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The Freakiest Friday

Chapter Text

Hank exhaled a long, deep sigh as he entered his house. He's grateful that they finished their paperwork before midnight. The pot of coffee had worn off hours ago.
He slowly slid out of his jacket, threw it onto the couch and he kicked off his shoes. The bright lights in the living room intensified his headache.
Connor closed the door behind them before he removed his jacket in one swift motion. His LED had remained yellow for the past couple of hours. He dreaded the paperwork that accompanied every case given to them. On his own, he’d be fine, but Hank often needed help - especially when he's exhausted himself.
Sumo lifted his head up with a smile as he panted happily, immediately his tail excitedly smacked against the living room floor. He let out a soft ‘boof’.
“Hey, Sumo,” Hank greeted the dog.
“Hi, Sumo,” Connor perked up as he walked over to Sumo. He knelt down to scratch behind Sumo’s ears.
“Ah, Jesus Christ, Sumo!” Hank exclaimed.
Immediately, Connor jumped up to see Hank avoid the large yellow puddle on the kitchen floor. He frowned down at Sumo.
“Sumo,” Connor tiredly mumbled. He walked to the kitchen, grabbed paper towels and disinfectant spray to clean up. Connor didn’t enjoy cleaning up after Hank and Sumo, especially since accidents like this happened frequently the last couple of weeks, “he’s doing this too often, Hank.”
Hank exhaled a short and quiet groan as he dug through the fridge.
“It’s just the second time,” Hank replied gruffly as he pulled out a beer bottle. He knocked the cap off with help from the counter edge.
“The second time this week,” Connor sternly replied. His lips pressed tightly together as the cap rolled by him, “And there might be a third, fourth, and fifth time.”
He plucked the cap out from the puddle then tossed it at the trash can, not missing his target.
“Fuckin’ hell, Connor,” Hank breathed out and rubbed his eyes, the migraine increased, “He just had an accident, it happens.”
Sumo let out a sorrowful whine from the living room.
“It’s concerning, Hank,” Connor continued as he finished cleaning up, “he’ll think that it’s okay to keep doing this because we clean up his mess.”
Hank kept his eyes closed as he rubbed them. He let out a whispered groaned when Connor’s rant continued.
“You’ve become too lenient with Sumo. He needs a routine,” Connor insisted. The headache pulsed faster behind Hank’s eyes. He felt anxiety pulse under his skin as
Connor’s voice became background noise.
Connor was focused on anything, but Hank. He held back the bubbling anger in his abdomen. He had held it down for a while - often told himself that he’d deal with the cause of emotions later, but he kept postponing.
Hank’s focus was clouded by his migraine. He couldn’t handle Connor’s annoyed tone, the bright lights, Sumo’s high-noted whimpers, all while his body ached. Eventually, it all became unbearable.
“I GOT IT!” Hank shouted. Connor went silent at the outburst, “If you want Sumo’s routine to be fucking perfect, then why don’t you do it yourself, huh? I’m too goddamn tired and old to deal with all this shit! So, get off my fucking dick, Connor!”
Connor stared at Hank with wide eyes and mouth slightly agape. His LED rapidly flickered between yellow and red. His shocked reaction soured as his LED settled on red.
“I’m doing my best at caring for you and Sumo! I’m working just as much as you at work and at home! I may be a ‘state of the art prototype’ but I get tired too, Hank!” Connor shouted back. Sumo’s whimpering got louder while he sat between them.
“Oh yeah?” Hank half-laughed, half-sighed, “You’re a goddamn robot! What makes you tired? You can run for days and not give a damn! Shove your stupid ‘state of the art’ nonsense up your ass!”
Connor’s glare remained on Hank as Sumo’s nose pushed into his hand.
Sumo howled sadly, catching both their attention.
Connor knew he needed to leave. He needed to cool off.
Hank was annoyed at everything, from Sumo’s whispered whimper, Connor’s angry glare, to the stench of piss in the kitchen.
“I’m taking Sumo out,” Connor bitterly muttered. Hank remained silent as Connor walked to the door.
“Let’s go, Sumo,” Connor pulled Sumo’s leash off the keyholder by the door.
Sumo whined as he slowly walked to Connor, often looked back to Hank with sad eyes.
Hank felt his chest ache at Sumo’s face, but the anger overpowered him.
Connor slammed the door behind him, which shook the wall and scared Sumo - who yelped.
“Don’t slam the fucking door!” Hank shouted after them.
Connor glared toward the door before he escorted Sumo down the sidewalk.
“Sorry to scare you,” Connor apologized to Sumo.

Inside the house, Hank glared at the door as he muttered, “fucking androids.”
He paced through the kitchen, hands balled into fists. His whole body shook in anger. He needed to punch something.
After a few minutes of grunts, curses, and a stubbed toe, Hank resigned to his bed. The amount of stress he had been under finally boiled over. Although it felt nice to throw and break stuff, he felt guilt take over. He covered his face with his hands as he whispered, “shit.”
He’d have to apologize to both Connor and Sumo, but he’d do that in the morning. Now that the adrenaline rush disappeared, he returned to his exhausted state.
Hank let the exhaustion send him to sleep.

Connor returned twenty minutes later with Sumo curled in his arms. The older dog had gotten tired halfway through their walk, so Connor carried him around. He wanted to come back once Sumo laid on the ground, but he felt antsy. He decided to walk until the anger settled.
When he arrived home the living room lights were still on, but Hank’s room was dark.
The inside was a mess. Hank seemed to have knocked over the kitchen chairs, all the items on the table, and boxes of dry food. The kitchen table had moved to the opposite end of the kitchen. Connor’s face turned emotionless as he shook his head. He won’t clean that up.
He placed Sumo on the couch, returned the leash to the key hook, and lied back into the recliner. Now that the anger had settled, he realized that he deeply regretted his rant. He had repressed any annoyance to address later, but that hadn’t been the right decision. He would need to approach the situation in a different way - and faster so they won’t argue again.
Connor turned his head at Sumo when the dog snored. He smiled softly before he closed his eyes.
He knew that he’d need to apologize to Hank and Sumo. But, they’re both asleep, so he’d wait until the morning.
For now, he needed to rest.
He’d deal with the aftermath later.
Connor relaxed into the chair as he entered stasis.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Connor’s head had a dull ache that matched the rest of his body. It wasn’t his main concern, though.

He wasn’t concerned when he tried to bring up the clock HUD, but received nothing.

He wasn’t alarmed when he didn’t receive any notifications when he exited stasis or received statuses regarding his system.

He was concerned when he woke up in Hank’s bed, body sweaty yet cold.

He felt cold.

He slowly rose with a groan and scooched toward the foot of the bed. He looked down at his body, his mind had gone blank at the sight. He was bigger, his hands larger and hairier, and he wore jeans, a crazy designed button-down, and white socks.

“What…” Connor whispered, then softly held his throat. What is happening? He thought to himself as he ruffled the beard on his chin, cheeks, and upper lips. “... no...”

