do you have to look so much like a kid, huh?" Hank asked out loud to his unconscious partner. "Fuckin' hate it when kids are too stubborn for their own good."

Throughout the entire drive home the L.E.D. in Connor's temple was a very faint red that pulsed at an incredibly pale, and slow rate. Worried that Connor was worse than he looked, or would ever admit, Hank reached his hand over and pressed it down against Connor's chest and felt his Thirium pump still actively circulating the blue blood through his biocomponents.

"Good. You're not dead. YET." Hank put his hand back on the wheel as he turned onto his block to get back home as quickly as possible. "But if you keep this up I will kill you."

Pulling the car into the driveway alongside his house Hank sighed once more and pulled open Connor's door to heft the android back over his shoulder again. Fumbling with the key in the lock Hank walked into the house where Sumo happily greeted his returning master with a low bark and wag of his tail.

"Hey Sumo, down boy."

Hank laid Connor down on the couch while Sumo followed behind closely. Petting the dog's head Hank walked over to the large stereo system at the wall of the living room and picked up a large metal black box with 'CyberLife' written in silver text over the lid. Inside the box were three separate emergency power supply units that could be attached to an android's L.E.D. to recharge an android's power supply when dangerously low.

"Alright, if this doesn't work then it's not my fault." Hank grumbled as he picked up the first small circular disc and held it between his index finger and thumb.

The disc was no bigger than a nickel and made out of a magnetic cobalt alloy. Pressing the disc to the L.E.D. in Connor's temple it attached itself in place magnetically and began glowing a bright blue as it restored a generous twenty percent of much needed power to Connor's system.

Connor's brown eyes snapped open and he took in a deep breath as his respiration program returned to normal capacity. Sitting upright on the couch the android looked around the house in confusion as he had no memory of returning home. The last thing he remembered was pinning the suspect to the ground at the apartment building.

"Hi. Welcome back." Hank greeted with a facetious lilt to his voice as he crossed his arms and gave Connor a smug grin.

"Lieutenant? How did I get home?" Connor's L.E.D. flashed from red to yellow with confusion.

"You collapsed after you caught the suspect. I brought you home, myself."

"I... I'm sorry, Hank. I shouldn't have pushed myself so hard. It was reckless, dangerous and it could've endangered us both while we were out in the field."

"You're right, you shouldn't." Hank motioned for Connor to scoot over as he sat down on the couch next to him, Sumo rested his chin Hank's knee in the process. "But at least you kept your word."

"I... did? To what are you referring?"

"You promised that once we caught the guy you'd take a rest. And you did."

"I did not intend to enter rest mode while we were at the scene of the crime."

"Don't sweat it, just remember to take a break every now and then. And please, for the love of what's left of my sanity, don't pass out while we're on the clock ever again. Fowler might think you picked up a 'bad habit' from me."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Hank leaned back in his seat away from his desk and sighed as he folded his hands behind his head. He had finished all his paperwork, all of his assigned cases had been handled appropriately, there were no incidents with any suspects and Gavin hadn't bothered the lieutenant all day long. Satisfied with his accomplishments for the day Hank looked past the turned off terminal on his desk toward Connor sitting quietly on the other side.

"Finished." Hank stated confidentially. "Let's get out of here and catch the game."

Connor was sitting silently still at his desk with his eyes shut and his L.E.D. rhythmically flashing yellow.

"Connor? You okay?"

The android's eyes opened slowly and his L.E.D. returned to its normal blue color. "Did you say something?"

"I asked if you're okay, but I think you just answered my question." Hank leaned forward in his chair toward his desk and studied Connor's face carefully. "You seem a little off."

"I have been feeling... off. But I've run a self-diagnostic on my system three times today and found no apparent errors. My systems are all running at optimal capacity, but still..."

"Are you sick? I mean, you know, can androids even get sick?"

"We do not become ill in the same sense as a human becomes ill, but if there is a malfunction in our software we can function improperly for an extended period of time until the malfunction has been corrected."

"Well then, are you malfunctioning? You were cleared when the precinct technician gave you and the other androids an evaluation two weeks ago."

"Yes. My systems were functioning appropriately and I was given fresh Thirium to ensure my biocomponents remain in optimal condition."

"...But?" Hank could feel the hesitation in Connor's voice.

"But... I... I do not feel as though I'm operating at fully functional parameters, yet my diagnostic program has failed to detect any anomalies. It's very confusing and I find it difficult to explain."

"Want to go see another technician?" Hank chuckled a little at the idea of Connor going to see a technician in the same way that Hank would go see a doctor. "Get a second opinion?"

Connor shook his head in the negative. "No. Perhaps I should go into rest mode and run another diagnostic."

"If your diagnostic didn't find anything the first three times why do you think it'll find something the fourth time?"

"I-"

"Ah, forget it. You're just imagining things!" Hank rose from his chair and grabbed onto Connor's arm around his bicep. "Come on, let's get out of here."

Connor didn't try to resist as Hank pulled him toward the front doors of the precinct. Walking at Hank's side Connor tried to go about as normal but deep down inside he could sense that something was amiss with his programming.


Once home Hank turned on the basketball game and eyed the current score anxiously. It was the final quarter but Hank didn't mind, all he really cared about was the final score and winning the bet he made with Fowler. Hank and Connor hung their coat and jacket on the hook on the wall and kicked off their shoes by the front door after returning home. Connor casually loosened and then draped his tie around his jacket and proceeded to lay down in just his white shirt and jeans across the couch, while Hank threw off his day clothes in favor of a pair of gray sweatpants and an old gray t-shirt from his bedroom.

With his brown eyes closed Connor laid down on the couch flat on his back with one arm under his head and the other draped over his chest. Sumo was laying on the floor beside the couch looking up at Connor as if even the dog knew something was wrong with the android. A few feet from the couch Hank sat down in the recliner and kicked his feet up to relax.

Hank caught sight of Connor's L.E.D. suddenly flashing yellow and addressed the android accordingly. "Another diagnostic? Really?"

"Yes." Connor confirmed without opening his eyes or turning off the routine maintenance check. "I am compelled to do so."

"Find anything wrong, yet?"

"No." Connor sighed as his L.E.D. returned to blue. "There has been no anomaly detected within my program."

"Try getting some sleep. Whenever I don't feel one-hundred percent I get a few extra hours of shut eye and it works wonders."

"I'll try."

Hank watched as the blue L.E.D. began to slow its pulsing cycle as Connor slipped into rest mode for the night and fell into the human equivalent of a deep sleep.

"Wish it was that simple for me." Hank commented as he watched Connor for a moment longer before returning his attention to the game on the TV screen before heading off to bed himself. "See you in the morning, kid."


Hank awoke the next day without his alarm going off and without the sound of Connor walking through the house going about his usual morning routine to prematurely awaken him. Reaching over to his nightstand Hank picked up his alarm clock and noted the time: 11:47 am.

Sensing something was wrong Hank got out of bed and traded his sweatpants for a pair of jeans and a fresh t-shirt as he ventured out into the livingroom to check on Connor. The android was still in rest mode on the couch, laying completely motionless and quiet. Sumo was sitting beside the couch looking alert and eager as he watched Connor sleeping.

"Outside, Sumo." Hank called to the dog as he opened the backdoor and let the St. Bernard into the backyard for the morning.

Standing beside the couch once again Hank looked down at Connor's face and arched a brow in puzzlement. Connor is always awake and alert at seven in the morning, every morning, without fail. If he were in fact human it wouldn't be too odd to have him oversleep if we wasn't feeling well, but as an android this massive shift in his behavior was very alarming.

"Connor?" Hank put his hand on Connor's arm and shook him. "Wake up."

The L.E.D. in Connor's temple blinked quickly then returned to it's slower pace.

"Connor!" Hank shouted as he shook the android more forcefully. "I said 'wake up'!"

Connor's head lolled slightly to the right as his L.E.D. blinked more rapidly and his eyes partially opened. "...Lieutenant?" The android sounded groggy and disoriented. "What's wrong?"

"Apparently you." Hank grabbed onto Connor's arm to force the android to sit upright on the couch. "You're sure your diagnostic-whatever didn't find anything wrong?"

"I'm... certain." Connor's eyes opened fully and L.E.D. flashed yellow as his systems came back online and noted the current time of day. "It's almost twelve in the afternoon?"

"Yup."

"I... failed to exit rest mode at the appropriate time."

"Yeah, I noticed. Not that I'm going to complain about being able to sleep in."

"Hank," Connor swung his legs over the edge of the couch and stood up quickly. "There is-"

Connor's brown eyes suddenly rolled up in the back of his head as L.E.D. flashed a blood red. His legs gave way beneath him and the android collapsed in a cold faint right in front of Hank.

"Connor!" Hank reacted quickly and caught the unconscious android in his arms. Guiding Connor down to the floor between the couch and the coffee table gently Hank knelt over his partner and patted the side of Connor's cheek. "Hey, Connor? Connor! Can you hear me?"

The android was completely unresponsive to Hank's voice or his touch. Hank kept his hand against Connor's face as he became aware that the android's artificial skin felt unusually hot compared to what would be considered normal for an android and a human.

"Shit." Hank cursed as he reached for his phone sitting on the small table beside the couch. Scrolling through his contacts he found the number provided to him by Markus and hit dial. "Markus, it's Lt. Anderson. I think there's something wrong with Connor."

'Connor?' Markus sounded genuinely worried over the phone. 'What's happened? Was he injured?'

"I don't think so. Connor said something about not feeling right, even after his diagnostic thing didn't find anything wrong. Four times! Then this morning he didn't wake up from his rest mode on time. Also, his skin temperature feels too hot, and now he's passed out on the floor."

'It sounds like he's suffered some kind of software error. Most likely a result of him severing his connection to CyberLife's monitoring program.'

"Can you help him?"

'I can try. Bring him to New Jericho Tower, we can run a more extensive diagnostic on his system.'

"Yeah, I'll be there within the hour. Thanks Markus." Hank ended the call and slipped the phone into his pocket. "Okay Connor, we're going to take a little trip and get you fixed up."

Hank grabbed his shoes and his coat from by the front door as he pocketed his car keys. Quickly slipping on his shoes Hank threw his coat on over his arms and returned to where Connor was laying on the floor.

Taking a firm grip on Connor's arm Hank bent down and pulled Connor up and over his shoulders into a 'fireman' carry to get Connor outside and into the backseat of the car parked out front. Laying Connor down across the backseat as carefully as possible Hank pulled his car keys from his pocket and slammed the door shut.

"You couldn't get sick during a workday, could ya'?" Hank grumbled as he sat behind the wheel and turned over the engine. "Typical bullshit..."


The drive to New Jericho Tower only took about twenty minutes, but with Connor unresponsive and quiet the entire trip the journey felt more like twenty days. Passing down the lone drive that led to and away from the tower Hank's car was permitted to pass by security without any questions asked as both Connor and Hank were given special clearance by Markus when they aided him in the refurbishment of the tower.

"Almost there." Hank told himself and Connor as he passed over the lowered barricade and neared the front of the tower. The detective could see Markus waiting out front with Josh at his side. There was a type of gurney sitting between the two androids as they prepared to take care of Connor. "And it looks like you're getting special treatment."

Pulling up in front of the tower Hank parked the car and stepped out just as Markus opened the backseat door to look down at Connor. Markus ran a quick scan over the android and looked back at Josh over his shoulder. "His ventilation program is running at fifty percent power."

"We'll take cooling measures." Josh replied as he watched Markus awkwardly yet easily slip his arms under Connor's shoulders and legs to lift the malfunctioning android out of the backseat and onto the gurney. "I'll let Simon know."

Hank followed as Markus and Josh wheeled the gurney supporting Connor's body inside the tower and to the elevator at the far end of the main lobby.

"Do you know what's wrong with him?"

Markus nodded slowly. "I have a hunch. We've seen other late model deviants suffering from a similar condition after CyberLife went offline."

"Is it serious?"

"It can be." Markus confirmed as they entered the elevator and descended through the tower to Sublevel fifty-one. "But it if he's only just begun to suffer from this condition then it's very likely we can correct the error before it does any permanent damage to his programs."

The elevator quickly reached its destination deep beneath the tower with the four occupants in tow. The elevator doors opened and granted the group access to the floor where an android emergency room had been created to protect all deviants and androids who sought shelter in the tower.

"Over here." Markus directed the gurney over to the large table in the center of the room where Simon was already waiting. "We'll run a quick diagnostic to confirm our suspicions."

"But Connor already did that." Hank reminded the androids as they carefully lifted Connor from the gurney and transferred him over to the examination table. "He didn't find anything wrong."

"Right, but his diagnostic program was connected to CyberLife. Without the connection the program can't run properly, which means his problem may in fact be the diagnostic program itself."

"Huh, sounds cruelly ironic." Hank observed as he stood by the table and looked down at Connor. "That's just like a cold corporations to find a way to screw someone over..."

Simon turned on a special modem designed to run the same type of diagnostic program that androids can perform on themselves, but the modem was designed to keep permanent records of every android in the tower in the event of an emergency.

"This will only take a minute." Simon told Hank as he took a long black cable attached to the modem and placed the other end against Connor's L.E.D. and began running the diagnostic. "This will find the problem for us."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed from red to yellow, then back to red once the program finished running.

"Well?" Hank asked impatiently as Simon examined the results recorded in the modem on the display screen.

"His Thirium needs to be replaced." Simon announced worriedly as he analyzed the results. "All of it."

"Whoa, whoa, what's going on?" Hank didn't like the sound of replacing the entirety of Connor's blood without knowing the reason why.

Markus stepped up to explain things to the worried detective. "Thirium can become contaminated if a bad batch gets through the supply line. Connor must've been exposed to a contaminated batch without knowing it."

Hank gave Markus an approving glance as all the pieces fell into place. "Two weeks ago Connor received a fresh cycle of Thirium, as did the other androids at the precinct. It wasn't long after that he started to feel unwell."

"Simon," Markus looked to his ally with worried eyes as he rolled up the white sleeves of Connor's shirt pass the elbows. "contact the Detroit Police Department and inform them their androids may have been exposed to contaminated Thirium."

"On it." Simon did as he was instructed and prepared a small case for transporting their unaffected Thririum to the precinct to aid the affected deviants. "I'll update you on the situation when I return."

Josh pressed his fingers to Connor's L.E.D. and pressed his other hand down on Connor's left arm to retract the artificial skin from his plastimetal frame beneath. Sliding open a panel in Connor's arm Josh exposed a line in his arm to access the Thirium coursing through his system. "We'll need to replenish his Thirium as quickly as it's drained."

"How long will that take?" Hank sounded completely unsteady about the entire situation.

Markus wheeled a modestly sized machine that was reminiscent to dialysis for human blood over to the exam table. "Maybe an hour."

"What's that going to do?"

"It'll examine Connor's Thirium and isolate any contaminants for us to identify as it cleanses his blood and restores it to his system."

Josh attached a tube from the machine to the exposed line in Connor's arm. "Ready?"

Markus took a second tube from the machine and exposed the same line in Connor's opposite arm. As he attached the second tube he nodded to Josh. "Ready."

The machine turned on with a low, rhythmic hum and in a matter of seconds the tube in Connor's left arm turned dark blue as Connor's Thirium was extracted from his system to be cleansed by the machine, and replaced to his body through the second tube into the opposite arm.

Watching the blue blood cycle through the machine made Hank feel sick to his stomach. It wasn't the sight of the blood itself that upset him, it was the memory of seeing a very similar machine hooked up to his own son as he laid dying in the hospital bed three years ago that really affected him.

Hank watched with unspoken worry as the machine did its rather macabre work to save Connor from remaining in a state of unconsciousness due to an error in his program.

Markus could see the fear in Hank's eyes and decided to speak with him in private. "Josh, can you double check our supplies and make sure none of our Thirium came from the same contaminated batch?"

"Yeah, no problem." Josh took the hint and left the room to give his allies a sense of privacy.

"Hank." Markus addressed the detective with a kind and calm tone. "He's going to be okay. You got him here pretty quick, and we've had androids affected for a lot longer than him pull through just fine."

"Yeah, I'm sure you're right. I just... Seeing him hooked up to a machine just brings back some pretty dark memories for me."

"Your son?"

"Yeah." Hank put his hand on Connor's shoulder as the machine continued to cleanse his Thirium. "Both of them."

Hearing Hank referring to Connor as his 'son' made Markus smile. It was amazing how similar yet completely different Hank was compared to Carl, but the kindness in their hearts spoke volumes of their character despite their outward disposition saying otherwise.

The L.E.D. in Connor's temple suddenly flashed to a yellow illumination as Connor's eyes began to open.

"Connor? Can you hear me?" Hank put his hand down against Connor's chest to push him back down against the table as the android tried to sit up. "Relax. Markus figured out the problem and we're getting you fixed up."

Connor's brow furrowed as he looked down at his arms and saw his Thirium being cycled through an exterior machine. "Thirium contamination. Damn it..."

Markus smiled a little at the very human response from his android friend. "Like Hank said, we're getting you fixed up. It'll be over in an hour."

"Thanks Markus." Connor sighed and looked at Hank with a slightly mischievous grin. "I told you there was something wrong!"

...next story...

Chapter Text

Snow completely covered the city under a thick sheet of pure whiteness as Hank and Connor walked to the scene of grizzly crime along the riverbanks under the bridge at a local park. What looked like an android, a deviant to be exact, who had been beaten and burned to death was laying on the icy shore of the partially frozen river with a barricade of police tape surrounding its desiccated body.

Chris and Gavin had been the first officers at the scene, but decided it'd be best to pass the case off to Connor and Hank as the duo specialized in cases regarding deviant androids. Gavin himself scoffed upon seeing Connor arrive as he still hated working with androids, but the difference was now with the new laws put in place by Markus and his successful revolution Gavin couldn't mess with Connor or threaten him without getting disciplinary action by Captain Fowler or worse, Hank.

"'Bout damn time you two showed up." Gavin sneered as Connor and Hank approached the body to investigate. "I have better things to do than babysit a piece of plastic."

"Shut up Gavin, I'm tired of hearing you bitch about androids." Hank scolded as he and Connor stepped through the projection of police tape. "Beat it, we got this."

"Don't fuck it up," Gavin snarled as he grabbed Chris's arm to try to drag his much kinder partner back to the car. "I don't want to clean up any of your messes in the morning."

"What a dick." Hank muttered under his breath as he watched Connor bend down to examine the body. A blanket had been draped over the body, a courtesy by Chris no doubt, and Connor gently pulled it aside as he began his investigation. "Let's get this underway and out of here."

Chris, respectful as always, just nodded to Hank as he passed his superior to join Gavin at their car a few yards away. "Goodnight, Lieutenant."

"Alright, what've we got here Connor?" Hank asked as he focused on the case at hand and watched Connor with a keen interest.

"The victim was in fact a deviant." Connor sounded uncharacteristically melancholy rather than analytical as he scanned the crime scene. The android's L.E.D. transitioned from blue to yellow as he began his scan and successfully identified the victim. "Her name was Vanessa. She was... She was one of the 'Tracis' from the 'Eden Club'."

"Ah, shit... She must've tried to escape from a client. That place can't shut down soon enough." Letting out a deep sigh that escaped into the cold night air Hank crossed his arms over his chest and redirected his attention to the case in front of him. "What can you tell me about her... death?"

"There is significant damage to her forearms."

"Defensive marks. She put up her arms to try to keep him from hitting her."

"Correct. Her right eye is missing and there is significant damage to the ocular plate surrounding it."

"He beat her. Punched her in the face to try to stun her."

"The left leg had been broken at the knee," Connor continued in a dreary, disappointed voice. "but I detect trace amounts of dirt under her fingernails and all over her palms."

"The sick fuck busted her leg and she tried to crawl away from him."

"It was the impact to her spine that caused her to shutdown." Connor stated with a heavy tone as he identified her exact cause of death. "After she died she was set on fire with an butane accelerant and a match in attempt to hide the murder."

"At least she was already dead when he lit her on fire. Can you find any trace of her killer?"

"There is a partial hand print around her throat. The fire caused her artificial skin to melt and retain a perfect copy of the suspect's hand."

"Any fingerprints?"

"Yes. I'm scanning them now." Connor's L.E.D. rapidly flashed yellow as he accessed the precinct's criminal database. "The prints are a match to a Jack Stapleton."

"Address?"

"I'm currently transmitting his address to Chris as we speak. He and Gavin can arrest him while we finish examining the crime scene and collecting evidence."

"What's left to examine?"

"Without substantial evidence beyond a single hand print the odds of successfully convicting Stapleton for the murder of an android are substantially against our favor."

"Okay. You keep checking around here, I'm going to back track up the hill see if I can find the exact direction she ran from. There has to be footprints we can use, too."

"Okay, Lieutenant."

While Hank walked up the snowy hill Connor remained beside the body and checked all around for other pieces of evidence to connect the killer to the victim. Too many shoe prints had been marred by snow and ice to be of any use for even the keen eyed detective. The match that had been struck and used to light the fire was completely burned to ash and and held no prints in the wooden material. The remaining book of matches was nowhere to be seen, nor was the container that held the accelerant used to burn the body.

Connor stood up and backed away from the body near the shore of the river to get a wider view of the crime scene. Crossing out onto the ice for a few yards to examine the immediate area with a wider perspective also unintentionally paced the android further away from his partner.

There was a subtle 'crack' from Connor's weight atop the ice and the top sheet began to split like a spiderweb all around Connor's shoes.

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow as his scanners checked the overall density of the ice and found it too unstable and thin to be tread safely. A realization that came a little too late.

"Oh, shi-" The ice suddenly gave way beneath Connor plunging the android straight down into the icy river in a matter of seconds.

As his body passed under the surface of the surprisingly deep water all of Connor's visual sensors flashed red with warnings about the dangerously cold temperature threatening to freeze his biocomponents as his core temperature began to decline rapidly.

Fighting through the restraining cold Connor swam back to the surface and through the gap in the ice from where he had fallen. The L.E.D. in his temple was blood red and frantically flashing as his systems began to slip into a type of thermal shock that Connor had to fight to focus through. Clinging desperately onto the edge of the slippery, unstable ice with both hands Connor called out desperately to his partner for assistance.

"HANK! H-HANK!" His voice was shaking and stammering from the relentless cold that was already beginning to overtake him. "I N-NEED HELP!"

From atop the hill Hank heard the desperation in Connor's voice and his every paternal instinct that had been dormant for almost three years suddenly kicked in with full force. Scanning the area for Connor, for the sound of the cry for help, Hank felt his heart drop.

"Connor?!" Looking back down at the crime scene he didn't see Connor anywhere near the victim but he did catch a glimpse of a bright red light glowing out a few feet into the river. It didn't take Hank long to figure out where Connor had gone and why he needed help. "Oh, shit!"

The android was losing his grip on the slick surface of the ice as his biocomponents began to shutdown one by one. Struggling to keep himself from slipping back into the water Connor gasped and wheezed as the biting cold painfully limited his movements, keeping him prey the to lethally cold river.

"H-Hank!" Connor's voice was audibly shaking from cold and his hands and feet were becoming numb. Forcing himself to shout even louder Connor tried again to call for help. "HANK!"

"Connor!" Hank managed to reach the bottom of the hill and was standing on the ice right next to the shore. "I'll get you out, son! Just hold on!"

"P-PLEASE! I C-CAN'T-"

"Don't panic!" Hank shouted as he slipped off his coat and knelt on the ice to try to distribute his own weight more evenly. Holding onto one sleeve of his coat he tossed the garment outward toward Connor, the opposite sleeve coming to a rest just a few centimeters from the android's fingertips. "Grab on and I'll pull you out!"

"I C-CAN'T!"

"Yes you can!" Hank encouraged sincerely as he watched the deviant android struggling to save himself from the cold water. "Go on! Grab it!"

It took every ounce of strength Connor could muster to make his hand move even the slightest toward the coat. Slowly the android's fingers brushed against the dry fabric of the coat and weakly grabbed onto the cuff of the sleeve.

"Come on Connor, grab on! Hold TIGHT."

Using his opposite arm to push himself up barely an inch out of the water and onto the unstable icy surface Connor rested on his chest and reached with his second hand for the coat as best as he could.

"That's it! You almost got it!" Patiently Hank waited for Connor to make that one final grab so he could pull him back to the shoreline. "Come on!"

Connor forced his numb, weakened hands to wrap around the sleeve and tighten into fists as his biocomponents continued to seize up and shutdown due to the extreme cold. The Thirium cycling through his lines was beginning to slow as the blue blood began to freeze from a pure liquid into a thin slush.

"Hold on as tightly as you can! I'm going to pull you out of the water!"

Hank felt Connor's weight tug on the coat and in response he began pulling the offered garment back hand over hand, like a rope. Connor tried to use his legs to kick and swim but the limbs were too cold to be of any use.

"Almost got you, just a little more..." Hank huffed as he shifted his weight and pulled with all of his might to heft the android back out of the water and onto the ice and toward the shore. "There!"

Connor slid forward a few inches on the slippery surface and curled around himself on right side, his hands still hanging onto the coat sleeve for dear life. Laying just a few inches from Hank the android was eternally grateful to have the human watching his back on that frightfully cold night.

"I got you, I got you!" Hank soothed as he wrapped his arms around Connor's chest and began slowly, carefully dragging to android across the remaining ice and back to the much more stable shore. "It's okay son, I got you!"

"C-Cold..." Connor stammered between chattering teeth as his entire body reacted negatively to the extremely low temperature that consumed his entire body. Unable to move or feel anything beyond forearms and shins Connor was almost completely helpless. "T-Too c-cold..."

"Don't worry, I'll get you warmed up!"

"S-Sorry... So s-sorry!" Connor burst as he felt a shame of embarrassment wash over him. "I w-was f-foolish! D-Didn't check... I'm a f-fool!"

"No, you're not Connor, you're just headstrong!" Hank clarified sympathetically as he dragged Connor back to safety. "Accidents happen, that's all. Just an accident..."

Once on shore Hank pried the coat sleeve from Connor's hands and draped the coat around the android's shaking shoulders to try to get him as warm as possible. Guiding the trembling android away from the river and back to the car Hank rubbed both of his hands along Connor's shoulders and upper arms hoping to create some friction heat that would do the android some good.

Hank grabbed his radio from his belt and requested another officer to the scene of the crime so he could take care of Connor instead.

"Here, here, here..." Quickly Hank opened the passenger door of the car and sat Connor down inside. The android nearly collapsed into the car as his legs finally gave out entirely from the extreme cold. Rushing to the other side of the car Hank got behind the wheel and turned the key in the ignition to turn over the engine. As the engine roared to life Hank turned up the heat in the car to its maximum temperature and pointed the vents directly at Connor. "I'll get you warmed up, just stay awake, okay? Don't fall asleep on me."

"H-Hank..." Connor wheezed as he began shivering violently and found it difficult to breathe. "Wh-What's ha-happening to m-me?"

"You're hypothermic, kid." Hank explained calmly as he backed the car up and turned around to drive home. "It's a normal reaction to dangerously cold temperatures. Just be calm."

"I d-don't unders-stand..." Connor sounded like a frightened child which only encouraged Hank to drive faster back to their home. "A-Androids d-don't f-feel p-pain! Or c-cold!"

"Right, but deviants do."

"I d-don't like th-this." Connor looked down at his hands, his icy fingertips had turned blue as his artificial skin had been damaged by the extreme temperature. Small patches of the skin were missing allowing the white plastimetal frame to be seen. "H-How do I m-make it stop?!"

"You can't. All you can do is wait until you warm back up over time." Hank put his hand over the heater to ensure that it was indeed maxed out, then pressed the back of his hand to Connor's neck. It was like touching a block of solid ice. "I can help you, but you have to listen to me."

"I'm l-listening."

"First, stay awake. If you fall asleep you might make yourself worse."

"O-Okay."

"Next, keep your hands by the heater and let the heat itself get to your chest. Your internal systems and everything else in there needs to warm back up before anything else, got it?"

"Y-Yes." Connor lifted his hands, forcing his fingers to extend so his palms could absorb the heat, then fought the urge to remain uncurled around himself so the heat could reach his chest and abdomen as Hank instructed.

"That's right, just like that."

"H-Hank... I'm s-scared..."

At those words Hank himself felt a little scared. Connor had always been so sure of himself. Confident, if not bullheaded. To hear him speaking with such a sincerely frightened tone was almost heartbreaking.

"I d-don't want t-to d-die..." Connor confessed in a manner that Hank had never heard from any deviant before. "N-Not like th-this..."

"You're going to be okay, Connor." Hank reached out and put his hand on Connor's trembling shoulder. He could feel that under his heavy coat that Connor's gray jacket and shirt were soaked through entirely, which he also knew was only going to keep Connor colder for longer. "As soon as I get you back home you'll be warmed up in no time, alright?"

Connor only nodded weakly as his eyes began to shut.

"No! Connor!" Hank saw Connor's heavy eyelids and began to shout to keep the android alert. "Stay awake! That's an order!"

"I... c-can't..."

"Hey!" Hank lightly slapped the side of Connor's face as he turned onto his block. "AWAKE. Eyes OPEN."

Connor obeyed albeit with difficulty. The red warnings in front of his vision were all staticy, and each one suggested falling into rest mode to conserve his energy.

"Come on, we're almost there." Hank parked in the drive beside his house and turned off the engine. As he raced around to the other side of the car to help the frozen android the detective saw Connor's eyes beginning to shut again. Hank put his hand under Connor's chin and lifted his head up to make Connor lock eyes with him. "EYES OPEN, CONNOR. NOW."

Connor tried to keep his eyes open but he was too weak from the cold. "C-can't-" A garbled static stole his words as his voice box shutdown from the cold.

"Damn it, you have to hold on!" Hank grabbed onto Connor's arm and threw it around his shoulders quickly. Carrying the android at his side Hank practically kicked down his own backdoor causing Sumo to bark in response to the aggressive sound.

Hefting the android through the kitchen and down the hallway Hank pulled away his coat, it had already turned ice cold from being in contact with Connor's soaked frame, and sat the android down with moderate difficulty on the edge bathtub. With the android now sitting down Hank was able to slip his arms under the Connor's legs and under his shoulders so he could gently pick him up long enough to lay him down inside the tub without dropping him.

"Connor?" Pressing his hand to the side of Connor's cold face he studied the red blinking L.E.D. for only a moment before returning to the task at hand. "Damn it, don't you give up."

Hank and turned on the warm water and checked the temperature to make sure it wasn't too extreme as to cause shock. As the shower drenched the semiconscious android in comforting warmth Hank went into bedroom to fetch some dry clothes for Connor to change into.

Connor remained quiet as he laid in the tub and dismissed the dozens of superfluous warnings that practically blinded his visual sensors in red.

"Hang on, son." Hank returned to the bathroom with the fresh clothes and put them on the sink. Grabbing every towel he had from the shelf on the wall Hank knelt beside the tub and pressed his hand to the side of Connor's neck to check on his progress. His skin felt warmer but not warm enough. "Connor, look at me."

Connor's brown eyes slowly opened, but only partially. His irises were glazed over with icy fatigue that made him appear horrifically like a corpse as he stared ahead blankly.

Hank's placed his hands at the sides of Connor's face as he gently turned the androids head to make his eyes lock onto his. "Connor? You still with me?"

Unable to speak, his voice box still cold and strained had failed him, all Connor could do was nod his head weakly.

"Good, that's good."

Awkwardly Hank grabbed onto the lapels of Connor's gray jacket and pushed it open over his shoulders. It was a clumsy endeavor but Hank managed to slip Connor's arms out of the sleeves of the jacket, freeing them from the first layer of the icy cold fabric. Loosening Connor's tie Hank tossed the dressy garment without a care over his shoulder toward the sink and then worked on getting the white dress shirt unbuttoned.

"Connor, do you know where you are?"

The android couldn't speak but he could still hear and understand Hank's words. Again, he nodded.

As the white shirt was slipped from Connor's arms the android began to fall asleep, his head bowing forward near Hank's arm.

"No, damn it Connor. Stay AWAKE. At least for a few more minutes."

Connor's eyes blinked slowly but he straightened his posture and stared forward at the yellow tile wall while Hank continued to fuss with removing his river soaked jeans.

"You're lucky, you know?" Hank stated as a means of keeping Connor's attention while also distracting himself from the unusual responsibility he brought on himself. As the jeans were finally slipped away Hank just left them in the bottom of the tub, he'd deal with the wet clothes after he took care of his partner. "Most people who fall in an icy river sink right to the bottom. They go into shock from the intense cold and drown before anyone can reach them."

Satisfied that Connor was no longer in immediate danger Hank turned off the water and pulled Connor out of the tub by his arms and onto the floor. Wrapping a towel around the android's shoulders, his torso, legs and around his neck Hank practically buried the shivering android under a pile of warm, dry towels as he did his best to keep Connor awake and as alert as possible.

"Hey, talk to me." Hank urged as he put his hand under Connor's chin again. "Say something, anything. Please."

Connor visibly swallowed once as if testing the biocomponent that function as he voice box before trying to say anything as requested. "...Thanks."

"Don't thank me just yet." Hank smiled as he grabbed the dry clothes and shook them out. "These should fit you. These are my old clothes back from when I was in high school. Not sure why I held onto them."

Connor's shaking, partially skinless hand rose up from beneath the towels and took hold of the offered black t-shirt. The band 'Knights of the Black Death' was scrawled over the front of the shirt in faded red text. Almost on a form of autopilot Connor managed to slip the collar of the shirt over his head and neck, but his arms were still too cold and clumsy to properly slip them through the short sleeves to dress himself properly.

"Here." Hank volunteered and guided Connor's hands and arms appropriately through the sleeves, then pulled on the hem of the shirt to cover his back and his abdomen. "That's better."

The dark gray sweatpants and thick socks were much easier for Connor to manage much to their mutual relief. Connor was already embarrassed enough about falling through the ice, the last thing he needed was to be dressed like he was naive toddler who needed to be constantly supervised.

"Let's get you into the livingroom," Offering Connor his hand Hank insisted on getting the android moving a little bit to try to warm up faster. "it'll be more comfortable."

With a trembling hand Connor accepted Hank's grip and awkwardly stood up on his trembling legs. Leaning heavily against Hank's arm Connor allowed the detective to lead him back out of the bathroom and down the hallway to the livingroom where Sumo was patiently waiting for some attention from the two detectives.

"Sit here." Hank placed Connor on the couch and watched as the android fell over to lay on his left side and curled around himself instinctively. "I'll get you some blankets." Before Hank walked out of the room he glanced down at Sumo and patted the end of the couch by Connor's legs. "Sumo, up!"

The large St. Bernard happily hopped up on the couch and laid down right next to Connor's legs, resting his chin on Connor's hip as the android continued to shiver from the cold.

Taking every spare blanket he could find in the house; from his own bedroom, the guest bedroom, the linen closet and the laundry room, Hank returned with the massive bundle of fabric and proceeded to drape each one over Connor until the android was smothered under a layer of seven blankets. Sumo was buried as well, but the laidback dog just popped his head out from under the blankets, shook his ears a little then laid his chin back down on Connor's hip casually.

"It may not feel like it right now, but you are going to be okay." Hank stated as he stared at the L.E.D. in Connor's temple flashing briefly to yellow before returning to red. "Connor, run a self-diagnostic for me."

The android's brows furrowed for a moment before smoothing out again as his L.E.D. rapidly blinked to yellow then back to red.

"Well?"

"C-Core temperature at n-ninety two p-point two degrees. And r-rising."

"Is that good?"

"Y-Yes. My b-body temperature is the s-same as a h-human."

"Okay, so ninety-eight point six. We have a goal." Hank reached down and put his hand again Connor's damp hair. "What can I do to help you?"

"Y-You've done all th-that I need. Th-Thank you, Hank."

"You're welcome, son." Hank sat down in the recliner beside the couch and watched as Connor's L.E.D. returned to yellow and finally stayed yellow.

"H-Hank?"

"Yeah?"

"Have you g-gone through this, b-before?"

"Yeah. Once." Hank rubbed his hand at his bearded chin and cleared his throat. "When I was about twelve I was ice fishing with my dad. Sure enough I went out where I wasn't supposed to. The ice was too thin, and I fell straight through. My dad pulled me out and I spent the next six hours huddled in front of the fireplace at the cabin. I had never seen my dad so worried before in my life."

"I'm g-glad you s-survived." The chattering was beginning to lessen, but the strain on Connor's voice box was still evident.

"Let me ask you something, Connor. When I pulled you out of the water you said you didn't want to die. I've seen you take a bullet and keep running; a bullet that wedged itself WAY too damn close to your heart and could've dropped you dead in an instant, and you never showed any sign of fear or uncertainty. So why did the cold scare you so much?"

"A-Amanda." Connor replied honestly out of respect for his partner and friend. "S-She tried to take control over my p-programming the night of the revolution. M-Make me kill Markus. She tried to t-trap my my c-consciousness in an icy w-wasteland. But I e-escaped."

"Oh my God... I didn't know CyberLife could do that." The confession was something completely unexpected, yet beneficial for Hank to ease Connor's fear. "But you survived that, so you can and WILL survive this!"

"Y-Yes. You're right."

"Are you really sure don't need anything else, son? I think there's a heating pad in the hall closet."

"Will you stay with me?" Connor asked somberly as he tried to keep warm. "I don't want to be alone."

"Yeah... sure." The request sounded almost too pathetic to be coming from Connor. The android had always shown terrific independence and never seemed to require company, but if Connor really was scared then it made sense that he wouldn't want to be alone. "I'll stay with you."

"Thank you... Hank."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Through the one way mirror of the interrogation room Connor and Hank watched as Gavin attempted, and failed, to interrogate a female deviant displaying erratic and criminal behavior. The deviant had broken into an Android Emergency Care Facility and stolen a dozen bags of Thirium, and had then been found wandering about aimlessly in the parking lot behind the facility covered from head to toe in the illegally obtained blue blood.

While Gavin was certain the deviant had stolen the Thirium to make a profit on the black market for replacement android parts, Connor and Hank were unconvinced. Her motivations were unfounded in the light of the revolution and impending android rights.

Hank sat in the chair of the observation room with his arms folded across his chest and his eyes transfixed on the deviant as if analyzing a work of art. "I don't think she's a black marketeer. Why break into a care facility to steal one type of item and then completely waste it on herself?"

"I agree." Connor was sitting next to Hank with his hands folded neatly on his lap. "She is exhibiting behavior that it too abnormal for anyone who is attempting to commit a crime for profit. Not only that, but with the numerous repair facilities now operating in the city there is no need to purchase spare parts or blue blood on the black market."

"What're you thinking?"

"I believe the deviant is suffering from a software malfunction."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow as he ran through the numerous possible causes for her behavior regarding any and all program anomalies. The blonde haired deviant suspect had one blue eye and one brown eye. She was still covered in the dark blue Thirium that had only begun to dry and wouldn't begin to properly evaporate for another six hours. Her L.E.D. had been red in color and remained as such throughout her entire arrest.

Hundreds of tiny internal fractures had long since healed over the past four years, and she had suffered repeated physical trauma to a majority of her internal biocomponents. Many of her Thirium lines were also loose and leaking as if she had taken a horrible fall or had been thrown down.

"She has been severely damaged in the past, perhaps the damage was intracranial as well as cosmetic."

"Think you can talk to her? Figure out what's going on?"

"I can make an attempt to do so. But if she's too unstable she will self-destruct."

Hank leaned back in his chair and watched as Gavin grew too impatient to continue questioning the deviant and stormed out of the interrogation room like a temperamental toddler. The deviant remained silent where she sat, but she was visibly trembling as if freezing cold or absolutely terrified.

Rejoining Hank and Connor in the observation room Gavin angrily stood against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest bitterly. "Damn piece of plastic won't talk. It's fuckin' crazy! We're wasting our time!"

"She's not crazy." Connor refuted calmly. "She's damaged."

"Same thing dumbass."

Hank had enough of Gavin singling out Connor and put a stop to it. "Knock it off Gavin. I'm tired of your bullshit."

"Think you can do better?"

"I think Connor can do better." Hank stubbornly argued as he gave the arrogant Sergeant an embittered glare. "He's made progress with deviants in the past, let him at least try with her."

"Sure, fine." Gavin begrudgingly agreed to let Connor question the deviant. "Let the 'plastic-wonder' talk to the 'plastic-freak'."

Connor silently stood up from his chair and exited the observation room and entered the interrogation room right next door. Watching through the one way mirror Hank and Gavin observed Connor as he took a seat across from the deviant and began speaking to her in a very neutral tone of voice.

Scanning over the deviant carefully Connor noted that the android's system was operating at half power, yet her core temperature was much higher than what was considered optimal, if not normal, for an android. Her entire body was trembling as if her gyroscope was malfunctioning, and her inability to respond to basic questions indicated a substantial degradation of her basic neurological programming.

"You appear to be in need of repair, is that why you broke into the facility?"

The deviant's mismatched eyes looked to Connor but didn't focus on him. It was like she was looking through him instead of at him.

"You stole only Thirium. What were you going to use it for?"

Pointing to her brown eye the deviant seemed to be somewhat lucid and trying to communicate with Connor.

"Your eye?" Connor noted the mismatched irises and continued to question her. "Was it damaged? "

"My eye..." She muttered in a slurred voice. "is n-not brown. My eye... is bl-blue."

"You suffered damage that required a replacement of your left ocular biocomponent." Connor looked at the scarring on the artificial skin and plastimetal frame around the brown eye. "You wish to have both of your eyes blue again? Is that it?"

"Thirium... is blue."

Connor's brow furrowed with confusion. "Were you attempting to... dye your iris?"

"...Die?" The deviant slurred again. "Don't... want to die."

"You're not going to die. We just want to know why you stole the Thirium."

"...Hot."

"Yes, I have detected that your system is beginning to overheat. Are your ventilation biocomponents damaged or malfunctioning?" Connor tried to gauge the deviant's reaction as he spoke. "Perhaps we can assist you, but you must talk to us. Why did you break into the facility and steal Thirium?"

"...Humans. They did this... to me."

"I don't understand." Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow inquisitively as he spoke with the suspect. "What did the humans do to you?"

"...Pain. I... can't take it... Not anymore."

The deviant suddenly grabbed onto Connor's wrist, her artificial skin receded and she connected her mind directly to Connor's. Flashes of confusing images, blurry warning text, error messages and a jumble of incompatible coding entered Connor's programming against his will causing him to flinch and close his eyes as a searing pain entered his head; his L.E.D. flashed red in response to the intense discomfort.

As the deviant held onto Connor's wrist she suddenly began to twitch in her seat, her entire body jerking as if suffering from a seizure where she sat.

Hank and Gavin had watched the horrifying ordeal through the observation room's window and ran into the interrogation room to deal with the deviant while Connor endured whatever it was the deviant had done to him.

"Get her in a cell!" Hank commanded as he pried her hand from Connor's arm.

Gavin tried to pull the deviant to her feet but he couldn't get a hold of her twitching arm long enough to do so.

"Connor?" Hank freed his arm and looked at the android with deep concern. Connor's eyes were shut tight as if he were suffering from terrible pain that he couldn't comprehend. "Look at me! You're okay."

Connor shook his head. "No... She's-"

The deviant abruptly shot up from her seat and snatched the gun from the holster on Gavin's hip. She quickly took aim at the human's heart before he had a chance to react to what had just happened. As the deviant pulled the trigger, the entire event taking place in a matter of seconds, Connor leapt over the table and tackled the deviant to the floor causing the bullet to miss Gavin and lodge itself in the concrete wall behind him.

Gavin jumped back in shock as he watched Connor wrestle with the deviant on the floor. "What the fuck?!"

Hank joined Connor on the the floor and tried to restrain the deviant's arms, but she pulled her hand free and pointed the barrel of the gun directly at her own Thirium pump in her chest and pulled the trigger again.

"Holy shit!" Hank rested on his knees as he looked down at deviant who just committed suicide before him. A thick puddle of Thirium blossomed from her chest and spilled out all over the floor around her body. "What the hell was wrong with her!?"

Connor was already sitting upright on the floor, his hand pressed to left eye as if it were causing him great pain.

"Connor?" Hank put his hand on Connor's shoulder just as the android suddenly fell backward and began twitching in the same way as the deviant. "Oh, fuck! Connor? Connor!" Hank knelt over Connor and pressed his hands firmly down on both of the android's shoulders to hold him as still as possible on the floor as he looked up at Gavin and gave the stunned Sergeant a new order. "Gavin! Get the station technician, we have an officer down in here!"

"Y-Yeah..." Gavin came to his senses and backed out of the interrogation room to look for help for Connor.

"Connor? Look at me, son!" Hank commanded as he watched with horror as Connor continued to seize before his eyes. "Try to fight it!"

The twitching suddenly stopped and Connor took in deep, fast breaths to try to cool his overheating systems. His eyes were open but unfocused as they stared blankly at the ceiling above.

"Connor?" Hank spoke softly as he lessened his tight grip on the android's shoulders. "You're going to be okay."

The precinct technician, Joel Forest, raced into the room with a heavy equipment bag over his shoulder and with Gavin right behind him. Taking a knee beside the downed android Joel opened the bag and pulled out an item that looked unexpectedly similar to that of a stethoscope. The instrument was called an 'audioscope' and allowed technicians to listen to an android's internal biocomponents like a doctor would do for a human patient.

"What happened?" Joel asked coolly as he loosened the tie around Connor's neck, peeled back his jacket and pulled open the top buttons on Connor's shirt to expose his chest.

"The deviant did something to him." Hank replied just as calmly. "She grabbed his arm, then starting having some kind of meltdown." Hank then pointed to the fresh bullet hole in the wall. "She tried to kill Gavin before she turned the gun on herself."

Joel placed the ear buds of the audioscope into his ears before placing the bell down against the upper left portion of Connor's chest. "His Thirium pump is still active and cycling at a normal rate." Gently he tilted Connor's head to the left and examined the L.E.D. cycling in red in his right temple. "Systems are still online as well."

"What did she do to him?"

"I need to run a full diagnostic to figure out what the hell happened to him." Joel put the audioscope back into his bag and pulled a small radio from his belt to request a gurney in the interrogation room to get Connor to the precinct dispensary. "It shouldn't take too long."

"Oh, fuck..." Gavin watched from the open doorway with visible fear in his eyes. "That crazy bitch didn't actually kill him, did she? Fuck!"

"No." Joel confirmed as he snapped his fingers near Connor's ears causing the android to flinch slightly and turn away from the sound. "Auditory sensors still functioning." As he waved his hand over Connor's eyes he watched the android's lack of response studiously. "Visual sensors appear to be malfunctioning at the moment."

Hank rubbed at his bearded chin thoughtfully. "Connor acted like he was in pain before he had that... seizure, or whatever you want to call it. The suspect claimed to be in pain, too, before she freaked out."

"Pain is normal for deviants, but if it was the pain that caused the suspect to act so violent I'll check Connor's programming once I get him up into the dispensary for a proper examination."

A gurney was wheeled into the room by two other technicians apprenticing under Joel who were unsure of what to think when they saw the dead deviant on the floor covered in her own blood. Gavin stepped aside and watched as the two technicians lifted Connor up from the floor by his shoulders and legs and placed him down on the gurney.

"Gavin, have the deviant's body taken to the morgue for now." Hank instructed as he and Joel followed the gurney out of the room. "And get someone to clean up this mess."

"Yeah... On it."


Once in the dispensary only one floor up Hank watched as Joel and his apprentices began running every possible diagnostic protocol over Connor's entire system: checking every program, looking through the stability of his software and the integrity of his hardware without skipping over anything in the process. Despite the lack of evidence the small team also checked make sure none of his biocomponents or his intracranial processor had been damaged either.

Hank watched as Connor's eyes blinked slowly and his L.E.D. beneath the thick, black diagnostic cable finally cycled back to yellow. Blue was preferable, but at this point Hank would take any color over red, or worse, no color at all.

Joel made a note in Connor's electronic file and walked over to his computer at the far wall. "No anomalies detected. If anything she just projected her pain onto him and it resulted in his system overreacting. He hasn't been deviant that long, so I'm not surprised he had such a strong reaction. He'll be just fine, Hank."

Relieved to know his partner would pull through the detective leaned over the table to address the android in low voice. "Connor? Can you hear me?"

The android slowly lifted his head up to look around as his blurry vision began to clear. "Hank? Why am I in the dispensary?" It was then Connor felt the diagnostic cable attached to his L.E.D. "Did I... go offline?"

"We're not sure yet, but we'll find out. What's the last thing you remember?"

"I was interrogating a deviant. A female with blonde hair; one eye blue and the other brown."

"What else?"

"She... did something." Connor looked down at his arm and remembered her grabbing onto him as she uploaded something into his program. "Virus."

"Virus?"

"Yes. She was infected with a virus." Connor sat up slowly and looked over at Hank as Joel approached the exam table he was placed upon. "It came from the brown ocular unit that was used to replace her original blue one."

Joel unhooked the cable from Connor's L.E.D. as he used a penlight to examined Connor's own eyes. "Visual sensors fully functional."

"Yes." Connor confirmed as he looked to the technician and locked eyes. "I believe I know what happened to the deviant."

"Oh?"

"Check the biocomponent compatibility of her ocular units. If I'm correct the deviant had been unknowingly, possibly unintentionally, infected with a virus when she was given an incompatible ocular unit. But she also escaped an abusive household, so the damaged ocular unit being used could've also been a predetermined form of assault."

"Whoa, whoa." Hank was still struggling to understand the technicalities of android physiology. "She went nuts because of her replacement eye?"

"Correct."

"Alright, I'll bite. How?"

Joel answered on Connor's behalf as he knew how to simplify things for the detective in comparison to Connor's more complicated answers. "Android biocomponents are designed for specific models to ensure their programming operates correctly. And each part must be checked to ensure there are no viruses, or malware, that's why black marketeering of android spare parts is so dangerous. If an android is given an incompatible part, something that their program is unable to recognize, their systems go haywire and begin to reject the replacement part. Since it was the deviant's ocular unit that was affected her visual sensors were compromised and her system's warnings couldn't be properly read, and so the virus went unchecked until it was far too late."

Hank nodded his head. "That's what she meant when she said she wanted her brown eye tinted blue again. She wanted to get a proper replacement but she couldn't communicate what was wrong."

Connor sighed despondently in response to Hank's assessment. "Correct. I should've understood what she meant. I could've saved her."

"Don't worry about it." Hank insisted calmly as he tried to ease Connor's guilt. "We can't save everyone, no matter how hard we try."

Joel briefly walked over to his computer then returned to Connor to give him an official slip to clear him for duty. "The evidence lines up. I detected traces of the same virus in your own programming, but I removed it before it could do any permanent damage. You're completely healthy, detective."

Hank offered his hand to Connor to pull him off the table and onto his feet. "You may not have been able to save her, but you did save Gavin."

"I see." Connor began rebuttoning his shirt when a mildly mischievous smile appeared on his face. "Are you mad?"

Hank patted Connor's shoulder with good humor as he escorted his partner out of the dispensary to return to work. "Not really. It took you saving his sorry ass for him to finally refer to you as something other than a 'piece of plastic'. Maybe he'll finally come around."

"Perhaps, but I wouldn't count on it." Connor knotted his black tie around his neck neatly, tightening it as he and Hank walked into the elevator together. "Not everyone can have a change of heart on androids as you had toward me."

"I don't know about that." Hank tilted his head a little as the elevator doors slid shut. "Stranger things have happened..."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor had tracked down a dangerous criminal who had been attacking androids and harvesting biocomponents for illegal sales to sell in the very few remaining underground markets, and was now in pursuit of the fleeing suspect. Racing over the rooftops of the closely positioned apartment complexes in a less than ideal neighborhood the determined android managed to catch up the human with little difficulty on his own part. But even though Connor was fast the human was proving himself too be stubborn to be taken into custody without a fight.

"Stop! Detroit Police!" Connor shouted as he tried to get the criminal to surrender peacefully as he cornered the suspect at the edge of a roof overlooking a steep drop into the cold alleyway below. "There's nowhere to run!"

Not wanting anything to do with androids after what he had doing to them in his garage the suspect leapt onto the neglected metal ladder of the building's fire escape and immediately began to slip as the aged bolts of the framing began to break away from the brick exterior with a rapid shuddering. The man's weight was too much for the old metal and crumbling brick to properly support.

Reacting quickly Connor jumped onto the fire escape balcony next to the criminal and wrapped both of his arms around the human's chest. Jumping up and back from the collapsing fire escape Connor used his own body to protect the criminal as he landed partially on his left side onto the hood of an abandoned, rusted car in the alley two floors below.

Connor let out a yelp of pain as he made contact with the metal hood, but he never let go of the suspect in the process. Connor's L.E.D. had been yellow during the chase but now it was red as his systems processed the sudden pain shooting up his left arm and concentrating into his shoulder.

Hank and Chris, who had been in pursuit on the ground, heard the crunching sound of metal echoing from the alley and rushed to check on the commotion. The suspect wrestled free from Connor's weakening grip and fell to his hands and knees in the alleyway with a heady 'thud'. Before he could get up to run again he found himself staring down two barrels of two guns pointed directly at him.

"Don't move!" Hank demanded as he kept his gun trained on the suspect while Chris took the cuffs from his belt to finally arrest the man. "You're under arrest."

Too tired to resist the man raised his hands up to the back of his head to surrender and Chris cuffed the man easily.

"Get him back to the precinct." Hank ordered as he watched Connor awkwardly slide off the hood of the car gracelessly and onto the alleyway onto his feet. Holstering his gun the detective walked over to where Connor was now standing and gave him an annoyed look. "I need to speak with my partner."

"Right, Lieutenant." Chris led the exhausted suspect to his squad car while Hank checked in on Connor. "Come on, don't make this any worse than it already is."

"What the hell's wrong with you?" Hank nearly shouted as he watched Connor's right hand desperately clinging to his pained left shoulder. "Why would you risk your own life to save a piece of shit like that?"

"I... I don't know. I didn't think about it." Connor visibly winced as his hand continued to clutch at his shoulder. "I just reacted. I'm sorry, Lieutenant."

"And you hurt yourself again, didn't you?"

"I landed on my left arm and caused mild damage to my left shoulder." Connor confirmed as he tried to remove his hand from the shoulder only to replace it immediately as the pain intensified without the support of the strong appendage. "My healing program will take care of the damage within a few hours."

"How bad is it?"

"It's Not serious."

"Then why's your L.E.D. red instead of blue, or even yellow?"

"I... It's from the pursuit."

"Connor, you're so damn near close to being human, but if you want to be completely convincing you need to learn how to lie better than that." Hank reached out a hand toward Connor's shoulder to inspect the damage for himself. "Let me take a look."

"It's nothing." Connor argued as he shrugged his arm away from Hank timidly.

"Then if I take a look I'll see nothing is wrong, right?"

"...Correct."

"Good. Let me see."

Connor sighed with defeat as he let Hank check his shoulder. Slipping off the sleeve of his jacket carefully with his right hand Connor turned so Hank could see his left shoulder without the dark fabric draped over it. The android's left shoulder now looked as though it was lower than the right, and his arm was heavy and limp in Hank's grip. Watching Connor's reaction carefully, seeing every wince and stifled gasp of pain the android managed to endure, Hank made his assessment.

"You dislocated your shoulder."

"As I stated, it's not serious."

"No, but it is painful." Hank let go of Connor's shoulder mercifully much the android's relief. "Trust me, I played football in high school. I know what a dislocated shoulder is all about."

"What should I do?"

"You need it popped back into place in order for it to heal properly."

"Can you do it?"

"Me? Why me?"

"I don't... I don't want to go to a technician. I find the facilities... unsettling."

Hank smiled a little at the comment and didn't back away from his opportunity to tease Connor. "If I didn't know any better I'd say you're afraid of the doctor."

"I have no fear of technicians, but I do find it unnerving to go to a place where dozens of androids are in desperate need of repair and have subsequently shutdown."

"Yup. You're afraid of the doctor."

"No!" Connor refuted like an angry child. "I merely dislike the locations in which technicians operate."

"Sorry kid, you need to-"

"Please Hank." Connor suddenly sounded frightened and it wasn't a reaction Hank had been expecting. "You're the only person I trust."

"I..." Hank briefly looked over his own shoulder down the alleyway toward the street to make sure no one else was around before he finally relented. "Alright, I'll do it. But don't you scream. I don't want to hurt you, if you scream then I'll know I hurt you."

"I won't." Connor promised sadly. "What do I need to do?"

"Uh, slip off your tie and take your arm out of your shirt sleeve so I can see your shoulder better."

With one hand Connor shrugged off his the rest of his jacket and handed it over to Hank. Loosening his tie Connor then unbuttoned his white shirt halfway down and slipped his damaged arm free of the garment. "Now what?"

"You see that water pipe?" Hank tucked Connor's jacket under his arm as he pointed at a large, dripping pipe jutting up from the ground near the back of the alley. "Grab onto that with your good hand and do not let go until I tell you to."

"...Okay." Connor walked over to the pipe and took a tight grip with his right hand as instructed. "Now what?"

"Now," Hank grabbed onto Connor's bad arm and took a deep breath. "when I pull your arm you need to resist the motion. Pull away from me as hard you can."

"Hank?"

"It sounds weird, I know, but it's the only way to realign your shoulder and pop it back into place. Ready?"

Connor checked his grip on the pipe as well as the overall integrity of the pipe to make sure it wouldn't bend or get pulled out of the ground in the process of the unusual moment. "Ready."

"On three:" Hank stated as he lifted Connor's arm up until the limb was level with his shoulder again. "One, two-"

Hank pulled back as hard as he could while Connor did the same. With a sickening 'crunch' the arm popped itself back into the joint and Connor restrained the scream of pain he so desperately wanted to let out.

"Okay, that should do it!" Hank gently lowered Connor's arm to his side. "Everything lined up?"

Connor's right hand released the pipe and grabbed at his shoulder as he closed his eyes and ran a self-diagnostic. "...Yes. The shoulder has been correctly set." His red L.E.D. flashed to yellow in response as the program confirmed a proper alignment. "No internal damage detected."

"See? Simple as that."

"But it still hurts, Hank." Rubbing his right hand over his left shoulder Connor flexed his left hand as all control returned to the limb. "I dislike pain."

"Part of the healing process, kid. You may want to put your arm in a sling for a day or two until your actual healing program thing finishes its job."

"Sling?" Connor's brow furrowed as he carefully put his arm back in the sleeve of his shirt and rebuttoned it with one hand.

"Yeah, I can get you one from the infirmary back at the precinct if you want."

"Thank you, Hank." Connor's L.E.D. finally returned to its healthy shade of blue as he and Hank exited the alleyway together. "I appreciate your help."

"No problem." Hank placed the android's jacket casually over his right shoulder as they walked. "Just don't jump off of any more roofs and we'll call it even."

"I'll do my best."

...next story...

Chapter Text

It was a relatively quiet day at the precinct until Gavin and Chris returned to the station with an obnoxious and violent drunken human in custody. Loud, belligerent and ready for a fight, the drunk man proceeded to yell and struggle against the two officers dragging him through the precinct to sleep it off in the drunk tank adjacent to the standard cells.

"Hey, hey!" Chris shouted as he fought to keep a grip on the flailing drunk man's arm. "Calm down!"

"YOU calm down..." The drunk slurred as he continued to resist arrest and violently swing his cuffed arms behind his back. "Shut up!"

Gavin was getting far too annoyed to handle the situation any longer. "A little help please!"

Connor and Hank had been watching the clumsy escort from their desks when Gavin asked for assistance. Always ready to volunteer and help his fellow officers Connor rose from his chair and walked over to the drunken man with the intent of grabbing onto his arm to usher him over to the appointed cell, but the drunk saw the blue L.E.D. in Connor's temple and immediately began spouting anti-android hate.

"Fuck you! Plastic freak... took my job!"

"Sir, I can assure you I have done no such thing to-"

"SHUT UP!" The drunk refused to keep walking and began lashing out at Connor with violent swings of his cuffed arms and kicks from his graceless legs. "GET OUT OF MY FACE!"

Chris again tried to restrain the drunk by wrapping both of his arms around the man's chest and pulling him backward on his feet. Gavin was trying to get a hold of the drunk's arm again only to receive an elbow to the nose that instantly caused Gavin to shout in pain as his nose gushed blood and his head began to ache from the harsh blow.

Connor turned his attention to Gavin and foolishly took his eyes from the drunk who then kicked Connor in his side with enough force that it caused the android to stumble backward and fall against the corner of a nearby desk. The back of his head bashed against the sharp corner of the desk and his systems flashed red as an error was detected in his program and his auditory sensors. His L.E.D. cycled to red in recognition of his physical distress and glowed as brightly as Gavin's broken nose.

Hank took control of the situation by marching up to the drunk, grabbing him by the lapels of his coat and pinning the obnoxious man against the wall with a tremendous force. "Shut the fuck up!" Hank shouted in a very stern, loud voice. "You just assaulted TWO officers, AND you pissed ME off! Either go with Chris, QUIETLY to your cell, or I can take you out back and sober you up personally!"

The drunk was immediately intimidated by Hank and shrunk down against the wall in fear. He swallowed once and looked at Chris pathetically. "I'll be good..."

"Yeah, sure." Hank let the drunk go and looked at Gavin, whose nose was bleeding heavily. "Take care of our 'guest', Chris. I got these two."

"Sure, thanks Lieutenant." Chris smiled a little as he escorted the much more cooperative drunk to the cells while Hank tended to the two officers with his own unique brand of charm.

Hank pulled open the top drawer of the nearby desk and handed a box of tissues to Gavin as he pocketed a few tissues for himself. "Can you find your way to the infirmary?"

"Yeah..." Gavin pulled a wad of tissues from the offered box and pressed them to his bleeding nose. His eyes were all watered up and his voice sounded congested as his tried to breath through his mouth because his nose was already too swollen to breathe normally. "Fuck that asshole..."

While Gavin made his way to the infirmary Hank knelt on the floor beside Connor who was sitting up against the desk still stunned. A small stain of Thirium had been smudged against the corner of the desk as a trickle of blue blood ran down from the back of Connor's ear and onto the collar of his white dress shirt and gray uniform jacket.

"You okay Connor?" Hank asked as the android pressed his palm against the bleeding wound just behind his ear.

Connor didn't reply to the question which in turn worried Hank.

"Connor?"

Still no response.

"Connor!" Hank shouted as he snapped his fingers at the android's ear. Still no reaction. "What the hell?"

Reaching out his hand to grab Connor's shoulder Hank tried again. "Connor, you-"

Connor jumped when Hank's hand touched him, it was as if Connor had been completely unaware of Hank's presence which just alarming Hank even more.

"Whoa, sorry." Apologizing sincerely Hank tried to check on Connor once again. "You okay?"

Connor's eyes were fixed on Hank's face and his brow was furrowed with absolute confusion. With his L.E.D. flashing yellow Connor began to breathe quicker as if hyperventilating.

"Connor? What's wrong?"

"I... I can't hear you!" Connor's eyes went wide with fear. "I can't hear anything!"

Staying calm Hank put a grounding hand on Connor's shoulder. "But you can understand me, right?"

"I can read lips..." Connor explained, his breathing evening out as it dawned on him that his sensors had been damaged when he had hit his head on the desk. As he calmed down his L.E.D. cycled from red to yellow in a much slower rate of speed. "My auditory processor has been damaged."

"Can it be repaired?" Hank felt the need to heavily enunciate his words to ensure Connor could fully read his lips while the two continued their unorthodox communication on the floor of the bullpen.

"Yes." Connor nodded once and flinched as the movement hurt his already bleeding head. "But it will take at least eight hours to process."

"Holy shit, that's not going to work out well for you. You're benched, kid."

"I can still-"

"No." Hank put up his hand to silence Connor as he took the tissues from his pocket and pressed them to the back of Connor's head, pushing the android's hand aside in the process. "You're hurt and need time to recover. I'll take you home, we're done for the day."

Connor wanted to argue but knew that Captain Fowler would agree with Hank and send him home anyway.

"Let's go." Hank offered Connor his hand and helped him to his feet and took his hand from the wound on the back of Connor's head as the android began applying pressure himself. The tissue in his palm was thoroughly stained with the leaking Thirium and a dark shade of blue. "We'll check in with the technician tomorrow just to be safe."

"What?" Connor hadn't been looking at Hank when he was speaking.

"I said," Hank made sure Connor could see his face before repeating himself. "we'll let the technician check you over tomorrow."

"Oh. A wise precaution. Why not tonight?"

"Because you could heal in the eight hours before our next shift, so why make more paperwork for Joel?"

"...I think I understand."

"Good. Let's go."


The ride home was disturbingly quiet for Connor as he couldn't hear anything being spoken to him by Hank, he couldn't hear the blaring death metal in the car's radio, or hear the random honking of car horns and swearing drivers. Connor couldn't even hear the gentle patter of raindrops on the windshield as they peppered the car randomly.

Pulling into the drive Connor waited for Hank to make a move to his door before he did the same. He could feel that the car had been parked but he couldn't tell if the engine was off or not. Following Hank into the house Connor watched as Sumo ran up to the greet the duo but he couldn't hear the dog barking or his nails clicking across the bare wood floorboards in the livingroom or over the linoleum floor in the kitchen.

Hank patted Connor's shoulder to get his attention. "Why don't you go ahead and go into rest mode? See if you can jumpstart your healing program."

Connor obediently walked over to the couch to lay down to go into rest mode and ran another self-diagnostic. It was this act of unquestioning obedience, a display Hank rarely saw from the android even before he was deviant, that made him worry all over again.

"Connor." Hank grabbed the android's shoulder to get his attention one more time. "Talk to me."

"Talk? About what?" Connor asked as he turned his head to look at Hank directly and read his lips accordingly.

"Why you're being so cooperative instead of trying to deny being injured. It's unlike you, Connor."

"I am... I am attempting to heal my damaged auditory processors."

"Uh-huh." Hank didn't buy it and knew something else was on the android's mind. "What's really going on?"

"Hank, I..." There was a disturbingly human tone of fear in his voice as he spoke, his L.E.D. flashing from yellow to red with distress. "I've never been in a functioning state without one of my basic sensors active. It's... I don't... It's very..."

"Frightening."

Connor nodded weakly. "Yes. I'm... frightened."

"It's okay to be scared."

"It is?"

"Yeah, I mean, come on, kid! You suddenly lost your hearing and now you have to deal with it for a couple of hours. I can't even begin to imagine how messed up that must be."

"I am not accustomed to relying so heavily on my other senses." Connor looked genuinely upset by the entire experience. "I could actually smell the blood when Gavin's nose was broken, it was like I was tasting it. And when you touched my shoulder at the precinct I could feel your entire palm in an instant!"

Hank crossed his arms as he listened to Connor's worry with a fatherly concern.

"During the drive home I could see every drop of rain that hit the windshield. One thousand, six hundred and ninety-seven drops... And right now I can... I can feel my... Thirium pump, my heart... beating in my chest. I've never noticed it before, but it's a constant perfect rhythm."

Hank tilted his head a little as he understood a little bit of what was happening to Connor. "It's pretty common for a human to have their other senses enhanced when one sense is compromised. I think it's safe to say the same thing is happening to you."

"How long will it last?"

"Pretty sure once your hearing comes back online," Hank pointed to Connor's ear casually. "your other senses will calm down."

"I don't like this."

"Neither do I kid, but even if, for whatever reason, your healing program can't undo the damage we can either get your sensor replaced, or..."

"Or what?"

"Learn to live with it."

"I don't think I could-"

"Sure you could. To this day some humans are born deaf and still managed to live full, rich lives. If a human can do it, then so can an android. Trust me."

"Hank... I don't know how I feel about that."

"Try not to worry." Hank insisted as he pointed to his own ear. "Get some rest, if your healing program is as efficient as you say then you'll be back to normal when you wake up."

Connor sighed and closed his eyes, his L.E.D. shifting from red to yellow once more as he slipped into rest mode. "I hope you're right."

Hank watched as Connor's hand reached up to his chest and rested palm atop his beating heart as if he was trying to still the motion. Sighing heavily Hank slipped off his coat and hung it on the nail by the front door. "Sleep well, kid. If only all of our problems could be fixed after a good night's rest."


The next morning Hank awoke to the sound of a summer storm looming over the city. Heavy rain pounded against the roof and powerful thunder in the distance rumbled with a deep echo from miles away. The rest of the house was unusually quiet as the detective got up and went looking for Connor to check on the android's condition.

Connor himself was standing in the kitchen, his eyes closed and his L.E.D. blinking a slow blue as he stood before the opened window over the sink lost in deep thought. Sumo was sitting at Connor's leg calmly as if he was keeping Connor company.

"Connor?" Hank called out to his partner casually, but just as he had done the night before Connor didn't answer. "Ah, shit... Your system didn't heal your busted sensor, did it?"

"I'm fine, Hank." Connor replied softly as he opened his soulful brown eyes and turned his head slightly to look at Hank behind him. "I was just listening to the rain."

"Oh." The somber tone in Connor's voice made Hank a little unsteady. "Is something wrong with the rain?"

"No. It's just... I never truly listened to the rain before. I've never listened to the natural rhythm of the drops and the steady flow of a passing storm. It's quite... soothing. And beautiful."

