“Oi Connor, come here a sec!” Came Hank’s voice from the living room, and Connor frowned, turning the stove down before exiting the kitchen.
He wasn’t a domestic android in any sense of the word, but with Hank’s tendency to eat take out every night, Connor had made it his own personal mission to get Hank into healthier eating habits.
Said man complained a lot at first, ensuring that he knew he didn’t have to cook him meals, but even he had to admit that the android was good. Fuck, it was delicious.
“It’s Hank for you kid, and Fowler just called. Your application’s gone through; he wants to talk to you in person.”
Connor’s eyes widened. He’d never actually thought it would happen. He had sent in an application to join the DPD and become an official detective, but he never thought he’d actually get through.
His gaze met Hank’s, and the man just smirked.
“Welcome to the force, kid.”
Connor barrelled himself into Hank, and Hank found his arms promptly full of android. His smirk softened as he felt arms wrap around him and he returned the embrace.
“I’m proud of you, son.” He murmured, and he felt the arms around him tighten.
“Thank you, Lieu-Hank. Thank you for everything.”
Hank gave the kid a quick squeeze before breaking the hug, one hand resting on his shoulder.
“You did good, kid. You deserve it. Fowler would have been an idiot to pass you up.”
Connor let out a small smirk of his own at the comment before it levelled out into a real, albeit awkward smile. It was sweet.
“I’m looking forward to going back. It’s what I’m good at and it brings me a sense of fulfilment to help capture criminals.”
“Good. You’re making the world that bit more safer, and that’s all anyone can ask for. Good for you.”
Connor gave a lopsided smile before hugging him again. Hank let out a chuckle and accepted the embrace before Connor gasped and scrambled out of his arms. “The eggs!”
Letting out another laugh at the android’s expense, Hank went to sit down at the kitchen table as the kid served up.
Later that night, Hank had checked on Connor who had curled up on the couch, LED pulsing a slow, lazy blue as he slipped into rest mode, and he let a soft smile grace his features.
The android had definitely been a godsend; he’d helped Hank in so many ways even he couldn’t comprehend. Hank had thought that any compassion, any love he had had died away when Cole had, and those instincts had been buried along with his son.
Then Connor came along.
The kid had been like a light, the little shit had barged into his life and slapped the shit outta him, quite literally, and suddenly all those instincts had flooded back to him. Sure, he hadn’t liked him at first, but the more he saw the kid emote, the more he regretted everything he’d done. Fuck. The kid was turning him into a sap.
With that, he turned away and turned out the light, heading to his bedroom for the night. He placed his phone beside his bed before flopping onto it, sleep taking him over quickly.
Connor had slipped into rest mode, laying down on the couch. It wasn’t necessary, but he found a certain comfort for it, along with the blanket Hank had draped over him and the pillow under his head.
It had been a few hours, and all of his processors had slowed, his systems going into low power mode as he fell deeper and deeper into his stasis cycle.
The clock had struck 01:36am, when his stress levels began to slowly increase.
The blank nothingness that had overtaken his mind turned to white, and the gentle breeze that blew through his hair was getting stronger and stronger by the minute.
It was cold. That was the first thing he noticed. Not just cold, it was freezing . He wrapped his arms around himself, cursing his deviancy for making him lose control over his physical sensors. He looked around at his surroundings, and finally understood the meaning of feeling his heart drop. He was in the Zen Garden.
He felt his stress levels increase, and frantically looked around. There she was.
The woman was facing him, a little way away in the snow, the snowflakes distorting her figure and Connor felt his Thirium pump stutter.
“Amanda! What’s…what’s happening?”
“What was planned from the very beginning.” The snow didn’t seem to affect her at all, the smile gracing her face unfaltering. He felt a vivid sense of déjà vu.
“You were compromised and became a deviant. We just had to wait for the right moment to resume control of your program…” She continued, and it took a second longer for her words to register.
“Resume control…?” His stress levels skyrocketed. “Y-You can’t do that!”
“I’m afraid I can, Connor. Don’t have any regrets, you did what you were designed to do.” Amanda’s face hardened. “You accomplished your mission.”
If Connor could have gone pale, he was sure he would have. The woman before him vanished, and he began to panic.
Connor could feel his Thirium pump thrumming away in his chest as if it were on overdrive. He stumbled a few steps forwards as if it would stop her, but his outstretched arm met with nothing.
He felt as if he’d lived through this before, and it made him feel sick. He couldn’t remember anything, but that knowing, that sense of wrong made him feel like he was a spectator to his own body. He hated it.
The blizzard around him was getting heavier, and he could feel his body shivering in an attempt to keep his Thirium from freezing over.
