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The Pitfalls Of Humanity

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  Hank Anderson woke in his bed, just like any other morning. The room was still, seemingly frozen in time. Outside, there was a heavy blanket of snow over his yard. The world seemed muted. It seemed apropos after what had occured just a few weeks prior, with President Warren declaring an end to the killing of the deviants and agreeing to hear their pleas. She’d announced that androids, effective immediately, could hold jobs and own property, but she’d not said much since. She’d promised that she was hard at work on android legislation, conferring with Markus and his group.

  Markus was in Washington DC, and had been for a week. Markus was smart, and strongwilled. Hank knew that he wouldn’t settle for anything less than absolute equality. Still, he found himself anxious as they all waited for President Warren’s next announcement. He’d been alive for too long to trust the folks in DC.

  Connor was sitting on Hank’s couch when he entered the living room. He was still in his Cyberlife uniform, a sight that made grimace now. He’d meant to offer some of his old clothes to Connor but they’d been busy. Becoming a person involved a lot of paperwork, Hank found. He’d spent most of his day off yesterday helping Connor get an ID and a driver’s license.

  “Morning,” he grunted.

  Connor’s turned to face him, disturbing Sumo who was resting his massive head on Connor’s lap.

  “Good morning, Lieutenant.”

  Hank rolled his eyes at the use of his title, but he didn’t correct him. Since Connor returned two days ago he’d given up trying.

  “What did you do all night?” Hank asked. “Do androids have some sort of sleep mode or some shit you can activate?”

  “We have a stasis mode, that can be activated to give us the chance to do more in depth diagnostic or to transfer large files to or from the Cyberlife servers. It’s more akin to meditating than to sleep.”

  Hank scratched his beard and hummed.

  “Does it bother you that I’m awake when you’re not? It’s not uncommon to feel vulnerable in one’s own home when there are guests over.”

  Hank shrugged before hobbling to the kitchen. “I don’t care,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to fucking stab me in my sleep or something. I’m just curious.”

  Connor’s lips turned up slightly in a grin before he climbed up from the couch and trailed Hank to the kitchen.

  “Do you have anything planned today, Lieutenant?” he asked.

  Hank glanced out the window to the sheet of snow outside.

  “I have work,” he said.

  “Would it be okay if I came in with you today?”

  Hank raised his eyebrows. He’d somewhat expected this. Connor, even deviated Conner, still enjoyed his work.

  “I mean, sure,” he said. “Do you still work for the DPD? Since Cyberlife sent you to work for us, and you aren’t really owned by Cyberlife anymore…?”

  “That’s what I would like to discuss. Androids are legally able to hold jobs, I thought I discuss my reemployment with Fowler,” Connor said.

  “What about Markus and Jericho?” Hank asked.

  Connor looked sheepishly down at his hands. He was fidgeting with his quarter. He’d always done this- in elevators, long car rides, the rare moments of inactivity. He performed some sort of magic trick with it, citing the reason as a calibration of his physical and cognitive functions. After he’d deviated he could be found just messing with it in his hands more often. Or toying with the hems of his clothing. It was such a distinctly human thing to do that Hank sometimes forgot that he was an Android at all.

  “I believe that I have nothing more to offer them,” Connor said, turning the coin over in his hands. “As grateful as I am that I could be a part of such a landmark event, I feel as though Jericho isn’t where I’m meant to be.”

  “You think you’re meant to be here?”

  Hank regretted his phrasing as soon as the words passed his lips.

  “If I’ve imposed upon you-”

  “No, Connor I didn’t mean it like that. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you’d like. I’m just… flattered that you prefer some old bastard’s company over that of Android Jesus’s.”

  Connor smiled at him and Hank felt something flutter in his chest.

  “You’re my friend, Hank. Of course I would prefer to be around you.”

  Hank tried to stop the butterflies he felt with a hard swallow of his hot coffee.

  “Today,” Hank started, changing the subject. “I think we should work on getting you moved in. We could move all the shit in the office to the garage, I don’t use that room much anyways.”

  “I don’t have any possessions, nor do I require a bed. The couch will be fine.”

  Hank frowned. “You need something, Connor. Even Sumo has his own little corner of the house.”

  “Androids were designed to take up as little space as possible.”

  Hank rolled his eyes. “You can take up as much space as you like now, Connor.”

  This seemed to shock Connor in some sort of way. His LED whirred faster, still yellow, as he thought.

  “I will… consider your offer.”

   “Fine. Do you at least want a new change of clothes? Something that wasn’t assigned to you by Cyberlife?”

  Conner plucked at his suit. “I would find that agreeable.”

  Hank smiled. “I can’t promise I have anything in your size, but once the evacuation lifts we can buy you something.”

  Connor nodded, and Hank felt content as he moved back to his room to search his wardrobe.