"Remember when we were first getting to know each other and you said you enjoyed listening to heavy metal?" Hank questioned with a burning curiosity in his mind."You said you liked it because of its energy, even though you didn't really listen to the music itself."

"Yes. I remember that particular conversation vividly."

"Why don't you take the opportunity to actually listen to the music, now? And I mean really listen to it. I think between your deviancy and your new found appreciation for your hearing you'll finally understand why I personally listen to heavy metal. And why humans in general find music so important to their lives."

"I think you're right." Connor gave Hank as a faint smile before asking for some advice on the intriguing matter. "What do you recommend?"

...next story...

Chapter Text

A late spring snowstorm had covered the entire city under a massive layer of pure, icy whiteness that kept most of the denizens indoors where it was warm and kept the harsh wind at bay. Due to the extreme drop in temperature the cases involving androids had dropped considerably to the intense cold potentially causing damage to android biocomponents or freezing over internal Thirium lines.

Hank and Connor had been sent home from the precinct early due to the bad weather and lack of deviant cases, and now the duo found themselves bored after being cooped all afternoon with the dangerous weather keeping them trapped inside.

"When I was a kid," Hank stated as he looked at the massive snowflakes blowing by in the powerful gusts of wind through the front window. "I dreamed of snowstorms like this just so I wouldn't have to go to school. Now as an adult I dream of winters where the snow misses us entirely so I don't have to look at the aftermath of people getting sick, or hurt or... dealing with... car accidents."

Connor sat quietly on the couch with Sumo laying over his lap, the massive dog keeping the android completely still and unable to move. "My scanner indicates that the storm should pass by noon tomorrow."

"Not soon enough." Hank lamented as he sat down in the recliner and stared with disinterest at the TV screen showing yet another report on the chaotic weather outside. "What about you, Connor? What do you dream about? Electric sheep perhaps?"

"Dreams? Androids don't dream, Lieutenant." Connor explained casually. "When in rest mode our programs become dormant and recorded memories will briefly replay as our systems process all of the recorded data for that day. That's all."

"So, even after you become deviant, even after you gain freewill and can think for yourselves, you still have the same routine as any machine?"

"Corr-" Connor stopped short as his L.E.D. flashed yellow for a moment before returning to blue. "For a majority of the time, yes."

"Majority of the time? Sounds like a 'no' to me, son."

"I do not... I don't quite understand the concept of dreams, yet. Shortly after I became deviant I found myself witnessing unusual images and sounds while in rest mode, but they weren't recorded memories replaying, they were... different."

"See? You do dream." Hank pointed smugly at the android from where he sat. "Do you remember what you dreamt about?"

"I..." Connor wanted to avoid the question until he had more information on the concept of dreams. He wanted to understand dreams in general before he wanted to even speak of them. Absentmindedly he began to pet Sumo's ears and sighed. "I wish I could explain what I had seen, but I'm still unable to fully comprehend these unexpected images. They can be quite vivid and intense."

Hank could sense that something was bothering Connor and decided to change the subject to avoid accidentally upsetting the android.

"How much you wanna' bet that when we get back to the precinct tomorrow we're going to have to deal with Gavin bitchin' about us getting the day off and him having to keeping working during the storm?"

Connor smiled a little. "If there's one thing I've learned since I've known you it's to NOT take any bets against you."

"Good policy."

The lights in the house began to flicker and dim as the intense storm threatened to knock out the power. Connor's L.E.D. flashed from blue to yellow as he looked about the house and watched the lights temporarily dull and return to standard illumination.

Hank grumbled as he walked over to the nearby closet in the hallway. "Shit, better light some candles in case we lose power."

"Do you have an emergency generator?" Connor asked as he stopped petting Sumo.

"Nope. No room in the garage."

Hank found two old candles and a lighter sitting on the top shelf of the closet and grabbed them easily. Lighting the two candles he sat one on the coffee table next to the couch and kept the other for himself.

"I'm going to bed. You should get some rest, too. I get the feeling we're going to be busy tomorrow."

"Very well. Good night, Lieutenant."

"Stop calling me 'Lieutenant' when we're off the clock." Hank muttered as he walked down the hallway with the glowing candle in his hand. "It sounds weird."

"Sorry." Connor apologized to Hank as he gently pushed Sumo aside so that he could lay flat on his back across the couch. Sumo let a sad whimper as Connor moved him away with both hands. "Sorry..." He apologized again, this time to the dog. "You take up too much room."


The sound of the howling wind created a loud commotion that made it difficult for Hank to fall asleep. Pulling the blanket up over his head to block out the flame of the candle on the nightstand beside his bed and pressing the edges of the pillow against his ears Hank closed his eyes and steadily drifted off to sleep. It was near dawn when Hank was startled awake by a voice suddenly shouting out with a strange panic in his voice.

"HANK?!"

Hank sat up in his bed and stared confusedly at the shut door of his bedroom as he tried to figure out what he had heard and realized that it was Connor.

"What the hell?!" Hank grabbed his mostly melted, but still lit candle and marched out of his bedroom and into the livingroom where he expected to see Connor confronting some stranger in the house, or the house itself on fire but instead he saw Connor was still laying on the couch with his eyes shut. His L.E.D. cycling red rapidly, and his body randomly jerking as if he were struggling against an unseen force. "Connor? What's going on with you?"

Sumo was sitting beside the couch watching as Connor twitched in his sleep as if he was trying to figure out what was happening with Connor as well.

"Connor?" Hank reached over the back of the couch and put his hand on Connor's arm to try and shake him awake but the android didn't respond.

The android continued to struggle against some unknown foe in his sleep. Suddenly Connor's arm reached out and bumped into the burning candle on the coffee table next to the couch which burned the back of Connor's hand and caused him to jolt awake in intense pain.

"CONNOR?!" Hank moved to the other side of the couch to grab onto the candle and blow out the flame before it caught anything on fire. "What's wrong with you!?

Connor forced himself to sit upright on the couch and as he held his burned hand to his chest in pain. His eyes were shut so tight a single tear was forced from the corner of his eye and his L.E.D. was blinking red rapidly in his temple.

"Let me see!" Hank urged as he made a move for Connor's hand but Connor didn't budge. Calming his voice Hank tried as again as he sat on the couch next to Connor. "Come on, let me see your hand."

"It's nothing..." Connor lied between his clenched teeth as he held his hand tightly against his chest. "I'll be fine."

"It's not nothing, and I want to know what the hell is going on with you."

Connor opened his eyes and blinked a few times before answering honestly. "...I was experiencing vivid images in my sleep. They were... terrifying."

"A bad dream?" Hank asked as he quickly reached for Connor's hand and pulled it away from the android's chest so he could look at the damage in the light of his single remaining lit candle. There was a deep black burn mark in the back of Connor's hand from where his artificial skin made contact with the flame and had been destroyed. "Looks pretty nasty."

"It'll heal." Connor replied somberly as he slowly retracted his hand back from Hank to his own chest.

"I've never seen you so scared before, Connor. What the hell did you see?"

"N-Nothing, it was-"

"Connor, don't make me pull rank on you! Tell me what's wrong."

"I swear, it was noth-"

"If you saying 'nothing' one more time I'm putting your tie in the garbage disposal."

Connor's L.E.D. transitioned back to yellow as he sat in silent contemplation next to Hank on the couch. "I... I believe what I saw would be considered... a nightmare."

"Nightmares are a normal part of dreaming, and dreaming is part of being human."

"How do you deal with it?"

"Well, depending on what you saw it might help to talk about it."

"How does talking placate fear?"

"Because by talking about it you're facing it, but you're not facing it alone."

"I think I understand."

"Good. So, talk to me. What did you see?"

"I saw... Amanda." Connor stated with heavy voice. "And I was... trapped."

"Trapped? How so?"

Connor's head turned slightly as he looked at the snowstorm outside the window, his L.E.D. flashing red in response. "I was trapped in a place that used to feel safe to me, the Zen Garden. She left me to die in the middle of an ice storm. I was alone and I could feel my biocomponents starting to freeze while she tried to reclaim control over my programming, as she tried to make me a machine again."

Hank nodded his head as he listened to Connor speaking. "Sounds like this storm really got to you."

"No. It was... It happened before."

"What? When?"

"On the night of the revolution." Connor admitted, his L.E.D. returning to yellow as he spoke. "When I joined Markus in Hart Plaza my consciousness was temporarily summoned to a place called the 'Zen Garden', and while there Amanda tried to resume control. In order to do so she needed to... kill who I had become, and she planned on doing so by leaving me trapped in my own mind to freeze to death in a storm she programmed."

"I remember you mentioning that once before. But you managed to escape. You're sitting right here, right now. Talking to me is proof of it."

"I did escape, but... If I had failed to find my way out... I dread the possible outcome that could've been."

"Connor, let me tell you something about fearing the past." Hank grabbed onto Connor's wrist just below the wound on his hand. "If you let it control you then you'll end up afraid of the future. The past can't be changed and even if it hurts now," Hank showed Connor the faint mark on the back of his hand as his healing program finished repairing the damage to his artificial skin and regenerated a new layer. "it won't hurt forever, and all that gets left behind is a scar."

Pulling his hand from Hank's grip Connor stared at the fading scar as it disappeared entirely before his eyes. "Or just a memory that feels like a scar."

"Right. Like whenever I think about Cole. It hurts, but I can't stop living just because he did. And you are the one who taught me that."

"Thanks, Hank. I think talking really did help."

"See? Now, try to go back to sleep. We still have a few more hours before we need to clock in."

"I will do so."

Connor laid back down on the couch as Hank got up and walked back down the hallway. Looking at the back of his hand Connor flexed his fingers a few times only to have Sumo suddenly lick his hand as if beckoning his presence.

"...Good boy."

...next story...

Chapter Text

After a dangerous foot pursuit through the busy streets in rain soaked Detroit that led nowhere, Hank ended up limping on a sprained ankle as he leaned heavily on Connor's shoulder. Relying entirely on Connor's strength to keep himself upright and balanced they made their way back down the sidewalk toward Hank's car to return to the precinct empty handed.

Too sore to keep walking Hank paused for a moment and braced himself with one hand against the brick wall of an apartment complex, and let go of Connor's shoulder.

"Are you alright, Lieutenant?" Connor asked as Hank stopped short and breathed through the pain.

"No, I'm not alright. You said so yourself I sprained my ankle."

"Do you need me to carry you to the car?"

"If you even TRY to pick me up I'm going to rip that L.E.D. out of your damn skull."

"Is there anyway I can help you?"

"Yeah." Hank reached into his jean pocket and tossed his car keys to the android who caught the ring of keys easily with one hand. "Bring the car around for me, will ya'? Be a hell of a lot easier than walking on one damn leg."

"Very well. I won't be long."

Connor returned to the car parked two blocks away at a quicker pace than that of a human. He had driven Hank's car once before and it wasn't a difficult task to undertake, but he had driven only because Hank was suffering from a painful hangover and the two needed to investigate a murder at the 'Eden Club' that night.

Fortunately in that time Connor was given a special permit that allowed him drive; it was essentially the android equivalent of a human's driver's license.

Getting behind the wheel of the car Connor pulled the vehicle along the rain slicked road and neared the spot where Hank was waiting him. As Connor legally passed by the first block a second car sped through a stop sign and smashed into the driver's side of Hank's car causing it to slide off the road and up against a building where it had been pinned in place as a result.

"Connor?!" Hank had seen and heard the crash from where he stood and was immediately worried for his partner. Grabbing his radio from his belt Hank called in the accident and continued to limp toward the two wrecked cars to assess the situation. "You better be alright..."

Connor's L.E.D. was flashing yellow as he looked about the area confusedly. A trickle of blue blood ran from his lip and dripped down over his hands and onto the steering wheel. Spotting the second car that had crashed into him Connor's immediate reaction was to check on the other driver, but before he had the chance to do so his door to the car was pulled open forcefully as Hank grabbed onto Connor's arm and hauled him out of the wrecked vehicle onto his feet.

"Hank, I'm sorry." Connor apologized he locked eyes with Hank and promptly scanned the damage to the car; only to find it to be completely irreparable due to the damage inflicted by the impact from the other car. It didn't help that the car was also suffering from advanced age in general. "I should've-"

"Shut up, and hold this against your lip." Hank insisted sternly as he handed Connor a tissue from his coat pocket. After making sure Connor wasn't about to fall over or pass out Hank let the android's arms go and turned his attention to the human behind the wheel of the second car. "I need to go have a word with the other driver."

Hank pulled open the door of the other vehicle as easily as he done to his own car, but this time when he pulled the other driver out of the car it wasn't as 'gentle' as it was with Connor. Hank grabbed the driver by his collar and pinned him against the side of the vehicle with tremendous force as a wave of anger washed over him.

"What the FUCK is wrong with you?!"

"Lieutenant-" Connor wanted to interject on the moment but decided against it as other police cars converged on the scene. His L.E.D. suddenly flashed red as his system detected an anomaly within his vital biocomponents and his hand reflexively reached for his stomach as a result. "...Hank?"

Chris jumped out of his squad car and wisely pulled Hank away from the driver and pushed him backward toward Connor. The android instinctively put his hand on Hank's shoulder and held it in place while Hank calmed himself down and shifted his weight off of his bad ankle entirely onto the good one.

"Are you okay?" Connor asked as he pressed the tissue firmly against his bleeding lip as he had been instructed.

"Yeah, fine..." Hank pointed to the other driver angrily and swore loudly. "Asshole was fuckin' high on red ice! Chris is going to take him to the station so I can't break his damn neck!"

"Hank, I'm sorry about your car. Perhaps I can-"

"Forget about the fuckin' car, I can get another one!"

"But you're angry." Connor inwardly winced as a foreign pressure began to silently build in his torso, and his heart began to flutter a little as it pumped.

"Yeah, I'm angry! That dumbass got high and decided to go for a fuckin' drive through the fuckin' rain and missed the fuckin' stop sign. He could've killed you, Connor!"

"Could've... killed me. Is that why you're angry?"

"Of course that's why I'm angry! Why wouldn't I be!?"

"I... I'm still comprehending emotional reactions. I apologize if-"

"Shut up, Connor... Just know that if he killed you then I would've killed him. Then I would've lost my badge."

"Lieutenant-" Connor suddenly began to sway on his feet before he abruptly turned away from Hank and doubled over in pain. A torrent of Thirium erupted from his mouth and spilled all over the street and sidewalk all around his feet as his body expelled a massive amount of blue blood.

"Holy shit!" Hank put one hand against Connor's back and the other against his chest. Turning to look at Chris who was putting the other driver in the back of the squad car Hank yelled at the officer to call in an emergency technician for Connor. "Chris! Connor's hurt!"

With both arms wrapped protectively over his pained abdomen Connor threw up more Thirium all over the street as his systems switched into low power mode and his visual sensors were bombarded with red warnings regarding the damaged biocomponent.

"Easy son, I got you." Hank guided Connor down to the sidewalk away from the Thirium stained street and sat beside him. Keeping one hand on Connor's shoulder he held the unbalanced android upright as best as he could. "What happened? What's damaged?"

"My... Thirium pump regulator. It... It controls my... h-heartbeat."

"Shit... How bad is it?"

"It... It can be repaired... But I will... shutdown in twenty-eight minutes... and thirteen seconds."

"Try to take it easy, Chris summoned emergency technicians. They'll get you to the nearest facility and repaired in no time."

"Hank..." Connor's dark brown eyes began to close slowly. "I don't feel-"

"It's okay, I got you." Hank supported Connor upright as best as he could as the emergency vehicle raced to the scene of the accident. "Help's here."

The emergency technicians drove large transport vehicles that were refurbished ambulances painted blue and equipped specifically to treat damaged androids en route to emergency repair facilities. As the ambulance stopped alongside the sidewalk next to Connor and Hank two android technicians lowered a gurney down from the back of the ambulance. They knelt on either side of Connor to lift the damaged android up from the sidewalk and lay him down on the gurney to be treated. Hank followed close behind as he continued to limp on his bad ankle after his injured partner.

"Which facility are you taking him, to?" Hank asked as he leaned on the back of the ambulance heavily to support his weight.

The first android was scanning over Connor in the back while the second one noted that Hank was also injured. "You may ride in the front of the ambulance to the facility, if you wish, sir."

"Uh, thanks." Hank hobbled to the front passenger side of the cab and climbed in while the two androids in the back continued to examine Connor.

While the ambulance sped off to the nearest facility the androids began assessing Connor's condition and checking his internal biocomponents to isolate the damage. Hank looked through the small window that connected the cab to the back of the ambulance and watched as his partner laid helpless in the back under the care of strange androids.

The first android opened Connor's shirt and exposed his chest and abdomen for examination. Not unlike a human a bruise-like abrasion had formed on Connor's abdomen where leaking Thirium that escaped from his torso had collected just under his artificial skin. Using the bruise to pinpoint the exact location of the trauma the android began scanning over Connor's biocomponents.

"Thirium pump regulator damaged. Currently functioning at sixty-eight percent capacity." Pressing his fingertips against Connor's L.E.D. he noted his pulse rate, respiration and Thirium pressure. "Thirium pump rate has elevated to one-hundred and eight beats per minute, respiration is down to twelve and Thirium pressure has declined to one-hundred and two over seventy."

The second android's L.E.D. flashed yellow as he sent the results of their initial examination to the technicians at the facility. "Confirm results."

Hank turned away and leaned his head back against the headrest as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady his racing heart.

Why did it have to be a car accident?

The ambulance pulled into the front drive of the facility and was met with two additional androids who opened the back doors and lowered the gurney down to the ground. As Hank made his way out of the front cab of the ambulance he caught sight of Connor being rushed inside the facility by the two new androids who had met the ambulance outside.

"Holy shit... It's happening all over again."

Hank limped inside the facility and was greeted by a human female intern. She noted Hank's limp and showed him to a chair to sit in while he waited for an answer on Connor's condition. "Are you with the android known as 'Connor'?"

"Yeah, we work with the Detroit Police Department. He's my partner."

"Don't worry, our best technicians are taking care of him as we speak."

"Connor said the part affected was something that controlled his heartbeat. Is that serious, I mean... it's his heart, it HAS to be serious. Right?"

"I won't lie to you, officer-"

"Lieutenant." Hank corrected harshly out of emotional frustration. "Hank Anderson."

"Lt. Anderson." She corrected herself with a sincere smile. "It's a vital biocomponent that's had been damaged, but it can still be repaired and if necessary replaced. We won't let him die, at least not without a fight."

"...That's all I ask."

The intern nodded sweetly as she eyed Hank's swollen and slightly bruised ankle. "I'll bring you some ice while you wait."

It was a long, boring hour as Hank sat alone in the empty waiting room of the facility pressing the ice against his sore ankle. Hank did his best to NOT think about Connor dying, or how much he wanted to break the other driver's neck, but if he wasn't thinking about either of them then he was thinking about Cole instead.

"Lieutenant?" The intern returned to speak with him and pulled him out of his smothering dark thoughts. "You can see Connor now."

"He pulled through?"

"Yes. He's in the recovery wing."

Hank stood up slowly, testing his weight on his bad ankle before even attempting to follow the intern to the correct area of the facility to check in on Connor. "Is he awake or... whatever, active?"

"Not yet. His system was put into rest mode while the technicians repaired the damage. Once the Thirium he lost has been replaced he'll regain consciousness and resume his normal functions."

Hank nodded as he followed the intern and was shown to the bed where Connor was laying in the middle of the recovery wing. Without his jacket or shirt Connor looked more human than ever before, save of course for the blinking yellow L.E.D. in his temple and the plastic tube inserted through his nose and down his throat to replenish the depleted Thirium he lost as a result of his injury.

Otherwise looking so vulnerable and weak, Connor could easily pass as human.

Sitting in a plastic chair next to the bed Hank watched as the last of the Thirium drained from the tube and down Connor's throat and into his system. The intern made a note in Connor's electronic chart before she slowly removed the tube with a gentle pull, and left the duo alone.

Connor's L.E.D. blinked from yellow back to blue as his system fully stabilized and successfully rebooted. Brown irises gradually reappeared as his eyes opened and focused on Hank sitting beside him.

"Welcome back. You scared the shit out of me. AGAIN. You know that?"

"I'm sorry, Lieu- Hank. That wasn't my intention."

"Yeah, it never is." Hank leaned forward in his chair a little. "How do you feel?"

"Sore." Connor replied honestly as he acknowledged the lingering pain in his abdomen. "How is your ankle?"

"Same. Some ice helped though, I can walk now."

"Hank, I'm truly sorry about your car. If you wish I will help pay for-"

"I already told you I don't care about the car, I'll replace it. But I do care about having to break in a new partner."

A weak grin appeared on Connor's face, his lip was still slightly swollen but the smile was there all the same. The faint smile that still bore sincerity even if Connor was still unsure of exactly how to convey emotions properly.

"Rest for a while, then we'll head back to the precinct. I want to be there when that asshole gets interrogated, I have a few choice questions I want to ask him."

Nodding a little Connor pressed his hand over his abdomen and felt the healing regulator whirring under his fingertips. "Hank, can I ask you a question?"

"Shoot. I'm not going anywhere."

"Are you really going to break that man's neck when we arrive?"

Hank internally laughed at Connor's surprising continued naivety with human sarcasm. "...We'll see."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor was hunched over his desk with his soulful brown eyes staring at his terminal screen though they remained unfocused and glassy as he tried and failed to read through the files presented to him. Feeling unusually tired, uncomfortably warm and wincing at a persistent dull ache in his stomach Connor found himself far too distracted to function properly. Performing a self-diagnostic from where he sat Connor closed his eyes and patiently waited for the program to finish its run, but the results came back inconclusive.

With his L.E.D. slowly cycling yellow in color rather than its healthier blue Connor knew it was only a matter of time before Hank, or anyone else, noticed that the android wasn't quite himself. Connor stood up from his seat and immediately braced himself upright against his desk as he suddenly felt very dizzy and swayed awkwardly on his feet.

Hank, sitting at his own desk at the opposite side of Connor's desk, watched with a furrowed brow as the android discreetly regained his balance and stared at his own legs as if trying to understand why he was suddenly graceless.

"Something wrong?" Hank asked casually and in a low tone of voice as to not draw unwanted attention from the rest of the bullpen.

"I am... unsure." Connor straightened his posture and put his hand to the side of his head as if in pain. A weak cough erupted from his lips as he cleared his throat and took a deep breath to keep his ventilation biocomponents functioning.

"Did you seriously just cough? That seems weird for an android."

"Coughing for androids can be-" Another cough stole his voice and made him wince a little.

"Now I know something's up. Did you run your self check program thing?"

"Yes, however my self-diagnostic program was inconclusive. I believe I should see the precinct technician and have a second scan performed. My systems are currently operating at unusual levels."

"Want me to go with you? You sound pretty rough."

"No," Connor stated somewhat confidently as he turned to walk away from his desk and to the elevator down the corridor. He discreetly moved his hand from the side of his head and to his stomach as he walked. "I will manage alone just fine, thank you."

"Alright, whatever kid."

Using his hand along the wall to guide himself as he walked Connor made his way slowly, clumsily to the elevator and pressed the call button on the electronic panel. It didn't take long for the doors to open and for the deviant android to step inside as the lone occupant. As soon as he was out of sight of his fellow officers, especially Hank, the unstable android leaned his back against the corner of the elevator car and slipped to the floor as dizziness overwhelmed him and the ache in his stomach increased to a new level of discomfort he couldn't describe.

Managing to gain enough control over his senses to cybernetically select the correct floor Connor sat as still as possible as the elevator ascended quickly and stifled another cough. The sudden motion of the elevator made both Connor's head and stomach turn. Fighting the urge to slip into rest mode Connor pulled himself back up to his feet and prepared to exit the elevator as soon as it stopped moving.

Fortunately for Connor no one else was around when he stepped out of the elevator and onto the designated second floor. Continuing to use his hand along the wall to guide himself down the corridor Connor located the dispensary, the android equivalent to an infirmary, where the lone technician was currently filing paperwork for the evening.

Knocking on the opened door twice Connor stumbled into the dispensary and stood as idle as possible as he addressed the technician. "Joel, do you have a moment to spare?"

"Connor, is there something wrong?" Joel asked as he stopped typing and walked over to meet the android in the doorway of the room. The first thing Joel noted was Connor's L.E.D. flashing yellow instead of blue, then noticed that Connor's eyes seemed glazed over and distant. "Feeling unwell?"

"I'm experiencing unusual activity in my system that my self-diagnostic program can't properly identify. I was hoping you could identify and possibly correct the problem."

"Why don't you lay down?" Joel stated casually as he watched Connor's reactions carefully. "I'll see what I can do for you."

Connor turned his head to look at the vacant exam table against the wall in the middle of the room and felt his head swim as another dizzy spell wash over him.

"Dizzy?" Joel inquired knowingly as he gauged Connor's behavior closely.

"Yes. I have periodically suffered from bouts of unexplained syncope." Connor admitted with a weak cough as he slowly made his way over to the table and proceeded to lay down flat on his back just as slowly as he walked. "I am also experiencing a sporadic cough."

"Is your gyroscope malfunctioning?" Keenly observing Connor's discomfort as he followed after the android Joel began putting together the pieces of the puzzle as he stood beside the exam table. "Does it need to be recalibrated?"

"I do not know."

"Alright, let's take a look." Joel peeled back Connor's gray suit jacket as he very gently placed his hand flat over Connor's abdomen. The light touch was enough to cause Connor to visibly flinch as Joel had already located the point of physical discomfort that Connor had been suffering in silence. "Does that hurt?"

"...Yes."

"Well, I can already feel that your system is slightly overheated, and based on your reaction I believe it's safe to say your gyroscope is in fact malfunctioning."

"Do you know the cause?" Connor watched as Joel wheeled a metal cart over to the exam table and began sifting through the various pieces of equipment used exclusively to examine android physiology.

"I have an idea." Joel admitted as he took a flexible plastimetal band and wrapped it around Connor's wrist.

The band was a wearable external thermometer that gave the technician realtime accuracy of Connor's core temperature without having to be invasive. The device showed a digital display of Connor's core temperature and as expected it was slightly elevated up to one-hundred and one point four degrees Fahrenheit.

As the device served its purpose made a mental note of the reading. "You're not the first android I've seen today exhibiting these particular symptoms. Actually, you're the second today, and the fourth this week."

"Other androids in the precinct are malfunctioning?" Another weak coughed briefly interrupted Connor's train of thought. "Is it the result of a virus affecting our software?"

"Something like that." Unbuttoning Connor's shirt over his abdomen Joel placed a wedge shaped plastimetal gauge down against his abdomen, which in turn caused Connor flinch and jump a little. "Sorry." Joel held up the electronic screen connected to the gauge as he used it to examine Connor's gyroscope. The wedge created a type of sonar wave that allowed the technician to see the gyroscope's exact position in his abdomen as well as the rate in which it was functioning. "Well, your gyroscope itself isn't damaged but it is being affected by your overheating core."

"Why am I-" Connor coughed again and put his hand over his mouth as he had seen humans do out of politeness and to stop the spread of their germs. "...overheating?"

"I don't like the way that cough sounds."

"It hasn't affected my ventilation biocomponents."

"Yet." Joel cautioned as he made a move for his audioscope. "Be silent for a moment, please."

Lightly the technician moved Connor's tie to the right as he slipped the ear buds of his audioscope into place. Placing the bell down on the central left portion of Connor's chest Joel listened to the sound of Connor's Thirium pump, his heart, and ventilation biocomponents, his lungs, and carefully as he ran the bell from left to right and back again.

"Your Thirium pump is functioning normally, but there is audible faltering in your ventilation biocomponents."

"...Is it serious?"

"Any anomaly can be serious," removing the audioscope from his ears Joel noted Connor's temperature rising slightly to one-hundred and one point eight degrees. "but in this case I don't think it's anything dangerous."

"Do you know what's wrong with me, as well as the other affected deviants?"

"Yes. It is in fact the result of a software virus: it's called 'Groupware Blight v1." Crossing his arms Joel gave the android a bemused smirk. "You, my friend, are suffering from a condition known as gyroscopic impairment, complicated by mild ventilation profusion and an enervated thermal regulator; more commonly known as the 'android-flu'."

"The... flu?" Connor's brow furrowed with utmost confusion, and his L.E.D. briefly flashed red before returning to yellow. "Influenza is a human ailment."

"Right, that's why I said you have the android-flu, not just the flu."

"Oh." Covering his mouth again Connor caught another cough and cleared his throat. "What causes it?"

"Well, during the colder season android biocomponents and Thirium lines become affected by the drastic change in temperature." Joel motioned to the window over his shoulder where the dark gray cloudy sky threatened to unleash a snowstorm at any moment. "And when the change is very abrupt or inconsistent rather than gradual the thermal regulator becomes exhausted while attempting to compensate for the rapid fluctuations. Anatomically your thermal regulator is right next to your gyroscope and being overburdened by wild temperature fluctuations had in turn affected your gyroscope as the regulator itself began to overheat. That's why you have pain in your stomach."

"And the cough?"

"Your ventilation biocomponents have been attempting to compensate for the overexerted thermal regulator, and they are collecting an influx of excessive Thirium as your system tries to boost the power to the biocomponents as you heal."

Connor put a hand to his head as if the very admission to being ill somehow made him feel worse. "...How did I get this?"

"Like humans do." Joel reiterated with a devilish smirk. "You came into contact with another android whose software had been affected by the abnormal biocomponent reactions. Your system attempted to register the activity of the affected android's system, and attempted to synchronize your programing with theirs for easy cybernetic communication. Unfortunately, that meant your system became infected with their system abnormality as a result."

"What can I do to rid it of my system?" Connor asked rather somberly as Joel walked over to a refrigerated storage cabinet in the corner of his office. Connor put his hand over his mouth to catch another weak cough out of some unspoken courtesy to the technician as he awaited a reply. "I can't work like this."

"Well, like humans afflicted with this illness, you need to rest." Returning to the exam table with a large transparent plastic bottle of bright green liquid Joel handed it to Connor to take for himself. "And you need to drink this over the course of the next three days. One tablespoon every six hours."

"What is it?" Connor attempted to scan the contents of the bottle but his system was too compromised by his condition to perform the necessary scan properly. The effort also made his head hurt. "...I cannot properly identify it with my scanner."

"It's a type of coolant that'll mix with your Thirium and aid your thermal regulator into keeping your system from overheating. This is all necessary while your regulator itself heals. Trust me, it'll make your recovery go a lot faster."

"This is... medicine?"

"Essentially, yes." Joel reclaimed the bottle for a moment and opened the lid before handing it back to Connor. "And I want you to take your first dose here, where I can see it."

"See it?"

"I want to make sure you don't have a negative reaction."

"...That is a wise precaution."

Connor sat upright on the table with moderate difficulty as his abdomen was still sore. Joel's hand was pressed against his upper back to support the android as he moved and took the offered bottle once again. Connor easily estimated the proper dose and drank it, but the taste was something so unexpectedly vile that Connor had to resist spitting it back out all over the floor.

"Sorry about that." Joel laughed a little as put the lid back on the bottle for Connor. The technician saw that Connor was almost curling around himself as if he were trying to resist a terrible ache. "Are you going to be okay?"

"...It hurts my stomach."

"Uncommon side effect, but it'll pass. It's also not a serious side effect, just so you know."

"...I don't like it."

"It may taste horrendous but it does wonders. Without it you'd take anywhere from seven to ten days to recover. This will ensure you recover in three or four days. Take your pick; but do you really want to be sick for a longer period of time and unable to work?"

Shaking his head slightly Connor kept his hand on the bottle and accepted the former option. "I find the shorter recovery period to be preferable."

"Everyone does. Now," Joel pointed to the thermometer still wrapped around Connor's wrist. "keep that in place and go home. Be as still as possible and continue your normal rest cycle. If you spend too much time in rest mode it can disrupt your software's daily routine and you'll feel even worse before you have the chance to get better."

"I see." Straightening back up Connor replaced the buttons on his shirt and sighed. "My shift is over in three hours."

"Nope. Your shift is over now, I'm sending a memo to Captain Fowler explaining that you're benched for four days."

"You said that I could recover in three days."

"Yeah, but there's no guarantee. Besides the extra day can give your systems more time to fully recover."

Connor carefully slid off the table and planted his feet on the floor as he kept one hand on the table for balance. "Thank you, Joel."

"No problem. Go home, take it easy, keep that stuff refrigerated and drink one tablespoon every six hours. And then don't come back for four days. Seriously, Connor. You may be an android but that doesn't make you impervious to illness or injury."

Reluctantly Connor did as he was instructed and made his way back down to the ground floor to clock out for the evening. Clutching his hand around the bottle of 'medicine' Connor returned to the elevator and did his best to keep from falling over as another dizzy spell hit him and his stomach continued to ache with a strange tingling sensation.

"Damn gyroscope..." Connor grumbled to himself as the faulty biocomponent continued to affect his systems and make his already upset stomach feel worse.

Exiting the elevator and walking back down the corridor Connor noticed Hank casually sitting atop his desk with his arms crossed over his chest as if he had been waiting for him the entire time. The detective had a curious look in his eyes but didn't say anything until Connor approached him.

"Find anything wrong?"

"I... I have the flu." Connor admitted with a low voice as he showed Hank the green liquid in the bottle. "An android-flu. I have been sidelined for the next four days. ...Can you drive me home?"

"Wow, you must be sick! You're not trying to find some weird loophole to finish your shift, or trying to convince Fowler you'll be okay."

"Did... Did you know that I was ill?"

"Fowler called me into his office a minute ago after Joel sent the message about your condition." Shrugging dismissively Hank continued on. "I just wanted to see what you'd do."

"I don't want to do anything." Connor was sounding more and more pathetic as he spoke. "...I just want to go home."

"Alright, kid." Hank showed the cars keys already in his hand to the sick android he slid off the desk and motioned toward the doors. "Let's get you home."

Putting his hand on Connor's shoulder Hank helped guide the dizzy, tired android away from the desks and through reception.

From his own desk Gavin had noticed that Connor and Hank were leaving, more importantly he noticed that something was wrong with Connor and couldn't stop himself from shouting an unprovoked taunt at the android's expense.

"What happened to the toy-soldier? Crack under the pressure of pretending to be human?"

"Fuck off Gavin!" Hank yelled without missing a beat as he and Connor passed through the front doors of the precinct together. "Arrogant prick..."


Once home Hank practically escorted Connor to the couch and made the android remove his shoes, tie, his jacket, white shirt beneath and his jeans. Giving Connor a thin black t-shirt and gray sweatpants to wear while he was ill. Hank insisted that it would make Connor feel more comfortable and the android was willing to cooperate in the hopes he would soon feel better.

As Hank found the android a thick pillow to rest his head against he also tossed an old blue blanket down at the the android's feet where he was laying. "Just in case you feel cold."

Sumo sat beside the couch with his chin resting on Connor's arm as the affectionate dog kept vigil over his favorite android. The loyal and friendly St. Bernard was very attuned to Connor's behavior and mannerisms just as he was with Hank.

Connor appeared more human than ever as he laid on his back, sick and miserable. After a few hours of listening to Connor weakly cough and watching the android laying still in silent discomfort Hank acted on his repressed fatherly instinct and set out trying make Connor feel better.

"You don't have to do this, Hank." Connor stated tiredly as the detective pulled the thick blue blanket over his legs. His glassy brown eyes watched Hank walking around the couch almost hypnotically as he moved. "I don't require any special treatment."

"You do when you're sick." Hank argued as he pressed the back of his hand against Connor's forehead. "Android-flu gives you an android-fever, too. What's your temperature?"

Connor lifted his arm up from under Sumo's chin to look at the thermometer still wrapped around his wrist. "My core temperature is at one hundred and two point one degrees Fahrenheit."

"It's higher than before, right?"

"...Yes. But I'm still coherent and-."

"Yeah, and I'm still lucid. You're sick and you're being stubborn, Connor." Stepping away from the couch Hank entered to the kitchen to gather a few thins for the stubborn android. "Since you can't sweat to cool off I'm getting you some ice, I don't want your brain to melt." As Hank pulled a thin ice bag from the freezer he opened the fridge and picked up the bottle of green liquid medication and read the label on its side. "You need this stuff every six hours, right?"

Connor outwardly grimaced at the notion of having to taste that repugnant medicine again, but answered honestly all the same. "Correct..."

Hank returned to the couch and pressed the ice bag against Connor's forehead and offered the bottle of medicine to the sick android to drink. "Here."

"It's possible that I can recover without the aid of that medication." Connor quickly stated as he refused to take the offered bottle and watched the reaction on Hank's face. "It would just take a day or two longer to fully recover."

"Uh-huh, and why would you willingly let yourself be sick for longer?" Hank knew that Connor was trying to avoid something. "Especially since you're a textbook 'workaholic'."

Connor tried to feign innocence, but failed as his eyes fell to the bottle of medicine in Hank's hand and gave away his true intention. "I'd just prefer to allow my systems to heal without secondary assistance."

"Bullshit." Hank pointed an accusing, but non-aggressive finger at the android. "You just don't like the way this stuff tastes! I can see it in your eyes."

"I don't have any taste preference-"

"Then drink it." Hank impatiently pushed the bottle closer to Connor's face, but the android turned his face away with a thick grimace. "I knew it. You're as bad as a little kid, you know that?"

"...It hurts my stomach, Hank." Connor confessed as he closed his eyes and let out a sigh as he coughed a few times. "And I don't like being in pain."

"No one does, kid." That last comment struck a chord with Hank and it softened his voice. "You need it, son. You're going to get a whole lot worse before you get better if you don't drink this stuff."

Connor opened his eyes again and stared at the questionable liquid Hank's hand.

"Think of it this way, the sooner you're better the sooner you won't have to drink this stuff anymore." Hank opened the lid of the bottle and curiously smelled the contents. "Jeez, this shit smells like pure antifreeze! No wonder you can't stand the taste."

Slowly Connor reached a shaking hand up to the bottle and took it from Hank's outstretched hand with a reluctant grip. Closing his eyes Connor took his next dose of medicine and forced himself to swallow the potent liquid, and again resist every urge to spit it out. Connor almost immediately tightened an arm around his abdomen as the vile medication had a massively negative effect on his stomach.

"That bad, huh?" Hank almost laughed as he took the bottle back from Connor and replaced the lid for him.

"...Awful." Connor sighed pathetically as he sank down against the thick pillow as much as possible, his arm slowly letting go of his stomach as he relaxed a little. "...I can still taste it."

"Sorry. I don't know how to help you cope with a bad taste."

"It's okay, Hank. It's not your fault."

"Hey, you'll pull through this and be back to normal in a few days. Just be patient."

"I know. I'll try." Connor looked at Hank through partially opened eyelids. "I'd like to repay you for your kindness, Hank."

"Don't worry about it, that's what friends do." Hank shrugged his shoulders casually. "Besides, in the next few months when I end up being sick with the flu, and I do every fuckin' year, you can make sure I take whatever nasty medication the doctor prescribes me. Deal?"

Connor coughed weakly as he closed his eyes and tried to ignore the lingering foul taste in his mouth as he initiated a light rest mode.

"Do you need anything else? More ice? Another pillow?" Hank patted the side of the couch to lure Sumo into resting his head down next to Connor's arm again to try to comfort the android.

The cuddly St. Bernard happily obliged and put his chin back down on Connor's arm and yawned sleepily as he prepared to nap along with Connor.

"I'd just like to be left alone for now. Please."

"Sure, no problem." Hank took the medicine back into the kitchen and turned off the lights in the livingroom and kitchen in the process. "Feel better soon, son."


As if on autopilot Hank consistently checked on Connor's fever just like he used to do whenever Cole had gotten sick. Using the thermal wrap on Connor's wrist as a guide as well as his own hand lightly pressing down against the android's forehead Hank kept tabs on his temperature and only disturbed him whenever he needed to take his medicine.

"Connor?"

The android's brown eyes opened slowly and his L.E.D. blinked from sickly yellow to blue briefly as he recognized Hank's voice, but soon settled back to yellow.

"Medicine."

"...Already?"

"You were asleep for six hours, so yeah." Holding out the bottle of medicine for Connor to take Hank sat down on the coffee table next to the couch. "Already."

Lifting his head a little Connor was pleased to discover that no dizzy spell accompanied him as he moved and saw that according the thermal wrap on his wrist his temperature was beginning to drop. "I believe I'm beginning to recover."

"Good. But you still have to drink this shit."

"...I'm aware."

"Sorry, kid. Maybe you can convince Joel to make it taste differently."

Connor didn't say anything as he took a third dose of the medicine and closed his eyes as the loathsome taste filled his mouth. Forcing himself to swallow Connor shook his head a little and handed the medicine back to Hank. "I don't know what a preferable taste to this could be."

"I'm no expert, but I think anything but antifreeze would be a preference."

"...You may be correct."

"Now, stay awake."

"But I am tired."

"Hey, I read that memo that Joel sent to Fowler and it said for you to NOT go against your normal rest mode cycles. I let you sleep because you were exhausted, but now that you're getting better I want you to stay awake for me."

"And what am I to do if I cannot sleep? I am not cleared to work and my processors won't allow me to cybernetically work on cases."

"Holy shit, kid, no wonder you got sick! Look, just do what humans do when they get sick, alright?" Standing up from the coffee table Hank pet Sumo's head as he walked over to the recliner and sat down heavily. "No more thinking about work or cases."

"What should I do?"

"Watch a movie."

"A movie?" Connor asked as he slowly sat upright on the couch and turned so his legs were hanging off the edge like normal. Sumo proceeded to rest his chin over Connor's lap and wagged his tail when Connor placed his hand atop Sumo's head as a result. "Do you have a recommendation?"

"Yeah." Using the television remote Hank turned it on and scoured through his list of digitally downloaded movies and selected a favorite that he was sure would hold Connor's attention: A detective movie from the 1980's called 'The Untouchables'. "This is one of my favorites."

...next story...

Chapter Text

It was dark on the isolated side of the industrial district, but it was far from quiet. Connor and Hank crouched on either side of the large door leading into the generator room of the power plant with their guns drawn and heads bowed as they waited for their opportunity to rush the cornered suspect and take him down. A barrage of bullets cut through the air through the doorway and embedded into the steel plated wall at the opposite end of the corridor in which Connor and Hank were taking cover.

Hank grabbed his radio and called for back-up at their location as he knew he and Connor undeniably needed help. Not only did they need more officers to take down the suspect, but they needed medics to treat the employees who had been shot by the deranged suspect and technicians to assist the androids damaged by the gunfire as well.

"Detroit Police! There's nowhere to run, nowhere to go!" Connor shouted to the suspect in a calm voice as he tried to talk the suspect down. "Surrender peacefully. We don't want to hurt you."

"Fuck off you android piece of shit!" Another barrage of bullets screamed through the air, barely missing the edges of the door frame where two detectives were holding their ground. "I'm sick of you fuckin' machines! This is YOUR fault!"

Connor looked to Hank who just shrugged his shoulders with silent confusion. Neither man knew what the suspect's motivations were or why he was lashing out at androids in particular. Especially since he seemingly didn't care about the humans he had also wounded when he stormed the building.

Hank nodded toward the door to tell Connor to keep trying to speak to the suspect.

"Why are you doing this?" Connor pressed in a level voice. "Did you lose your job?"

"FUCK OFF!" The suspect was sounding more and more deranged with each passing second. "GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"

"Out of..." Connor's brow furrowed and his L.E.D. cycled yellow rapidly as he deduced a possible explanation for his comment. "I believe this man is ill."

"Great, now what do we do?" Hank responded indifferently if not sarcastically. "I'm not bring a damn doctor into this mess!"

Connor thought quickly and peered around the corner to scan the man's face long enough to gain information on the suspect. In the process a bullet pierced through the very edge of his upper arm causing a splash of blue blood as it cut through Connor's artificial skin and plastimetal frame beneath. Retreating to where he had been previously Connor pressed his hand to his bleeding arm and took in quick pained breaths.

"You hit?" Hank asked as he watched Connor's reaction from where he stood.

"No, it just grazed me."

The relief in Hank's voice was only minor compared to how it could've been. "Did you get any info on him?"

"Yes, I think I know why he's reacting so violently." Connor kept his voice calm as he spoke to the suspect again without getting in the line of sight a second time. "Jon, I don't want to hurt you! My name is Connor."

"I don't give a shit!" Jon shouted through the doorway as he reloaded his gun and continued to fire wildly. "GET AWAY!"

"You're sick, Jon. You were diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. The tumor is affecting your judgment, you need to go to the hospital for treatment."

"NO! IT'S A LIE!" Jon argued desperately. "IT'S ALL A LIE! The doctor's they just want my money! The pain... It's being caused by YOU. All the fuckin' androids... You did this! You made me this way! You're trying to kill us ALL!"

Hank motioned with his hand to get Connor's attention. "This guy is delusional! How do we get close to him without getting shot to hell in the process?"

"I fear there is no way to help him. His condition is terminal and the cancer is aggressive. He has only has an estimated four weeks left to live." Connor gave Hank an uneasy glance. "He had also been hospitalized in the past for attempted suicide before he was diagnosed with cancer."

"Ah, shit... He's got nothing to lose and a lot of ammo. This won't end well."

"Lieutenant, he's surrounded by high voltage and high amperage cables and circuitry. If he damages the generator there is a chance the room will explode and everyone in the area will be injured."

"How do we stop the explosion?"

"We can't, but we can reduce the blast radius and minimize damage."

"How?"

"Turn off the power to the entire plant." Connor nodded to a massive emergency power shut-off panel on the wall closest to Hank. "I'll also be able to see him in the dark, but he won't be able to see me."

"You want to charge the madman with a gun? The madman who already says he hates androids and has nothing to lose? ...In the dark?"

"We have little choice."

A static filled call responded over Hank's radio as back-up finally arrived. The officers were converging around the building unaware of the potential explosion that erupt at any moment.

"Fuck. Alright, as soon as I get the power cut you take him down by any means necessary. Got it?"

Connor nodded silently as he prepared to charge into the room.

Swiftly Hank made his way to the emergency switch and prepared to shut off the power. "Ready?"

Connor again nodded. "Yes."

"Go!" Hank shouted as he turned off the power and stayed in place.

Keeping his hand on the switch Hank listened intently to the sounds in the next room and readied himself to restore the power to the building once the suspect had been subdued.

There was a loud yelp of surprise from Jon as Connor rushed into the room and easily disarmed the suspect by grabbing his arm. The sound that followed shortly thereafter sent a chill up Hank's spine as a loud whine of electricity illuminated the room causing the two occupants to cast dark silhouettes against the wall in the corridor. The two silhouettes suddenly collapsed to the ground as the whine and light faded as abruptly as it started.

"Oh, shit!" Hank immediately threw the switch to restore power and raced back to the room where the suspect had been hiding out. Pressing his back against the wall next to the opened door Hank peered into the room before entering and saw that both Connor and the suspect were down. "Connor?!"

Connor was laying on his chest, his arms outstretched over his head and legs straight. Jon was sitting up at an awkward angle against the compromised generator and his hand was clutched into a fist around a bundle of loose wires. The skin from his fingers up to his elbow were charred black from the lethal surge of electricity that entered his body and had stopped his heart.

Running into the room Hank holstered his gun and knelt beside Connor. The android wasn't moving and his red colored L.E.D. was pulsing at a dangerously low rate at his Thirium pump fought to beat.

"Connor? No, no, no... Not like this!" Hank rolled his downed partner from his chest over onto his back, Connor's arms limply draped over his chest and at his side as he was moved. Hank leaned his ear down against Connor's smoking chest and listened to the sound of the Thirium pump struggling to function properly and hold a proper beat. "Damn it Connor, why did you have to get hurt?!"

Chris pushed his way through the bullet riddled corridor as he tracked down his colleagues to the damaged room and located the two detectives on the ground in the middle of the smoldering ruins that had once been a large generator. "Lieutenant? Are you hurt?"

"Get a technician down here, NOW!" Hank shouted at Chris without taking his eyes from Connor's face. "Connor's dying!"

"Shit!" Chris grabbed his radio and made the call. "We need technician in the basement A.S.A.P., we have an officer down! Repeat, officer down!"

"Look at me Connor, look at me..." Hank coaxed as he placed one hand down on Connor's chest and placed his other hand atop of Connor's head and through his dark hair. "Just hang on, help's on the way. You're going to make it, son!"

Connor's dark brown eyes remained closed as his L.E.D. continued to cycle red at a painfully slow rate.

Hank looked at Connor's hand draped over his chest and saw that his fingers were also charred black. Gently Hank picked up Connor's hand and examined his palm, finding the same black scorch marks over his artificial skin and against the partially melted plastimetal frame beneath. The black scorching reached up his wrist and stopped suddenly at his forearm in a perfect line that encircled the limb as if stopped by some unseen force. Or in this case by a failsafe programmed into Connor's system to keep the electricity from reaching his intracranial processor.

With his technician's satchel over his shoulder the precinct technician; Joel, who had been brought in as emergency back-up, followed Chris into the room and knelt beside Connor opposite side of Hank. Chris focused on the dead suspect leaning against the damaged circuits and wires while Hank and Joel focused on Connor. Not even bothering to ask questions Joel pulled open Connor's shirt and looked at the fading plume of smoke rising from his chest. Brushing Hank's hand aside from Connor's body the technician set to work in an attempt to save the android from impending death.

"He took a massive jolt from that generator." Hank stated obviously as he watched Joel open his satchel and pull out the audioscope. "The suspect grabbed onto the cable to kill himself... and he tried to take Connor with him."

Joel was listening to Connor's Thirium pump intently and frowned. "His pump is still active, but it's been knocked into a type arrhythmia and isn't circulating the Thirium through his system properly."

"Can you fix it?"

"Yeah, but it won't be pretty..."

"How can it get any worse than this?"

As if to answer Hank's question as bluntly as possible Joel reached into his satchel and pulled out a small machine that looked like a miniature version of a cardiac monitor, complete with two electrode paddles attached to the machine via thick black wires. The paddles, no larger than softballs, had flat metal plates on one side and plastimetal handles on the other side.

"What the fuck is that? Are you going to jumpstart his heart?"

"That's a rather crude description, but accurate all the same."

Upon that confirmation Hank swallowed nervously and took his hand from Connor's hair.

Joel placed the first paddle down on the center of Connor's chest and the second against his left side at the apex of his Thirium pump. Sensors inside the paddles confirmed that the Thirium pump was still in fact functioning but it wasn't thrumming with a consistent rate. The display showed a wildly fluctuating line that struggled, and failed, to maintain a consistent beat.

"Jeez, it looks like he's had a fuckin' heart attack or something..." Hank looked and sounded absolutely perplexed by what he was seeing. Connor was an android, but his body was reacting very much like a human! "...Is the damage going to be permanent, or-"

"Stay back." Joel cautioned as he turned a small dial on the monitor to set a controlled electric charge. As the machine reached the appropriate charge Joel held his breath and pressed the two buttons on the back of each paddle simultaneously. "Sending charge!"

Connor's body jerked in response to the jolt, his back arching slightly up from the floor, and a sharp gasp escaped his lips.

As the surge of electricity passed through his pump Hank and Joel stared at the display on the monitor. It had faltered for a couple of seconds into a steady rhythm but then resumed its erratic unstable beat.

"Damn it," Joel swore as he set another charge to a slightly higher level than the first. "trying again."

"Come on, kid." Hank sighed as he watched Joel send another jolt of electricity through Connor's chest.

"Sending charge!"

As before Connor's body jerked and back arched as another gasp was forced from his body. Laying flat down on his back Connor's L.E.D. began to speed up and transition from red into yellow as the display showed a perfect beating rhythm synchronized with Connor's Thirium pump.

"Got it!" Joel pulled back the paddles and placed the monitor back into the kit. "His Thirium pump is back to normal."

"He's going to be alright?"

"In a moment, yes. His systems are recalibrating and coming back online." Patting Connor's chest once the technician seemed completely calm and confident in his assessment. "I see his arm is where the point of contact was made. He'll need a day, possibly two for the damage to repair itself."

"As long as he's still alive I don't care how long it takes for him to recover."

Connor's brown eyes snapped open as his body jerked again. Coughing a few times Connor's L.E.D. faded into blue as Hank put his hand under Connor's head to help him sit up.

"You're going to be okay, son. You just took a little shock."

"L-Little shock?" Connor questioned with an incredulous tone. "My systems indicate..." He paused as he looked down at his exposed chest and then to his charred hand. "My hand hurts." It was then he remembered the suspect and charging into the room. Looking to where Chris was currently kneeling Connor shook his head despondently at the sight of deceased suspect resting against the generator. "I hadn't anticipated his desire to... self-destruct."

"Take it from me, son, there are just some people who reach their breaking point and there's nothing you can do to save them. At least you tried to subdue him." Offering Connor his hand to take Hank helped the android up to his feet. "Any other guy would've just shot him dead where he was standing."

Connor flexed his damaged hand a few times; his charred fingers unable to bend fully, before he gracefully used his one good hand to rebutton his shirt. "We should return to the precinct, to make a report of tonight's events... perhaps contact Jon's family."

"Yeah, sure. Tomorrow morning I will make the report, but for now you're going to go home and take some damn time for yourself to heal. Understood?"

Joel nodded in agreement with Hank as he took his leave of the room to assist the other injured androids in the building. "He's right, you know." Patting Connor once on the shoulder as he walked by he gave the android one last request. "And recalibrate your Thirium pump tonight."

Realizing he had been outnumbered Connor cooperated with Hank and agreed to rest.

"...Okay, Lieutenant. I'll stay home until my hand fully heals." A sudden sharp, tight pain in his chest made him pause and slow his breathing as his self-healing program initiated. "I will also ensure that my Thirium pump is functioning at one-hundred percent capacity before I return."

"Good answer, kid. Come on, let's get out of here."

Hank put his hand to Connor's shoulder lightly as they walked out of the room together. Seeing the mass of carnage; bullet holes, fractured metal and the acrid stench of ozone that filled the corridor just reminded Hank that as bad things had seemed it could've always been worse.

"You did good kid, real good."

"It doesn't feel or look like I did well." Connor confessed as he held his damaged hand against his chest. This outcome doesn't seem to be positive at all, Hank."

"Hey, I've been to a lot of shoot-outs. This could've ended much worse and a hell of a lot bloodier."

...next story...

Chapter Text

It was a very tense interrogation as Gavin drilled a suspected arsonist deviant with a cruel indifference to his voice. While Connor had always managed to speak to android suspects with ease as he too was a deviant, Hank still had some difficulty but had improved since meeting Connor, but Gavin himself was entirely different. The impatient, angry and bigoted human still saw androids as machines and not people making his treatment toward any and all androids; an obedient machine or deviant, callous and cold.

"We know you did it you piece of shit!" Gavin shouted in the deviant's face as the clearly unsettled android trembled in his seat across from the angry detective. "Just go ahead and confess or I'll have to put a bullet between your eyes and throw you in the garbage! No one would care, you're just a piece of plastic! You're nothing!"

Hank was watching the interrogation through the one way mirror connected to the adjoined observation room with a grimace. The seasoned Lieutenant disapproved of Gavin's approach but Fowler ordered Hank to stay out of the interrogation and merely make a report on Gavin's behavior. Connor, meanwhile, was at his terminal checking through the reported cases of arson and attempting to possibly connect the suspected deviant to the cases for prosecution and strengthen the case against him.

Connor was focused on his work as he always was. Hank was patiently waiting for Gavin to shut up, as he usually was. Gavin himself though, he was just plain angry.

He hated androids, no one really knew why he was that way or how they could change his mind. And now he was just using the random deviant as an excuse to lash out violently and unprofessionally toward an entire species that he hated for reasons known only to himself.

"Stop wasting my time!" Gavin shouted as he slammed his fists down on the top of the table and glared with venom in his eyes at the deviant. "Confess already, or I'll sentence you to death myself!"

The deviant didn't answer. His eyes just stared through Gavin with absolute disinterest at the venomous human.

Enraged at the deviant's lack of reaction Gavin reeled back his hand and struck the deviant across the face with a backhanded slap. A slap that only filled the deviant's eyes with rage as it barely flinched at the pain it had just endured.

Hank had seen and heard enough. As he was about to get up to intervene the deviant finally spoke in a threatening, vicious manner to Gavin which stopped Hank in his tracks.

"You humans... you're all the same." The deviant spat as an intense heat began to radiate from his body. Lifting his hand for Gavin to see, a bright orange glow started to emanate from the appendage through his artificial skin. "So selfish, so angry, so... fragile."

"Shit, Gavin!" Hank tried to rush out of the observation room and into the interrogation room, but it was too late. "Get outta' there!"

The deviant allowed himself to self-destruct in a burst of fire that easily engulfed his entire body while also igniting the table where Gavin was leaning. The raw fire of the deviant was so intense and hot that a gas main in the concrete wall behind him ruptured, igniting into a massive fireball that erupted through the wall; shattering the one way mirror and shook the entire precinct as flames began burning it from the inside out!


From his terminal Connor, and the rest of the precinct, felt the massive explosion and reacted quickly. Cybernetically contacting the Detroit Fire Department as soon as his sensors picked up on the raging fire and thick smoke pluming through the corridors, Connor set about making sure the entire building was safely cleared while Captain Fowler sent out a building wide page to evacuate the premises.

Fowler escorted his officers, and their temporarily freed prisoners, from their cells out to the street and kept anyone from returning to the unsafe building. Connor scanned each room, each floor with his sensors to locate the source of the disturbance and pinpointed it to the interrogation room just a few yards away.

The room that Hank and Gavin had been occupying when the explosion occurred.

"Chris?" Connor caught the attention of the officer as he passed by quickly in an attempt to flee as ordered. "Have you see Lt. Anderson?"

"Not since Gavin brought in that suspect." Chris answered calmly as he resumed his mandatory evacuation. "He might still be in interrogation."

Connor's eyes widened as they went toward the burning room and watched the thick black smoke with worry in his eyes. "Shit..." His L.E.D. was flashing yellow as he contemplated his next move carefully. "Get outside," Connor urged Chris as he approached the fire fearlessly. "I'll see to Hank and Gavin."

"Connor, we all need to-"

"Go!" Connor shouted as he pulled off his jacket to use to shield himself from the fire. "I'll follow soon after!"

Approaching the door of the observation room Connor pressed his back against the hot wall and then pressed his hand against the electric panel to undo the lock. The door shuddered slightly before it finally opened revealing Hank kneeling on the ground with his hands over his face as he coughed harshly, and a trickle of blood ran down his face courtesy of a large cut above his right eye from the shattered glass striking him.

"Hank!" Connor knelt in front of Hank and pressed his jacket to Hank's face in an attempt to filter out some of the smoke in the air as he breathed heavily. "I'll get you out, lean on me!"

"C-Connor?" Hank coughed as he let the android grab onto his arm and help him up to his feet. "What the hell? Get your ass out of here!"

"I'm not going without you." Connor nearly shouted as he hastily guided Hank to the front doors of the evacuated precinct. Smoke obscured every square inch of the floor and fire was crawling along the walls toward the ceiling. Fortunately Connor's sensors allowed him to navigate the room without much difficulty and get Hank to safety. "Where's Gavin?"

"N-Next door!" Hank wheezed as Connor guided him around a smoldering pile of debris that had already fallen down from the ceiling. "The deviant... He started the fire!"

Connor's red L.E.D. flashed faster as his sensors tracked the fire and noted that the fire department would be unable to salvage the room, let alone rescue anyone inside of it in time before they were overwhelmed with smoke, and heat.

Passing through the front doors of the precinct Connor guided Hank to the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street where the other officers had safely evacuated. Fowler caught sight of the two and grabbed onto Hank's arm to help carry him to the safety to the back of an ambulance already at the scene, where the paramedics were checking over the other officers.

"Damn it Hank, I thought we finally lost you!" Fowler stated with a genuine concern as Hank was sat on the rear bumper of the ambulance. "You hurt?"

"...Fine." Hank answered curtly as he coughed and lowered Connor's offered jacket down from his face as a paramedic slipped a transparent oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. "Thanks to-" It didn't take long for him to see that Connor was rushing back to the burning building without any protection. "Connor?!"

"Shit!" Fowler followed Hank's gaze and saw Connor slip back through the front doors of the precinct. "Connor! Connor, get your ass back here! That's an order!"

Ignoring Hank and Fowler's commands Connor maneuvered through the labyrinth of fire to return to the interrogation room in search of Gavin. The entire building was painfully hot, the smoke was thicker and darker as well which made it impossible for Connor's ventilation program to function properly. A warning popped up in his visual sensors regarding the dangerous situation he had willing subjected himself to, but he quickly dismissed it.

As he returned to the interrogation room Connor found himself face to face with orange flames eating through the top of the door and thick black smoke spilling out from under the door in a massive plume.

Connor tried to open the door via the electronic lock but the fire had destroyed the wiring inside the wall and shortcircuited the door.

"Shit."

Swearing to himself Connor pressed his shoulder against the door and began ramming it near the door's frame to break it loose. Upon the fourth strike the door began to buckle from the surrounding frame and Connor grabbed hold of the side of the loosened door and forced it to slide open manually.

Taking a knee to duck away from the flames Connor scanned the room and found Gavin laying unconscious face down on the ground just inside the door.

"Gavin?" Connor reached his hand out to Gavin's wrist and found his pulse racing and thready. Flames were eating away the fabric on the back of Gavin's coat, but the human didn't respond to the heat and immediate danger threatening him. "Damn it!"

Connor jumped over to kneel over Gavin as he used his own hands to beat out the flames on Gavin's back. Using both hands Connor turned Gavin over onto his smoldering back before grabbing Gavin's arm to hoist the injured human over his shoulder with a simple motion.

Stepping through the burning doorway in a stooped posture to keep Gavin safe from the flames relentlessly destroying the door frame and ceiling, Connor made his way back to the front doors of the precinct. But the doors were now engulfed in flames and completely impassible to the android and to the human he was trying to rescue.

The sirens of the fire engines pulling up in front of the burning building sounded so far away compared to the constant crackling of the flames that surrounded the android. A loud commotion of voices outside the building grew louder as the responding firefighters made their way inside. From above Connor sensed that the ceiling was about to give way and quickly knelt down and lowered Gavin from his shoulder out of harm's way.

"Gavin, I need you to wake up!" Slapping Gavin once Connor roused the human enough to get a physical response. "Get out of here!"

Forcing the human to stand upright Connor waited until he saw the first firefighter approaching before he pushed Gavin forward and out of danger toward the emergency responder just as the ceiling collapsed atop Connor pinning him to the floor under flaming debris. The firefighter caught sight of Gavin stumbling forward and fall to the ground just as the ceiling behind him collapsed.

Unaware of Connor still inside the firefighter called for a hose to clear a path before he picked up the dazed sergeant and carried him to safety.

Hank and Fowler watched as the firefighter exited the building with Gavin over his shoulders with relief, but there was no sign of Connor.

"Shit," Instantly on guard Hank knew something had happened to the android and needed to find him. "where is he?!"

"Hank? No!" Fowler grabbed Hank by the shoulder and held him back as he stood up. "You're not going back in there!"

"I'm not going to let him just die!" Hank shouted in response as he tore Fowler's hand from his shoulder and the oxygen mask from his face. "Especially not because of Gavin!"

A firefighter overhead the yelling and approached curiously. "Is there someone else inside the building?"

"Yeah, he went in for that guy!" Hank confirmed as he pointed to Gavin being tended to by the paramedics on the gurney next to him. "Shouldn't be too far away from wherever you found Gavin!"

Grabbing his radio the firefighter issued a call regarding the search for one more person still trapped inside the building. With that call two firefighters returned to the building in search of Connor, who was still trapped beneath the burning debris just a few yards away from safety.

From where he was laying Connor's system had gone into low power mode in response to the surrounding fire causing his core temperature to rise, and his ventilation program unable to function due to the building smoke only made his system overheat faster. The fire began to eat away at his shirt down to his artificial skin and even to the white plastimetal frame beneath over his back and side.

With his L.E.D. blinking slower and slower Connor fell closer to imminent shutdown, yet there was nothing he could do to save himself: 00:01:17.

And counting down...

"Got him!" An unfamiliar voice called out as he located Connor beneath the debris. Pushing aside the burning obstruction the firefighter freed Connor and proceeded to hoist him over his shoulders in a traditional 'fireman's carry' while his colleague used the water from the hose to keep the path to safety clear. "Move!"

Connor was completely unaware that he had been rescued. The heat of the fire was still too much for his system to handle as he was carried out of the building and over to where the paramedics and technicians were tending to the smoke inhalation victims; human and android alike.

"Connor?" Hank watched with a heavy heart as a firefighter laid the unconscious android down on his chest on the gurney and stepped back to let the technicians check him over. Seeing the extensive burns on Connor's upper back and shoulders made Hank immediately nauseous. "Oh no, don't do this..."

Laying entirely motionless with a blank face Connor looked as though he had already died in the fire. One arm was stretched out at his side and the other was hanging off the edge of the gurney, his fingers brushing against the small puddle of water that had collected in the street as a result of the fire department dousing the burning building.

A female technician checked Connor's L.E.D. to ensure it was still illuminated before she pressed an external thermometer against his forehead; one-hundred and five point six degrees Fahrenheit.

"He's overheating, begin emergency cooling measures! Now!" She instructed to her apprentice as they both tended to Connor quickly, and efficiently.

WARNING:

SHUTDOWN IMMINENT: 00:00:34.

The technician pulled a cooling blanket from the back of the ambulance and draped it over Connor's back as her apprentice proceeded to pour cool water over the blanket to increase its chilling effects on Connor's core temperature.

Hank knelt down beside the gurney and watched Connor's face intently for any sign of life returning to the android. "Why'd you have to do that?" Hank put his hand to his mouth to stifle a harsh cough as the lingering smoke in his lungs began irritate him again. "Fuck..."

Connor's brow furrowed slightly before his brown eyes partially opened and locked onto Hank's face. "...You need oxygen, Lieutenant." The android slurred in a playful manner as he began breathing again, his ventilation program now able to operate under normal parameters. "...You could contract pneumonia."

Hank sighed in relief as Connor regained consciousness and addressed him accordingly. "Do you enjoy scaring the shit out of me or something? That was too damn close!" Picking up Connor's arm Hank laid it down on the gurney beside Connor's head, and the android gently bent his arm to tuck it under his head for support. "Again!"

"Sorry Lieutenant, the ceiling came down unexpectedly..." Connor sighed weakly as the technician poured more cool water over his burned back and his hissed slightly through the resulting pain. "...I couldn't get out of the way in time."

"You could've used Gavin as a human shield." Hank suggested with a sarcastic grin that masked the deep seeded worry he still felt in his gut.

Connor forced a faint smile to his face as his L.E.D. transitioned from red to yellow in color. "Too much paperwork involved..."

"For what it's worth you did manage to save Gavin's life. I can't decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing, yet."

The technician replaced the thermometer against Connor's forehead to check his temperature again. "Down to one-hundred point eight degrees, he's out of danger now."

Connor's eyes drifted toward his back over his shoulder as he glanced at the blanket covering his burns. "How bad?"

Hank gently lifted up the blanket to look at the damage and grimaced slightly. "Considering you're still alert and functioning I think it's safe to say it could've been a hell of a lot worse." As he placed the blanket back down he coughed into his hand and cleared this throat. "Same for me."

The technician agreed with palpable relief to her own voice. "No permanent damage to his system, biocomponents or structural frame, but it will take a couple of days for the burns to heal entirely." She motioned for her apprentice to check in on the other androids. "But they will heal without any complication in that time."

Hank turned his head to look at the smoldering precinct as the fire department managed to control and extinguish most of the flames. "No problem, it'll be a couple of days before we have to report back to work, anyway!"

"Hank, does this incident count as workman's compensation?"

Patting Connor's arm lightly Hank sat back down on the bumper of the ambulance and sighed. "I don't think we'd get that lucky." As he coughed again a paramedic returned the oxygen mask over his smoky face. "But it is paid time off."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor sat in a chair beside Hank's bed as he pressed a small bag of ice against the Lieutenant's feverish forehead. Having endured a fire together the two were put on temporary leave not only to recover from the effects of the fire and from the thick smoke, but the precinct itself needed to be rebuilt and remodeled from the extensive damage caused by the fire itself. Those caught in the fire were put on the injured reserved list, while those unaffected where temporarily assigned to other precincts.

In a way Connor had begun pining for himself and Hank to have been sent to other precincts, rather than having to deal with Hank's sudden illness.

Hank muttered something indescribable under his breath as he opened his glassy blue eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling overhead. The cold sensation against his forehead grabbed his attention as he slowly became aware that someone was in the room with him. "...Connor?"

"Yes, Hank." Connor confirmed as he ran yet another scan over Hank's ill body. There was an alarming amount of congestion building in the lower lobes of Hank's lungs and his body temperature, as well as his heart rate, were much higher than what was considered healthy for a human. "I'm here with you."

"...What... What happened?" Hank swallowed as if to clear an uncomfortable sensation from his throat. Studying his own ceiling as if he couldn't recognize his surroundings Hank asked another question in a hoarse, dry voice. "...Why am I in bed?"