He stood up and stumbled to the bathroom, barely able to catch himself on the sink to remain upright. The bathroom light temporarily blinded him, but when he saw his reflection, he screamed.

Hank jumped awake, the scream rang loudly in his ears. No sooner than he had opened his eyes, that his vision was obstructed. He yelped at the notifications that flooded his vision.

[Stasis Ended]

[May 13, 2039]

[6:03 AM]

[All systems functional]

He attempted to swat the notifications away with his hands. They disappeared soon after, but Hank was fully alert, awake, and in shock.

[WARNING: STRESS LEVEL 45%]

He swatted the text away and sat up on the recliner.

“HANK!”

Hank paused as he stared at the hallway. The voice sounded like him, but it didn’t make sense.

What the fuck Hank thought.

He needed to know who was there and why they sounded like him. Just as quickly as his thoughts, more notifications took up his field of view.

[Identifying…]

[Lieutenant Henry Anderson]

Hank swatted at the text again, then narrowed his eyes in the hallway. He slowly rose from the recliner and stalked through the living room.

Hank !”

Hank flattened against the wall and cautiously peeked into the bathroom to see himself . His jaw dropped as he blocked the door.

“What the fuck!” Hank yelled.

Connor jumped as he turned to the door.

“Hank! I need you here!” Connor yelled as he widened his stance. He didn’t know what happened, but the ‘doppelganger’ had him on full alert.

“What? I’m Hank!” Hank shouted back, “Why are you-Why do you look like me!”

Connor remained vigilant.

“What’s going on? Where’s Hank!” Connor demanded.

I’m Hank!” Hank replied, “I don’t know what fuckery is going on, but you better have a good explanation for looking like me!”

“Hank?” Connor relaxed a bit. The angry, sarcastic, and foulmouthed attitude from the doppelganger sounded eerily similar to Hank. “Look in the mirror!”

Hank narrowed his eyes, but obliged - he kept the other in his periphery. He glanced at the mirror, and froze.

[WARNING: STRESS LEVEL 65%]

“I… What… Uh…” Hank stuttered as he stared at his reflection. The LED at his temple remained red as he silently stared.

“Hank?” Connor called while he gingerly grasped the other’s shoulder.

“What... the… fuck…” Hank whispered.

[WARNING: STRESS LEVEL 78%]

“Hank!” Connor shouted as he shook the man.

“What the hell is going on!” Hank shouted back.

“I don’t know!” Connor cried out.

“How does--Why did--What!” Hank stuttered as he brought his hands to his head. He paced back and forth through the bathroom.

[WARNING: STRESS LEVEL 84%]

“Hank! I need you to look at me,” Connor urged as he blocked Hank’s path.

Hank stopped.

“How did this happen?” Hank asked, “is this even real? FUCK - FUCK -this is messed up”

[WARNING: STRESS LEVEL 88%]

“Hank,” Connor held Hank’s shoulders, “I don’t know how this happened, but this is real . We need to think logically, rationally, and calmly.”

Hank nodded as he looked into his own eyes. Damn, this kid’s good .

Connor watched as the LED circled between red and yellow. Better than before, Connor thought.

“Okay…” Connor trailed off, “Now, we need to figure out how this happened and how to get us back to… normal…”

Hank nodded as he closed his eyes. He focused on their situation. He wanted to know how they became like this.

[Searching…]

[Searching…]

[Searching…]

[Information unavailable]

He kept at it, though. He tried to think of how they could get back to normal.

[Searching…]

[Searching…]

[Searching…]

[Information unavailable]

He ignored the notification and focused on their situation. Despite his rapid thoughts, the notification HUD came back and honed in on one of his ideas.

[Searching…]

[Searching…]

[Searching…]

[Found: 37,230,770 results]

“Freaky friday!” Hank exclaimed. Connor promptly pulled his hands back.

“What?” Connor questioned.

“Goddamn Freaky Friday,” Hank grumbled, “It’s a stupid movie about this kid and her mom switching bodies. She’s in her mom’s body, and vice versa. In the end, they learn a moral lesson about respecting each other.”

Connor skeptically nodded as he listened to Hank.

“So, if we learn our moral lessons, then we could return to our bodies?" Connor asked, still skeptical.

Hank shrugged.

"It's a stupid plan, but better than nothing."

“I suppose so,” Connor said then scrunched his face in mild pain, “I think I’m hungry.”

Soon after, his stomach growled.

Hank looked at his - now Connor’s - stomach, then up at his face. Slowly, he realized Connor's situation.

"Holy shit-HA!" Hank laughed, "Good luck being human, kid."

Connor glared.

"You could be a little more sympathetic," Connor scolded, "I've never prepared food before."

"Eat some cereal," Hank shrugged, "Cereal, milk and a bowl, that's it."

"Okay, sounds easy," Connor said and quickly grabbed some aspirin and swallow it. His face scrunched in disgust, "ugh-ew, that’s horrible."

Hank chuckled as he left the bathroom.

[Incoming call: Officer Miller]

Hank stopped in the hallway as he looked at the notification.

"Uh-" he trailed, "Hello?"

"What?" Connor’s eyebrows scrunched in confusion.

"How do I answer calls?" Hank asked.

"You… just… answer it?" Connor attempted to explain.

"Fuckin--Shit! Hello, Chris," Hank babbled as he raised his hand - forgetting for a second that he had no phone.

"Connor?" Officer Miller asked, "Are you okay?"

"I-uh-um-yeah, just…" Hank glanced at Connor for help,"Stubbed my toe?"

Connor sighed loudly as he covered his face.

"O-Okay? So, we need you and Lt. Anderson to come in early. There was a homicide at Hemlock Park. Three dead, two human and one android,” Officer Miller summarized, “get over here ASAP, CSI is almost done here.”

“All right,” Hank said, “We’ll be right over.”

“Okay, see you soon,” Officer Miller said then ended the call.

Connor stared at Hank.

“What?” Hank asked.

“I didn’t hear the call,” Connor explained, “What did he say?”

“Oh-um, three dead at Hemlock Park. We gotta get going now,” Hank replied sternly as he nodded his head to the bedroom, “Go get changed and we’ll grab some food on the way.”

“No shower? I can't even brush my teeth?" Connor pleaded. He could almost taste his own horrible breath.

"Maybe later," Hank’s uncertain tone didn’t reassure Connor as he was pushed toward the bedroom, "we just need to get through today and figure out how to get back to normal."

Connor mumbled in agreement before he changed - and paid no attention to the aesthetic of the clothes, only that it had to be clean.

They were about to leave the house when Connor pulled Hank back.

"Where's Sumo?" Connor asked as he looked around the living room.

"Fu-uck!" Hank drawled out the word as he looked around the room. "Sumo! C'mon, boy, you're comin’ along."

There was no answer.

[STRESS LEVEL 43%]

"Sumo!" Hank called again, his voice louder.

"Hank, could Sumo have gotten out?” Connor asked, then looked around, “I locked the door last night.”

