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Cassiopeia

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Connor remembers the Before with fond wistfulness. As time in the After goes on, though, Connor finds himself wishing more and more for those more naive, innocent days where the only thing he had to fear when leaving the house was being shot, stabbed, or beaten to death by vengeful humans who believed he deserved no chance at life just because he bled blue instead of red.

The After is a lot crueler than the Before. Sometimes Connor still feels the hands on him, touching him where he doesn't want to be touched, hitting him when he makes his fear and anger known.

Connor wasn't designed to for sexual intercourse. His model doesn't possess the more typical accessories given to androids that are created with the intention of being a possible sexual partner.

So the hands and the other things from the During go with the second worst thing.

Though Connor has the whole event recorded with the identities of the hands and other things saved in his database and under his fingernails, it takes far too long for the offenders to be locked away. Connor remembers the jeers both inside the courtroom and out. Connor remembers the gestures made at him, the slurs and other derogatory terms used to degrade someone in such a vulnerable position. All it does is bring forth memories that Connor remembers all too well and can never, ever forget. Closure is a thin and fragile thing, Connor finds.

The second worst thing couldn't be much worse than the first.

The effect stays far too long into the After.
Connor had an oral fixation Before. He liked chewing on things to calm himself down, whether it be his beloved coin or some sort of hard confectionery.

Connor doesn't like having things in his mouth anymore. The very thought of it makes him sick.

His family and friends make him attend therapy. Connor feels weird discussing his assault with a stranger, despite knowing their name, birthdate, and criminal record after one glance. It's as if he is far removed from the events he is retelling, but is locked in a cage with all his secrets bare for the world to see.

His friends visit him occasionally, when he is up for it.

North sympathises with him, offering a sense of mutual comfort and at times an outlet of rage, the two of them screaming together at the world for all its unkindness and corrupted, evil systems.

Simon and Josh are good listeners. Simon goes along with whatever Connor says, only giving him direction when he starts to blame himself or say something just isn't quite right. Josh has experience in counselling mistreated and disturbed androids at New Jericho, and applies his knowledge in the times when Simon's silence and gentle directions don't.

Markus is a sturdy shoulder for Connor to cry on. His softly spoken words of comfort and reassurance ground Connor in reality and stop him from drifting back to the During most nights.

Hank retires from the DPD to accompany Connor at all times, except when Connor asks him not to.

They're very well off thanks to Hank's long time as Lieutenant, aid from New Jericho, and compensation for the During and Immediate After.

Connor makes sure to let Hank know everyday that Connor loves him.

The day Hank asks if Connor has decided on a last name Connor asks if it is okay for him to use Anderson only after a minute of silence.

It's the quickest Connor has replied to anything since the During ended and the After began. Both men cry as Connor gives the okay for them to embrace.

The day Hank signs the adoption papers and gives Connor the pen to mark himself down as Hank's son is the best day of Connor's short life and rivals for the best of Hank's long one.

The euphoria at becoming part of a family lasts for several days. The feeling of the hands and other things almost completely disappear from his skin and internal systems, and Connor feels like he can take on the world.

The more life changes, the more it stays the same. Connor still has good and bad days. Some days are worse than others, and one day Connor relapses hard.

His voice box betrays him and he goes non-verbal for the entire day and then some. The hands and other things won't leave him alone. His skin is on fire and he scratches at it and screams silently, over and over in his mind as artificial tears stream down his cheeks. He longs to open himself up and pull himself out, piece by piece until there's nothing left but a pile of scrap metal, untouched by vile words and actions.

If it wasn't for Hank holding him close and pinning his arms to his sides throughout the entire attack, Connor would have self-destructed.

The house is quiet.

Hank still looks at him as if he's afraid to touch Connor, lest the android break in the human's arms.

Though Connor appreciates Hank letting Connor initiate any contact, whether it be a hug or a light tap on the shoulder, some part of him feels resentful towards the old man.

Connor doesn't want to be seen as fragile. He doesn't want pity. He simply wants to be seen as Connor, the deviant hunter turned deviant so that he could do the right thing and save a people that just wanted to be free. Connor, the android that likes dogs and can lose hours performing coin tricks. Connor, the barely six months old living being who was adopted by an old alcoholic retired detective and lives in his house with all the cluttered mess and the dog hair.