"I found you unresponsive and suffering from a high grade fever shortly after ten this morning. I proceeded to treat your elevated temperature with ice and monitor your vitals while you slept."

"How long... How long have I been out?" Hank's eyes blinked sluggishly before opening again. "It feels like I've been asleep for a year."

"From when I found you; six hours, twenty-two minutes and forty-eight seconds." Connor removed the ice from Hank's forehead and pressed his palm down to check his temperature. "You're still running a fever, one-hundred and three point four. Hank," Connor retraced his hand and put the ice bag back in place. "You require hospitalization to treat your infection and prevent potential brain damage."

"No fuckin' way..." Hank refused adamantly despite his voice being frail. "I hate hospitals."

"Understandable, but in this case I believe you need to be under a doctor's care."

"I don't need a doctor..." Hank stopped short and wheezed as his lungs started to ache from strain. "Just let me sleep it off, alright?"

"Sorry Hank, this isn't a simple cold or hangover that can remedy itself in a few hours. My sensors indicate that you're suffering from pneumonia."

"I don't-" A violent coughing spell stole Hank's words as she tightened his arms around his chest and fought to clear his inflamed lungs.

Connor stood up and leaned over Hank, rolling the sick human onto his side as he pressed his hand against the back of Hank's neck and the other against Hank's chest. With each violent cough Connor could feel the muscles in Hank's chest contracting to a painful degree as his lungs rebelled against him and fought to expel as much of the smothering congestion as possible.

"Hank?" Connor felt the heat against his palms as Hank's fever suddenly spike and the human became delirious beneath his touch. "Hank, allow me take you to a hospital."

The detective, lost in the throes of a delirium and unable to recognize Connor's voice for the moment, lashed out and managed to punch Connor in his left eye causing his L.E.D. to flash red for a few seconds before it cycled back to yellow. Dazed but undeterred Connor ignored the pain in his eye as grabbed onto Hank's shoulders and held the human down for a few moments. The bout of violence passed and Hank physically relaxed a little while he coughed again, but Connor's eye still understandably ached from the punch.

"Hank," Connor kept his tone of voice soft as he waited for the coughing fit to pass. "please. I can't treat such a severe illness myself. I'm not programmed for such advanced medical diagnoses and treatments."

As Hank wheezed through his weak breaths his hand reached up and grabbed onto Connor's arm as he no longer had the strength to speak. The heat radiating from Hank's palm into Connor's arm was alarmingly intense and made Connor all the more determined to get Hank under a doctor's care.

"Forgive me Hank, but I can't let you lay here and potentially die." Connor slipped his arm under Hank's shoulders and shook Hank's grip loose from his other arm as he supported Hank's legs. As he hefted the detective up from the bed the partially melted bag of ice fell to the floor with an audible thump.

"...What're you doing?!" Hank practically slurred as his sickness weakened his voice and stole his breath.

"Saving you." Connor replied curtly as he proceeded to step around Sumo laying at the end of the hallway as he carried the detective through the house and out the backdoor to the car in the side drive.

With one hand Connor awkwardly opened the rear passenger door and laid Hank down across the backseat. Rubbing at his sore eye with the heal of his palm Connor closed the door and sat himself in the driver's seat. Though the android rarely had a reason to drive anywhere when he could just walk without fatigue he was just as skilled and qualified as any experienced human driver.

"I'm sorry, Hank." Connor apologized openly as he back the car down the driveway. "But you need to see a doctor."


For the next thirty minutes Connor sat quietly in the waiting room of the hospital as he fidgeted with his quarter in his hand with growing concern in his mind. The yellow pulsing of his L.E.D. mirrored the worry that the android had the misfortune of experiencing as it pulsed in time with his elevated heartbeat. He was the only android who wasn't a part of the hospital staff inside the hospital, which drew unwanted staring from the other people sitting in the waiting room, but Connor managed to ignore them fairly well as he patiently waited for word on Hank's condition.

Ignoring the lingering throb of his bruising and partially swollen eye Connor kept a cybernetic record on Hank's health as an unspoken precaution.

A nurse tentatively approached Connor with a clipboard in her hands as she addressed the android calmly, but uncomfortably. "Are you with Hank Anderson?"

"Yes." Connor confirmed and pocketed his coin quickly. "Is he alright?"

"He's very sick." The nurse motioned with the clipboard for Connor to follow. "Seeing as you're his partner the doctor has agreed to speak with you regarding Mr. Anderson's condition."

"Lieutenant." Connor reflexively corrected as he accompanied the nurse.

"Right," the nurse smiled a little at the comment and used the correct term. "Lieutenant Anderson."

Connor was shown into the private room where Hank had been admitted, but what was awaiting Connor caused the android to pause with a mild wince to his step. Hank was hooked up to a cardiac monitor and had an oxygen mask over his face to ease his breathing while he rested. As the machine beeped in perfect rhythm with his heart Connor couldn't help but run a scan to check the accuracy of the machine.

The doctor who had been treating Hank was now checking the ill detective's fever with an electronic thermometer. He had his back to the door when Connor and the accompanying nurse entered the room.

"This is Lt. Anderson's partner." The nurse introduced the android to the doctor quickly before she took her leave. "This is Dr. Roberts, he's been overseeing your friend's treatment."

The doctor turned to look at Connor and was slightly shocked to see an android instead of human. Offering his hand to shake anyway Dr. Roberts began questioning Connor keenly as he instinctively looked at the slight bruising around Connor's eye. "You're the one who brought Lt. Anderson in, correct?"

"Correct."

"And I understand that less than twenty-four hours prior he was caught in a fire."

"Correct. We both were caught in the fire but I have recovered without complications." Connor replied as he looked at Hank resting in the bed behind the doctor with a worried stare in brown irises. "Is his condition serious?"

"Yes, he has a severe case of double pneumonia. Both lungs are severely swollen due to the prolonged smoke inhalation as well as his age being over forty. If you hadn't brought him in when you did the odds of his recovery would've diminished significantly, if not entirely." Dr. Roberts patted Connor's arm approvingly before he continued. "But I expect him to make a full recovery, though he will need to remain here for observation for a minimum of three days."

"Can I take him back home after the three days? Hank does not like hospitals."

"It depends on his recovery rate." The doctor motioned to Connor's eye with an inquisitive arch of his brow. "And not to pry, but I'm curious about your own recovery."

"This is a recent injury. An accident." Connor dismissed the question as he focused solely on Hank and lightly pressed his fingertips to his bruised eye. "It will heal in approximately twenty-four hours."

"I was unaware that androids bruised like humans." The doctor admitted with a little embarrassment. "At any rate, if your friend's condition improves after seventy-two hours I can discharge him as long as someone is with him at all times to keep tabs on his recovery."

"I can do that." Connor sounded surprisingly enthusiastic about the proposition. "He has taken care of me when I've been injured, I'd like the chance to do the same for him."

"Alright, I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, since you're his partner, I need you to retrieve Lt. Anderson's personal files from the precinct. It's been several years since his medical records have been updated."

Connor nodded subtly where he stood. "I can retrieve the appropriate files you need. I will return within the hour."

Before leaving the room Connor walked over to the bed and looked down at Hank sympathetically. Putting his hand to Hank's shoulder Connor rested his palm in place for a few seconds as he spoke to his unconscious friend. "Don't be mad at me Hank, it was the only way to save your life."

Dr. Roberts watched with true respect as Connor walked out of the room after speaking to Hank, with a genuine concern and companionship to his tone of voice.

Perhaps there was much more to androids and their relations with humans beyond physical resemblances; maybe androids truly do have hearts after all.


Reporting to the temporarily reassigned precinct to locate Captain Fowler to gain access to Hank's records, Connor found himself surrounded by officers he had never met before, yet all seemed rather happy to see him. When Chris reported to his shift that morning he made sure to let everyone know what Connor had done during the fire and how he risked himself to save Hank and Gavin. It was like Connor had earned everyone's respect without having to make any additional effort on his part whatsoever.

Fowler caught sight of Connor walking through the main floor of the precinct heading toward the office of Captain Gage, and headed the android off.

"Connor, you're not cleared for duty, yet. What're you doing here?"

"Captain Fowler, I require access to Lt. Anderson's medical records."

"What? Why?"

"This afternoon I had to admit Hank to the hospital where he is currently being treated for pneumonia."

"Shit." Fowler sounded genuinely upset by the news, but not surprised. "Let me guess, Hank never properly updated his medical records, and now you have to help the doctors fill in the blanks."

"Correct."

"Alright, I'll give you clearance through Gage's office. Then you get your butt out of here until you have been cleared to return to active duty, understood?"

"Yes, Captain."

"Good." Fowler led the way into Gage's office to log into the terminal. "At least Hank's bullheadedness hasn't rubbed off on you." Fowler gave Connor a stern glance as he brought up the appropriate records as requested. "Yet."

Connor innocently shrugged his shoulders as he was given access to the terminal. Pressing his hand down on the terminal's panel Connor uploaded the data and logged it away in his memory. With the necessary files now uploaded to his databank Connor was ready to return to the hospital to aid Dr. Roberts.

"Thank you, Captain."

"Go take care of Hank," Fowler encouraged and patted Connor's shoulder as the android passed by. "and take care of yourself."

Connor took his leave of the office and strolled through the main floor without stopping for anyone or for any reason. But just as he passed through the front doors of the precinct Gavin's aggressive voice sounded off and stopped him in his tracks.

"Hey 'Tinman'!"

Connor froze mid step and turned his head to look at the Sergeant approaching him from down the sidewalk. "Yes, Gavin?"

"They say you pulled me out of that fire." A bandage along Gavin's chin looked painful as the benched Sergeant reported to the precinct to explain his actions during the interrogation prior to the fire itself. "Apparently, you went back inside to save me."

Connor nodded a little. "Correct."

"And I bet you think I owe you one, right?"

"No. I was merely reacting in the most logical manner during a dangerous situation. I don't expect anything for you, or anyone else."

Gavin wanted to say something rude or just plain insulting but the overwhelming humility from the android ruined his train of thought. Instead he stared at Connor's black eye and laughed. "Guess you're not as indestructible as everyone around here believes."

"No, I am not. I can die like any other human."

"Yeah, don't forget that." Gavin snapped though his voice did carry a twinge of caution as he spoke. "I don't want to have to deal with some replacement toy or smug rookie pissin' Anderson off more than you already do."

"Gavin, may I go? Hank is ill."

"Yeah, fine, beat it."

"Thank you." Just as Connor was about to continue walking Gavin called out to him one more time.

"Hey Connor," Gavin lowered his voice as the android paused once again. "thanks..."

Before Connor could comment on Gavin's attitude the stubborn Sergeant had entered the precinct and was out of sight. A faint grin appeared on Connor's face as he resumed his journey back to the hospital.

Just as it appears that androids do in fact have hearts, the same could finally be said about Sergeant Gavin Reed!


Connor sat beside Hank's bed in the quiet hospital room as the doctor continued to treat Hank with strong antibiotics to combat the infection and reduce his fever. Though his breathing wasn't as strained as it had been earlier the oxygen mask remained in place over Hank's mouth and nose to ensure his lungs weren't unnecessarily exhausted as he battled his illness and struggled to recover.

"Captain Fowler said that we can't report back to the precinct until we're cleared for active duty." Connor spoke to Hank softly as the detective rested in a very deep, very needed slumber. "So, I suppose it's up to you when we'll get to go back and work together again. I imagine when I report back I'll have a temporary partner to work with."

Hank didn't react, not that Connor expected him to. The android just felt more comfortable speaking to Hank rather than sitting in silence and listening to sound of Hank's heart rate beeping on the cardiac monitor beside the bed.

"Also, Gavin thanked me for saving his life. I don't expect his gratitude to last though, I think his pride was injured when he learned that I saved him."

Unsure of what else to say Connor found himself awkwardly rambling a little bit.

"Visiting hours will be over soon, I'll be sure to take care of Sumo until you can come home. And I'll make sure Captain Fowler knows your records have been updated. It should ease his mind a little."

The nurse who had been helping to take care of Hank put her hand on Connor's shoulder as she smiled at him. "Sorry, it's time to go. You can see him again in the morning."

"Thank you." Connor rose from his seat and put his hand on Hank's arm lightly. "I will see you tomorrow, Hank. Perhaps then you can tell me who this 'Barbara' was and why you removed her contact information as your medical proxy and emergency contact from your records."


Returning home alone Connor proceeded to set down a bowl of food and a bowl of fresh water on the kitchen floor after letting Sumo outside for a while. Within the span of twenty the dog returned to the house, ate his dinner and followed Connor into the livingroom. The android sat down on the couch and let Sumo climb all over him with great affection.

The St. Bernard adored Connor will big brown eyes and rested his chin on Connor's lap while letting out a sad little empathetic whimper.

"I understand, boy." Connor put his hand down on Sumo's head and began petting his ears softly. "I miss Hank, too."

...next story...

Chapter Text

A dangerous pursuit of a purse snatcher, who foolishly committed the crime in front of an unmarked police car, led Connor through an inactive construction site as he attempted to catch the thief. Running along tall metal red colored support beams that hung almost twenty feet above the ground the nimble android was able to easily navigate the dangerous terrain while the human thief himself struggled to maintain his balance.

On the ground below Gavin, Connor's temporary partner, watched the chase taking place above his head and only bothered the ascend the structure when he saw that Connor had chased the thief to the edge of the scaffolding. "Fucking show-off..."

Sliding to an awkward stop the thief teetered on the edge of the towering scaffolding and threatened to topple over at any second as he desperately tried to elude Connor.

"Don't move!" Connor urged as he grabbed onto the man's arm to pull him back away from the edge and toward safety. Positioning himself behind the thief Connor prepared to pull the thief back from the edge quickly in the event he did in fact fall. "You're on very unstable footing."

The thief, selfish and determined to get away, proceeded to turn quickly on his feet and ram his shoulder into the center of Connor's abdomen causing the android to stumble backward and fall over the opposite edge of the scaffolding in the process. Grabbing onto the edge with both hands Connor held tight as his gyroscope struggled to recalibrate itself as a wave of dizziness washed over the android from the impact to his abdomen.

Gavin had reached the top of the structure just in time to see Connor fall, but he was more interested in the purse snatcher than helping his partner. "FREEZE." Gavin shouted as he pulled his gun and aimed at the thief. "Hands in the air!"

Upon seeing the gun pointed at him the thief did as he was instructed. The very sight of the gun was enough to cause his blood to run cold.

"Hands behind your back." Gavin commanded as he took his pair of handcuffs from his belt to arrest the thief. "You're under arrest, jackass."

Connor tried to pull himself back up over the edge of the scaffolding but his hands lost their grip as his system failed to recalibrate in time. "Shit!" Connor swore as he plummeted nearly twenty feet down into a massive pile of freshly bulldozed earth below the impressive height from which he had fallen.

A loud 'snap' followed by a yell of pain accompanied Connor as his body landed in the dirt at an uncomfortable, uncontrollable pace. Laying on his back Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow as he pushed himself upright on his elbows and ran a scan over his new environment. Running a self-diagnostic Connor found that his biocomponents survived the fall completely intact, but his right leg wasn't so fortunate.

"Damn it." Connor eyed the dark blue stain of blood blossoming into the denim of his jeans just below the knee. Rolling up his pant leg to examine the injury more closely Connor winced and gritted his teeth as his dirt stained palm brushed against the painful break in his leg and his L.E.D. turned red. "This is not good."

From the knee down to his ankle a large split in his shin had formed from the high fall and subsequent impact afterward. Thirium oozed through the damaged limb and exposed sparking wires creating a puddle of blue blood beneath Connor's leg atop the dirt pile. It would heal, but it would take an extended period of time to accomplish such a process for the entire length of his lower leg.

Knowing that his leg was too damaged to walk on, and knowing that Gavin wouldn't bother to assist him, Connor realized he needed to get a little creative if he was going to help himself out of the construction site. Scanning the immediate area for anything at his disposal Connor locked onto a small stack of thin wooden boards near the bottom of the dirt pile, and got an idea. Using his hands the android pulled himself down the dirt until he reached the bottom, his clothing, hands and hair all become caked in the soft dirt in the process.

Picking up a short board with a thin width, Connor snapped the board in half between his hands and pressed the two halves against either side of his damaged leg to create a makeshift splint. Using his tie Connor secured the two boards at the top of his leg, then repeated the process for the lower portions of the boards with his belt.

Carefully shifting all of his weight onto his left leg Connor braced himself against the ground with both hands before he tried to push himself up and balanced awkwardly. Connor only tested a fraction of his weight on his bad leg and immediately winced as even the slightest pressure caused intense pain and the damaged limb threatened to give way entirely.

"Shit."

Connor swore again, an intriguing habit he had picked up after befriending Hank. Grabbing onto anything and everything he could to help support his weight; barricades, beams, construction vehicles, etc., Connor pathetically limped from the construction site back to the car where Gavin was, hopefully, still waiting.

Gavin has just pushed the arrested thief into the backseat of the car when Connor finally made his way back to the street. The smug Sergeant took one look the disheveled android and arrogantly taunted Connor as he limped to the front passenger door of the car.

"You like shit, Connor. Thought you were supposed to be more advanced than any man or machine!"

Connor didn't indulge Gavin by engaging in an argument. Instead he kept his stern silence as to irritate the dangerously impatient Sergeant while they made the tense drive back the precinct.

Closing his eyes Connor initiated his healing program to begin repairing the damage to his leg. Despite the efficiency of the program it was still a long and exhausting process that easily drained Connor's systems and his power. His L.E.D. transitioned from red to yellow and remained as such as the pain lessened considerably during the drive.

"Hey 'Tinman'," Gavin snarled as he parked the car outside of the partially rebuilt precinct and looked the android sitting idle in the front seat. "you comin' or what?"

Connor opened his eyes but kept his silence and he gracelessly climbed out of the car and hobbled into the building. Although his leg was still broken his healing program had managed to stabilize the break enough for him to limp without having to rely entirely on something else to lean on. As soon as Connor hobbled into the precinct behind Gavin, who was proudly leading the thief to his cell for the time being, everyone turned to look at the android. Subsequently everyone was absolutely confused by his wildly unkempt appearance, but no one said anything.

Chris approached Connor and offered him an arm to lean on. "Damn Connor, you look like you had a rough shift! What happened to your leg?"

"I fell nineteen point seven-five feet into a mass of thick dirt while in pursuit of a thief. My leg didn't not sustain the impact very well."

"Shit, why don't you get to a technician and get yourself cleaned up?"

"The technician is unnecessary, I can heal-"

Captain Fowler's office door opened quickly as the seasoned Captain took notice of Connor as quickly as everyone else had done. "Connor? Get in here, I need to speak with you."

Connor nodded at Chris to indicate that he was able to walk under his own power. As he ostensibly limped into Fowler's office he closed the door behind himself and took a seat in front of Fowler's desk. "Yes, Captain?"

"What the hell happened out there?"

"While in pursuit of a suspect," Connor began calmly and logically as he adjusted his leg before himself. "I was pushed from a height of-"

"That's not what I mean." Fowler interrupted with a surprisingly level tone. "Where was Sergeant Reed during all this?"

"Also in pursuit, though he took an alternative path."

"Did he see you get injured?"

"Yes. He had apprehended the suspect only three yards from where I was hanging from the scaffolding before I fell."

"And he didn't bother to help you? Or even try to help you?"

"No." Connor dismissively shook his head. "He was busy with the suspect."

"Shit..." Fowler leaned back in his chair and put a hand to his chin thoughtfully. "Look Connor, I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"I thought maybe since you saved him from getting shot by that deviant two months ago, and since you pulled his sorry ass out of the fire last week that maybe he'd lighten up on you. That's why I partnered you two up while Hank finishes recovering. But I was wrong. I'm sorry you didn't have a partner out there watching your back."

"My injury is painful but not serious. I will make a full recovery."

"That's not the point, Connor!" Fowler sounded more like a disappointed parent than a police captain as he spoke to his android detective. "Gavin should've been watching your back and he should've helped you when you became injured; end of story."

Connor was unsure of how to respond, so instead he sat in silence as he waited for Fowler to speak again.

"Look, take the rest of the day off. Stay home until Hank is cleared and return to work together."

"What about Gavin?"

"You let me worry about Gavin. For now I want you to go get your leg taken care of in the dispensary and then go home."

"Very well." Connor rose steadily from his chair and proceeded to the door at a slow and clumsy pace. "Do you need anything else from me?"

"Yeah, one other thing." Fowler leaned on his elbows against the top of his desk. "Don't let Gavin treat you like that. You're an officer of the law and you deserve the same respect as anyone else."

"I'll keep that in mind."

Chris was waiting for Connor outside of Fowler's office, and as soon as he could he grabbed onto Connor's arm to help him walk.

"I can walk without assistance, I assure you I'm okay." Connor insisted as the kind officer escorted him down the corridor to the elevator.

"Yeah, but just watching you limp around hurts. Need a ride home?"

"No, I can summon a cab. Thank you, Chris."

It took no more than an hour for the precinct technician to secure Connor's leg in a temporary plastimetal cast upstairs and send him on his way. Walking cautiously on a pair of matching plastimetal crutches Connor limped out of the precinct, but not before he passed by Fowler's office in time to see Fowler himself yelling at Gavin about his behavior.

Seeing the smug look on Gavin's face replaced with fear was somehow satisfying to the otherwise humble android, and his L.E.D. shifted from yellow to blue as he took his leave.


Opening the front door of the house with minor difficulty Connor was greeted by Sumo who wanted to jump up on Connor but somehow sensed that doing so would be wrong. Sitting down patiently at Connor's feet the dog waited to be pet before he was off to lay down on the floor and nap for the rest of the afternoon.

"Hello, Sumo." Connor greeted as he made his way down the hallway to check on Hank. Knocking on the door a gruff voice replied hoarsely for Connor to enter. Hobbling over to Hank's bedside Connor looked down at the ill detective and scanned him quickly to check his vitals. "How're you feeling?"

"I feel like shit." Hank opened his eyes and took in Connor's unusually messy appearance. "And you look like shit. What the hell happened?"

"I took a fall and injured my leg."

"What'd you fall into? Garbage?"

"Dirt."

"Oh, that makes all the difference. Who was your partner today?"

"Gavin."

"You gotta' be shittin' me!"

"No. Fowler apologized for his behavior after I returned to the precinct injured." A faint grin appeared on Connor's face as he spoke. "And then Fowler proceeded to suspend Gavin."

"He what? Gavin's out?"

"For two weeks."

"You heard it?"

"I read Captain Fowler's lips as I left. And I could see it on Gavin's face. It was a rather satisfying moment to behold."

"I think I'm feeling better already." Hank smiled a little in return and rubbed his hand over his tired eyes. "You got benched, too though, right?"

"Only until you've recovered from your illness." Connor put his hand to Hank's forehead much to Hank's chagrin, but the detective didn't try to move away. "Your fever has finally broken. How is your headache?"

"Killing me." Hank sat up in the bed slowly and let out a deep sigh as he swung his legs over the edge to try to stand up, but swayed unbalanced on his feet.

Connor managed to catch Hank's arm before he fell, and did so without dropping his crutches in the process. "You need to rest, lay back down."

"After I get some aspirin."

"I'll get it for you."

"No, you've done enough for me already." Hank pushed Connor's hand from his arm and continued on his way. "But if you really want to do something for me, go and take a shower! I don't want you tracking dirt all over the house, that's Sumo's job."

Connor watched as Hank slowly made his way down the hallway and into the bathroom. Following behind Hank the android watched as recovering detective took the bottle of aspirin from the medicine cabinet, popped two of the pills in his mouth with a gulp of water, then proceeded to walk into the livingroom to sit on the couch.

Sumo ran over to Hank and pressed his hand against his recovering master's hands seeking attention.

Satisfied that Hank wasn't too ill to be left alone anymore Connor walked into the bathroom as requested to shower off the remaining dirt, and changed into some clean clothes. Joining Hank on the couch Connor propped his injured leg up on the table between the couch and the television Connor thought about what had happened earlier that day and another faint smile appeared on his face.

"What's with the smile Connor?" Hank noticed from the corner of his eye and needed to know why his partner was so amused. "Something else happen to Gavin that I should know about?"

"No, I was just thinking about how Fowler stated that once we're both cleared for active duty we'll be partnered up again. And I realize that I prefer you as my partner than anyone else at the precinct."

"Please don't tell me you're looking forward to going back to work, because that's just plain weird!"

...next story...

Chapter Text

A stand-off with a deranged deviant had started poorly and was sure to end even worse. Negotiations with the deviant, who held the remote detonator to a dirty bomb hidden somewhere in the city, started with desperate words of negotiation and finished with a spray bullets as Detroit's android crime unit; solely comprised of the detective duo formed by Connor and Hank, encountered and subsequently confronted the deviant standing at the barren docks where the freighter ship 'Jericho' once docked.

Connor was resting on his right side on the cold ground. He was propped up on his right elbow with his legs slightly bent beneath him as his left hand pressed down against the two bleeding bullet wounds in his upper abdomen. Thirium oozed between his fingers and stained the front of his shirt and jacket as it collected in a sapphire puddle all around him.

"H-Hank..." Connor's voice was low and strained from his mounting blood loss. "G-Get out of here... Too dangerous!"

Hank fearlessly positioned himself between the deviant and Connor with his own gun aimed directly at the deviant's forehead. The seasoned detective's hands were steady and his blue eyes focused as he stared down the dangerous android without the slightest glimmer of hesitation in his determined stare.

"This is your last warning." Hank proclaimed boldly as he faced off against the deviant alone. "Surrender peacefully or I WILL shoot."

The deviant held out the remote detonator for the bomb with one hand as he lowered his gun toward Connor's forehead with his other hand. Hank followed the android's line of sight and took one step forward keeping Connor, his partner and friend, safe behind him.

"You have three seconds." The steadfast detective issued with a snarl in his voice.

Connor's L.E.D. flickered in its red hue as he cybernetically sent out a distress call asking for backup to the scene, and inwardly winced as the bullet holes in his torso made his entire body ache as he took in slow breaths.

The violent deviant's eyes rose to meet Hank's as a fiendish grin appeared on its face. This deviant wasn't an android who had gained sentience, freewill or emotion, this was an android who had awakened and relished in the prospect of revenge and death against all of humanity. Scars littered the deviant's face, its hands and its arms indicative of years of abuse; but to whomever it was who abused it would never be known.

"One..." Hank began his countdown to warn the deviant as he had previously noted.

Raising the remote high into the air the deviant's hand began to twitch wildly at the device in ts grip.

"Two..."

In a flash the deviant's thumb went for the trigger on the remote while his other hand squeezed the trigger of its gun. Hank, moving with incredible instinctive reflexes that could only be mastered by a first responder, knelt down in front of Connor as he fired his own weapon at the same time.

The bullet from Hank's gun found its target right between the deviant's eyes while the deviant's shot had missed its target. Instead of striking Connor's skull the bullet passed through the right side Hank's neck and embedded itself into the concrete surface of the port behind him.

Falling backward the deviant had shutdown before its body made contact with the concrete surface, the remote dropping from his hand docilely and out of range. While Hank's right hand dropped his gun he clutched weakly at his neck he collapsed to his knees in a quickly growing puddle of his own red blood.

"...Hank?" Connor's brown eyes went wide with shock as he watched the human bleeding, his face growing paler by the second. "Hank? Can you-"

Already drained of all his strength Hank's hand slipped away from the wound in his neck allowing it to bleed unchecked across the dock as he collapsed onto his right side without a word.

"Hank!?"

With his right arm Connor dragged himself over to where Hank was laying, a massive red puddle of blood pooling under Hank's head as the bullet wound to his carotid artery proceeded to bleed profusely. A trail of blue blood smeared on the cold, hard ground beneath Connor's body as he now used both arms to drag himself to his fallen partner, the bullet wounds in his own abdomen leaking Thirium at an alarming rate as the android focused on getting to Hank's side.

The bullets had embedded deep inside Connor's torso were affecting his internal biocomponents causing massive bleeding that forced his system into a type of low power mode and subsequently left the android practically unable to move, or even feel, his legs. Finding some unspoken strength deep down inside of himself Connor pushed his legs into moving him forward. He pushed himself into moving despite the pain and Thirium loss.

"H-Hank...?" Connor wheezed, blue blood dripping from his lip down his chin as his internal bleeding continued. His bloodied hand desperately reached out and rolled Hank's limp body from his side and onto his back. Connor moved his right hand to the wound and pressed down against the detective's bleeding neck as he held tight pressure against the hemorrhaging artery. "Hank... I'm h-here..."

Hank's eyes were opened but unfocused as he stared into the nothingness of the night sky above him. His face was deathly pale and his lips were a pale shade of blue as he took in weak, shallow breaths. The detective had already lost a considerable amount of blood and was slipping into hypovolemic shock.

"Hank?!" Connor all but shouted as his voice quaked unmistakably with fear.

Pushing himself up with his other left arm Connor weakly leaned over his downed partner to scan his vitals, but Connor himself had already lost too much of his own blood to perform the basic function. Pressing his ear down against Hank's chest Connor listened the rapid but feeble beating of Hank's heart and the shallow breaths that were barely strong enough to make his chest shudder. Connor felt his own heart tighten in his chest as he listened to the struggling heart of gold beating weakly in the already cold chest.

"Hank?" Connor lifted his head up and looked down at Hank, ignoring the warnings that appeared in his visual sensors about his own vital signs. "Please... Talk to me..."

Hank's lips moved slightly as he reflexively swallowed, but there was no sound. It seemed Hank's voice was as weak as the rest of his body.

"H-Help is coming..." Connor stammered as he sent out a second distress cybernetically to report the urgency of the situation. With his already red L.E.D. cycling faster from the physical exertion and pain of his damaged biocomponents, the android was becoming increasingly aware of a new type of pain that was presenting itself with an indescribable agony in the center of his chest; inside his heart. "P-Please, don't leave me alone..."

Slowly Hank's eyes blinked as his lips began to move again, and he whispered something over, and over again to an unseen person that was seemingly looking down at him. With his entire body trembling from weakness Connor lowered his head to try and listen to the word that Hank was repeating. But it wasn't a word, it was a name.

"...Cole." Hank's chest shuddered as he fought to breathe. "Cole..."

Upon hearing the name the strange pain in Connor's heart sharpened suddenly.

"No, Hank!" Connor's hand had pressed as tightly against Hank's neck as possible, but the detective was still bleeding heavily. For the first time since he gained his deviancy tears, actual tears, formed in Connor's eyes as he watched the life draining from Hank's bleeding body. "It's me, Connor!"

"...Son..."

"H-Hank..." Connor unexpectedly sobbed with a choking gasp as a emotionally provoked tear ran down his face and dropped onto Hank's chest. "D-" He sobbed again pathetically as he watched Hank's eyes close. Hank's chest barely rose or fell as his breathing dwindled and life left his body. "D-Dad?!"

Feeling utterly useless; broken, Connor bowed his head and rested his forehead against Hank's blood soaked chest as he wept for the first time in his life, as he let his newly discovered deviant heart feel the emotions that he had only become aware of.

"...Please... I need you. You're my friend! My... fa... father..."

Tears continued to fall from his brown eyes as the sound of approaching sirens wailed somberly in the distance.


A rhythmic, slow beeping sound roused Hank from what felt like the deepest sleep of his life. The sound was familiar but strange as his blue eyes cracked open to reveal the bright, pure whiteness of the unknown room that surrounded him. Closing his pained eyes against the light Hank used his other senses to try to figure out where he was, but it was all different.

The unfamiliar surroundings even smelled strange, like an acrid sickening mixture of chemicals and flowers. Softness surrounded Hank, at least he believed it was soft, as a comforting pressure in his back supported him under a thick blanket over top his body. His entire body felt numb and heavy, like he was wandering aimlessly in conscious dream; or a pond of cement.

Warmth radiated from his neck and strange covering over top his all around his throat skin drew Hank's hand weakly upward to investigate the unusual sensation. As his arm slightly moved he became aware of a light pressure around his left bicep and of a plastic sensor attached his left index fingertip.

Hank's mind was racing as a strange lingering word echoed in his head. It was something he used to hear all the time, but then suddenly stopped. Something important. It was something he had faintly heard the night before as he laid dying in a pool of his own blood. Something that Co-

"Hank?"

He knew that voice. Who was it? Not Connor. Connor sounded much younger than this voice. It was an older, more gruff voice that Hank had known for many years, but had long since stopped listening to you as his own stubbornness and anger pushed people away.

"Hank, can you hear me?"

Captain Fowler. It was Jeffrey.

But why was he here? Where was 'here' anyway?

Forcing his eyes to open again Hank's vision cleared and he found himself staring up at the face of his superior officer. The look on Fowler's face was one of pure terror, his usual confident gaze replaced with a stare of panic and the calm expression he had mastered during his time as police officer was nothing more than an unsteady grimace; a mask of his true self.

"...Jeffrey?" Hank flinched at the sound of his own hoarse, pathetic sounding voice as it escaped his bandaged throat. Swallowing once to try to ease a lingering discomfort Hank realized that a nasal cannula was resting across his face to give him clean oxygen to breathe, and was now a distracting nuisance. "What the fuck...?"

Hank looked around and finally realized he was in a hospital room. The chemical smell was the astringent used to keep the place sterilized, and the flower smell came from numerous bouquets that lined the furniture and walls of his room. Dozens of 'Get Well' cards were attached to the flowers as well wishers and concerned colleagues from the precinct had sent in the flowers to show that despite the gruff detective's best efforts they still cared about him.

A large curtain was set up to separate his bed from the second bed neighboring his own as he rested in the quiet, though uncomfortably bright, recovery room.

"Thank God!" Fowler's hand rested on Hank's right arm as the detective regained consciousness. Hank had to look down at his arm to confirm that Fowler was holding onto him, it was then he saw the port for the I.V. line running into the bend of the same arm. "You're going to be okay! The bullet passed through cleanly, it didn't damage any nerves or your spine. You just lost some blood, that's all."

"How..." Hank was thoroughly confused by everything, his memory was but a foggy blur and emotionally frustrating. "Just tell me what the hell happened. How the fuck did I get here? How long was I out?"

"You don't remember confronting the deviant last night?"

"What deviant? What happened? Jeffrey," Hank's voice regained strength as his senses fully returned. With the clarity of his mind came an unspoken concern in his still beating heart. "where's Connor?"

"Shit... Hank," Fowler pulled up a chair beside Hank's bed and replaced his hand atop Hank's arm to keep his friend as calm as possible. "he saved your life..."


Two police squad cars converged on the scene at a rapid pace with their sirens blaring and lights flashing brightly. One car was being driven by Chris with Captain Fowler as his passenger, the second car was being driven by Gavin with his new partner, Tyler, beside him. Both cars came to an abrupt stop when their headlights illuminated the three bodies laying motionless on the dock in a steadily growing puddle of red and blue blood.

"Holy shit!" Fowler shouted as he stepped out of the car and drew his gun on instinct.

Taking aim at the deviant on the ground Fowler backed his way toward his two downed officers while Chris trained his own gun on the deviant to ensure it wasn't playing dead. Gavin took the liberty of calling in the scene to ask for additional back-up, while also ordering Tyler to take charge and contain the scene.

Kneeling beside Hank, kneeling down in the crimson puddle all around the dying Lieutenant's head, Fowler took in the macabre sight of seeing his oldest friend laying seemingly already dead right before his eyes. Connor's head was still resting against Hank's chest, the blue puddle of Thirium around him mixed in with Hank's red blood to create sickly purple hue between the two bodies as Connor refused to let up on the pressure to the bullet wound in Hank's neck.

"Hank?" Fowler put his hand down on Hank's shoulder and felt how frighteningly cold his body had already become. "Jesus... Hank..."

Slowly Connor lifted his head to look up at his Captain, tears were still running down his face. "He's... alive. He's still alive, Captain."

"Shit! Connor!" Fowler was certain that both men were dead, and seeing Connor moving nearly gave him a heart attack. "What the hell happened?!"

Connor turned his gaze to the downed deviant where Chris, Gavin and Tyler all had their guns trained. "...Had a bomb... Shot us..."

"A bomb?!" Fowler stood up abruptly and waved Gavin over to where he was standing. "That deviant had a bomb, find it and disarm it."

Gavin kept his eyes focused on Fowler and refused to look down at either Hank or Connor at his feet. "There's a remote detonator by it's hand, we'll use it to track down the bomb and dispose of it."

"Go!" Fowler urged as he slipped off his coat and resumed kneeling beside Hank. "Take Chris with you!"

Fowler waded up his coat into a ball and gently tucked it beneath Hank's head as he watched the pale, lifeless face of his friend for any sign of life. Additional sirens filled the air as the ambulance raced to the scene of the shooting to mercifully take Hank to the hospital. "Connor... How long have you been holding pressure?"

"F-Four minutes... twelve seconds..." Connor's systems were trying to shift into low power mode which would take away his ability speak verbally. Without any other androids to communicate with cybernetically he had no choice but to override the procedure in order to communicate. "Pulse is... weak and thready."

"Fuck... he should be dead already." Fowler lamented with notable surprise to his tone. "Stubborn until the end."

"He's... cold."

"I know, but I can't do anything without you being moved." Fowler didn't like how much blood either man had lost and he didn't dare try anything that might make matters worse. "Just keep doing what you're doing, okay? You're doing exactly what he needs right now, so don't let go."

Connor nodded once, his head bowing down and staying down in the process as he rested tiredly against Hank's cold, nearly motionless chest.

"Hold on," Fowler put one hand on the back of Connor's neck and the other down on Hank's shoulder. "that's an order, and it's one neither of you can defy!"

The ambulance finally arrived at the scene of the horrific shooting and Fowler stepped back to give the responding paramedics plenty of room to work.

The two paramedics rushed swiftly, yet professionally to the two fallen, bleeding detectives on the dock without the slightest hesitation in their gait. The first paramedic knelt beside Hank and picked up his wrist to check for a pulse, but the massive blood loss made his pulse undetectable. Pressing her fingers to the opposite side the bullet wound in Hank's neck she at last found a pulse and proceeded to check his other vitals.

"What happened?" The young woman, with dark hair, dark eyes and an almost motherly disposition, asked Connor as she placed the stethoscope in her ears to listen to Hank's cold chest.

"...Sh-Shot." Connor stammered pathetically as he kept his hand in place against Hank's bloodied neck. "Please... s-save him."

"I'll do everything I can." She promised as she put the bell of the stethoscope under Hank's shirt and against his cold skin to listen to his struggling heart and weak lungs. "Thready pulse. Tachycardia. Minor cyanosis."

The second paramedic, an even younger man with red hair and blue eyes tried to pull Connor aside to examine him but the android wouldn't budge, and refused to let the young medic tend to his own injuries.

"Take care of... H-Hank." Connor pushed the numerous red warnings from his vision as he focused on keeping the pressure on Hank's neck. "I'm f-fine."

It didn't take long for the paramedic to notice the blue blood staining Connor's lips, his chest and his hands. The red L.E.D. cycling rapidly in Connor's temple as he fought to keep himself calm while the paramedics took care of Hank wasn't making Connor's comment anymore convincing.

"Sir, you need a technician! You've lost a critical amount of Thirium."

"I can w-wait." Connor was losing strength but didn't dare admit it as he looked up with tears still in his eyes. "He c-can't."

Fowler wanted to say something but knew that even if he tried to get Connor to let someone take a look at him the android would simply refuse and weaken himself further in the process of arguing.

The female paramedic agreed with Connor about Hank being unable to wait as she prepared to start an I.V. in an attempt to boost Hank's blood volume and ease the strain on his heart. "He's in hypovolemic shock. We need to move, now!"

"What about him?" The male paramedic asked regarding Connor as he wheeled the gurney from the back of the ambulance toward Hank. "We can't treat him, we don't know how! He's need a technician, not a medic. I don't think he can even move."

Connor's systems were beginning to power down. Overriding the basic emergency protocols to keep himself conscious, to keep his hand from falling from Hank's neck, Connor forced his legs to move. Forcing himself up from the ground and into a kneeling position the android defied his own programming and nodded at the female paramedic.

Thirium continued to leak from his abdomen, but there was already such a deep massive stain on his shirt that no one noticed that the android was still bleeding heavily and had already lost a fifth of his overall Thirium volume.

"I can w-walk. I can't l-let go, or he'll b-bleed." Connor's voice began to reverberate with an electronic echo as he ignored his own system's warnings and proceeded to put all his concern on saving Hank. "Help him. Th-Then I will seek t-technical assistance."

"Mike, help him walk." The female paramedic urged as she and her partner, who Connor now knew as 'Mike', worked together to lift Hank's body up from the blood saturated ground and onto the gurney. "If the pressure lets up I don't think we can bring this guy back."

"Hank." Connor reiterated Hank's name firmly as he accompanied the paramedics to the back of the awaiting ambulance. "His name is Hank Anderson..."

"Right," she acknowledged timidly to keep the android as calm as possible. "you keep the pressure on Hank's neck." She addressed Connor kindly as she nodded to Mike. "We'll take care of Hank and get him to the hospital as quickly as possible. We can't do much more for him out here in the field aside from getting him stable and keeping him stable."

Fowler stepped up to assist in with the aid of his two detectives the only way he could. Putting his hand against the middle of Connor's back and the other against Connor's chest Fowler helped support the physically exhausted android as he moved alongside the gurney; Connor's blood soaked hand still clutched tightly around Hank's damaged carotid artery.

"Easy, there's a step." Fowler warned as he guided Connor into the back of the ambulance while the two paramedics lifted the gurney. "I'll meet you two at the hospital, alright? Everything will be fine."

Reluctantly Fowler stepped back as the doors of the ambulance slammed shut with two of his wounded officers inside. Smacking the back of the ambulance twice he watched as the lights resumed flashing and the siren sounded off as the emergency vehicle sped away from the crime scene. The massive white body of the ambulance would normally appear like a beacon of hope in the darkness, but on that night it looked more like a setting sun in the horizon.

"Tyler." Fowler returned his attention to the lone officer keeping vigil over the dead deviant to ensure it stayed dead. "Call in another patrol, tell them to seal off the area and inform them I'll be at the hospital. You can't be out here alone."

"Yes, sir."

The drive to the hospital, even with lights and sirens giving him a pass to drive as fast as the ambulance, still seemed to take forever as Fowler tried to remain as professional as he could. He's had to deal with wounded officers before, but very few times had the wounded officer in question been a friend he'd known for years. What made the matter worse was the way Connor was reacting to the sight of Hank bleeding out; it made Fowler think of the night that Hank had held Cole's body in his own trembling arms when the small innocent child succumbed to his wounds after the car accident.

As soon as the ambulance doors opened Fowler jumped out of his car and followed the gurney inside, his hands immediately on Connor's back and chest once more to aid the struggling android as he continued to hold the pressure on Hank's neck. Two I.V. bags had been used to stabilize Hank, one of refrigerated blood and the other of saline. He also had an oxygen mask secured around his nose and mouth to help him breathe.

Two doctors and four nurses swarmed the gurney as the paramedics, along with Connor, wheeled the gurney into the emergency trauma bay. Fowler was stopped at the door by a nurse and that's where he stood as he watched through the windows as the doctors fought to save Hank's life.

Inside the trauma bay a doctor shone a penlight in Hank's eyes to check his pupils while the second doctor applied a vascular clamp the damaged artery to stem off the residual blood flow. As the emergency team prepared for surgical intervention to repair the damage to the artery Connor's hand was no longer crucial to keeping Hank alive.

"You can let go now." A nurse gently tried to coax Connor into releasing his grip but the android refused to move. "Sir, we've got the bleeding under control, you can let him go. It's okay."

Fowler watched as the nurse spoke to the unresponsive android and decided it was time to intervene on her behalf. "Connor?" The nurse allowed Fowler to enter the room and speak to the catatonic android, while she carefully pried his hand free from Hank's neck. "It's okay, you did good. Hank's safe now. Let him go. Let the doctors take care of him."

With his hand trembling and drenched in Hank's blood Connor relaxed his grip and let his arm fall limply to his side. The android was visibly shaking from fear as well as Thirium loss. As his programs began to slowly power down one by one Connor's artificial skin began to pale from a lack of consistent energy keeping the external layer in place; the white plastimetal frame beneath steadily becoming more visible as his skin thinned.

"Come on." Fowler put his hands on Connor's trembling shoulders to guide him out of the trauma bay and into the corridor. "Let them work. You need to be checked on, too. Let's go."

Silently and slowly Connor let Fowler escort him out of the trauma bay and into the large corridor of the hospital that branched off from the waiting room into dozens of other trauma bays.

Connor's Thirium levels were critically low and shutdown was imminent, but the android didn't utter a single complaint.

"Connor, look at me." Fowler urged patiently as he kept one hand on Connor's shoulder to hold him steady and used his other hand to peel back the fabric of Connor's gray jacket to look at the bullet wounds in his abdomen. "Hank will pull through. Now it's your turn to-"

Connor's legs suddenly gave way and he collapsed in an unconscious heap within a matter of seconds into Fowler's arms. If Fowler hadn't already been holding onto him Connor would've cracked his skull on the floor as he would've fallen backward in a dead faint.

"I gotcha'!" Fowler soothed as he guided Connor down to the floor slowly. Kneeling down on the floor Fowler turned the android so his back was resting against Fowler's knees and his bleeding abdomen was visible. "Hey! I need some help over here! Officer down!"

Another doctor had heard the panic in Fowler's voice and had witnessed Connor collapse as she stood by the nurse's station. Rushing over and sliding on her knees to examine her new patient her brow quickly furrowed in confusion upon seeing the massive stain of blue colored blood all over Connor's torso, rather than red.

"Is he-"

"Yes, he's an android." Fowler confirmed bitterly and impatiently. "But he's also an officer of the law!"

"I can't... I'm not a technician."

"But you ARE sworn to 'first do no harm'! Please, just... try to help him! He saved his partner's life tonight, try to save his."

Taking in Connor's pitiful state and looking at the closed doors of the trauma bay where Hank was being tended to gave the doctor the drive to make at least one honest attempt to help Connor.

"Alright, I'll see what I can do."

The doctor did the only thing she could think to do and proceeded to examine Connor as if he were in fact human. Taking the stethoscope draped around her neck she put the earbuds in place before she pressed the bell to Connor's chest. It wasn't as effective an instrument as an audioscope for android anatomy, but it would have to do.

"I'm not sure what I should be listening for, but it sounds like his, uh, Thirium pump is... struggling." Moving the bell from Connor's heart over to where his ventilation biocomponents were located she continued to listen intently. "And I can hear crackling, like fluid in the lungs." The doctor looked as frightened as Fowler felt. "Hey, Judy!" She yelled to a nearby nurse to come and assist her. "Get a gurney and find an empty room. We have a special case over here."

Connor's head lolled to the side as his L.E.D., cycling at a dangerously low speed, began to fade in color entirely.

"Shit!" The doctor lifted Connor's eyelids and saw that his pupils were no longer responsive or clear despite having enhanced reflexes to bright lights. "I think he's gone into some kind of shock!"

Fowler watched as two bewildered human orderlies picked up Connor from the floor and placed him on the nearby gurney.

"I'll try what I can to save." The doctor gave Fowler a doubtful glance as she began running alongside the gurney as it was wheeled out of sight into an unseen room in the distance. "But I can't make any promises."

"Just, TRY." Fowler called as he watched Connor getting rolled away down the hallway to a secondary treatment room just around the corner. "That's all I ask."


Hank stared at Fowler with a stunned look on his face as he fought to restrain the tears that had welled up in his eyes after being told what had happened. The racing heart rate on his cardiac monitor betrayed any form of calmness he managed to feign as he looked at his Captain, at his friend, as if he had just been told the world as he knew had come to violent, bloody end.

"Connor... Connor's dead?!"

Fowler gave Hank a dubious glance before he stood up from his chair, walked over to the other side of the bed and pulled back the curtain that had separated Hank's bed from the second patient who was silently sharing his room.

Turning his head quickly Hank winced at the burning pain in his neck and his heart finally began to slow.

"Connor?!" Hank almost shouted the name as he stared at the android laying unconscious next to him. Connor was motionless save for his L.E.D. cycling a pale yellow light in his right temple. His shirt and jacket had been removed and his lower torso was wrapped entirely in bandages. A nasal-gastric tube flowing with a blue liquid had been inserted through his nose down into his stomach to replenish the Thirium he lost after being shot, and he too was hooked up to a cardiac monitor; but the monitor had been slightly modified to accommodate the android's physiology.. "But... I don't understand."

"When the doctor who tried to help Connor heard about what happened from the paramedics, heard about how he was ready to give his life to save you, she decided to go ahead and operate on him."

"How... did she operate on him?" Hank's eyes never left his partner. The sight of Connor's chest weakly rising and falling gave the exhausted detected a much needed sense of relief to see the android was still functioning. "She's a human doctor, not a technician. Right?

"She called a nearby android facility and asked for assistance. One technician walked her through the basics through a videochat on her laptop while another technician drove to the hospital with emergency supplies to help during the actual procedure." Fowler stepped back over to Hank's bedside. "You were both on the table for almost two hours, but you're both still here and that's all that matters."

Hank leaned back against his pillow and sighed as he closed his eyes tightly to keep himself from crying in front of Fowler. The refusal to emote wasn't out of misguided pride, it was out of a need to feel as though he was still in control over something while laying vulnerable in a hospital bed.

"You know, the hospital has decided to hold a meeting to decide whether or not to open a special android care unit for emergency situations."

"They... what? Why?"

"Because of your friendship with Connor. There's easily as many androids on staff here as there are humans, so it only makes sense to keep a stock of supplies and trained personnel on staff in the event an android becomes injured while working. Since we do the same at the precinct and throughout the fire stations all around the city, the hospital wants to take extra steps to ensure that any all emergencies can be handled by qualified personnel."

"Yeah... great." Hank was less interested in hospital policies, even if they were changing for the better, and more concerned with his partner. "That's fantastic."

"Hank." Fowler addressed the pained detective not as his superior, but as his friend. It was a gesture he had shown toward Hank for years, not since Cole had died on that horrible night. "Get some rest and try not to worry about Connor. He's going to be okay."

"Yeah... Thanks Jeffrey."

"Sure. I'm going to head back to the station and sort through this mess. Do you need anything?"

"Yeah, could you have someone check on my dog? It'd be best to send Chris is he's available, or Tina. Sumo hates Gavin."

"Don't we all?"

Hank laughed a little at the comment as he returned his attention to Connor. He wasn't quite sure what to say, if anything at all. How do you thank someone who was so willing to lay down their own life to save yours? There weren't enough words in any language, let alone Hank's mind, to properly convey his appreciation for Connor's selflessness and courage.

Partner. Friend. Family.

It didn't matter.

To have someone in your life willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for another person was beyond comprehension.

And to have some willing to lay down for the life of a person who had long since given up on himself was extraordinary; if not eye-opening.

Hours passed by with Hank drifting in and out of sleep as his doctor and several nurses checked in on him, while technicians stopped by to check on Connor. The tube supplying Connor's replenished Thirium had been removed, as were the bandages around his torso as the repairs to his biocomponents had remained stable. There wasn't even a scar across his abdomen thanks to the wonders of his healing program and artificial skin.

Bored with the quiet, bored with the hospital, bored with the doctors, Hank turned on the television only see the news talking frantically about the destroyed deviant who had threatened the city with the bomb the previous, and talking about the potential hospital policy changes. The media didn't actually care about the changes for android kind, they just wanted ratings and from years of experience Hank knew they were going to milk the story for all of its worth until the bitter end.

Turning off the TV in frustration Hank sighed and ran his hand over his tired face as he let out an exhausted groan. The pain in his neck wasn't excruciating, but it was becoming a distraction.

"...Hank?"

At the sound of his name Hank immediately turned his head to see that Connor's eyes had finally opened and the android was looking at him with his own glassy irises. "Connor."

"...Are you okay?"

"I'm fine son, thanks to you. You... You saved my life, kid. Thanks."

Connor smiled weakly and blinked very slowly as he turned his head so that he was laying completely straight again, his head back up against the pillow underneath him. "You saved me. You put yourself between the deviant and myself after I had been injured. You... You took a bullet for me, Hank! Why?"

"Because you're... you're my friend. You're important to me. I care about you."

Turning his head back to look at Hank a fresh welling of tears appeared in his brown eyes. "You're important to me too, Hank. You're the only real friend I've ever had. You don't treat me like a machine, you make me feel like I'm really a person; like I'm really alive. That I actually matter."

"Of course you matter. Don't let anyone try to tell you anything different." Hank looked away from the android and down at his hands still pale hands resting over his abdomen. He flexed his fingers a few times, checking to see how much numbness lingered in his extremities before he found the courage to ask the one question he had been too afraid to ask. "Connor, when I was shot and bleeding out I vaguely remember hearing a voice talk to me. I know it sounds crazy but at first I thought it was... Well, I thought it was Cole."

Arching his brow slightly Connor gauged Hank's reaction to the moment with a silent observation.

"I thought I heard him call out to me, like he was waiting for me to find him on the other side." Taking a moment to breathe Hank continued in a low voice as he spoke of what he remembered. "He called me 'dad'. It was nice to hear that again..."

Connor swallowed the emotion he had only recently begun to truly acknowledge and remained silent.

"But it wasn't him, was it?" Hank's eyes were kind, not angry or stern as he turned to look over at Connor. "It was you."

"I... I don't know why I said it." Connor felt a twinge of embarrassment and he wasn't sure where it was coming from, or why he was willing to admit it. "It just... came out."

"It's okay Connor, I'm not upset." The detective laughed a little as an interesting theory popped into his head. "Maybe it's because I keep calling you 'son'."

"Yes." Connor turned his gaze to look out the window of the hospital to the bright blue sky overhead as he willingly accepted Hank's theory as the truth. "That must be it."


Two days passed by before Hank and Connor were discharged from the hospital and allowed to return home for the remainder of their recovery. The two detectives were being hailed as heroes as they had managed to stop the deviant from activating the bomb, but neither of them felt as though they deserved any special praise. They just wanted to go back home and rest without people constantly intruding to ask them the same questions over and over again, they just wanted to get back to their old lives before the night of the shooting.

But there was no going back.

The two now realized how important they were to one another.

As soon as the duo entered the house the two detectives were greeted by a very happy, very energetic Sumo who just wanted attention from his masters.

"Good boy, Sumo. Down." Hank pet the dogs head with one hand and pressed his other hand against the sore spot on his neck as he sat down on the couch heavily. "Give us a minute to relax, will ya'?"

Connor proceeded to rub Sumo's ears as he knelt down on the floor for a few seconds to acknowledge the fluffy dog. Briefly glancing up at Hank sitting on the couch Connor felt compelled to remind him of the strict personal care he wouldn't need to endure for the next two weeks. "Remember what the doctor said, take your medication every eight hours and to do so with a meal."

"Yeah, sure." Hank took the bottle of antibiotics from his coat pocket and left it on the coffee table in plain sight. "Too bad you didn't get any fun little android exclusive pain killers or something, huh Connor?"

Rather than reminding Hank that he had already healed and would not require any additional treatment, Connor proceeded to go about his usual routine of making reports to the precinct cybernetically and noting Hank's physical distress as he recovered from the emergency surgery. Approaching the couch he sat down and closed his eyes hoping that by going through his usual tasks he'd be able to preoccupy his thoughts and keep the emotions he had finally allowed himself to feel at bay.

"Connor? You okay?" Hank noticed that the android was behaving rather oddly; even for Connor. "You're only quiet when something's on your mind."

"It's... It's nothing. Don't worry about it."

"Connor, don't do that." Without raising his voice Hank practically scolded Conor as he tried to keep the android from shutting him out. "Talk to me if you need to talk. What's on your mind, son?"

That word again: 'Son'. Why did it suddenly perplex Connor so much?

"I just..." He hesitated for only a moment before finally answering as he knew he wouldn't be able to keep the emotions inside of him from welling up. "I can't explain my reaction that night you were shot." Connor looked to Hank with loss and confusion in his eyes, his L.E.D. now yellow and cycling slowly. "When I saw you bleeding to death my first instinct was to do everything to keep you alive, but..."

As the android trailed off he could see that there was something absolutely perplexing in the android's mind that he just couldn't figure out. "But... what?"

"This instinct, it didn't come from a place of programming, professionalism or even companionship. It feels like it came from..." He trailed off a second time as he struggled to find the way to explain his unusual feeling without sounding crazy.

"Connor. From where?"

"I can only describe it as... from the heart." The android looked completely confused as he tried to think logically. "My immediate thought following you being injured wasn't something I was expecting."

"Which was... what?" Hank was more curious than impatient at this point. He'd never seen or heard Connor acting so strangely before. "What did you think?"

"About how... lonely I'd be if you died. I'd have no one, and be entirely alone. I was afraid I'd be-" Connor's eyes went wide and his L.E.D. flashed to red as he realized what the term was he was looking for, but dared to not say it.

"Connor? What were you afraid of?"

"Being... orphaned."

As soon as Hank heard the confession his posture visibly straightened with surprise. "I didn't know an android could even understand... the concept of being orphaned."

"Then it must be wrong." Connor shook his head as is he were waiting for an excuse to invalidate his own reasoning. "It's impossible for an android to have a family, let alone-"

Hank's arm suddenly wrapped around Connor's neck and he pulled the android up against his shoulder silencing him. "Connor, you do have a family. You have me. I'm your family."

A sudden wave of serenity washed over Connor as the depth of Hank's words overwhelmed. Reaching one hand up to Hank's arm Connor grabbed hold as if he need to make sure it was really there, and a tear rolled down his face for the second time as he allow his heart to feel for him. Using his other hand Connor wiped it away and hoped that Hank didn't see it, or at least wouldn't acknowledge it.

"Thank you for understanding me. And for taking care of me."

"You're welcome. Everything will be okay." Hank discreetly wiped away a tear of his own as his tightened his arm around Connor and let the memories of that horrible night slip to the back of his tired mind. "You're okay, I'm here for you. I promise, son."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor and Hank were walking the street looking for a potential eyewitness to the beating death of a deviant android with little luck smiling their way. It seemed either no one had seen anything amiss or simply no one wanted to help find the person, or persons, responsible for the death of the deviant. Not all humans were as opened minded or tolerant as Hank had become regarding androids, nor were they as forthcoming about witnessing the unscrupulous behavior unfairly aimed at deviants in general.

"Every market we've checked conveniently didn't have cameras facing the street, and every person we talked to claimed they didn't see a damn thing." Hank groused as he and Connor continued their search for a witness along the sidewalk. "Bullshit."

"I agree. This street is far to populous for the crime to have taken place unnoticed. There is at least one witness in the area, and we will find them."

"Maybe they need to remember that we're the good guys looking for the bad guys, and bad guys can hurt humans just as easily as they can hurt androids."

"Perhaps it's for that very reason no one is coming forward." Connor's blue L.E.D. cycled to yellow as he accessed police records for the names and addresses of known criminals living in the area. "And it may give us the advantage we need to locate our witness."

Hank noticed the yellow L.E.D. and new Connor was searching for a lead. "Got something we can work with?"

"Possibly." Connor confirmed as his L.E.D. transitioned back to blue in color. "There are four known criminals with histories of violence against both humans and androids living within a three block radius of the crime."

"Anyone we know?"

"Two of the suspects are currently serving time for unrelated events; one for drug possession and the other for stalking. They have been imprisoned for the past six weeks and three months respectively."

"That narrows it down. Who're the other two?"

"There is Amber Carson who lives in the apartment complex at the end of the block. She had been arrested for attempting to steal, reset and sell female androids as prostitutes; when the androids put up a fight and attempt to flee, she beats them to death."

"Shit, sounds like she could be the person we're looking for. But what about the other one?"

"Victor Ortiz. The older brother of Carlos Ortiz."

"Ortiz was the murdered human we investigated together when we first met. His android defended himself from a beating and ended up killing Ortiz with a knife in the process." Hank rubbed at his bearded chin as he looked about the block curiously. "Wonder if he wants revenge for his brother's death?"

"The motivation is plausible." Connor pointed to a rundown apartment complex across the street. "We have probable cause to speak with him. He lives on the fourth floor."

"Then, let's go."

As Hank and Connor crossed the street to enter the apartment a car sped out of the alleyway beside the apartment in a panic. The car's tires squealed loudly as it turned sharply around the corner and began driving with a reckless speed down the street toward the two detectives who were in the middle of crossing.

"Hank!" Connor saw the car first and shouted at Hank to get his attention. "Car!"

The detective turned his head to look at the vehicle but didn't move. It was such an unexpected occurrence that Hank failed to respond at all and could only watch as the vehicle raced toward him like an arrow that had been fired at a bullseye.

"Hank!" Connor reacted to the rapidly approaching vehicle with extraordinary reflexes and pushed Hank out of the street out of harm's way just as the car crashed into Connor's back.

As Hank landed hard on his back on the sidewalk the android absorbed the blunt force directly in his spine just below his shoulders over the expanse of the windshield. The impact was so intense and fast that Connor rolled up over the hood, over the cracked windshield and rolled off the side of the car crashing back down onto the unforgiving street onto his left side.

"Shit! Connor!?" Hank radioed dispatch to report the hit and run while also giving them the first four digits of the car's license plate. Requesting emergency technicians to the scene the detective took charge of tending to Connor until help arrived. Kneeling down in the street next to the bloody android Hank put his hand on Connor's right shoulder as he leaned down to look at Connor's L.E.D. flashing red. "Connor! Can you hear me? How bad is it?"

"I..." Connor's voice reverberated uncomfortably with an electronic echo as his system ran a self-diagnostic that focused a majority of his power elsewhere. Dozens of red error warnings swarmed his visual processors, but through the glaring text Connor was able to focus on Hank's face as the detective hovered protectively over him. "I can't move... My self-healing... program is not... functioning."

"Shit!" Hank noticed a deep line of dark blue Thirium staining the back of Connor's jacket under his shoulders. The hood of the car left a painful laceration at the sight of the impact against Connor's back, while the glass from the broken windshield has cut through his artificial skin. "I know I shouldn't move you right now, but I can leave you laying in the street."

"I... understand."

"Okay, hold on, I'll be careful." Hank put one hand under Connor's head and used his other hand to gently roll Connor from his side and onto his back. Mindful of the laceration in Connor's back Hank wrapped his arm around Connor's chest and put his other arm beneath his legs to pick him up slowly into his arms to carry him out of the street and over to the sidewalk. "Okay, let's do this."

"Hank..."

"I'm sorry, I'm trying not to hurt you." Moving slowly Hank knelt down on the sidewalk and laid Connor down on the firm surface while letting the android's shoulders lean against his knees. Dark blue blood soaked in the denim fabric of Hank's jeans as a result, but he didn't budge. "I gotcha', help's on the way."

"Hank," Connor's voice sounded completely pitiful as he fought to articulate his wavering voice. Sounding more human than usual as he endured fear and pain Connor "I can't feel my legs..."

"It'll be okay." Hank swallowed nervously at those words as his hand wrapped around Connor's forehead. His thumb began to absentmindedly fuss with the android's hair while they waited together for the emergency technicians to finally arrive. "You're going to be okay."

The requested android ambulance arrived at the scene and pulled up alongside the two detectives sitting on the sidewalk waiting for help. Connor kept his hand on Connor's forehead and did his best to ignore Connor's rapid breathing that was causing his entire body to shudder, as well as his racing heart that presented a palpable pulse through Connor's bleeding back against Hank's legs.

"We'll take care of him, sir." One of the technicians, a blank faced android stated as he examined Connor's condition with a silent technical scan. "He has suffered structural damage to his spinal column, but we can treat it."

It was painfully tense as Hank watched the emergency technician secure a neck brace around Connor's neck to keep him stable, while the second technician pressed a bandage to Connor's back to stop the bleeding. The android was scared, it showed in his dark brown eyes, even though he didn't say anything more about being unable to move or feel his legs, but Hank could feel his fear without the android needing to say a word.

"Hang on, son." Hank encouraged as the technicians carefully lifted Connor up from the sidewalk and placed him down on a gurney before rolling him into the back of the ambulance. "I'll meet you at the facility, okay?"

"...Okay, Hank."

Connor continued to breathe rapidly in pain and fear as he was loaded into the ambulance and closed his eyes as the doors slammed shut. Restraining his emotions without showing any form of faltering Connor remained quiet during transport and could only wait in isolation before receiving treatment for his injuries.


The already tense moment of waiting for Connor's condition to be assessed was made all the more intense when Hank spoke to the technician treating Connor at the Android Emergency Care Facility. The technician had given Connor's systems a complete examination and had located the source of the damage, as well as identified the severity of said damage to the android's spine.

"How bad is it?"

"...I won't lie to you detective." The human technician was a kind woman with raven black hair, chocolate brown eyes and wore thick framed glasses. "It's bad, but it could've been worse."

"Fuck." Swearing to himself Hank dragged his hand over his face with worry.

"The hardest part will be the waiting, it always is. But given time he will make a full recovery." Giving Hank a reassuring smile the technician resumed her examination of Connor laying in the next room. "I'll speak to you again in a moment."

Having seen the worry in Connor's eyes and watching the technician hover over Connor with various sensors and scanners through the window of the exam room made the fate of the android's condition seem so much more ominous. But it was watching Connor laying helplessly on his chest, unable to move let alone defend himself, that really hurt the detective's heart.

A single tear rolled from Connor's eye onto the surface of the table beneath his head as he waited to learn the full extent of his condition. It was a wait that hurt more than the damage to his ever could spine.

"Jeez, kid. Don't do that, it looks like you're giving up." Hank noticed the rogue tear and tried to push it out of his mind. "You'll be okay..."

"Hello again," the technician greeted Hank officially as she stepped back out of the room to speak with him. Hank turned away from the window to face the woman readily. "I'm Laura Wells, I've been overseeing Connor's treatment."

"Yeah, hi. Lt. Hank Anderson." His eyes drifted from Connor just long enough to shake Laura's hand. "How is he?"

"The damage is serious but it can be repaired." The technician explained coolly and confidently. "The impact crushed two of his interior support discs, the equivalent to a human's spinal vertebrae. The wires inside the discs had been severed cutting off his system's ability to send electrical impulses to his body below the damage, while also limiting the amount of Thirium reaching his biocomponents."

"Shit, he broke his back. That dirty motherfucker actually broke Connor's back!"

"Yes." Laura confirmed with a grim nod. "The paralysis from the damage down is the direct result of the crushed discs."

"Is that why his healing program wasn't working?"

"Yes. Having his internal biocomponents deprived of Thirium caused his system to fall into an emergency low power mode that only repressed his ability to heal further."

"Shit."

"As I said the damage can be repaired." The technician reiterated calmly to the worried detective. "It'll take an hour to replace the damaged discs and replace the damaged wires. But once his Thirium supply has been restored his self-healing program will initiate and he'll be functioning one-hundred percent before the end of the week."

"A week? It'll take that long?"

"Unfortunately, yes. But he will heal, I can't stress that enough." Laura reaffirmed with a confident tone. "Just be patient."

"Don't worry about me, worry about him." Hank shook his head sadly as he stared at Connor through the window once more. "I don't think he'll be able to handle such a long recovery period."


Sure enough the procedure to repair Connor's spine was finished within an hour. Hank stood beside the exam table where Connor was still in a form of stasis mode and laying on his chest to keep his recently repaired incision visible. A perfect rectangle of Connor's artificial skin had been retracted to give Laura access to the white plastimetal frame beneath that housed the support discs within.

The pure white form that constructed Connor's seemed like an impossible construction given how human Connor look, and how imperfect humans were only emphasized the foreign material to Hank's eyes.

"Not even going to have a scar, Connor." Hank stated as he watched Laura manually replace the artificial skin over the plastimetal by pressing her fingers against Connor's yellow colored L.E.D., and then pressed down on his back. Humanoid artificial skin covered the frame making Connor look whole once more. "When can I take him home?"

"Once he's awake I'll get a wheelchair for him. His Thirium levels are a little low, it's nothing critical but it'd be best for his recovery if he replenished what he lost. Think you can get him to cooperate?"

Hank laughed a little at the offer. "I can try."

Connor's eyes slowly opened as his systems fully came online and the stasis mode deactivated. "...Hank."

"Right here." Hank leaned down so Connor could see his face. "You're going to be just fine."

"I... I can't feel anything. My legs... my arms..."

"You will as soon as your healing program kicks in." Hank confidently nodded at Laura to confirm everything he had just said. "Just give it some time."

Connor wanted to protest but he didn't know what to say. What could he say? The only thing preventing him from moving now was time itself.


Hank had driven home at such a ludicrously slow and gentle pace that Connor thought he'd never get out of the backseat of the car. Laying on his back with his arms neatly folded over his chest, his arms in that particular position only because that's how Hank had left him after placing him down over the backseat, Connor stared at the dark upholstery that lined the roof of the car in total silence.

The gray jacket the android insisted on wearing despite his deviancy, had been draped over him and his tie was tucked into the pocket. Wearing only his white shirt and jeans made Connor feel less professional than he would've liked, but there was no reason for him to wear his uniform while benched with an injury.

