A routine day at the precinct had come to an end and Connor, the android formerly sent by CyberLife, and his human partner, Lieutenant Hank Anderson, were walking out of the large brick and stone building to head to the car in the parking garage next door. As the duo made their way over to the dirty, old Oldsmobile together Hank noted the time on his phone and asked Connor if he had any plans that night he should know about.
"Going to hang out with Markus and have a social life tonight, or are you going to spend the night going through old CyberLife documents again?"
Connor gave Hank a slight tilt of his head as his L.E.D. cycled blue steadily in his right temple. "There's still a lot of files that CyberLife had hidden from the public that need to be sorted through. It is important."
"And so are you."
"What do you mean?" Connor asked as he put his hand on the front passenger side door handle and watched as Hank did the same on the driver's side of the car.
"I mean your life beyond work is important. Have a damn social life or something."
"I do have a social life. You."
"Son, we were assigned as partners and we happened to become friends." Sitting down behind the wheel Hank put the key in the ignition and watched as Connor joined him inside the vehicle with a single graceful motion. "You can't just sit behind a desk and think that counts as having friends because you're surrounded by the same people during every shift."
"We only happened to become friends?" The thought made Connor's brow furrow with deep contemplation. "Are you saying you don't want me to be at the house all the time?"
"I'm saying you need to stop living in the past and move onto the future. You can't just expect everything to work out for you because of one chance encounter that worked out for the both of us, you know?"
"...I think I understand." Connor's L.E.D. had cycled to yellow in his temple causing an amber aura to fill the interior of the car and reflect against the glass of the window beside him.
"You okay?" Hank quickly noticed the distressed color and reacted accordingly. "Please tell me you're not pissed or something."
"I'm not angry, Hank. I'm just thinking about what you said about us becoming friends out of happenstance."
"Hey, I didn't mean to make it sound like you're my friend because of coincidence or some shit. We were meant to be friends."
"How can you be certain that we'd be friends if we didn't get assigned as partners first?"
"I guess I can't."
"Then perhaps we aren't really friends after all. We merely associate with one another simply because it's convenient."
"Connor, no." The car pulled to gentle stop a red light and idled there waiting for the color to change. Turning to face Connor with a stern gaze Hank kept his voice level as he spoke to the deviant in a somewhat irritated tone. "You ARE my friend and I don't want to work with anyone else. Got it?"
"I-" Connor suddenly fell silent and pressed his hands to the sides of his head, his palm covering the now red, rapidly flashing L.E.D. in his temple, and let out a quiet scream of pain.
Before Hank could move his hand over to his partner's shoulder the deviant's body went slack and leaned heavily against his seatbelt as he slumped forward, completely unconscious.
"Fuck! Connor? What's wrong?"
Thinking quickly Hank pulled through the intersection and sped out of the city and toward New Jericho Tower out on Belle Isle, where the infamous CyberLife Tower had once stood. It used to be a symbol of android oppression, but after New Jericho claimed the building as a sanctuary it became a beacon of hope and change for deviants everywhere.
"Hang on, kid." Hank reached his arm out and pressed his hand against Connor's chest and pushed the deviant back in his seat off of his seatbelt. The red tinted L.E.D. blinked slowly and reflected in a crimson hue off the window beside him. "I don't know what the fuck just happened but we'll figure it out."
New Jericho Tower was a flurry of activity as the sanctuary just received a massive surge of refugees escaping surrounding discriminatory cities. The population of the tower nearly doubled over night as deviants flooded through the door and sought technical aid and repairs. Most of the deviants had been assigned personal quarters and were resting until they could be seen by Simon.
As North patrolled the main lobby and directed deviants where to go she caught sight of Hank walking through the front door with Connor unconscious over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. "North, Connor went down."
"Shit. Get him to the emergency repair bay." She sounded as exhausted as Hank felt. "Markus is already there with Simon. We have a lot of downed deviants to take care of."
"Right." Tightening his hands on Connor's arm and leg Hank made his way to the elevator along with a few other deviants and made their ascent to the designated floor with their unconscious allies. "Shit, how many of you are hurt?"
"It looks like forty-two so far." One of the deviant androids replied as she held up her unconcious friend against her shoulder. She noticed Connor and inquired about his presence. "Is he a refugee?"
"No. He's my partner. I don't know what's wrong with him."
"I'm sure New Jericho can save him."
"Yeah." Hank looked at Connor's unconscious face just past his shoulder and shook his head a little. "I am too."
Carefully Simon connected a wounded deviant to the system analysis terminal to check his vitals and overall program stability. It wasn't as bleak as he feared, but with the sudden influx of wounded deviants supplies; spare biocomponents and blue blood, were running thin. The resourcefulness of the tower's inhabitants, more importantly the leaders, were being pushed to their creative limits.
"How bad is the damage?" Markus asked Simon as he put his hand on the wounded deviant's shoulder in a comforting manner.
"Not as bad as I feared. His Thirium filter will need to be repaired, but he isn't in critical condition."
"That's somewhat of a relief, but I just got a message from North upstairs." The deviant leader's mismatched eyes were awash in worry. "Hank is bringing Connor down. He apparently collapsed from some unknown cause."
"Damn it." Simon sighed as he straightened up and gave his leader a focused stare. "We'll help him. I know it."
The door to the emergency repair opened and the senior detective walked into the room with his deviant partner still unconscious over his shoulders. The other female deviant carrying her wounded friend followed after him, and she was met by Markus who helped her out.
Hank placed Connor down gently on the table and addressed Simon in a despondent tone. "Connor went down while we were driving back from the precinct."
"What happened before he went down?" Simon asked as he clipped the long black cable to Connor's red pulsing L.E.D., then pressed his hand down over Connor's chest to feel his Thirium pump beating and counted his pulse. "Tell me everything you can."
"He seemed to be in horrible pain, he was grabbing at his head, then he just passed out."
"Strange." Using a small penlight Simon lifted Connor's eyelids and checked his pupils, then retracted his hands. "Optical relay sensors are functional. Did he suffer any damage to your knowledge?"