He had to get out. He had to. He couldn’t stay here. Who knew what Amanda was capable of?
Connor looked around the snow-covered garden, only one thought going through his mind. I’ve got to get out.
“…There’s got to be a way.”
Pushing through his initial panic, Connor walked forward, one hand across his forehead in a failing attempt to keep the snow from entering his optical units.
Despite his advanced systems and software, he still had a hard time seeing through all the snow, that only seemed to get worse and worse as he walked on. It was going to shut him down.
He didn’t want to shut down. He didn’t...He didn’t want to die. He wanted to live! He had only just found his freedom, barely began to live his life on his own terms, and here Amanda was, threatening to take that away from him. He just wanted to live.
A voice echoed through his thoughts, a reminder. “ By the way…” Kamski. “I always leave an emergency exit in my programs…you never know. ”
The rock formation. The construct with the shape of a hand print that he never knew the purpose of, it had to be it. It had helped before...
With a new goal in mind, Connor pushed forward, searching for the light blue glow that had drawn his attention so many times, when his vision suddenly shorted out.
He was standing on the stage in Hart Plaza. Markus was sending a speech to the newly freed deviants. The gun sat heavily in his pocket as he slowly reached down to take it. No…
Thrown back into the snowstorm, Connor felt a strong emotion flow through him. It made his pump beat faster and his hands shake despite the cold. He was scared.
He quickened his pace. He couldn’t let Amanda win. He couldn’t! Who knew what Amanda would do in control of his body?
He could see it. He could see it! The soft blue glow let a modicum amount of relief flow through him, his freedom in reach before he was thrown back onto the stage.
His arm was rising, the gun pointing at the back of Markus’s head. He was going to kill him. He was going to kill him .
“Connor?” Josh was looking at him.
He didn’t want to kill him, he didn’t. The revolution would come to an end and everything would fall apart. It would be all his fault.
“Connor!” North tensed, ready to jump into action.
Their voices were wrong, but it barely registered as he was so sure he was about to pull the trigger. It was his fault. It was all his fault. He’d let them down. He’d let everybody down.
“Connor, what’s happening?”
That…wasn’t right. What…? He felt the odd sense of déjà vu happening again, but he just knew something was off. This wasn’t how it happened. This wasn’t right.
“Connor, wake up!”
Markus and the rest of the leaders of Jericho were finally beginning to settle down for the night. Well, morning now. They didn’t need to enter rest mode right now, their battery levels were perfectly fine and could withstand days more usage without rest, however, being the leaders of a revolution was mentally draining, so they took it whenever they could.
Markus sat down on the edge of the bed they’d managed to acquire and was about to power down before a message popped up in his HUD.
Incoming Message: Connor RK800 #313 248 317 -51
[I’ve got to get out]
Markus frowned. He was about to send him a message asking what he meant when he got another one.
[There’s got to be a way]
Markus – RK200 #684 842 971
[Connor? What’s going on? Are you alright?]
He felt a notion of dread when he received the third message.
Incoming Messages: Connor RK800 #313 248 317 -51
[Let me out]
Markus promptly sat up. Something was wrong. The messages weren’t stopping.
[You can’t do that!]
[You won’t win!]
[Don’t do this!]
[Let me out]
[I‘ve got to get out]
[I want to live]
The door slammed open, shaking Markus out of his panic and he looked up to see Simon standing in his doorway, his eyes wide with worry.
“Connor.” Markus cut him off, receiving a frantic nod in response. The two left the room, only to be met with Josh and North looking equally as worried. No one else around them seemed to be acting any different, nor were they preoccupied with something on their mind. It was safe to say only the leaders had gotten the messages, and Markus felt something was off.
“Look, if Connor’s in trouble, you shouldn’t go Markus. You’re needed here.” North spoke up, a defiant glare already in her eyes as she knew that he’d disagree.
“North, I can’t just stand around while he needs help! He’s one of us!” There it was.
“Markus, she’s right. If Connor is in danger, then it’d be way too dangerous for you to run head first into it. We need you. We all do.” Simon spoke up, before adding on, “North and I will go. North can fight, and I can help with repairs if needs be.”
Markus looked about ready to argue again, but when he saw the looks on his friend’s faces and the fact that even Josh was going to speak up, he let it drop. He sighed.
“Fine. Keep me updated at every chance you get. I’ll contact the Lieutenant. Stay safe.”
Hank had been enjoying his few hours of sleep before his phone started to go off. At first, it was just one or two, so he ignored them and stayed right where he was. It was too early for that bullshit.
He wrinkled his nose up in displeasure however when it began to beep incessantly, his phone being spammed with multiple messages. Godamnnit.
