robotman: So he graduated top of his class, made a name for himself in several cases and became the youngest lieutenant in Detroit. He's also received several disciplinary warnings in recent years and spends a lot of time in bars.
red fury: ...just how much research did you do, exactly?
robotman: This information was not difficult to find, North.
red fury: e ven the part about disciplinary warnings and the bars? no offense but you creep me out sometimes buddy
robotman: Perhaps I have taken my research a little too far. I'd simply like to find out more about him.
red fury: most ppl would do it by, yknow. talking.
robotman: We barely talked the last time! I doubt he even remembers my name.
red fury: oh i know for sure he does
red fury: i just know
robotman: Tell me.
red fury: he was asking about u. last week when you chickened out and didn't show up
robotman: Aren't you supposed to be understanding and supportive when it comes to my anxieties?
red fury: i am an incredibly understanding and supportive friend, thank u very much. the only reason I tease u about this is cause i know you didnt go cause of hank
robotman: That is not true.
red fury: it is
robotman: It is not!
red fury: don't get ur binder in a twist, my friend
red fury: seriously, tho. you gotta talk to him. he barely gets out anywhere, u barely get out anywhere, a match made in heaven
robotman: I don't think that's something worth celebrating.
red fury: it's not. what i'm saying is that u two could be good for each other
robotman: I don't know.
red fury: u never know anything
robotman: I know plenty of things.
red fury: yeah smartass. u dont know shit when it comes to ppl tho
robotman: I wish I could say that you're wrong.
red fury: but im not and we both know it
robotman: Help me out, then. What could I possibly say to him?
red fury: tell him u dream of stroking his beautiful beard
robotman: North. Please.
red fury: okay okay
red fury: just say hi, ask to hang out with him or smth. i dunno. im sure u two would get a kick out of just playing around with his dog cause youre both weirdos like that
robotman: He has a dog?
red fury: you've done all this research and thats the one information u dont have?
robotman: I'm going to message him now.
red fury: wow that was easy
to: Hank Anderson
You have a dog.
RECEIVED (1) NEW MESSAGE
from: Hank Anderson
hi? Who is this???
Oh. I apologize. This is Connor.
oh hell man. From the support group, one that took my cup? Should've just said so immediately
HANK ANDERSON changed your name to CONNOR
HANK ANDERSON changed his name to HANK
Connor: I'm sorry. I tend to get overexcited when it comes to canines.
Hank: so how did you figure that out, sherlock? Last time it was the colors, was it the paws this time?
Connor: North told me.
Hank: of course they did
Connor: Should they have not told me?
Hank: nah I'm just not surprised, that's all
Connor: What's your dog's name?
Hank: sumo. I call him Sumo. And he's this big, slobbery af st bernard
Connor: He sounds amazing.
HANK sent a photo
Hank: there he is, the lazy old log
Connor: Don't be mean, he's adorable.
Hank: its called tough love, son
Connor: Can I meet him?
Hank: already asking me out?
Hank: no, wait actually youre trying to ask him out and youre just asking for my permission
Connor: I'm not trying to ask anyone out.
Hank: hey, im joking
Hank: youre far more confident over text, but u still dont get humor, do you
Connor: I am quite aware of both of these things. North says it adds to my charm.
Hank: it does, they're right
Hank: and yeah, you can meet him
Hank: uh my schedule's kinda all over the place, but I guess you can try and pop in during the weekend
Connor: I will do that. I'll see you then.
Hank: yeah see you
Sitting in a taxi on the way to Hank's place, Connor vividly remembered North's laughter as he told them about his conversation with Hank. They were choking on air, muttering to themselves, of course you'd get yourself a date because of a dog! Of course you'd have the courage to ask someone out because you want to meet their /dog/!
Connor didn't believe this was a date, but... Hank did mention asking him out.
Connor was truly terrible at picking up social cues.
Date or not date, he still found himself stepping out of the car in front of what was supposed to Hank's house. He stood on the sidewalk for a minute, looking up at the building in front of him. It was plain, simple. Didn't seem to be well maintained.
The sad, far away look in his eyes. A sort of pain, close to the surface, but still hidden underneath confidence and an easy chuckle.
Several disciplinary warnings in recent years; he spends a lot of time in bars.
Slowly, he was finding more pieces of the puzzle that was Hank Anderson. He was discovering them, attempting to put them together. Turning them over and over, until some of them slot together neatly. Hank Anderson was quite an intriguing jigsaw.
With a drawn out sigh, Connor focused on what was in front of him. This wasn't the time for figuring Hank out. This was the time to befriend him, hopefully, and meet his dog. The thought of that adorable St Bernard was enough to make him move. He walked forward with his head held high, a confident bounce in his step.