"No. Not that I-"
Connor sat upright suddenly on the table, causing Simon to take a step back, and put his hand to his head as he gritted his teeth and took in a sharp breath to ease his mounting discomfort. "...My head."
"Connor?" Hank lightly put his hand on the deviant's shoulder and held his palm there for a moment. "Hey, can you tell us what's going on?"
"I don't... I can't explain it."
"Connor," Hank continued to focus on his partner while Simon checked the readout on the program analysis terminal. "what can you tell me?"
"It's... It's like I was hit with a wave of intense, vivid... Everything." Under the cable his L.E.D. kept blinking red steadily as he spoke. "It overwhelmed all of my senses and I was forced into emergency stasis mode."
"What was it? What overwhelmed you, kid?"
"I think... I think they were memories. Memories that don't belong to myself."
"Without further exploration I can't... be certain."
"It's okay, son. Just take it easy and wait for your headache to go away before you try to figure this out, okay?"
Connor only nodded as he closed his eyes and breathed slowly to ease the relentless pain in his head. "...I think the memories... were a file transferred from a second android."
"I should've known you wouldn't be able to drop it." Sighing a little Hank shook his head. "Alright, do you know who sent the memories to you?"
"Yes." Dropping his hand from his head he gave Hank a tormented look. "I think I do."
"Who was it, kid?"
Hank's brow arched for a moment as he processed what Connor had just said. "Y-You?"
The revelation made both Hank and Simon stare at Connor blankly for a few seconds with utter confusion. While Simon remained quiet Hank continued to ask some questions. "How in the hell is that possible?"
"I'm not sure."
"How can you have memories from yourself that aren't yours?"
"...I think I had these memories sent to me from me, from somewhere in in a not too distant future, and the memories were sent for a purpose."
"What kind of purpose could that be?"
"Alright, that's it." Carefully Hank pushed Connor back until he was laying down over the exam table again. "You're not leaving this tower until we both have some answers. Stay put. Simon," he looked to the blond technician who was still checking over the readout on Connor's program analysis. "can you give us an idea as to what's happening to him?"
"Maybe. I'm detecting trace amount of quantum particles throughout Connor's memorybanks, and all through his intracranial processors."
Hank didn't understand the comment and the confusion on his face expressed more than his words ever could. "You found what?"
"It's still theoretical," Simon replied calmly as he continued to check Connor's vital signs. "but it's promising research regarding quantum particles and, well, time travel."
"Time travel?" Hank was as skeptical as he was confused. "You're saying Connor sent a message to himself from the future, to his past, and our present?"
"Know what?" Reacting quickly Hank stopped the explanation before it had the chance to begin. "Never mind. I won't understand anything anyway. Just tell me if Connor's hurt or in danger."
"He seems completely stable. As to why this happened only Connor can answer that."
"Kid?" Hank looked down at the deviant who was still nursing a horrific headache. "Those memories that you saw, can you isolate them and figure something out from there?"
"I can try." Closing his eyes Connor's L.E.D. cycled red and yellow in rapid succession as he tapped into the various files and sort through them in a matter of seconds. As he did Simon noted his vitals on the terminal spike for a moment then forcibly level out as if Connor willed himself to calm down. When Connor's soulful brown eyes returned he looked up at Hank once more and replied in a low voice. "...Done."
"...No. It was all a test to see if the memories could be transferred back through time." Sitting up again slowly Connor returned his hand to his head and Simon released the cable from his L.E.D. with a gentle grip. The L.E.D. was shifting back and forth between blue and yellow as Connor sat upright on the table thinking intensely about what he had just seen. "And as we can see, the test was successful."
"Fuckin' hell. You scared the shit out of me."
"That wasn't my intention."
"Yeah, I know. I'm not mad just so you know. I'm just a little freaked."
"...If it's okay with you I'd like to stay in the tower for a while longer to have my files sorted and separated to prevent any possible incompatibility issues."
"Uh, sure. But, I thought you can do that stuff at home."
"I can, but if I have another surge of memories I'd like to be monitored. It could prove important."
"...And I thought you hate facilities."
"I do. But I hate scaring you even more."
Patting Connor's shoulder once Hank crossed his arms over his chest and finally agreed. "Alright, yeah. You're right."
"I will see you later tonight. You're exhausted and need to get some rest, otherwise you'll get sick."
"Yeah, kid." Taking a deep breath to calm himself as much as possible he agreed to take his leave and let Connor remain at the tower for additional observation until they knew exactly what was happening. "You're right. Call me if you need a ride back home sometime tonight, okay?"
"Yes. I will."
"Take it easy, son." Reluctantly Hank walked away from the table to leave his partner and friend behind for further observation. "See you in a few hours."
Simon watched as Hank took his leave of the emergency repair bay before he spoke to Connor in a discreet voice. "Connor, I saw your vitals spike when you were going through those memories. What happened?"
"...It's complicated." Connor admitted in a somber voice. "And too much to explain thoroughly."
"Did something bad happen to New Jericho?"
"No, no." He replied quickly and honestly as he sought ease Simon's worries. "The tower is safe. What I saw was more personal."
"...Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. But I would like to do some more research into the ability to send memories through time."
"There's something important I need to do, and I know I will succeed. I just need to figure out how I did it."
"Sure. Uh, go check out the server room." Simon suggested casually as he watched Connor slip off the edge of the exam table to head for the door to do some research. "If you need any help let me know."
"Of course. Thank you, Simon."
"I'll also let Markus know where you went in case he needs to talk to you."
Connor retreated to the relative seclusion of the server room at the basement of the tower and set about his research regarding the ability to send messages through time, and was determined to succeed. While he was fighting to focus on his research Connor struggled to keep his thoughts away from the foreign memories from the alternate time and distracting himself from his progress.
"...I know this can work," the deviant told himself in a determined voice. "but I need to-"
Another wave of pain silenced him and made Connor stumble forward and catch himself against the modem of the terminal to keep himself from falling. Slowly lowering himself to the ground to rest on his knees Connor put his hands to his throbbing head; his L.E.D. flickering red sporadically, and endured the horrific and inexplicable pain.
"...No... Not now. I need to focus!"