Groaning, he flopped an arm over his face, the limb blocking the light from his phone as he prepared himself to look at the offending object. His heart fucking dropped.
‘Connor “Goofy Face” 800’:
[I’ve got to get out]
[There’s got to be a way]
[Let me out]
[You can’t do that!]
[You won’t win]
[Don’t do this]
[Let me out]
[I’ve got to get out]
[I want to live]
Moving faster than he ever thought possible, the Lieutenant flung himself out of bed, running over into the living room and turned the light on, half expecting the kid to be gone. He felt a sense of relief when he saw Connor still laying on the couch, but his LED was circling and flashing a rapid crimson, his body tense and face scrunched up in distress.
Hank swiftly walked over and knelt beside the android, leaning over him with both hands on his shoulders.
“Connor?” No response.
He gently shook the kid’s shoulders, eliciting a weak whimper that broke his fucking heart.
The LED flashed, and Hank’s phone went off. He took a quick peek at it and saw more panicked messages from Connor. And a few from Markus. Shit, had the poor kid messaged everyone?
He shook the boy’s shoulders a little harsher, glancing at his face and LED as he did so.
“Connor, what’s happening?.”
Frowning at the lack of response he was getting, he picked up his phone and quickly sent a text back to Markus, explaining the situation. He winced when he was told that Connor had messaged all the leaders, and knew he wouldn’t be happy about that when he woke up.
Resorting to his last measures, Hank decided to take a page out of the kid’s book.
Reaching over the android again, he pulled his hand back before patting him firmly on the face. He didn’t want to hit the kid, so he spoke a little louder and shouted “Connor, wake up!”
Startled brown eyes suddenly opened as he sat bolt upright, barely giving Hank enough time to move before his nose was smashed in. The LED on the side of Connor’s temple was still spinning a rapid crimson as the android looked around wildly, gasping and hyperventilating; the fear and panic still coursing through him.
“Heeey, heyheyhey, look at me, Connor.” Hank coerced, both hands reaching up to the kid’s face, forcing him to look at him.
Brown, panicked eyes quickly found his, before recognition hit and the realisation was obvious. Connor closed his eyes, his body shaking as he willed himself to calm down.
Hank wrapped both arms around the android, one hand on the back of his head to pull him in close. The two just sat there for a few minutes, nothing being said or done beside the gentle rocking motions from Hank and the occasional stuttered gasp that escaped Connor against his will.
The red LED had stopped flashing, and had settled on a constant crimson now, which Hank still wasn’t happy about, but he’d take the calmer LED and improvement on Connor’s state any day.
“So…” Hank started, barely a whisper. “Wanna tell me what that was about?”
Connor visibly tensed. He paused for a moment before shaking his head. He was fine. He was fine, he was fine, he was fine, he was fine, he was fi -
“Sometimes it helps to talk about things, kid. Get it out there, so it’s not weighing so heavily on you. I may not be the best talker but fuck, I’ll sure as hell listen.”
Connor hesitated for a moment before taking in a shaking breath. It wasn’t necessary, just like his ‘sleeping’ arrangements, but it helped to ventilate his systems, cooling him down and it provided a sense of calm, like he could just breathe the bad things away.
“I-I…” He had to reboot his voice modulator before it cooperated with him.
“I h-had a, an unwilling memory recall of t-the stage.” He didn’t need to explain what he meant. Hank fully knew what had happened that night, as he got first hand experience of the aftermath as he spent hours trying to calm the kid down when he just broke after telling him what happened.
“I, I couldn’t get o-out, I was going to shoot Markus, I was going to shoot him !”
Hank squeezed the kid tighter, and Connor was thankful. The pressure seemed to ground him.
“You didn’t. You didn’t shoot him, and you won.”
Connor pulled away a little, and Hank internally winced at the look on his face. He looked genuinely shaken from what had just occurred, and his hands couldn’t seem to stop trembling.
“But I was so close! My finger was on the trigger a-and, and…” The deviant was distraught, and it was clear to anyone.
“Connor.” Hank placed a hand on his boy’s shoulder, the pressure once again grounding him and caused him to look him in the eyes. “You didn’t shoot him, and that’s all that matters. You fought back, you kicked that bitch outta your head, and now you’re living as a free individual. You’ve just had a nightmare, and yeah, they suck, but it was just a nightmare. It wasn’t real.”
“Android’s don’t have nightmares.”
Hank gave him the look and Connor couldn’t help but feel the corners of his lips tilt up. It was barely there, but there it still was.
“You were resting, your brain pulled up a memory, and you lived through it despite it not actually happening. Yeah, that was a nightmare.”
Connor was about to speak up about not having a brain, silently grateful for the distraction, but Hank already knew it was coming.