It wasn't true that Connor /wasn't/ confident. He knew who he was, he was sure of his intelligence, his skills, his identity. He knew he was athletic and relatively good-looking. He simply didn't do well with people – it was whenever he was around others that the doubts seeped in. It was why he avoided going out so much. He felt much more comfortable in his own skin when he didn't have to confront what others may think of him.
Hank, so far, had been friendly. He seemed quite different from Connor in some ways, but surprisingly similar in other. That thought comforted Connor. Comforted him enough so that he didn't have to think twice before pressing the doorbell. It let out an annoying noise which dragged on until he finally pulled his hand away. He could hear noises on the other side of the door – shuffling of feet, muffled barking, Hank's voice. Connor shifted his weight from one leg to the other, beginning to get impatient. Another shift, a few more faint footsteps and then the door flew open, revealing Hank and Sumo.
Hank appeared much more tired than when Connor last saw him. His hair flew in all directions, there were bags under his eyes and a partially forced smile. He was wearing an old, stained t-shirt which barely contained his frame. A pair of sweatpants hung loose on his hips. While Hank leaned against the dooframe, Sumo attempted to shove past him. He was visibly excited at the sight of an unfamiliar face. And while Hank's state caused some worry to bloom in Connor's chest, Sumo's giddiness brought a smile to his face.
Another push, one more, and Hank finally budged, allowing Sumo to cross the distance to Connor. He sniffed and huffed, shoving his muzzle into the back of Connor's knees, his hands, anywhere he could reach. It didn't take long before Connor was lowering himself to the ground, Sumo's nose and tongue all over his face. He chuckled warmly, murmuring soft, affectionate words to the dog.
Meanwhile, Hank watched them for a moment, the expression on his face unreadable. He was silent for a beat, then he pushed the door further to allow for more space in the entrance.
“Alright, now that you two had your moment, come on in,” he urged quietly, stepping away from the doorframe. Connor nodded, still with Sumo's tongue on his cheek, and then attempted to stand up straight. The dog made the whole movement quite difficult but somehow he managed. Soon enough they all found themselves inside the house.
The place was just as disorganized as on the outside. Towers of plates and cups piling up on the coffee table, clothes strewn all over the back of the couch. Books gathered dust on the shelves, none of them had been touched in a long while. Connor didn't feel right making judgements about someone else's living space, but this place was... sad. Empty, as if it was missing something vital, as if it used to be there, but now it was gone. Another piece in the puzzle.
Noticing Connor's curious gaze, Hank rubbed the back of his neck and opened his mouth to get his attention, “The place is a mess, yeah. Didn't really get a chance to clean up, sorry,” he muttered, walking further into the house.
“No, it's... fine,” Connor said slowly. His eyes drifted over the walls, the floor, the everything that made Hank Anderson who he was.
Hank looked over at him, a brief moment, but then he sighed and moved into the kitchen.
“You want anything?” he called out, “Water, beer, tea, uh- coffee?”
“I'm good, thank you,” Connor said, following in Hank's footsteps, “I don't actually drink coffee much,” he admitted, stopping in his tracks when Hank suddenly showed up in his way.
“Except for when you want to steal a mug?”
Connor blinked and several emotions passed over his face as he tried to decide if Hank was being serious. He couldn't make up his mind and puffed his cheeks out in frustration.
“I was uncomfortable and I didn't want to bother North and-”
“Hey, hey,” Hank cut him off, reaching out to ruffle his hair, “You're good, kid. You're good.”
Connor could feel the tips of his ears heating up, could hear the blood rushing up to his face. He could also hear Hank's warm chuckle, a pleasant change to his tired face.
That day, Connor didn't get to ask Hank what was the matter, why did he seem so exhausted. It wasn't the time, nor the place. No matter how intrigued Connor was, for the time being, the two of them felt content exchanging less loaded information, about themselves, their lives. About Hank's work (confirming Connor's research) or how he got Sumo as a little puppy and how much the damn dog had grown up since then. They spoke about Connor's siblings and his mother, who he didn't talk to much anymore. They talked about North and the kind of influence they had in their lives. A passing comment about people lost, but nothing more.
Eventually, it was time to leave. Walking out Hank's door, Connor noticed that for the first time in a while, he felt light after speaking with someone who he truly knew so little about. The only other person who could make him feel that way was North, but they had grown up together, knew each other from the inside and out. He wasn't going to get his hopes up, but this was good. This was the step forward North had been pushing him to make. This was something that brought a smile to Connor's face as he drove back home.
to: red fury