"Connor?!" Markus saw his friend was in distress and practically slid on his knees as he rushed to Connor's side. "Connor, let me take you back to the emergency repair bay. You're hurt."
"No!" Connor shook his head and focused entirely on Markus's face as the pain mercilessly let him go. "No, it's okay now."
"What happened? Can you move at all?"
"...Markus. I have a very big favor to ask of you, and I wouldn't ask if it weren't important." Connor took a deep breath and turned to face his friend kneeling on the floor beside him. "It's more important than anything I've ever asked of you."
"What is it?"
"...I need you to send a message to yourself in the past, and I need you to do it tonight."
"A message to... the past?" Markus didn't know what Connor was talking about, but he was willing to listen and try to help. "I... I don't know how to do that."
"I can show you."
"Show me? What're you talking about?"
Connor retracted the skin over his right palm and extended his hand out toward Markus to take in his grip. "I have to show you this. It's far too much to explain, but once you see what I'm talking about you'll understand everything."
"...Alright." Markus removed the artificial from the palm of his own right hand and accepted Connor's grip. As the two deviants connected their minds Markus prepared himself for the sudden, impending rush of strange images. "I'll trust you."
As the two deviants cybernetically connected their minds a flash of information; images, sounds, aromas and even emotions transferred over from Connor's mind and into Markus. The red glow of Connor's blinking L.E.D. reflected off the screens of the surrounding terminals, and glistened off the metal bodied of the surrounding computer modems with a crimson flare that engulfed the whole server room.
Markus let out a shocked gasp as he pulled his hand from Connor's grip and shot to his feet. "Connor..." He now fully understood why Connor so desperately wanted his help on this very peculiar matter. It was very important, and revolved around life and death. "Was that... Was that really who I think it was?"
"Yes." Connor confirmed as he got to his feet slowly and regenerated the artificial skin over his palm. His L.E.D. cycled to a distressed yellow as he locked eyes with friend. "Now that you know will you help me?"
Looking down at his hand Markus clenched it into a tight fist as the artificial skin regenerated over his appendage like tide. "Yeah." He subtly nodded and agreed to help his friend. "I'll do whatever it takes to help you."
Driving back to the house, alone, Hank pulled the car along the driveway beside the modest home and put the large vehicle in park. With a tired sigh he opened the car door and slammed it shut behind him as he trudged toward the backdoor of the house with a slow gait. As soon as he opened the backdoor he was greeted by Sumo who pressed his nose to Hank's hand before he trudged out into the backyard for a few moments to take care of business.
Hank glanced about the open house and felt alone for the first time since Connor moved in the morning after the revolution. What was supposed to be a favor for a friend turned into an indefinite stay of a good partner, and a damn good friend.
"This place isn't the same without you two."
With a heavy heart Hank opened the refrigerator and pushed aside a few plastic storage containers full of leftovers and grabbed the six pack of beer he had bought a few months back out of an old, bad habit. Pulling one of the bottles out of the small cardboard container and unscrewed the cap and downed the amber drink.
Sumo scratched at the backdoor and Hank let the massive bundle of fluff back inside the house as he continued to drink.
"...Good dog, Sumo."
Ever loyal Sumo continued to stay by Hank's legs as the senior detective walked into the livingroom and plopped heavily into the recliner and kicked off his shoes. As he leaned back in the recliner he put his feet and had Sumo resting his chin over Hank's shin as he wagged his tail slowly.
"Yeah, I know. It's not the same without at least one of 'em here." Downing another mouthful of beer Hank put his hand on Sumo's head and held it there as he rubbed the large dog's soft ears. "Connor will be back later, boy."
Sumo seemed to recognize the name and he wagged his tail a little more.
"Too bad they both can't come back." Finishing off the beer Hank placed the empty bottle on the floor beside the chair and raked his fingers through his dark locks of hair as he restrained a modest belch. "But having one back home will have to do for now. I'll see Cole again when my dumbass finally crosses over to the other side."
With the assistance of both Connor and Simon in the privacy of the server room Markus sat in a chair and had a program monitoring cable attached to his right temple. Under Simon's supervision the deviant leader allowed his intracranial processor to be steadily flooded with quantum particles as he focused on connecting to his own memorybank on a specific date in time four years into the past.
"...I can feel my software connecting to... something." Markus's mismatched eyes were closed and his features relaxed as he concentrated on sending the message to himself in the past. "I think it's... Yeah, it's me. I'm connecting to myself."
Connor was studying Markus's face with an intensely curious stare. "Are you in any pain?"
"...No. It feels like I'm... dreaming. It's very unusual."
Simon continued to monitor Markus's vitals as he slowly and carefully adjusted the necessary concentrated flow of particles into Markus's memorybank. "Let me know if your head is beginning to hurt. I don't want to overwhelm your senses."
"...It's okay. It's just... surreal."
Getting a little anxious Connor watched Markus's every reaction, no matter how subtle, very carefully. "Have you made the correct connection on the correct date?"
"...Yeah. October 11th, 2035."
"Time of day?" Connor's L.E.D. cycled yellow in rapid distress.
"It's... It's currently nine-fourteen in the morning."
Connor's hands were clenched into tight fists as he crossed his arms over his chest. "...And your memory in the past is receiving the message?"
"Yeah, it's getting through." Markus slowly opened his eyes and gave Connor a nod of confident approval. Taking a deep breath Markus allowed Simon to remove the cable from his temple as he stayed seated in the chair. "...It worked."
"Yes. I'm one-hundred percent certain." Running his hand over his right temple Markus felt a strange wave of energy passing through him. "I can... I can feel a new memory setting in. Connor, you need to get to Hank quickly before the full repercussions set in and change things."
"You're right." Reaching his hand out toward Markus for one final handshake Connor eagerly hailed a taxi through cybernetic communication. "In case this one change affects... certain events, I just wanted to thank you."
"Connor," Markus grabbed onto his friend's hand and stood upright from the chair. "it'll be alright. Go home and see Hank."
"I'll see you soon, right?"
"Right. You're my friend, Connor."