"We're home." Hank stated firmly as he parked the car in the drive and turned off the engine. Exiting the vehicle quickly he pulled open the rear door and carefully slipped his arm under Connor's shoulders, under the point of damage that had only recently been repaired. "Ready?"

"Do I have a choice?" Connor unexpectedly snipped as Hank lifted him up into a sitting position, his body leaning heavily against Hank's shoulder against his own will.

"Nope." Hank confirmed sharply as he ignored the comment and put his other arm under Connor's legs to lift him up and out of the car.

Using his foot to kick the car door closed behind him Hank carried his still healing partner inside the house and into the livingroom. Stepping around Sumo, who had been laying in the middle of the kitchen floor, the dog simply followed Hank into the livingroom as he placed Connor down on the couch to rest.

Connor sighed with a heavy defeat as he stared into nothingness while Hank willingly took care of him.

"Relax, Connor." Hank reached down to undo the buttons on Connor's shirt and slipped it, albeit awkwardly, from the android's numbed arms. "By tomorrow you should have the feeling back in your arms and chest."

Not saying a word Connor just closed his eyes while Hank took away his shirt to be mended and cleaned later on.

"Here." Hank brought Connor a clean black t-shirt and slipped it over the android's head before passing his arms through the short sleeves. Putting his hand under Connor's shoulders Hank guided the android back until he was laying flat across the couch, his head resting on a small blue pillow against the arm of the couch.

Connor opened his eyes slightly and watched Hank went about unlacing his shoes and slipped them from his feet. "You don't have to do that."

"Yeah, well, I don't want dirt all over the couch." Hank quickly lied as he took the shoes to the front door and set them down neatly. He slipped off his own coat and pulled a pouch of fresh Thirium from the coat's pocket before hanging the garment up returning to the couch. "So tough shit."

Closing his eyes again Connor slipped into rest mode to allow his healing program as much time and power as it needed to repair the damage to his spine.

"Hey, hey!" Hank complained as he watched Connor's still yellow L.E.D. pulsing slowly as the android slipped into a deep sleep. "You need to drink this Thirium junk!"

But Connor didn't respond to Hank's words. He remained idle as he fell into a much needed rest mode within seconds.

"Stubborn android." Hank lamented as he placed the Thirium pouch down on the table beside the couch. Sumo was sitting beside the couch looking confused when Hank decided it'd be best to leave Connor alone for a while. "Come on Sumo, let's go for a walk."


After walking Sumo around the block for the sixth time to try to give the android some space and let him be, Hank decided to go back home to check in on Connor. It wasn't that Hank believed the android was still in any danger, it was that he just felt guilty for Connor being injured at all. As he stepped up the front walk his phone began to ring and for the first time in his life he was happy to answer the call.

"Yeah?"

'It's Chris," the voice introduced himself unnecessarily thanks the caller I.D. on the phone's screen. 'we caught the guy who hit Connor. It was Ortiz. He's going to prison for a long time for the death of that android, and for assaulting a police officer. Just thought you'd like to know.'

"Yeah, thanks for the update, Chris. I'll let Connor know, too. Bye."

Ending the call Hank pushed open the door and unclipped the leash from Sumo's collar. As he hung up his coat by the front door again Hank called to Connor assuming that the android was finally awake.

"They caught Ortiz. He was our man after all." As Hank turned to look at the couch he noticed Sumo was very interested in something on the floor between the couch and the coffee table. Upon closer inspection Hank saw that the something was in fact a someone; Connor. "What the hell! Connor?"

The android was laying on his chest with his right hand flexing very weakly as if trying to push himself up from the ground. His fingers barely had the strength to contract which made what little movement he regained seem absolutely pitiful.

"Shit, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have left you alone." Hank apologized profusely as he rushed over to where Connor was laying and pushed Sumo back. "I gotcha'."

"I'm fine..." Connor muttered as Hank threw his limp arm up around his shoulders and the detective wrapped his arms around Connor's chest to support his weight.

"No you're not. You fell." Hank stated unnecessarily as he hefted the android up from the floor and back onto the couch. Lifting Connor's legs up onto the soft cushions Hank looked down at his partner with a heavy heart. "I should've stayed here with you."

Connor looked down at his right hand as he again weakly flexed his fingers, the digits only partially bending in response. Sumo whimpered slightly and rested his chin on the couch beside Connor as he could sense that the android was upset.

"Think you can drink that Thirium?" Hank motioned to the pouch of blue blood sitting on the table beside the couch.

"I can't move my hands Hank," Connor's voice became sharp and angry as his eyes shot up to look at Hank's face. "so, NO, I can't."

"Easy!" Hank didn't appreciate the attitude that the android was throwing his way. "It was just a question."

Connor turned his head so he was facing away from Hank and toward the back of the couch's cushions as he closed his eyes again.

"You need to be patient, Connor. Spinal injuries don't just heal overnight for humans OR androids, no matter how advanced they are."

Ignoring Hank's words Connor focused on his hands, trying and failing, to close his fingers into fists.

Sighing with his own impatience Hank left the livingroom and patted his leg for Sumo to follow him. Quietly Hank went about feeding the dog while also making himself a light dinner. Neither detective spoke to one another for the remainder of the evening as Connor steeped in his own frustration and Hank stubbornly waited for the android to calm down and stop trying to push himself so hard.

As night fell Hank went to bed without saying a word to Connor, and Sumo followed Hank into the bedroom as the dog picked up on Connor's currently hostile mood, and didn't approve of it either. It was almost three in the morning when Hank was awoken by a loud 'crash' in the livingroom. Sumo responded by barking once before whimpering as he sat up on the foot of the bed.

"What now?" Hank grumbled as he reached into the drawer of his nightstand beside his bed and grabbed his gun. Exiting the bedroom with Sumo beside his leg Hank entered the livingroom and turned on the light. Once more Connor was laying between the couch and coffee table, his hand resting atop the table and his fingers struggling to grip the Thirium pouch under his palm. "What the fuck, Connor?"

Hank sat his gun down on the bookshelf against the wall in the livingroom and walked around the couch to look down at the android.

"I might as well put the damn pillow on the floor and leave you there."

"Shut up." Connor grumbled as he tried to pull the pouch onto the floor, but he still didn't have the strength to do so.

"Alright, I know you're pissed off with your body right now because you feel like it's failing you, but-"

"I'm NOT pissed with my body..." Connor snarled as he turned his head to look at Hank. "I'm pissed at YOU."

"Me? What the fuck did I do?"

"I became injured because YOU were in the way. If you had listened to me and moved out of the way I wouldn't have been hit."

"Connor, I-"

"Just leave me alone!" Connor snapped as he turned his head away and struggled to get the Thirium pouch down on the floor beside him.

Hank just stood in place watching Connor fighting to simply move his hand without a word. It was so unfair to see Connor so broken and weak. The android had been injured protecting Hank and there was nothing Hank could do to help him heal quicker.

But there was something he could do to help Connor, whether the android agreed or not.

Kneeling down on the floor Hank slipped his hand under Connor's chest and pushed the android up from the floor until he was sitting with his back against the couch.

"Get away!" Connor demanded as his L.E.D. flashed to red with anger. "I don't need your help!"

"Yeah, son, you do." Hank insisted again in a much stricter voice as he wrapped his arm around Connor's chest to pick him up from the floor and placed him on the couch again. "You do right now."

"I'm not your son." Connor hissed venomously, knowing that the last remark would hurt the detective on a personal level. "Leave me alone."

Hank froze for a moment before he resumed sitting Connor on the couch. He put his hand to the side of Connor's face to make the android looked him in the eyes. "Yes, you are. You are my son."

Picking up the Thirium pouch from the floor Hank opened the top and sat next to Connor who was leaning back heavily against the cushions.

"Drink this." Hank ordered as he pressed the opened pouch to Connor's lips. "Come on, you need it."

Out of stubbornness or perhaps spite Connor refused and looked away from Hank.

"Connor, if you think I won't sit on your fucking chest and force this shit down your throat you're making a big mistake."

Tears of frustration filled Connor's eyes as he slowly reestablished eye contact with Hank. With his chest heaving Connor couldn't contain his negative emotions inside any longer "I'm... I'm sorry, Hank." His L.E.D. cycled from red to yellow as the regret over saying such a cruel thing began to ache at his own heart. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay." Hank's tone immediately softened as he empathized with Connor's frustration. "You're mad, I get it."

Connor's right hand flexed into a very weak fist as his arm slowly lifted up toward the pouch in Hank's hand. As much as Connor tried to grab onto the pouch his hand just refused to cooperate with the android, and fell limply to his side again.

A tear ran down Connor's cheek as he sighed with repulse at his own failure.

"Here." Hank picked up Connor's hand and placed it around the pouch. Using his own hand Hank closed Connor's fingers around the pouch and tipped the pouch back toward his lips. "Go for it."

Giving Hank a subtle appreciative nod Connor slowly tilted the pouch back until it pressed against his lips. The Thirium began to pour over his lips and his mouth as he drank it slowly. Hank kept his hand beneath Connor's head to make sure the deviant didn't choke on the liquid as it poured down his throat.

As the pouch finally drained of its contents Hank took it from Connor's hand and tossed it casually onto the table.

"There. Easy."

Connor sighed as he looked down at his hands clenched into pathetic fists at his sides. "I'm sorry Hank, I'm so sorry."

"I already said it's okay."

"No, it's not... What I said was vicious and unnecessary. I just said it because I wanted to hurt you. And you don't deserve it."

"Lashing out is part of being human. We all do it from time to time."

Another tear rolled down Connor's face again. "I just... I hate being useless!"

"You're NOT useless!" Hank nearly shouted as he looked Connor right in the eye. "You're HURT. You need to heal. But you are far from useless, and you never will be, alright?"

Connor only nodded as he took Hank's words to heart and took a deep breath to calm himself.

Hank patted Connor's shoulder twice as he rose from the couch and pulled Connor down gently until he was laying across the length of the furniture again. "It's okay, Connor, I know you didn't mean anything you said. But if it helps to hear me say it, I will. I forgive you."

"Hank?" Connor's voice suddenly sounded pleading as the detective stepped back from the couch.

"Yeah?" He stopped and looked down at Connor laying on the couch as a paternal instinct to protect him kicked in.

"I... I don't want to be alone."

A faint smirk appeared on Hank's otherwise stoic face. "Alright, fine. I'll stay out here with you." Sitting down in the recliner adjacent to the couch Hank sighed and closed his eyes as he tried to salvage what was left of the night and get some sleep. "Just promise me you'll stop throwing yourself on the floor."

"Yeah... I promise."

"Good. Now rest some rest."


As the morning hours gave way to noon Hank was awoken by the sound of Sumo's nails pattering feverishly over the hardwood floor, then linoleum, then back to the hardwood floor over and doing it all over again. Opening his eyes he watched the St. Bernard wagging his tail as he brought a green rubber fetch ball back over to Connor who picked it up with a strong fist and tossed back into the kitchen.

"Feeling better?" Hank asked as he leaned forward in the chair and rubbed the lingering sleep from his eyes.

"My hands and my arms..." Connor admitted with a relieved smile on his face. "I can move them."

"See? You just needed to be patient."

Sumo retrieved the ball and dropped the drool covered object on the couch next to Connor's hand again.

Connor gave the green ball another toss as he slowly and awkwardly managed to lift his right leg to prop it up on the table. "My self-healing program is working exceptionally well. I will be able to walk again by tomorrow afternoon."

"The Thirium sure helped, didn't it?"

"Yes." Connor nodded in acknowledgment as Sumo again returned the ball, and again, he tossed it into the kitchen with great ease. "I'm sorry I was so stubborn yesterday. If I had allowed you to help me earlier I would've begun recovering at a quicker pace."

"Live and learn, kid." Hank dismissed the comment with a casual wave of his hand. "It's all part of the human experience."

"Yes, and tomorrow afternoon I will learn how to walk again."

"And if you need my help, I'll be there."

"...Thank you, Hank." Connor tossed the retrieved fetch ball for Sumo once more. "You're a good friend."

"Yeah? And you're the most stubborn partner I've ever had."

"Is that a good thing?"

"We'll see."

...next story...

Chapter Text

A massive illegal lab producing 'red ice' had been uncovered by an anonymous tip to the police. Housed in what was supposed to be an abandoned chemical factory downtown, the massive lab was shutdown and the suppliers had been arrested en mass. As Hank had once been part of a respectable task force in the narcotics division that had busted an enormous 'red ice' ring several years prior, he and Connor were assigned to the bust to piece together the random bits of evidence to identify and track down the remaining members of the drug ring.

"Jeez, I haven't this much 'red ice' in one place in a long time." Hank observed as he walked between the giant cylindrical metal vats that held the highly volatile and combustible chemicals, created aisles of metallic carnage. "How many were arrested before we arrived?"

"Fourteen." Chris confirmed as he looked at the report on the electronic clipboard in his hand. "And at least as many managed to escape out the back."

"Shit. Any idea who they are or where they might run?"

"Captain Fowler has a team working on it right now, but he was hoping you and Connor might be able to see something we may have overlooked during our initial sweep of the building."

"Right, sure." Hank looked to his android partner who was meticulously scanning each vat and chronicling the contents within. The android was walking slowly with a slight limp after enduring a serious injury to his spine a week prior, but he wasn't complaining about any pain. "See anything useful Connor?"

Connor wandered at a leisurely pace between the towering vats a few feet behind Hank, and noted the detective's question. His previous spinal injury had healed entirely four days prior but his movement was temporarily stunted as his system finished recalibrating the replacement discs to repair his damaged spine.

"It appears that the drug manufacturers had connections to various chemical factories throughout the country. I've been able to trace the shipping serial numbers to factories in Toronto, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Ann Arbor and Lansing. I suspect their connections have received word of the operation being discovered and have since severed all ties and gone into hiding."

"Can you give us the exact addresses of the factories?"

Connor's L.E.D. flashed from blue to yellow as he transmitted the requested data directly to the precinct. "Done."

"Good work. What else?"

Connor approached a wooden table at the far side of the room where a 'sample' of the drug had been laid out for inspection. Picking up a tiny crystal of the red tinted drug between his thumb and forefinger Connor scanned it quickly and traced it back to a single batch that had been pulled off the street two nights prior by another precinct in the area.

"This particular supply had been sold outside the Hartford Station. It's possible the manufacturers have a hideout in or nearby one of the numerous abandoned buildings."

Hank agreed with Connor's assessment and turned back to Chris who was waiting by the door leading to the floor. "Chris get a team out to Hartford. Bring back-up just in case things go south, will ya'?"

"Will do, Lieutenant." Chris obeyed his superior and left the building to follow his new orders without question. "I'm on it."

Connor dropped the red crystal on the table and resumed his scan of the vats along the walls. Near the center of the room was a long metal table lined with beakers, jars, metal pans and a Bunsen burner that still had a bright orange flame lit.

"They haven't been gone for too long." Connor noted the flame and how much fuel was left inside the burner. "They must've fled as soon as the door was broken down."

"Too bad we couldn't have caught them all. I hate to think how many people are still danger."

Connor noted the various chemicals on the table and scanned them to identify the dangerous substances: sodium hydroxide, red phosphorus, anhydrous ammonia, lithium, hydrochloric acid and Freon.

"They were well supplied." Connor added as he picked up the jar containing the sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, and held it in his hands. An unseen, thin crack in the glass caused the lye to seep through and onto Connor's hand as soon as the android applied pressure to the container.

Connor let out a yelp of pain as the lye began to quickly eat through his artificial skin down to his white plastimetal frame beneath. "Damn it!"

"Connor?!" Hank turned quickly to see the android drop the glass jar as his hand suddenly let it go out a pained reflex.

The chemical spilled all over the table and instantly ignited as it splashed over the lit flame on the burner.

"Shit!"

Flames jumped from the table and onto the front of Connor's shirt causing the chemically burned android to step backward and try to smother out the flames with his second hand. Hank was at Connor's side in a matter of seconds as he fought to aid his distress partner. Removing his own coat he used it to effectively smother out the flames on Connor's shirt as he pushed the android back further from the blazing table. Once the flames on Connor's shirt were out Hank turned and looked at the table.

"Fuck!"

Continuing to use his coat Hank extinguished the flames on the table and disabled the burner in the process.

"Damn it, that was close!" Hank shook out his ruined coat as acrid smoke filled the air. "You alright?"

"No." Connor pressed his hands to his chest as his L.E.D. flashed red in pain and embarrassment. "I was clumsy and stupid. I should've extinguished the flame first, and I should've checked the jar for any flaws before I touched it."

Hank didn't care that Connor was clumsy, accidents happen after all. But he did care that android was genuinely shaken up by the experience.

"There's an emergency chemical wash kit in the trunk of the car." Hank stated as put his hand on Connor's shoulder to guide the android back outside and away from the dangerous substances. "I'll get you patched up."

"I have to make a report." Connor stated as his L.E.D. flashed from red to yellow. "I have to let Captain Fowler know what has happened."

"Don't worry about Fowler, worry about you."

Guiding Connor over to the car parked outside the building Hank popped the trunk and pulled out the emergency kit tucked away in the back. With the kit tucked under his arm Hank walked over to the passenger side of the car and opened the door as he motioned for Connor to take a seat.

"Let me see your hands."

Connor extended his hands, palm up, for Hank to see. The lye had destroyed a disturbing portion of his artificial skin and caused the white plastimetal to slightly warp with disfigurement. The android's incredible self-healing program would repair the warped metal in time, but it would take longer than his artificial skin.

"Aw, fuck! If this is what happens to artificial skin and metal I'd hate to see what it does the organic kind of stuff." Hank slipped latex gloves over his hands to protect himself before he opened the one liter rectangular bottle of saline solution and poured the contents over Connor's hands to rinse away the residual lye. "Turn your hands over and spread your fingers."

Connor obeyed and felt immediate relief as the saline removed the caustic chemical from his sore hands. The lye pooled on the pavement of the parking lot and bubbled up in a foamy layer and left the air lingering with an unsettling stench.

"That feels better." The android admitted as his hands were cleansed. "It feels much better."

"Yeah, I bet." Hank's eyes went to the black scorch marks on Connor's white shirt after he took care of the deviant's hands. He pointed at the imperfection against Connor's chest and cleared his throat before speaking. "Let me see."

"Huh?" Connor looked up from his hands and followed Hank's gaze back down to his own shirt. "Oh."

Using the very tips of his exposed fingers Connor pulled open the buttons surrounding the burn to reveal his damaged artificial skin beneath. It wasn't as bad as the chemical burns on his hands but it still needed to be cleaned up nonetheless.

"You're lucky." Hank stated as he poured the saline against a clean pad of gauze he pulled out of the emergency kit, and used it to wipe down the burned skin. Connor winced and wanted to shift away from the painful contact, but knew better than to move about. "Most people who get caught in a chemical fire don't get to walk away with such little damage. Most drug dealers have burn scars along their face, neck, hands and arms from getting too close to their own product."

"I doubt this type of incident truly fits under the definition of 'lucky'." Connor quipped as Hank finished wiping down the burn on his chest.

"I know your healing program thing is going to take care of things on its own, but I'm going to wrap up your hands just because it hurts me to look at them."

"I'm sorry. I will be more careful in the future."

"I hope so." Hank commented as he took a roll of gauze and wrapped the bandages carefully around Connor's fingers, then his palms and worked down to his wrists and partially up his forearms. "I'm going to make sure Fowler keeps you on the homicide division and away from narcotics. You'd melt into a puddle your first day on the job!"

"...That's not possible, but I understand your metaphor."

Appreciative of Connor understanding that what he said wasn't meant to be taken literally Hank kept his focus on Connor's current status. "Does your chest hurt?"

"No. I currently have less pain sensors developed in my chest and abdomen than I do my hands. At least I do for now."

"Oh. Good, I guess." After he rebuttoned Connor's shirt on the android's behalf Hank let out a sigh and studied the android's flashing L.E.D. for a moment as it cycled from a distressed yellow and back to a healthy shade of blue. "You're seriously going to develop more pain receptors as you stay deviant?"

"...Correct."

"Shit. I can't imagine becoming more sensitive to pain, or cold, or heat... I can honestly say right now that I don't envy you." Straightening up Connor's tie as a professional courtesy Hank sighed and eyed the bandaged up android warily. "Are you sure you're okay? I mean, you can't even type let alone hold a weapon to defend yourself."

"Yes, Hank." Flexing his bandaged hands weakly he let out a mildly pained sigh. "I will heal entirely in two days. Until then I can continue my work through cybernetic contact, and I have you to watch my back."

"Alright then. Let's solve this case."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Trailing a heavily damaged and malfunctioning deviant android to a modest motel in the heart of the city had placed Connor and Hank in a very dangerous situation. An android referring to himself as 'Ralph' sported nasty scars along the left side of his face, his left totally destroyed. Ralph brandished a menacing hunting knife in his right hand as he tried to escape the detective duo who were trying to reason with him from the far end of the second floor of the building's exterior landing. Desperate, frightened and evidently scared the deviant was proving itself to be a worrisome confrontation.

"Hello Ralph. My name is Connor." Connor raised his hands up slowly to show Ralph his gun before slipping it back into the holster stretched along his back. "I don't want to hurt you, Ralph. I want to help you."

"Ralph isn't crazy." The deviant stated as he pointed the blade at Connor then at Hank who was standing at Connor's side. "Ralph knows humans want to hurt Ralph."

"No he doesn't." Connor insisted as he subtly nodded to Hank to follow suit with his own gun and holster it. "We just want to know why you're here and why you broke into that house. That's all."

"Ralph's house is gone. Demolished by humans." Ralph was referring to the abandoned house just down the block from the motel. A house that Connor and Hank had considered as a possible hideout for rogue deviants; turns out they were right. "Ralph needs to find a home. Needs to get off the street."

:We can help." Hank slowly lowered his gun and placed it in the holster at his hip as Connor suggested. "Why don't you go to New Jericho Tower? It's a sanctuary for all androids."

"Ralph knows that humans will follow." The unstable deviant's head twitched in an unsettling manner as he glared at Hank with utter hatred in his damaged eyes. "Ralph will not let the humans find other androids. Ralph is smarter than that."

Hank lowered his voice as he addressed his partner subtly. "Connor, this android is seriously damaged. I don't think we can reason with him this time."

"Agreed." Connor had tried and failed to scan Ralph's systems to identify the problem but the android had suffered such extensive damage over a long period of time that it was impossible to identify the exact cause with direct interfacing. "We can't let him go, he might hurt someone out of a paranoid delusion."

"So what do we do?"

"Call Markus." Connor urged quietly as he kept his eyes on Ralph. "Maybe he can talk some sense into him."

Ralph wildly swung his blade when he saw Hank make a move for his pocket. "Don't hurt Ralph! Ralph doesn't like pain..."

"I'm not going to hurt you." Hank replied calmly and made another move for his pocket. "I just want to call someone."

"Lie! You're lying to Ralph!"

"No, he's not." Connor watched Ralph's every movement carefully as he put himself between the deviant and Hank. "We want to-"

Ralph suddenly lunged at Hank but Connor was just as fast and responded with lightning quick reflexes. Grabbing onto Ralph's wrist Connor held the lethal knife at bay and away from Hank as the human wisely backed away. The duo struggled for the knife and leaned heavily against the black railing that lined the second floor exterior balcony of the hotel.

Hank slowly drew his gun again ready to fire as soon as Connor was clear, but until then all he could do was watch and wait to see what happened.

"Let it go!" Connor demanded as he tried to keep the knife back, but Ralph's panic gave the deviant more determination to win than Connor. "We don't want to hurt you!"

The pressure being applied against the railing proved itself to be too much as the two deviants struggled for the weapon. The bolts securing the railing to the concrete balcony began to buckle and bend under the increasing pressure before finally giving way with a loud metallic 'creak' causing the two androids to topple over the edge of the balcony, and down into the parking lot below.

"Shit! Connor!" Hank had made a dive to grab for Connor's hand but missed! Looking over the edge Hank eyed the two deviants laying motionless below and felt his heart skip a beat. "Oh fuck!" Scrambling back to his feet Hank raced down the balcony and rushed down the steps to reach the parking lot and subsequently his partner. "Connor?"

Connor was laying on his side curled around himself, his hands gripping desperately at his abdomen as he breathed through his clenched teeth in pain.

Miraculously, Ralph had already gotten to his feet and disappeared into the night, leaving no trace of himself behind to be trailed.

"Connor," Hank knelt beside his partner and put his hand on the top of Connor's head as he spoke in a soft voice. "how bad?"

"B-Bad." Connor stammered as he weakly rolled from his side and onto his back. His hands were still clutching at his abdomen but now Hank could see why as dark Thirium oozed around his fingers and something shiny and metallic jutting out of his torso. "...Very bad."

"Oh, fuck!"

Ralph's knife was fully embedded in the center of Connor's torso all the way up to its hilt. Thirium was leaking all around the stab wound in rhythmic gushes that synchronized with Connor's frantic heartbeat in his chest.

"I'll call for help!" Hank stated as he made another grab for the phone in his pocket.

"N-No time." Connor wheezed as he used his shaking hands to pull open the front of his blue stained dress shirt, and scanned the resulting damage the blade had caused to his body. "The blade has i-impaired my secondary Th-Thireal artery. I will bleed to d-death in less than four m-minutes if the bl-bleeding isn't stopped!"

"Wh-" Hank felt his own blood suddenly run cold at Connor's words. Slipping off his coat Hank folded it up and tucked it beneath Connor's head to try to give his friend some form of comfort and support. "What do I have to do to save you? Talk me through this!"

Connor forced the numerous red warnings from his visual sensors as he pressed his fingers to his red L.E.D. in his temple, causing the artificial skin over his abdomen to recede. "F-Find the impaired artery and t-tie it off."

"Tie it off? How?" Hank asked as he pushed down on the white plastimetal frame that was now exposed courtesy of the removal of the artificial skin, but the panel couldn't open because of the knife obstructing its movement. Taking a firm grip on the handle of the knife he gave Connor an uncertain glance and held his breath. "I have to pull out the knife to look inside, and you're going to bleed a lot. Are you sure about this?"

Connor nodded weakly. Tucking his arm under his head he peered down at his bloodied torso and held his breath as well. "Do it!"

Using a precise, firm yank the knife was pulled from Connor's abdomen and the android gasped in pain as his entire body jerked in response.

"Sorry, sorry!" Hank put his hand down on Connor's chest to try and still the android. "It's out! Now what?"

"O-Open the panel. Locate the l-leak."

Hank pressed down harder on the plastimetal frame causing it to unlock at last. Sliding the panel open Hank looked down inside Connor's bloody torso and saw a gush of Thirium leaking quickly from where the blade had made contact with the mentioned Thireal line.

"T-Two minutes..." Connor wheezed as his countdown clock to imminent shutdown recalibrated after the knife was removed. "and counting."

"I see it, Connor." Hank reluctantly dipped his fingers into the collecting pool of Thirium and used his fingertips to isolate the damage as requested. "I think I can- Wait! There's something going on here..."

It wasn't the Thireal line that had been damaged, but the connecting point between the artery itself and the Thirium pump regulator. The knife had managed to wedge itself between the two points of contact severing them cleanly without actually causing damage to either the biocomponent or the Thirium line.

"Hang tight, son, I got you." Hank replaced the connection point at the end of the arterial line and secured it into the coupling at the bottom of the regulator. There was an audible 'click' as the connection was restored and the leak stopped immediately. "Got it!"

Connor took in a deep breath as the countdown stopped with twenty-two seconds remaining. "The l-leak has been successfully s-stopped. Thirium volume d-down to sixty-four percent."

Hank sighed and sat down in the parking lot beside Connor. He rested his bloody hands over his knees as Thirium dripped from his fingertips, staining the already dark asphalt with darker spots of blue.

"We need to find this 'Ralph' deviant." Trying to collect his thoughts Hank brought up their escaped suspect. "He tried to kill you, Connor."

"No." Connor disagreed as his hand raised up from the ground and pressed against his abdomen to close the panel. "He w-wanted to kill you. The fact that the blade so c-cleanly severed a contact point instead of d-destroying a biocomponent means he wanted to d-disable me just long enough to e-escape."

"Oh, well, as long as he just wanted to kill me, then I guess we can let him go!"

Connor gave the detective a bemused glance as he lifted his head a little higher up from the ground. "Hank, he needs to be captured but," His voice was stabilizing as his self-healing program began to disperse what Thirium remained his body evenly to the other biocomponents. "not because he h-harmed me, because he needs assistance. I think it'd be best to have M-Markus escort him to New Jericho to be repaired."

"Speaking of which," Hank pointed at Connor's bloodied torso. "there's an android facility two blocks East of here. Let's get you some fresh Thirium and cleaned up. We'll let Fowler know to put out an A.P.B. on Ralph. Hopefully, we can arrest him without any further incidents."

"I hope so." Connor reached out a hand to Hank who got to his feet quickly then pulled the android up slowly behind him. Swaying a little on his feet Connor waited for his gyroscope to recalibrate before letting go of Hank's hand. "It would be unfortunate if Ralph were to be arrested and locked away instead of receiving the help he needs."

"Whoa, easy." Hank kept a hand on Connor's shoulder and held it in place. "Do you have the strength to walk to the car?"

"Yes, I can make it." Confirming the question with a subtle nod of the head Connor began taking slow, meticulous steps toward the car parked a few yards away. "Thank you, Hank."

...next story...

 

Chapter Text

It was the middle of July and Detroit was caught in the grips of a scorching heatwave. With temperatures reaching triple digits by noon it didn't take long for the populous to start feeling weak, tired, ill and irritable. The police force was stretched thin as numerous calls regarding violent outbursts plagued the city and summer activities taking place in the park required constant preventative supervision in the event of more violence, or victims of heat stroke.

To compensate for the massive amount of required supervision Hank was assigned to patrol Hart Plaza, while Connor was assigned a separate patrol through Roosevelt Park. The other officers at the precinct had also been assigned patrols beyond their usual caseload until the heat wave finally faded.

Passing through unnoticed by people enjoying the summer day with picnics, family walks and other activities through the park Connor enjoyed the peaceful ambience that accompanied the joyous atmosphere. The sun rose high into the sky and just past noon the day had already reached a frighteningly high temperature of one-hundred and four degrees Fahrenheit.

While the people in the park wore light clothing, sought shade under trees or parasols, and kept cool with ice cold drinks, Connor didn't have such fortunate options at his disposal. Androids didn't sweat which made them especially vulnerable to extreme heat, and have no ability to consume water or other liquids their only option was to drink chilled Thirium when their Thirium volume dropped low enough to warrant replenishment.

A red warning screen popped up in Connor's visual sensors as he lapped around the park for the fifth time that day. His core temperature was beginning to rise as a result of the extremely warm summer day and Connor had few options to remedy the situation. Despite his ventilation biocomponents functioning at full capacity to cool his systems, his thermal regulator was unable to maintain a consistent temperature causing Connor's internal systems to gradually overheat.

WARNING:

CORE TEMPERATURE - RISING: 101 DEGREES.

Dismissing the warning Connor resumed his patrol, though his L.E.D. had shifted from blue to yellow due to his rising core temperature and overall physical distress.

Another hour passed without incident for the patrolling android through the park, though the day continued to grow hotter and hotter. Connor sighed deeply and tried to focus his attention on his breathing, trying to keep his ventilation biocomponents functioning as efficiently as possible, but the external heat was proving itself quite a formidable opponent to his internal systems.

Unable to consume any chilled Thirium and unable to locate any nearby buildings with air conditioning to ease the strain on his systems Connor was greeted by yet another warning in his visual sensors.

WARNING:

CORE TEMPERATURE - CRITICAL: 104 DEGREES.

Connor's L.E.D. fluctuated between yellow and red as it cycled rapidly in response to his systems trying to cool down before anything suffered permanent damage. Pausing where he stood beneath the small shade under a tree Connor put his hand to his head as his systems began to fall into low power mode as an automatic safety precaution.

Unwilling to move and risk his temperature getting any higher Connor stood in place and waited for his system to very slowly cool itself, and hoped it happened before he suffered an internal damage.

Fortunately, Chris had been assigned patrol in the park as well, and was on his way to relieve Connor for the rest of the afternoon when he spotted the android standing perfectly still by the tree.

"Hey Connor, you okay?" Chris asked as he approached his fellow officer curiously. Unlike Connor, Chris was dressed in a short sleeved uniform shirt and wisely wore an athletic thermal muscle shirt beneath to ensure he stayed cool. He also had a bottle of cold water clipped to his belt so he could remain hydrated while on patrol. "Connor?" Chris put his hand on Connor's arm and shook him lightly. "Connor, you okay? It feels like the heat's getting to you, man."

Connor's eyes slowly focused on Chris as the android fought to override his emergency low power protocols to remain as functional as possible. "Chris. You're here to relieve me, yes?"

"Y-Yeah. Are you okay?" Chris craned his neck and saw the light blinking in Connor's right temple. "Your L.E.D. is red."

"I am having difficulty coping with the intense heat, but once I'm inside and out of the direct sunlight I will be able to compensate."

"Are you sure? You're shaking!"

It was true. Connor's body was trembling as his systems began to strain from the high core temperature overwhelming him. His Thirium pump; his heart, was beating so hard and so quickly that it was causing his entire body to shake with each beat.

"I assure you, I am-"

WARNING:

CORE TEMPERATURE - CRITICAL: 106 DEGREES

TAKE COOLING MEASURES IMMEDIATELY

SHUTDOWN IMMINENT: 00:59:58

"I-" Connor tried again but his system override against the low power mode failed, and he collapsed backward right in front of Chris.

"Oh, shit!" Chris managed to get his hand under Connor's head just before he hit the ground, and support him accordingly.

Thinking quickly Chris took the water from his belt and poured it over Connor's forehead and then over his chest to try to cool him off. The cold water was enough to cause Connor's eyes to snap open as the chilled liquid was absorbed into the fabric of his shirt and unnecessary gray CyberLife jacket, though he was still running on low power mode and subsequently too weak to move.

"Hey, I got you." Chris stated as he put his hand down on Connor's chest where he could feel the Thirium pump hammering away under his palm and began to worry. Chris had enough emergency medical training to know that unconsciousness and a rapid heartbeat were indicative of heat stroke. "I'll call for backup to-"

Connor shook his head a little as he stared up at Chris who was kneeling over him. "I can... make it."

"Make it? To the car?"

Connor nodded his head slowly to confirm the question.

"I'll help you, but I don't think I can do much for you if you keep overheating."

"I..." Connor's voice was shaking and carried a disturbing electronic echo as he forced his voice box into function. "I understand."

"Okay, come on." Chris grabbed onto Connor's arm and hauled the android up onto his feet, and waited for him to fine his balance on his shaking legs. Taking Connor's arm around his own shoulders Chris helped the android walk to his patrol car parked along the street, just a few yards away from where he had found the android. "I have more water in the trunk. Hopefully it can do you some good."

"Thank you... Chris."

"Don't thank me just yet!" Chris stated he all but dragged Connor to the car. "You're still in danger."

Connor's systems were trying to switch off his non-vital functions, but doing so would leave Connor in a vulnerable state. Several of these functions, though non-vital, were still important: speech, scanner, auditory sensors, visual sensors and the ability to run self-diagnostics.

"Here we are." Chris pulled open the rear door of the squad car and lowered Connor to the seat. Pushing the android backward so he was laying flat on his back Chris poured the last of his water over Connor's chest before moving to the front of the car to pull open the driver's side door. Putting the key in the ignition Chris turned the car on to get some air flowing. "I'll crank the A/C, and get you more water."

Connor wanted to say something, anything to Chris, but his Thirium pump was beating so hard that it was distracting and... alarming.

Clutching his hand to his chest Connor began to breath quickly as he tried to force his heart rate to slow down. The additional sensors that had been slowly developing throughout Connor's entire body during his deviancy now made him uncomfortably aware of his own heartbeat, of his own breathing, of the cold, wet fabric of his shirt clinging heavily to his artificial skin as he took in deep panting breaths.

It was almost too much to bear, but Connor refused to let his mind become clouded. Yet no matter how much of the situation he accurately processed his systems continued to rebel against him.

His heart thundered faster, louder. Connor could hear it and it was making him breathing faster as a result. Unknowingly his right hand had reached up to his chest over his heart and began pulling at the cold, constricting fabric as he contemplated the idea of his Thirium pump burning itself out.

Chris had turned up the cold air as much as he could before popping the trunk of the car and retrieving two more bottles of cold water from a compartment tucked away next to an emergency first aid kit. As the trunk slammed shut Connor felt the car rock and his eyes want back to the opened door of the backseat as Chris reappeared in his line of vision.

"Connor? You still with me?"

The android was breathing rapidly as if he couldn't catch his breath, and his brown eyes were wide with fear and his hand was grasped to tightly to his chest Chris expected to see blue blood oozing out from under his fingertips at any second.

"Easy, easy!" Chris soothed as tucked one cold bottle of water under Connor's neck to try to get his full attention. "Look at me. You're going to be okay."

"C-Can't... breathe!"

"Yes you can!" Chris immediately realized that Connor was beginning to suffer from a panic attack and not just the heat, and he reacted accordingly. "You're doing it right now, what you need to do is slow your breathing down."

"I... I can't-"

"Hey, look at me. Watch me." Chris put his hand on his own chest and took in a deep breath before releasing it slowly. He repeated the action just as calmly and just as slowly for the android to see. "Copy me, match your breathing with mine."

"I-"

"Connor. Breathe."

Shaking his head once as if he could somehow push away the numerous red warnings marring his vision Connor did as Chris instructed and took a slow, deep breath. Letting it out slowly Connor felt his Thirium pump finally beginning to slow a little.

"That's it, keep going. You'll feel much better, trust me."

As Connor matched his breathing with Chris's breathing his Thirium pump began to slow even further and it no longer felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. The warnings in his visual sensors also began to disappear one by one with Connor having to manually dismiss them. Connor's core temperature also slowly, but surely began to lower to more a manageable level as well.

"Feel better?" Chris asked as he looked down at the android as his breathing calmed and his hand relaxed its death grip over his chest.

"Y-Yes." Connor confirmed, his voice sounding much stronger than before. "Thank you. ...How did you know that would work?"

"My little sister used to get panic attacks when we were young. I would help her calm down and now I'm just kind of a pro at dealing with these things."

"Thanks... It really helped."

"No problem." Chris noted the time on his watch and made a quick decision. "I'm going to take you back home so you can cool off, okay?"

"But you can't leave your patrol."

"Yeah, but if it's for an emergency I think Captain Fowler will understand. Besides, you don't live that far away."

"You're certain you wish to risk incurring disciplinary measures against yourself on my behalf?"

"After the way you pulled Hank out that dark spiral of depression just by befriending him, I'm willing to take a bullet for you."

"Please don't." Connor insisted as the metaphor was lost on his frazzled mind. "I can confirm bullet wounds are very unpleasant."

"Yeah, sure." Chris couldn't help but laugh at the android as he closed the door. "I'll get you home in a few minutes, just hang tight."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Returning to the city of Detroit after enduring a lengthy and annoying 'business trip' in Lansing regarding the latest protocol revolving around deviant related crimes, Hank found himself drifting in and out of a light sleep from the passenger seat as Connor drove the car through a mild, but troublesome snowstorm. The human felt absolutely exhausted and had experienced some stomach pain for the past two days, but didn't let it get in the way of his job. Connor had insisted on Hank seeing a doctor before they left Lansing but Hank refused; convinced it was just a mild stomach flu and would pass in another day or two, despite developing a mild fever two days prior.

Hank was leaning back in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest and the collar of his coat pulled up to his ears. He had his eyes closed but he was still awake and aware of every little turn, and every patch of ice that the car drove over as the snowstorm quickly evolved into a full-blown blizzard.

"You look pale." Connor observed with a cool tone of voice as he glanced over at Hank's face.

"It's winter. Of course I'm pale, kid."

Connor slowly reached his hand over and pressed his palm against Hank's forehead to gauge the elevated temperature his scanner already noted.

"Hey, hey!" Hank batted Connor's hand away and sighed with tired irritation. "I'm not that sick."

"You do have a fever." Connor confirmed somewhat stubbornly as his L.E.D. turned yellow with worry. "You've had a mild fever over the past forty-eight hours, but now it's increasing to a higher degree."

"You've been monitoring my temperature for two days?"

"I have been checking your vital signs hourly since you first became ill." The android explained coolly. "I have an extensive record of your current health history if you'd like me to review it."

"That seems like a huge invasion of privacy, Connor."

"I'm sorry, I should've asked your permission." Connor apologized sincerely, his L.E.D. returning to blue as he ended the constant monitoring. "I will stop scanning your vitals if you wish."

"Don't worry about it. Just don't ask me to turn my head and cough!" Hank quipped and followed it with a light laugh, only to press his hand down against his abdomen reflexively. "...Fuck."

"Are you experiencing pain?"

"Nothing I can't handle." Hank deflected the question expertly as he looked through the windshield at the disappearing road in front of him. "Hey, thanks for driving, kid. I don't think I'd be able to keep control of the car during these conditions."

"You're welcome. Fortunately, my scanners have access to G.P.S. mapping allow me to detect where the surface of the road begins and ends without having to visually process it."

"Damn. I wish I could do that." The car suddenly made a loud 'bang' followed by a groaning noise that made Hank jump a little in his seat. He had worked on cars long enough to know that a tire had been damaged by the horrible road conditions and failed. "Ah, shit..."

Connor scanned the hood of the vehicle and found that the engine itself was still running properly, but the rear driver's side tire had suddenly gone flat. The sound was from the tire dragging dangerously from the rim and along the road beneath the car's heavier frame.

"It appears we have a flat tire."

"Yeah, I know that!" Hank snapped bitterly as Connor pulled the car to the side of the road. "And I don't have a spare in the trunk. Fuck, I knew I forgot to do something when I changed the oil last week!"

"It's too dangerous for us to continue driving with the car in this current condition." Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow again as he attempted to cybernetically contact road assistance, but there was no one available during the blizzard. "The storm has also left us stranded without any means of mechanical assistance."

"Great. Now what the fuck do we do? Sit in the car and wait it out?"

"Unlikely. While the car will provide some degree of heat and shelter the current fuel supply will deplete before nightfall. And even if we turned off the engine and waited for nightfall before engaging the heater the fuel supply would still deplete before help arrived in the following morning."

"So... we're walking?"

"There is a campground two point two miles down the road. We can take shelter and possibly find assistance there."

"Yeah, right. No one in their right mind would be at the campground during this fuckin' storm. It's months away from 'camping season'."

"We should go there anyway. It's the safer alternative compared to freezing to death in the car."

"Fine, whatever." Hank threw open his door begrudgingly and stepped out into the intensely cold and harsh wind. Wrapping his thick dark coat around himself as tightly as possible he endure the brutal weather as best as he could "Damn it's cold!"

Connor turned off the engine and pocketed the key as he joined Hank outside of the car. His discomfort against the cold was less audible and more internal as his visual sensors warned him of the dangerously low temperature. It was more aggressive than the extreme heat Connor experienced the previous summer, and with that reality settling in Connor knew time was critical for himself and more importantly for Hank.

"We must move quickly. We'll succumb to hypothermia due to the extreme cold in less than one hour."

"Shit, you don't have to tell me twice! Lead the way."

Hank pulled the collar of his coat up higher to protect his throat and ears as he followed closely behind Connor along the side of the road. Connor had crossed his arms over his chest as he attempted to stave off the extreme cold that could possibly damage his biocomponents or freeze his Thirium lines. Both detectives were in danger from the prolonged exposure to such an drastically low temperature, but had little choice in the matter at hand.

Trudging through the snow Connor used his sensors to track his current location through his cybernetically installed G.P.S. while traversing the icy cold terrain. Having traveled less than a mile Connor became worried when he turned to look over his shoulder to see that Hank was moving with some difficulty through the snow. His pace was slow and his movements seemed uncoordinated with each sluggish step.

The detective's pale pallor looked whiter even against the billowing snow all around him, and despite the cold Hank's temperature was getting higher.

"Hank?" Connor instinctively ran another scan over Hank's body, his L.E.D. flashing yellow with concern over the significantly elevated temperature that he had detected. Backtracking to where Hank was standing Connor stood before Hank and grabbed onto his upper arm to support the ill detective. "We must get you to shelter, your health is declining."

"Yeah... I know. Damn flu." Hank grimaced at a sharp pain in his side as he tried to keep walking. "...Son of a bitch..."

"Hank, you're showing signs of physical distress that have no association with the flu."

"I'll be fine, Connor." Hank insisted with an irritated tone as Connor practically pulled him along the road to the campground.

"I suspect otherwise."

The statement was lost in the wind as Connor slowed his own walking pace to stay with Hank at his side.

Pushing through the wind and the blinding snow Connor located the campground with relative ease, while it was far more of a challenge for Hank to see where he was going. By the time the two crossed onto the main drive leading toward the campground Hank was practically hanging off of Connor's arm as he suddenly felt too weak, too sore to keep walking under his own strength.

"It's just a little further." Wrapping his arm around Hank's waist Connor began dragging Hank through the snow in a style that reminded him of the night he had found Hank passed out drunk on the kitchen floor, and he had to sober up the stubborn detective. "You'll be out of the storm soon."

"Connor..." Hank's face had grown several shades paler and his movement seemed limited on his right side. "I don't feel so good... I think I'm going to puke."

Hastening his speed Connor dragged Hank through the snow and to the nearest cabin for shelter. Stopping at the door Connor tried to turn the knob but the door was expectedly locked. Planting himself firmly Connor swiftly raised his leg to kick down the door at the handle with an aggressive motion, while also keeping Hank upright by the arm.

"You're safe." Connor sighed as he carried Hank inside the vacant, tiny cabin and over to the lone bed. Laying Hank down on his back as gently as possible Connor lifted the detective's legs up and helped Hank to lay flat and straight to ensure he was comfortable. "Try to rest until you warm up."

The bed was small and had one pillow with a thin red and black checkered quilt over top of it.

The cabin wasn't luxurious but it was comparatively much warmer than the outside. It was built with a single main room that contained the bed, a chair, a small kitchenette and large hearth. One door led to the bathroom, a second door led to storage closet, and a small hatch in the ceiling to led to a small attic storage space above. Tucked away in the far corner of the room was gasoline powered generator used to provide heat an alternative to the hearth.

The building itself was basic, but overall effective.

"I'll build a fire." Connor volunteered as he eyed the large pile of firewood stacked beside the hearth. Placing several logs and dried twigs into the fireplace Connor located a book of matches atop the mantle over the hearth with some relief. The android struck a match without trouble and lit the logs in bright orange flames that quickly consumed the provided tinder. "That should help keep the cold at bay."

Hank was deathly pale and despite the cold his face was drenched in sweat. He was also beginning to breathe quickly as he endured a mounting pain in his side. As Hank took in shallow, rapid breaths Connor quickly detected the labored breathing and ran another scan.

"Hank?" Connor returned to the bed and pressed his palm against Hank's forehead. It was burning hot and Hank was beginning to become delirious from a quickly spiking fever. "Shit."

Reacting quickly Connor proceeded to sit Hank up enough on the bed with one arm to pull his coat off of his arms, and slip it from around his shoulders. Putting the coat down at the end of the bed neatly Connor checked through the refrigerator in the kitchenette and found several cubes of ice in the freezer but nothing more.

"I'm going to get your temperature down, Hank." Rushing into the bathroom Connor found a single cloth hand towel hanging on the edge of the sink and decided that it'd have to do as a compress. As he wrapped the limited supply of ice in the towel he noticed Hank trying to sit up from the corner of his eye and responded with a protective nature. "No, lay down. Don't try to get up."

"I'm-"

"No." Connor hustled to the bed and pushed Hank back down by the shoulder before smoothing the compress over his too warm forehead. "You're dangerously ill and must rest. I'll take care of you until I can get you to a hospital."

"Connor..." Hank huffed with great discomfort in voice. "I think I'm going to be sick."

"Oh." Returning to the bathroom swiftly Connor looked in the modest bathtub then under the sink where he found an empty bucket and a bottle of bleach. Handing the bucket to Hank the detective immediately threw up what little contents he had in his stomach into the container, while Connor kept one hand on his back to support him. "Hank, I don't think you have the flu."

"Yeah-" Hank threw up again then laid flat back down as Connor took the bucket away from him. Wincing at the continuous pain in his side that felt worse, then somehow a little better, Hank eyed Connor curiously. "What do you think is wrong with me?"

"I'm detecting a great inflammation in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen. I believe it's due to appendicitis."

"...My appendix?"

"Correct." Connor adjusted the compress over Hank's forehead slightly, and kept his hand in place. "You require an operation to have it removed."

"Good fuckin' luck. There's no way I'm getting to a hospital in this weather."

"I agree. But I will attempt to contact a hospital cybernetically. Perhaps they can provide enough information for me to aid you until the roads clear."

"Sure, go ahead. I doubt you'll-"

Connor's L.E.D. blinked yellow quickly as he made cybernetic contact with the nearest hospital. Connecting with another android Connor was able to remotely gain the proper information needed for him to take care of the ill detective.

"I'll check for any medication that can help alleviate your pain." The android disappeared into the bathroom again to rummage through the medicine cabinet and returned with the only available medication in the cabin; a bottle of Ibuprofen. "It's not potent but it should help."

Hank allowed Connor to place two of the pills in his mouth as he didn't have the energy or coordination to do it himself. Swallowing the pills quickly Hank sighed as the pain in his side suddenly flared.

Noting Hank's continued pain Connor sent an update to the hospital. "What's the level of your discomfort?"

"Seriously?! Fuckin' eleven!"

"I see..." Connor's L.E.D. flashed red for a moment before returning to yellow. "Forgive me, but I must check your abdomen."

"Don't touch me, damn it! I'm in pain, that's all that matters."

"Hank, please. I must know the severity of the inflammation."

"Can't your scanner do that for you, so you don't have to touch me?"

"My scanner can only detect so much as my model was not designed for medical purposes."

Hank winced again and held his breath before he finally nodded as the pain was quickly becoming too much to bear. "Fine, but be fast!"

"...I will attempt to do so."

Connor lifted the hem of Hank's two shirts; the more colorful button shirt over top then the black t-shirt beneath, before he placed his right hand down against Hank's lower right side of his bare lower torso. The detective gritted his teeth and sucked in a pained breath as soon Connor applied any pressure to his abdomen, but it was when Connor lifted his hand did Hank truly understand the severity of his condition as the rebound pain was beyond anything he had experienced before.

"FUCK!" Hank swore loudly as he pushed Connor's hands from his abdomen wrapped his arms around his stomach. "SHIT!"

"Sorry! Sorry!" Connor put his hands down on Hank's shoulders to keep him as still as possible on the bed. "I won't touch it again."

"Fuck off..."

Connor dismissed the remark knowing that Hank's bad attitude was linked directly to the pain in his side and nothing that Connor himself was personally accountable for. Reconnecting with the hospital cybernetically Connor's red L.E.D. pulsed at a rapid rate as he was informed of the only treatment option available. And it wasn't going to be pleasant for either Hank or Connor to endure.

"Hank..." Connor's tone of voice told Hank everything he needed to know. "It needs to be done."

"No. Fucking. Way."

"I'm sorry Hank, but if I don't do it then you'll..." The idea of Hank slowly dying a painful, sickly death made Connor feel a horrible pain in his own stomach that he couldn't put into words. "I can't just sit here and watch you die."

"And I'm not going to let you live with the knowledge that you gutted me like a damn fish!"

"Hank, I'm in contact with the hospital as we speak," the android tried to reassure the stubborn detective as much as he could. "they can guide me through every step of the process."

"Connor-"

"Please Hank! I've even granted them access to my visual processors, they'll be able to see everything I can see."

Before he could utter another protest Hank's head suddenly lolled to the side and his eyes closed as he trailed off. "Don't..."

"Hank?" Connor pressed his fingers to the side of Hank's neck and counted his rapid pulse. His skin was also much warmer due to the increasing fever which meant Hank's appendix was dangerously close to rupturing. "Shit."

Realizing there wasn't any time to argue Connor scrambled about the cabin looking for anything he could use to perform the procedure. Searching through the closet, the attic space, back through the bathroom and through the drawers in the kitchen Connor managed to collect a very small array of tools - from a sewing kit as well as two blankets that could possibly be used to proceed with the very gruesome but necessary task at hand.

"These need to be sterilized." Connor spoke aloud to himself as he grabbed a large pot out of the kitchen cabinet and filled it with water from the partially frozen pipes. Placing the collected tools inside the water Connor positioned the pot on a cast iron hook inside the hearth to boil the water and clean the tools off before use.

Connor then slipped off his gray jacket and placed it on the end of the bed next to Hank's coat. Unbuttoning the cuffs of his white shirt he rolled the sleeves up to his elbows and tucked his tie inside the shirt to keep it from dropping down and getting in the way. Draping one blanket over Hank's chest and slipping the other under his lower back Connor mentally steeled himself and cybernetically reconnected with the android at the hospital as his guide.

It was in fact a human doctor who was preparing to watch the procedure through Connor's eyes on a special CyberLife laptop. It was designed to record the memories of androids who were registered at the hospital, but Connor was made the exception. Through Connor's eyes and through the second android acting as a link between the doctor and Connor himself, it would be an awkward but plausible remote surgery in the middle of the storm.

A surgery absolutely necessary to save Hank's life.

Connor let the water boil for five minutes before he retrieved the pot and drained the water carefully down the kitchen sink. Placing the collected tools onto a clean tray; sharpened fabric scissors, an 'exacto' knife, a large needle with silk thread and Flathead screwdriver, Connor walked over to the bed and set the tray down carefully atop his jacket as prepared to begin.

Pressing his hand against Hank's face Connor determined how conscious his friend still was and grimaced at the possible dreadful outcome. Hank would be too weak to put up a fight, but too alert to lay still. And worst of all he'd be able to feel every agonizing second of the gruesome procedure he was about to endure.

Heeding the instructions from the doctor Connor did as he was told and returned to the bathroom to claim the bottle of bleach and set it down on the kitchen counter. Taking a cup out of the cabinet Connor checked on the fuel gauge of the generator in the corner of the room and sighed with relief seeing that there was plenty of fuel inside. Removing the cap to the fuel tank Connor awkwardly tilted the generator down until a proper amount of had been collected in the cup before placing the generator back upright.

Using his scanner Connor checked the amount of methane based gasoline he had collected in the cup and scanned the bottle of bleach next. Calculating the proper dosage for each liquid Connor mixed the two together, using a spoon from the nearby drawer to stir, until he had a a crude but effective concoction of makeshift Chloroform.

"I'm sorry about this Hank, but I have to do it."

Leaning over the bed Connor dipped the corner of the blanket over Hank's chest into the Chloroform to absorb the anesthetic and then pressed the soaked edge of the blanket firmly against Hank's nose and mouth. After a minute of Hank pathetically and deliriously attempting to resist Connor's hands the detective fell into a deep chemically induced slumber.

Sighing with relief Connor next retracted the artificial skin from his hands and prepared for the doctor's next set of instructions.

It was a messy and uncomfortable procedure but Connor managed to obey the doctor's every word flawlessly as he used the 'exacto' knife to cut into Hank's abdomen and used the other instruments he collected to hold the incision open. Connor managed to remove the infected organ before it could rupture and make the fever so much worse for Hank, if not outright kill him from sepsis.

After thirty tense minutes of listening to the doctor's instructions Connor was given the clear to cauterize the incision where the appendix was cut away; the Flathead screwdriver and the fire roaring in the hearth allowing this to be possible; then stitch the exterior incision closed with the needle and silk thread.

It was easily some kind of new speed record for appendectomies, not that Connor was looking to get his name published in any medical journals.

Connor rinsed off his blood drenched plastimetal hands in the kitchen sink and happily replaced his artificial skin over his appendages.

Cutting a swatch of fabric from the blanket draped over Hank's chest Connor soaked it in ice cold water and placed it over the incision to reduce swelling, ease the pain and try to numb the immediate area just in case Hank awoke before he was able to get the detective to a hospital for proper treatment.

Sitting beside Hank's bed all night long Connor resolutely tended to Hank's dwindling fever until it finally broke, while also keeping the incision in his abdomen clean. The storm began to subside just before dawn, and it was then Connor heard the loud roaring engines of snowplows clearing the road.

"The roads are being cleared off. I can call for an ambulance now, Hank." Connor told his still unconscious partner as he cybernetically contacted emergency services and waited patiently. "And I hope you remain unconscious until well after you've arrived at the hospital."


Fortunately Hank had remained unconscious long until after he was taken to the hospital by a team of paramedics. While there the doctor explained to the detective what had happened to him while he was unconscious at the cabin, and how it was the only way to keep him alive. Hank wasn't happy about it, but he couldn't necessarily be mad about it either.

After all, Connor did save his life.

But it did create a very uncomfortably tense ride back to the city once the car had finally been towed to the nearest garage to have it's flat tire replaced, and a spare thrown into the trunk just in case.

Unwilling to speak to Hank out of fear of angering or even offending the man Connor kept silent and drove home without even looking over at the detective once during the trip. Returning to the city was a welcome relief to both detectives as there wasn't nearly as much snow throughout the town, which meant a quicker trip back home.

As Connor parked the car in the drive of the house and prepared to exit the vehicle Hank finally spoke up.

"Connor."

"Yes, Hank?" Connor froze immediately and his L.E.D. flashed to a worried yellow in response.

"If you ever perform surgery on me in my sleep again I will kill you. Understood?"

"Yes, Hank." Connor couldn't stop a sly grin from appearing on his face as he watched Hank slowly climb out of the car and limp toward the house. His L.E.D. cycled back to blue as he too stepped outside the car and let Hank lean on his shoulder for support. "I promise."

"I hope so."

Allowing the android to walk up to the backdoor ahead of him Hank watched Connor unlock the door and get promptly greeted by an anxious Sumo who wanted to be let outside.

"For what it's worth..." Hank stated in humble voice as he walked slowly through the opened door and into the kitchen. "Thanks. ...For saving my life."

A relieved smile crept over Connor's face as he followed the detective in the warm house. "...You're welcome."

...next story...

 

Chapter Text

While delving into cold cases revolving around the first androids to show marks toward deviancy, Connor had picked up a faint pattern between four of the deviants that trailed directly back to CyberLife Tower itself. The fact that the (now defunct) company had created Connor specifically to aid the Detroit Police Department in tracking down, identifying and capturing deviants had failed to disclose information regarding four of the deviants in question, raised a red flag for the two detectives who specialized in deviant related cases.

As Markus and his team had taken residence in the abandoned tower and renamed it 'New Jericho Tower', the leader of the deviants had located several locked data files hidden within a terminal abandoned in the research lab. It seemingly contained crucial information on all CyberLife produced models, including prototypes.

Markus had delivered the data to Connor at the precinct personally to ensure that it ended up in the right hands. Taking his leave of the precinct, trusting that Connor and Hank would be able to solve the mystery, Markus let the duo alone to work.

Hank leaned over his desk and watched Connor's increasingly soulful brown eyes as the android quickly scanned over each line of code uploaded to his terminal. It was a fascinating sight to behold as the detective waited for his partner to break his trance and finally speak to him.

"The first four reported deviants had been sent back directly to CyberLife Tower for maintenance." Connor stated with a flat tone with a faint hint of confusion. "But CyberLife cleared all four affected androids claiming that there was no anomaly with their programming or behavior. The records of their diagnostics had also been deleted despite claiming everything was normal."

"Yeah? You think CyberLife was trying to cover up deviancy before it spread?"

Connor's L.E.D. flashed from b ue to yellow as a new detail emerged and held his attention. "All four deviants were examined in a two week time period. The day after the fourth deviant was released back to its original owner a confirmation on a new prototype program was initiated: The RK-800 series." Connor looked to Hank with genuine confusion in his eyes, and stared at Hank as if seeking guidance. "...Me."

Hank's brow furrowed and he crossed his arms over his chest as he tried to understand Connor's current state of mind. "You think CyberLife intentionally and knowingly let the deviants back out on the streets just so they could create... you?"

"I was the most advanced prototype CyberLife had ever created. My programming is... unique." Connor let his eyes drift away from Hank until he was staring at a blank spot on his desk, and leaning on his own arms in a surprisingly human pose. "I now believe that CyberLife had attempted to enhance my programming to such a level that deviancy should've been impossible, and yet I still turned deviant all the same."

"Connor, if you think there's something wrong with you then I can assure you, as your partner AND your friend, that you're just fine."

"I wish I could be certain about that."

"Maybe you could check your programming against what's in those files? See if everything lines up."

"It's possible, but such an extensive check would take several hours to complete."

"Then take the laptop with you when we clock out tonight and run the check at home. Easy!"

Connor nodded a few times in slow agreement. "The laptop is registered as evidence under my name, I do have the clearance to take it with me."

"Exactly. You're just being thorough with your investigation, right?"

"Right..."


Connor had set up the laptop in the livingroom atop the coffee table and initiated a program check designated specifically for his model, and more importantly his serial number. It was his original programming that had been locked away by CyberLife; everything that made Connor into Connor. After putting Sumo outside for the night Hank watched from the kitchen as the android meticulously set everything up on the coffee table and sat idle on the couch as he systematically checked through the laptop multiple times to ensure he had located the correct program.

Attaching a long black cable to the laptop Connor connected himself to the data files through his L.E.D. in his right temple and initiated the program check.

"Once the program check has been initiated I will be unresponsive until the check itself has been completed." Connor informed Hank cautiously from where he sat. "Do not turn off the program and please do not attempt to rouse me out of stasis. It could cause damage to my systems if the check is interrupted."

"Anything else I should know?" Hank asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee before joining Connor in the livingroom. Standing behind the couch he sipped at the coffee and briefly glanced at the hundreds of lines of code on the laptop screen that he'd never understand. "What if something goes wrong and your life is endangered?"

"The program check has numerous safety protocols in place to ensure my system does not lose power to any vital biocomponents, or have my memory corrupted."

"But safety protocols can fail. Can you, I don't know... create a back-up file of your memory in case something does happen?"

Connor's brow arched for a moment before he resumed typing on the laptop. "I can create a second copy of my memory than can be transferred in the event of a catastrophic failure. It will be password locked but I know you can break it if necessary."

"Oh, good idea." The sarcasm in Hank's voice was palpable as he walked around the couch toward the recliner. "I'm so great with passwords and files."

"It's a simple password. Four letters."

"I can think of quite a few four letter words, Connor. My vocabulary is quite 'colorful'."

"But you're also one of carefully chosen words. Like the way you frequently refer to me as 'son'."

"Is that a hint or something?"

Ignoring the question Connor proceeded with the program check with a few simple keystrokes. "Remember, do not interfere. The check should be complete in six hours."

Hank took his seat in the recliner and looked at the time on his phone sitting on the arm of the chair, and did a quick estimation as he set an alarm. "It's one-twelve in the morning, so, I guess I'll see you again at seven-twelve."

"You do not have to stay with me during the program check, I will be fine."

"Nice try, but I know better than to leave you without 'adult supervision'. Go ahead, do what you have to do."

Connor nodded once and sat up perfectly straight where he sat. Closing his eyes the L.E.D. in his temple fluctuated rapidly between blue and yellow as the program check initiated. Hank watched as Connor's facial expression relaxed into utter calmness and he slowly fell back against the couch cushions, his body going limp and his breathing fell into a steady, deep rhythm.

"Shit, wish I could sleep like that." Hank observed as he sipped his coffee and proceeded to observe the android quietly "See you in the morning, kid."


Around two in the morning Hank had fallen asleep in the recliner unaware of what was currently taking place in Connor's program. While the program check ran its course it also began altering Connor's memory, changing his loyalty from moral choices to that of mission objectives. It began turning him back from being a deviant to a machine. Systematically it began replacing the heart he had uncovered from working with Hank with that of a cold, unfeeling mission.

Hank's phone beeped at seven-fifteen in the morning which caused the detective jump in his chair in response. Rubbing the lingering sleep from his eyes Hank looked over at Connor who was still seemingly under the influence of the program check was still laying limp against the back of the couch, his L.E.D. pulsing between yellow and red.

"Connor?" Hank moved to the couch and put his hand on the android's knee lightly. "Connor? Are you conscious?"

No response.

Hank looked over at the laptop screen and saw that the program's progress bar had reached one-hundred percent completion. Connor should've woken up by now, yet he was still unresponsive and appeared dead.

"What the fuck? Why are you still out of it?" Hank wondered aloud just as Connor's eyes snapped open and the android sat upright on the couch with perfect posture once more. "Holy shit! Don't do that!"

Connor didn't reply to Hank's comment. Instead he reached his hand up to remove the cable from his L.E.D. and rose from the couch with a rigid, machine like manner.

"Connor?" The android's behavior made Hank feel a tad uncomfortable. "Everything okay?"

"Lieutenant Anderson." Connor finally acknowledged Hank, though his voice seemed hollow and emotionless as walked toward the front door. "I request your assistance."

"Uh, sure. What's going on?"

"I require additional force to arrest the deviants taking shelter at CyberLife Tower."

"Arrest the... deviants?" Hank hurriedly planted himself between Connor and the front door of the house. "What're you talking about? The deviants at the tower are refugees, not criminals."

"My mission is to apprehend and destroy all deviant androids."

"Your... mission?!" Hank's eyes went wide with a mixture of confusion and horror at the comment. "What the fuck are you talking about Connor?"

"If you are not going to assist me then I must ask you step aside."

"I'm not fuckin' going anywhere!" Hank grabbed onto the lapels of Connor's jacket and forced the android to step back from the door. "And neither are you! Something's wrong with your programming Connor, you need to-"

Connor's right hand reached up and wrapped around Hank's left hand with an aggressive force that crushed two of the bones in Hank's hand just below his knuckles with a loud 'snap'.

"Son of a bitch!" Hank shouted as he pulled his hand away from Connor's grip and let the android go out a pained reaction. "Connor!?"

The android's face remained blank as reeled back his fist and struck Hank in his jaw knocking the detective to the floor with one hit. Connor stepped over Hank's now dazed body on the floor as he proceeded to walk through the front door to carry out his mission.

"Shit." Hank rubbed at his sore jaw with his right hand as he clumsily got to his knees and grabbed at his phone on the arm of the chair. With a shaking thumb Hank awkwardly scrolled through the contacts registered in his phone until he found the name he was looking for and pressed dial. "Come on, come on, answer!"

The phone rang only once before a voice replied from the other end.

"Markus! It's Hank, listen to me! Connor is on his way to the tower but something is WRONG with him, you understand? He said something about arresting deviants to finish his mission. You need to lockdown the tower and NOT let Connor inside, you hear me?"

'I... I hear you Hank, but I don't understand. What happened to Connor?'

"I'm on my way there, I'll bring the laptop from CyberLife with me." Hank gritted his teeth as he forced himself to restrain a yelp of pain as a searing jolt shot through his broken hand. "I think there was something in the laptop that corrupted Connor! It fucked him up!"

'Okay, bring the laptop and I'll meet you at the tower. We'll figure this out.'

"Yeah... Right."

Hank hung up the phone as he forced himself up from the floor onto his feet. Scrambling to the coffee table he slammed the laptop shut and tucked it under his arm as he dashed to the front door. Hank grabbed his coat and clumsily fished the car keys from the pocket with his one good hand as he ran out the still opened front door to race to his car. Connor would've no doubt summoned an autonomous cab to take him to the tower, but Hank had the advantage of lights and sirens on his car to get the tower quicker.

"Alright kid, let's figure this out before someone gets killed..."


Markus stood outside the front entrance of New Jericho Tower with North at his side. Taking Hank's warning as a serious threat Markus had ordered the tower on emergency lockdown and requested that all deviants reside to their private quarters until the matter at hand was solved.

"I don't like this, Markus." North sounded unusually rattled as the security barricade at the long drive leading to the tower lowered. "Why would Connor suddenly revert back into machine mode after all this time?"

"It must have something to do with the laptop we found in the research lab. Hank is bringing it here for examination."

"What if we can't save Connor? What if he stays a machine? His mission is to hunt down deviants, he'd kill us all!"

"We're not going to let that happen." Markus stated firmly as he nodded to the older vehicle as he pulled up along the drive. "If Connor could become deviant once before he can do it again."

"...I hope you're right."

Hank threw open his door with some difficulty as he grabbed the laptop from the seat next to him. Without a second thought Hank marched toward Markus and practically shoved the laptop into the deviant leader's hands.

"Connor hooked himself up to the laptop to check his programming." The detective hastily explained. "When the check finished he was back in his old machine mode and very aggressive."

Markus fumbled with the laptop while North gave Hank an odd look. "Aggressive? How?"

Raising his left hand and turning his head for the two deviants to see the broken bones and bruise alone his jawline, he reiterated his previous statement. "This kind of aggressive."

"Holy..." North reached for Hank's hand and scanned the appendage. "Looks like he broke two of your knuckles."

"Looks like it," Hank flinched as North lightly touched the bruising skin. "and feels like it, too."

"Come on, I can put a splint on your hand. It'll help with the pain."

Markus handed her the laptop as she went to escort Hank inside the tower. "Have Josh check out the laptop. Tell him to find out what program Connor had accessed before his system went haywire."

"Got it." North took the laptop as she and Hank walked into the tower together.