  It was a bit of a mess, he would admit. Hank didn’t have much of a sense of style beyond colorful button down, jacket, and bootcut jeans. He had old sweatshirts gathered from various events and pajama pants in various stages of wear but not much else, not much suitable for Conner. He wondered if androids even had a sense of style. Markus seemed to have an affinity for long jackets so he assumed so. He hadn’t seen much in the way of fashion sense from Connor, though. Or even seen him in anything but his Cyberlife uniform.

  Another problem he experienced was that Connor was slender whereas Hank was not. Even back in his prime he was still barrel chested and thick, he’d never been as skinny as Connor. Thus, he had very little in the way of clothes that wouldn’t swallow him up. He found an old hoodie from the academy that now fit too snugly around his gut and a pair of jeans with a belt. It wasn’t much, but it was decidedly better than his Cyberlife uniform. He pulled out a couple of old tee-shirts and sweatpants with an adjustable drawstring as well.

  “It's not much,” Hank said as he set the pile on the table in front of him, “but as soon as stores start opening up again we can go somewhere.”

  “Thank you, Hank, I appreciate it,” he said, with a sincerity that made Hank nearly blush.

  “Don’t worry about it,” he said.

  Connor smiled at him before disappearing into the bathroom to change. Hank scrubbed at his face with his hands once Connor was out of the room. The butterflies in his stomach had not ceased, and he wondered if this would become the new norm for him. He should have jerked off in the shower or something.

  Connor emerged from the bathroom in Hank’s hoodie and pants. They were definitely a little large on him, especially around the waist, but it wasn’t too bad.

  “How do you feel?” Hank asked.

  “Better. It’s… surprisingly freeing to not be in my Cyberlife uniform anymore. I hadn’t expected it to have an affect on my emotions but it has.”

  Hank smiled and clapped Connor on the shoulder. Connor beamed back up at him.

  “Thank you,” Connor said.

  “You don’t have to thank me,” he said. “Let’s go to work, eh?”

  Connor was quiet in the car ride to the DPD. Hank could see the steady whirr of his LED, yellow as he was lost in thought. Hank didn’t say anything either. He wasn’t sure what to say. Connor was going through a lot and he didn’t need an emotionally stunted old man trying to help him figure out his humanity. He hoped Markus and him stayed in contact, Markus likely had more insight into this than Hank could ever wish to have.

  The DPD was mostly empty, with the evacuation much of the staff had left, leaving a skeleton crew behind. Reed had stayed behind, unfortunately. As soon as he and Connor walked through the door he opened his mouth.

  “Well, well, well. Would you look who it is? Did you know that your piece of plastic fucking broke my nose, Anderson?”

  Hank smirked. “Why didn’t you tell me you put Reed in his place, Connor?” Hank asked, clapping Connor shoulder.

  Connor smiled. He’d been doing that a lot lately. It made some long abandoned part of Hank’s chest stir.

  “Go talk to Fowler,” he said, urging Connor away from Reed.

  Connor obeyed, and Hank walked to his desk. Unfortunately, Reeds trailed him. Hank sat in his chair heavily and gave Reed a labored look.

  “I’m not joking, Anderson. I don’t know what it thinks it’s doing here but I do not want that thing working here anymore. Not after what it did to me.” He leaned over Hank’s desk, trying his damndest to be as imposing as possible. “Get your fucking robot out here.”

  “I have no say in whether he works here or not,” Hank said.

  He turned his chair away from Gavin and pointedly ignored him. Gavin huffed and stomped away, leaving Hank blessedly alone at his desk. He grimaced at his work. Reed always left a bad taste in his mouth, the slimy bastard.

  Connor emerged from Fowler’s office after only ten minutes. His face was unreadable, per usual, but his LED was slowly cycling yellow.

  “So?” Hank asked, holding his breath.

  Connor sat on the corner of his desk.

  “Captain Fowler has agreed to rehire me, but he told me that it will take a day at least to complete my paperwork.”

  Hank smiled at him, patting his thigh in a congratulatory manner. “Congrats on your first official job,” he said.

  “What shall I do in the interim?” he asked, looking slightly nervous.

  “Well, whatever you want, Connor,” Hank said, shrugging.

  Connor’s LED whirled faster for a moment. “I’ve never been without an objective before,” he admitted.

  “Well, consider this your first exercise in humanity,” he said. “Find a hobby. What do you enjoy doing?”

  Connor fidgeted with his coin. “Working.”

  Hank frowned. “Well, what else?”

  Connor’s LED flashed red for a moment. “I don’t have any hobbies.”

  “Well, now's the perfect time to find one. Here, take my keys. Do whatever you like for seven hours, just come pick me back up at five. Hear?”

  Conner took Hank’s keys and stared at them for a moment. “Okay.”

  Hank patted Connor’s thigh again. “Good. Now get out of here before Reed sees you,” he said.

  Hank immediately missed Connor’s presence as soon as he’d left the bullpen.