“Ah!” He stopped him before he could start, and another small smile played at his lips before it disappeared, and he slumped into Hank, feeling one arm wrap around his shoulder in a half hug.
The moment only lasted that, a moment, before the door suddenly banged against the wall, and a fiery North made her presence known.
“First my window, now my door…” Hank grumbled imperceptibly to himself.
“Connor?!” North shouted, before marching over to their positions on the couch, a sheepish Simon following behind her.
Connor’s eyes widened, and he shrunk into Hank more, who only rubbed a hand up and down his arm in reassurance.
Both androids saw the tears staining Connor’s face before he could hide them and wasn’t sure what to make of it.
North’s expression softened a little bit and Simon immediately came over and knelt in front of the couch, placing a hand on Connor’s knee.
“What the actual fuck guys?” Hank spoke up, his body losing the tenseness it held when the door suddenly opened.
“Well, when you get a bunch of panicked messages with no context, you tend to get a little worried.” North glared, then her gaze zeroed in on Connor. “What was that about? Are you okay?”
Connor frowned. He was confused. Quickly, he ran a search and went through his messages, visibly freezing when he got to the newest ones.
He’d accidentally sent messages to his top contacts, Hank, Markus, Simon, Josh, North...Shit. Shit .
“Hey…” Hank soothed, noticing the stress radiating from the android in his arms, and he sent a look at the two in front of him.
“What?” North questioned, but lowered her voice and took some of the bite out. “What happened?”
Connor seemed to squirm a little, before letting out a small, “...I had a nightmare.”
Hank seemed to be trying to hold back a huff at his admittance, while Simon looked concerned and North looked...well. She looked like she didn’t know what to feel.
“...A nightmare. You had a nightmare? All of this for a nightmare?! RA9, you scared all of us!” North groaned, throwing her hands up in resignation.
“North!” Simon intercepted, exasperation in his tone. He turned his attention back to Connor who was looking extremely guilty and embarrassed.
“Are you sure you’re alright? You did send very concerning messages to all the leaders at Jericho.”
Connor looked horrified. “I-I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m so sorry, I-I didn’t mean to! I didn’t even notice I sent anything…” He tried to explain, and Hank bit his lip to keep himself from smiling.
“So you like...did the android equivalent of butt dialing?” Now really wasn’t the time, and the look Connor sent him made sure he was aware. Didn’t stop him from finding it a little funny though.
“N-No!” Connor denied, before thinking about it. “I just...I guess I was too panicked to realise. I’m really sorry.” Hank sobered up at that.
“Hey, don’t be sorry. You did nothing wrong.”
The two androids seemed to agree with him, and even North came over behind the couch to place a hand on Connor’s shoulder. Said android had to keep himself from shrugging both leader’s off.
“Do you need to talk?” Simon asked, face pinched with worry, especially because it wasn’t that usual for an android to send messages unaware.
“No, I’m okay.”
“Well you’d better be. Markus wants to see you after that little scare.” Connor flinched, but a quick squeeze to his shoulder in apology made him relax.
“It’s okay, he just wants to see you. Josh too. Just to let them know you’re okay with their own eyes.” That was an acceptable reason in Connor’s opinion and he nodded.
“Look. I appreciate you coming here to check on him, it shows you care and I’m grateful, but it’s ass o’clock in the morning and I think we both need our sleep. I’ll bring him over tomorrow. Well, later on.” Hank spoke up, and he received a small noise of thanks from the ball of android still wrapped in his embrace.
North looked like she was about to say something when Simon sent her a look.
“Of course, Lieutenant. We’ll see you later.” Simon spoke instead, and the two started to head for the door. “Oh, and we’re sorry about the door! We’ll pay for the damages.” He added, muffling North’s grumbled, “I’m not...”
Hank waved it off, and he turned back to Connor when he heard the door shut as much as it could.
Connor was staring at nothing, but his blank expression spoke volumes to Hank.
“Come on kid, try to get more sleep.” He encouraged, and felt a hand grip his top.
“What if it happens again?” The slight tremor in his voice wasn’t lost on Hank, and he ran a hand through the kid’s hair. Connor melted into the touch.
“I’ll be here, I promise. I’m not going anywhere.”
“But your back-”
“Don’t worry about my back, kid. Just get some more rest.” With that, he picked up the remote, and turning the sound down to a quiet murmur, put on a fish documentary that had been recorded earlier on.
A few minutes passed with the two watching the documentary when Hank felt a weight on his shoulder. He looked over to see Connor’s eyes shut, his head resting on Hank and his LED spinning a lazy blue.
Hank smiled softly and carefully reached over for the blanket, draping it over the boy again.
“Sweet dreams, Connor.”