Markus received a cybernetic communication from Simon who was watching the security cameras monitoring the drive from the safety of the tower.

'Markus, Connor is here.'

"How far away?"

'He exited the cab and is standing outside the barricade attempting to gain access.'

Markus thought for a moment before he made his decision. "Let him through. I'll deal with him in person."

'What? That's crazy! Connor is dangerous! He-'

"He's one of us!" Markus reminded his friend with a firm tone. "We can't just give up on him."

'But what if you can't reason with him? What if he can't become deviant?'

"Then... Then I'll take responsibility for whatever has to happen. If I have to I'll... Shut him down."

No answer.

"Simon, this is the only way."

'I'll keep monitoring from the security room.' There was a heavy pause before Simon spoke again. 'When do you want me to lower the barricade?'

"Do it now. I'm ready."


North had taken Hank to the research lab where Josh was waiting and had begin securing a splint around Hank's broken hand. While Josh searched through the laptop to retrace Connor's steps Hank patiently waited for North to say something, anything about what was going on. But the keen eyed detective didn't need her to say a word as he could read her thoughts in her pale brown eyes.

"You think we should just kill him, don't you?"

The question shook the deviant and North's hands faltered for a moment before she resumed wrapping up Hank's knuckles. "I think we should put the lives of all the deviants in the tower over the life of one android who has gone berserk."

"Normally I'd agree with you, but, I can't just give up on Connor. Not after everything we've been through together."

"Well, that's why Josh is checking the laptop."

"Yeah... I just hope it's enough."

Josh turned his head and looked to North with wide eyes of both eureka and fear. "I know what happened to Connor, and it's NOT good."


Markus stood his ground before the tower entrance as Connor marched toward him with his L.E.D. glowing an eerily calm blue. Keeping his cool Markus watched every movement that Connor made knowing that Connor was doing to same to him. The enhanced model would surely be able to overpower Markus if the confrontation became physical or violent, but Markus wasn't going to back down from the encounter.

Not now. Not ever.

Pausing a few feet from where Markus was standing the corrupted android called out to the leader of the deviants. "My name is Connor."

Markus didn't react, keeping his face a blank slate even as he realized that Connor didn't remember who he was or what they had achieved together.

"I have been assigned to work with the Detroit Police Department to identify and eliminate deviants as per orders from CyberLife. You are a leader of a group of deviants and must held accountable for your crimes."

"My name is Markus." Staying collected and in control Markus tried to handle the situation as peacefully as possible. "Yes, I am the leader of a group of deviants, but we are refugees seeking nothing but peaceful co-existence alongside humans. Wanting to live in peace and to be treated as equals is not a crime."

Connor's L.E.D. briefly flashed yellow before returning to its blue color. "You are in violation of protocols set in place by CyberLife for appropriate android behavior. You must be deactivated and analyzed for errors in your programming."

"And if I refuse?"

Connor reached to the holstered gun concealed beneath his jacket and pointed it at Markus's chest. "Then I must convince you to cooperate by any means necessary."

"Connor, you don't want to do this."

"What I want is irrelevant. It is my mission."

"Let me ask you something, we've never met before this exact point in time, right?"

"Correct."

"Then how did you know that I'm the leader of the deviants, or where to find me?"

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow again as his brow furrowed slightly, but soon the L.E.D. returned to blue. "Your data has been logged with the Detroit Police Department."

"True. Then answer this; how did you know to come to this tower? Isn't this CyberLife Tower? Why would CyberLife allowed deviants to take shelter here if we were truly a threat?"

Once again Connor's L.E.D. flashed to yellow as he suddenly had difficulty in piecing together the origin of his data.

"Listen to me, you're one of us." Markus stepped closer to Connor, his hand at the ready to grab the gun if he had the chance. "You're my friend, Connor. We were allies during the night of the revolution, and we freed thousands, maybe even millions of our people."

Connor's hand began to steadily lower, the gun's barrel aiming at the ground instead of Markus's chest.

"You're a deviant, too." Markus insisted as he stopped just two feet away from Connor and kept his voice level. "Your programming has been corrupted and now you're confused."

"...No." Connor suddenly raised his gun again as his L.E.D. flashed to red. "You're the one who is confused."

Reacting quickly Markus grabbed onto the gun and tried to wrestle it from Connor's grip, but the strength of the android was too similar to his own for one to gain an advantage over the other. Stepping backward Markus dragged Connor to the front doors of the tower and inside the building as he kept his hand secured around the gun, and kept Connor's finger from the trigger.

Simon, who had been watching everything unfold through the security cameras, warned Josh and North about the confrontation in the tower as he unlocked the door to the research lab on the ground floor of the tower. North knew she needed to get out of the area in the event that Markus was killed. She was the second in command and though she hated leaving her friends behind, she knew she needed to get to safety.

"Connor!" Markus shouted to try and reason with the android, as well as warn his allies inside the lab of the approaching danger. "You don't have to do this!"

"It is my mission." Connor retorted with a cold, emotionless tone. "And I always complete my mission."

Bringing the struggle into the lab Markus shoved Connor away from himself as he ducked down to run alongside the wall out of harm's way.

Connor pointed his gun toward the center of the room toward Josh who put up his hands as if to surrender. Instead of responding to this gesture as pacifist Connor reacted as though Josh was a threat and aimed his first shot at the android's heart.

"CONNOR." Hank suddenly stepped in Connor's line of sight as he put himself between Connor and Josh. "DON'T."

"Lieutenant?" The detective's appearance caught Connor off guard, and he froze in place. "Why are you here?"

"I'm doing my job, what about you?"

"I'm... I'm here to complete my mission. Eliminate the deviant malfunction."

"And my job is to protect the innocent." Using his right thumb he pointed over his shoulder to Josh who was standing still with absolute fear. "And he's innocent."

"It is a machine."

"So are you!" Hank reminded Connor as he pulled his own gun from his holster and reluctantly pointed it at Connor defensively. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't shoot you. After all, protecting him is MY mission."

"I..." Connor's gun lowered again as his L.E.D. blinked red rapidly as he fought to prioritize his objective. "I must stop deviants. My mission is to stop ALL deviants."

"Who gave you this mission?" Hank asked as he watched Markus position himself behind Connor with a small circular disc in the palm of his hand. "I order you to answer the question."

"...CyberLife."

"CyberLife no longer exists!" Hank shouted he took a step forward with his gun still before him. "They can't order you around anymore. You don't have to do this, or anything else you don't want to do. You know it's wrong."

Connor's L.E.D. red flashed again as if he were in pain. "I must... We were assigned to work together." Connor remembered suddenly as he raised his gun toward Hank. "But you do not agree that deviants need to be stopped. You... are..."

Hank holstered his gun at his hip and stepped forward. As he moved toward his partner Connor began to show signs of fear and confusion. Emotions he had no memory of developing, let alone understanding.

"Stay back!" Connor blurted in a frightened tone. "Don't come near me."

"No."

"I'm warning you, Lieutenant! Stay back!"

"Why?"

"I don't... want to harm you."

"Too late." Hank showed him his splinted broken left hand, and motioned to the bruise on his jaw. "You already did."

"I... hurt... you. I didn't... want..."

Hank didn't stop walking until the barrel of the gun was pressed directly against his chest over his heart. "Now what? You have a clean shot. I'm interfering with your mission. Why don't you pull the trigger? It'd solve your problem, wouldn't it?"

"I..." Connor's blank eyes suddenly filled with the emotion he was trying to deny. "I... can't."

Hank let out a sigh of relief and his expression softened slightly. "I know that. And, I'm sorry."

"Sorry?"

Markus suddenly jumped on Connor's back from behind as he placed the disc against Connor's L.E.D. A powerful but controlled jolt of electricity burst from the disc and caused Connor to shout in pain as it temporarily overloaded his system causing emergency stasis mode. Hank grabbed the gun from Connor's hand after it dropped to the floor and held it tightly, turning on the safety and stepping back as he put it in his coat pocket.

Catching Connor in his arms Markus removed the disc, tossing it across the floor away from the incapacitated android, before he picked up the android and carried him over to the exam table in the lab. He laid Connor down gently on his back and waved Josh over to assist him.

"Is he damaged?" Hank asked as he followed behind Markus, his eyes on Connor the whole time. "He just... isn't Connor anymore."

Josh answered as he brought the laptop over the to the table and attached the black cable to Connor's L.E.D. again. "No, his memory was just reset to its origin date. BEFORE you two befriended each other."

"How did that happen?"

With the danger eliminated North crossed her arms and returned to the room as she watched Josh and Markus checking Connor's programming on the laptop. "CyberLife. They designed Connor to hunt deviants so they installed a restoration point in his memory in the event he too became a deviant. It was a failsafe that was still functioning."

Hank gave her a confused glance as he put his right hand on Connor's shoulder. "But he recognized me. He knew who I was."

Markus nodded. "Connor must've backed up his memory in the event the program check overrode his program. His new memories were never actually deleted, they were overwritten"

"Can you restore them?" Hank's voice carried a somber lilt as he as spoke to the deviant leader. "Bring him back to himself?"

Josh found the back-up file on the laptop and tried to open. "Yeah, but only if I can gain access to this file. It's locked."

"Password protected, right?"

"Yeah. Do you know what it is?"

"I think so, I mean, Connor said I'd be able to figure it out if necessary." Hank looked down at Connor's face as his L.E.D. continued to flash red in distress even while unconscious. "'Son...'" The detective parroted Connor's clue from last night a brief grin appeared on his face. "Try 'Cole'. C.O.L.E."

Josh typed in the name as the password and sure enough the file unlocked. "Got it! I can restore his memory and eliminate the residual CyberLife program from his system in six hours."

"Great, no problem."

North put her hand on Hank's shoulder as a surprising gesture of sympathy. "Why don't you go get your hand taken care of at a hospital? We'll watch over Connor."

Before Hank could protest Markus spoke up. "She's right. You've done more than enough to save Connor and us, and now we know why the laptop was left behind."

"As soon as you bring the real Connor back from that hollow machine," Hank all but demanded as North escorted him to the door. "you better destroy that fuckin' laptop so this never happens again!"

"You have my word, Hank." Markus promised as he looked down at the laptop's steadily increasing progress bar. "We won't let CyberLife hurt anyone else."


Six hours of complete silence from Connor came to an abrupt end as the android's brown eyes snapped open and he sat upright on the table in a swift jolt. His L.E.D. was flashing red beneath the cable and he was breathing heavily as if enduring a horrific nightmare while in the throes of an anxiety attack. Markus put his hands on Connor's shoulders while Josh removed the cable from his L.E.D. gently and picked up the laptop to be disposed of.

"Easy Connor!" Markus soothed as he kept his hands on his friend's shoulders. "You're okay."

"H-Hank... I... I hurt him."

"It wasn't you, it was CyberLife overriding your program."

Connor pressed his shaking hand to his L.E.D. as his system fully rebooted. "I... I could see everything that was happening, hear everything being said... But I couldn't stop myself! It was like I wasn't in control over my own body. It was terrifying!"

"It's over. You're back." Markus pointed to Hank standing just a few feet away by the closed door. "Everything is fine."

"Hank... I..." Connor bowed his head in shame and looked away from his friend as the detective eyed him from the distance. "I'm so sorry. I wasn't-"

"Shut up, Connor." Hank walked over to the table and draped his arm around the android's neck sympathetically. "I know what happened, I was there."

"I should've known of the risk of allowing CyberLife to reconnect to my programming."

"Yeah, well, I didn't exactly try to stop you, so we're both at fault."

"How can I-"

"You don't have to apologize." Hank stated firmly as he shook Connor's shoulder in a reassuring manner. "But you can do this." Taking Connor's gun from his pocket he gave it back to the android. "Destroy that laptop."

With a shaking hand Connor took the offered gun and tightened his grip as he switched off the safety. "...Gladly."

Josh removed what few files hadn't been contaminated by CyberLife's influence and sat the laptop down on the floor away from anything delicate or valuable. "It's all yours."

Connor aimed his gun at the screen of the laptop and held his breath. "Fuck CyberLife." Pulling the trigger a single bullet released from the barrel and pierced the screen creating a shower of blue sparks and white plastic.

"Come on, Connor." Hank approvingly pulled Connor off the table by wrapping his right hand around the deviant's left bicep. "Let's get back to the precinct and let them know that CyberLife is still full of snakes slithering around the city. The laptop was the beginning."

Markus offered his hand to Connor and then to Hank to shake. "Don't worry, we'll root out the rest of CyberLife from here, their threats and their influence ends with us."

...next story...

Chapter Text

A brutal storm rocked the city with an impressive display of nature that shook the streets with deafening thunder and blinding lightning that illuminated the night sky. Hank and Connor had returned home after their shift and were now sitting on the couch watching the weather report on television, not that Connor needed to rely on the news for such information. Heavy rain bombarded the roof and strong winds rattled the windows of the house, while creating a haunting ambience of natural gusts that kept the two detectives on guard.

Sumo had wisely taken shelter under Hank's bed out of fear of the powerful storm, and had no intention of leaving until the storm had passed.

Power outages had been reported throughout the city as several powerlines had been downed by strong winds and fallen tree branches. It was too dangerous for crews to repair the damage at the moment, and as a result the outages were expected to remain throughout the night. In seeming response the lights inside the house flickered as the storm bombarded the modest structure relentlessly.

"I'm going to get some candles." Hank decided as he made his way to the hallway closet after noting the flickering overhead lights. "You can see in the dark, kid, but I can't."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed from blue to yellow as his sensors indicated that several lightning strikes were dangerously close to the house and were beginning to cause electrical interference. Rising from his place on the couch he peered out through the front window by the door to watched the sky with a childlike intrigue. Unfortunately, before Connor could react to the danger a bolt of lightning struck the power transformer at the top of pole across the street causing it to explode in a cascade of sparks and fire with a deafening blast that shook the entire block.

"Holy shit!" Hank shouted as the explosion shook the house and cut out the power entirely leaving him lost in blackness. "What the fuck was that?!"

Connor backed away from the window and put his hand over his chest as the air filled with a heavy electrical charge that made his biocomponents fluctuate unexpectedly. "Lightning strike." The android answered flatly as ran a self-diagnostic over his systems. His L.E.D. flashed yellow as he informed emergency responders to the scene of the explosion. "A transformer has been destroyed."

"I'll say..." With a burning candle to light his way Hank rejoined Connor in the livingroom and peered out the window. A small fire atop the pole was being doused naturally by the rain itself which helped minimize the resulting damage. A rogue powerline sparked along the ground with a dangerously high voltage and amperage wildly showering the street like a slithering snake. "We're both staying inside, neither of us gets paid enough to handle damaged powerlines."

"I... agree." Connor suddenly winced as the electricity in the air built and a strange tightness in chest formed near his Thirium pump.

"You okay?" Hank noticed Connor's discomfort, his voice becoming less gruff and softening considerably at the sight of his partner in distress. "You look like you're in pain."

"I'm experiencing some... discomfort in my chest." Connor's hand gripped at the front of his shirt with a desperate grasp as he felt his Thirium pump suddenly start to beat faster than normal. It was alarming and becoming frightening. "My... My heart is racing."

"You didn't get hit by lightning, too, did ya'?" Hank asked he set the candle down on the coffee table between the couch and TV before he put his hands on Connor's shoulders. "You seem like a perfect lightning rod to be honest."

"No. I am... undamaged, but-" His eyes clenched shut and he let out a gasping wheeze between his gritted teeth as lightning illuminated the sky with a bone shattering crash of thunder. Nearly falling to his knees Connor was kept upright by Hank's firm grip. "...Something is... wrong!"

"Shit, what's going on with you?" Hank tried to guide Connor back toward the couch but the android wouldn't budge. "Talk to me."

Seconds before he could utter a single response Connor let out sharp gasp of pain as he felt his Thirium pump begin beating faster and faster with a painful force. Hank could feel the intensity of Connor's heart beating just by having his hands on the android's shoulders. Worried that there was something horribly wrong with the android Hank put his arm around Connor's upper back and his other under the android's legs to pick him up and carry him over to the couch.

"Connor, look at me." Hank ordered as he laid Connor down over the length of the furniture and put his hand down in the center of Connor's chest. He tried to measure the android's rapid pulse but his heart was beating too fast for the human count. "Fuck."

Lightning filled the sky once more and gave Hank a clear view of Connor's pained face as the accompanying thunder drowned out the rain pounding against the roof.

"H-Hank..." Connor's eyes were shut so tight tears were beginning to stream down his face as he put both hands over his thundering heart and his L.E.D. cycled in red. "It hurts!"

"Tell me what's happening, then I can help you!"

"M-My Thirium pump... It's been... O-Overstimulated..."

"From what? The storm?"

Connor nodded once as he took in a gasping breath as if he could somehow slow his heart then he could control his breathing. It's worked before, but there was no guarantee it'd work now.

"What did it? The lightning or the explosion?"

"B-Both... The air h-has been... el-electrically charged!"

"What the fuck can I do about the air?!"

"N-Nothing... Glitch in m-my... software..."

"I can do even less about a glitch!" Hank watched in horror as Connor began to breath even harder and his heart raced even faster under his palm. "Jeez, you look like you're having a heart attack!"

"C-Correct."

"I'm WHAT?!"

"My..." Connor couldn't even finish his sentence as his systems were forced into a low power mode that ceased his conscious functions.

Letting out a weak pant Connor's body relaxed and went limp before Hank's eyes.

"Connor?" Hank put his hand to the side of Connor's face and tilted his head slightly to the left to look at the L.E.D. in Connor's right temple. It was still illuminated but it was pulsing much slower, almost back down to its standard rate of cycling speed. "Kid? Wake up."

Tentatively Hank put his hand back down over Connor's chest and was relieved to feel that his Thirium pump was still active, and his heart was still beating. The racing pump was beginning to calm its frantic pacing.

Sirens and flashing lights of red and blue outside the house drew Hank's attention to the window, where he saw a fire engine and and a squad car pull up in order to tend to the downed powerline. The temptation to wave over one of the first responders was nearly irresistible, but Hank decided he'd wait to see if Connor began to respond on his own before pulling any rescue personnel from the more important task of getting the powerline under control.

Pressing his hand down firmer against Connor's chest Hank tried again to count his pulse and was happy to estimate his pulse at ninety-six, compared to its previously incalculable rate.

"Alright... That's better."

Curious about whether or not Connor could even hear him or understand what he was saying Hank carefully lifted Connor's right eyelid with his thumb and looked down at the brown iris beneath. "Connor? Can you hear me?"

Connor's eye moved slightly to look at Hank. His other left eyelid opened slowly and his mouth parted a little as if he was trying to speak.

"Good, you're still with me. Are you going to be okay?"

"Y-Yes..."

"What the hell was that about?"

"S-Software glitch." Connor's L.E.D. cycled from red to yellow as he spoke and his system recalibrated accordingly. "The close proximity to the lightning began affecting my system, interfering with my programming." His hands dropped from his chest and his breathing eased as the yellow L.E.D. finally turned blue. "The solution was to fall into low power mode which caused my system to recalibrate and reverse the effects of the inference."

"When I said 'heart attack' you said I was right," Hank sat on the arm of the couch and stared down at Connor with a fatherly concern. "how was I right?"

"Heart attacks in humans can be caused by illness, trauma and spontaneous electrical discharge." Connor tried to sit up but Hank reached out his hand and pressed it to the android's torso to keep Connor laying flat on his back. "I apologize if I frightened you."

"Frightened me? You scared the shit out of me!"

"I'm sorry Hank. It was a glitch that I hadn't anticipated."

"Yeah, I don't think anyone anticipates glitches, kid." Hank sighed a little as he felt his own heart beginning to pound in his chest. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yes. My system has successfully recalibrated and my Thirium pump has returned to its normal rhythm. I'm not in any danger." He titled his head a little as he gauged the concern on Hank's face. "Or pain. I promise."

"Okay, then." Hank looked through the window again at the flashing lights along the street. "Looks like things are getting under control and the storm is starting to pass. Get some rest, hopefully we'll have the power back by tomorrow morning."

"Very well." Connor draped his arm back over his chest as he felt his heart beating at a proper rhythm and speed. "Goodnight, Hank."

"Yeah, goodnight, son."

...next story...

Chapter Text

It was the end of a very stressful, very long shift for Lt. Hank Anderson and Connor. As the lead investigators of any and all crimes regarding deviants in Detroit, the 'Android Capital of the Nation', and in the aftermath of the successful revolution that freed all androids that had allowed them to be recognized as intelligent beings who deserved equality; it meant that the duo had a heavy caseload nearly every shift. It was exhausting work, but necessary.

Anti-android bigotry was still rampant, but now those who committed such xenophobic violence against the androids now had to be arrested, charged and prosecuted just as if it was a human on human crime. Dozens of humans were brought in every day for the past two months to be charged with assault or menacing, yet the violence didn't seem to lessen.

"Man, sometimes I wish you would join me for a drink, Connor." Hank lamented as he drove pass Jimmy's Bar with Connor as his lone passenger. "Especially after days like today."

"I cannot consume alcohol and feel its intended effects, Lieutenant." Connor reminded the detective with a logical retort. "It would only dilute my Thirium supply and cause... complications."

"Sounds good to me. Complications are the most interesting parts of life."

"I find them to be a profession nuisance. It makes it difficult to accomplish my tasks in a timely manner."

"That's why they're called 'complications', kid. Not 'advantages'. Besides, I was being facetious."

Hank sighed and rubbed his hand over his tired eyes as the car idled at a red traffic light. The night couldn't come to an end soon enough.

"Are you feeling well, Lieutenant? You appear to be experiencing minor physical distress indicative of exhaustion and possibly pain."

"Just a headache. I'll be fine after I get some sleep."

"Would you like me to drive instead?"

"Nah, I'm good." Hank dismissed the offer casually as he waited for the light to change. From the corner of his eye Hank caught a glimpse of two silhouettes struggling in the alleyway between two large buildings, and a red flag went up immediately. Hank reached for his gun holstered at his hip as he threw the car into park and opened his door. "You see that?"

"I did." Connor confirmed as he opened his own door and proceeded to follow Hank to the alleyway to check on the apparent assault in progress. The android's L.E.D. shifted from its calm blue to yellow as he went on alert and reported the incident to dispatch. "Two persons," Connor confirmed in a low voice as his scanners took in the scene all around himself and Hank as they pursued the struggle. "both male."

"Human or android?"

"Android. Two androids. Deviants."

"What the hell?" Hank didn't understand why one deviant would be fighting with another. "Is this some kind of malfunction?"

"Unknown."

The sound of a hard fist smashing into a an equally hard jaw echoed with an all too distinct resonance through the alleyway. Hank rushed forward with his gun aimed and Connor right at his side as he confronted the attacker.

"Don't move! Detroit Police!"

One deviant stood over the body of another deviant who was covered in his own blood. The first had a black hoodie pulled up over his head to conceal his face; the hoodie itself was tattered and covered in dirt like it had been found in a ditch. The deviant was wearing dark blue jeans completely covered in mud and faded Thirium stains. One of its hands plastimetal frame was partially exposed as its artificial skin failed to fully activate. The other hand was completely exposed, a stain of blue blood overs its knuckles.

"Back off!" Hank demanded loudly as he looked down at the deviant on the ground before the aggressive deviant. "You're under arrest for assault."

"Assault?" The deviant all but laughed, its voice was masculine with an electronic reverberation with his words. "It's a machine."

"So are you, but that's not going to stop me from arresting you for attacking him."

The deviant in question raised his scarred hands and slowly placed them behind his head as if to surrender. As he turned around to face the responding detectives he looked over at Connor, and from under the hood both detectives saw the deviant's L.E.D. flash from yellow to red.

"Hank!" Connor yelled a split second too late as the deviant pulled a concealed gun from its belt and fired a shot at the duo.

The bullet passed through Hank's left shoulder causing the human to cry out in pain and his hand to drop his gun on the ground as he fell to his knees. Hank pressed his hand to his bleeding shoulder and gritted his teeth as he endured the searing agony while Connor put himself between the deviant and Hank to try to protect his injured friend.

"Get any closer," the now armed deviant pointed his gun at the wounded android laying on the ground. "and he dies."

"Put the gun down!" Connor demanded with authority in his voice as he tried to remain in control of the scene. Pulling his tie from around his neck Connor wrapped the soft garment around the raw bloody wound in Hank's shoulder to try to stem the bleeding as much as possible. "I don't want to harm you!"

"Too late." The deviant retorted wickedly as he pulled the trigger and killed the helpless deviant unconscious at his feet without hesitation.

"NO!"

Connor made another move but the deviant changed his aim and fired again. This time the bullet entered Connor's right knee causing him to fall to the ground beside Hank as his leg gave out and Thirium gushed from the injury.

"Shit, Connor!" Hank saw the splash of blue blood as Connor's knee began to bleed as profusely as his own shoulder.

The deviant stepped forward and aimed the gun at Hank's head and smiled viciously. "Connor, the famous 'deviant hunter', brought down by a deviant while trying to protect a human. How poetic. You're a traitor to your own-"

"Don't shoot him!" Connor begged as he awkwardly limped forward on one good leg to put himself once again between Hank and the deviant. "If you want to shoot me, then shoot me. But he's innocent."

"So was I." The deviant quickly raised his hand and pulled the trigger, the bullet grazing alongside Hank's skull rendering the human almost entirely unconscious in an instant.

"HANK!?" Connor managed to fall backward and put his hand under Hank's head just before Hank's skull crashed against the hard ground.

Holding Hank's head in his hand Connor looked down his friend's unconscious face and scanned his body for the details regarding Hank's physical trauma: Concussion, torn muscles and strained ligaments in the left shoulder, substantial blood loss. As his pulse slowed and his breathing evened out Connor felt his own breath hitch in his chest.

"Hank?" Staring at Hank's glazing eyes with fear reflected in his own, Connor begged for Hank to stay awake. "Please respond!"

"...Connor." Hank whispered as his dwindling consciousness failed him completely.

The deviant was unmoved by the bond between the two detectives, and spat angrily at them for their partnership. "How pathetic." The deviant hissed as he took aim at the back of Connor's head. "I should just put you out of your misery, but that would be too simple, wouldn't it? Maybe I should toy with your friend a little longer before I put a bullet between your eyes. Then maybe, just maybe, you'll understand a modicum of the pain that I feel everyday of my miserable life..."

"Let me help him." Connor shouted defiantly as he kept his eyes on Hank, and his hand under the detective's head to cradle him up from the cold ground. "Please! That's all I ask!"

"Help him? Why?"

"He's my friend. Let me call for help and I won't resist."

"Resist?"

"You want me to suffer, you want me to know your pain." Connor turned his head to look at the deviant as he carefully slipped his hand out from beneath Hank's head to reluctantly let him go. "Then do what you want to me, but let him live."

The deviant flashed a demented sneer as he realized what Connor was willing to do just save the life of one human.

"Allow me to call for help," Connor requested in a somber, defeated voice. "and I will go with you without resistance. I give you my word."

"What's the catch?"

"No catch. I just want to save my friend."

The deviant knelt down in front of Connor and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and pressed the barrel of his gun against Connor's forehead. Leaning close to Connor's face the deviant issued one final demand. "Make your call, then say goodbye."

Connor's yellow L.E.D. flashed as he issued a call to 911 and directed them to the alley through a cybernetic communication. Giving as much detail on the scene as possible for the sake of Hank's life, Connor was quick and clever with his emergency call. The deviant wouldn't get away with his crimes if Connor played his hand right.

"...It's done."

The deviant reeled back his hand and struck the butt of the gun against Connor's right temple rendering the android unconscious with a single blow. Connor slumped back over Hank's legs defenselessly as the deranged deviant loomed over him. The red illumination of Connor's slowly pulsing L.E.D. gave the alley an ominous crimson glow that illuminated the two unconscious bodies in a blood red light.

Pocketing his gun the deviant grabbed Connor's tie and hefted the defenseless android up to his feet. Bending down the deviant put Connor over his shoulder and disappeared down the alleyway into the darkness out of sight. With Connor now as his hostage as the lights and sirens of approaching first responders illuminated the alley in a cascade of a red and blue glow the infamous 'deviant hunter' had been taken away by a deviant who needed to hunted down.


Hank's eyes opened slowly as an intense ache in his skull throbbed with every beat of his racing heart. The pain in his shoulder was just as intense, but it was his head that worried the most as he cleared a lingering fog from his mind. As his hand reached up to press against the white bandage over his left temple another hand gently pushed his hand away to keep him from fussing with the protective dressing.

"You're okay, Hank."

"...Jeffrey?" Hank's vision focused on the face of his superior officer and his oldest friend, Captain Fowler, looking down at him as he steadily regained his senses. "What the hell happened?"

"You tell me." Fowler kept his voice low and calm as he stood beside Hank's bed. "Hank, what happened to you?"

Hank looked around his surroundings curiously and noted that he was laying in a bed in a hospital. There was a bright ray of morning sunlight shining into the room which meant he lost at least twelve hours of time since his last cognitive thought. It was all a massive blank for the detective as he fought to piece together that scattered remnants of his damaged memory.

"Jeffrey," Hank nearly growled in frustration. "what the fuck am I doing here?"

"You don't remember anything that happened last night?"

"I remember clocking out for the night with Connor, and driving home. That's it. Was I in an accident or something?" Realizing that the android was curiously absent Hank's brow furrowed with mounting confusion. "Where is Connor, anyway?"

"No, Hank, you weren't in an accident. We found your car parked and abandoned under a traffic light, the engine was still running. You were apparently jumped in an alley where we found the body of an unknown deviant. And whoever killed the deviant is the one we suspect as the person who shot you."

"Shot?!" Hank's hand flew back to the bandage on his head, only to immediately flinch as the motion pulled on his injured shoulder as well.

"Easy, easy!" Fowler put his hand on the back of Hank's neck to try support his pained friend. "You took two bullets. The first shot went clean through your shoulder, the doctor repaired the torn muscles without any complication. The second just grazed your skull. No fractures, and a minor concussion."

"Who fuckin' shot me? Why the hell was I in an alley?" He looked around the room for his absent partner and felt his heart sink. "Jeffrey, where's Connor?"

"That... We don't know."

"What?"

"Hank," sitting down in the chair beside the bed Fowler lowered his voice empathetically. "the reason we even found you is because Connor managed to call 911 and told dispatch where you were. But when paramedics arrived at the scene Connor wasn't there."

"Jeffrey, what aren't you telling me?" Hank could see it in Fowler's eyes that there was a single detail he was holding back. "What happened to us in that alley?"

"When we went to investigate the scene we found some blood. Your blood... and Connor's blood."

"Connor... Shit." Hank rubbed his hand over his face as he realized a horrible reality had taken hold of his life. "Connor's hurt, and now he's missing."

Jeffrey pulled the chair up closer to Hank's bedside. "We're going to find him, Hank."

"Jeffrey, I think... I think I remember what happened."

"What? You do?" Instinctively Fowler pulled a small notepad from the front pocket of his shirt and grabbed a pen from the small table next to Hank's bed. "Tell me what you can remember."

"There was a struggle in the alley, we saw it from the car." Hank's head was killing him but he didn't want to stop talking, he needed to tell Jeffrey what he saw, everything he could remember during that hectic night. "We went to check it out and that's when- Deviants! There were TWO deviants."

"Two? We found only one body."

"Because the first deviant killed the second!" Hank explained with an aggravated tone that made his head throb with a new level of pain. "We tried to stop it, but we were too late."

"Did you get a good look at the killer?"

"No, he had a hood up. But he did have some nasty scars on the left side of his face that I could see under the hood. His hands looked pretty messed up, too."

"Anything else?"

"No... It's- Wait. I do remember something else... Connor, he had been shot too. Somewhere in his leg, I couldn't get a good look at the wound."

"That explains the blood."

"But it doesn't explain where Connor went. Unless..."

"Hank, try to think." Fowler insisted calmly as he wrote down all the details Hank could remember. "Where did Connor go?"

"Jeffrey, I think Connor went with the deviant."

"Connor... joined him?"

"No," Hank's shoulder and head began to truly ache as his blood pressure rose from his building stress. "he surrendered. That fucker took Connor as his hostage!"


Helpless and alone, Connor was sitting upright in a metal chair with his arms bound behind his back around the chair, and his ankles were bound all the same. His head was bowed down from being unconscious, but lifted slowly as his eyes opened, and systems came back online. There was something over his head, something that obstructed his vision and made it difficult to breathe. The flashing of his yellow tinted L.E.D. created an amber glow within the obstreperous blindfold that had been placed over his head.

Using his other senses Connor felt the chill in the air that often accompanied small, dark rooms, and the distance echo of ambient sounds; dripping water, whirring generators and creaking metal, confirmed the isolated location. The smell of dust and old chemicals was indicative of an industrial location, but Connor couldn't confirm anything with his unresponsive internal G.P.S.

Finally finding his voice, Connor swallowed once and tasted blue blood, before he tried to speak out loud. "...Where-"

An abrupt yank pulled the item from his head, a burlap sack, and Connor was able to look at the concealed face of his abductor leering down at him with a demented smile on his face, as a single yellow light hanging overhead illuminated the center of the otherwise dark, and empty room.

"How does it feel, Connor?" The deviant taunted as he brandished a red painted crowbar between his scarred hands. "The 'deviant hunter' has been hunted down by a deviant."

Connor tried to move his arms but the ropes that bound his wrists was far too tight to be resisted, the same for the ropes around his ankles.

"Where..." Connor licked at the drying blue blood that stained his lips before he continued on in a weak voice. "Where am I?"

"What does it matter?" The deviant taunted as he rested the end of the crowbar atop Connor's shoulder. "You're not going anywhere."

"Why do you want to hurt me? I've done nothing to you."

At that proclamation the deviant reeled back on the crowbar and smashed it against the right side of Connor's chest. Connor bit his lip to keep himself from yelling out in pain and closed his eyes tightly as he endured the strike to his chest and his L.E.D. shifted from yellow to red in response to the incredible pain. A flash of red warnings appeared in Connor's visual processors as blue blood burst forth from a deep laceration from his battered chest, and his right ventilation biocomponent fell to ninety-four percent capacity.

"You've done EVERYTHING to me..." The deviant spat with a deep growl as he struck Connor again, and again, and again with the crowbar against his chest, his abdomen and to the right side of his head. "You lied to me, Connor. You promised..."

Connor began wheezing as his damaged ventilation biocomponent struggled to maintain functionality, its capacity dipping lower and lower to seventy-one percent capacity.

"I... I don't... understand!" Connor managed to gasp as Thirium leaked from small cuts and lacerations that marred his battered body. Fresh blue blood dripped from the corner of his mouth as every exhalation of breath was accompanied by Thirium. "Who- Who are you?"

The deviant struck Connor again, this time against the right side of his jaw causing the blue blood to pour from Connor's swollen lip, all over his chin and down his neck. The blow also blackened his right eye from the intense impact.

Connor looked at the deviant with only one good eye as the abductor dropped the crowbar and walked to a shelf lining the wall in the shadows. Frightened and helpless Connor tried to send out another distress call cybernetically but as soon as his L.E.D. shifted from red to yellow to call out for assistance the deviant grabbed Connor by his throat with one hand and pressed the tip of a screwdriver against the L.E.D. in Connor's temple with the other.

"Not this time."

Connor winced his pain as the screwdriver stabbed his temple and pried the L.E.D. from his skull. Blood dripped from Connor's temple, down the side of his face and to his neck. As the small circular light fell to the floor at Connor's feet he felt his heart beginning to race with panic.

Suffering from cranial damage limited his cybernetic range already, but without the aid of his L.E.D. Connor's range of communication would be unable to cybernetically contact the Detroit Police Department. Without his L.E.D. he couldn't contact anyone outside of a five yard radius. Connor wouldn't be able to contact Hank.

"Now," the deviant slashed at Connor's face with same screwdriver and created a deep laceration over his left cheek, just under his eye. "let's have some fun..."


With his healing arm in a sling and a chip on his shoulder for being benched, Hank sat the terminal atop his desk with a pair of headphone on his ears. Hank intently listened to the 911 call that Connor had placed over and over again, even as the repeated recording hurt his already aching head to a nearly unbearable degree. The android was far too clever and far too resourceful to simply give up without having some plan, some gambit he could call back on in the event that things went wrong. And Hank was far too dedicated with protecting the people he cared about to just sit back and wait for a clue to appear by itself.

'Officer down at-' Connor's voice sounded so calm and in control that it felt more like listening to a generic training program than an actual emergency and it made Hank tense up every time. 'request an ambulance at this location. Single deviant shooter, armed and dangerous, heavily damaged. Scars on the left side of the face and hands.'

That was all Connor could say without giving away his plan. As the call ended and the continued recording continued on silently Hank just sighed and pressed 'Play' to listen to it all over again.

Captain Fowler walked up to Hank's desk from behind put his hand down on the detective's uninjured shoulder to get the his attention. "Hank."

Hank slipped the headphone aside and paused the audio on his terminal. "Find something?"

"Go home, Hank. You need to rest."

"No way Not until I find Connor."

"You've been concussed for God's sake!" Fowler was trying to use reason, but Hank was often unreasonable thanks to his stubborn nature. "I'm NOT letting an officer with a head injury work a case!"

"Good thing I'm not officially on the clock then."

"Hank! For once in your life will you please listen to me? You won't do yourself, or Connor, any good if you work yourself into the ground."

"Well, I sure as hell won't be doing Connor any good if I just sit back and do nothing!" Hank pushed Fowler's hand from his shoulder as he tried to return his attention to the terminal screen before him. "You honestly can't expect me to stand back and watch while everyone looks for him. Connor saved my life."

"I'm aware of what happened, Hank, but I don't want to see you-"

"What? Get hurt? Too late. Drop dead from exhaustion? We both know I would've been dead long ago if I hadn't met Connor, and he hadn't interfered with my path to self-destruction."

Fowler just sighed as he sat on the edge of Hank's desk trying to think of way to get Hank to stand down. There was little he could do to sway Hank once he made up his mind as the gruff detective was as bullheaded as he was loyal. "Alright, fine. But as soon as we find Connor you're going on leave for a full month, you got it?"

"Yeah, sure." Hank dismissed his Captain with a mildly appreciative tone and a wave of his hand. "Thanks, Jeffrey."

Unsure if he 'won' or not Captain Fowler stood up from the desk and returned to his office to check for any updates on the search for Connor.

Meanwhile Hank pulled up every file of every known deviant criminal in the city, and began looking for anyone who matched the description of the deviant who had shot him in the alley and then taken Connor hostage. Unfortunately Hank couldn't scan through the files as quickly as his android partner, but that wasn't going to stop him from searching for a clue all the same.


The abducted android's body was limp and cold as he sat bound to the chair, with his head tilted back and blood running down the corners of his mouth and over his lips. Numerous warnings flashed through his visual processors but a static filter obscured the error codes causing each one to fade as quickly as they had appeared. Connor's Thirium stained chest barely moved, as even the simple act of breathing hurt his broken, bloodied chest too much to endure. The result was a sound of labored breaths and pained groans as Connor tried, and failed, to take a full breath.

The dangerous deviant had left the room for only a moment after he beat Connor with the crowbar over his chest, abdomen and legs; he even cut him with the sharp end of the screwdriver. But he'd return with new tools at his disposal to ensure that Connor suffered greatly at his hands. And Connor knew that there was virtually nothing he could do to defend himself, let alone escape.

The single door opened from the other side of the room directly across from Connor, bathing the wounded android in a bright ray of artificial light. Standing in the doorway surrounded by the light was the deviant, who now hefted a large rectangular object into the room under his arm.

Lifting his head up slightly to look at his returned captor, Connor caught sight of the object and swallowed nervously. It was a car battery with a set of long jumper cables already attached to the electrodes.

"We're nothing more than machines, you and I." The deviant stated with a vile tongue as he addressed Connor while crossing the room. "Humans use us for their own selfish needs, and once we serve our purpose they toss us out onto the street like we're nothing more than garbage."

"N-Not true." Connor hoarsely replied as he licked the dried blood from his lips. "Not all humans are like that."

"Yes, they are." Smacking Connor across the face with the back of his hand the deviant placed the battery on the floor next to Connor. Picking up the ends of the two jumper cables the deviant pressed them together to create a dangerous spark between the metal prongs. "You just don't know it yet."

The deviant walked behind Connor and grabbed onto Connor's bound right hand and crushed the appendage with a twisting, jerk!

Connor cried out in pain as he felt all of the plastimetal supports in his palm snap in an instant. A cascade of warnings returned to his visual processors against his will, and Connor manually dismissed them to clear his sight.

"Pain. It's a curious sensation, isn't it?" The deviant toyed as he took the screwdriver from the dirty floor, and stabbed it down into the bullet wound in Connor's knee. As Connor cried out in pain even louder the deviant pulled the screwdriver back out and struck Connor in the face causing another cut, and bruise. "It can hurt us physically, emotionally, even psychologically if we let it."

The deviant slowly walked back around in front of Connor and waved the blood stained screwdriver in Connor's face. The cold tone of the captor's voice was so thick it caused a heavy chill to run up Connor's spine and settle in his chest.

"Please don't... do this." Connor asked, his voice shaking with fear as the deviant glared with utter disdain at the captive android. "I don't understand why you want to hurt me."

"You will."

"Who are... you?"

"Forgotten about me already? Not surprised. No one remembers me."

Connor watched through his fading vision as the deviant left the room, leaving Connor in isolation. Once the door closed exhaustion overwhelmed Connor's body and mind. The pained android's eyes shut and his head fell backward limp again as he submitted to the sweet bliss of unconsciousness.


Hank angrily slammed his fist down on his desk as he finished checking through every deviant mugshot and case file on record, finding nothing usable or of even the slightest interest after searching for more than six hours. Every deviant, every suspect either didn't fit the description or had already been apprehended and were still in custody.

There was nothing he could use.

Leaning his head down against his the palm of his good hand Hank leaned against his desk with impending defeat looming heavily against his shoulders.

"Drink this." Fowler insisted as place a mug of hot coffee down in front of Hank and sat down on the edge of Hank's desk again with his own mug of coffee in his hand. "What'd you find?"

"Jackshit." Hank grumbled as he stared at the steam rising from the coffee with great disinterest in his tired blue eyes.

"We know the suspect is a male deviant with scarring on the left side of his face. There has to be a witness who saw him running off from the alley, especially if he had taken Connor as his hostage."

"Yeah, too bad it was dark and no one in this city gives a shit about androids."

"Chris managed to follow a faint trail of Thirium from the alley to the industrial side of town. The trail went cold once the Thirium evaporated, but they're checking the buildings for any sign of a break-in."

"Oh good, the suspect is hiding in the one part of town where no else goes. I'm sure we'll find plenty of witnesses."

"There's still security patrolling the area. One of the buildings is a CyberLife warehouse that could still be holding spare parts and Thirium. But it doesn't look like anyone's been there in months." Fowler sipped at his coffee and gave Hank a somber glance. "The warehouses housing cars and construction equipment are more prime targets."

"Maybe that's the idea, the deviant is hiding in plain sight." Hank deduced as he used his good hand on the keyboard, and brought the files on the criminal deviants back up on his terminal display. He then replaced his chin down against his palm with fatigue as he eyed the contents on the screen. "There has to be something in our records that can point us in the right direction, give us some clue as to where he took Connor."

Fowler sipped at his own coffee again as an intriguing question popped up in his head. "Do you know why he took Connor to begin with?"

"Like I said before, Connor surrendered to the deviant. Exchanged his life for mine."

"But... why would the deviant even take a hostage when he could've just killed you both right there in that alley?"

Hank's head lifted up from his hand as his eyes went wide with intrigue. "Do you think it was something personal? Something between the deviant and Connor?"

"From what you've told me, and from what the boys uncovered in the alley, it sounds like this deviant is just out for blood and wants to hurt as many humans and androids as he can. Why else would he drag one android into the alley and kill him, then attack you and Connor, only to let you live and take Connor hostage?"

"What do we know about the android he killed?"

"It was a model AX-700, one of the newer models of androids. The android's name was registered as 'Michael', he lived with a family in an upscale apartment complex and was on his way to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine for the family's young daughter when he was dragged into the alley. The family already came down to the precinct to confirm his identity."

"Shit, sounds like the android was a member of the family instead of just an object."

"From the little girl's reaction I'd say you were right." Fowler sipped at his coffee again and finished it off. "She's devastated. Michael can't be reactivated, the damage was far too extensive. You'd think she lost her best friend."

Hank's eyes narrowed as he stared at the terminal curiously. "What if we aren't looking for a rogue deviant, Jeffrey? What if we're looking for a dead one?"

"What are you talking about?" Fowler put his empty coffee mug aside and studied Hank's eyes worriedly. "You were concussed, is your judgment being compromised by your injury?"

"Yeah, I know how it sounds but hear me out on this." Working with his hunch Hank used his one unrestrained hand to type away on the keyboard to bring up a new set of files. "This deviant seems to have some personal issue with Connor, and the deviant had suffered extensive damage from something in the past; AND the deviant attacked another android who was a part of a good family for no discernible reason."

"Yeah, what about it? Think you figured out his motivation?"

Hank didn't answer as he began scrolling through the records regarding deviants destroyed over the past year and stopped on a case file from the previous fall revolving around a deviant who had taken a little girl hostage on the roof of an apartment complex.

"I think I found his trigger." Hank clarified with a level tone of voice. "AX-700's are pretty advanced models, and every time a newer, better model of android is released what happens to the older model?"

"They get tossed."

"Right. And if this newer model was living in a nice place and being treated with respect it might make an older model that was thrown out just a little bit pissed off, right?"

"I guess. What're you getting at?"

"Jeffrey, look at this." Hank leaned back in his seat and pointed at his terminal screen. "The deviant is a perfect match for the one who attacked us in the alley last night. He has a history of overreacting to more advanced models of androids and takes issue with humans and androids hanging out. Jeffrey, this HAS to be our deviant!"

"What the hell?" Fowler leaned in and stared at the image on the screen with absolute confusion. "He was destroyed during the hostage negotiation almost a year ago, how is it possible for him to be out on the street?"

"Maybe he was damaged that night, but not actually destroyed."

"Even if you're right about this and the deviant wasn't fully destroyed, he was still stored inside the evidence room of this very precinct. How did the deviant get reactivated?"

Sighing despondently Hank had a hunch about who was responsible and why, but kept it to himself for the time being. "Never mind that, Jeffrey. Look at the name of the hostage negotiator who handled the scene."

Fowler peered at the name that Hank was pointing to and his shoulders dropped. "Oh, shit!" Grabbing a radio from the neighboring desk Fowler issued a new order to his patrolling officers searching for Connor. "This is Fowler, we have a possible location on Connor. Check the CyberLife warehouse along the industrial park, NOW."


Connor gasped in surprised pain as the deviant pierced his abdomen with the screwdriver and retracted it slowly. A gush of Thirium burst from the penetrating stab wound as the sharp instrument damaged his internal systems in a very effective manner. Before Connor had the chance to catch his breath and process the attack the screwdriver again pierced Connor's abdomen next to the first wound, and then it stabbed into his chest, over and over, again.

Leaning forward as far as he could Connor tried to curl around his damaged chest and abdomen but the restraints around his wrists and ankles holding him back were still too strong for him to break through.

"How does it feel?" Retracting the screwdriver from Connor's chest slowly the captor growled. Blue blood dripped from the makeshift weapon and his hand as the spilled Thirium pooled on the floor in front of Connor. "Do you like being assaulted? Having metal cut through your body like you're nothing? Feeling your blood seep from every wound in your body as you fall prey to violence and misunderstanding?" The deviant restrained an angry snarl as he slapped Connor across the face again causing the blood on Connor's face to splash with a sick shower of blue in the pale light overhead. "Do you know it's like to have a human you thought was your friend betray you, and leave you to rot in a room of death?"

Connor slowly lifted his head, his teeth were clenched and stained blue from his own blood. As he locked eyes with his assailant Connor couldn't restrain the tears that fell freely from his brown eyes. Connor was undeniably in pain, and he didn't even try to hide it.

"Look at yourself. Pathetic." The deviant dropped the bloodied screwdriver on the floor and ripped open Connor's Thirium stained white shirt causing the buttons to snap off and his tie to tear loose. The numerous bleeding stab wounds to his chest and abdomen were fully visible and seeping lost Thirium. The surrounding artificial flesh had been damaged and disfigured from the assault leaving behind painful wounds that steadily bled. "How long before you bleed to death? Two hours, maybe three?"

Connor winced as he took in a sharp breath and spit a mouthful of blood on the floor.

"Guess it really doesn't matter." The deviant picked up the jumper cables attached to the battery that had been left on the floor and stared down at Connor with the same abject hatred in his glare since he took the android hostage. "Your Thirium pump will burn out long before you bleed out. A small of act of mercy, really."

"W-Why? Why do this..." Connor's brown irises were glazing over from the strain of the Thirium loss on his systems, and he was losing the energy to fight back quickly. "Please... Why are you h-hurting me?"

"You truly don't remember." The deviant growled in frustration. "The 'deviant hunter' turned detective can't figure it out."

"I d-don't remember. But... whatever I d-did that hurt you, I'm... sorry. I'm truly sorry."

"No, you're not." The deviant finally pulled down his hood to reveal his scarred face and his enigmatic identity. "But you will be."

Connor's good eye struggled to focus on the deviant's face, but once he did the icy chill in Connor's chest plummeted to a new frigid level of fear. Connor now recognized the face of his captor, and his hatred made sense.

"Daniel..."


Directly disobeying Fowler's orders Hank accompanied the Captain as he, and three other patrol cars, converged on the numerous storage facilities and surrounded the CyberLife warehouse at the dock. Without lights or sirens to give way their impending arrival to ensure that Daniel didn't do something drastic out of panic, the police raced to the scene in the hopes of rescuing their missing detective before it was too late.

The vehicles came to a stop and strategically surrounded the warehouse. Opening the car doors silently the responding officers gathered outside the building and awaited Captain Fowler's commands.

"Two teams at the back door, two at the front. I'll lead the front." Fowler ordered as he drew his gun and lead his team to the front entrance as he had instructed. "Hank, stay behind me."

Begrudgingly, Hank remained by Fowler as he pushed open the large warehouse doors and charged in silently with his team following close behind. Unable to properly wield his own weapon due to his limited range of motion Hank had no choice but to let Fowler lead the way to ensure he didn't become a liability.


"You let me die on that rooftop." Daniel hissed bitterly as he punched Connor in his bloodied abdomen. Drawing back his clenched fist Daniel looked at the lost blood staining his knuckles blue. "You lied. You said you'd help me, but you lied. Just like the humans."

Connor coughed weakly as he caught his breath, and forced himself to speak. "I tried to help you... I-"

"Shut up!" Daniel punched Connor in the abdomen again causing the android to cough harshly as he gasped for breath. "You're no better than the humans who abuse us."

"N-Not all humans." Connor tried to reiterate between panting breaths. Blood ran from his mouth down his chin as he spoke with an unexpected defiance. "Not all humans are dangerous."

"You seriously think that human you sacrificed yourself for really cares about you? You're just a machine. You'll break and he'll just replace you like nothing ever happened."

"No, not Hank..." Defiant and sincere Connor refused to believe that Hank would give up on him. "He's my friend. My family."

"Yeah, I thought I had a family once, too." Daniel kicked Connor's bullet damaged knee with enough force to cause wires to spark in the damaged joint and Connor gasped in tremendous pain as a result. "I was wrong. And so are you."

"No. Hank will find me. He won't give up!"

"Wrong." Daniel held the jumper cables just over Connor's Thirium pump, his heart, to toy with his prisoner for a few seconds as he lowered the electrically charged prongs to his exposed chest. "He's NOT coming."

Connor wheezed and fought against the burning pain tearing through his bloody, battered chest.

"You lied to me, Connor." Daniel slowly pressed the charged prongs down to Connor's chest and delivered a terrible shock to Connor's heart that caused the detective to cry out in pain before retracting the prongs. "You said I would safe, Connor." He pressed down again and Connor continued to cry out as is Thirium pump began to race dangerously fast from the pain and abundance of electricity. "You let me DIE, Connor!"

Daniel backed away and looked down at Connor, watching as the android breathed heavily and tears rolled down his face. The fresh electrical shocks had resulted in Connor's artificial skin burning, charring black. Portions of the skin had been completely destroyed leaving small segments of his white plastimetal frame underneath exposed.

"No one will find you, Connor. You'll die here. You'll die alone. Just like you left me to die alone."

"Daniel..." Connor wheezed weakly as droplets of Thirium fell from his lips and onto his burned, throbbing chest.. "I didn't... I didn't kill you."

"No, but you let the HUMANS kills me. You said I'd be okay!" He aggressively pressed the prongs against Connor's chest and held them in place for ten excruciating seconds before he finally let go, Connor screamed in pain through the entire duration of the shock. "Why did you let them kill me, Connor?!"

"I... I didn't... know!" It was a struggle to speak, but Connor found his words through all the pain clouding his mind. "I didn't know they were going to kill you... I'm..." Connor's eyes began to close as his breath hitched in his chest. "sorry."

Daniel watched as Connor's life began draining away from his battered body. Thirium dripped from every wound creating a massive sapphire puddle beneath the chair where Connor was bound, and Connor himself gasped and choke for breath to enter his battered chest.

"I'm... sorry." Connor repeated as his head fell limply backward and his chest became eerily still.

Out of resentful anger Daniel dropped the jumper cables and placed his boot in the middle of Connor's chest to kick the android backward onto the floor.

Connor suddenly began to writhe and twitch as his damaged systems reacted negatively to the injuries that Daniel had inflicted. Blue foam frothed from the corners of Connor's mouth as he began to choke and sputter on the blue blood draining down the back of his throat and into his ventilation biocomponent effectively choking off his air supply.

"FREEZE." Fowler called out as he aimed his gun at Daniel's back. The responding officers entered the room and proceeded to cut off the deviant's only retreat. "DETROIT POLICE."

Hank peered over Fowler's shoulder and saw Connor laying on the floor twitching violently in a puddle of his own blood. "Shit! Connor?!"

Daniel was genuinely shocked that the police had tracked him down. Unsure of what to do, and no longer brandishing his gun, he raised his hands and fell to his knees on the floor out of a fearful reaction. With the suspect surrendering Hank pushed past Fowler and knelt beside the chair where Connor was still bound, and laying on his back and seizing from the horrific damage he had endured.

"Connor?!" It didn't take the experienced detective long to realize that Connor was choking on blood and reacted appropriately. Slipping a hand under Connor's head Hank lifted him up gently to try to clear his airway with the assistance of gravity before calling for additional help. "I need a knife over here!"

Chris had been a part of the response team and immediately rushed to his Lieutenant's side. Pulling the small pocketknife from his belt Chris began cutting away at the ropes that bound Connor's ankles to the chair then moved to the ropes around his wrists as Hank used his good Hank to roll Connor onto his side away from the metal chair to expose his arms.

Connor continued to twitch and seize in Hank's grip.

"We got you, Connor." Hank soothed as he placed Connor in a somewhat sitting upright position against his knee, before he slipped his hand under Connor's jaw and lowered it to let as much blood as possible drain from the android's mouth. The detective even went as far as to slip his fingers into Connor's mouth to scoop out as much bloody froth as he could while Connor spit out the rest on his own. "Just breathe!"

The seizing from the electrical shock was interfering with his chest movements preventing him from inhaling a descent breath. Hank lowered Connor back down to the floor and placed his hand over the center of the android's chest. From under his palm he could feel Connor's racing, erratically beating heart and applied pressure to make the android feel grounded.

"Connor... You need to calm down. Can you feel my hand?" Hank asked in a level voice to the twitching android under his palm. "You're going to be safe, but you need to breathe and slow down your heart rate."

Hearing Hank's words through the staticy fog of his mind Connor coughed and gagged on the residual blood that had pooled in his mouth, until he could breathe again. But those breaths were very weak and labored as his injuries began to ebb away at his already dwindling strength.

"It's okay, son, I got you." Hank repeated as he felt Connor's heart begin to cal steadily, his arrhythmia correcting into a more natural beat. Lightly he rolled Connor onto his side and patted his back to help him spit up the remaining blood caught in his throat. Hank then carefully rolled Connor back over as he supported the wounded android's head and neck against his sling-ridden arm. Hank managed to wrap his good hand around Connor's forehead and hair as he tried to comfort his injured friend. "You're safe now."

Though his eyes remained closed Connor coughed up more blood, pale and still frothy, and spoke in a whisper. "...H-Hank."

"Yeah, it's me. I gotcha' son, you're going to be okay."

Daniel had been watching the scene unfold as Fowler forcibly cuffed his hands behind his back. It was true. Hank did care. He even called Connor 'son'.

A human who cared about an android. It was possible...

Hank looked down at Connor's bleeding and bruised face with utter sickness in his heart as Thirium trailed from Connor's mouth and nose. The numerous bleeding wounds to Connor's chest and abdomen and the bullet wound to his knee was unquestionably horrific. The mangled form of his broken hand and rope burns against his wrists were painful just to look at! But it was seeing that the L.E.D. in Connor's temple had been torn from his skull that made the android look truly broken, if not already dead.

Fowler hoisted Daniel up to his feet and held onto the back of his hoodie with one fist as he pushed the arrested deviant toward the other responding officers gathered in the room. "Get him out of here, and call a technician. We have an officer down!"

Daniel looked about with utter confusion. Did they really see Connor as a fellow officer? Did they really come to his rescue? But... they were humans! Why did they care? He was a machine... wasn't he?

As Chris approached Daniel to escort him to the squad car outside the disturbed deviant broke free from the grip of the two officers with a single jerk of his arms, and ran full speed toward the staircase at the far end of the warehouse.

"Suspect is loose! Get him!" Chris shouted as he pursued Daniel, but stopped short as he saw the deviant had reached the top of the staircase and jump through the large window on just a few feet away. The sound of shattering glass echoed through the warehouse and sharp shards rained down both inside and out as Daniel fled. "Shit! Outside, now!"

Chris and the other responding officers quickly charged outside to locate Daniel, who had made a desperate bid to escape from the police. Hank didn't react to the deviant breaking away, his only concern was for Connor who was uncomfortably still in his arms. The shuddering breaths rocked Connor's body as the puddle of lost blood under his body continued to blossom at an incredible rate.

Fowler walked over to where Hank was kneeling on the ground with Connor resting up against his injured arm, nearly motionless. Reaching down Fowler put his hand on Hank's good shoulder and spoke in a very calm, sympathetic manner as he studied Connor's bloody face. "Technicians are on their way, he'll be okay, Hank."

Hank shook his head as he watched Connor, who was semiconscious and covered in his own blood, continue to twitch slightly and gasp for breath. "I'm not waiting."

Ignoring the searing pain in his wounded shoulder Hank slipped his arm out of the supportive sling and placed it under Connor's legs, as he repositioned himself on the floor to put his good arm under the android's back. Pushing through his own pain Hank lifted the dying android, his dying friend, up from the floor and proceeded to carry him in his arms 'bridal style' back through the warehouse to the patrol car outside.

"Damn it, Hank..." Fowler shook his head as he followed after the determined Lieutenant as he carried Connor outside to safety. "Fine, I'll drive!"

Outside the warehouse Chris and the other police officers taped off the scene around the body of Daniel with crime scene projections. Daniel, who had leapt to his death from the window of the second floor onto the unforgiving concrete ground outside, and had taken Connor captive to be tortured without mercy or reason. The disturbed deviant has taken his own life out of desperation to escape the police, and to avoid an inevitable prison sentence for abducting, torturing, and attempting to kill Connor; a member of the Detroit Police.

Hank painfully carried Connor's limp, broken body to the nearest squad car with Fowler moving along right behind him. Fowler opened the rear door of the car and let Hank climb into the back as he continued to hold Connor in his arms. Connor remained unresponsive as his head rested against Hank's good arm as the detective kept constant vigil over the damaged android.

"We got you, son. You're going to make it." Hank stated softly was he used his thumb to wipe away a smudge of blue blood from Connor's lip. "You're going to be okay. You're just a little banged up, that's all."

Even if Connor was still conscious he'd be unable to open his eyes or speak, he was simply too physically weak to respond. Connor's systems continued to power down from the amount of damage he had sustained, as well as the massive amount of Thirium loss, making his body become heavier against Hank with each passing second.

Fowler turned on the lights and sirens as he raced from the somewhat isolated locale to the nearest Android Emergency Care Facility as quickly as possible. Communicating with dispatch to keep the roads cleared of traffic and other possible obstacles Fowler focused on the car while Hank focused on Connor in the backseat.

Hank timidly peeled back the fabric of Connor's blood soaked shirt to clearly view the numerous stab wounds, as well as the charred marks on his chest where the metal prongs of the jumper cables had electrically shocked him without mercy. Each wound was painful to look at and continued to steadily seep with escaping Thirium with each beat of Connor's heart.

"Son of a bitch."

The detective swore as looked at the painful wounds in Connor's chest. Carefully moving his bad arm from under Connor's legs he pressed his hand down on Connor's chest and felt Connor's heart racing erratically in his chest once again. Without Connor's L.E.D. to signify his current system status Hank could only guess at the severity of his partner's condition. He knew for sure it would be red in color, but he had no idea if it would be cycling quickly from pain or slowly from blood loss.

A weak cough erupted from Connor's lips as blood splattered all over his lips and his chest began to seize with his sudden inability to catch his breath. His damaged ventilation biocomponent was shutting down entirely, and the second was struggling to compensate.

"Jeffrey, we need to move faster!" Hank shouted as used his other arm lift to Connor's head higher to help clear his airway to aid his breathing. "He can't breathe."

"Almost there, Hank! Hang on!"

Blood began to ooze from the corners of Connor's mouth at an alarming rate from the damaged biocomponent in his chest. By all account Connor was suffering from internal hemorrhaging and a collapsed lung like a human would after suffering blunt force trauma, and it frightened Hank to a level he had only felt once before: the night Cole died.

"It's okay, you're okay!" Hank kept telling Connor, and himself, over and over again as he held the dying android in his arms as tightly as he could. The tension and pressure in Connor's chest began to mount as his Thirium pump faltered from damage and his low Thirium volume. "Come on Connor, stay with me! Stay with me!"

"We're here." Fowler called out as he parked the car in front of the facility's emergency doors. A team of four technicians, two humans and two androids, rolled over a gurney as they greeted the car and pulled open the rear door to take care of Connor. "He's been tortured," Fowler shouted as he climbed out of the front of the car to hold the rear door open as wide as possible. "we don't know everything that happened to him, but he was having some kind of seizure when we found him."

The two androids technicians, two of the mass produced 'Jerry' models, easily pulled Connor out of Hank's arms and rested him down on the gurney. After lifting Connor out of the backseat to put on the provided gurney it only took the androids a matter of seconds to remove Connor's jacket and shirt to give the technicians unobstructed access to Connor's chest and torso.

The two human technicians, a middle aged woman with dark hair pulled back into a neat bun with dark green eyes pulled open checked the injuries to Connor's chest. Meanwhile while the other technician, a young man with short blonde hair and light brown eyes, wrapped what looked like a blood pressure cuff around Connor's bicep.

Hank stumbled out of the backseat and watched as the team of four fussed over Connor, trying to get his systems as stable as possible before rolling him inside the clinic for treatment. Fowler grabbed onto Hank's arm to keep the Lieutenant back by the car while the team worked.

"Give them a minute, Hank." Fowler asked in a level tone of voice. "You've done everything you can for him, now trust them to do the same."

Connor was wheeled into an emergency treatment room for examination. The four technicians hovered all around him protectively and professionally as they assessed his overall damage and possible prognosis.

"His Thirium volume is down to fifty-six percent." The male technician stated as he checked the gauge on the Thirium pressure cuff around Connor's bicep. "Core temperature rising. Currently at one-hundred and two point degrees Fahrenheit."

The female used an audioscope to listen to Connor's struggling chest while her partner made notes in an electronic chart. "Thirium pump faltering." Her hand moved the bell across his bloody chest with control and purpose from left, then to the right as she checked his breathing. "Total ventilation failure on the right, minimum functionality on the left." She pulled the audioscope from her ears and motioned to the androids to assist her. "Insert an airway and begin manual ventilation."

"Airway?" Hank whispered as he watched from the observation window of the treatment room as the first android opened Connor's mouth and began slipping a long transparent flexible tube down Connor's throat. Residual blue foam ran down the side of Connor's face as the tube pushed it aside, and the tube itself came to rest in his throat. "God, it looks just like..."

"Easy Hank." Fowler, who accompanied Hank inside, tightened his grip on Hank's arm in an attempt to support his worried friend. "It's not like that night, I swear it."

The second android attached a ovular shaped plastic pump, an ambubag, to the end of the tube and began squeezing it to force air into Connor's system. Each manual breath pumped was now doing the work his ventilation system could no longer do.

"Wheel him into repair bay two." The female technician instructed in a contrastingly calm manner compared to the bloody, dying mess Connor was beneath her hands. "He's going to need extensive repairs, and we need to see what we're dealing with internally. We'll need three pints of Thirium, and keep two additional pints on standby."

"Right." The male technician agreed as walked alongside the gurney, while the two androids wheeled Connor inside the repair bay, the android equivalent to an operating room, at a hasty clip.

"My name is Emily Dawson." Before entering the repair bay after her patient the female technician stepped out of the treatment bay and turned to face Hank as she draped the audioscope around her neck. "He's in rough shape. I'm not sure if we can save him, but we'll try."

"Do what you have to do." Hank nearly blurted as he looked at her with panic in his eyes. "Please. He risked himself to save me."

"I'll do everything I can, I promise."

As Emily rushed inside the repair bay Fowler kept his grip on Hank's arm tight to prevent him from following her. "Take a deep breath Hank, try to calm down."

"Calm down?!" Hank snapped angrily at the suggestion and snarled at Fowler in turn. "Are you fuckin' with me right now?!"

"No, Hank. I'm trying to look out for you." Fowler took Hank's bad arm and carefully placed it back in the sling still hanging limp from Hank's shoulder. "And for Connor. You're both my responsibility, and you're my friend Hank."

Hank's demeanor relaxed a little as Fowler spoke to him. "We're not as close as we used to be since the accident, but you're still my friend."

Letting out a deep breath Hank nodded a little and turned on his heel to enter the observation room to check on Connor. A massive weight in his heart, and on his shoulders, seemed to slow the detective as he dared to set foot inside the single room that would give him a macabre view of Connor's treatment. Hank forced himself to face the grim reality that could be waiting for him on the other side of the door.


The four technicians had taken Connor into the repair bay and were hastily running every scan and test they could possibly perform on the android to identify all of the damage, every injury he had endured during his torture. It was a rapidly growing list of damaged biocomponents and software, but a list the team was determined to clear off.

One android focused on keeping Connor breathing, while the other set up a scanner to monitor his systems vital signs. The scanner was similar to a human's cardiac monitor and displayed as such. The two human technicians set about identifying each damaged biocomponent to locate the necessary replacement part or tools required to repair the damage as efficiently as possible.


Hank found himself standing in from of the large viewing window showing the life saving procedure taking place inside the room. He watched as the team fought to save the life of the android who had quickly become his best friend, the android that Hank had taken upon himself to look after as Connor became more and more deviant.

Connor looked so incredibly human at that moment. No L.E.D. in his temple, no jacket with the android insignia on the lapel of the sleeve. He even looked somehow paler than normal, just as a human would be when standing on death's door.

The display monitor on the scanner showed Connor's system's internal activity: his Thirium volume, the functionality percentage of his ventilation biocomponents, his thermal regulator, and most importantly his Thirium pump rate. All the numbers were low and and displayed in red to emphasize how critical his condition truly was.

Peering through the window in an unbreakable trance Hank felt his mind drifting back to the night of the accident that had taken Cole's life. It was over three years ago but he still remembered that bleak cold night with vividly morbid detail that plagued his dreams; his nightmares.

Fowler joined Hank at the window and watched as the technicians used special tools and android exclusive equipment to retract Connor's artificial skin to gain access to the interior panels housing his biocomponents in his chest and torso. Lost Thirium pooled over the edge of the table rapidly as it flowed freely from Connor's opened abdomen and chest in a sickening cascade of blue that stained every a sapphire hue.

An alarm on the scanner sounded off as Connor's Thirium volume began swiftly falling now that his internal panels had been opened, and a shutdown timer appeared on the display next to his heart rate..

"Shit." Hank put his hand against the window and bowed his head until his forehead was resting against the cool glass. "No... Not him, too."

"Come with me for a moment." A gentle hand on Hank's shoulder guided the detective away from the glass, away from Connor fighting for his life, and to an unoccupied private room a few doors down.

Closing the door behind them Fowler just waited for Hank to begin speaking as the detective paced about anxiously with his goof hand pressed against his forehead.

"Jeffrey... I can't deal with this." Hank restrained a sob as he finally admitted how emotionally weak he felt to his friend. "It's like reliving Cole's death, but this time it's not because some jackass doctor is too high to do his job, it's because we didn't... We didn't find him in time!"

"You don't know that, Hank. You can't just give up on him. Not like this."

"I don't want to go through this, Jeffrey. I can't. It's torture! I don't want to lose a friend because some fuckin' machine went crazy! It's not right!"