Hank paused as he thought of ways Sumo could’ve left, then the world paused as his vision became monochromatic and notifications appeared over the couch and recliner. He focused his attention on the notifications when he saw that they contained a lot of Sumo’s fur.

“Ugh, gross,” Hank commented.

“What is it?” Connor asked.

“Sumo’s definitely been on the couch,” Hank reported before he mumbled, “gotta throw the whole damn couch away.”

The scan paused and restarted constantly as Hank steadily walked through the house. Finally, he stopped by the slightly ajar door at the end of the hallway. He entered, scanned the room, and called out to Connor, "Dammit! He got out through the window in here!"

The room was filled with stacks of boxes - some pushed over and crushed - and filled black trash bags that looked worn from time. Connor saw the window at the back was pushed out.

Hank inspected the window and saw how neglected it was. He hadn't bothered the room in years, evident in the various spider webs, mostly undisturbed dust, and the thick and humid air.

He looked at the disturbed dusty floors and open window and concluded that Sumo broke out last night.

“Shit,” Hank muttered as he looked out the window. The backyard was empty, so Sumo must’ve jumped the fence and wandered away. “He’s gone, Connor.”

Connor frowned as he felt an ache in his chest. He truly loved and cared for Sumo, and now that he is gone, Connor deeply missed him.

“We have to look for him,” Connor pleaded.

“We have to go to work first,” Hank argued back. A notification popped up.

[Mission Objective: Solve Case]

“But, Sumo!” Connor countered, “He could get stolen or hurt or killed !”

“I know!” Hank bellowed then paused when he turned around.

Connor’s lips curled down into a deep frown, his eyes watered, and his breathing had increased slightly. Hank had to think of a plan that would satisfy both of them,

“I’ll put an APB on Sumo, we’ll head to Hemlock Park, and look for him at lunch, okay?” Hank assured Connor with a soft pat on his shoulder.

Connor opened and closed his mouth several times before he nodded. That’s the best plan they have right now.

“Okay,” Connor agreed, “Let’s go.”

They left to the car and Hank took his usual driver’s seat as Connor sat as a passenger - although with their situation it was odd to see themselves in opposite settings.

“Can’t believe you’re driving my car,” Hank muttered as they left the house.

“You never let me drive,” Connor replied tensely, “and you’re just in my body - technically you’re still driving.”

Hank grunted.

“Yeah, I guess,” He replied, “We can’t raise suspicion when we get there. We barely understand what happened, and looping other’s in would be too confusing.”

“What if they can help?” Connor countered.

“How? This isn’t common, hell it’s not even rare. This shit is the first time it happened,” Hank rambled then stopped himself and continued in a softer tone, “Let’s just - not make it complicated. Okay? We got this.”

Connor hummed a doubt filled ‘okay’ as he stared out the window.

Chapter Text

[Investigate Crime Scene]

As they arrived at the crime scene, Connor had finished his breakfast burrito - one of Hank's usual/go-to breakfast choice. There was no time to savor the taste as Connor was too hungry to care.

They had a few odd stares at the sight of Connor’s body driving Hank’s car, but they soon dissipated at the sight of Hank’s state of exhaustion. 

The two detective’s exchanged a knowing glance before Hank - in Connor’s body - took the lead.

“Hello, Officer Miller,” Hank spoke clearly and firmly, “we would like a briefing of the… incident.”

Officer Miller nodded and began.

[Understand What Happened] 

Hank started Connor’s usual procedure of multitasking between listening to the briefing, analyzing evidence, and reconstructing the crime scene. Although, Hank found that it was easier said than done, as he’d never multitasked this much and certainly hadn’t a clue on how to analyze and reconstruct as an android.

Connor noticed Hank’s hesitation and furrowed brows as he intensely stared at the crime scene. He excused himself from Officer Miller’s briefing and walked up to Hank.

“Are you okay?” Connor asked.

“Hm…” Hank replied, “I’ve never done… this… before.”

Hank’s vague gesture toward the crime scene seemed odd to outside observers, but Connor understood.

“You need to concentrate,” Connor offered, “one object at a time, and eventually the reconstruction software will alert you when you’ve collected enough data.”

“Okay, thanks,” Hank whispered and Connor hummed, ‘uh-huh’ as he returned to Officer Miller.

“Sorry about that,” Connor apologized, “uh--go ahead. Floor’s all yours.”

Officer Miller eyed Connor carefully, but brushed it off and continued.

Hank bent down to inspect the nearest piece of evidence labeled and concentrated on the object. Several seconds passed, and Hank clenched his jaw.

“C’mon, you stupid--” Hank started, but stopped when the analysis program started up. He nearly jumped in shock, but was distracted by the information pop-ups that detailed everything about the evidence.

The blood stain was several hours old and type B negative. 

“Okay,” Hank said as he stood and moved to the next evidence marker. He knelt and concentrated again.

The blood spatter indicated that a weapon was used - by the amount of blood, it was a sharp weapon.

He kept going, moving all across the crime scene, until he stopped at the victims. He started with the humans.

The first victim he examined had three knife wounds to the chest and one across the neck. He noticed that her forehead had a large bruise, a hairline fracture on her skull, and several more bruises littered her arms, shoulders, and behind her neck.

[White, Jessica]

[Height: 5’6’’ - Weight: 122 lbs]

[Estimated time of Death: 06:14AM]

“Jesus,” Hank muttered. He stood up and moved to the next victim.

The next victim had two gunshot wounds - on in the chest and the other in his forehead.

[White, Harry]

[Height: 6’ 0” - Weight - 184.6 lbs]

[Estimated time of death: 6:15 AM]

The last victim was an android. He had one gunshot wound to the forehead.

[PL600 Model #435 928 710]

[Moser, Michael]

[Estimated time of death: 6:11AM]

Hank stood up and looked around the crime scene. The reconstruction software booted up, notified him that he’s collected enough data, and he started.

The victims were ambushed from behind by four suspects. There was a struggle between one suspect and Jessica, and she was hit in the temple with the butt of a gun and then the suspect switched to a knife. Another suspect shot Michael, killing him instantly, and Jessica got up and fought back. Two suspects left early, while the last two killed Jessica and Harry.

Once Hank exited the reconstruction, he immediately looked at the path the other two suspects left through. The analysis program booted up again.

There were four sets of footprints, two larger ones - he assumed males - a smaller one - perhaps a female - and the last one was tiny - a child.

“The bastards,” Hank muttered.

“What is it?” Connor asked as he walked up to Hank.

“Four guys ambushed Jessica, Michael, and Harry. There were two others with them - one female and one child. Two of the suspects kidnapped the woman and child, while the other two killed the rest,” Hank summarized. His jaw clenched as he stared at the path of tiny footprints, “the woman was target, but they took the child too.”

“Any information on who the woman might be?” Connor asked.

He concentrated on bringing up Jessica Moser and Harry Moser’s information. He needed everything available, from social media accounts, birth certificates, marriage certificates, criminal records. He got everything he needed within milliseconds.