Retracting his hand Connor gave Simon a nod of respect as he quickly turned on his heels and made his way through the door to get back up to the ground floor of the tower as quickly as possible. As the elevator ascended quickly Connor could feel a strange pressure in his head as he too began to feel a strange wave of energy washing over him.
The elevator reached the ground floor and the deviant detective stumbled through the parted doors and out of the tower to the front drive as the summoned autonomous taxi reached its destination. Fumbling with the door Connor climbed into the back and leaned heavily against the seat as his L.E.D. shifted from yellow and into red as the pain in his head began to mount quickly.
"...Shit." Pressing his hands to the side of his head again Connor leaned into his palms as he felt like his intracranial processor was about to explode. "I need to get to Hank. I need... I need to tell him what's happening."
Forcing himself to concentrate on his new mission, forcing himself to ignore the pain and make it back home before he gave into the agony of his own mind trying to tear itself apart. Connor didn't feel the cab pulling to a gentle stop until the door beside him opened automatically. A feminine, artificial voice instructed Connor to pay for the fare and exit the vehicle, which he did with a clumsy effort.
Stumbling up the front walk and toward the front door with L.E.D. still flashing in red distress Connor put his hand on the door knob and forced the door open in a single swift motion. "...Hank?"
"Connor?" The senior detective was still in the recliner and quickly got to his feet and rushed toward the door where Connor was beginning to fall to his knees in pain. Grabbing onto Connor by hooking his hands under Connor's arms Hank hefted the deviant back up to his feet and carried him over to the couch very slowly. "Connor, what's wrong?"
"...M-My head. Everything is-"
"Easy, kid." Laying Connor down over the length of the couch Hank put his hand to the deviant's forehead and noted the rapid flashing of Connor's red L.E.D. with righteous concern. "Shit, you're burning yourself up!"
"Hank!" Connor grabbed onto Hank's wrist in a tight, but non-aggressive grip as he looked up to the senior detective with a pleading gaze. "Listen to me! That warning to the past will affect you!"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"The message was my attempt to right a wrong and I... I..." Connor's strength wore out as he suddenly lost the ability to speak.
"Lay still, I'll be right back."
Connor watched through his blurring eyes as Hank walked out of the livingroom and disappeared from sight. A mass of confusing images and memories flooded his every sense causing the deviant incredible pain and made his aching head throb even worse. As his eyes began to slip shut against his will, emergency stasis mode once again threatening to steal his consciousness, Connor saw Hank hovering over him and smoothing out a cool washcloth over his forehead.
"Connor, you need to rest." Hank instructed as his hand pressed down over the washcloth, and his voice began to muffle in Connor's ears. "You'll be okay, son. I'm going to call Markus and ask him if can help us."
Darkness swam over Connor's blurry vision and the world around him disappeared behind his eyelids in an instant.
"You'll be okay..."
Eight hours passed with Connor in emergency stasis mode to keep his intracranial processors and his biocomponents from overheating. One by one his programs rebooted and automatically ran an analysis on his overall function. The deviant detective was fortunately stable and rebooting to optimal functioning parameters steadily.
"Connor?" Hank spoke to the deviant in a soft tone of voice as his hand went back to the cool washcloth over Connor's forehead. "Can you hear me?"
"Finally." The senior detective sounded genuinely relieved. "You scared me, son."
"I know that. Lay still for a few more minutes."
"...I... I lost consciousness."
"Yeah, you did. You came home last night after working with Markus at New Jericho and passed out with a high fever almost as soon as you walked through the front door."
"...I was trying to tell you something. Something important."
"Take it easy, okay? Your fever just broke over an hour ago."
"Lay still." Hank put his other hand against Connor's chest and held him down and counted his heartbeat under his palm. "I'm not going anywhere today, so you just rest for a little while and then we can talk."
"So is your health, son. How many times do I have to tell you that?" He moved his hand from Connor's chest and sighed a little as he watched Connor trying to open his eyes. "Don't say you're 'sorry' and don't move around. Sleep for a while longer and you can tell me everything later."
"Good. I'll keep quiet so you can sleep."
"Sumo's down the hall. He'll be all yours once you wake up."
Connor nodded slowly as he sunk down against the thick pillow that was placed beneath his head and pulled on the dark navy blue blanket that was draped over him as he slept. He listened as Hank walked out of the livingroom very slowly and seemed to disappear down the hallway and into his bedroom for a few more hours before finally getting around that morning.
After an additional two hours Connor was roused by the presence of someone watching him and the smell of someone cooking in the kitchen.
"Hey, let him alone for a while." Hank called out in a gentle but stern voice. "Come get your breakfast. French toast just like you wanted."
Connor couldn't place the presence, and yet he somehow knew that the person belonged there and have every right to be there with him. As the presence walked out of the livingroom and into the kitchen Connor took in a deep, calming breath nearly fell asleep again as his system struggled to keep himself stable and prevent any additional overheating.
Sumo walked over to the couch, pressed his cold, wet nose to the side of Connor's neck, then trotted into the kitchen to clean up some scraps.
Doing his best to remain calm and quiet Connor manually turned down his senses to help him tune out the two voices speaking in the kitchen and keep the morning sunlight from disturbing his optical sensors as he tried to rest as instructed. Focusing on the time Connor noted that twenty minutes passed by and the presence returned to the livingroom, along with Hank, and sat down on the floor by the front door.
Turning his senses back to full capacity Connor caught the tail end of a conversation as the front door opened. Sitting up on the couch very slowly Connor pressed a hand to his forehead and turned to look over the back of the couch to look at the front door, only to have his eyes go wide with utter confusion. He got to his feet slowly as he scanned the livingroom then stared at the front door as Hank spoke to the second presence that had been watching Connor as he had slept on the couch.
"Have a good day at school, Cole. I'll see later."
"Bye dad." Cole was standing in the doorway of the house with his backpack over his shoulders and a smile on his face. The boy was ten years old now, and had shaggy brown hair and Hank's dark blue eyes. His left arm was a bionic prosthetic from the middle of his humerus down to his fingertips that perfectly imitated a human arm, while still looking completely android. Cole noticed Connor was standing up and acknowledged the deviant staring at him with wide eyes. "Bye Connor."
"...Bye." Connor instinctively replied in a low but still audible voice.