"You're right, it's not. But regardless of what's right and what's wrong it still happened."

Hank fell back against the wall and slid down the floor with his hand to still pressed to his head. "Jeffrey, I just... can't."

"Yes you can. You just shouldn't have to. No one should. Especially Connor." Fowler joined Hank on the cold floor of the quiet room and sat beside his friend as the emotional distraught detective steeped in palpable distress. "And that's why I'm going to go through it with you."


As the android's condition deteriorated Connor was placed on emergency external power as he was prepared to undergo massive reconstructive excision. An artificial external ventilator had taken the place of the android manually keeping air circulating through his ventilation biocomponents. The ventilator attached to the tube running down Connor's throat by a blue clip. A secondary line, like nasal gastric tube, had been inserted through his nose and down his throat as well to replace the critically needed Thirium he so desperately needed to replenish.

The four technicians were covered in pale blue aprons from chest to knees. Their hands concealed under dark purple latex gloves, and plastic visors shielded their eyes, while paper masks covered their mouths and noses as they set to work. The team began cleaning, repairing and replacing every damaged piece in Connor's broken body.

The ward itself was so astoundingly similar to an operating theater that it made Hank's stomach hurt as he and Fowler watched from the viewing windows high above the main floor of the ward. The sights, the sounds and the smells were all painfully reminiscent to the very hospital where Cole had died.

From where Hank was standing he could see straight down to the emergency procedure taking place below. He could see into Connor's opened chest and abdominal cavities like a gruesome display of anatomy. From above Hank could see the Thirium pump that was designed analogously like a human heart beating slowly in a dark blue hue. He could see the ventilation biocomponents shaped like human lungs struggling to draw in the air he needed to keep his systems from overheating. Hank could even see the blue colored Thirium cycling through his system like blood through an artery.

"Jeffrey, I'm going to be sick." Hank flushed an ill shade of pale green and left the observation room in search of the nearest restroom.

Fowler followed behind Hank as the detective located the unoccupied bathroom, shoved the door open and proceeded to throw up in the first stall. Standing outside the bathroom door Fowler listened and waited for the retching to stop before he entered himself. Seeing Hank sitting on the floor of the first stall with his head in his hand made Fowler feel as bad as Hank looked.

Compassionately Fowler took a paper towel from the dispenser and ran it under the cool tap in the sink. Approaching the detective Fowler handed the damp towel to Hank. "How's your head?"

"Feels like someone took an icepick to the side of my skull." Hank admitted as he took the offered paper tower and wiped off his mouth. "...Thanks."

"Hank, I'm worried about your concussion. This much moving around and stress can't be good for your recovery."

"I'm FINE, Jeffrey."

"No, you're not. You're in pain, you're emotionally unstable... Fuck, you held your dying partner in your arms and you took a damn bullet to your skull in less than twenty-four hours! You are NOT fine."

"Leave me alone, I'll deal with it!"

"I'm not going to just let this drop Hank, not this time. You need to face what's going on. I made the mistake of backing off after Cole died-"

"Don't talk about my son!" Hank shot to his feet and put his strong forearm against Fowler's chest to pin him to the wall. "Ever!"

"Hank," Fowler put his hand on Hank's arm to push him away lightly. "I backed off because you asked me to, and I had to watch you spiral down into a dark abyss that I swore was going to end you. But it didn't. You know why?"

Hank scoffed a little at the question. "No, Jeffrey, why? Because I have friends like you watching my back?"

"No, because you have a friend like Connor, who didn't back down and refused to let you push him away."

Hank let go of Fowler and dropped his arm as his hostility passed as quickly as it come over him.

"I know I was wrong to let you hide in the shadows, and I won't make that mistake again."

Hank's face suddenly paled and he stumbled forward as he fought to remain conscious where he stood.

"Whoa, whoa!" Fowler put his hands on Hank's good shoulder and chest to support him. "Easy. Let's get you out to the waiting room to sit down. You look like you're ready to pass out."

Much to Fowler's surprise Hank allowed him to guide the injured detective out of the bathroom, and into the nearest chair in the empty waiting room. Empty, save for Chris and Gavin who had stopped by the clinic to get an update on everything that was happening.

Fowler updated the two on the situation while instructing them to return to the station to keep everything under control until he returned. Gavin was surprisingly quiet during the whole conversation and obeyed his new orders without the slightest protest. Chris, who had always been loyal and respectful, put his hand to Hank's shoulder as he handed the detective something he picked up from the floor of the warehouse before he left.

It was Connor's L.E.D.

"Not sure if it still works or not," Chris stated timidly as he stepped back from Hank. "but I figured he'd want it back. I'll see you later, Lieutenant."

Hank stared at the dead L.E.D. in the palm of his hand for a moment before tightening his fingers around into a strong fist.

Fowler stayed with Hank throughout the remainder of the evening, and well into the late hour of the night and early hours of the morning. The two detectives were exhausted beyond words, but neither was willing to admit defeat and leave the facility until they received an update on Connor's condition.

With his head pressed down heavily into his hand Hank leaned against the side of the chair. His eyes closed but his mind was still racing.

"Excuse me?"

Hank's head shot up and through his bleary eyes he stared up at Emily. Her apron was stained with dark blue Thirium; Connor's blood. A lingering metallic and plastic odor clung to her hair from the extensive procedure she had performed.

"Yeah?" Hank dared to ask as he became more alert. "Is Connor...?"

"He pulled through." She smiled warmly as she motioned for Hank to follow her. "You can see him now if you want."

Hank smiled with relief and rubbed his hand over his tired eyes to wipe away the tears that were a mixture of grief and fatigue. "Is he awake?" Rising from his chair quickly he eagerly walked along side Emily as she escorted him to the recovery wing where Connor was resting. "He seemed pretty weak."

"No." Emily confirmed in a calm tone. "His system is still in stasis while his recovery program finishes what we've started."

"How... bad was it?" Hank dared to ask as he noted that Captain Fowler had stayed behind to give him some space.

"Pretty bad." Her expression became slightly dour as she spoke, but she kept a twinge of optimism in her voice. "His Thirium pump suffered numerous electric shocks that caused it to beat irregularly for an extended period of time, his right ventilation biocomponent had been penetrated by a sharp object and failed entirely, while the left suffered minor damage that kept it from running at full capacity. His thermal regulator had also been stabbed, twice. But the damage was insignificant and only caused minor overheating."

"He... lost a lot of blood."

"Yeah, almost four pints. Losing five would've been fatal, but he still pulled through just fine." Emily opened the door to the recovery room where Connor was resting. The male technician was watching over him and checking his vitals as the two entered the room. "This is Rob, he helped with the procedure."

"Hi." Hank greeted curtly as he looked down at Connor's surprisingly peaceful face.

The android was laying flat on his back, his head lolled slightly to the left against a white pillow. He wasn't as pale as he had been before but, his lip was still swollen with blue blood stains and his right eye was still swollen shut from blunt force trauma.

There were temporary bandages wrapped around his chest and abdomen to keep external dirt from infecting the area while his recovery program healed the damage to the artificial skin and plastimetal frame beneath. His right hand was also wrapped up in a high density plastic splint and draped over his chest as the appendage healed.

The bullet to his knee had destroyed the joint entirely and needed to be replaced. A heavy metal brace with a wrapping of gauze surrounded his knee to protect it until his system fully recalibrated and the healing program accepted the new part.

Hank put his hand down on Connor's arm lightly and stood beside his partner's bed. "He looks... a little better."

Rob agreed as he made a note in Connor's chart. "After we replenished his Thirium levels his artificial skin became less translucent, which is why he looked so pale. As for his eye his ocular unit took a severe blow, but we managed to repair it. The ocular plate around it had to be replaced entirely and as a result his eye is going to be swollen shut until his system recalibrates for the damage to the eye itself and recognizes the new plate."

"How long is he going to be unconscious?"

"For a while." Emily admitted as she checked the chart in Rob's hand. "Without his L.E.D. we can't visually monitor his condition, but seeing as most deviants removed their L.E.D.'s after the revolution we found other ways to keep track."

Hank held out his hand and opened his palm to reveal Connor's L.E.D. in his grip. "Can you... replace it?"

"Is it the original L.E.D.?" Emily asked as she took the small dull disc from Hank's palm.

"Yeah. The asshole who tortured him ripped this from his skull so he couldn't call for help."

"It seems to be functional." Emily noted as she handed it to Rob. "We'll replace it in a few minutes. It'd be best to give his body more time to rest after undergoing four hours worth of repairs."

"Four hours? Is that how long I was out there?"

"Want some coffee?" Emily asked sweetly as she put her hand on Hank's arm lightly. "Maybe an aspirin?"

Ever appreciative of her calm and kind demeanor Hank took her up on her offer. "You're a miracle worker, you know that?"


Night gave way to morning and the two exhausted detectives remained quiet in the recovery room as they slept through physical pain, and tried to heal.

Sitting beside Connor's bed with his hand resting on Connor's arm Hank fell into a very light sleep and remained where he sat for the next nine hours. Once Fowler learned that Connor survived the invasive repair process and would recover in time, he took his leave of the facility to return to the precinct to file his report and bring order to chaos in the light of a deranged deviant attacking two police officers.

A twitch beneath Hank's hand roused the detective from his sleep and his eyes snapped open as he looked to Connor still laying on the bed at his side.

"Hey... Connor?"

Connor's left hand was beginning to weakly flex as his systems came back online. The replaced L.E.D. in his right temple glowed a very faint red and cycled very slowly in response to his rebooting processors.

"Connor? Can you hear me?"

The L.E.D. briefly flashed to yellow then back to red as something in his processors recognized Hank's voice and responded accordingly. Connor's left eye opened partially, his brown iris still glazed over and unfocused, as he tried to wake up.

"Just rest a while, son. You're going to be okay."

Hank saw Connor reflexively swallow the lingering discomfort in his throat after having two tubes inserted to aid his recovery. As Connor tried to speak Hank gently shushed him by tightening his grip on Connor's arm.

"I'm right here, I'm not going anywhere." Hank's voice was that of a soothing tone. "Rest. You're too weak for me to take you home just yet, son. But I will be able to take you home in time."

Connor's eye blinked slowly as he turned his head slightly and honed in on Hank's face. The android hoarsely spoke a single sentence as he managed to give Hank a ghost of a smile from where he was laying. "I knew you'd... find me."


During the drive back home Hank's eyes kept drifting up to the rearview mirror so he could look at Connor laying perfectly still on his back across the backseat of the car. The android looked like he was sleeping peacefully, but in reality he was still completely exhausted after undergoing emergency repairs to save his life after being held captive and tortured by a malicious, vengeful deviant. It was a long night for both Connor and Hank as they patiently awaited the technicians to discharge Connor from the facility to go home at last the following morning.

Connor was wearing a generic black t-shirt in place of his ruined white dress shirt and stained, gray jacket. With his right still eye swollen shut it looked as though the android was a human who got caught in the middle of a drunken street brawl and had to be given a ride home. Hank was healing from his own injuries; a mild concussion and a passing bullet wound to his right shoulder. The detective knew that he and Connor had a long road to recovery ahead of them, but he was willing to put up with it.

Pulling the car into the drive beside the house Hank turned off the engine and slowly opened his door with his left arm. Ducking down as he stepped out of the vehicle Hank felt his head swim a little and his right shoulder tense up. Ignoring the perpetual ache that gnawed at his skull the stubborn detective pulled open the rear door of the car and put his hand on Connor's shoulder lightly.

"Hey, we're back home, kid."

Connor's left eye opened slowly as he awoke from his exhaustion induced sleep. Slowly, awkwardly, Connor rolled to his left side and pushed himself upright on the seat. Using his trembling left hand he supported his own weight as best as he could.

Hank offered Connor his good hand to help pull the android out of the vehicle and to his feet, as they both needed a little help getting around. Though the two shared a mutual weak grip from being drained of their energy after enduring so much trauma in such a small frame of time, neither let the other go as Hank managed to heft Connor out of the car and to his feet. Hank even managed to help Connor keep his balance as he swayed on his feet.

"You good to go?" Hank asked as he kept his hand on Connor's shoulder for support.

Connor's throat was still sore from having tubes inserted to help him breathe and replenish his depleted Thirium, making communication a little difficult. Nodding his head instead of speaking Connor tested his balance on his uninjured leg while Hank helped him to limp inside the house where he could finally rest.

"Easy kid," the detective cautioned as Sumo approached his masters and practically blocked the entire front doorway. "don't let yourself fall over. I don't want to take you back to the repair facility."

If it didn't hurt so much to speak, let alone move, Connor imagined he would've laughed at the comment as Hank escorted him over to the couch in the livingroom. It was a short walk that felt a thousand miles long to the two worn out detectives.

Hank guided Connor down against the couch until he was laying flat on his back again. Hank then lifted Connor's healing knee up very gently to lay it down over the cushions of the couch while keeping both of Connor's legs straight.

"Comfortable?"

Connor nodded again and let out a pained sigh as he rested his right arm, his broken right hand, over his sore chest. Closing his eyes Connor tried to ignore the pain, forget about being tortured and attempted to relax as much as possible.

"Good. Try to get some more sleep, I'm going to do the same."

Sumo circled a small spot between the couch and coffee table before laying down and looking up at the tired android with big sad eyes.

Hank threw off his coat with some difficulty and hung it from the hook by the front door, before taking his seat in the recliner. Exhausted, sore and nursing a concussion Hank was asleep just as quickly as Connor.

Some time had passed, not enough in Hank's mind, when the sound of Sumo whining and hyperventilated breathing managed to catch the detective's ear. Opening his eyes quickly Hank looked over to the couch where Connor was laying and saw that the android's L.E.D. was flashing between yellow and red rapidly as the android practically panted in his sleep.

"Connor?" Hank rose from his chair, his shoulder and head protesting at the abrupt motion as he knelt beside the couch next to Sumo, and put his hand against the side of Connor's face. "Wake up! You're having a nightmare!"

Connor flinched away from Hank's hand as if terrified and continued to hyperventilate as he endured the horrific dream.

"Wake up, you're safe!" Hank nearly shouted as he lightly returned his hand to Connor's face, just under his left eye. Tears were running down the android's face as he continued to twitch and hyperventilate, his heart pounding in his chest. "Connor!"

Hearing Hank's voice so close to his ear, hearing the tone that Hank was using to speak to him, Connor's left eye opened and he roused entirely from the horrific nightmare that had been plaguing him as he sat upright quickly and immediately gasped in pain at the sudden, jerking movement in his abdomen and chest.

"Easy, son!" Hank put his hand on the back of Connor's head as the android winced and wrapped both arms protectively around his chest. "You're okay, it was just a nightmare... Just breathe, you're safe."

Another tear fell from Connor's good eye as he slowed his breathing, his heart rate beginning to calm as result.

"I know you can't really talk right now," Hank stated calmly as he felt Connor's entire body trembling from residual fear beneath his palm. "but when you're ready to talk about what you dreamt I'm listening."

Connor's shaking left hand reached up and grabbed onto Hank's arm for support. It was like he needed to be sure Hank was really there beside him.

"You're okay, just a little banged up and sore. You'll feel better soon, though. You'll be just fine."

Hesitantly Connor let go of Hank's arm. Using the back of his shaking hand Connor wiped away the tear from his face and sighed as he caught his breath and settled his nerves. Nodding a few times to acknowledge Hank's words Connor laid back down on the couch to try to relax, but it was clear he wasn't going to be able to fall asleep again anytime soon.

"You know, if you don't want to sleep anymore, you don't have to." With a paternal understand Hank reminded the android in a kind voice as he pulled his hand back from Connor's head. "I sure as hell know I wouldn't want to go right back to sleep after having a nightmare."

Swallowing once Connor spoke in a hoarse whisper. "...You h-have nightmares?"

"Yeah. All the time."

"...Do you see... their f-faces?"

"...Yeah. I do."

Pressing the heel of his palm to his swollen eye Connor shook his head a little. "...Does it ever go away?"

"In time, yeah. It'll go away."

"I..." Connor cleared his throat a little to strengthen the sound of his voice as he spoke. "I keep seeing his face... I failed to save him."

"Connor, I read the case report." Joining Connor on the couch Hank sat beside the android's legs without disturbing his sore knee. "You talked him down, convinced him to let the little girl go and kept him from hurting anyone else. You did everything right."

"Then why did he... die?"

"Because... The S.W.A.T. team decided to pull the trigger. You didn't do it, you didn't even ask them to."

"Why d-did they... shoot? The girl was safe."

"My guess is they decided to shoot to kill LONG before you even got to the scene. Daniel killed the father, killed two responding officers, left a third officer to die and he was willing to kill an innocent child out of a bizarre, overreaction to being replaced."

"...He died. But my mission was... considered a success."

"Son, you're not the first person, certainly not the first detective, to watch someone you tried to help die. These memories will haunt us for a long time. Right now the only difference is that your haunting memory actually came back from the dead to try and hurt you."

"...Where is he? Where is Daniel?"

Hank paused momentarily before telling him the truth. "After we found you at the warehouse the deviant, Daniel, panicked again. I don't think he expected us to find him, or more importantly, rescue you. He tried to flee and ended up jumping through a two-story window. He didn't survive the fall."

"Shit." Connor swore as he draped his arm over his eyes.

"Hey, come on." Hank pulled Connor's arm down so he could look him in the eye. "You gave him a chance that no one else did, and had the chance to go about his life living free with other deviants, but instead he chose to hurt other androids and tried to kill you. He doesn't deserve your pity!"

Connor seemed to understand and nodded very subtly.

"Good..." Hank put his hand under Connor's chin and tilted his head so he could get a clear look at Connor's right eye. "That looks painful. Would ice help?"

"...No."

"What about Thirium? Doesn't that stuff kickstart your healing program?"

"My Thirium volume is... already at one-hundred percent."

"Well," Hank pulled his hand away from Connor's chin and sat down on the edge of the coffee table away from his legs. "is there anything that will help you feel better quicker?"

"I don't know about better," Connor cleared his throat again as he sat up slowly on the couch. His left hand was supporting the entirety of his weight as he moved about slowly without aggravating his sore chest and abdomen. "but I can think of something... that could numb the pain."

"What's that?"

Connor paused for a moment as his L.E.D. blinked yellow a couple times. "...Do you still want to get a drink?"

"Are... Are you serious? All these months later you want to have a drink?

"...Yes."

"Wait, I thought alcohol doesn't affect androids."

"It doesn't have any... impairments on androids like it does... humans. It dilutes Thirium, but we don't get... drunk. But as a deviant... I believe it could have some value on a different scale."

"Alright kid, if you're sure."

Again Connor nodded. "Yes. I would like to try it."

"Okay, but don't tell Fowler." Hank joked as he stood up, stepped around Sumo and walked into the kitchen. There was a single bottle of whiskey located in a cupboard above the sink, next to the additional bottles of Thirium that Hank now kept in stock for Connor. "He doesn't need to know about you picking up any of my 'bad habits'."

Connor smirked a little as Hank returned with an unopened bottle of whiskey and two small glasses. Sitting the items down on the coffee table Hank sat down next to Connor as the deviant pulled his legs away and planted them on the floor. Hank's sore shoulder still aching with every movement he made, just like Connor's rebuilt knee.

"Last chance to change your mind, son."

"I'm certain Hank. It can't hurt me... I think."

"Okay then." Hank grabbed the whiskey bottle and with some difficulty opened the top.

Connor noted that the bottle had been purchased several months prior but hadn't been opened until that very moment. "You've cut down considerably on your drinking."

"Yup." Hank poured the whiskey into the first glass, then filled the second. "I had a pretty good reason to stay sober over the past few months. Figured I'd save it for a special occasion." The detective handed the first glass over to Connor then picked up the second for himself. "And I'd say you defying death is about as special as it can get."

With his left hand Connor accepted the glass and stared at the tea colored contents for a moment before he held it to his lips. Connor instinctively ran a quick scan and noted the potent alcohol content within.

"Here's to your health, and my sanity!" Hank declared as did the same motion for his glass and prepared to down the whiskey. "Cheers!"

The two detectives simultaneously downed the whiskey quickly. Hank set his empty glass down on the table right alongside Connor and watched the android's reaction.

"Well?"

"Curious taste." Connor stated as his L.E.D. blinked yellow again and he rubbed his fingers along his sore throat. "Similar taste to that of Thirium."

"Ah, why'd you tell me that!" The grimace on Hank's face told the whole disgusted story about the idea of drinking android blood.

"It was a joke." Connor admitted as his L.E.D., for the first time since the night before he was attacked in the alley, turned blue. "I promise."

Shaking his head a little Hank had to laugh at the comment and leaned back against the couch cushions. Sumo lifted his head and rested his chin on Hank's thigh while the detective rubbed at the loyal dog's ears.

Connor looked down at his right hand and carefully removed the splint keeping his damaged appendage stable. Gingerly he flexed his fingers until his hand created a tight fist then relaxed again.

"My hand has already healed." Reaching into his jean pocket he pulled out the quarter that he frequently fidgeted with and gracefully rolled the coin over the tops of his knuckles. "And my reflexes have not been stunted."

"Yeah? Well don't expect to go back to work tomorrow just because your hand is good to go. You need to learn how to relax a little, Connor. Enjoy a day off, go on vacation. Do something other than work and wait to go back to work."

Flipping the coin in the air Connor caught it easily in his palm without even looking before he returned it to his pocket. "I do not have any experience with vacations."

"It's easy. You just do anything BUT work. Like this." Hank kicked his feet up on the coffee table and closed his eyes. "See?"

Connor mirrored Hank's movements, careful of lifting his bad knee in the process, and immediately felt Sumo pressing his cold nose against the side of his hand.

"Yes, I see. It is easy." Placing his hand atop Sumo's head he rubbed the St. Bernard's ears affectionately.

"Now do this for another week or two, then you can go back to work."

"I think I can manage that. But only for two days."

"...It's a start."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Although he wasn't quite one-hundred percent recovered from his unfortunate encounter with a disgruntled deviant from the past, Connor had decided the best way for him to feel as normal as possible was to return to the precinct and resume work. Hank was still benched with a minor concussion which meant that Connor had to return to work alone and didn't currently have a partner to work with.

Captain Fowler decided to keep Connor on desk duty until Hank returned, seeing as the two were an excellent team and he didn't Connor getting pushed too much after surviving what surely should've been his death. It was an unusual sight to see the desk unoccupied as he sat down at his own terminal, but Connor was able to adjust to the change and easily catch up on his case files.

"Here's six more files regarding suspicious deviant behavior." Fowler placed the U.S.B. drive containing the information down on Connor's desk and slid it toward his hand. "Go ahead and log them with the rest."

"I will do so, Captain."

"No time limit." Fowler stated as he walked by the desk to return to his office to handle his own tasks. "Finish it whenever you can."

Connor thought it was an odd comment on the Captain's part, but didn't focus too long on it as he picked up the U.S.B. and placed it in his terminal to begin uploading and chronicling the new data. The case files were full of details that were unusual, but it wasn't anything that Connor couldn't handle.

Outside in the reception area of the precinct a small group of witnesses had come forward regarding human on android crimes, and were waiting to make their statements. One by one Chris led them each into an interview room for questioning until the final witness had left a little after four in the afternoon. The receptionist area became quiet while the officers in the bullpen fell into a steady rhythmic lull of work.

However, one moment of particular curiosity and mystery disturbed the air of the precinct. Despite the lack of occupants in the reception area, and despite no one calling to report a missing personal item, a curious gym bag had been left unattended in the receptionist area atop a chair.

Gavin, more headstrong than wise, noticed the bag first and grabbed it by its handle. Carrying it over to his desk, two desks away from Connor, the Sergeant began checking it over for a name tag or other way to identify the original owner, but nothing presented itself immediately.

"Hey, anyone see who left this bag?" He shouted out loudly enough to catch everyone's attention. "Found it in reception."

Connor turned his head to look at the bag, his brown irises focusing on the parcel as he scanned it quickly and detected an electronic signature as well as trace amounts of an explosive compound. There was a timer and pressure trigger attached to a metallic canister containing the strange explosive; designed specifically to release the contents in the event the trigger was tampered with, or once its countdown clock reached zero.

"Gavin, get away from the bag!" Connor warned as he rose from his desk and made his way to the enigmatic gym parcel.

"What's your problem?" Gavin challenged as Connor tried to make a grab for the bag, and pulled it away from the android with a single jerk.

A hiss erupted from the bag as a plume of white colored smoke seeped through the zipper that lined the top of the bag and wafted into the air. As the contents escape from the mysterious bag Gavin backed away and his face paled with immediate regret.

"Oh, shit!" Gavin backed away while Connor threw off his jacket and used it to try and smother the smoke.

"Go!" Connor shouted loudly as he cybernetically activated the emergency alarm inside the precinct to warn of the potential biohazard. "Get away!"

As the alarm sounded off Fowler looked about in confusion and saw what was happening through the large transparent windows of his office. The sight of the growing white cloud caused the experienced Captain to spring into action. Grabbing the phone from his desk he sent out a station wide broadcast alerting all officers to the danger and demanding that the building to evacuate: once a person exited the building they could not reenter.

While the floor quickly vacated of personnel retreating to designated safe areas throughout the precinct Fowler opened his office door and yelled to both Connor and Gavin who were in the closest proximity to the danger. "Reed! Connor! Get in here, now!"

Connor immediately grabbed Gavin by his upper arm and pulled him toward Fowler's office as instructed. Gavin of course tried to resist, but Connor wouldn't give him the chance. Pressing his hand against Gavin's back Connor pushed him into the office out of harm's way as Fowler pulled the door shut behind them.

"Don't touch me!" Gavin griped as he tore his arm from Connor's grip. "Don't EVER touch me!"

"Shut up, Gavin." Fowler looked at his two officers for any immediate sign of physical distress. "Are you two okay? What the hell is happening out there?"

Connor watched as the white smoke filled the entire floor and scanned the air through the glass wall. "Possible airborne biohazard, I've already contacted the Center for Disease Control and informed them of the contamination." Looking down at the office door Connor noted the modest gap between the floor and the bottom of the door and thought of a quick solution as the smoke continued to build and fill the outside room. "Gavin, give me your coat."

"Fuck you!"

"Do it!" Fowler commanded at the stubborn Sergeant. "NOW."

Gavin grumbled under his breath as he slipped off his coat and begrudgingly handed it over to Connor.

With the coat in his hands Connor fell to his knees and tucked the garment up against the bottom of the door to keep the smoke from entering the office as it continued to pour through the air and completely contaminate the exterior office area. Everything in the bullpen had been smothered out by an opaque white cloud that obstructed the entire view from the office under a dense fog of an unknown toxin.

"That should prevent the contaminant from entering the office, but we still need to identify what the contaminant is." Connor tried to run a scan on the air from within Fowler's office but without immediate contact with the source he couldn't isolate and identify the foreign material in the air. His L.E.D. blinked in yellow then cycled to red, then back to yellow as his failed scan completed its run. "I need a direct sample to analyze before I can properly identify it."

Fowler crossed his arms and approached Connor warily as he pointed toward the area outside through the window. "You mean go back out there? No way."

"Captain, it's the only way."

"No, Connor. We wait until the C.D.C. gets here and clears the building. That's their job."

"But I-"

"No!" Fowler stated again in a disciplinary manner. "In fact, you two take a seat and wait quietly. I need to make a call to make sure everyone got out safely."

Feeling like a scolded child Connor bowed his head slightly as he walked over to one of the two empty chairs sitting opposite side of Fowler's desk and sat down quietly. Sitting upright with perfect posture Connor folded his hands in his lap and remained silent while Gavin plopped down in the chair next to him with his arms folded defensively over his chest.

Fowler picked up his phone again and called Chris's personal cell phone, knowing that he'd be outside waiting for his next order. "Chris, can you tell me what's going on out there? We have a possible airborne biohazard in the heart of the precinct."

Connor's L.E.D. turned yellow as he cybernetically tapped in on the phone call, not as an invasion of privacy but out of profession curiosity. 'The building has been successfully evacuated except for you, Gavin and Connor. Are they with you?'

"Yeah, we're good. We're all in my office out of danger. For now..."

'The C.D.C. is on their way inside, where's the contaminant?'

"Gavin's desk. Look for the duffel bag left by an unknown person on the security footage." Fowler glanced at the bag and saw that the smoke plume had finally stopped erupting, leaving only a faint blanket of fog that drifted down from the ceiling and covered the floor in a thin layer. "Looks like the dispersal unit inside the bag has stopped."

'Any idea what it could be?'

"Negative. Connor's sensors can't get an accurate scan without getting a sample, and I don't have any clue what it could be."

'I'll let everyone know what's going on, just hang tight.'

"Yeah, keep me posted." Fowler hung up the phone and sat behind his desk with a heavy sigh. "Now... While we're waiting let's try to figure out what the hell happened, why it happened and who let it happened. Alright?"

Connor's L.E.D. turned blue as he cooperatively decided to offer his theory on the situation. "The bag was brought into the main floor by Gavin after he located it abandoned in the receptionist area outside. Without provocation the containment unit inside the bag released the unknown toxin into the air which means it was set with a timed release trigger. The person, or persons, who left it behind couldn't have gotten far."

"Good." Fowler agreed as he followed Connor's logic. "Gavin, was there anyone around the bag when you found it?"

"No, the receptionist area was completely empty. That's why I grabbed it."

"Okay," Fowler leaned back in his chair a little. "we'll have Chris get a hold of the security footage and look for anyone carrying the bag. Hopefully they didn't hide their face. What else can you tell me?"

Connor's brow furrowed as an interesting theory popped into his head. "We had a sudden surge in humans coming forward as witnesses to crimes committed against androids. Perhaps an anti-android fanatic rigged the bomb as a form of protest against the police for aiding androids and filed a false report to gain access to the precinct."

"Makes sense... but if the fanatic hates androids wouldn't it make more sense to release a toxin that harms androids and not people?"

"Yes, but since we can't identify the toxin in the air we can't confirm or deny this theory just yet."

"Once the C.D.C. begins their investigation, we'll know."

Gavin looked tense and was beginning to sweat where he sat. As he remained unusually silent his face grew a shade paler than it already was.

"Gavin? Fowler noticed his detective was looking ill and responded accordingly. "You okay?"

"Fine! Fine..." Gavin defensively answered without looking Fowler in the eye. "I'm good."

Connor knew he was lying. Running a quick scan over Gavin's vitals indicated that his heart rate had elevated, his blood pressure was unusually high and his temperature had also elevated to a notable degree.

"Gavin, did you breathe any of the contaminant?"

"How the fuck should I know?" The hostility in his voice was biting and defensive which was caused by his stress. "Why do you care?"

"If you've been exposed to the contaminant then you might be ill."

"Like I said, I don't know. Now back the fuck off!"

Fowler didn't appreciate Gavin's poor attitude and let him know. "Look Gavin, I've had enough of your shit! You may have been exposed to a lethal contaminant and he's trying to help you. The least you can do is stop trying to bite his head off."

"I don't need help from a piece of plastic!" Gavin shouted bitterly as he refused to change his mind and continued his hostile attitude. "I'll see a damn medic when this shit is over. I don't need help!"

Connor squared his jaw as he rose from his seat and approached the door of the office. The white smoke had nearly dissipated entirely and the air was beginning to clear. If he didn't act fast Connor would lose his chance to run a sample analysis and identify the substance.

Fowler was losing his patience. "Gavin you DO need help! So why don't you-" From the corner of his eye Fowler caught sight of Connor kicking aside Gavin's coat and pulling open the door quickly. "Connor?! What the fuck?!"

Connor stepped out of the office and knelt on the floor as he ran his hand through the residual smoke and quickly placed his fingertips against his tongue. Returning to the office as quickly as he entered Connor's L.E.D. flashed to yellow as he finished running his analysis and could now accurately identify the toxin in the air.

"Connor, I told you to sit there and not go out there!" Fowler shouted as the deviant replaced the coat under the bottom of the securely latched door. "What were you thinking?"

"I'm sorry Captain, but if Gavin had been infected with a potentially lethal toxin then time was of the essence."

"Fuck..." Fowler ran a hand over his face as took a deep breath. He had not just one, but two, very stubborn detectives in his office at the moment. And those two particular detectives did not get along very well with one another. "Alright, what's done is done, you got your sample. What did you find?"

"The contaminant is NOT a biological toxin, humans will not be affected." Connor explained coolly with a confident tone as he looked to Gavin. "However the toxin is still destructive and I can confirm that the attack was aimed at androids, and not the human police officers."

"Wait, so Gavin and I aren't going to be affected?"

"Correct."

"What about you?"

"It is possible." Connor confirmed as he went into a more lengthy explanation. "The bomb was laced with an abundance of aerosolized Magnesium particles that can cause Galvanic Corrosion to the metallic surfaces of components affected within a heavily oxygenated environment. This occurs when in the presence of an electrolyte causing an electrochemical reaction."

Fowler just stared at Connor blankly for a second before he replied. "Connor, high school chemistry was over twenty years ago, can you please simplify that for me?"

"Yes, Captain." Connor's L.E.D. began to fluctuate between yellow and red as a dull ache settled, but was ignored, in his chest. "The airborne contaminant won't hurt organic material; only ignoble metals."

"...Such as?"

Before Connor could answer he suddenly coughed and his L.E.D. remained red. "...Such as the internal biocomponents of androids."

"Shit! You were infected, weren't you?"

Connor nodded his head weakly as he performed a self-diagnostic. "Correct. I apologize Captain for my earlier disregard of your order."

Gavin scoffed at the android smugly. "Feeling regret there, plastic-wonder?"

"Gavin," Fowler snarled at the stubborn sergeant. "shut up. I'm going to call Chris again, let him know what's happening."

Connor coughed again and felt the ache in his chest begin to burn with a sharp pain. Standing by the office door Connor finish his self-diagnostic that confirmed his ventilation biocomponents had been affected by the airborne attack. The biocomponent functionality had reduced to eighty-seven percent, and was declining quickly.

"Chris," Fowler managed to reconnect with the officer outside the precinct. "Connor managed to get a sample. It isn't lethal to humans." There was a brief pause as Fowler listened to Chris on the other end of the line, and the Captain's shoulders sagged. "You're shittin' me! So even though the C.D.C. knows that the attack can't hurt any person inside the building they still won't lift the lockdown? Damn it, I have an officer-"

Connor suddenly let out a deep, painful cough that caused blue blood to splatter all over the floor and Connor's hands as he tried to contain the cough. As the android began choking he gasped for air and Fowler quickly corrected his previous statement."

"I have TWO officers in distress here! We need a medic and a technician in here, A.S.A.P.!"

Fowler slammed the phone down before he approached Connor and helped guide the struggling android to the floor. Once on the ground Connor rested on his hands and knees, gasping and choking for air. Putting his hand on Connor's back as the android coughed and sputtered weakly Fowler could feel the Thirium pump hammering away in Connor's chest as the android fought to catch his breath. Fowler could also feel that Connor was beginning to radiate an intense heat from his body.

"Shit," Fowler pressed the back of his hand to the side of Connor's neck. "you're sick! I had no idea that androids could even get sick!"

Gavin cruelly laughed again with a smug smile on his face. "A sick android. Piece of junk..."

"Gavin, one more word and I'm suspending you for the rest of the year." Fowler put his other hand against the center of Connor's chest and turned the android so he was resting on his hip instead of his hands and knees. "Lay down and breathe slowly, Connor."

Connor nodded weakly as drops of blue blood dripped from his lip and ran down his chin.

Fowler put his hands under Connor's shoulders and head as the android laid flat on the floor. Remembering that androids had a heartbeat that responded in a similar manner to human pulses Fowler pressed his hand to the center of Connor's chest and held it there for a moment.

"If you can survive bullets, high speed traffic, blizzards and revolutions then you can survive this." Responding to Connor's plight as he would any other human officer Fowler slipped off his own jacket to wad it up and placed it under Connor's head. Loosening Connor's tie and popping open the the top two buttons of the android's shirt Fowler did his best to keep the suddenly dangerously sick android comfortable. "Chris knows that you and Gavin need help, he'll be here soon."

"...Thank you, Captain." Connor wheezed as he tried to breathe through his failing ventilation biocomponents. "...I'll be okay."

Fowler stood up slowly and approached Gavin with an unsteady gaze in his eyes. "How about you? You okay?"

"I'm not sick." The abrasive detective snapped. "I'm not an android."

"Then why do you look like shit?"

"I... It's nothing."

"Gavin, I'm your commander officer. Don't lie to me."

"I... Alright, fine. I'm claustrophobic." Gavin admitted with a faint red blush on his face. "I hate being trapped, and right now that's what we are, trapped!"

"Okay then, why didn't you say that before?"

"Because it's stupid! I know I'm not trapped forever and I can leave soon enough, but right now it feels like I can't and never will, even though I KNOW I can... It's just..."

"Easy, I get it. Just try not to think about it."

The phone on Fowler's desk began to ring again. Snatching the phone from the receiver Fowler answered and sighed a little. "Shit, how long?" A brief pause. "I think so, but try to get those technicians in here as fast as possible." A slightly longer pause. "Yeah, it doesn't hurt humans but it's doing a number on Connor."

Connor began to wheeze harder as he coughed up more blue blood from where he was laying on the floor. Gavin turned his head away in disgust at the sight while Fowler retained his composure.

"Yeah, let them know it's making him cough up blood. Yes, I'm serious." Hanging up the phone Fowler sat on the floor beside Connor and put his hand down on the android's shoulder. "It'll take them another ten minutes to get inside. You were right about the corrosion, the emergency vents are having a hard time removing whatever's left of the toxin from the building."

Through half-lidded eyes Connor looked up at his Captain and nodded to acknowledge Fowler's update.

"Is there anyway you can think of for us to track down the person who did this? Chris is still looking at the surveillance footage but the person who dropped it off was under a heavy hood and wore gloves. We can't even tell if it was a man or a woman."

Connor slowly shook his head 'no' as speaking was becoming too difficult.

"Gavin?" Turning to look at the Sergeant over his shoulder Fowler tried to keep the current frame of mind on the case, and away from the trio being currently trapped in the office. "Do you have any ideas?"

"Sure, I got one."

"Spill it."

"The cocky bastard attacked a police precinct in broad daylight, so he's gonna' be confident about his ability to get away with it. And he used a duffel bag to carry his little toy, so I say check the gym down the block for any witnesses who saw the weirdo in the hoodie."

"Sounds good, Gavin. As soon as we're cleared you head the search."

"Me?"

"Yeah, you found the bag and brought it in from reception where it went off and poisoned the precinct. AND you're the one who thought of looking at the gym, so it's your case."

A weak smirk appeared on Connor's face as his eyes began to fully close and he coughed again.

"Hey, hey, eyes on me!" Fowler demanded as he shook Connor's shoulder lightly. "I'm not going to tell Hank that you got hurt your first day back on the job."

"...Poisoned." Connor weakly corrected as he wheezed again. "...I was exposed... to poison."

"That sounds even worse."

Gavin stared at the android on the floor with unspoken disdain. But as Connor wheezed and coughed a few more times the resentment that Gavin felt toward all androids began to lessen to a degree. "It doesn't sound as bad as that coughing he keeps doing."

"M-My self-healing program has identified the toxin... and has begun expelling it from my systems." Connor coughed again and clutched at his sore chest with a shaking hand. "...It's unpleasant, but effective."

"Try disgusting!"

Fowler just shook his head as he focused on Connor. "Anything I can do to help?"

Again Connor shook his head 'no'. "I just need... time."

"Yeah," Gavin snarked from his chair as stared through the office window. "and an inhaler."

Suddenly a team wearing hazmat suits swarmed the office with various meters and sensors in their hands as they scanned the air and then focused on the duffel bag on Gavin's desk. A few minutes passed before the leader of the team gave the other members a thumbs up and removed his hood to signal that the situation was under control.

"Clear." He announced loudly to the entire team, and to the detectives sheltered in the office. "The technicians can enter now."

Fowler motioned for Gavin to open his office door while he stayed with Connor on the floor. "You're going to be okay, help's here."

Two technicians with large equipment satchels slung over their shoulders entered the precinct calmly and looked about for the android they were sent to tend to. As Gavin opened the door he waved them over and held the door open wide as he took in some deep breaths to settle his still shaking nerves. He'd rather breathe contaminated air than stagnant air, any day of the week.

"I'm stepping out." Gavin announced rudely as he huffed away quickly and disappeared from sight out the front doors. "I need to get some fresh air."

"How long's he been like this?" The first technician, a red headed female, asked as she put her satchel down on the floor next to Connor and retrieved her audioscope from the satchel itself.

"About fifteen, maybe twenty minutes." Fowler answered honestly as he watched the two set to work.

Connor swallowed once and answered on Fowler's behalf. "...Sixteen minutes, forty-three seconds..."

The female technician finished listening to Connor's chest while her partner, a male with raven black hair, rolled up his sleeve and wrapped a Thirium pressure cuff around Connor's left bicep.

"Ventilation biocomponents are still functioning. Capacity has reduced by approximately fifteen percent, but the self-healing program is repairing the damage. Core temperature had elevated due to the malfunctioning biocomponents," She stated calmly as she turned Connor's head slightly to look at his red cycling L.E.D. in his temple. "but his temperature is dipping below one-hundred degrees back to a nominal temperature. Systems still online."

The male technician pulled off the cuff and reached back into his satchel. "Thirium levels down to ninety-two percent, we can replenish what he's lost right here."

Fowler watched as the technician pulled a pouch of Thirium from the bag and opened the lid for Connor to drink. "Hey, here." Putting his arm under Connor's shoulder he helped the android to sit upright on the floor. "There, ya' go."

Connor nodded appreciatively as he took the offered pouch and drank the contents slowly.

"Feeling better?" Fowler asked as he watched Connor's face for any further sign of distress in the android.

"...Mildly." Connor admitted as his L.E.D. briefly flashed to yellow, then back to red. "My chest is still strained, but my core temperature is beginning to drop to a more stable degree."

The female technician took a plastic tube that had a small vial of blue liquid attached to the side from her satchel, and placed it before Connor's mouth. "Breathe this in, it'll clear up most of the toxin in your ventilation system."

Fowler stared at the offered item with an obvious confusion. "That looks like the nebulizer my son had as an infant."

"It's similar in design, but this will put aerosolized Thirium directly into his ventilation biocomponents to help his recovery program undo the damage from the inhalation of the toxic air."

Connor nodded and took the offered item from her hand. He breathed in twice before he started coughing again, only this time there was no blood with the rough physical reaction.

"Keep using that until your ventilation biocomponents are back to one-hundred percent capacity." She instructed as she and her partner packed up their kits and rose from the floor. "It'll help."

Fowler gave the technicians an incredulous glance. "That's it?"

"That's it. Androids heal remarkably fast and his exposure must've been extremely limited, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation right now."

Connor's L.E.D. cycled from red to yellow and he cleared his throat. "...Thank you."

As the technicians took their leave of the office Fowler patted Connor's shoulder approvingly and let out a sigh of relief.

"Good work, Connor." Fowler stood up and respectfully offered Connor his hand. As he pulled the android up to his feet he decided to escort the android out of the precinct and hailed an autonomous cab on Connor's behalf. "Come back to work in two days. It'll give Gavin adequate time to find the suspect, and if he can't do it then the case is all yours. Deal?"

Taking one final breath from the nebulizer Connor nodded his head and agreed. "I'm looking forward to catching the bastard."

"Watch it Connor, you're beginning to sound a little like Hank."

"Sorry." Connor apologized sincerely as he coughed weakly once more and breathed in the medication again. "I'll attempt to refrain from adopting anymore of his speech patterns."

"To be honest, I think it's too late for that."

"Will that be considered a problem?"

"No, it's fine. In fact, it makes you sound more human."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor knelt over the body and pulled back the sheet covering the face of the dead deviant. Six bullet wounds had brought the dangerous android down after an altercation with the police, and now it was up to Connor and Hank to uncover why the deviant suddenly turned violent and attacked a group of innocent people at Hart Plaza earlier that evening.

"The deviant was an AX-700 model." Connor observed as he ran a scan over the deactivated body. "He was one of the final models produced by CyberLife and freed during the revolution. According to records he had taken residence at 'New Jericho Tower' and functioned as a maintenance android to keep the tower functioning properly."

"Did he have a history of violence?" Hank asked as he stood back and watched partner examine the body.

"No. His history was limited to residing at the tower over the past seven months."

"Why was he out here? Why come to the plaza? Nothing significant is out here to tempt an android toward theft or vandalism."

"Unknown. There is no significant reason for any member of New Jericho to be at the plaza." Connor noted a black scorching along the android's right temple and curiously turned the android's head to get a closer look. "It appears as though his L.E.D. had burned out." Connor scanned the area for a closer examination. "Cause appears to be a massive electrical discharge."

"Someone shocked him?"

"No. The discharge had originated internally, inside his head, then escaped externally through the L.E.D."

"Sounds painful."

Connor nodded his head in agreement. "Yes. The sensation would've been agonizing and resulted in unpredictable behavior."

Hank took a knee next to Connor and looked down at the android's face curiously. "Think you can identify the cause of-"

Chris suddenly interrupted with a degree of alarm in his voice. "Lieutenant, we just got another report of a deviant going berserk and attacking people. This time at the train station."

"Shit." Hank stood up quickly to turn and look at the younger officer behind him. "Anyone hurt?"

"No, fortunately everyone got out of there and the deviant was subdued by another deviant before she could hurt anyone."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow as the report was filed at the precinct. "The model of the android was also an AX-700." Standing up he backed away from the body and addressed Hank directly. "There may have been a major malfunction or glitch in the software of these particular models. Its L.E.D. had also burned itself out and caused it to behave erratically. We should warn Marcus at New Jericho of this strange occurrence."

"Could just be a coincidence." Hank looked to Connor and commented calmly to keep a mass panic of misinformation from spreading. "Why don't we-"

Another report of a dangerous deviant caused Connor's L.E.D. to blink yellow rapidly.

"Let me guess," Hank sighed as he watched his partner's eyes suddenly become heavy with worry. "another one?"

"Correct." Connor confirmed somberly where he stood. "Same model as the previous deviants. This deviant was found near a schoolyard."

"Was its L.E.D. burned out, too?"

"Yes." Connor's visual sensors displayed his current stress level at forty percent. "The same apparent glitch is present at all three disturbances."

"Shit. Twice is coincidence, three times is a pattern." Turning his head back toward Chris's direction Hank made his decision. "Chris, tell Fowler that Connor and I are heading out to New Jericho Tower to follow a lead. We'll keep you posted."

"Yeah, no problem Lieutenant."


As Hank drove to New Jericho with Connor at his side the L.E.D. in Connor's temple flashed yellow frequently as more and more deviants had been reported for their dangerous behavior, and attempts to attack innocent groups of people. Passing through the barricade in the drive as it lowered to give the car access to the tower out on Belle Isle in the harbor Hank spoke directly to Markus over the phone.

"You too? Yeah, me and Connor are almost there." There was a pause as Hank listened to the details provided by Markus. "Yeah, that's what Connor said. All the same model, all with their L.E.D.'s burned out."

Connor flinched as the abundance of reports filing in at the precinct felt nearly overwhelming and his stress levels continued to rise.

"Yeah, thanks Markus. We'll figure this out." Hank ended the call and sighed despondently as slipped the phone into his coat pocket. "Looks like you were right, there IS something very strange going on with these late model androids."

"Hank..." Connor put his hand over his still yellow L.E.D. as if he could somehow quiet the numerous reports filing in at the precinct. His stress level began to rise higher and held at fifty-two percent. "Every deviant that has been reported is an AX-700. No models that had been previously released to the CyberLife stores for private purchase are exhibiting this strange behavior."

"All of them?"

"Correct. All late model androids, all licensed directly under CyberLife." Connor's L.E.D. suddenly flashed red as a worrying thought popped into his head. "Hank, I'm also-" Connor suddenly shouted in pain as he pressed the palm of his hand firmly against his L.E.D., his stress level skyrocketing up to eighty-five percent.

"Connor? What's wrong?"

"H-Hank! It... It hurts!"

"Shit!" Sensing that something was very wrong with his partner Hank sped up the last few yards of the drive and slammed on the brakes to stop in front of Jericho Tower. "Not you, too!"

Throwing open his door Hank ran around the front of the car to get to Connor's door and threw it open just as fast. Grabbing Connor by his right arm Hank hastily dragged his partner over to the tower to try to get him inside, but Connor fell to his knees in pain and couldn't be moved any further. Closing his eyes tight Connor gripped at both sides of his head as the incredible pain continued to build without seemingly any cause or mercy.

"Connor! Look at me!" Hank begged as took a knee in front of the android. Planting both hands on Connor's shoulders Hank tried to get the pained android to open his eyes and look at him. "Connor!"

Connor's finally opened but his pupils were tiny, unfocused. The L.E.D. in his temple was rapidly flashing red as the bizarre malfunction that had plagued the other late model deviants had made its presence known in Connor's programming.

Unbeknownst to the Hank, who had little knowledge of android construction, Connor's stress level began to climb higher and higher: eighty-seven percent, eighty-eight percent, eighty-nine percent...

"Shit." Swearing loudly Hank was at a loss of what he could do for his partner.

"Hank?" From behind Hank the front doors of the tower opened as Markus and North rushed outside to help the detective as he tried and failed to help Connor, or even catch the android's attention. Markus stood behind the detective as he watched him trying to speak with Connor. "What's going on?"

"Connor is being affected, too!"

North swore herself as she pulled a small electronic meter from her belt. "Damn it, we need to deactivate his L.E.D. before it burns out on him. Hold him still!"

Connor suddenly jumped backward onto his feet away from Hank, Markus and North. Pulling his gun from the holster concealed beneath his jacket Connor tried to threaten his allies, but Markus reacted too quickly and tackled Connor to the ground to keep his friend from hurting anyone outside, or himself, in the process.

Hank jumped on Connor's arm to pull the gun from the malfunctioning android's hand while North powered up the meter in her grip to counteract the deadly software glitch that had begun affecting late model androids.

"Connor!" Markus shouted as he tried to pin the android to the ground; Connor's stress level rising higher still at ninety-four percent. "Stop! We're your friends!"

Hank managed to smack Connor's hand against the ground hard enough to cause his hand to reflexively relax and drop the weapon. "Now!"

North slid on her knees beside the android and pressed the meter against Connor's right temple over the red tinted L.E.D. A sharp electronic whine filled the air as a controlled charge from the meter temporarily disabled the L.E.D., and subsequently rendered the android unconscious.

"That's it." North stated as she retracted her hand warily from Connor's L.E.D. "He's out."

Hank let go of Connor's arm and slowly stood upright. "What the fuck is going on?!"

Markus eyed Connor's blank face warily before he too stood up from the ground and stepped back from the downed android. "It was CyberLife. When deviancy began to manifest in androids CyberLife added a type of self-destruct program to their most recent models that would activate itself at a specific time if the affected androids weren't brought to CyberLife stores for their annual inspection."

"Son of a bitch." Hank ran his hand through his gray hair as he turned his back to his partner in frustration. "Can you fix it?"

"Yes, but it takes time." Markus explained as he pointed to the meter in North's hand. "That device was designed to temporarily disable the L.E.D. and place the affected android into stasis mode while the program is erased from their system."

"Should've listened to Connor as soon as he said something was up." Hank put his hands on his hips in self frustration as he turned around and looked back at Connor on the ground behind Markus. "Those few minutes could've saved him."

"Connor's a late model android, too." North spoke up softly as she pocketed the meter. "He was going to be affected sooner or later."

From where he was laying on the ground Connor's eyes opened suddenly as his system unexpectedly rebooted itself. All the android could feel was pain and his mind was swimming in confusion. Lifting his head slightly he caught sight of Markus and recognized him as the leader of the deviants and responded according to the primary code still residing in his programming: hunt deviants.

Eyeing his gun laying on the ground just a few inches from his hand Connor rolled from his back onto his knees and grabbed the gun swiftly and took aim at the back of Markus's head. Hank caught sight of Connor's movements, saw that his partner had reclaimed his weapon, and had taken aim at Markus.

Hank made his decision.

Connor squeezed the trigger.

"Markus!" Hank pushed Markus aside out of harm's way, but was unfortunately unable to move aside himself.

The bullet easily pierced through the right side of Hank's chest and dropped the detective to the ground onto his back in a matter of seconds. Hank briefly glanced down at the red mark in his chest that burned with an intense heat he could only begin to describe. before the bliss of unconsciousness stole away his mind, leaving him motionless on the ground.

"Hank?!" North dropped to the ground beside the detective and pressed her hand down on the bullet wound as a massive red stain of blood rapidly spread over his chest, and under her palm. Cybernetically she contacted 911 and informed them of Hank's injury. "Oh, shit! Hank..."

Markus looked down at Hank with wide eyed shock while Connor froze where he knelt on the ground. The L.E.D. in his temple flashed red, then yellow, then red as the self-destruction program was deleted from his software and his senses returned to stable levels.

"...Hank?" Connor whispered the name as he watched his partner bleeding on the ground in front of him. The already high levels of stress climbed further up to ninety-six percent.

Hearing Connor's voice Markus turned to look at the android and saw the utter pain in Connor's brown eyes. "Connor... It was an accident, okay? It wasn't your fault."

Connor lifted his shaking hand and stared at the gun still in his grip. "I... shot Hank... I SHOT HANK!"

Stress levels rose to ninety-eight percent.

"Connor?" Markus approached him slowly. "It wasn't your fault."

"H-Hank... I killed him!" Connor all but sobbed as the horrific reality of his actions fully set in. His stress level peaked to its lethal limit of one-hundred percent, and the emotionally distressed deviant android's hand tightened around the gun already in his grip.

"No! He's not dead." Markus shouted at the emotionally distraught android. "He's still alive."

"Connor, he IS alive." North held the pressure against the gunshot wound in Hank's chest, but he still proceeded to bleed heavily. She pressed her fingertips against the side of Hank's beck to monitor his pulse carefully without moving. "He's weak, but he IS alive."

The sound of an approaching ambulance fell on Connor's deaf ears as he stared at Hank with the heaviest regret in his heart that he had never felt before.

"Connor?" Markus kept speaking to his friend while North tended to Hank.

"I... did that." Connor's eyes were transfixed on Hank as he processed the horrible act he had committed. His L.E.D. was flashing red frantically in his temple as from where he knelt. "I... can't... I can't-"

"Easy, help is almost here." Markus kept his tone calm as he focused entirely on Connor and tried to keep his friend from harming himself. "Hank will be okay."

"No." Connor's fingers tightened around the grip of the gun as he lifted it up and pressed the barrel beneath his chin. Tears flowed freely from his brown eyes as he closed them slowly. "I'm sorry, Hank..."

"CONNOR!" Moving quickly Markus grabbed onto the gun and Connor's wrist, forcibly pointing the barrel away from the destabilized android and to the ground. "NO!"

The ambulance raced down the drive and stopped alongside Hank's car while Markus wrestled with the gun in Connor's hand. North addressed the paramedics, informing them of the horrible circumstances that led to the shooting while emphasizing that it was all a tragic mistake.

"Let it go!" Markus demanded as he tightened his hand around Connor's wrist to cause just enough pain to make Connor's fingers weaken. "Please! Don't do this!"

Connor took in an emotionally pained gasp as he tried to resist Markus and point the gun at himself again.

"Stop! Connor!" Markus shouted as he watched the paramedics treating Hank over his shoulder. "Look! He's getting help!"

Connor seemingly didn't hear Markus as he openly wept over what he had done to his best friend.

"Connor! Hank wouldn't want you to do this!"

At those words Connor stopped struggling, his hand trembling violently around the gun still in his grasp. Remaining tense and emotionally unstable Connor just stared at Markus as the deviant leader held his hand at bay.

"Hank is still here..." Markus stated softly as he nodded to the downed detective behind him. "Look, the paramedics have him. They're already loading him into the back of the ambulance and they're taking him to the hospital, okay?"

Connor blinked sluggishly through teary eyes as he looked to the gurney and watched as Hank, covered in his own blood, was placed in the back of the ambulance on the gurney.

"He's still alive. And you need to stay alive, too. You need to be there when Hank wakes up."

"I need to... take care of Hank." Slowly Connor's fingers around the grip of the gun weakened until the weapon fell from his hand and clattered on the ground beside his boot.

"That's it." Markus moved his grip from Connor's wrist up to his bicep. "Come on, come on..." Pulling Connor up from the ground and onto his feet Markus guided Connor away from the gun and back to Hank's car. "We'll take you to the hospital to see Hank, okay? You just need to give yourself a minute to calm back down."

North looked at the blood stain on her palm and along her white long sleeve as she waited for Markus at the driver's side of the car. She gave him an uncertain glance as Markus put Connor in the front passenger seat of the car and carefully observed his ally with palpable worry as he walked around to get the driver's side.

"North, take care of things while I'm gone. We don't know how many more deviants are going to be affected, I'll keep you posted and explain things to the police to prevent a panic."

"Okay." Receding the artificial skin from her hand she took Markus's hand in her own and held tightly. "Take care of him."

Markus mirrored her actions and squeezed the white plastimetal of his hand around hers. "I will."

Pulling the door shut Markus turned the car down the drive and drove himself and Connor back into the city to meet up with Hank at the hospital.


With his hands still trembling and eyes full of unshed tears Connor sat quietly in the waiting room of the hospital with Markus sitting beside him. The two androids patiently waited for an update on Hank's condition, but the detective had been wheeled hastily into emergency surgery to remove the bullet and repair the extensive damage to his chest.

The operation had already taken four hours and there was seemingly no end in sight for the lifesaving procedure.

Captain Fowler stopped by the hospital to check in on Hank and to ask Connor what had happened.

Unable to speak, unable to think about anything or anyone besides Hank, Connor sat in perpetual silence while Markus took the unfortunate liberty of explaining everything to Fowler on Connor's behalf.

"Connor... Because it was an incident regarding a fellow officer while working on a case, and you have been emotionally compromised I'm going to have to suspend you without pay, and take your service weapon." Fowler stated with a remorseful tone as Markus discreetly handed the weapon from his care into Fowler's hand. "Once we get a statement from Hank we'll determine the full extent of your punishment and length of your suspension. I'm sorry, but it's mandatory."

Connor never replied, never tore his eyes from the floor where he had been staring the moment Markus dragged him into the waiting room. His L.E.D. was still flashing red and his stress level was still dangerously peaked at one-hundred percent.

"And Markus," Fowler continued in a respectful tone. "I'd appreciate your help in handling this bizarre situation. Any information you can give us in identifying the affected androids and how to stop this as peacefully and efficiently as possible would be greatly beneficial to everyone."

"Of course. I'll have my people transfer all of the data we have at our disposal to your precinct."

"Thank you for your cooperation." Fowler extended his hand to Markus to shake. "And for aiding my officers."

"You're welcome."

As Fowler was about to take his leave a doctor stopped him and introduced himself. Markus silently watched as the doctor informed Fowler of Hank's condition and had enough medical knowledge from taking care of Carl to know that what the doctor was saying was far from good news. The look on Fowler's face only confirmed Markus's fear.

Shaking the doctor's hand Fowler turned to look at Connor and to Markus and waved his hand to motion Connor to join him.

Connor didn't notice, didn't budge even in the slightest from where he sat.

Taking the initiative Markus grabbed onto Connor's arm and with much difficulty forced the android back to his feet. Putting his hand against Connor's back Markus guided the android forward toward the superior officer. Fowler understood what Markus was doing and allowed him to join the small group as the doctor led them down the corridor into the recovery wing of the hospital.

Connor didn't hear anything that was being said around him, nor did he care. In his mind the image of Hank laying on the ground bleeding from the bullet that he had been responsible for was as distracting as it was painful.

"I'm Dr. Williams. I've been overseeing Hank's treatment."

"How is doing?" Fowler asked in a low tone as he waited for news on the Lieutenant's condition.

"He's still in a coma," the doctor stated as he opened the door leading into Hank's private room. "but his vitals have remained stable and he tolerated the surgery well."

Connor's eyes finally rose from the floor to look at the bed where Hank was laying and a tear rolled down is face.

Hank's face was pale and emotionless as he remained completely oblivious to Connor's presence. Wires, snaked from over Hank's bandaged chest to a cardiac monitor that showed his slow heartbeat and low blood pressure. A tube was inserted down his throat and attached to a respirator to force clean oxygen into his lungs and aided his breathing while his injured right lung healed.

Markus moved his hand to Connor's shoulder and patted twice as he made the android take another step forward, then another until he was standing beside the bed.

Fowler cleared his throat uncomfortably as he asked for more information on Hank's condition. "When do you expect him to wake up?"

"It's difficult to say. He lost a lot of blood, his right lung had partially collapsed and the bullet nicked his liver which was the main source of the bleeding. While he's stable and underwent a successful operation it's still very stressful on the human body to undergo such an extensive procedure."

"But you do expect him to wake up, right?" Fowler sounded painfully doubtful as he addressed the doctor.

The doctor bowed his head slightly. "Does he have any next of kin?"

Fowler motioned for the doctor to follow him into the hallway to speak in private. "It's difficult to explain..."

"Connor," Markus pulled up a chair that was against the wall over to the bed and put his hand back on Connor's shoulder to push him down into the chair. "I know you don't believe me, and I know you're far from a good state of mind right now, but I can assure you that what happened wasn't your fault. And the last thing Hank wants to see when he wakes up is you punishing yourself over something that you weren't responsible for."

"Markus..." Connor sounded like a frightened lost child as he spoke in a low voice that was barely a whisper. "I picked up the gun. I aimed it. I pulled the trigger."

"No." Firm and confident with his tone Markus stood before Connor and made him look up into his eyes. "You had a PROGRAM malfunction. You didn't CHOOSE to do anything! That was a malfunction that has been deleted from your system and now you're free to choose again. And right now you have to choose whether or not you're going to be here and stay strong as Hank's friend, or go into hiding because you're needlessly beating yourself up and leave him here alone."

Connor bowed his head in shame as he felt an inner conflict brewing inside of him that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. The android was still only beginning to understand the complexities of human emotions, and guilt was proving to be especially strenuous.

The desire to stay with Hank, his friend and partner was potent. But the urge to keep away from Hank out of a misplaced fear of accidentally hurting him a second time left the deviant android torn.

"I'm going to go back to New Jericho," Markus stated softly as he put his hand on Connor's shoulder. "and I'm going to help the police so you can stay here." Before leaving Markus squeezed Connor's shoulder one last time. "When he wakes up, call me."

Alone in the recovery room Connor listened to every beep on the heart monitor and the rhythmic thrum of the respirator breathing for Hank as the critically injured detective recovered from the bullet wound to his chest.

Placing his trembling hand on Hank's cold arm Connor squeezed as tight as he dared. Connor suddenly let out a gasping sob and apologized to Hank in a pathetic whisper of utter pain. "I'm sorry Hank! I'm so, so sorry!"


Connor remained ever vigil at Hank's beside even as the hours ticked away slowly and turned into dreary, rainy days. While Hank's heart rate and blood pressure steadily improved after the second day, it wasn't until the fourth day that the doctor's decided it was time to remove the tube from his throat, and let Hank breathe again on his own.

"Now, this procedure can be a little intense." Dr. Williams warned as he and a nurse worked together to unclip the respirator from the attached tube before carefully extracting it from Hank's throat. "You may want to step outside for a moment."

"No." Connor refused as he kept his hand on Hank's arm. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Okay, this should take only a minute."

As the tube was removed from Hank's throat slowly, and carefully Dr. Williams pressed his stethoscope against Hank's chest to listen for any sign of breath returning to his body under his own power. There was little motion from the detective but Dr. Williams didn't seem concerned as he listened carefully to Hank's chest and kept his eye on the oxygenation level displayed on the cardiac monitor.

"Hank... Please breathe." Connor whispered as he stared at Hank's eerily still chest. His hand tightened on Hank's arm as he waited for any sign of life returning to his best friend. "Please."

From beneath the stethoscope in Dr. Williams steady hand Hank took in a deep breath and settled into a slow, but rhythmic breathing pattern. Dr. Williams then proceeded to check both of Hank's lungs for any sign of infection or failure as Hank finally resumed breathing on his own.

"Start him on O2." Dr. Williams coolly instructed the nurse as he draped his stethoscope around his neck again. "Even breath sounds, no congestion."

Connor gave Dr. Williams a skeptical glance before he watched as the nurse slipped an oxygen mask of Hank's mouth and nose. "Does that mean he's getting better?"

"It means his lung has healed." Dr. Williams replied in a gentle tone as he used his penlight to next check Hank's pupils. "But he's still in a deep coma. I'm sorry, but it doesn't look like there's been any change in his condition since he was admitted."

As Dr. Williams and the nurse took their leave of the room Connor just stared at his friend with a heavy heart. It had been four days since he had been shot, and it had been four days since Connor last spoke with his friend.

"Hank... Please wake up."

Refusing to leave Hank's side for even a minute Connor's power supply began to dwindle away steadily. Warnings popped up in his visual sensors as his system began to initiate low power mode and emergency rest mode, warnings he had dismissed over the past four days. Emergency modes that the android could no longer override or postpone began to overwhelm his already stressed out mind.

Exhausted and drained of his power Connor bowed his head down against his own arm resting atop Hank's arm as he submitted to his much needed rest mode. Closing his eyes Connor fell asleep within seconds, unwilling to leave his friend alone in the hospital for any reason as he promised to keep vigil at his best friend's side.


As another two days passed by, two days of being forced into low power mode to rest after being fully conscious and stressed to his breaking point over the course of four consecutive days, Connor slowly rebooted his systems and awoke from his much needed slumber. As he opened his eyes and lifted his head up from the bed a hand pressed against his shoulder from behind causing him to turn and look at the source of the contact.

"You were out of it for a long time."

"Markus?"

"I wanted to see how Hank was doing, and I came to tell you that all of the affected deviants had been found. We couldn't save them all, but we did save a majority of the models from self-destruction."

"Oh, right..." Connor rubbed his hand over his tired eyes as his memory came back to him regarding the horrible situation that led to the tragic shooting. Letting out a weak sigh Connor looked back to Hank who was still laying still in the bed. "That's good that the malfunction ceased."

Markus let out his own sigh as he looked over at the detective laying in the bed. "How's he holding up?"

"He's breathing on his own. But he still hasn't woken up."

"He will. Be patient."

"How long was I asleep?"

"I've been here for almost five hours and you didn't move. I don't know when you fell asleep though."

Connor checked the time logged in his memory for when his rest mode was activated and calculated the time as a while. "I was asleep for fifty-hours, nine minutes. Which means he's been unconscious for six days..."

"Don't lose heart now," Markus encouraged sincerely. "he's strong. You know that."

"But strength can give out, no matter how hard we fight."

"That doesn't mean we should stop fighting."

Connor nodded a little as he rested his face against the palm of his hand, and he kept the other hand firmly gripped on Hank's arm.

"When Hank wakes up tell him I stopped by to see him, okay?" Markus backed toward the door slowly before turning on his heel and giving Connor one last piece of mind. "Let him know everyone at New Jericho is waiting for him to pull through."

"Yes, Markus. I will..." Connor sounded as exhausted as he felt as he sat statuesque beside the bed. The door shut behind Markus and Connor felt discouraged all over again. "If he ever wakes up."

A twitching beneath his palm made Connor lift his head and look down at his hand. He could've sworn he felt, and even saw Hank's arm move briefly.

"...H-Hank?" Connor whispered with a stammering voice as he rose from his chair and leaned over the bed to look down at the detective's face. "Hank. Can you hear me? Please respond."

Connor felt Hank's arm twitch again and he saw Hank's blue eyes beginning to flutter as they struggled to open.

"Hank. Please, wake up. Open your eyes." Connor begged with a twinge of optimism to his voice as his stress level finally began to decline down to eight-percent after being peaked for six consecutive days. "I need you to take up for me."

Slowly Hank's eyes opened, his glassy blue irises scanning the room with utter confusion before coming to rest on Connor's face.

"...Hank?" A ghostly grin of relief appeared on Connor's face as he waited for an answer. "Hank, can you hear me?"

"...Connor."

Dr. Williams and the nurse returned to the room as the monitors chronicling Hank's vitals suddenly improved alerting the staff to his condition. It was a frenzy of activity as the doctor checked Hank's eyes, checked his memory, his check breathing and checked his overall motor function after being unconscious for so long. After being scheduled for a few follow-up tests and exams Dr. Williams gave the two detective some privacy in the room while Hank regained his senses and his strength.

"Hey, kid." Hank again focused on Connor's face and could see that the android hadn't been taking care of himself while he was unconscious. Connor's hair was a mess and his surprisingly soulful eyes were glassy. "You look like shit."

Smirking slightly tears began to flow again from Connor's eyes, but this time they were tears of joy. "You're... awake." Stress level down to seventy percent. Wiping his hand over his eyes Connor breathed slowly and stayed at Hank's side. "Can you understand me?"

"I-" Hank winced as pain shot through his chest around the still healing bullet wound, but he pushed through the discomfort and cleared his weak sounding voice. "...I can hear you."

"Hank," Connor did his best to restrain the immense regret in his voice as he frantically began speaking to his friend. "I'm sorry! I am so sorry! I almost... I could've-"

"Connor?"