“Lauren Moser and the kid was Ryan Moser, Lauren’s son,” Hank said then paused, “she has two kids, C--Hank… Baxter, he’s a little older than Ryan.”

“Do you think he was here too?” Connor asked.

“The evidence doesn’t show it, but…” Hank trailed off as he studied the footprints again.

Connor seemed to understand, as he sighed loudly.

“Who would do this,” Connor said softly, “she was only a mom, and they took her kids too…”

“Let’s find them before anything bad happens,” Hank said sternly.

“Yeah…” Connor stared at the android.

“No use,” Hank said, “he’s too far gone.”

Connor frowned as he turned away from the corpses.

“We need to solve this case, fast,” Connor replied, his voice tight with anger.

“We will,” Hank confirmed. He turned to the crime scene and brought up the analysis program once more. He needed to find as much evidence as he can, from the crime scene and into the streets - if he has to. Although his chest tightened - all centered near his thirium pump regulator - he also felt his hand curl tighter as he glared at the scene. 

What if it had been Cole… or Connor... Hank felt a new conviction take over his body, and soon a new, bolder, and long-term mission objective popped up.

[Mission Objective: Find Suspects At All Costs]

“Hank,” Connor whispered as he kept his back toward the crime scene. He felt that if he saw the bodies - the gore - that he’d throw up, “we should scout the area - see if you can pick up anything.”

“Already on it,” Hank replied and scoured the edge of the crime scene. He eventually followed the path the suspects took and stopped at the farthest end of the street. They took a vehicle to get away.

Hank knelt beside the road, but he couldn’t find a proper tire marks, footprints, or speck of dirt that indicated what type of vehicle, the places the suspects have been based on dirt or dust or speckle of shit. He stood up and looked up at the buildings. At least one of the places nearby must’ve had a CCTV camera that faced near the park.

“CCTV…” Hank muttered as he looked around.

“Okay, then look for some,” Connor said then tapped Hank’s forehead.

“Oh, right,” Hank said then closed his eyes to concentrate.

[Searching…]

[Found 15 available CCTV cameras]

“Shit, fucking shithole of a place,” Hank muttered. Connor snorted.

Hank concentrated once more, and each of the CCTV footages raced through his mind - until he came across one vehicle; it drove too fast, looked out of place for the area, and it’s path seemed too erratic, yet well thought out, and it only showed in two cameras. Although he couldn’t identify the license plate, he managed to follow it as far north and west as he could, and lost it on the freeway.

“Black SUV, tinted windows, it went north, then west, and onto Southfield Freeway,” Hank reported, “I couldn’t see the license plate.”

Connor hummed as he thought it over.

“We can’t do much without that license plate number,” Connor thought out loud.

“No shit,” Hank replied, “and there’s enough shady fuckers around that finding this specific one would either take too long or lead to a dead end.”

“We should try looking into Lauren’s history - maybe she might’ve known them,” Connor replied.

“We could give it a try,” Hank shrugged, “need to head back to the precinct, though.”

“Um - Hank?” Officer Miller spoke up. Both men turned to look at him. “Can I talk to you for a moment."

It wasn’t until they looked at each other that they noticed their odd behavior.

“I-Uh-Sure, Offi--I mean--Chris,” Connor stuttered out and walked several paces away. 

Hank turned away to finally assess the many notifications that started to appear. He didn’t know he’s been ignoring them - perhaps it was because he concentrated solely on the case, but now that he’s had a break, the programs within him decided to finally post reports.

Just like my damn computer. Hank thought.

“Is Connor okay?” Officer Miller asked.

“He’s--” Connor glanced at Hank, who stared off into the distance, “I think he’s doing okay.”

That was a half-truth.

“He’s acting a bit… odd,” Miller continued, “Maybe you’re finally having an influence on him… A bad one though. I’ve never heard him curse that much.”

Officer Miller chuckled.

“Haha,” Connor laughed dryly, “Yeah, I should probably say something about that.”

Another half-truth.

“Nah,” Officer Miller said, “doesn’t bother me much, but it’s surprising… Reminds me of you when you first started.”

Connor felt his heart increased. He hardly knew anything about Hank’s early years in the DPD. Hank never talked about it and Connor had never thought of mentioning it.

Connor cleared his throat.

“I suppose,” He commented, “Maybe this case pushed his - uh - buttons.”

Officer Miller laughed at that.

“Yeah, maybe,” Miller chuckled.

The mood took a sour turn, and Connor felt it.

“Did he pick up anything?” Officer Miller asked.

Connor nodded.

“A woman was kidnapped, along with her child,” Connor reported, “Lauren Moser and Ryan Moser. She has another son... Baxter.”

Officer Miller hummed as he let the information soak in and he thought through his own theories.

“I’ll send out a welfare check on Baxter,” Miller suggested, “I hope he’s with a relative.,. Jesus Christ.”

Despite Officer Miller’s lack of words, Connor understood the last part. 

They both hoped that Baxter was some place else, and he wasn’t kidnapped. They didn’t have a motive, but the case felt grim and left Connor’s stomach achingly churn. The thought of two children being injured, or worse, left Connor in a melancholic mood.

“All right, we’ll head back to the precinct to look into Lauren’s past,” Connor informed, “Maybe she was involved with the wrong people at some point.”
“Yeah, seems like the best plan for now,” Officer Miller agreed, “Don’t overwork yourself, all right.”

“Sure-yeah-Thanks, Chris,” Connor said as he looked at Officer Miller and smiled.

“No problem,” Officer Miller smiled back as he patted Connor’s shoulder.

“Hank!” Hank called out, “let’s go! I'm done here!"

Connor gave a weak wave to Officer Miller as he walked back over to Hank.

“What was that about?” Hank asked.

“We’re acting too out of character,” Connor whispered as he escorted Hank away, “You need to act more like… well me.”

“No problem, just need to act like I have a stick up my ass,” Hank joked.

Connor shook his head as he grimaced.

“Fine, then I’ll just act like a juvenile, cranky old man,” Connor retorted.

“Oh, fuck you,” Hank glared, but his eyes softened as he smiled.

Connor smiled back.

[Objective: Completed]

Chapter Text

[Get Hank Food]

“I’m not eating at the Chicken Feed,” Connor said as they slowed down near the food truck.

“Well, tough shit, kid,” Hank replied, “We gotta keep up this charade and that means you eat whatever I used to eat.”

“You don’t have a say in this, Hank,” Connor replied, “ I’m the one that’s hungry, so I’m going to choose what I get to eat.”

Hank parked the car and looked at Connor. He was tired of always arguing with the Android, but he’d have to lose this battle.

“Fine,” Hank gave in, “Where do you want to eat?”

Connor paused as he thought. He’s been given the opportunity to eat food, so his first lunch should be something delicious, yet healthy. He wanted to have some type of meat for protein, definitely with vegetables, but he also craved something else. He couldn’t quite figure out what the last part was, but he hoped he’d know when he sees the food.

“A sandwich,” Connor finally spoke, “I want a sandwich.”

Hank shrugged as he slightly smirked.