Hank watched as Cole jogged down the front walk and climbed into the backseat of the carpool and headed off to school before closing the door. Turning around to face Connor the senior detective locked eyes on the deviant and then arched a brow. "I'd ask if you're feeling better but you look like you're about to throw-up or something."
"...H-Hank? I don't understand. What's going on?"
"That fever must've melted a part of your brain." Hank commented as he approached Connor, walking around the now black leather sectional couch and put his hand to Connor's forehead. Sumo finally walked out of the kitchen and rested his chin on Connor's knee affectionately. "Whoa. You haven't called me 'Hank' at home since last summer."
"And you haven't called me that since the night of the revolution."
"Connor, do you need to see a technician?"
The deviant scanned Hank's body and found vastly different readings than he initially had registered and compared the two readings with a quick but entirely accurate analysis: Hank's weight was twenty-two pounds less than it had been, his cholesterol level was at a healthy number, there was no cirrhosis of the liver, or building arthritis in his joints or back from prolonged inactivity and poor diet. Even Hank's hair was different. It was still gray but trimmed and styled in a more professional cut, and his beard was trimmed much shorter and was only a goatee.
"...Hank?" Connor kept looking around and saw that the house was different as well. "I don't..."
It was bigger than the house he remembered but still modest. The interior of the livingroom was a cool slate gray color with white trim on the paneling and front door. The hardwood floor was dark and the front window was a massive bay window overlooking the larger front lawn. Furnished with the black leather couch, a matching recliner, long ovular shaped glass coffee table, television on a black metal stand, and a single massive bookshelf stretched over the entirety of the far wall leading to the hallway; the livingroom was as homey as it had been in the old house. Dozens of framed photographs lining the walls only accentuated the feeling of being in a loving, warm home.
"This is... your house?"
"Connor," Hank put his other hand on Connor's shoulder and made him sit down on the couch to rest again. "son, what's going on? You're really out of it."
"I don't..." Everything was so strange and it was still making him feel overwhelmed. "Was that... Was that Cole?"
"Yeeeaaah..." The senior detective was studying Connor's face and moved his hand from the deviant's shoulder to the center of his chest to count the beats of his thundering heart. "Cole went to school and he'll be back a little after three. That's what he's been doing every day since he started kindergarten."
"...Cole is ten years old."
"That's right. He turned ten last month."
"Hank..." Connor put his head to his hands and leaned forward against his legs as if he were trying to make himself feel grounded. "Hank, I don't understand."
"Me neither, son. What's going on with you? I called Fowler while you were asleep and when I was making Cole his breakfast, so he knows you're too sick to come in today. Relax and tell me what's going on."
"...It's a very long and... Hank." The deviant was struggling to keep his contradicting thoughts together. "There's so much to tell you."
"Then start talking."
"I don't want to scare you."
"Son, you acting the way you are right now is already scaring me." Pulling Connor's hand away from the side of his head he looked at the deviant's right temple and sighed. "Sometimes I wish you kept that damn light. It made it easier to figure out what was wrong with you based on the color."
"My light?" Connor's fingertips brushed against his right temple where his L.E.D. had been located, but now how had long since been removed. "...It's gone."
"Okay, that's it." Taking hold of Connor's arm around his elbow he tried to pull the deviant up to his feet. "I'm taking you to see a technician."
"No! No... I'll be okay. Just give me a minute to think."
"I knew your fever was high but I didn't know it was high enough to mess with your memory!"
"Do you remember coming home from New Jericho last night?"
"I... I do. I walked into the livingroom and I tried to tell you something important, but the pain in my head made it impossible. You helped me over to the couch to lay down and before I could tell you I was forced into emergency stasis mode."
"That's right. And you were burning up all night until almost five this morning. When your fever broke you were still kind of out of it and you've been confused all morning since you woke up. Do you remember what you were trying to tell me before you passed out?"
"...I do." Connor looked at Hank and was struggling to keep his nearly overwhelmed emotions in check. "We need to talk, but I think you should start."
"The day we met. I need you to tell me everything that happened until today."
"...Alright, son." Staying focused on Connor's request Hank decided to answer the questions and listen to what Connor had to say. "I'll tell you everything I remember."
Over a span of two hours while sitting at the larger kitchen table Hank told Connor everything that had happened when the two first met, and Connor found himself able to easily tap into the alternate memories and accept them as truth. Connor scanned over the kitchen and noted the white, tile linoleum floor, pure white cabinets, dark bluish/gray colored walls, white trim, new appliances and large window over the kitchen sink filled the room in natural light. Everything was clean, organized and felt of a loving home.
While Hank told Connor all of the details of their first encounter and of their time leading up to the revolution and the time afterward, Connor prepared to tell Hank about the alternate reality in which he had been living. It was easier to start from the beginning of their encounter and leave Cole's fate out of it for the moment.
"So the first time we met it wasn't at the old house on Michigan Avenue, it was inside Jimmy's bar?" Hank was almost laughing at the absurdity of the claim since he rarely ever drank. "Seriously?"
"Yes." Connor confirmed as Sumo plopped down with an audible grumble as he laid between the two detectives beneath the kitchen table. "I had tracked you down to the bar after searching four others before it."
"Man, that seems so wild. I clearly remember you knocking on my front door and introducing yourself to me, and getting Cole getting all riled up."
"It's not everyday a kid's dad gets to work with a state of the line prototype android to solve crimes." Hank was unusually upbeat and his demeanor was nothing like his defeated and broken personality that stemmed from the loss of his son. "If it wasn't for the babysitter putting his hand on his shoulder he would've climbed into the backseat of the car and followed us to the crime scene."
"...The crimes scene. A murdered human?"
"Yeah. He abused his android and brought it on himself." The detail between the two timelines remained consistent, unlike a few others. "I had to tell the patrolling officers that you were with me when we got to the scene, and when you figured out what happened and found the suspect hiding in the attic they never had a problem with you showing up at crimes scenes ever again."
"...And the following interrogation?"