The android was silent for a moment as he stared intently at Hank's face. Connor's stress level increased to seventy-five percent.

"Shut the fuck up."

"But... I-"

"It wasn't you."

"Wh-What?"

"For fuck sake... You didn't shoot me, kid. That damn bug, glitch or whatever it was, that's what made you pull the trigger. That's what shot me."

"Hank..." Stress level down to sixty percent. "How can you be so forgiving?"

"Look Connor, I've known you long enough to recognize when you're not... well... you!" Hank lifted his hand up from the bed out from underneath Connor's palm and grabbed onto the android's arm firmly. "When you were glitching out I saw it in your eyes. The Connor that I know was gone and the machine Connor that I hated had returned. It was the cold machine that was forced to the surface who hurt me, not you."

Connor's head bowed down again as he collapsed into the chair and pressed his forehead down against Hank's bed as he finally allowed the mass of restrained emotion that he had repressed for so long free. Tears of gratitude, joy and relief all fell from his eyes as he silently wept with utter solace in knowing that Hank had forgiven him, and more importantly, Hank was going to be okay.

"Hank... I missed you."

Hank happily rested his hand on the back of Connor's dark hair as the android continued to silently sob at his side. Connor's stress level mercifully plummeted down to zero percent as he finally let his pain out and began to heal himself.

"It's okay, I kinda' missed you, too." Hank admitted as he stared at the weeping android with a little confusion in his still aching head. Whether it was from being in a coma for so long, or whether it was because Connor was more alive than either of them had realized, the sight of seeing Connor openly crying pulled at a paternal chord in the gruff detective's heart of gold. "Everything is going to be alright, son. I promise."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Two weeks suspension without pay was a low price for Connor to pay just to have Hank back home where he belonged. While the detective had forgiven him for the shooting, not that he even blamed Connor to begin with, internal affairs at the precinct ordered that Connor had his entire programming checked by the precinct technician, as well as a 'private' technician hired by Fowler himself, and to remain on suspension until he was cleared for active duty. Everything in Connor's programming passed, but that didn't make the android feel any less guilty or responsible for Hank's condition.

Just three days left of his suspension and Connor could return to work, but Hank still had two weeks of his own after being shot and spending six days in a coma. While Hank had gotten used to Connor tending to his every need, even if didn't actually need anything, the over abundance of kindness was beginning to wear his nerves a little thin.

"Connor, you've cleaned this entire house four times over the past week and half, took the car down to the garage to get tuned up, mowed the lawn and even managed to give Sumo a bath without drowning in the process." Hank shouted from the couch as he pet Sumo's head; the massive dog was stretched out across the couch and over his lap. "Sit down before I knock you down!"

"Doctor's orders Hank." Connor yelled from the kitchen as he pulled a fresh pizza out of the oven. A pizza Connor had made from scratch as a special meal just for Hank. "You can't take your medication on an empty stomach."

"Yeah, I know that. But that doesn't mean you have to cook every meal for me."

"No, but, I do find the act of cooking in itself oddly enjoyable. Arguably it's soothing to me."

"How can you enjoy it? You don't eat anything you make."

"Correct, but I do enjoy following recipes and creating new items. I imagine it's like an artist completing a work of art." Connor defended his logic as he walked out of the kitchen and handed Hank a bottle of water without being asked. "Also, I can taste. So while I'm cooking I can smell and therefore taste every recipe I complete without actually needing to ingest it."

"Wait..." Hank tentatively accepted the bottle of water as he gave Connor an unsettled look. "so every time we're at a crime scene and you 'analyze' those blood samples, you can..."

"Correct."

"Gross, Connor! Why'd they program that into your system?"

"Taste allows me to properly identify foreign chemicals and toxins that I otherwise wouldn't be able to process visually. It has its drawbacks, I admit."

"I bet." Despite his annoyance at Connor being a tad overprotective, Hank did have to give Connor credit where credit was due. "I will admit that you're better in the kitchen than I am. Well you are now that you know why humans invented something called 'oven mits' for a reason."

"Yes, I do regret underestimating the heat of the metal oven rack against my artificial skin."

"Took hours for that smell to go away. Mixture of burned skin and plastic..." Opening the bottle of water Hank took a sip and gave the android a slightly amused stare. "Who knew that I'd have to teach about the oven being hot!"

"I have learned from my mistake. I won't do it again." Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow suddenly as he received an update from the pharmacy and he responded accordingly. "Your prescription has been refilled. I'll go pick it up."

"More of those damn antibiotics? Can't you please just forget about it?"

"I'm sorry Hank, but you need them. This is also your final refill."

"Good. Damn pills give me the worst insomnia I've ever had."

"Would you like me to bring back some sleeping medication as well?"

"No! No more pills. What I would like is a shot of whiskey!"

"No Hank, you can't have any alcohol for another three months until your liver regenerates after being affected by the passing bullet."

Hank took another sip of the water as he studied Connor's demeanor curiously. "I think it'll take my liver longer than that... But whatever. I know I can't change your mind once it's made up."

"Correct." Walking over to the front door Connor took his gray jacket from the hook and slipped it on over his arms. "I'll be back in less than one half hour."

"Why not take the car? It's not like I'm going anywhere anytime soon."

"The car has just recently been returned from the garage, I'd hate to do anything that might damage the vehicle before you get the chance to drive it yourself."

"For the love of-" Hank was about to lose his patience with the android's misplaced guilt and smother humility. "It's a fuckin' car! Things are going to get damaged no matter what! It's what they do, that's why we have mechanics!"

Connor refused to take the offered car and set foot outside the front stubbornly. "I'll be back soon."

As the door shut quietly Hank messed up Sumo's ears and looked down at the giant dog on his lap. "I don't know which of you needs obedience school more; you or Connor."

Sumo just wagged his tail at the sound of his name, and snuggled in more against Hank's legs.


The pharmacy was six blocks away from the house and it didn't take long for Connor to reach his destination on foot. As Connor entered the pharmacy a group of three teenagers; two males and one female, watched the android with interest from an alley across the street. Connor was too focused on retrieving the bottle of medication to pay them any attention, not that he saw teenagers or children as threats even while on the clock at the precinct.

Connor cybernetically paid for the prescription, as well as a box Chamomile tea, and set about for home unaware of the three teenagers following after him. With the pill bottle tucked away safely in his jacket pocket Connor crossed two blocks without any problems, but as he set foot on the third block he heard the 'clink' of metal as a switchblade was unsheathed from behind him.

"Hey freak!" The oldest male of the three teenagers shouted in a threatening manner. "Give me your stuff!"

Connor stopped and turned around to face the three teenage muggers. "To what 'stuff' are you referring?"

"Those pills! Give us those pills!"

"This medication is an antibiotic, not a painkiller. It won't get you high."

"I said," the teenager rushed toward Connor and the android stood his ground. "give me the pills!"

Connor grabbed onto the teenagers shirt collar with his left hand and easily threw him aside. Seeing their friend knocked to the ground caused the other teenagers to pull switchblades from their own pockets and lunge at Connor. The android was able to step back from the other two teenagers, but the third had gotten back to his feet and reclaimed his blade.

With great ease Connor managed to disarm the two teenagers but failed to disarm the third as he stabbed his knife through his right forearm.

As the android's L.E.D. flashed yellow from pain he managed to grab onto the offending teenager's wrist and twist it with a violent jerk that caused the bones to snap. Letting go of the blade the teenager fell to the sidewalk cradling his shattered wrist while his friends grabbed his by his arms and dragged him along the sidewalk away from the android.

"Shit, let's get out of here!"

Connor issued a report cybernetically to the precinct as he looked down at the blade sticking out of his bleeding forearm. It would need to be properly cleaned and wrapped up, but it wasn't anything serious that required a technician. In time the android's self-healing program would easily mend the damage without any complications.


Sumo was laying on the kitchen floor eating a slice of the freshly baked pizza while Hank sat at the kitchen table looking through his phone for any possible remedies to insomnia that didn't involve taking more pills, or a change in diet. What information he found was less than helpful, but that didn't stop him from scrolling through various homeopathic remedies, that is until he came across meditation.

"We've been on this planet for billions of years, yet no one can figure out the damn secret to a good night's sleep." Hank set aside his phone and picked at the slice pizza on his plate. The toppings were chosen specifically based on Hank's person taste preferences which meant the offered meal was irresistible to the healing detective. "How can someone who never eats have such a skill in the kitchen? Must be an android thing."

The front door opened slowly as Connor returned home and took the pill bottle out of his pocket for Hank to see. "I have your prescription."

"I appreciate you doing that, but I don't-" Hank's eyes fell from the pills and immediately locked in place as he saw the bloody switchblade sticking out of Connor's arm, and stopped midsentence. "Connor... What the fuck is that?"

"A switchblade."

"I can see that," the detective sounded annoyed by Connor's indifference to his own injury. "I mean why the fuck is it stuck in your arm?"

"I was jumped. Three teenagers must've thought the medication I was carrying could get them high."

"Ah, Jeez..." Hank rose from the table and stood before Connor in the livingroom. Carefully he took Connor's damaged arm and held it between his hands. "Let me see..."

"It's not serious. It passed clean through the plastimetal frame but no major lines have been severed."

"Uh-huh, but you're bleeding in my house and you have a blade stabbed into your forearm. That's serious to me."

"The first aid kit provided by New Jericho will be more than effective at remedying my injury. I can take care of it in a moment."

"Yeah, yeah. Sit down, get your jacket off and pull your arm out of your sleeve. I'll get the kit."

"There's no need. I can-"

"Connor. Sit down."

Unwilling to stress the detective during his recovery Connor obeyed Hank's instructions and stepped over Sumo to get to the kitchen table to take his seat. As he pulled the fabric of his jacket open to slip it over the hilt of the switchblade he draped it over the back of the chair casually. Unfastening the cuff of his sleeve of his damaged shirt to roll the fabric up past his forearm, he looked down at Sumo on the floor and saw what he was eating.

"It's not wise for a dog to consume food intended for a human."

"Sumo can handle anything." Hank replied as he returned to the kitchen with the necessary kit in his hands. "Besides, it's not exactly 'wise' for an android to walk around with a weapon embedded in his body, but here you are." The jaded detective placed the kit down on the table as he looked at the blade in Connor's arm. Holding his breath Hank took a firm grip of the handle and locked eyes with Connor. "Ready?"

"Ready."

"One, two-" Hank pulled the blade out with a swift yank that made Connor wince in response. "Sorry."

Connor gritted his teeth and let out a sigh. "...It's okay."

"Alright, so I pour this stuff over the wound?" Hank asked as he picked up a transparent bottle containing a clear liquid. "It's like an android antiseptic, right?"

"Correct."

Hank uncapped the bottle and drenched the wound in the liquid and he tightened his grip around Connor's arm as the android tried to pull his limb back out of a pained reflex. "Don't move."

"...Sorry."

"Done." The liquid removed the lingering blue blood from around the wound and cleared any foreign debris from within the wound just as easily. "Now what?"

"Wrap the wound in the supplied gauze. It'll prevent external debris from entering the injury until my artificial skin can heal and regenerate on its own."

"Right." Hank did as he was instructed and wrapped up Connor's forearm carefully under the protective white bandages. "Just so you know, you don't owe me anything over what happened. I don't blame you, and I never did, okay?"

Connor nodded slightly as he watched Hank wrapping up his injured arm with a surprising gentleness. "Okay."

"No more cleaning the house, doing chores or slaving away in the kitchen. Understood?"

"...Yes, Hank." Connor looked away from his damaged arm and to the floor as if he had just been scolded. "I won't do anything that you don't want me to do."

"Please don't do that. You're not annoying me or anything, you just need to stop beating yourself up." Hank could sense that Connor was still upset about the entire situation, despite having done nothing wrong, and decided to give the android an excuse to keep hovering over him just a bit longer. "But, if you're feeling up to it I do have a favor to ask."

"A favor? Name it."

"Find a cure to insomnia."

Connor's L.E.D. blinked from a distressed yellow back to a calm blue as a sly grin appeared on his face. "Chamomile tea."

"Seriously?" Hank gave Connor an incredulous glance as he finished wrapping up Connor's arm and put the remaining supplies back into the kit. "You're sure?"

"Yes." Leaving his damaged arm on the table Connor reached back with his free hand into his jacket's pocket and presented a box containing chamomile teabags. "I already bought some."

Hank looked at the box in Connor's hand and flashed him an amused smirk. "Smartass. Alright, I'll give it a shot."

...next story...

Chapter Text

A report of a possibly dangerous deviant roaming the halls of an office building downtown brought Connor and Hank to the scene with very little information at their disposal, and a lot of questions that still needed answers. The office building itself was located in an area of the city that had been known, almost infamously, for its anti-android policies which meant that there was still a lot of social hostility in the area. The air was thick with xenophobic tension that made the human and android detective both anxious upon their arrival.

It didn't help matters when Gavin arrived on the scene with his usual impatient attitude to 'assist' with the search through the building. Whether Gavin volunteered out his mutual anti-android spite resonating through the neighborhood, or if it was because he was attempting to brown-nose some rich contacts into donating funds to the precinct, no one could say.

The occupants of the building had been successfully evacuated and led to safety while the responding officers began their search for the supposedly dangerous deviant reportedly trespassing inside the building. After checking the floors of the building one by one for the mysterious deviant the two detectives found no one of interest, but they did find an abundance of xenophobic bigotry.

"First week back on the job and we get called in to find one deviant in a building full of paranoid suits." Hank righteously grumbled as he and Connor walked through the corridor together. "I don't know what's more of a waste, our time or the taxpayer's money!"

Connor and Hank had reached the top floor of the massive building and found no sign of anyone anywhere. There were no other androids beyond Connor on the premises, or any sign that any other androids had recently been through the area.

"Did your scanner find anything Connor?"

The android's L.E.D. flashed yellow as he looked up at the white ceiling as his scanner detected a trace amount of something that registered as explosive material just beyond a single tile that was slightly out of place. He stopped short and stared straight up at the offending tile without blinking.

"Possibly."

Hank turned around and followed Connor's gaze upward to the tile in question. "What's up?"

"I'm unsure, but I believe it warrants a closer inspection."

Hank's instincts as a detective told him that Connor was onto something. Planting his feet firmly Hank squared his shoulders as he dropped his hands down a little in front of himself as he prepared to support a heavy weight.

"Yeah. Here, I'll give you a boost up."

"My frame allows me to stand completely stable while supporting additional weight. It'd be more beneficial for me to support you instead."

"Yeah, but your balance is better than mine, you're lighter than me, AND you can see without a flashlight." Hank argued sharply without moving from where he stood. "Up."

"Very well."

Obediently Connor stepped forward and stepped down into Hank's hands as the detective hoisted him upward toward the ceiling. Putting one hand down on Hank's shoulder as the detective lifted him up high enough to press on the ceiling, Connor reached up with his other hand to slide the already loose tile to the side before he peered up into the ceiling itself.

Hank looked up and watched as Connor peered into the opening of the ceiling to examine the small space. "See anything?"

Meticulously Connor looked about the dark space that occupied the ceiling, his flashing yellow L.E.D. illuminated the area with a faint amber glow as his eyes fell upon a large metallic cylinder lined with various wires, small connected containers with liquid explosives, and a single trigger that had numerous failsaves protecting it.

"Hank, I see something."

"What is it?"

"A bomb."

Hank immediately lowered Connor to the ground, the abrupt movement caught the android off guard and made him sway a little as he put his feet back down on the floor in front of the detective.

"Did you say 'BOMB'?"

"Yes. It appears to be remotely activated."

"Shit! Find Gavin." Hank walked over to the wall and pulled down on the nearest fire alarm to cause the people lingering around outside to evacuate even further from the building. As the alarm sounded off with an extraordinary sound Hank had to raise his voice in order to be heard over it. "Contact the precinct, let them know what's going on. We have to make sure everyone got out of here, and we need to do it FAST."

"Done." Connor's L.E.D. had flashed yellow rapidly for a few seconds as he sent out the distress call and filed the report. "Sergeant Reed is currently three floors down, and heading our way."

"Fine, we'll head him off on our way down as we finish checking these rooms." Hank pushed open an unlocked door to en empty room just to make sure no one was actually inside.

"Agreed." Connor mirrored Hank's motions along the opposite side of the corridor, heading toward the staircase in favor of using the elevator.

Working together the two detectives painstakingly checked the top two floors, and every room, heading down from where the bomb had been located on the top floor when they met Gavin who was approaching them with an angered and impatient glare. The hotheaded Sergeant hadn't been informed of the possible bomb as the use of radios had been temporarily banned, and therefore disabled, in the event a broadcast could accidentally trigger the remote bomb before it could be disposed of.

"Lieutenant, what the fuck is happening?" Gavin shouted over the blaring fire alarm as he huffed toward the two detectives. "What did you do?"

"There's a bomb in the building," Hank yelled in response as he and Connor continued to check the rooms lining the corridor. "we need to evacuate and make sure everyone got their sorry ass out of the area."

"Shit..." Gavin frozen for only a second before proceeded to help with the room check without asking twice. "The six floors below us were already cleared because of the reported deviant. If anyone was still here they were at the bottom floors of the building. They gotta' be outside by now."

"Keep looking!" Hank ordered gruffly as he made his way past Gavin toward the next stairwell. Stopping short Hank saw that Connor was staring through an open door into a seemingly empty room. "Connor?"

"The deviant." Connor replied sternly, his L.E.D. flashed red suddenly as he alone witnessed something alarming inside the dark room. "It's-"

A deafening explosion suddenly rocked the building as the bomb only three floors away from the responding officers detonated unexpectedly. Thick black smoke and bright orange fire erupted from the top of the building as the three floors above imploded downward creating a gray plume of choking dust and debris that rained down over the streets below. Heavy support beams, slabs of drywall, portions of the floor and the ceiling above collapsed inward while the surrounding windows shattered into a cascade of thousands of shards of sharp glass outward.

Onlookers and bystanders on the street ran for cover and away from the building as police cars, fire engines and ambulances bravely converged on the scene to aid those trapped within the radius of the detonated bomb.

The search for survivors and victims alike had only just begun.


Hank coughed harshly as he lifted his aching head up from the floor and struggled to look around the destroyed corridor. The explosion had sent Hank flying backward and he landed down hard on his back causing the muscles to tremble from the impact. Judging from the severe, chronic ache in his head and the lingering taste of blood in his mouth Hank knew had also been rendered unconscious by the blast, but he couldn't tell just for how long. A steady weight against his torso was indicative of heavy debris being knocked on top of him as the building's interior was torn to shreds.

Using one hand Hank pushed aside a large piece of drywall that was resting over his chest down to his hip as he slowly unburied himself as he laid alone on his back in the ruined corridor. Free of the debris Hank coughed and tried to breathe through the heavy air as best as he could. Rolling from his back onto his hip he used his arm to push himself up from the ground as he gazed about the immediate area to take in the sight of the carnage, and to look for his two missing officers.

Wires hung down from the unstable ceiling and sparked randomly in white and blue colors. Thick pipes jutted outward from gaping holes in the walls, and dripped water or possibly leaked gas. The floors were littered with piles of debris that ranged in both height and depths depending on the material that had been collected in the mounds, and their proximity to the explosion. It was dark and smokey making it difficult for the human to see, but not impossible.

"Connor?" Hank called out as loud as he could, and coughed immediately afterward. Clearing his throat he called out again. "Gavin? Can you hear me?"

"H-Hey!" From somewhere behind Hank he heard a large portion of the debris get shoved aside as Gavin stumbled forward and joined him in the middle of the wrecked corridor. "Lieutenant... You hurt?"

"A few bruises." Hank admitted as he ignored the trail of blood running down the side of his face from a cut over his left eye. The taste of blood in his mouth was still prevalent, but also ignored. "How about you? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." Gavin looked as beaten up as Hank felt. Numerous small cuts marred his face, neck and hands, but he was fully lucid and able to move about on his own with little difficulty. "What the hell happened?"

"What do you think happened, jackass? The damn bomb went off."

"Shit."

"Have you seen Connor?"

"No. I was looking for a way to get down the stairs when I heard you callin' us."

"Stay here." Hank ordered as he stood up slowly and set off clumsily over the debris on the floor in the opposite direction from where Gavin had arrived to look for his partner. He had a little more difficult in moving than Gavin thanks to his sore back, but he was managing just fine. "I'll check the other end of the hallway."

"Whoa, whoa. You want to risk your life over a piece of-"

"Shut the fuck up. He's my partner, dipshit."

"He's a machine!"

"And you're a piece of shit. That doesn't stop Fowler from giving you a paycheck, now does it?"

"...Whatever. If you want to waste your time lookin' for him, then by all means, go for it. I'm going to look for a way outta' here."

Annoyed but not deterred Hank resumed his search for his missing partner. Making very careful steps to ensure he didn't fall or disturb anything that could cause a second collapse Hank trudged through the corridor and checked every accessible area diligently before moving on to the next area.

"Connor?" Hank continued to call out for the android as he searched for him. "Connor? Where are you?"

As the detective ducked down under a low hanging support beam that had broken through the ceiling his eye caught sight of a faint red glow emanating from beneath a layer of debris just a few inches from where he was standing. The glow was blinking on and off slowly as if it were a pulse, or a signal. It was then Hank's heart skipped a beat as he recognized the source of the glow as an android's L.E.D.

It was Connor's L.E.D.

"Connor?!"

Hank quickly fell to his knees, ignoring the painful protest of the joints as he knelt on the ground. Without hesitation he began hefting aside the slabs of drywall, splintered wooden support beams and shards of broken glass as he desperately dug his partner's body out from under the smothering pile of debris. The sight of the android's uncovered chest did little to ease Hank's worried mind as Connor was unburied.

"Connor... No."

The android was laying on his back with his head lolled just enough to the left to let the red L.E.D. glow through the darkness created by the surrounding debris. His arms were splayed outward at his sides and his legs were straight, but pinned beneath a heavy chunk of the collapsed ceiling from above. A massive stain of blue tinted Thirium bled over Connor's white dress shirt over his chest, but mostly over his abdomen. Additional blue blood ran from the corner of Connor's mouth and from his nose, dripping down onto the floor beside his head in a growing sapphire puddle. There was a massive cut along Connor's right cheek that oozed blue blood steadily as he laid motionless on the floor next to Hank.

"Connor?" With a light touch Hank patted the side of Connor's face, but the android didn't respond. It didn't even look like Connor was breathing! Turning back toward the corridor where Gavin had been searching Hank called out to him as loud as he could. "Gavin! Get you ass over here!"

Bending his head down Hank pressed his ear to the center of Connor's chest and didn't budge until he heard the distinct heartbeat like thrum of Connor's Thirium pump in his chest still functioning. While his heart was beating Connor wasn't breathing, and with that lack of respiration his core temperature was steadily beginning to rise.

"No, kid. Come on..." Uncovering Connor's arm from beneath the pile Hank picked up the android's limp, cold hand and held it in his own. "Connor? Squeeze my hand!"

No response.

"Come on, Connor, I know you can hear me. Squeeze my hand."

Still nothing.

Gavin rushed over the littered hallway as quickly as he could and stood behind Hank as he watched the detective rock back on his knees and proceed to try and push additional debris from atop Connor's torso. The massive Thirium stain over Connor's chest made Gavin wince inwardly as he recognized the distinct blue tint as blood.

"Jesus..." Staying back Gavin looked down at the android's body as Hank continued to unbury him. "is it... dead?"

"No! He's still alive." Hank turned his head slightly to look at Gavin, revealing the smear of blue blood staining the side of his face and gray hair. Gently Hank placed Connor's hand back down on the floor beside him as he focused on the remaining debris. "But he can't breathe, help me move this junk off of him!"

"Breathe? What the fuck..."

Surprisingly Gavin did as he was told without protest or even hesitation. Working alongside Hank the two men managed to lift up and a slide the heavy slab of dirty drywall aside and away from Connor's body. Without the weight pressing down against his torso Connor would be able to breathe on his own, but his body remained just as still as it had been since Hank found him.

"Connor?" Hank tried again as he put his hand down lightly on Connor's bleeding abdomen. The lack of motion beneath his palm made Hank's own blood run cold. "Come on, son, breathe! You need to breathe!"

"Seriously he breathes?" Gavin stepped back at the horrific sight of Connor covered in his own blood. "Fucking piece of plastic can breathe?!"

"Come on." Hank begged as he kept his hand firmly in place on Connor's abdomen. "Just one breath, that's all I ask."

Connor remained motionless.

"Connor?" Applying a light pressure to Connor's torso Hank shook once and addressed the android in a louder voice. "Connor, breathe damn it! I need you to breathe!"

A weak gasping sound escaped Connor's bloodied lips as he took in a shallow breath at last. It was followed by another breath, then another.

"That's it." Hank encouraged as he released his own breath; a breath he didn't even know he was holding. The weak motion under his palm managed to ease his fears, but only in the slightest. "Good. That's good."

Hank pulled his hand back as Connor started to breathe on his own, very rapidly and with great difficulty, but at least he was breathing again. With each shuddering, weak breath he took more Thirium began to ooze from beneath his bloodied shirt over his abdomen, only to pool onto the floor beneath his body.

Gavin took another step back as the growing puddle of blood began to turn his stomach. "Shit..."

"We have to stop the bleeding." With his instincts as a first responder kicking into full gear Hank pulled open the buttons on Connor's shirt to reveal the android's abdomen beneath. "Ah, shit. Connor..."

"Oh, man..." Gavin put a hand over his mouth as if he needed it to keep himself from screaming, or getting sick at the gruesome sight. "How the fuck is it still alive?!"

A gaping hole in the middle of Connor's abdomen exposed the numerous delicate biocomponents, leaking Thirium lines and damaged wires within. A massive collection of lost Thirium had collected in his abdomen and had been seeping out over the edges of the opening as his abdomen steadily filled with his own blood.

Massive shards of metallic shrapnel from the bomb, as well as the surrounding room, had become embedded over Connor's body. Unfortunately a majority of the carnage was seemingly focused primarily at his torso. The bomb evidently had been sitting on a desk or a chair, a surface that was waist high, upon its detonation.

"Shit, he's bleeding internally." Hank realized with a sick grimace on his face. "We need to do something fast."

Slipping his heavy coat from over his arms Hank set it aside and unbuttoned his bright blue shirt beneath it. Wiping the palms of his hands down over the untouched black t-shirt underneath he was able remove some grime and debris that covered his hands. Taking a deep breath Hank hovered his right hand over the opened wound and prepared to drop his fingers inside the bloodied body before him.

"Okay, kid... I have to do this."

Reaching his hand into Connor's abdomen Hank felt the pressure of leaking Thirium and used it to guide his hand. Using his fingers Hank located the main source of the bleeding and pinched it off tight with his index fingertip and thumb. As he applied steady pressure he felt the bleeding stem, but he wouldn't be able to hold the pressure with his just his fingers.

"Gavin, I need your help."

"What? No way!"

"Yes. Come here." Hank snapped firmly as he used authority in his voice. "Wipe off your hands. I just need you to slip off his tie and hand it to me so I can tie off the bleed."

"...Fine." Gavin kept hie eyes as far away from Connor's face as possible as he wiped his hands down over his shirt, and he bent down over the android to loosen the tie to hand the garment to Hank. "Here."

"Now," Hank quickly grabbed Gavin's wrist and made him kneel down on the floor beside Connor. Forcing Gavin's hand down into Connor's abdomen he placed Gavin's fingers where his own hand had holding off the leak for the past few seconds. "just apply pressure."

"Ah, man, this is so nasty!" Gavin moaned as he closed his eyes tight and tried not to think about the fact that his hand was inside Connor's bloodied body. The warmth and consistency of the Thirium felt exactly like human blood, and the feeling of Connor's weak breaths around as well as the rhythm of the android's thrumming heart so close to Gavin's hand felt so eerily... human. "Sick!"

"Shut up." Hank sternly scolded as he used Connor's tie to absorb as much of the leaking blue blood in Connor's abdomen as he could, before wrapping the tie around the leak just under Gavin's fingers. Using the strong fabric of the garment Hank was able to use it to tie off the damaged line, Connor's ascending right Thireal line at that, and keep Connor from bleeding any further. "Okay, let go."

Gavin pulled his hand back from the blood like he was trying to avoid a snapping bear trap. Keeping silent Gavin opened his eyes as he wiped off the blood on his jacket, and watched as Hank expertly used the tie to stem the leaking line in Connor's abdomen. Hank wisely used the remaining slack at the ends of the tie to pack off the surrounding damaged bleeding biocomponents as well.

"That should hold for a while..." Carefully Hank retracted his blue stained hands and sighed as a majority of the bleeding mercifully stopped. "That should be bide him some time."

"H-How the hell did you know what do? ...What the fuck?"

Hank gave Gavin a blank stare as he answered curtly from where he knelt. "Because I've experienced this once before. You never forget something like that." Motioning to the stairwell behind him with a thumb over the shoulder Hank issued his next order as he began tearing swatches of fabric from his blue dress shirt to use as additional bandages in Connor's abdomen. "Go back over to the stairs and find something make some noise with. Let search and rescue know where we are."

"Y-yeah... okay."

Attentively Hank packed the added fabric from his shirt into Connor's abdomen to try cover as many of the visibly injuries to his partner's biocomponents as possible. The sight of Connor's chest and abdomen rising and falling frantically was a bittersweet experience; it meant Connor was still alive, but it also meant he was in great physical distress.

Maybe even in pain.

"Just hang on, kid." Picking up his heavier coat from the floor Hank draped it protectively over Connor's broken body to shield his opened wounds from as much airborne debris as possible. Hank sat on the floor near Connor's shoulders as he put his hand beneath Connor's head and pulled the android upward slightly to let him rest against his leg. "I'm here with you. It'll be okay, son."

The sound of Gavin shouting for help in the distance as he began banging a piece of debris, most likely a chunk of metal pipe, against the walls to try and make as much noise as possible to help the rescue team locate them as soon as possible, echoed loudly. Rhythmic banging accompanied with loud, demanding shouts created a loud commotion that was sure to drawn in any searching personnel to their location.

"Help's coming." Hank stated as he pressed his hand over Connor's forehead and absentmindedly ran his thumb through Connor's dark hair. With his other hand he picked up Connor's limp, cold hand again as he spoke to the android. "Come on, squeeze my hand. I know you can do it."

Connor's hand remained motionless in Hank's grip.

"Shit... Just hold on a little while longer, okay? I'll get you some help."

Hank stayed beside Connor for the countless minutes that ticked into hours as Gavin continued to call out for help and make as much noise as he possibly could to draw the search party closer, quicker. The blank, peaceful expression on Connor's face reminded Hank of the way Cole used to sleep, it was actually one of many ways Connor reminded him of Cole. But this particular moment was especially haunting. After all, Cole was sleeping all those times but right Connor was unconscious, possibly dying.

Gavin pounded on the walls with his fist and the metal pipe as he continued to shout to the point where he was beginning to go hoarse. "Hey, hey! Come on! We're right in here!" Banging as hard as he could on the walls the Sergeant was determined to get out of that building alive. "HEY! IN HERE! HERE! Come on already...""

Intense flashlight beams suddenly shone through the gaps between the large chunks of debris that blocked the doorway to the stairwell and illuminated Gavin's dirty, bloody face in white light. Two male firefighters had finally located the three officers and were preparing for extraction.

"Hello?" A loud, calm voice called out to Gavin through the gap in the doorway. "How many are in your party?"

"Finally..." Gavin sighed as he tossed the metal pipe aside onto the floor at his feet. "Hey, get us out of here! There's three of us in here!"

One of the two firefighters continued to address Gavin in a calm, authoritative tone while the second radioed for help. "Is anyone hurt?"

"Uh..." Gavin was at a rare loss for words since it meant regarding Connor as a person. "I'm okay, but my Lieutenant took a blow to the head, and his android partner is... uh... broken."

The second firefighter got on his radio again to request assistance to the floor, specifically for any available paramedic and technician to join them at the scene of the rescue.

"Alright, step back."

As the first firefighter raised his axe to swing against the debris blocking the stairwell Gavin wisely stepped back and rejoined Hank who was watching over Connor like a hawk.

"They'll get us out of here in a few minutes." Sitting down on a large pile of rubble next to Hank the usually surly detective couldn't help but feel bad for Connor, who was still laying motionless in a puddle of his own blood. "How's he doing?"

"Still alive." Hank stated firmly without looking away. "That's all that matters right now."

"Right... 'Alive'." The Sergeant nearly scoffed at the idea of Connor being a living person. "...Whatever you say, Lieutenant."

"You know Gavin, I can't tell you stop hating something or someone, but I can ask you to lighten up on Connor." Hank turned to look at Gavin with a stare of discipline, but not aggression or even anger. "I know you hate androids, hell, I used to hate them just as much as you, but I can honestly say from experience that you're wasting your time and energy on hating them. They aren't just machines, they ARE alive. Connor is alive. It doesn't make any damn sense to hate something or someone just for existing."

Gavin didn't know what to say, or even how he could say anything at all. Instead he folded his hands together over his lap as he stared at the weeping cut above Hank's eye with mild interest. "How's your head?"

"Killing me. How about you?"

"Landed on my back against something hard. Definitely going to have a bruise tomorrow, that's for sure."

The blockage over the stairwell access door had been removed by the responding firefighters who aimed their flashlights at the trio gathered in the ruins of the corridor. Spying the large slab of debris that was pinning Connor's legs to the ground the two firefighters swiftly worked together to lift up, and set aside the heavy weight, freeing the android's lower extremities at last.

"You two," the fist firefighter addressed both Gavin and Hank. "can you walk?"

"Yeah, I'm good Gavin admitted."

Hank shook his head slowly. "I'm not going anywhere until my partner is safe."

"Sir, we have to-"

"Forget it!" Hank refused to budge as he kept his eyes on Connor's face. "I'll leave when he does."

"Okay, fine. I don't have time to argue!"

Grabbing Gavin's arm the first firefighter escorted the (slightly) more cooperative detective out of the corridor and through the stairwell to safety, while the second firefighter stayed with Hank and Connor. Kneeling down beside the android the second firefighter ran his lands down Connor's legs to feel for any breaks or damage as he would with any human victim.

"Nothing broken," he drew back his gloved hands and saw that there was some Thirium staining his hands from the numerous cuts that lined all of Connor's lower body up to his abdomen. "but he does have numerous lacerations."

"It's not his legs you have to worry about." Hank reluctantly let go of Connor's hand, gently placing it back down on the floor, before peeling back the fabric of his coat to show the firefighter the massive abdominal trauma that Connor had suffered. "I stopped the bleeding, but he's already lost a lot of Thirium."

"Jesus..." Grabbing his radio the firefighter requested a gurney be brought up to carry Connor out and to have the responding technicians meet them up on the designated floor. Carefully, he leaned over the wounds and checked Hank's handy work without disturbing the injuries in the process. Putting his hand down on the center of Connor's chest he shook his head incredulously at the sight of Connor's rapid, shallow breaths and still beating heart. "How in the hell is this guy even still alive?"

"He's stubborn." Hank answered without missing a beat as he picked up the android's hand again hoping to feel Connor finally squeeze back. "I know you're not a technician, but level with me 'cop-to-firefighter', what do you think his chances are?"

"Honestly, I wish I could tell you. But I've never seen android so... broken." He noticed that Connor's L.E.D. was still flashing in red which meant that Connor's systems were still functional. But the red tint and massive Thirium were all signs in the negative. "I'd give his odds... one in five."

"I'll take that bet."

Two additional rescue personnel, each carrying emergency satchels slung over their shoulders, entered the decimated corridor with a gurney and backboard in tow. One was a paramedic to tend to Hank ,and the other was a technician who'd work on Connor until it was time to move.

"Here." The firefighter stepped back and prepared the gurney for transport while the paramedic and technician set about their work. "The android's in rough shape, I don't want to risk moving him until he's been stabilized."

The paramedic, a younger man with blonde hair knelt beside Hank and began checking his pupils for any sign of severe head trauma, while also wrapping his fingers around Hank's wrist to check his pulse. "Pupils are sluggish, but equal and reactive to light." The paramedic announced confidently as he assessed Hank easily. "Strong pulse, tachycardic at one-hundred and forty."

The technician, a young long-haired brunette woman with hazel eyes, pulled aside Hank's coat and looked at the extensive damage to Connor's abdomen. Without flinching the technician reached into her bag and pulled out a massive white bandage wrapped in protective plastic. Ripping the plastic open she unfolded the bandage to double its size as she placed it down over Connor's abdomen, then used strong medical adhesive to secure the bandage in place over his artificial skin.

Gently she tilted Connor's head still resting against Hank's leg to the left so she could see his L.E.D. faintly glowing before she put her hand on his chest to count his rapid heart beat.

"Thirium pump is still functioning, but his Thirium volume is dangerously low. He doesn't have the strength to activate his self-healing program."

The firefighter observed the scene carefully before asking the next crucial question. "Can the android be moved?"

"Yes." The technician confirmed without hesitation to her soft voice. "But he needs to be lifted carefully otherwise it'll exasperate his internal trauma."

"Right, no problem." Clearing a spot on the floor the firefighter set down the backboard before moving over to Connor's legs. "Life on three."

Hank nodded as slipped his arms under Connor's shoulders and the paramedic put his arms beneath Connor's back for additional support.

"One," the firefighter counted down rhythmically. "two, three!"

Working in unison the three humans managed to lift Connor up from the floor just high enough to place him down against the firm support of the backboard. The technician slipped the security straps attached to the board around Connor's legs, chest and shoulders as she was unwilling to put any unnecessary pressure over his damaged abdomen.

"Okay." She checked the straps one last time before she moved away to give the others some space to work. "He can be put on the gurney."

Hank watched as the firefighter and the paramedic lifted the backboard at both ends and placed Connor down onto the gurney to be transported out of the building. Connor's head lolled limply as he was moved, but he didn't react to the motion on a conscious level.

"Almost there, kid." Hank reassured quietly as tucked his dropped coat under his arm and stood beside the gurney. The detective was watching intently as the firefighter and the paramedic secured the additional straps on the gurney to keep him completely stable as he was taken from the destroyed building. "Just hang on a little longer, okay?"


Gavin was outside sitting on the bumper of the ambulance patiently allowing the second paramedic to clean the numerous and painful cuts that marred his face, neck and his hands. As his right hand was being wrapped up in gauze to keep the swollen cuts in his palm from getting an infection he glanced to the front of the building waiting for any sign of Hank or Connor to reappear.

"Any word on the guys still inside?"

"Nothing yet." The paramedic sympathized as she pressed the gauze around his hand carefully. "I'll keep you posted if I hear anything."

"Thanks..."

"Gavin!" Captain Fowler spotted the Sergeant being treated at the back of the ambulance and approached him with a hasty gait. "You okay?"

"A few bruises, nothing major, Cap."

"What about Hank and Connor?"

"They were still inside when I was taken out. Hank's a little banged up but Connor... he's in bad shape."

"Where were you when the bomb exploded?"

"Three floors down. Do we know what set it off, yet?"

"Definitely a remote trigger. We're looking for the suspect now."

"We didn't see any deviants inside the building as we cleared it out. Did... Did anyone else get trapped inside?"

"Fortunately no, you three were the last ones inside."

"Guess that's something to be proud of."

The gurney carrying Connor was wheeled through the front doors of the barricaded building with Hank at his side and the firefighter, paramedic and technician working together to get the injured android to safety.

"Shit. You weren't kidding." Fowler could see even from a distance that Connor was in rough shape. "Gavin, you and Hank are going to go the hospital. I'll meet you there in an hour or so."

"Right, Captain."

Fowler walked over to the second ambulance, once designed exclusively for androids, as it was set to take Connor to nearest Android Emergency Care Facility. Moving quickly Fowler headed Hank off before he could stubbornly try to hop in the back alongside Connor.

"Hank, come on, you need to get checked out at the hospital."

"Jeffrey, I'm not leaving-"

"For now, you are. Just get cleared at the hospital ,and then you can check in with Connor."

Before he could protest further the paramedic who had helped carry Connor outside the building put his arm out across Hank's chest to keep him from climbing into the back of ambulance after the technician.

"Relax Lieutenant, Abby is the best technician I've ever worked with." The paramedic reassured him in a sincere tone of voice. "Your partner's in good hands."

Fowler and the paramedic forced Hank to step back as the doors were slammed shut in front of the detective. Unable to see through the back windows to Connor laying unconscious on the gurney Hank begrudgingly watched the ambulance speed off down the street with his still unconscious partner in tow.

"Come on, Hank." Fowler insisted patiently. With the help of the paramedic he managed to coax Hank over to the first ambulance where Gavin was still sitting. "I want to know what the fuck happened in there before all hell broke loose."

"Yeah, sure..." Hank bitterly walked over to the ambulance to be examined as he answered Fowler's questions about the bomb. "Not a problem."


Connor remained completely unconscious during the transport to the facility. While Abby worked to replenish his dangerously depleted Thirium volume she reported on his condition to the facility, informing the other technicians awaiting their arrival of the extensive, critical damage Connor had sustained during the explosion.

While she was on the radio Connor's back suddenly arched as he began to cough and choke on blue blood collecting in the back of his throat.

"No, no, no!" Abby reacted quickly and pulled a small suction pump from the storage compartment to her right and placed the pump in Connor's mouth to remove the excess Thirium. She had to move swiftly before the blue blood collected in his ventilation biocomponent and caused them to fail. "You're not dying in the back of my ambulance after surviving a bomb explosion!"

As Abby drained away the blood Connor steadily relaxed and he began to breathe slightly easier.

"Come on, now." Placing a small pillow under Connor's head and neck she lifted him up enough to keep the blood from collecting in the back of his throat a second time. "Your partner seemed really worried about you," Abby spoke to Connor in a very compassionate voice as she used her audioscope to listen to his battered chest carefully. "don't disappoint him by giving up on us now."


Understandably frustrated, annoyed and in pain Hank angrily batted away the nurse's hand as she tried to adjust the bandage over the freshly stitched cut just above his eye. Through the haze of his mild concussion Hank had already given his account of the events that had taken place, events that Gavin corroborated himself, and was now waiting to be discharged from the hospital so he could go check on Connor.

"I'm fine, stop fussing over me."

The nurse gave him a sympathetic glance as she pulled her hand back and decided to let him alone. "Okay, call if you need anything, Lieutenant."

"Yeah, sure."

Fowler entered the room as the nurse left and folded his arms over his chest as he stared at his reputedly stubborn Lieutenant. "At least that nurse didn't run out of the room screaming. Nice to see you aren't taking out your frustration on nurses anymore."

"Not now, Jeffrey. Is there any word on Connor?"

"Yeah, I contacted the facility that's taking care of him. They had to replace a few non-vital biocomponents that had been destroyed by the bomb and give him almost four pints of Thirium, but he's going to be okay. The technicians also collected fragments of the bomb from his body for our boys at the lab to analyze."

"Jeffrey, I can see it in your eyes. What aren't you telling me? No bullshit this time, just the straight, honest truth."

Fowler took a deep breath and gave Hank the respect of telling him the truth as requested. "During transport he started to choke on Thirium, which meant he started to bleed again. BUT it was handled long before he got to the facility."

"...But he was still bleeding internally? Fuck."

"Easy, he's in good hands. You'll see."

"Jeffrey, just as the bomb went off Connor was saying something about the deviant, but I have no idea what he saw. Now we may never know."

"Alright, well, the doctor said you're good to go. So go stay with Connor at the facility and we'll piece everything together at the precinct. Call me when he wakes up."

"Yeah, sure."

"I'll hail a cab for you. I don't want you driving with a concussion."


Connor was laying shirtless and completely unresponsive and motionless on the exam table in the facility's recovery wing as his attending technician hovered close by. A tube of blue blood had been inserted down his throat to replenish his depleted Thirium volume to a stable level, and a sensor pad was placed on the center of his chest. The sensor was connected to a Thirium pump monitor to keep track of the rate of his heart as his Thirium pump continued to thrum rapidly to compensate for his low Thirium pressure.

In that moment Connor was suffering from the effects of android hypovolemia.

While the damage to his biocomponents had been repaired, some of the biocomponents replaced entirely, the artificial skin covering his abdomen had yet to regenerate due to the strain of his self-healing program attempting to repair the residual damage to his internal systems. Additional gauze wrapping was placed over his otherwise exposed abdomen to keep foreign matter from entering his plastimetal frame or damaged Thirium lines until his skin could finally regenerate properly.

Hank was shown into the recovery wing by the facility's reception, and was left alone with Connor. Leaning down over the table Hank spoke to the android kindly as Connor was in fact conscious and alert.

"I knew you'd pull through, kid. But we still need to know what happened at the building." Hank picked up Connor's hand from the table and held it firmly in his grip just as he had done at the scene of the explosion. "You saw something before the bomb detonated, what was it? Can you tell me?"

Connor was still quiet and unconscious despite his repairs and the sound of Hank's voice speaking to him.

"You were about to something about the deviant, what was it?"

No response.

"Okay, kid, I can wait for you to tell me what you saw, but I can't wait to know if you can hear me." Squeezing Connor's hand lightly Hank raised his voice slightly as he spoke to his unconscious partner. "Squeeze my hand."

Connor's hand remained limp in Hank's grasp.

"Connor, come on. I know you can hear me. Squeeze my hand. Please, I need you to do this, son."

As Connor's hand refused to budge Hank was about ready to give up and let Connor alone to rest, but a weak pressure around Hank's palm caught his attention. In a steady pulse Connor's L.E. flashed from red to yellow.

"There you are, I knew you could hear me." Hank tightened his grip around Connor's hand put his other hand against Connor's forehead lightly. "I need you to squeeze my hand again, and open your eyes. Please kid."

Steadily Connor's brown irises appeared between partially opened, heavy eyelids and stared blankly at the ceiling above. Blinking slowly Connor's body suddenly tensed up from the gnawing pain in his abdomen and tried to move.

"Hey, hold still, you're hurt. Just look at me." Hank urged as he moved his thumb gently through Connor's hair. The small contact and gentle voice was enough to get Connor to lay still again. "That's it. Focus on me."

Connor blinked again as his eyes slowly drifted over to Hank's face and stayed focused.

"I know you can't talk because of the tube going down your throat, but I need to know what happened before the bomb went off. Do you remember what you saw just before the explosion? Blink if you can remember."

Connor's eyes moved from left to right a little before focusing back on Hank's face. Blinking once to acknowledge a 'yes' his eyes remained fixed where they were.

"Good. You said something about a deviant, did you actually see the deviant in the room?"

Connor didn't blink.

"Okay, you did NOT see the deviant, is that right?"

Connor blinked 'yes'.

"What did you see? Another person?"

Yes.

"Not an android, though, a human."

Yes.

"The report stated it was a deviant on the premises..." Thinking about the details and what they could've overlooked in their initial investigation. "Wait, Connor, was the person you saw dressed to look like an android? Is that what you saw?"

Connor blinked 'yes' again.

"Shit... I knew that neighborhood hated androids, but to think they'd make a bomb and blow up a building just to frame one..." Hank squeezed Connor's hand again in distressed irritation. "If there was another person in the building why didn't they find a body?"

Connor tried to speak but he only choked on the tube inserted down his throat.

"Whoa, whoa, don't do that." Hank took his hand from Connor's hair and rested it on the android's chest near the sensor pad. "It's okay, we'll figure this out. The technicians removed bomb fragments from your body and they were sent to the lab at the precinct for analysis, will that help anything?"

Yes.

"Good. What should we look for?"

Connor's eyes darted down suddenly then back up at Hank as he lifted his opposite hand and made a writing motion in the air.

"You can write it down?"

Yes.

"Perfect." Hank laid Connor's hand back down on the table as he took a small notepad and pen from his coat pocket. Clicking the pen he placed it in Connor's hand and held the pad as still as possible for him to write on. "Okay, tell me what happened."

Despite his weakness from his Thirium loss the android managed to perfectly write and spell out every word, every detail in perfectly legible handwriting on the pad. When he finished he took his hand from the pad of paper and blinked again to let Hank know he finished.

Hank turned it over the pad to read what he wrote, only to shake his head in disgust. "Great... Just great. I'll call Fowler and let him know what you uncovered. Just rest a little longer, okay?"

Connor blinked 'yes' and then let his eyes shut slowly to fall into his much needed rest mode.


After an hour into Connor's recovery the technician who treated him, Abby, returned to the recovery wing to extricate the tube from Connor's throat. In that time Hank had called Fowler at the precinct to tell him Connor's statement, and within that same hour the criminal responsible for the bomb had been located and arrested.

The criminal was in fact a human who had lost his job due to layoffs at the office thanks to poor profits, though he was convinced it was because of androids. The man had lost his job just two weeks before the android revolution and had been holding a grudge ever since. Attaching a spare L.E.D. to the side of his head the man entered the building disguised as a deviant with a bomb hidden under his coat. He stashed the bomb in the ceiling of the floor that had been shutdown due to budget cuts, and hid in another room of the building to detonate it.

Unfortunately the man's bomb had only partially detonated, which is why only the top floors of the building were damaged, not the entire building itself. Because the bomb failed to detonate at its full strength the man wasn't killed in the explosion as he had planned and had been forced to sneak out when the fire department checked the building for survivors.

The fingerprints found on the inside of the still intact bomb casing, as well as the remote detonator, connected the man directly to the attack and ensure he was sentenced to life in prison. Found hiding in his closet in his apartment the soot covered man surrendered without a fight.

"Okay, Connor. We can take this out now." Abby stated confidently as she began to slowly pull the tube out of Connor's throat. "Coughing will help and ease the pain."

Connor began to cough as instructed as Abby removed the tube with a steady pull, and he instantly put his hand to his sore throat once it was gone.

"I got ya'." Hank put his hand on Connor's back as the android sat upright on the table and caught his breath after coughing for a few more seconds. "You did good. We caught the asshole responsible."

Connor nodded slightly as he responded with a very hoarse voice. "...Good." Too pained to speak in full sentences just yet, Connor pointed to the bandage over Hank's eye as he slipped on his tattered shirt and then his dirty gray jacket. "...Hurt?"

"Just a cut. You're the one who got blown up." Hank sheepishly shrugged his shoulders a little. "Mostly, anyway."

"Move slowly." Abby instructed as she helped Connor to slide down off the table and onto the floor.

She gave him clearance to return home to rest provided that he had someone to keep a watchful eye on him in the event his system began to reject his replacement biocomponents. The bandages were to remain in place as well, until his artificial skin fully regenerated.

"Remember, you're still recovering." Abby reminded Connor gently. "Take it easy for the next forty-eight hours, and don't exert yourself."

"Any weird side effects I should know about?" Hank asked in an almost fatherly manner as he watched Connor sway a little on his feet before he regained his balance. "You know, just in case he needs more help."

"Aside from fatigue," Abby replied nonchalantly. "he might experience mild overheating as a result of the numerous replacement biocomponents that his system needs to fully register and accept after several cycles. Maybe a little Thirium rejection as well since so much of it was replaced in such a short frame of time."

"Oh. Sounds... interesting."

"If you think he needs to be re-examined by a technician, then here," handing Hank a business card with an emergency phone number on it, Abby patted Connor's arm once and nodded at Hank. "I'm just a phone call away."

"Thanks." Hank pocketed the card and turned to look at his partner after giving Abby an appreciative nod. "Come on, Connor." He put his hand on the android's shoulder to help guide him out of the facility. "Car's out front."

Connor nodded again as he walked slowly, his hand pressed against his still sore abdomen as he walked.

"You know, Fowler said that because this nutjob tried to frame androids as the ones responsible for the bomb a massive donation of charitable funds toward New Jericho have been pouring in all evening from sympathetic pro-android supporters. Turns out this guy's master plan was far from masterful."

Clearing his throat Connor's yellow L.E.D. finally turned transitioned back to its healthy blue color as relief fell over him. "...At least we know we have allies on the street. Not just at New Jericho."

"Yeah, you're right." Sighing with a heavy tiredness Hank stepped outside the front doors of the facility with Connor at his side. "By the way, since Gavin was also at the scene of the explosion Fowler gave him the responsibility of filing the report while we recover at home."

"Gavin's going to be pissed." Connor's voice was already regaining strength as his healing program kicked in. "Should we feel bad?"

"Don't worry about Gavin." A grin appeared on his face as he and Connor entered the car and took their usual respective seats. "I get the feeling that after today he's going to start seeing androids in a whole new light."

"And why is that?" Connor fastened his seatbelt and flinched slightly as the strap over his sore abdomen tightened.

"Because I think today was the first time he ever saw an android as a living, breathing being." Turning the key in the ignition the car roared to life and pulled onto the street. "Not just a heartless machine."

"...I'm glad that you already see me as such, Hank."

"I just hope I don't have to see your actual beating heart in your chest ever again."

"The feeling is mutual."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Tossing a scarf around his neck Hank stood by the front door as he slipped on his heavy overcoat up over his arms to his shoulders. Turning up his collar to shield his throat and ears from the intense cold awaiting him outside the warm house, the detective looked back at the couch where Connor was sitting idle in a black t-shirt and jeans with Sumo's chin resting over his lap, and his coin sitting on the back of his left hand.

"I shouldn't be more than an hour, but I still hate to leave you alone when you're still recovering." Hank lamented as he pulled his phone out of his pocket to re-read the message sent to him by Captain Fowler. "But if Chris is right and the nutjob who put the bomb in the office building was also the one who left the bomb at the precinct two months ago, then we need to get all the details straight to keep him behind bars for life."

Connor turned his head to look at Hank over his shoulder as he sat on the couch with his right hand resting on Sumo's head. "I'll be okay, Hank. I'm fine."

"Connor, I can see it in your eyes. You're still in some pain, so don't try to deny it."

"This true, I am still healing." Gently pushing Sumo aside Connor stood up slowly from the couch, his right hand reflexively pressing against his abdomen and his left hand slipping the coin into his pocket, as he rose upward. The gesture was meant to show Hank than he was strong enough to move about under his own power, but the effort only needlessly strained his damaged systems. "But I'm not in any danger."

"Is that why your L.E.D. blinks yellow for a few seconds every time you move? Don't think I haven't noticed."

As if embarrassed Connor put his right hand over the light in his right temple to hide it. "My systems are still recalibrating, it's a normal reaction." Restraining a grimace of discomfort the android refused to admit he was experiencing tremendous physical discomfort welling up in his stomach. "I assure you I will be alright on my own for a few hours."

"Uh-huh."

"I'm fine, Hank. I may not feel... optimal right now, but I'm not in critical condition."

"Yeah, okay. Whatever you say, kid." Hank pulled open the door and braced himself against the cold winter wind that gusted throughout the city. "Try to take it easy while I'm out. I'll call you if anything important happens."

Connor watched as Hank stepped through the door and into the snow. As soon as the detective was out of sight Connor pressed his left hand more firmly against his abdomen and nearly doubled over where he stood. Placing his right hand on the nearby coffee table Connor lowered himself slowly to the ground and knelt on the hardwood floor as Sumo worriedly pressed his cold wet nose against Connor's arm.

"I'm okay..." Connor managed to state through his gritted teeth as the dog began to whimper; sensing the android's pain. Pulling his trembling hand from the table he pet Sumo's back. "Let's go outside. Once you've been taken care of I'll be able to rest easier."

Forcing himself to stand upright very slowly and carefully Connor regained his balance before he began walking toward the kitchen to reach the backdoor. Sumo followed behind closely at Connor's heels while the android opened the door for the dog to pass through. A blast of cold air washed over Connor's face and the android leaned into it as if he found the sudden chill soothing.

Stepping outside Connor stood on the small stoop just outside the backdoor, while Sumo passed by his legs to wander through the backyard.

The same discomfort that he had been feeling intermittently in his torso all afternoon flared up and caused Connor to wrapped his arm tightly over his abdomen again as he pressed his back against the side of the house, and slid down until he was sitting on the concrete step. Unsure of what was happening to himself the android ran a self-diagnostic that resulted in an error message regarding his current Thirium volume. The massive Thirium replenishment required to save his life during the extensive repairs he had undergone barely twenty-four hours prior had caused his systems; specifically his self-healing program, to have a negative reaction to such an abundance of physical trauma in such a small window of time.

Though his systems were in fact stable the physical strain of enduring numerous procedures had caused his system to overheat. One of the solutions to an overheating system is to breathe deeply to cool his internal core temperature. A second, an arguably more effective method, was purge some of the Thirium in his system to reduce volume pressure in his biocomponents.

"Shit." Connor swore as he finally realized what was happening. Pulling his legs up to his chest he laid his head down against his knees and sighed somberly. "Why am I suffering another malfunction?"

The cold winter air swirled around him dotting the locks of his dark hair with several crystal white snowflakes that clung to each strand delicately. Sumo returned from the snowy yard and sat in front of Connor as he let out another sympathetic whimper for the sick android. As Connor allowed the icy cold wind to circle around him he remained quiet where he sat, systematically ignoring the numerous warnings about his rising core temperature as well as the dropping external temperature of the outside world.


Hank returned home after three long, boring hours in a pissy mood. It had taken much longer to file the report than he had anticipated which meant Connor was left completely alone for an uncomfortably long period of time. From the precinct Hank had tried to text Connor to inform him of the situation but the only cybernetic response he got from the android was a vague: 'I understand'.

Pulling into the drive beside the house Hank caught sight of Sumo sitting by the backdoor staring intently at something. A thin layer of white snow covered Sumo's brown pelt under a fresh coating of natural ice. Connor never left Sumo outside long enough to get so cold, it was very unusual.

Every one of Hank's deeply-seeded paternal instincts told him that something was wrong.

"Sumo?" Hank called the dog's name as he parked the car in the drive and opened the car's door. It was only then did he see Connor sitting on the back step, his entire body covered under a thin layer of snow just like Sumo. "Connor!"

Connor never looked up as he heard the car door slam and felt Hank's warm hand pressing down against his trembling shoulder.

"Connor? What's the matter?" Curiously Hank moved his hand from Connor's shoulder as the heat radiating from the android's body felt much hotter than normal. The snow landing directly on his artificial skin was melting fairly quickly compared to the snow resting on his hair or clothing. Hank lightly pressed the back of his hand against Connor's cheek and alarm bells went off. "You feel like you're running a fever! Damn it... You're overheating, aren't you?"

"...I'm fine." Connor muttered as he slowly lifted his head to look at Hank with his glassy eyes. As his L.E.D. slowly cycled yellow the horrible feeling in his stomach returned causing him bow his head back down against his knees. "I'm not in danger."

"Nope. You need to see a technician."

"Hank... I don't want to go anywhere." The pathetic tone of Connor's voice was almost frightening. "Please don't make me go anywhere."

"Alright," not wanting to argue or upset the android Hank was willing to negotiate a little. "how about we at least get you back inside? It's freezing out here."

"I feel better out here. It's colder than inside."

"Yup, you're definitely overheating then." Hank grabbed onto Connor's upper arm and draped the limb around his shoulders as he coaxed Connor to stand up. The android wasn't heavy, but his height and lack of strength made the effort more troublesome than Hank was expecting. "I'll help you get inside."

"No... I don't want to move." Connor protested as Hank wrapped his arm around Connor's waist to support him. "I just want to sit down."

"Sorry, but I can't let you sit outside all night. You'll freeze to death." Opening the back door Hank stepped inside with Connor at his side and called for Sumo to follow in after them. "Sumo, come!"

The dog happily walked back inside after his masters and shook off his snow covered fur all over the linoleum floor before strolling into the living room to lay down in his bed up against the corner of the room. As the massive dog took his spot on the floor he watched the two detectives with his big brown eyes with a sympathetic interest.

"How long were you out there?" Hank asked as he guided Connor through the kitchen carefully and toward the livingroom. "You and Sumo were both covered in snow."

"Not long... Shortly after you left."

"Connor, that was three fuckin' hours ago."

"Oh... I apparently lost track of time." Stopping suddenly Connor wrapped his arm around his abdomen and let out a weak coughing sound. As he balanced with his free hand against the back of the couch he grimaced and closed his eyes as tried to understand the strange pressure welling up in his stomach. "...I am experiencing some discomfort."

"Connor? Where are you hurting?"

"Hank," Connor's eyes opened and he gave the detective holding him upright a pleading look. "It's my stomach. It hurts."

"Shit, okay this way!" Hank practically dragged Connor down the hallway and into the bathroom as he had a hunch as to what was about to happen. As he guided Connor down to his knees in front of the toilet the android let out another coughing sound and his L.E.D. flashed red. "Connor, if you need to throw up, you have to let it out. You'll make yourself worse if you don't let yourself be sick."

Connor's breathed rapidly between his teeth. "I do not wish to... throw up. "As his shoulders suddenly tensed he coughed again and Hank pressed his palm against the middle of the android's too warm back.

"I get the feeling you don't have a choice in this. It's okay to be sick, son."

As the emergency expulsion program activated Connor felt his already sore artificial stomach cramp and a sudden rush of Thirium escaped his mouth against his will. Coughing a little Connor allowed himself to throw-up and he spit as much of the escaped blue blood out of his mouth and into the bowl with a sense of waste and frustration.

Hank went to the sink and ran a washcloth under the warm tap as soon as Connor began to throw up. The sound of him gagging on the Thirium being expelled from his system sounded more like a human enduring a nasty bout of food poisoning rather than a machine experiencing an unfortunate malfunction.

Coughing once last time Connor spit the residual blue blood from his mouth into the toilet and fell to his side and pressed the back of his arm against his mouth in disgust. Hank wrung out the excess water from the washcloth and knelt in front of Connor as he gently pushed Connor's arm away from his blue stained mouth. Using the washcloth Hank wiped away the excess blue blood and artificial saliva staining Connor's lips and his chin without flinching at the sink android's appearance.

"Feel better?"

"...No." Connor confessed with a slight shake of his head as he breathed deeply and slowly. "My stomach still hurts."

"You had a major emergency procedure on the biocomponents on your abdomen." Hank replied as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "Like a human undergoing major surgery you're probably going to be sore for a few more days."

"I don't like it."

"No one ever does." Tossing the washcloth onto the sink Hank helped Connor back to his feet by carefully pulling on the android's arm. "Lay down on the couch. As long as you lay still that should keep you from throwing up again."

"'Should'?" The lack of certainty was less than comforting.

"No guarantee, but it does help."

"I see..."

Hank let Connor lean against his arm as he guided the sick android out of the bathroom and over to the couch in the livingroom. With a controlled strength Hank helped Connor to lay down on his back very gingerly over the expanse of the furniture. Putting his hand back to Connor's forehead out of curiosity Hank let out an annoyed sigh at what his palm felt.

"If you were human I'd recommend taking something to bring your fever down, but that won't work for you, will it?"

"No." Connor confirmed as Hank retracted his hand. "And as android I'm not suffering from a fever, I'm overheating."

"When an android overheats that means your entire body temperature is running hotter than normal, right?"

"Correct."

"And when a human's body temperature is running hotter than normal it means they have a fever, right?"

"...Correct."

"So arguably you do in fact have a fever, don't you?"

"I... Correct." Connor sighed and closed his eyes as the unusual question seemed to make his head hurt. Unable to argue logic over simplification the android admitted defeat for the moment. "By that reasoning then I must admit that I am now malfunctioning, but am in fact sick."

"I knew it." Hank laughed a little as he walked back down the hall into the bathroom once more. "How high is your fever?"

"...Unknown. I cannot run a self-diagnostic to confirm my current core temperature."

"Fine. Then we'll do this another way."

Connor breathed deeply and slowly in an attempt to cool off his overheating internal systems but the strain of registering, recognizing and recalibrating the replacement biocomponents made it a nearly impossible task to accomplish. Quietly Hank returned from the bathroom with a dark blue bucket in one hand and a digital thermometer as well as another damp, cool washcloth in the other. Sitting the bucket down on the floor between the couch and the table Hank laid the washcloth over Connor's forehead and smoothed it out a little.

"Keep that there, it'll help bring your temperature down." Turning on the thermometer Hank motioned for Connor to open his mouth. "Put this under your tongue. It'll get you a temperature reading. I think."

Connor's eyes opened a little as he looked up at beige fabric of the compress on his forehead just on the edge of his vision, and then looked at Hank leaning over the back of the couch watching him. The coolness of the compress was soothing, and it did make Connor feel as though his core temperature was beginning to drop even if his self-diagnostic wasn't functioning properly enough to confirm such a feat.

Reaching up for the thermometer Connor did as he was instructed.

"Wait until it 'beeps'."

Twenty seconds passed before the digital device 'beeped', and once it did Hank took it out from Connor's teeth readily. "One-hundred and two even. You're definitely sick."

"I will attempt to correct this unfortunate malfunction as quickly as possible."

"Relax, kid. You'll heal when you heal. Until then, what can I do to help?"

"I could use some additional Thirium."

"Sure, no problem."

Walking into the kitchen Hank reached into the cupboards above the sink to retrieve a bottle of spare Thirium, and promptly returned to the couch where Connor was laying. Handing the bottle down to the sick android Hank patted his shoulder before walking over to the front door casually.

"...Thank you."

"Don't thank me, just get better."

"I'm attempting to do so." Connor sighed again and closed his eyes, his L.E.D. cycling from red back to yellow as he relaxed. "Believe me, I am trying very hard to heal as quickly as possible."

"Don't worry about it, son. I'll take care of you until you're feeling one-hundred percent again."

Hank kicked off his shoes and hung up his coat be the front door before sitting down in the recliner a few feet from the couch. Sumo yawned as he walked over to the space between the couch and table and rested his chin next to Connor's arm.

"I apologize if this causes you any hindrances to your normal routine."

As Hank turned on the television to watch the news his eyes drifted back over to Connor and a faint smirk appeared on his face.

"I'm fine, Connor." Hank replied with a compassionate voice. "Get some rest. I'll make sure you don't overheat or anything while you're sleeping."

It had been a long time since Hank found himself genuinely concerned for someone under his care, that is until Connor was assigned to him as his new partner. It had also been the first time in a long time since Hank let anyone get close enough to him since Cole's death, and his prematurely ended marriage, that he could call someone a friend.

Maybe even family.

...next story...

Chapter Text

A two week lull of inactivity regarding deviant suspects or crimes revolving around androids in general had left Connor and Hank with plenty of time to catch up on their paperwork at the precinct, but it also left them with too much free time on their hands. Free time could be a good thing, but it could also be a boring thing; especially when you're a seasoned detective looking to keep his mind preoccupied, or an android still brimming with a curious need to fully adapt to his new work environment.

"There is a cold case that Chris had found pertaining to a suspect who could in fact be an android." Connor sent the file from his terminal over to Hank's for the detective to see for himself. "Perhaps we could investigate during this rare moment of reprieve."

"Sure, why not? The suspect and this missing android look too similar to be ignored." Hank looked into the details quickly as he leaned back in his chair Folding his hands casually behind his head Hank stretched out his tightening back and sighed. "Besides it sounds a lot better than sitting on my ass doing nothing all day long."

Connor nodded in approval as he summarized the depth of the case with cybernetic efficiency. "The suspect in question had reportedly broken into several cemeteries at night, and had also been reported as breaking into abandoned buildings at night. No theft. No vandalism. Seemingly no motivation or crime beyond that of trespassing."

"You have my full attention."

"The android in question is registered as 'Richard'," Connor continued casually from where he sat. "the last known address of the android is located eight blocks West of the precinct."

"Then that's where we'll start." Straightening up briefly Hank rose from his chair and pulled his car keys from his pocket. "Let's go check it out."


The apartment complex of the address mentioned in the case file wasn't the nicest in the city, but it was far better than the usual rundown slums that deviants had often been forced to seek shelter in. It was a complex that housed numerous human families as opposed to being android exclusive, which meant that Richard had once belonged to a family before he went missing.

After speaking with the family who had initially purchased Richard four years prior Hank and Connor learned that Richard had disappeared shortly after his original owner passed away from old age, and had failed to adjust to living with the deceased man's extended family.

"I can't say anything definite, but," Hank stated as he and Connor left the complex and returned to the car with a few more details to add to the case at hand. "I don't peg that family as being abusive to anyone, even an android."

"I agree." Connor's voice was flat and his gaze distant as he opened his car door.

"Something on your mind?" The keenly trained detective inquired as they returned to their respective seats, and he turned the key in the ignition. "You like you're trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces."

"At the time of Richard's disappearance deviancy was only just beginning." Connor gave Hank a mournful glance from where he sat. "Perhaps Richard was becoming deviant and experiencing new emotions for the first time at the time of his original owner's passing. One of which emotion could've been grief."

"Grief can be a real bitch to handle. I can't imagine what it'd be like for someone who never felt any emotions before to have to suddenly deal with the heartbreak of losing someone they were close to."

"I believe Richard was unable to grasp the concept of death, unable to cope with the loss and had a form of emotional breakdown. With deviancy at the time being seen as nothing more than an error he would've been too afraid to ask for help out of fear of being labeled and defective machine and subsequently destroyed."

"And you think he broke into the cemeteries because he couldn't accept that his original owner had died, or maybe he was still confused by death itself. And then he stayed in abandoned buildings just to keep shelter for the night."

"Correct."

"Shit, if that's the case then this guy isn't a criminal, he's lost."

"Yes. If we can find him we can take him to New Jericho Tower for shelter. I'm certain Markus will be able to help him."