“All right, you’re the boss,” Hank sarcastically replied and then left the Chicken Feed.

It hadn’t taken long to find the nearest sandwich shop on the way back to the precinct. There were so many on the way, but Hank always liked this one more - perhaps because this place was opened the longest or that he’d survived college buying food from here. Nonetheless, he hoped Connor would enjoy this place as well.

“Hygrade Deli?” Connor thought out loud.

“Yeah, this place ain’t so bad,” Hank said as he parked the car, “we gotta just grab the food and go, so you better know what you want.”

Connor slightly frowned.

“Fine, but I’m also craving something,” Connor said, vaguely.

“What? Something sweet? Salty? Greasy?” Hank asked as they walked to the door.

“I’m not sure,” Connor said as he looked at the painted sign on the side of the wall. Hygrade Deli. Breakfast. Lunch. Since 1955

He tried to do the math on how old this place is, but he found that he wasn’t as fast.

“It’s been here since 1955,” Connor said.

“Yep, nearly one hundred years old,” Hank said as they entered. “Gotta be, what, eighty-four years now?”

“Just about,” Connor replied, finally able to do the math. Hank grabbed the nearest menu off an empty table and gave it to Connor.

“Hurry up and choose,” Hank said. A few of the customers looked at them, and few glared at Hank. Although their stares didn’t bother Hank, it had bothered Connor.

“All right,” Connor said as he focused on the menu. He flipped through it and handed it back, “Grilled chicken sandwich”

“Okay, not bad,” Hank said as he went to the employee, “Want anything to drink?”

“Um--”Connor paused.

“Eh, don’t worry about it,” Hank said, “I got you - hey, a - uh - chicken sandwich, side of pickles, and a large lemonade.”

Connor could feel eyes on him, which was unsettling and had him anxious. He looked around the room and saw a few people’s faces turned in disgust and disdain toward Hank. 

Is this what Hank had to deal with when I’m around? Connor thought to himself. He turned away from them and placed himself between them and Hank. He may not be as strong as his android body, but he’d fight anyone that would harass and harm Hank - even if Hank was stronger than him at the moment.

“What’s wrong?” Hank asked.

Connor hesitated.

“Uh-Nothing,” Connor lied, “I’m-uh-just hungry”

Connor knew that Hank knew he had lied. He didn’t know why he lied. Perhaps he wanted to avoid a scene where Hank would confront the prejudiced people or he didn’t want Hank to know that they were here - judging him.

“Okay?” Hank trailed off, “So, Chris put out a welfare check on Baxter, right? Turns out the kid is missing, too.”

“What happened?” Connor asked.

“He was at his grandparent’s house when some guys broke in and took the kid with them.”

“That’s unsettling,” Connor said, “That means they have a plan for all of them.”

“Yeah, so we gotta work fast,” Hank said then grabbed Connor’s food, “And Sumo’s still out there. I don’t know if we might have time to look for him.”

Connor frowned as they exited the restaurant.

“I hope he’s okay,” Connor said, “I hope they’re all okay.”

“Sumo’s a gentle giant. He’ll be fine,” Hank assured, “but we should focus on the case. We might end up pulling all-nighters.”

Connor worried over that. He had no problem working hours on end as an android, but now that he’s human, he has to also take care of himself. Also, he started to doubt their ability to finish this case in time to find all three victims alive. He never doubted their capabilities in the field, in fact, he was confident that they’d always finish the case. But, they’ve found themselves in a precarious situation and thrust into a case that required both men to do what they’re good at.

“We should ask for help,” Connor suggested as they entered the car.

“Uh-I don’t know about that,” Hank replied, “We gotta run that by Fowler and pray that someone isn’t busy, too.”

Hank’s reply didn’t make Connor feel better. In fact, he felt hopeless, yet he was ready to work all night and day to find Lauren and her kids.

“Right,” Connor replied.

Hank handed the food to Connor before he left the parking lot.

“For now, eat up,” Hank said.

[Objective: Completed]

Connor opened the bag and unwrapped his sandwich. The smell of hot chicken, mayo, and toasted bread made his mouth water. He took a bite and smiled as he chewed.

“Th’s gud,” Connor said as he chewed. His chest warmed as he relaxed in the seat. He eagerly ate half the sandwich before he fished out the pickles and took a bite as well. His face soured, “ugh”

Hank chuckled.

“Try them together,” Hank suggested.

Connor took a bite of the pickle and then his sandwich. He liked this better.

“Yep, maybe we can have you try other stuff, too,” Hank said as he turned onto the freeway, “being human ain’t so bad when you have food like that. It makes life a little better.”

Despite the depressing undertone of his words, Connor nodded in agreement. There’s a lot of stress to life, yet so many people - androids included - find ways to enjoy what they were given. Humans have turned their basic survival needs into a positive and gratifying experience.

Connor tried the lemonade next.

He loves lemonade.

While Connor enjoyed his lunch, Hank focused on multitasking. He found that multitasking was effortless as an android. 

He had explored deeper into the DPD database on any related files for Lauren or anyone she’d been in contact with. He had found out that she was a police informant. That troubled him. The files related to her disclosures were encrypted, so he’d have some paperwork to file. He’d also have to run it by Fowler.

“Lauren was a police informant,” Hank said. Connor paused his eating as he looked at Hank, shocked.

“What?” He said through a mouthful of food.

“There’s not much details I can get right now, but the basics are more than enough to keep this ball rolling,” Hank said. Connor swallowed and he put his sandwich aside.

“Someone must’ve told the people she was spying on,” Connor said, “They might’ve killed her already.”

Hank didn’t argue, because that morbid thought had already crossed his mind.

“Or they’re biding their time,” Hank said, “... if her kidnappers are part of a gang or mafia, then they’d want to make an… example outta her.”

“What about Ryan and Baxter?” Connor uttered. His stomach started to turn in knots as his chest ached.

“I don’t know,” Hank replied solemnly.

He hoped the kids would be unharmed and alive when they’re found, but his pessimistic side hinted that they might be used against Lauren. His hopeful side retaliated to his pessimism by praying that those bastards had a heart and won’t harm the kids.

“How many gangs is the DPD investigating,” Connor asked.

“Too damned many,” Hank replied, “It’s always been like a game of cat and mouse. Each time we get close to taking them down, they’d slip right out of our fingers.”

“How?” Connor asked.

“Some would hire a team of lawyers to weasel their way outta court,” Hank listed, “some knew how to find pressure points, so they’d blackmail, threatened, and even paid their way out of the investigation.”

“I think they used that to their advantage, here,” Connor proposed, “they used one of our own to get information that’ll benefit them… and they found out about Lauren.”

“That’s usually the case,” Hank said, “then we’ll need to find our weak link.”

Connor hummed in agreement.

“We should leave that to internal affairs,” Connor said, “while we focus on finding Lauren.”

“Yeah,” Hank reluctantly agreed. He wanted to beat the backstabber into a coma. He felt betrayed, angry, and disgusted toward the traitor. He wanted to destroy them.