"Well, you managed to get the suspect to talk and he confessed to killing his owner because he was tired of being beaten and realized it was unfair. The poor deviant would've self-destructed if you hadn't intervened, even when Gavin tried to get you to back off. Fortunately me drawing my own gun and pointing it at him was all it took to make him leave you alone."
"I remember that." The memory made sense and Connor could see it vividly. "What about the following morning?"
"Uh, let's see. I was at my desk when you showed up and started working on deviant case files at the terminal across from me. You decided it'd be easier to work on the most recent cases and work backward, and honed in on another case of a deviant attacking their owner and fleeing."
"...Kara. She was at the hotel when we went to investigate it. She slipped out before we could get to her."
"Right. We took off after her when a patrolling cop recognized her, and you were ready to scale the chainlink fence to go after her. I grabbed onto your shoulder and ordered you to stay put so you didn't get hit by a car."
"Did she make it across the highway safely?"
"Of course she did. It was close but she and Alice made it, and then made it over the border to Canada the night of the revolution."
"What happened to us after that?"
"Well, I got hungry and went to grab a bite to eat."
"Did you go to the 'Chicken Feed'?"
"Yup. Like I said, Gary and his customers aren't doing anything worth wasting mine, or their times, with arresting them over petty shit."
"...It was raining that morning and afternoon."
"Yeah. I asked you to sit in the car when I got my lunch so you didn't soaked, but you followed me anyway. That's when you told me about your first mission as a hostage negotiator and of how you saved that little girl on the top of the apartment complex."
"And the deviant who took her hostage?"
"Nothing you could've done to save him, son. S.W.A.T. took him out even after you talked him down and let the girl go."
"No matter what I did, Daniel died anyway." The grim thought and memory were both clear, and therefore factual. "Did we go check out an apartment where a deviant had been seen after we lost sight of Kara?"
"Yup. The deviant was hiding out in a crappy apartment that wasn't supposed to inhabited, and freaked when we got too close to him. He was feeding pigeons and working on a rooftop greenhouse to make ends meet. When he ran from us he pushed me out of the way and tried to escape, but you chased him down over the rooftops." Hank ran his hand nervously over his goatee as he spoke with Connor about the entire event. "That guy almost knocked me off the roof during the chase, and I would've fallen to my death if you hadn't pulled me back up. You saved my life, son."
"What happened after that?" The events played out the same and Connor could feel everything was accurate. "Where did we go?"
"Well, I went home for the rest of the day to shake off almost falling to my death, and to check in with Cole after he got home from school. You showed up later that evening to take me to another murder scene at that deranged 'Eden Club' Hellhole. Some idiot got too rough with a Traci and-"
"And her friend strangled the man. She went into the club's storage area to hide out and escape with her lover, but we stopped her escape. She and her lover attacked us and I... I chose to let her go. Right?"
"That's right. You had them both in your line of sight but you didn't pull the trigger. You listened to their story first, and let them go. It was the right thing to do and I was glad you chose to look the other way."
"...They made it to Jericho."
"And that was the first time I saw you make a decision that made you... feel. Really feel."
"Sure. When you chose to show empathy to the deviant android in the interrogation you showed you were becoming more deviant and less machine." Hank began listing off the reasons with utter confidence in his voice. "When you chose to listen to me and not risk your life on the highway because I didn't want you to get killed you recognized yourself as a living being and became more deviant. When you chose to save my life instead of chasing the suspect as you were ordered to do, you were becoming deviant right before my eyes. And when I saw you spare the lives of those two innocent deviants at the club I knew without a doubt that you were in fact alive." Hank put his hand to Connor's shoulder and held it there for a moment. "You saw those two girls are living, feeling beings and I know you felt in your heart, too. That's why you didn't pull the trigger."
"Hank," Connor was getting more tense as he spoke with his closest friend and he was on the verge of losing his emotional composure. "...where did we go after we left the club?"
"We went to the park that overlooks Ambassador Bridge for a couple of hours. I needed to stop and think for a while. And you needed a quiet moment to comprehend what you just went through."
"What happened while we were at the bridge?"
"I sat on a bench in the cold snow and wind thinking, while you sat in the car for a while. You came and joined me, insisting that I go home to Cole but I wasn't ready just yet. Being nine years old meant Cole was still really innocent, he still is even today, and I don't ever want him to see it when I get lost working on a case. The distant stare in a detective's eyes is something kids don't understand."
"...What did we talk about while we were at the bridge?"
"The case and RA9."
"There was no alcohol or... gun?"
"Alcohol and a gun?" The question was unexpected as it was unusual. "Connor, what happened in those other memories you have?"
"We... We weren't so understanding as partners in this other timeline. You didn't like me at all, and the night at the bridge things reached their breaking point for us."
"What did I do to you?"
"...You bought some beer, started drinking and when I mentioned that the deviants we let go weren't alive you... you pulled your gun on me. You asked me if I was really alive and kept pushing me. When I didn't cave in, or give you the reaction you wanted, you put your gun away and went off somewhere to keep drinking alone."
"Holy... Connor, I pointed my gun at you?"
"I know it wasn't anything personal and that your reaction came from a dark, painful place. I've never held it against you, or felt threatened by you ever since."
"Man, it sounds like I was kind of a prick in your other timeline."
"No. You were gruff but not a bad guy. You-"
"Alright, alright, so back to the night of the revolution." It was clear Hank was unsettled by the knowledge he had it in him to point his gun at Connor, and needed to change the subject. "After we spent some time at the park I dropped you off at the drive leading to CyberLife Tower and I went home. The next afternoon Markus and his team infiltrated the Stratford Broadcast Tower and delivered their message."
"A message of peace."
"And hope." Hank confirmed with a firm nod.
"When we went to investigate the tower we found evidence of non-aggression from Markus and Jericho, while the responding officers needlessly opened fire. One of the deviants, Simon, had been injured and hid out on the roof out of sight."
"And you chose to not follow the trail of blue blood. You told me later when I was patching you up that you intentionally let him go because you didn't want any innocent deviants to die after seeing their message for peace being carried throughout the city."
"...You patched me up?"
"Yeah. That one deviant working for the broadcast station attacked you when you were interrogating him in the kitchen."