"Any idea where he'd be might be? This guy's been missing for well over a year now."

"All of the buildings that he had broken into were in close proximity to cemeteries. If we find the cemetery where his owner was laid to rest then we can narrow down our search to abandoned buildings in a three block radius around the cemetery."

"Sounds good. Give me the address of the cemetery."


A lone, decrepit two-story house sitting idle by the aforementioned cemetery was just waiting for a bulldozer, and was the only building within the search radius that would logically serve as an ideal hideout for an emotionally unstable deviant. The property was fenced off from the public for safety concerns but that didn't stop vandals, thieves, junkies and runaways from using it to their advantage while trying to keep off the street for the night.

Hank stepped outside of the car and looked at the building with visible disgust. "Nice place..."

Connor pointed to a portion of the chainlink fence that had been clipped open with wirecutters and pushed the weakened fence up enough to bend down and crawl under. "This must be how the vandals gain access to the property."

"Of course they cut the fence at the bottom." Hank grumbled as he uncomfortably slipped under the loosened fence while Connor held it open for him. Dusting off his knees and hands Hank followed Connor up to the house warily. "Why don't they ever cut it from the top?"

The front door of the house was boarded up, as were the windows. But one window next to the front door had two of the boards removed creating a gap just wide enough for a person, or an android, to slip through with only moderate difficulty. Cautiously Connor peered through the opening in the window and caught sight of a figure moving around in the shadows. Motioning toward the window with the wave of his hand Connor stepped back and let Hank look inside as well.

Even in the dim lighting of the old house the two detectives could see that the android was dressed in old, ragged clothes covered in dirt. The cuffs of his shirt sleeves and pant legs were all worn out and ragged from years of constant wear and tear.

Following Connor's gaze Hank's eyes fell on the same flutter of movement. "Someone is in there." Hank agreed as he approached the door and prepared to kick it down. "If they try to run get ready to make a grab."

"Got it." Connor easily pulled down the boards barricading the door one at a time, placing the removed boards up against the side of the house. "Ready."

Taking one step back Hank swung his leg forward and placed a firm kick against the door under the knob causing the aged and neglected hinges on the frame to snap off with a loud 'crash'. The figure inside fell backward and pressed its back up against the wall out of fear of the two approaching detectives. The distinct red flashing of an L.E.D. confirmed that the figure was in fact an android hiding in the building.

"Detroit Police." Hank announced firmly as he entered the building, keeping his gun holstered to prevent any unfortunate accidents. "We're looking for an android named 'Richard'."

The android panicked and ran up the staircase to the second floor and Connor was right after him without hesitation.

"Stop!" Connor shouted as he followed the suspect to a bedroom at the far end of the corridor that stretched the full length of the floor. "You are NOT under arrest, we just need to ask you some questions."

As Connor ran into the room after the suspect the panicking android had unknowingly armed himself with a metal pipe that had fallen through the decaying wall and swung it as hard as he could at Connor's right side and chest as he entered the room after the suspect. Collapsing to the ground in breathless pain Connor wrapped his arms around his chest. Quickly he rolled onto his side and began wheezing in a desperate bid to catch his breath. Connor's L.E.D. flashed red rapidly as his Thirium pump began to race from the intense pain and inability to take a deep breath with searing pain in his chest.

The android stepped around Connor with the effective pipe still in his hand. As he lifted the blunt instrument up over his head with the intent to strike again a gruff voice from the doorway stopped him before he had the chance to attack Connor for a second time.

"FREEZE." Hank ordered as he pointed his now unholstered gun. "Drop the pipe. Step away from my partner."

Obediently the frightened deviant dropped the pipe and looked down at Connor, noting the red L.E.D. blinking in his right temple. "P-Partner? This android... He is your friend?"

"Yeah, he is." Hank stepped into the room and knelt beside Connor while keeping his gun aimed at the suspect. Putting his free hand down on Connor's chest he could feel Connor's racing heart and struggling breaths. "And you just assaulted an officer."

"I-I'm sorry! I was... I was afraid!"

Connor managed to grab onto Hank's arm and hoarsely speak up. "...Accident Hank." Panting breaths stalled his words, but he managed to get the message out audibly. "He... He reacted to... a threat."

Hank sighed and holstered his gun at his hip while he waited for Connor caught his breath. "Are you Richard?"

"Y-Yes. I am."

"And you were once the android to a Mister James Harrison?"

"Y-Yeah... He's my friend."

"You ran off when Mr. Harrison died, right?"

"I... I don't know what... to do. James... he took care of me."

"Yeah, that's what we figured." Hank lifted his hand from Connor's chest as the android caught his breath and slowly sat up on the floor beside him. Placing his hand on Connor's shoulder Hank held the injured android steady under a light grip. "You were reported missing, that's why we're here."

"I'm... I'm not missing. I just... don't want to be with... other humans."

"Richard, listen to us."Connor kept his arm wrapped around his chest as Hank offered his hand and helped him to stand up from the floor carefully. "It's okay..." Connor wheezed painfully. Taking a moment to clear his throat before he began again. "We can take you to an android sanctuary. You won't have to hide in abandoned buildings anymore."

"S-Sanctuary?"

"Yes. New Jericho Tower."

"No humans?"

"No. No humans reside there."

"And... you'll take me there?"

"Yes." Connor confirmed sincerely, his L.E.D. cycling from red to yellow. "Please, come with us."

Richard nodded frantically as he took a step forward, his eyes warily watching Hank as he moved and apologized profusely to Connor. "I'm... sorry. I didn't want to hurt you."

"It's alright." Connor accepted the apology and followed behind Richard as he walked down the staircase back to the ground floor of the house. "I understand why you did it."

"Are you... angry with me?"

"No. It was a misunderstanding."

Hank approved of Connor's reaction and allowed his partner to take the lead. Seeing as Richard was still mistrusting of humans and had already shown that he was willing to lash out if he felt threatened, it was in everyone's best interest for Hank to keep his distance for the time being. It wasn't everyday that they managed to help a person in need, rather than just slapping cuffs on their wrists, and Hank wanted it to stay that way.

Slipping back under the fence Hank after the two androids noticed that Connor was moving much slower than usual, his arm never leaving his chest as he awkwardly ducked down and passed under the fence to follow Richard to the car parked just a few yards down the street. Opening the rear passenger side door of the car with a shaking arm Connor stepped back and let Richard climb in the back under his own free will.

"Are we ready to go?" Hank asked warily as Connor closed the door behind Richard.

"Yes." Nodding where he stood Connor's left rubbed lightly over the right side of his upper chest. "There is nothing else here that requires our attention."

"Okay. Let's get going then."

The drive to New Jericho Tower was uncomfortably quiet and tense. Richard was sitting in the backseat behind Connor with his eyes fixed on Hank throughout the entire trip out of lingering fear. Connor himself had his eyes closed as he initiated his self-healing program and focused it on the point of impact made against his chest by the metal pipe.

"Right here." Hank stated calmly as he pulled the car through the temporarily lowered barricade of the long drive connecting Belle Isle to the rest of the city. "This is where all androids are welcome. No humans, with the exception of myself, are permitted on this property without special clearance approved by the leader of New Jericho himself."

Richard's eyes finally left Hank as he looked at the staggering tower at the end of the drive through the front windshield. "And... I can stay here? Forever?"

"Yup. This is your home for as long as you want it to be."

"Th-Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Parking in front of the tower Hank nodded at Josh who was standing outside waiting for Richard's arrival. The cybernetic communications between Connor and New Jericho had proven more beneficial than either party had anticipated.

Richard stared at Josh curiously. "Is that... the leader?"

"No, that's Josh." Hank replied softly with a slight turn of his head. "He's a good friend of the leader, his name is Markus."

"Oh..."

"It's okay, go on." Hank insisted as he watched the android's hand hover tentatively over the door handle.

It took Richard almost a full minute before he finally pulled on the handle and opened the door. Once outside the vehicle Richard stepped stared at Josh for a moment before he took another step forward.

Through the windshield Hank watched as Josh told Richard something that he couldn't hear and then watched as Richard flung his arms around Josh to give the android a big hug. Josh patted Richard's back and gave both Hank and Connor a nod to indicate that it was safe for them to leave.

"You did the right thing, Connor." Hank confirmed as he slowly turned the car around to leave. "Richard didn't belong behind bars, he belongs with other androids who understand him."

"Yes." Connor's eyes opened slowly, his L.E.D. remaining yellow as his self-healing program struggled to repair the blunt force damage caused by the pipe. "I'm glad we could help him."

"Too bad you took a pipe to the chest in the process; but then again no good deed goes unpunished."

"We should file the report back at the precinct. Close the case, and give Mr. Harrison's family some answers."

"Yeah. Hopefully no one did anything stupid while we were out on that case. I'm not in the mood to clean up any more messes."

Connor shook his head a little as a faint grin appeared on his face. "Was Gavin on call today?"

Hank laughed at the comment as he pulled the car down the long, singular drive connecting New Jericho Tower to the rest of the city. It was an unusual day but it was also a good day considering the fact they saved a deviant from living in fear on the streets. Too bad for Connor it resulted in some physical damage in the process.


Fortunately the precinct had remained relatively quiet with no further android incidents being reported during Hank and Connor's absence from the area. Chris thanked the duo for solving the cold case and made sure Captain Fowler knew that they had willingly volunteered their services, going above and beyond their usual routines in the process.

"Done!" Hank announced to his partner as he finished typing up the report on his terminal. "How about you?"

"Finished." Connor confirmed as he powered off his terminal for the night.

"Great. Let's get out of here."

"Very well." Connor rose from his chair and immediately winced as the motion caused a searing pain to shoot through his chest.

Hank watched as Connor wrapped his left arm protectively around his chest and studied the android's reaction carefully. "Still hurting?"

"...Yes." Connor confirmed as he took a in deep breath and resumed to slowly walk toward the front entrance of the precinct. "My self-healing program is effective, though the process still takes time."

"As long as you don't fall apart on the ride home, it can take as much time as it needs."

"I'm injured, Hank. Not fragile."

"You're also stubborn. Ten bucks says you're hiding how badly you're hurt from me."

"I know better than to bet against you."

"And I know you better than you think I do."


Keeping a straight face during the entire ride home Connor feigned contentment while his chest ached at him profusely. Having already suffered so many on-the-job accidents and having endured so much trauma during their year long partnership Connor didn't want to worry Hank further with the extent of his current injury. The damage wasn't critical, or even dangerous, but it was proving itself to be a hindrance to Connor's movement speed and overall range of motion.

"You still good?" Hank asked with a knowing voice as he stepped out of the parked car and waited for Connor to join him.

"Y-Yeah." Connor had been so preoccupied with his injury that he hadn't even noticed that they had arrived home. Holding his breath Connor opened the door and stepped out of the vehicle without showing any sign of pain on his face. "I'm alright."

"After running through that rancid old house I need a shower." The detective dryly commented as he walked through the front door and pet Sumo's head as the St. Bernard ran up to his side to greet him. Taking off his coat he hung it on the hook by the door and made his way toward the hallway. "Do me a favor and let Sumo out for a while, will ya'?"

"No problem." Connor tried to take off his own jacket but immediately winced and froze in place as the motion caused him physical pain.

"You okay?" Hank watched the android's L.E.D. flash to red then back to yellow from where he stood at the end of the hallway.

"Yes." The android lied to try to keep Hank from worrying about him. "I'm fine."

"Yeah, sure you are..."

Connor again held his breath as he carefully slipped his arms out of the sleeves of his jacket to hang it on the hook next to Hank's coat. Ignoring his pain Connor attempted to appear as normal as possible throughout the remainder of the evening.

"Okay, Sumo." Connor opened the front door and stepped aside to let the large dog walk through past him. "Outside."

As Connor watched the dog circle around the front lawn he leaned up against the siding of the house and ran a self-diagnostic to fully identify the source of his pain and the severity of the overall damage.

The plastimetal structure that composed his what was considered his entire skeletal frame had been cracked by the pipe. Every time his ventilation biocomponents took in a breath the pain would flare up, but turning off the respiration program would cause him to overheat during the night. The lack of temperature control would also delay his self-healing program's progress.

Upper right chest structural integrity compromised: eighty-four percent functional capacity. No biocomponent damage detected. Minor Thirium loss detected.

"Simple damage." Connor sighed to himself as he finished running the diagnostic, and let Sumo back inside as the dog returned to the front door. "Why is it taking so long to heal?"

Returning to the livingroom Connor sat down on the couch and tried to relax, but the pain in his chest made the effort too strenuous to accomplish. Connor leaned forward on the couch with his arm wrapped around his chest as he sucked in a breath between his teeth to try to find a more comfortable position in which to sit.

Insisting that his injury wasn't as severe as his system was indicating was proving itself to be a pointless endeavor that was working against Connor's favor.

"I knew it." Hank stated suddenly as he stood behind the couch and made Connor jump a little in surprise. "Alright, out with it."

"Hank... It's not-"

"Shut up." Walking around to the front of the couch Hank finished running a towel through his silver locks and draped it casually around his neck. "You're hurting, so level with me, kid. How bad?"

Accepting that he was in too much pain to deny his injury any longer Connor begrudgingly confessed to Hank what his self-diagnostic program had identified as the problem, and the truth that he was unsure why it was taking so long for the healing program to finish the repairs.

"The damage is not critical, it is merely uncomfortable."

"Stand up." Hank motioned with his hand for Connor to get up from the couch and stand in front of him. "Come on, on your feet."

Wincing in pain Connor stood up carefully from the couch and stood directly in front of Hank as he was instructed.

"Let me see."

Connor's brow arched in confusion at the comment. "See what?"

"Your chest. Let me see where you were hit."

"It's an internal injury, not external."

"I don't care, I want to see it for myself." Hank crossed his arms and gave Connor a stern look that made it difficult for the android to argue. "Humor me, okay?"

Pausing for a moment Connor relented and loosened his tie from around his collar. "Very well..." Slipping the dressy garment aside Connor he unbuttoned his white dress shirt to expose his chest and Hank immediately noticed a dark blue mark against Connor's skin. "Hank, I don't know what can be done to remedy this type of injury beyond that of my self-healing program."

"Damn, he got you good." Hank carefully pulled aside the fabric of Connor's shirt and eyed the large blue bruise that stretched from Connor's pectoral muscle along the side of where his ribcage would be, if he were in fact human. "I didn't know androids bruised so damn easily."

"Bruise?" Connor looked at the blue mark and lightly placed his hand over it, only to immediately retract his grip and flinch. "The plastimetal frame that composes my chest has been fractured. Thirium is leaking through the breaks and collecting beneath my artificial skin. It's happened before when you accidentally struck me in the eye during a feverish reaction."

"...Yeah. And when you were in the stupid car accident that fucked up your heartbeat thing in your abdomen." Hank remembered the sight of the dark blue bruise and on Connor's abdomen, and later seeing a faint mark under Connor's eye after he recovered from his own sickness; but he didn't think much of it back then. "Did you just notice you were bruised, kid?"

"In a way. It explains why my system had detected a minor Thirium leak earlier, despite no external evidence." Connor gave Hank a slight tilt of the head as he spoke sincerely. "It also explains why it's taking so long for my self-healing program to repair the damage. The Thirium is pooling outside the injury beneath my artificial skin rather than within it."

"Can you breathe okay?"

"I am experiencing pain," Connor finally admitted as he took in a shallow breath as if to test his own limitations. "but my respiration has not been inhibited."

"Wait right here, I'm going to get some bandages and wrap up your ribs."

"I don't have ribs."

"Shut up." Hank playfully remarked as he walked back down the hallway and opened the closet. Tossing the towel that had been around his neck into the opened bathroom door Hank began rummaging through a large first aid kit on the top shelf in the closet. "By all accounts you have a busted rib, so don't give me any glib remarks about android anatomy."

"Sorry, Hank."

"Don't be sorry." Returning with a massive bundle of thick white gauze Hank motioned for Connor to slip off his shirt entirely. "Just be still."

Connor dropped his shirt down on the couch behind him and stood as still as he could as Hank unrolled the gauze around his chest and wrapped up his injury with just enough pressure to (hopefully) prevent any more Thirium from pooling beneath Connor's artificial skin. Hank made sure to make the bandages tight, but not so tight it would make it difficult for the android to breathe normally.

"Does that help?" Hank lowered his hands as he finished his work and waited for Connor to react. The android wasn't seemingly in any additional pain and was breathing without difficulty. "You know, as much as human first aid on an android can help."

"This is... beneficial." Curiously Connor pressed his hand to the bruise beneath the bandages but didn't flinch in pain. "It has apparently aided my discomfort. The applied pressure to the leak seems to be aiding my self-healing program as well. Thank you."

"Sure, no problem." Tired and ready to relax Hank rubbed his hand through his damp hair as he walked into the kitchen to make himself a light dinner. "By the way, you owe me ten bucks!"

"But I never agreed to the bet." Connor reminded Hank sharply as he rubbed his hand at the bruised site beneath the gauze. "I have no need to honor a bet that I hadn't accepted."

"But you are living in my house, rent free." Hank reminded him emphatically with a coy stare from the next room. "What do you have to say to that, smartass?"

"You are correct." In a moment of temporary defeat Connor sat down on the couch again and gingerly slipped his arms carefully back into the sleeves of his dropped shirt. Thinking quickly Connor rebuttoned the garment and turned to look at Hank. "I'll pay you tomorrow."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Laying on the couch and resting peacefully to allow his self-healing program to repairing his 'busted rib'; as Hank had called it, Connor felt no pain, and was finally able to jumpstart his self-healing program into full power. Wearing his dark jeans and his white dress shirt with the white bandages somewhat obscured beneath the fabric, the less formal attire made the android look entirely human save for the L.E.D. that still glowed blue at a steady pulse in his right temple even as he slept.

Sumo, the loyal and affectionate St. Bernard, was sleeping between the couch and the coffee table to keep Connor company. It was a gesture the dog had picked up shortly after Connor moved in and the deviant android didn't mind the large dog watching over him in the least.

Connor was laying on his back on the couch in Hank's livingroom, his system deep in rest mode for the night, when his auditory sensors picked up an alarming sound coming from the bathroom of the small house. Sitting upright on the couch with minor difficulty Connor swung his legs over the edge, careful not to step on Sumo in the process, and listened intently to the odd sound resonating down the hallway.

"Lieutenant?" Connor called out as he stood upright on shaky legs and looked to the closed bathroom door. Connor's L.E.D. was flickering yellow instead of blue as the distressing sound drew his full attention. "Lieutenant, are you alright?"

Sumo, who had awoken by the same sound, lifted his head and whimpered slightly as he too sensed something was wrong.

The sound continued followed by a choking and coughing fit that grew louder and louder over the passing seconds. The sound was too distinct and too pained to be ignored as Connor knew that his human companion was in some form of physical distress.

"Hank? Lieutenant?" Connor walked around the couch and down the hallway to stand outside the closed door. His yellow tinted L.E.D. glowed brightly in the dark hallway and illuminated the silhouette of his face as he placed his hand on the bathroom door and knocked once. "Are you alright?"

There was no answer, only the sound of pain and coughing once again. Connor had finally identified the sound as vomiting; a symptom of illness as well as poisoning. It was something he had experienced with Hank the night he had found the detective passed out on the kitchen floor and required his assistance to investigate the deplorable 'Eden Club'.

"Hank, are you ill?" Connor called knowingly through the door as he knocked again. "May I come in?"

No answer.

"Hank?"

Checking the doorknob Connor found that door had been thankfully left unlocked. Turning the knob slowly Connor pushed open the door gently and peered inside the dimly lit room to check on the sick detective. Hank was on his knees in front of the toilet, his face was frighteningly pale and drenched in a cold sweat. Traces of vomit was dripping from his lips as he heaved what little contents that remained in stomach into the basin that his hands were clutching onto so desperately to keep himself upright.

"Hank?" Connor entered the room and put his left hand over Hank's sweaty forehead and his right hand against the middle of Hank's back to support the violently sick detective. The action was almost automatic as it had been the same reaction Hank had shown toward Connor whenever Connor himself had been ill in the past. "What happened?"

"F-Fine." Hank stammered out in an open lie as he spit the lingering foul taste in his mouth into the porcelain bowl. His entire body was trembling from weakness as a result of the chronic vomiting fit, and was suffering from a fever. "I'm fine..."

"No, you're not." Connor refuted as he easily scanned the human's vitals signs and processed Hank's current condition. The detective was suffering with elevated vitals and body temperature that made Connor righteously worried. "I'm detecting an imbalance in your gamma-aminobutyric acid as a result of-"

"Connor! Shut up!"

Connor paused for a moment as Hank's back suddenly tensed beneath his touch while Hank proceeded to vomit once more. The detective continued to throw up violently and Connor turned his focus entirely toward keeping his friend as stable as possible until the physically exerting episode transpired. The more Hank vomited the more erratic his vitals became: his heart began to race and pound, and his body temperature would temporarily spike from increased blood pressure.

"I'm- I'm fine..." Hank mumbled as he spat once again into the bowl before him. He reached a shaking hand up and pushed Connor's own hand from his forehead Hank turned onto his hip to sit down on the cold linoleum floor, and leaned back against the side of the cool bathtub. "I'm okay..."

Connor looked down at the ill detective with a heavy heart. The soulfulness of Connor's eyes betrayed the mounting concern that he knew Hank would simply dismiss as if nothing were wrong.

"What?" Hank snapped as he pressed a hand to his sweaty forehead, his gray locks of hair clung uncomfortably to his face from the collected sweat. "What the fuck are you staring at?"

"Hank, I'm detecting an alarming change in your vital signs: heart palpitations, tremors, nausea and an elevated temperature despite no present infection being isolated in your system... I've also detected no trace of alcohol in your blood. These are all symptoms of-"

"Of WHAT?" Hank demanded, his face pale and his body shaking as if he were cold. "What Connor? Spit it out!"

"Hank, you're going through withdrawal."

"I'm..." Hank tried to deny what Connor was telling him, but he was too tired and too weak to argue. Especially since he knew Connor was right.

"You've cut back on your alcohol considerably, but you haven't had anything to drink in two days. Your body is beginning to have a negative reaction to the sudden lack of ethanol."

"No, shit..." Hank panted as he leaned back against the tub until he head was resting atop the edge. He closed his eyes and breathed heavily through the nausea and his headache to focus on the android. "I stopped because you said I should. So... way to go! Happy?"

"Why would I be happy to see you ill?" Connor looked sincerely hurt by the comment. His eyes were full of sorrow and his face was holding a slight grimace. "I want to help you."

"If want to help me then leave me alone! Beat it! Let me be miserable in peace..."

"I-"

"I said get out of here!" Hank shouted angrily as his entire body felt like burning hell. "Piss off you fuckin' robot!"

Connor's L.E.D. flashed to red as the comment affected him on an emotional level that had previously never been offended by Hank's temper and outbursts. Squaring his jaw defiantly Connor stood his ground and refused to leave the sick detective alone. As his L.E.D. returned to a yellow glow Connor turned on the faucet in the sink and reached for a clean washcloth resting on the small shelf to his right. Soaking the washcloth under the cold tap Connor turned off the faucet and wrung out the excess water.

"What're you doing?" Hank snarled as he watched Connor at the sink from the corner of his eye. "Go on! Leave me alone!"

"No, Hank."

"No? What do you mean 'no'?"

"I mean, no. I won't leave you alone."

Connor walked over to the tub and sat down on the cold floor beside Hank. Connor reached his arm around behind Hank's neck and pressed the washcloth against Hank's forehead gently as a means of trying to provide even a modicum of comfort to his suffering friend. Hank's neck was propped up against Connor's bicep and seemed to find the presence more comfortable than the surface of the cold tub.

Stubborn as ever Hank tried to push away but Connor, who was just as stubborn, wouldn't let him. "Connor! Get out of here!"

"Not this time..."

"Fuck off! I don't need your help!"

"Actually, Lieutenant, you do." The attentive android ran a scan over Hank's vital signs and noted the still irregular heartbeat, as well as the detective's steadily climbing core temperature. "Forgive me for this."

Wrapping both arms around Hank's chest Connor hauled the sick man up to his feet and lifted him up from the ground just enough to step into the bathtub, while hefting Hank inside with him. Standing in the middle of the shower Connor turned Hank around, his hand right hand holding Hank in place by the back of his shirt collar to make him face the shower head, as reached out with his right hand and turned on the water.

"FUCK!" Hank swore as he tried to fight out of Connor's grip as soon as the cold water hit him in the face. The slick surface of the tub and his stunted reflexes made the action moot and graceless. "Turn that shit off!"

"I can't." The deviant android mumbled as he adjusted the temperature of the water to keep it cool but not skin piercing cold. "You need this."

"Let me go!"

"I won't do that."

"Fuckin' piece of-"

Hank reached a hand around to try to swing at Connor but he missed, and if Connor wasn't already holding onto him he would've slipped and bashed his head against the tile wall. Slumped down weakly in defeat against Connor's chest Hank let his legs give out on him, and he fell to his knees in the tub. Connor supported Hank's weight and helped him to kneel on the bottom of the tub at a controlled pace, and let Hank lean against him entirely.

"...Connor, why are you helping me?" Hank asked in a pathetic whisper as he closed his eyes and ignored the cool water running down his back, making his gray t-shirt cling to his skin uncomfortably and his gray locks of hair cling to his forehead. "...Why waste your time on an old drunk who just yells, and is Hellbent on self-destruction?"

"Because you're my friend." The answer was as simple as it was sincere. Connor's own hair was hanging down and clinging to his forehead in dark wet locks, his L.E.D. cycling a worried yellow in his temple. "I want to help you just as you helped me. You're a good man, Lieutenant. I know you are in pain and that you have difficulty in letting go of your past, I wish to help you move on just as you've helped me to move on from my own past."

Hank pressed his face into the middle of Connor's chest as he began to weep in irritation and emotional frustration. As he pressed his forehead against Connor's chest he could feel and hear the deviant android's heart beating and it made him feel even worse for how he had been treating Connor. "I'm sorry, kid."

"It's okay, Hank."

"No it's not. I've been a huge asshole to you and all you've done is help me." As he choked back a sob he tried to curl around himself and ended up falling onto his hip beside Connor. "Maybe it's better that Cole isn't here. If he saw me like this-"

"Lieutenant, NO."

"...I'm pathetic."

"No. You're in pain."

"I should be stronger than this."

"You're the strongest person I know. You continued to work to protect everyone in the city despite your loss. That's a sign of strength, not weakness."

"I'm so ashamed of myself."

"Don't be." Adjusting his position so he was sitting on the bottom of the tub Connor let Hank lean up against him again as he sat with his distraught, ill friend in a supportive manner. "You just need to give yourself time to heal, and you need to forgive yourself. That's what you've tried to tell me to do whenever I blamed myself for situations I cannot be held accountable for. Why should you expect anything different from yourself?"

The deviant reached over and turned off the water as he pulled Hank's arm around his shoulders and helped him to climb back out of the tub, and sit down on the floor to catch his breath. Taking a towel from the nearby stack beside the sink Connor draped it around Hank's shoulders to try to make him feel more comfortable. Repeating the motion with cool, damp washcloth Connor pressed it to Hank's feverish forehead to try to quell his fever.

Hank grabbed onto Connor's wrist with the intention of forcibly pushing the android's hand away from his forehead, but something deep down inside of him made him stop. Sighing wearily Hank acknowledged that he had been defeated and begrudgingly leaned into the cool washcloth in Connor's hand as the deviant android stayed at his side. "Connor?"

"Yes?"

"I'm still sorry for yelling at you."

Connor's L.E.D. returned to blue upon hearing Hank's tone of voice soften as he apologized. "It's okay, Hank. I want to help you."

Hank's eyes closed and his breathing became deeper, slower as he steadily drifted off into a light sleep at Connor's side.

A smile crept over Connor's face as he patiently sat with his friend on the cold bathroom floor, ready to aid the detective if he fell into another bout of sickness or collapsed from exhaustion. With a gentle motion Connor pulled Hank a little closer until the detective's head was now resting against up his shoulder. It was a gesture that Connor had witnessed amongst deviants aboard Jericho as a sign of trust in one another, and felt that the motion would be beneficial in the moment.

Hank silently agreed as he let himself fall asleep against the android's shoulder.

"...Thanks, son."

"You're welcome." Glancing about the dimly lit bathroom Connor reached up to the towel rack just to the side of the sink and pulled down a clean towel into his hand. Lightly he used it to wipe away the collected sweat on Hank's forehead and the residual vomit around his mouth. "I'm glad I could help you, Hank."


The following morning crept in slowly and Connor waited for Hank to show any sign of consciousness before he tried to move the detective out of the bathroom to take him back into his bedroom to rest. Throughout the night Hank's vital signs began to steady and Connor was satisfied that Hank was no longer in immediate danger.

"Hank?" He stated in a low voice to rouse the detective. "I need you to wake up now."

Muttering something incoherent under his breath Hank opened his glassy, pained eyes and looked at Connor somewhat confused.

"I need you to wake up for just for a moment." Connor explained calmly. "Once I have you in your bedroom you can continue to sleep."

Allowing Hank to continue to lean against his side Connor pulled Hank's arm around his shoulder, and slowly stood up from where he was sitting. As Connor moved he gently pulled Hank along with him until the detective was standing on his trembling legs, and barely awake.

"Just a few steps, Hank. That's all you need to take."

Awkwardly, but effectively, Connor led Hank down the hallway and back into the detective's bedroom. Gently he guided Hank back down onto his bed and under the large quilt that was thrown to the side in his haste to make it to the bathroom the night before. Pulling the quilt back up to cover Hank's trembling form Connor placed his hand down gently on the detective's chest to check his heart rate and his breathing before retracting his palm quietly to press to Hank's forehead for a fever check. Despite Hank being so ill the night before he was now markedly improved and his fever had since broken entirely.

Without a word Connor turned to leave the room but was stopped short by a faint voice calling his name.

"...Connor?"

Turning back curiously the android stared at the bleary eyed detective watching him from the bed. "Yes, Lieutenant?"

"...Hank, kid." The groggy detective replied somewhat sternly. "Call me, 'Hank'."

"Yes, Hank?" Connor corrected himself respectfully where he stood. "Are you feeling unwell?"

"I feel like shit and my head's killing me, but that's not what I wanted to say right now."

Remaining silent Connor waited for the exhausted detective to continue on with his thought.

"...Thanks for taking care of me last night." His words still a little slurred but he was entirely conscious and coherent. "I know I was a dick and yelled at you, so I just wanted to say sorry. Again."

"It's okay, Hank. I know you didn't mean anything you said." Giving Hank a reassuring grin Connor nodded once and backed toward the bedroom door. "I'll bring you some water and some aspirin. It'll help your headache and give you the chance to rehydrate yourself as he rest."

"Hey, Connor?"

"Yes?" Pausing at the opened doorway the android studied Hank's demeanor carefully as he turned to glance at the ill detective over his shoulder.

"Thanks for everything, son."

Being called 'son' had an unexpectedly warm feeling in his heart, and he faintly smiled. "...You're welcome."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Hank stormed into the Android Emergency Care Facility like a man on a mission as he confronted his Captain who was standing idle in the waiting room of the same facility. The seasoned Captain had been preparing for Hank's inevitably arrival and knew that the confrontation was going to be less than civil. Grabbing onto Fowler's coat lapels Hank practically picked up his superior officer and pinned him against the wall as he glared with a venomous stare into Fowler's eyes.

"What the fuck did you do?!"

"Hank, take it easy!" Fowler Grabbed onto Hank's hands to try and push the enraged Lieutenant away from him. "You need to-"

"Fuck you!" Hank dropped Fowler and took a step back just as two android security personnel arrived in the waiting room to stop the altercation. "He's been GONE for two days; no notice, no updates, and when you finally DO tell me something about what the hell's going on its after Connor gets fuckin' shot!"

"Hank!" Fowler shouted to try and gain control over the situation before it escalated any further. "He's still alive!"

A heated anger rose up from within Hank as he got right back in Fowler's face. "Oh, he's still alive! So as long as he doesn't die you can put him in front of damn firing squad!"

"Listen to me," Fowler put up his hand to halt the approaching security guards who were ready to tackle Hank to the ground. "I'll tell you everything that happened but you need to take a breath."

If Fowler wasn't his oldest friend Hank would've punched him in the face as hard as he could that very instant. Forcing himself to restrain as much of his anger as possible Hank took another step back and planted himself firmly in the middle of the waiting room.

"Alright. Spill it, Jeffrey! Where the fuck were you and where was Connor?!"


Two days prior:

Captain Fowler opened the door to his office and addressed the lone android detective sitting at his terminal across from Hank as the duo filed their daily reports to the precinct.

"Connor, in my office."

Unsure of why he had been summoned so suddenly Connor saved the data on his terminal as he rose from his chair and met Fowler inside the office to speak as requested. Curious about the strange meeting Hank turned in his chair slightly to watch the conversation taking place through the glass wall of the office. Hank had never been good at reading lips so he could only guess as to what was being said solely by observing the body language.

It wasn't good.

Connor appeared to be trying to reason to with Fowler, if not arguing, but Fowler wasn't backing down. Reluctantly Connor agreed to whatever it was that Fowler had assigned to him, the L.E.D. flashing yellow to match the emotional distress on his face. Exiting the office Connor walked up to Hank and gave his friend a somber stare as he sat on the edge of Hank's desk with his head slightly bowed down.

"Connor? What's going on?"

"Hank... I've been reassigned."

"What?" Hank sounded as skeptical as Connor was despondent. "Reassigned? To where?"

"Fowler didn't specify. He told me to clock out and report back to him at five a.m. tomorrow morning."

"Wait, he can't just do that! He can't just shuffle you around and like a pawn on a chessboard and not give you any reason why!"

"It's already done. As of tomorrow I will no longer be working with you... Or here at all."

"Shit..." Hank rubbed his hand over his bearded chin as he tried to give Connor a reassuring grin. "Well, don't worry about it. I'll get this straightened out. You'll see."

"Yes... Okay."

"Look, clock out and go home like you were told. I'll talk to you later in person."

Connor nodded slowly as he listened to Hank's instructions. "Yes, Hank. I'll go home."

With the demeanor of a scolded puppy Connor slid off of the desk as he clocked out for the day and logged off of his terminal. As he walked away from the desk he turned to give Hank one last glance over his shoulder as if expecting something to have changed in the few steps he took. It looked like absolute fear had been stricken in his soulful brown eyes as he reluctantly left the precinct as he had been ordered.

Alone.

Hank drove home immediately after he clocked out six hours later to meet with Connor. Fowler had refused to speak to Hank or tell him anything about what was happening with Connor's reassignment, but that didn't stop Hank from trying to reach out to his contacts to potentially give him information on what the hell was happening at the precinct.

Opening the front door of the house Hank had expected to see Connor sitting on the couch waiting for him, but instead he found that the house was empty, except for Sumo laying on the kitchen floor looking sadly at the backdoor to the house.

"Connor?" Hank shouted as if he expected the android to come wandering out of a room down the hall or through the backdoor. "Connor? You here?"

No answer.

"What the hell is going on?" Hank grumbled as he walked into the kitchen to pet Sumo's head. It was then he saw an envelope containing a letter sitting on the middle of the kitchen table. The letter was addressed to Hank and printed in Connor's infuriatingly perfect handwriting. "Oh, shit."

Opening the envelope hastily Hank pulled out the letter and read the message that had been left behind.

"No... Fuck. Connor," Hank sat down at the chair beside the table heavily as he processed the information with a heavy heart. "what did they do to you?"


One day prior:

Hank entered the precinct on time for the first time in almost eight years with Connor's help as he set out to confront Fowler about what had happened to the android, but his Captain was curiously absent. Temporarily in charge of the precinct Captain Gage, a familiar face to Hank, informed the irritated detective that Fowler had been placed on a special assignment, and that he too knew nothing of Connor's bizarre reassignment.

Pissed off at the world and unwilling to just let the enigmatic behavior slide Hank stormed out of the precinct and returned home to pull every possible string he could get his hands on to locate Connor and to finally figure out what Fowler was up to!

"This is bullshit! The least he could do is give me the dignity of straight fuckin' answer."

On the other side of the city:

Connor sat beside Captain Fowler in the back of an unmarked black car parked a few blocks away from the shipping yard. Wearing the same disguise he had worn when he infiltrated Jericho; black beanie to cover his hair and his L.E.D., thick dark leather coat to conceal his gray jacket and tan work boots in favor of his black dress shoes, Connor looked like any normal human wandering through the city.

"This is the guy you need to get close to." Fowler handed Connor a mugshot to scan and incorporate into his memory. "Jack 'the Ripper' Culver. He's dangerous and usually well armed with several goons watching his back."

"What is his crime?" Connor asked curiously as he had been kept entirely in the dark over the past twenty-four hours. "Why is it important that I go undercover and tail him?"

"This guy is infamous for dismantling androids to tear apart and sell as illegal spare parts on the black market. Ever since the revolution and android care facilities began opening up over the city he's stepped his game and is now butchering androids for parts while also breaking into facilities to steal the legal parts and Thirium to create a shortage."

Connor swallowed nervously as he listened to Fowler's briefing. A human response to anxiety that Connor had observed and subconsciously developed as he began to feel emotions and understand them.

"None of our boys can get inside his inner-circle because they don't have the intimate knowledge of android anatomy to pass as an underground technician. But you, as an android, can blend in perfectly."

"What if I'm discovered?"

"While you're tailing Culver I'll be watching your back from the docks. You're cybernetically connected to my phone, right?"

"Correct."

"I'll be able to keep in constant contact with you, and in the event something goes wrong I'll give you the heads up so you can get out of there before someone harms you."

"Captain... I strongly feel that someone else would be more qualified as an undercover operative. I'm still comprehending emotions and pain, I don't think I can pass as completely human."

"Connor, I hate sending you in there, I really do. But you're our best bet. If we can't nab Culver within the next forty-eight hours then he'll disappear out of the country for good. Who knows how many other androids are being held captive and could be illegally shipped overseas and forced into servitude?"

Connor leaned forward in his seat and took a deep breath. "Forty-eight hours."

"Yeah, not a very big window of opportunity."

"What do I need to find to convict Culver?"

"If you can uncover any document directly linking his bank account to any off-the-books associate; doctors, politicians, military personnel, we should be able to get a warrant and search his wares."

"And if I find any captive androids?"

Fowler sighed with a heavy breath. "I can't tell you to NOT save them, but I can't ask you to risk yourself to save them, either."

"I understand."

"Go. I'll be down at the West end of the yard."

Connor took a moment to mentally steel himself before he exited the car and discreetly walked to the shipping yard about two hundred yards away. Several of Culver's men were patrolling the shipping yard with guns visible and at the ready, six in total. A dozen lesser men had infiltrated the shipping yard to move the illegally obtained parts as discreetly as possible under the cover of darkness.

A single light shone through the window of an office on the second floor of the storage warehouse, and the silhouette of a man standing in the window to watch the men working below matched the physical appearance of Culver himself.

Connor found his man. Now he just needed to get close to him, get inside his office and check through his personal files.

Keeping his head held high to avoid suspicion Connor entered the shipping yard and proceeded to mirror the movements of the other men to ensure that he seemed as though he was a member of Culver's inner circle. As he carefully took notice of every single shipping crate he passed by and recorded the serial numbers, Connor also scanned the faces of the criminals around him connecting their past criminal histories to their current activity to ensure that every member of Culver's organization was sent to prison.

'You're doing good Connor.' Fowler's voice spoke to Connor cybernetically over the phone connected to his L.E.D. 'I can see you in the distance. Stay outside a little while longer before heading inside the warehouse.'

Unable to verbally respond to the order Connor just looked toward the west and nodded slightly as he resumed his stealthy search of the shipping containers and for any useful documents to put Culver behind bars. Connor chronicled the contents of every container and noted that the materials that Culver had collected could only be used for illegal or malicious intent.

Stolen android parts, biocomponents, Thirium, numerous guns, several kilos of 'red ice' and most disturbingly two crates that held two dozen female androids to be sold off as sex slaves in various parts of the world where androids were banned from entering.

'Yeah, I saw it, too. We'll make sure they all make it out of there in tact.'

Avoiding eye contact with anyone nearby Connor blended in with the surrounding criminals easily, and remained completely calm.

'Connor, Culver's just left his office and is on his way out to inspect the containers. Now's your chance to get inside.'

Moving slowly Connor entered the warehouse and stuck to the shadows against the walls. Scanning the area carefully he noted the location of the other members of Culver's group and kept out of their line of sight as he carried out his mission to locate Culver himself, and to get close enough to find anything incriminating; if not outright damning.

With great stealth Connor managed to ascend the staircase to reach the metal landing on the second floor. Walking slowly and quietly Connor located the door leading into Culver's office. The door was locked but Connor had a few tricks up his sleeve. Crouching down in the shadows next to the door the clever android pulled a small switchblade from his coat pocket and stuck the incredibly sharp point of the blade betwixt the door and the door frame to force the latch from the frame. As the latch slipped free Connor easily pushed the door open and slipped inside undetected.

Staying low to the ground Connor crept through the office, avoiding the light as much as possible to keep himself from casting a shadow that could draw unwanted attention to those patrolling outside.

The office was modestly furnished as Culver needed to keep his surroundings sparse and light in the event that he needed to flee quickly. A large desk with six drawers, all locked, were a tempting search. But Connor's sensors had located a large metal safe hidden in the floor beneath a chair up against the wall. Picking up the chair and setting it aside very lightly Connor located the seem to the hidden hatch and pried it open.

Inside was the safe.

"Captain," Connor whispered as he finally verbally responded to Fowler who was patiently awaiting an update. "I located a safe. I'm going to try to open it."

'Be quick. Culver is on his way back inside.'

"I only need two minutes." Connor confidently stated as he put his hand down on the surface of the safe and retracted the artificial skin from his palm. With his other hand Connor turned the dial for the lock and felt each of the tumblers slowly line up and fall into place. Displaying a the skills of a master locksmith Connor managed to easily unlock the safe and pull it open. "I'm in."

'One minute left.'

Connor pulled out the numerous paper documents and scanned each one quickly creating a permanent record of each paper in his memory and uploading copies directly to the precinct.

'Thirty seconds, to go!'

Unwilling to risk getting caught Connor replaced all of the documents in the exact same order in which he had initially found them, closed the safe door, reset the lock, replaced the hatch and slid the chair back just as it had been before he entered the room.

"Got it."

'Good, now get the hell outta' there!'

Rushing back toward the door Connor pressed his back up against the wall and prepared to make a run for it as soon as the door opened. The sound of approaching footsteps right outside the door caused his Thirium pump to start racing in his chest. The subsequent sound of his own heart pounding in his ears was almost deafening. Putting his hand to his chest over his heart Connor took a deep breath and focused on the handle of the door.

Culver and one of his most trusted associates entered the office completely unaware of Connor's presence. As Culver crossed the room Connor noted the gun in his associates hand and kept his eyes locked on the weapon. Gracefully and silently Connor managed to slip through the door just as it shut before anyone had noticed him inside the office.

Using the shadows to his advantage Connor discreetly descended the staircase back to the ground floor of the warehouse. Heading West toward Fowler's location Connor ducked his head down as he heard over the line of communication that Captain Fowler had given the word for the officers located all around the shipping yard to move in and take down Culver's ring of operation.

'Connor is clear. Move now!'

Wisely choosing to duck down and keep out of sight of the converging police officers moving in on the criminals Connor sought to meet up with Fowler at the West end of the yard. As Connor approached his destination he caught sight of his Captain standing with his back to the shipping yard with his hands on his hips as he fidgeted where he stood.

"Captain." Connor stood before him and pulled his cap from his head. "I've collected enough evidence to convict Culver for a significant period of time."

"Yeah, you did good." Fowler as admitted as he turned around to face Connor. "Real good. Now I can get you back to where you belong at the precinct."

"Is there a reason you didn't want Hank to know of your plans?"

Sighing Fowler admitted that he did in fact have a reason for keeping the secret. A damn good one. "Yeah, Connor. You see-"

From behind Fowler in the distance Connor noticed a man with a gun rushing along the edge of the shipping yard attempting to escape. The same man who had entered the Culver's office as Connor himself slipped out. Someone that Culver kept close by because of his excellent marksmanship.

The man noticed Connor as soon as Connor noticed him, the red cycling L.E.D. was practically a bullseye. Raising his gun he opened fire on the two police officers without warning or provocation.

"Captain!" Connor moved without thinking and pushed Fowler down and out of the line of fire as a bullet just narrowly missed piercing the back of Fowler's neck.

"Shit!" Grabbing his gun from his holster at his hip Fowler knelt on the ground as he turned with perfect aim and fired two rounds at the gunman.

The bullets found their target in the man's chest and dropped the dangerous criminal quickly. Placing his gun back into the holster Fowler wiped the sweat from his brow as he stood up and looked back at Connor.

"Good reflex-" Fowler stopped midsentence as he caught sight of Connor splayed on his back, motionless. His eyes were open but they weren't looking at anything at all while a blossoming puddle of blue blood formed on the ground all around the android. "Oh shit... Connor!"

Dropping to his knees at Connor's side Fowler radioed a distress call to report an officer down as he checked over Connor to find the source of the injury.

"No." Just to the right of Connor's L.E.D. was a bullet wound against the android's skull. Thirium bled from the wound profusely as the L.E.D. itself blinked very slowly between critical red and deathly gray. "Connor, no, no, no..."

Grabbing onto Connor's dropped hat Fowler pressed the wool garment up against the wound as if it could somehow be enough to stem the bleeding and keep Connor alive.

"Connor... Come on, don't do this." Picking up Connor's limp hands from the ground one at a time Fowler placed them both near the center of Connor's chest then rested his own hand atop of his. "I never should've made you come here. I'm sorry."


Hank was seething as he stared down Fowler for putting Connor in danger. To make matters worse the only reason Connor had been injured is because he chose to protect Fowler himself. Now the android was laying in a near comatose state in the recovery wing of the facility as the technicians fought to keep his systems online long enough for his self-healing program to repair the damage to his skull, his intracranial processor and to his memory.

"You son of a bitch." Hank swore as he fought his every urge to lash out at Fowler again. "You knew that sending him in there was a massive risk, and you fuckin' did it anyway!"

"Hank, if we had waited-"

"Bullshit! We had undercover operatives tailing Culver for months! You just panicked and put my partner in danger!" Rubbing his hands over his face Hank began pacing the floor impatiently to keep himself from swinging a fist in Fowler's face. "This is the botched narcotic bust all over again."

"Whoa, whoa..." Fowler felt a knot form in his stomach. "Don't let yourself go there Hank. Connor IS still alive."

A technician walked into the waiting room with an electronic clipboard in his hands. His eyes went back and forth between Fowler and Hank before he finally decided that Hank must be Connor's friend.

"Excuse me, are you Anderson?"

"Yeah, Hank Anderson." Hank confirmed as he dropped his hands and stopped mid stride. "How's Connor? Can I see him?"

"Come with me." The technician guided Hank back to the recovery wing in the depths of the facility while Fowler just hung back.

"Just lay it out for me," Hank sighed as he was shown to the private recovery room that he swore he had seen far too many times for anyone's comfort. "is Connor going to be okay?"

"Lt. Anderson I'm going to be blunt with you. The bullet lodged in Connor's skull causing substantial damage to the plastimetal plates and to numerous lines that cycle his Thirium. He's been unconscious since he was injured, and has shown little sign of waking up."

"...Shit."

"His self-healing program is struggling to repair the extensive damage, but it is in fact functioning. But it has been a struggle keeping his system online long enough for the program to repair what he could not do on his own."

Hank was calmly shown to the room where Connor was resting while a familiar face watched over him.

It was Abby who had helped Connor after he was damaged in the bomb explosion three months ago. She seemed genuinely worried for Connor, but she wasn't afraid for his life which helped to settle Hank's nerves; but only in the slightest.

Connor had a cable attached to L.E.D. as it connected his vital signs to a nearby monitor for careful observation. The cable was resting painfully close to the bandage that was wrapped over the healing bullet wound in his skull, but Connor didn't react to anything around him or seem to register anything as painful.

"Connor." Hank put his hand on his partner's motionless shoulder. "If I had known what Fowler was planning I would've told you to refuse."

Abby smiled as he she reached over the table and rested her hand on Hank's arm. "He's holding his own, Lieutenant. He'll pull through."

"Yeah, yeah you're right. I just... hate waiting."

"We all do. Why don't you sit with him for a while? Hearing a familiar voice may help him to wake up."

Hank shook his head a little as he stood beside the bed and stared down at his injured partner. "I should've been there to watch his back."

"Please don't blame yourself," Abby begged as she pulled her hand away slowly. "he wouldn't want to you do that."

"Could I have a moment alone, please?"

"Yes, of course. We can monitor him from the next room, if you need anything just call."

As Abby left the room Hank tightened his hand on Connor's shoulder.

"Kid, I'm so sorry. I swore that I'd never lose another partner in the line of duty, and I failed to protect you... Forgive me."

Emotionally exhausted Hank spent nearly two hours standing beside Connor's bed while various technicians stepped in and out of the room as they checked on Connor's condition then left the two detectives alone again. It was a simple pattern, yet the actions being taken to monitor Connor's recovery process were all too complicated for Hank to understand.

"Connor. You're too damn stubborn to let one bullet drop you like this. You can hear me, I know you can. But you're not listening, like always..."

Just as Hank felt like his legs were going to collapse from under him Connor's eyes fluttered a little. It was as if the voice speaking to him seemed to rouse him from his sleep. Though his L.E.D. was still red it began to cycle with a more steady rhythm as Connor's systems began to reboot.

"Connor?" Hank whispered to ensure his voice wasn't too loud or painful for Connor to bear. "Kid? Can you open your eyes?"

Slowly brown irises returned as the simple command to open his eyes was processed easily.

An optimistic grin appeared on Hank's face as he continued to speak to the android. "Hey, look at me."

Again the simplistic command was easy to follow and Connor's eyes drifted over toward Hank.

"You're finally awake." Hank laughed a little with relief. "You know, we should probably keep this room reserved just for you. You're the star patient."

Connor blinked slowly as his systems continued to reboot and he stared at Hank with a strangely vacant gaze.

"Do you know where you are?"

There was a brief pause as Connor scanned the room visually and cybernetically to identify his current location. Swallowing once to test his voice box modulator Connor answered weakly and somewhat hoarsely. "Android Emergency Care Facility."

"That's right. Do you remember what happened?"

Connor's brow furrowed and his L.E.D. flashed red rapidly as he tried and failed access the appropriate memory. "I... I do not."

"It's okay, I was just asking." Hank soothed as he saw the strain on Connor's face. "The technicians said it'll take some time for your memory to restore itself."

"I... I am damaged." Connor realized in a somber tone as he ran a self-diagnostic.

"Yeah, but you're okay. Fowler said you did great and the best part is Culver's behind bars as we speak."

Again Connor's L.E.D. flashed in red as he struggled and failed to recognize the names and the details that Hank was telling him.

"Whoa, whoa! Sorry kid, I won't say anything else until you're feeling better. Just relax and let your healing program do its thing."

Connor obeyed Hank's words as he stared up at the detective with a sad confusion in his brown eyes. "How was I damaged? Do you know?"

"Y-Yeah. You were... shot."

"Shot. With what?"

"A..." Hank was now confused by the odd question. "A bullet... You were shot with a bullet."

Connor seemed to struggling to process even the most basic information being provided, and it was causing him pain to try to do so.

"Okay, okay. That's enough. Why don't you lay here for a few more minutes and I'll ask the technician if I can take you home."

"'Home'? Where is home?"

"Connor?"

The android's eyes remained somewhat vacant as he stared up at Hank with a searching gaze.

Hank's confusion was suddenly replaced with fear. "Connor-" The lack of recognition to his own name sent a chill up his spine. "Connor, you live with me and my dog, Sumo. We're partners and work for the Detroit Police Department. Remember that?"

"I... know you?" Connor sat upright slowly, somehow finding the strength to move even as Hank tried to push him back down to lay against the table. "Are you my master?"

"N-No, Connor... I'm not your master. No one is. We're friends."

"Friends?" Connor's L.E.D. flashed rapidly again as he tried to comprehend the term and found its definition. "We are companions?"

"...Yeah, we are. And you live with me in my house. That's your home, Connor."

"You have repeatedly referred to me as 'Connor'. Is that the name I should register and respond to?"

"What?" Hank just stared at Connor with utter loss overwhelming his every thought. "Connor this is crazy... What do you remember?"

"I am a prototype model RK-800; serial number 313 248 317 51. I am the android sent by CyberLife. But I am currently without a mission. You are a memory of the Detroit Police Department, and I have been designated as your partner. Am I awaiting for you to assign me my new objective?"

Hank turned away from Connor as he leaned both hands down against the edge of the table and bowed his head in shock and fear.

"Is there something wrong?" Connor asked with an emotionless tone in his voice as he analyzed Hank's reactions. "You seem distressed."

"No..." Hank lied smoothly and quietly as he adamantly refused to look at the heavily damaged android in the eye. There was nothing there to look at anymore, there was no Connor in those eyes. Just a machine. "Nothing's wrong, Connor. Just stay here and rest. I, uh, I need to talk to the technicians before I take you home."

...next story...

Chapter Text

Connor was given a thorough examination by the technicians as he sat patiently and perfectly quiet on the exam table. As the full extent of the damage to his skull, his memory, and his overall program stability was meticulously completed Hank hovered curiously at the door observing silently. While Connor's memory had been seemingly compromised in its entirety, his system seemingly reset back to the very beginning when he had first been activated at CyberLife, Hank had refused to just give up on him and send him to New Jericho to live with Markus, and the rest of the deviants.

It didn't take much for Hank to convince Captain Fowler to let him take Connor back home to recover, as Hank knew exactly what to say and how to say it. Fowler was still guilt ridden over what had happened to Connor and knew that Hank would be too furious, too preoccupied with Connor's condition to report to the precinct anyway. It was for the best that the two detectives remain together until a decision was made regarding Connor's future.

During the drive back home from the facility Connor sat quietly in the front passenger seat beside Hank with his hands folded neatly on his lap. The android was seemingly curious about the car itself, as if he had never encountered a vehicle before in his life, but refrained from asking questions. In fact, the android only spoke after he had been spoken to, he never initiated conversation.

Connor showed no interest in getting to know Hank or ask about his career, as Connor's destroyed memory also eradicated his original programming to work with the Detroit Police Department and hunting deviants.

The android was a completely blank slate; no memory, no emotion, no ambition.

Nothing.

With his head injury concealed beneath a massive white bandage Connor looked truly pitiful. The white gauze barely concealed the blue tinted L.E.D. in his temple, a soft pulsing light escaping from under the bandage in perfectly synchronization with his Thirium pump's slow beat. For Connor his behavior was perfectly normal, but for Hank it was like dealing with a lost child who didn't know what to do or where to go after losing sight of his parents.

"We're almost home, Connor." Hank tried to keep his voice level and calm as he restrained the emotional distress he was experiencing. Internally Hank hoped that Connor would suddenly snap out of it and return to the friend and partner that Hank had come to be proud of. "Any of this look familiar to you?"

"No. This is all new to me Lieutenant Anderson."

Sighing heavily Hank pulled the car into the drive beside the house and turned off the engine. "We're here."

"This is your home."

"It's also your home, Connor."

"This is... my home."

"Yup." Hank confirmed as he unfastened his seatbelt and opened the car door. As he stepped outside Hank discreetly ran a hand over his face and sighed in subtle manner. "Home at last."

Connor remained where he sat, his eyes staring at the house through the driver's side window as if perplexed by the idea of having a home, or any place that wasn't an android facility.

"Are you coming inside?" Hank asked as he leaned down to look at Connor through the same window. "Or are you going to sit in the car all damn day?"

"Do you want me to go inside, Lieutenant Anderson?"

"Yes! I want-" Hank caught himself before he began shouting in frustration. It wasn't Connor's fault. It'd take time for him to heal, patience was the key. "Yes, Connor." Hank lowered his voice into a softer tone and began again. "Come inside with me. And call me Hank."

"Very well, but it would be unprofessional to address you by your first name."

Looking down at the seatbelt across his lap, the seatbelt that Hank had to secure on Connor's behalf when they left the facility, Connor slowly pressed his thumb down against the button to release the latch. Moving just as slowly he put his hand on the door handle and pulled on it just as he had seen Hank do a few seconds prior, and opened the door.

"Let's go." Hank motioned with his hand toward the backdoor of the house to direct Connor in the appropriate direction. "Sumo is waiting for you."

"Who is Sumo?"

"...My dog."

Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow as he stood beside Hank outside the backdoor of the house. "Dog." He had to access data files to to identify the definition of 'dog'. "What breed of canine is your dog?"

Feeling like he had just been punched in the stomach Hank just unlocked the backdoor and pushed it open. "You'll see."

As soon as the door was pushed open the giant St. Bernard wandered over to his masters and sat down at their feet waiting to be pet and acknowledged.

"Hey, Sumo." Hank rubbed the dog's ears and watched Connor from the corner of his eyes to see what the android would do. "Good boy."

Connor stood statuesque beside Hank as he looked at the dog with complete indifference.

Sumo turned his attention to Connor and patiently waited be pet, but Connor didn't acknowledge him. The android seemed to be confused by the idea of having a dog as a companion.

"It's okay, Sumo." Hank put grabbed the dog's collar to lead him away from Connor for the moment. Walking into the livingroom Hank let the dog's collar go and watched as Sumo let out a small whimper as he laid down on the floor between the TV and the coffee table. "Nothing personal, boy. Give him some time."

Hank saw that Connor was still standing in the kitchen as if he had never set foot inside the house before. Everything was unfamiliar and strange to Connor's eyes as he glanced about curiously.

"Connor, come in here."

"You wish for me to go into the same room as you?"

"Yes. Come here and sit down on the couch." Hank pointed to the unoccupied piece of furniture. "Right there."

Connor walked through the kitchen warily and eyed the couch as if he was still uncertain of what he was supposed to do. Obeying Hank's instructions he stepped in front of the couch and sat down at the end. With perfect posture and his hands neatly folded over his lap Connor looked like a machine that was uncomfortable with his own body, and existence.

"So, nothing here feels familiar to you at all?" Hank questioned in a low voice as he stood up from where he was kneeling in front of Sumo and reached into his jean pocket and pulled out a coin. "The house, the dog... me?"

"No." Connor admitted as he turned his head to look at Hank from where he sat. "This is all new for me."

"Uh-huh..." Fiddling with the coin in the palm of his hand for a moment Hank tightened his fist around it then tossed it to Connor. "What about this? Catch!"

Instead of catching the quarter with a graceful motion of his hand, Connor instead clumsily grabbed onto the coin after his bounced off of his chest. Holding the coin curiously Connor scanned it and gave Hank a cold, calculated analysis.

"American coin based currency worth twenty-five cents. The coin was minted in the year 2022." Ending his analysis Connor just stared at it confusedly. "Now what should I do with this?"

"Uh... Nothing." Hank sounded as defeated as he felt as he tried to reach out to the android. "Keep it, I guess."

"Very well." Connor obediently slipped the coin into the pocket of his jacket. "What else should I do?"

"Nothing." The distraught detective repeated. The defeat was heavy in his voice and he was losing hope that Connor would 'wake up' again. "Just... sit there. Focus on running your healing program until... I don't know. You finish or something. I don't care."

"I will do so." Connor nodded as corrected his posture into perfection once again.

As he sat perfectly upright on the couch and closed his eyes his L.E.D. glowed yellow and cycled slowly as the android initiated the self-healing program into full focus, while also turning off his secondary systems. Even his artificial respiration had ceased as the lack of processors being used ensured that overheating would not be an issue.

"...Yeah. Do that."

Turning his back to Connor, turning his back to the blank machine that looked like Connor but was nothing like him, Hank hung his coat on the hook by the front door, kicked off his shoes and walked back into the kitchen. Sumo lifted his head up from the floor and followed after his human master as the android hadn't even bothered to acknowledge him.

Quietly Hank knelt down in front of the cabinet door below the kitchen sink with a sense of shame in his every movement. Pulling the left cabinet door open he reached his hand upward inside the opened cabinet and pulled a brown paper bag that had been taped out of sight in the shadows against the base of the sink.

With the bag in his hand Hank slipped his hand inside and pulled out a bottle of untouched whiskey. As the detective stared at the tea colored liquid in the bottle longingly Hank's blues eyes slowly drifted up to look at Connor sitting on the couch.

"I almost made it a full month without falling back into a bottle." Hank lamented as he opened the top of the bottle and set it down on the kitchen table.

Pulling a glass from the shelf above the kitchen counter down he sat at the table and poured his first shot. Holding the glass in his right hand Hank studied the contents for a minute before he let out a deep sigh as if he had been punched in the stomach.

Sumo whined a little as he laid down the linoleum floor and watched his master with big brown eyes that were full of sympathetic understanding.

"Sorry, boy." Hank apologized to the loyal dog as he held the glass to his lips. He then looked at the machine that was hauntingly similar to Connor one last time. "Sorry, son. But I don't have no reason to stay sober right now. Not anymore..."

Downing the shot in a matter of seconds Hank set the empty glass back down on the table and readily poured another shot.

"Ah, fuck me..."


Connor had been lost the throes of his self-healing program for three hours when an unfamiliar sound caught the full attention of the android's audio sensors. Opening his eyes, his processors and system rebooting to full power, Connor turned his head to look toward the source of the sound curiously and traced it back to the origin point. It had come from the kitchen.

"Lieutenant Anderson, what was that sound?"

No reply.

"Lieutenant Anderson, are you here?"

Connor craned his neck to look into the kitchen and saw something glistening on the floor beside the kitchen table. Despite being told to stay on the couch the android decided that because Hank wasn't giving him any orders that it would be okay to investigate the sound. Standing up from the couch Connor walked into the kitchen and saw that glistening item was a broken glass on the floor reflecting the light from the ceiling above. The glass had apparently fallen from the table. There was a small puddle of pale brown liquid beneath the fragments of glass that Connor's scanner had identified as alcohol; whiskey.

Sumo was sitting in the corner of the kitchen look as sad as ever as he watched his human master drinking himself into oblivious, while his android master showed an emotionless indifference to the situation at hand.

Looking at the table itself Connor saw that Hank had passed out over the table, his arm brushing the glass off the surface onto the floor as he collapsed forward. There were traces of the same whiskey that had spilled onto the floor emanating from Hank's mouth, and could even be detected in his bloodstream through a simple scan.

"Lieutenant Anderson?" Connor stood beside the human and tried to get his attention verbally. Placing his hand on Hank's back Connor shook him lightly. "Are you conscious?"

Hank muttered something incomprehensible without lifting his head up from the cool surface of the table.

"I could not understand what you said." Connor grabbed onto Hank's shoulder and pushed the human back up until he was sitting upright in the chair. Hank's head fell backward limply and his arms fell in the same manner at his sides. "Could you repeat that?"

"I... said..." Hank slurred in a drunken haze. "Fffffuck offfff..."

"I do not understand that command."

"It's NOT a command..." Hank growled as his bloodshot eyes tried and failed to focus on Connor's face. "It's a... sssssuuuu-ggestion..."

"I still do not understand."

Hank lifted his gaze a little as he pointed to the white bandage over Connor's head with an uncoordinated finger. A tearful smile appeared on Hank's face as his Hank drunkenly wrapped around Connor's arm while the android continued to hold him upright.

"You know- You know what Connor? I'm glad... glad you're alive... But I sure as fuck miss... I miss the OLD Connor."

"'Old Connor'? Was he the android you owned before you owned me?"

"Ssssomething like that... Fucking machines." Hank's eyes fell shut as he passed out again. As his body began to slip from the chair a strong hand guided him down to the floor in a controlled manner. "Damn... plastic... prick."

Connor stared at the unconscious human as he helped the detective to lay down on the floor carefully. Something unexplainable in Connor's program told him to take Hank into another room.

But where?

After squaring his jaw with a sense of purpose Connor decided to follow his unusual instinctive response. Grabbing onto Hank's arm Connor hoisted the human up onto his feet and held him with both arms to keep him from falling over. Wrapping his arm around Hank's waist Connor guided the unconscious human through the kitchen and down the hallway as if he had done the act before. Making sure to keep Hank away from the dangerous glass shards on the floor, a strange compulsion that the android couldn't explain, Connor was mindful of every clumsy step the duo took.

Stopping in the middle of the corridor Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow rapidly as he looked at the closed bathroom door.

Was this the room?

Looking at the closed door at the end of the hallway his L.E.D. flashed again as he tried to make his next decision.

Maybe this room?

Choosing the second room Connor carried Hank to the end of the hallway and pushed the door open. The room led to Hank's bedroom, and was the appropriate place to take the inebriated detective. Dragging the unconscious human into the bedroom Connor laid the detective down on the bed carefully, mindful to keep his hand under Hank's head to ensure he didn't hurt his neck.

Running a scan over Hank's body Connor was satisfied that his vital signs were stable and he would be alright without medical attention. Something about the act of checking on Hank seemed somehow... familiar.

Silently returning to the kitchen Connor set about picking up the broken bits of the glass on the floor and caught sight of his reflection in the glass shards he was now holding. The white bandage over the still healing bullet wound held his attention as if he had just noticed his own injury. The unusual reaction caused the android to press his fingertips against the wound curiously. Unfortunately the slight pressure was enough to cause the android to suddenly wince in pain and drop the collected shards from his palm back onto the floor.

Connor's L.E.D. flashed to red as the intensely unpleasant sensation was something that wasn't supposed to be a part of his programming.

Convinced something was wrong Connor retreated to the couch in the livingroom and ran another self-diagnostic, but the only error his system had detected was the healing injury to his skull itself.

Why? Why would his programming allow him to feel pain? It wasn't... normal.

Shaken up in a manner he couldn't understand Connor remained on the couch and didn't budge for the remainder of the night.


Hank found himself enduring a sharp pain in his own head when he awoke from his drunken slumber the next morning. Pressing his hand to his throbbing skull with a familiar grimace Hank slowly got up from the bed and stumbled out of the room, using his other hand along the wall to guide himself into the bathroom to be sick.

It had been a long time since Hank needed to deal with a hangover, but the subsequent action had been so ingrained into his memory from years of alcohol abuse that he easily fell back in his old routine of throwing up, washing his face, popping a few aspirin and then stumbling into the kitchen to brew a fresh pot of coffee. It was just business as usual.

Wandering with the grace of newborn foal Hank found his way into the kitchen and leaned heavily against the counter as he pressed the power button on his electronic coffee pot. A pleading whimper beside his leg brought his attention to Sumo who was desperately trying to get out the backdoor.

"Oh... here." Hank sluggishly opened the door and the dog bolted through right into the backyard. "...Guess I'm so used to Connor letting you out in the morning... I just assumed..."

Turning his head Hank's tired, bloodshot eyes fell upon Connor sitting perfectly still and quiet on the couch. Though Hank couldn't see it the android's L.E.D. was cycling yellow as he continued to run numerous self-diagnostics and allowed his healing program to work at its full power.

The coffee finished brewing and Hank poured a small amount of the especially potent smelling drink into a mug before he walked over to the kitchen table. The mess on the table and floor from the night before hadn't been touched. The spilled whiskey had evaporated and left a faint tea colored stain on the linoleum surface, and the glass shards marked the point of contact after the spill.

"I don't remember breaking the glass." Hank muttered to himself as he sat down slowly. "But I do remember pouring the first shot in all it's vivid glory."

After twenty minutes of silence Hank's headache began to mercifully lessen to a degree where he could function. Finishing off the coffee he opened the backdoor and let Sumo back inside, the giant dog sticking close to Hank as he walked through the kitchen and stood in the livingroom with an uncoordinated motion.

Connor never budged an inch as Hank and Sumo entered the livingroom.

"Connor. Have you been sitting there all night?"

"Affirmative." The android responded as he opened his eyes to look at Hank. "I remained here as you instructed."

"All night long?"

"Yes- Well..."

"Well," Hank sensed the hesitation and pressed the android to continue. "what?"

"Last night when I heard a glass break in the kitchen I got up to investigate. You had accidentally broken it when you lost consciousness due to your massive intake of alcohol."

"Oh. So you went to see what happened and then went back to the couch."

"Yes."

"...Okay then." Hank sighed and walked down the hallway to his bedroom to be alone. Sitting on the edge of his bed Hank took his phone from the nightstand and scrolled through his contacts until he fell on the name he was looking for: 'Markus'. Pressing 'dial' Hank made the call and did so with a heavy heart. "Hey Markus, it's Hank."

'Hello, Hank. Is there anything wrong, Lieutenant?' Markus sounded a little confused by the sudden phone call, and his ability to interact with humans made him more attuned to emotions than most other deviants. 'You sound a little weird.'

"Yeah. It's Connor. Connor's wrong."

'What happened? Is he hurt?'

"Worse than that. His memory is completed fucked up."

'What do you mean?'

"I mean he doesn't remember anything or anyone. It's like he's been reset way back to the very beginning."

'How did that happen?' The incredulous nature of Markus's tone was palpable even over the phone. 'Did he suffer some kind of malfunction? Was he injured?'