[Mission Objective: Identify Dirty Cop]

Chapter Text

Connor crumbled up his lunch bag and finished the last of his lemonade as they entered the receptionist entrance to the precinct. He tossed away his trash, nodded to the receptionist, and left to the back.

Hank walked beside Connor as they made their way to their desks. They stumbled and awkwardly danced around each other - remembering their situation and that they can’t use their own computers.

“This is gonna take some getting used to,” Hank commented as he sat down and looked at Connor’s computer, “how do I--ya know?”

“Just… interface with it,” Connor tried, “put your hand on the keyboard, retract your skin, and concentrate on the computer.”

Connor turned to Hank’s computer and typed in ‘ fuckingpassword ’. The ease of entering Hank’s computer worried him, but only a bit.

Hank grumbled as he followed Connor’s instructions, but found it easier said than done. He put his hand up and back down several times before he gave up.

“Fuck this,” He mumbled, “I’m getting a coffee.”

Connor looked up at Hank, eyes wide.

“You can’t drink coffee,” Connor reminded.

“Then I’m getting you coffee,” Hank replied as he stood up and walked away.

“Thanks?” Connor replied, then started looking through Hank’s computer. 

He sighed deeply at the amount of time it took for him to find the right reports to fill out and file. He missed being able to do one simple task within milliseconds. Maybe this is why Hank always seemed so agitated after paperwork. It took him longer to type, edit, and send it to the right departments.

Hank casually made his way toward the break room, while he split his attention between coffee and Lauren. 

The social networks she was on hadn’t suggested that she was involved in a bad crowd. In fact, she looked like she was living decently. 

He grabbed his usual coffee mug and grabbed the pot of coffee.

He even looked into her friend’s and family’s backgrounds and social media, but they seemed as normal and decent as her.

He grabbed some sugar, poured it in, and added the coffee to dissolve the sugar.

Since there weren’t any helpful leads from online activity, then they’d have to do things the old fashioned way.

Hank was shoved aside as someone grabbed the coffee pot out of his hand.

“Outta the way, dickhead,” Detective Reed grumbled as he poured himself some coffee.

“Well, ‘scuse you,” Hank muttered as he grabbed his mug and turned away.

“What the fuck did you just say?” Detective Reed growled as he shoved the coffee pot back into the machine.

Hank clenched his jaw and closed his eyes. 

Shit. I need to act more like Connor. He thought to himself, then turned to Detective Reed. Ah, fuck it, this guy’s been a pain in Connor’s ass for far too long.

Hank stared down at Detective Reed, his eyes narrowed and glared into Reed’s eyes. Reed didn’t back down as he stepped closer and glared right back.

“You know, a lot of decent humans say ‘excuse me’ when trying to get past another person,” Hank started, “You should try saying it more often.”

Reed sneered at him.

Stubborn jackass , Hank thought.

“Oh yeah?” Reed replied as he dryly chuckled, “And how would you know? You’re just a fucking machine .”

Just need to sound like Connor.

“I assume my successor has been a great benefit to you?” Hank replied, “since you’ve been able to take more breaks.”

The change of subject surprised Reed, but he subtly showed his reaction.

“We’re a good team,” Reed replied, his arms crossed as he studied Hank. “A lot better than you and Anderson.”

“Hm,” Hank hummed, “Lieutenant Anderson does things at his own pace, which in turn makes the case have more substantial evidence. A case with no faults or weak points would hold stronger in court, unlike the Walter Case.”

Detective Reed’s jaws tightened as his face tinted red.

“Phck. You,” Reed growled.

“Excuse me, Detective,” Hank smirked, “I have to return to work.”

Hank walked past Reed, who trembled in anger. 

Hank almost snickered.

“Fucking machines,” Reed cursed as he stormed away from the break room.

“Good luck on your case, Detective,” Hank shouted as he left the break room as well.

His smug face had gone neutral as he watched Connor work. The concentration on his face seemed both comical and concerning.

Is that what I look like? Hank thought to himself as he walked closer to Connor. 

“Here, a nice hot cup of coffee,” Hank said as he placed the mug on the desk.

Connor looked at the mug and his face coiled in disgust.

“It smells… weird,” Connor tried to explain.

“It’s coffee,” Hank assured, “that’s what it smells like.”

Connor’s sense of smell was unlike his android counterpart. As an android, he could identify what a smell could originate from but never experienced it with emotion. Now, he could smell anything sour, salty, sweet, and everything in between. 

And he didn’t like how coffee smelled.

But, he was curious about what it would taste like.

So, he picked up the mug and took a sip. His face contorted in disgust as he put the mug back down.

“Ugh, it’s cold,” Connor commented.

“Then, it’s a nice cup of coffee,” Hank said as he walked toward his side of the desk.

“It tastes horrible,” Connor gagged.

“So it’s just a cup of coffee. Drink up ‘cause you’ll need the energy,” Hank said as he tried to interface with the terminal once more.

“Is there anything you can add to it? To make it taste better?” Connor asked.

“I added sugar,” Hank shrugged.

“It needs more,” Connor said as he stood up with the mug.

“Add half-and-half,” Hank suggested, “or those tiny cups of creamer in the cabinet.”

Connor nodded and lazily waved as he walked away.

Hank sighed in relief when he accessed the terminal. The analysis program started up once more, and he searched through the whole database for anything related to their case.

When the program ended, he sat back and let the information soak in.

“Connor! Get in here,” Captain Fowler shouted from his office door. Hank looked at Connor in the break room, before he remembered that he was Connor.

[Talk to Cpt. Fowler]

He quickly stood up and walked briskly to Fowler’s office. He closed the door behind him and awkwardly stood in front of the desk.

“Yes, Captain?” Hank asked,

“This case is a fucking nightmare,” Fowler groaned, “but it’ll be your last one with Hank.”

Hank’s eyebrows rose as his eyes widened slightly.

“Pardon?” Hank replied.

“You’re training’s almost over, and once this case is over you’ll be working solo on the next one,” Fowler explained, “I’m leaving it to you to give Hank the good news. He won’t be babysitting you, anymore.”

Hank felt his heart slightly drop. He liked having Connor as a partner, even if the DPD didn’t prefer that arrangement, but it gave them the chance to lean on each other.

“Why couldn’t we tell Hank sooner?” Hank asked.

Fowler groaned.

“I’m not having that conversation again,” Fowler waved, “now get out.”

Hank wanted to prod Fowler more, but he wanted to hear Connor’s side of the story.

“Okay,” Hank replied, “Have a good day, Captain.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Fowler muttered. 

[Objective: Completed]

Hank left the office and headed back to his desk. Connor had returned from the break room and happily sipped at his coffee.

“The hazelnut creamer is good,” Connor commented.

Hank smiled as Connor sipped more, both hands hugged the mug, and he had leaned into the chair.

The heaviness in his chest lifted at the sight.

“Yeah, that one’s pretty good,” Hank replied as he sat down at the desk.

“Oh, I put in a request for information about Lauren,” Connor informed, “I’m not sure how long the process would take, but I was thinking we should examine her residence while we waited.”