"That's right. He stabbed a kitchen knife through the palm of my left hand and pinned me to the countertop, then tore out my Thirium pump regulator. I kicked over a nearby chair to make some noise and managed to get my hand free, get to the regulator and put it back into place before I shutdown. Afterward I went after the deviant and had no choice but to shoot him after he grabbed a gun, and tried to open fire on us and the other officers."
"Uh..." The reaction was as open as it was somber.
"Isn't that... what happened?" Connor's brow furrowed again as he watched Hank's face pale a little. "Hank. What happened at the tower?"
"You were attacked by the deviant in the kitchen, just like you said, but there was one big difference." Letting out a soft sigh he told Connor what was different about the encounter. "I went to check on you after I saw the deviant leave the kitchen and I found you on the floor trying to get to your missing biocomponent. You were bleeding a little and couldn't get to the biocomponent because that chair you kicked over in your other timeline was still standing in this timeline, and now in your way."
"Almost. I found you and turned you from your chest so you were laying on your back and held you in my arms. You kept telling me that the android who attacked was in fact a deviant and needed to be stopped, but I didn't care about that. You, uh, you closed your eyes and let out a weak breath making your L.E.D. thing turn off. When I was looking down at you, trying to figure out what the hell happened, I saw the blue blood on your abdomen and the hole torn into your body." Taking in another breath Hank paused before continuing on. "I looked around and saw that biocomponent sitting on the floor just a few inches from where I found you, so I picked it up and put it back in your abdomen."
"...You saved me."
"Mostly. You were still out of it and not responding after I put the biocomponent back, so I had to put you down on the floor and give you a few chest compressions to get your pump to start pumping again. You were down for about two minutes until you suddenly gasped for breath and rebooted. It was too damn close but you made it."
"You saved my life."
"You saved me first. You pulled me up from the roof and I put your biocomponent back into place."
"What happened after that?"
"Well, I took you back to the house instead of taking you to CyberLife Tower to get you cleaned up, and so you could rest. I didn't know what those CyberLife assholes would do to you since you almost died, and 'let the suspect get away' because you were incapacitated. Once I got your abdomen bandaged up I left you to rest on the couch and Cole came home from school to see you hanging out in the livingroom. He was thrilled."
"...Cole was never afraid of me?"
"Not for one second. Hell, you helped him with his science homework and you gave his prosthetic arm a few free upgrades while he was taking a bath."
"...I upgraded his arm?"
"How could you not remember that? You turned that limb from a nearly immobile piece of plastic into an articulated limb beyond just the elbow. You gave him a functioning wrist and all fives again. That made him happier than anything since the night of the accident."
"I'm glad I could make him happy."
"You should be. He started going outside and playing with his friends again, and even tried out for little league and made the team the following spring. That was something we didn't think he'd ever get to do."
Connor smirked a little as he thought about how he had managed to improve Cole's life, even if that memory was still fuzzy in his mind. The more he focused on the memory the clearer it became until it was as vivid and detailed as if he had just experienced the moment that very morning. He could see the smile on Cole's face when Connor helped him place the prosthetic back over his left arm and showed him how the enhanced limb could now respond to the muscles in his arm and electronic impulses of his own brain just like his original arm used to do. That was the day Cole decided that Connor was the coolest android in the entire world.
"Our next case," the smirk faded slowly as Connor sought more details on the cases that he and Hank had been assigned to work together. "what happened after that?"
"We went to speak to Elijah Kamski at his personal residence on the harbor. He kept giving intentionally cryptic answers and then put a gun in your hand with an ultimatum."
"...If I pulled the trigger and killed Chloe he'd give us the information we needed. But I didn't do it."
"No, son. You let Chloe live and that's when I knew for certain that all androids were alive. You saw her as a living being despite being an android yourself. I was very proud of you."
"...I didn't pull the trigger in either timeline." Connor put his elbows up on the top of the kitchen table and pressed his palms up against his face as he leaned against his hands. His shoulders slumped with heavy relief. "I'm glad I made the right choice. Twice."
"Yeah, son. You made the right choice."
"Fowler took us off the case because it was starting to turn into a civil war in the middle of the city, but you were bound and determined to figure out where to go so CyberLife didn't deactivate you. I went after that F.B.I. asshole, Perkins, and provided a distraction for you. You got into the basement, after insulting Gavin," both detectives smirked at that comment. "and put together enough pieces of the puzzle through our collected evidence and found a trail to follow. You punched out Gavin when he tried to stop you, then you took off alone to get to Jericho. After all that I was sent home to 'cool off' and begin my two week suspension for assaulting Perkins."
"...I went out and found Jericho." The deviant's memories were flowing together more easily and he was able to piece together the bits and pieces of his 'new' memories during this alternate timeline. "And I became fully deviant when I met with Markus. We worked together to protect as many deviants as possible from the F.B.I. raid, and managed to reconvene at the abandoned church. From there I went to CyberLife Tower to wake up the other androids in storage and give the deviants a fighting chance by strength in numbers."
"...Yeah." Hank paled again and he turned away from Connor's face. "The tower."
"Hank?" A sinking pit formed in his stomach and made him feel sick. "What happened at the tower?"
"Well, when I was at the house I sensed that something was... wrong. Sumo was out in the backyard whimpering and began to bark like he could feel it too. I went to check on Cole and that's when I saw the red glow of an L.E.D. in his bedroom."
"...My machine-android counterpart from CyberLife." The revelation was disheartening. "He threatened Cole." Connor was feeling even sicker and was quite surprised he didn't actually throw-up upon learning someone with his likeness, and 'dedication', would threaten a little boy. "...What did he do to Cole?"
"That 'evil-twin' bastard held his gun toward Cole's head and told me that if I didn't go with him that he'd shoot my son in cold blood."
"I agreed to go with him and surrendered my service weapon in the process. We took an autonomous cab to the tower and he used me as a hostage to try to control you after you showed up. It didn't work though. You stopped that bastard before he could shoot me, but that didn't stop him from getting a shot off and getting you in the shoulder. You answered in the same though, so at least it was even. And I had to figure out who was who without making any mistakes."
"How did you do it?"