Connor just wants to be remembered as who was Before.

Bad thoughts and feelings continue to cross his mind, though they start to decrease in frequency when Connor reprimands himself every time he catches himself feeling resentful towards Hank. Those that care about him won't let him hate himself for anything.

Cuddling Sumo helps with chasing the thoughts away. Connor spends most of his days and most of his nights with his whole body pressed heavily into the dog's long, matted fur. Sumo patiently indulges him throughout all of it, lying completely still unless Connor encourages him to move.

Talking about it gets easier as time passes and Connor gets used to exposing himself. He doesn't look forward to his therapy sessions, but he no longer dreads them either.

Friends come and go. Connor listens to their lives and through them and the TV that he and Hank watch every night, manages to keep up with what is happening in the outside world.

Connor is glad to hear the steady progress Markus and New Jericho is making for androids not only in Detroit, but across all of America and possibly the entire world.
Connor is greatly saddened but not surprised to learn that his case is not the only one like it in existence. He hopes that his fellow androids who have also suffered such a terrible, unfair tragedy may find peace, if not closure.

Markus smiles at him, and Connor is shocked to learn that his case was the one that encouraged other android victims to come forward about their experiences and provided them with the chance to obtain justice.

Connor doesn't know what to say, so he cries in a confusing mix of pride, joy, and embarrassment as he lets Markus hug him.

Time progresses from a slow crawl to a brisk walk and back again. Connor adjusts the best he can to the dizzying passing of time.

Sometimes he feels like he's standing straight and tall, and other times it takes everything in him to keep from over balancing. Connor nearly falls off this narrow divide far too many times for comfort. He decides to do something about it.

Connor creates a steady routine around himself. He falls into the repetitive motions like a well-oiled machine. His friends and family regard him with a mix of sad, worried expressions, approving and disapproving stares, and flayed but still hopeful optimism.

Connor wonders if he's getting better or worse. He tells his therapist as much, who abruptly tells him he's going about everything wrong, and that he should focus more on what he wants to do with his life now, After everything that has happened has happened.

Connor leaves the session feeling confused, conflicted, and utterly betrayed.

Connor cancels all further appointments and blocks the therapist from contacting him, Hank, or any of his friends.

From then on he only pretends to go to therapy. Instead, Connor retreats to an old, abandoned warehouse every day and practices his combat skills until he stiffens up and has to wait for his overworked servos to cool down before he can go home.

Eventually Hank notices when the scheduled money isn't being taken out of his account.

It takes five minutes of silence for Connor to formulate an explanation and one minute to say it with teary, blue-rimmed eyes. Hank asks if it's okay to hug Connor, who can only shakily nod his head yes.

Connor gets used to never leaving the house again. More people come to visit him, androids he knows and androids he doesn't know. Rupert, Ralph, the two Traci's, Kara and Alice and Luther, and even the Chloe who he had spared by refusing to follow his orders as a machine.

Connor is happy amongst his own kind. Hank understands and gives space when he asks for it. His father, Chris Miller, and Tina Chen are the only humans Connor is comfortable being around. He finds their presence comforting as it reminds him of similar times.

Connor doesn't feel any desire to leave 115 Michigan Drive. He's happy, here.

Hank grows older. Sumo passes away.

Connor buries him in the backyard while Hank keeps a constant vigil, his back too weak to allow him to help. Connor is confronted by the mortality of flesh and blood beings.

Connor asks Hank if he can buy a new pet. Hank eagerly accompanies him to the closest pet store to buy a small tortoise that will live for a long, long time yet, until Connor's battery runs out and he too will die. Connor names her Cassiopeia.

Connor spends most of his days and most of his nights watching her move around in her tank and then around his bedroom once he is convinced that nothing will harm her. He gently strokes her shell, tactile sensors registering the rough surface and saving it in his database where it will never be forgotten. She sleeps on his chest when he goes into stasis at night, neither of them moving an inch in their respective unawareness.

Life goes on.

Hank asks one night if anything has changed.

Connor's LED glows yellow and he doesn't speak for a long time. Connor is left sitting in the dark long after Hank has gone to bed when he finally says, "I don't know."