“Good thinking,” Hank agreed, “She lived at a couple of places. Let’s try the nearest one first.”

“Okay,” Connor nodded, “Can we stop by a coffee shop for better coffee?”

Hank smiled.

“You’re the boss.”

[Get Hank More Coffee]

Chapter Text

[Objective: Completed]

Lauren’s apartment was located in downtown Detroit, on the tenth floor of a nearly twenty-floor building. Hank remembered when this apartment building had been for luxury apartments, but better buildings had appeared, making this one obsolete. It had turned into a low-rent apartment building.

Hank had managed to convince the building manager to let them into Lauren’s apartment, while Connor sipped at his iced coffee and scrolled through Hank’s phone. He hadn’t found anything too private since Hank kept his phone to the bare basics of coworker’s numbers, music apps, video streaming apps, and a few games. He’d have to try a couple of the games later when they’re not working.

Hank and Connor exited the elevator and followed behind the manager to Lauren’s apartment door. The manager opened the door and mumbled a ‘good luck’ while he stood outside - he was there to monitor their activity.

They slowly entered the apartment and shared a confused look.

“It’s… spotless,” Connor spoke and Hank hummed as he looked at the studio apartment.

He did a quick scan of the apartment as he walked around. Connor stayed by the door to ask the manager questions about Lauren.

“Are there any nearby daycare centers that Ms. Moser would have sent her two sons' to?” Connor asked.

The manager shook his head.

“Haven’t been a daycare in this area for a long time… and I didn’t know she had kids,” he commented. Connor’s brows furrowed in confusion, but he pressed on.

“What do you know about her?” Connor insisted.

The manager sighed as he shrugged.

“Not much. She’s a nice lady and always paid rent and utilities on time. She passed all her apartment inspections… quiet neighbor, kids aren’t too loud I guess,” he listed.

Connor narrowed his eyes as he nodded.

Hank wandered back to the entrance as he listened to their conversation.

“Children are loud, messy, and hyperactive,” Hank spoke up, “she can’t have brought them here… It’s too clean… and organized.”

The manager looked around the apartment before he nodded and shrugged again.

“Maybe she’s raising them well? They could be cleaning up after themselves--”

“No… Children are often rebellious, curious, and enjoy making messes,” Hank interrupted, “She has two boys.”

The manager listened as he looked around the apartment.  He slowly comprehended what Hank hinted at.

“You think she might have another place?” The manager asked.

“This could only be her documented place of residence,” Hank continued.

“She might have a place that she’s kept a secret,” Connor shared, “did you find anything?”

Hank shook his head.

“Nothing,” Hank sighed, “Let’s head back. Thank you, again.”

The manager nodded as he locked the apartment door after they exited. Connor fidgeted with the coffee straw as they returned downstairs. Hank ran several searches related to Lauren, Jessica, Harry, and the grandparents of the two boys. He pushed them to the background of his HUD while he silently followed Connor.

They had hit another dead end.

Both remained quiet as they left the building. Connor continued to play with the straw as he thought about their case. Knowing that a fellow member of the DPD had fed information to a criminal group made him feel incredibly uncomfortable. 

He felt exposed, even if the person didn’t know him. There’s also the twisting heaviness in his gut that followed after he thought about the cop.

“We should tell Captain Fowler about the dirty cop,” Connor admitted.

Hank hummed, acknowledging Connor’s statement as they entered the ccar. He was conflicted, though. He wanted to catch the bastard on his own - show him what happened to traitors - but he knew that Fowler deserved to know. Eventually, he settled to agree with Connor.

“You’re right,” Hank agreed, “and nothing good will come out of keeping it from Fowler.”

Connor looked at Hank, slightly shocked.

“You didn’t want to tell him, did you?” Connor said.

Hank remained silent again and debated telling Connor his intentions.

He didn’t want to keep secrets from Connor, but he didn’t want Connor’s perspective of him to change. The brief silence unnerved both men.

“Thought about it,” Hank finally admitted, “there’s a code everyone in law enforcement abides by, Connor. You don’t break your oath, no matter what… the bastards that do are worse than the criminals we bring in… They’re the fucking scum of society.”

Connor listened in silence as he let the information sink in. The depth of Hank’s hatred toward dirty cops uneased him, yet he empathized with Hank. 

“I understand,” Connor softly replied, “Fowler shares the same perspective, right?”

“No doubt about it,” Hank confirmed.

“Good,” Connor nodded, “that means there are only four people we can trust… You, me, Captain Fowler, and Nines.”

“What about Reed?” Hank asked.

“That’s… debatable,” Connor replied slowly as he looked out the window.

Hank chuckled.

“Yeah, that’s how I felt about him at first, but he’s just an asshole,” Hank smirked, “we can trust him.”

“If you say so, Lieutenant,” Connor mused.

Hank gave a half chuckle, half exhale to that reply, before he turned on some music. The usual death metal was switched to heavy metal so it could fit his current mood. He also wondered if Connor had ever gotten around to listening to music - any type - that he’d like. Instantly, the search HUD appeared again.

[Music Search History]

[Results: 860,342 search results]

He glanced at Connor, unsure if this was an invasion of privacy. After a moment of debate, he decided that this wasn’t too serious. Connor wouldn’t mind, right?

[Most Popular

 Song: Bohemian Rhapsody

 Artist: Queen

 Album: A Night At The Opera

 Released: 31 October 1975]

He smirked as pulled his attention back to driving. Connor didn't seem to notice Hank’s smugness.

“So…” Hank started, “Bohemian Rhapsody?”

Connor felt his body temperature drop as he froze in place. He hadn’t realized that Hank has access to all stored files within his body.

“I-uh-It’s a very popular song,” Connor stammered, “it’s been over sixty years and the song is still popular.”

Hank couldn’t agree more. The song was a timeless classic.

“Yeah, I’m sure everyone knows the lyrics by heart,” Hank replied, “Hell, I’ve seen a whole stadium crowd sing the song, word for word, while it played before a wrestling show.”

Connor relaxed as Hank talked about his past. He didn’t know much about the man’s personal life - only the basics that could be found online.

“You watched wrestling?” Connor asked.

“Who doesn’t?” Hank scoffed, “I’ve watched it in the early days when there was only 5 main wrestling companies, now there’s - like what - dozens? I dunno, but they were always the best ones out there.”

Hank wrestling rant went on for a while longer. Then the subject transitioned to concerts Hank went to - many of them ended with him being beaten bloody. 

Connor listened with a smile, he enjoyed knowing about Hank’s past. He hadn’t known about the intensity of a mosh pit, the undying respect for a band from the 1970s, and the extreme dedication wrestlers had that would cause them to fall twenty feet off a steel cage and onto a flaming table. 

The stories Hank told were horrific, terrifying, but entertaining. Connor saw a part of Hank emerge that seemed eager to reminisce, but he knew that older man hardly did that. 