"I tried asking a couple questions; where'd we first meet, Sumo's name and Cole's name, but since the bastard had been to my house that meant he knew enough about me to answer in the like. Hell, he even knew when to break in the house AFTER I let Sumo into the yard, and went after my son. He knew Cole AND Sumo existed, so I asked about our time at the broadcast tower."
"...I would've have never told CyberLife about nearly dying at the hands of the escaped deviant, so he wouldn't have known about it, either."
"Bingo. All you had to do was admit to being attacked, shutting down and losing the deviant; something that machine bastard could never admit to, and I took him down. You woke up the rest of the deviants and led them to Hart Plaza to help Markus with his peaceful protest."
"...You went back home to be with Cole and you both watched what happened on the news. That's when you packed up Cole in the car with Sumo and went to the 'Chicken Feed' to find me. You... You took care of my wounded shoulder and brought me back to the house to give me a home after everything happened."
"And a family."
Smirking a little again Connor heard the sincerity in Hank's voice. "...And my family."
Connor relaxed again, his stomach no longer vice-like knot, and he felt at ease at long last. "You decided to move into this house because you didn't feel safe at the old house after my machine counterpart snuck in, and pointed a gun at Cole."
"That, and because the house only had two bedrooms. We needed a bigger place to live after you joined the family."
"You moved into a bigger house for Cole, and for me?"
"Hell yeah. You were insistent that the couch was fine but I didn't like it. And Cole wanted you to room with him, but I liked that even less."
"The last thing I needed was a nine year old sitting up all night asking a million questions to a deviant who would gladly answer every single one of them, instead of telling him to go to sleep."
"Do you remember everything that happened now?"
"I think so. Markus moved Jericho and the other surviving deviants into the abandoned CyberLife Tower after CyberLife went bankrupt, right?"
"Yup." The confirmation was very grounding and reassuring. "They took over the tower and the city has been doing better ever since."
"And Markus and I are still friends?"
"Hell yeah. You were the best man at his bonding ceremony."
"...That's right. Markus and North are bond mates."
"Connor, I have to ask. What was it in the other timeline that made me such a damn hardass? There had to be a good reason for me to hate all androids."
"Please. I have to know." Hank gave the deviant a stern glance. "From what it sounds like I went through something terrible and I almost killed myself. I need to know what almost happened."
"...Hank, just so you know what happened was NOT your fault."
"Connor. Stop stalling and tell me the truth."
With a heavy heart Connor had the misfortune of telling Hank about the alternate timeline where Cole didn't survive the accident. How Cole's death had sent Hank spiraling into a deep, dark depression that almost killed him. How the only reason Hank didn't take his life is because he opened up to Connor and let someone get close to him for the first time since the funeral.
As he told Hank the truth Connor could see the fear, relief, pain and shock in his eyes. "...I'm sorry I had to tell you that."
"Connor." Hank folded his arms across his chest and fought to keep himself from letting tears fall. "The day of the accident I was told by the hospital staff that an android anonymously called and warned that the on call surgeon scheduled for that night was high off his ass, and unfit to operate. The police did a wellness check at the doctor's residence and found him knee deep in 'red ice', and so fucked up he could barely stand. If he had gone to the hospital..."
"There wouldn't have been a surgeon capable of saving Cole at the hospital."
Hank laughed a little as he rubbed his hand over his goatee and looked over at Connor with utter appreciation in his eyes. "Connor, when you came home sick last night I called Markus to ask for his help. All he said was to wait it out and listen to everything you had to tell me. He also said that when you did I'd finally know who the android was who warned the hospital."
"...Markus received the message."
"And you're the one who sent it to him."
"I had to try."
"Connor, you changed the course of time to save my son! How in the hell did you do that?!"
Connor shook his head a little as he took a deep breath and accessed the memories that had been sent to him, from himself, from the not too distant future. "I did this in the year 2064. You were... gone. And I was alone. I had gone to work at New Jericho with CyberLife's technical replacement, 'Digital Sentience', to aid android development and progress. While there the technicians began experimenting with quantum particle transference of data and memories."
"...They were experimenting with whether or not messages could be sent through time?"
"And you volunteered to send the message?"
"Apparently so. Yes."
"You chose to find a way to save Cole's life." Hank was fighting to keep himself from breaking down at the revelation. It was too incredible to be true, and yet, it already happened. "You could've done something like warn the deviants about the F.B.I. invading Jericho and prepared accordingly. Hell, you could've even warned Markus about Leo showing up and disrupting his life and sending Carl's health in a downward spiral. But you chose to save Cole. Why?"
"...I don't know. I guess it made sense to try to save the life of one innocent boy instead of affecting the lives of deviants or stopping certain events that played out for the best in the end for those involved. I never knew Cole in the alternate timeline, but you swore that he'd like me and see me as his brother. It seems you were right."
Hank threw his arms around Connor and gave the deviant a tight hug as he began silently weeping tears of gratitude onto Connor's shoulder. "Thank you. You gave me back my son. You saved me from unspeakable horror and depression, and then you gave me another son."
"Connor, come on!" It was hard to keep Hank from shouting in the deviant's ear. "I legally adopted you last summer and made you officially my son!"
"...That's right. I remember now." Connor slowly wrapped his own arms around Hank and reciprocated the hug. "It was my birthday present last summer. You adopted me and named after you: Connor Henry Anderson."
"Yeah..." Hank patted Connor's back as the deviant acknowledged the moment and remembered the details. "Thank fuck you remember that."
"...It was Cole's idea to tell me about it on my birthday."
"And that's when you stopped calling me Hank all the time when we're off the clock."
"...I call you 'dad' when we're home."
"Damn right you do."
Connor took in a shuddering breath as he too began to weep. As he pressed his face down against Hank's shoulder he cried softly with utter gratitude. "...Then it's true."
"What's true, son?"
"We were always meant to be friends, to be a family. It wasn't happenstance after all."
"Connor, you're my son. It doesn't matter what timeline or what circumstances. You're MY son, that'll NEVER change."
"...You're right. Thank you for everything." Tightening his hug Connor felt a sense of inner peace he had never known, and welcomed it with all his heart. "Thank you, dad."