“Maybe I could take you to a show,” Hank suggested as he looked at Connor. The kid had listened intently to Hank’s rambling and looked fascinated by it all. He felt a metaphorical tug at his heartstrings, “yeah, there should be a few around here.”

“I can’t wait,” Connor replied with a smile. Hank smiled to himself as he kept his focus on the road.

“Yeah, and since we’re about to be on Wrestlemania 50-something, we could grab some tickets before they’re gone,” Hank added as they made their way onto the freeway.

“Sounds like fun,” Connor replied with a soft smile. He looked over to Hank, who beamed with excitement- yet it was odd to see his own face expressing it, “You’ll need to catch me up on the show. I’ve never seen any of it.”

“Of course,” Hank glanced at Connor, “You need to know who you’re booing.”

Connor’s face scrunched in confusion.

Hank laughed at Connor’s response, but Connor soon joined in. 

Their banter continued throughout their ride back to the Precinct. Eventually, they had to settle down and continue working, but Connor didn’t feel as somber as before. Hank felt accomplished that he managed to lift Connor’s mood.

As they neared the Precinct a notification HUD appeared in Hank’s vision. The searching program had brought up several pieces of information regarding Lauren’s parents. He looked through the program’s findings, dug a bit more, and found a good, solid lead.

“I’ve got the address of Lauren’s second home,” Hank informed, ”Her parents’ names are on the house, but they don’t make the payments. The payments have been through Lauren’s secondary bank account.”

They stayed in the car as Hank drove them toward the address.

“What does the place look like?” Connor asked.

“It’s a nice place,” Hank commented, “a good home in a decent neighborhood. It’s near Lauren’s parents’ home. Looks normal.”
Connor hummed as he processed the information.

“What are you thinking?” Hank asked.

“The manager from the apartment building said she’s never missed a rent payment, but she’s also able to pay for the house…” Connor thought out loud, “I don’t believe that she earns enough to cover both… so, where did the rest of the money come from?”

Hank mulled over Connor’s words. Despite their silence, they both followed with similar thoughts. Hank’s darker thoughts crept up and told him that the people she’d been spying on had her doing dirty work. 

Connor could only guess the same. He had no solid intel that’ll confirm his suspicions immediately. He’d have to wait on that.

“We’ll need evidence to back that up, kid,” Hank finally spoke.

“Yeah,” Connor agreed, “but you’re able to help connect the dots, Lieutenant.”

Hank didn’t understand at first, but his mind caught up.

“Ah shit, I almost forgot,” Hank gave a dry chuckle as he brought the search program back up. He liked multitasking, it made him feel twice as productive as before, “Ah, yeah the money isn’t direct deposit… it’s by check, weekly, and from different parts of the city.”

“Smart,” Connor muttered.

“Yeah, she doesn’t seem to have a preference between ATM, bank window, or mobile… She’s a smart one,” Hank said.

“Anything from the precinct about the file on Lauren?” Connor asked.

“Nothing yet,” Hank replied, “but it shouldn’t be much longer.”

Hank had noticed the disappointing shift in Connor’s demeanor. Usually, these processes are quick, but this particular request seemed to have taken suspiciously long.

“Look, we’ll check out this second house, and then check in with the grandparents. It’s a long shot with them, but you’ll never know…” Hank explained their short-term plan, “then we can head back and bug Fowler on our request.”

Connor exhaled deeply as he nodded, “okay, sounds good.”

[Obtain Information]

Chapter Text

The neighborhood of Lauren’s second home was lovely and an idyllic area to raise children. Every house had a front lawn - where each of them was lush green and tidied - with porches and attached garages. All of it reminded Hank of the idyllic neighborhood in movies.

“There’s an apricot tree,” Connor commented as they passed a two-story house. Hank glanced at the tree and saw that it had fruits ready for harvesting. Several other houses had apricot trees, others had apple trees, and a couple had cherry trees.

This place was perfect.

They parked beside Lauren’s house, Connor eager to exit the car and admire the small garden in the lawn. Hank followed after him and guided the kid to the house.

“Focus, this ain’t a farmer’s market,” Hank gruffed as he walked up to the front door. 

Immediately, the front door opened and they were greeted by an elderly woman.

“Oh, um, hello ma’am,” Hank stuttered out. He hadn’t expected anyone to be here, “I’m Connor and this is Lieutenant Anderson. We’re from the Detroit Police Department.”

Soon, the woman was joined by an elderly man.

“I’m Joan Moser, this is my husband,” The woman introduced.

“Samuel,” he said and shook their hands. There were a few moments of silence.

“Have you found Lauren?” Joan asked.

Hank shooked his head solemnly.

“No, we hoped to find more information here," Hank glanced inside, "May we come in?" 

"Oh-um" they glanced inside, seemingly to get another person's approval, "Yes, sure, of course."

They entered the home and saw a severely injured android laid across the couch. Hank's analysis program booted up, and he saw how bad the injuries were.

The android had cracks along their arms, back, and alongside their faces. They had transparent stains of blue blood around their body and clothes. Their optical unit was damaged, along with their auditory processor. One arm had been dislocated, and a couple of Thirium veins were broken. 

"Holy shit," Hank whispered. The android looked up at Hank and pushed themselves to the furthest part of the couch.

"We're not here to hurt you," Connor spoke up behind Hank, "we just wanted to find any clues about who kidnapped Lauren and where they might've taken her."

The android didn't relax but did allow Joan to join them on the couch.

"Shh, it's okay, sweetie," Joan whispered soothingly, "I'm here."

Hank decided that he shouldn't stay in there for too long. If he made the Android upset enough, then Joan and Samuel might kick them out.

"Stay here and keep them company, I'm gonna have a look around," Hank informed Connor. Connor nodded before he sat in the nearest armchair.

"Are you Lauren's mother and father?" Connor started. Joan nodded.

"Yes, and Debbie, here, helps take care of us," she introduced the Android. She gingerly placed her hand over the android’s arm. “She’s family.”

Connor nodded his head as he softly smiled at the android. A lot of androids had stayed with their owners post-revolution. Many had formed lifelong bonds that’d remained with them after deviation. Debbie seemed to be one of them.

“The people who attacked, did you happen to see their faces?” Connor asked.

Debbie kept her head down as Joan and Sam exchanged worried looks.

"No, they only shouted at us," Samuel said, "They weren't there for more than five minutes and they were aggressive."

Samuel leaned toward Debbie and softly patted her shoulder.

"Deb tried to keep Baxter hidden, but they… did this to her," Samuel continued.

Connor glanced at Debbie, his eyebrows creased further. The sight made his stomach churn and chest ache. She looked so scared and fragile - more so now that she's huddled into the couch.

"Please… find them," Debbie whispered, her voice was laced with static, "they're my family… please…"

Her eyes started to leak Thirium and then mixed with her tears. Connor's throat tightened as he nodded.

"I promise, we will find them," Connor promised.

Hank listened as he explored the kitchen and hallway. They seemed pretty normal, some standard bills lied on the kitchen counter, the kid's drawings were taped to the fridge, and various toys and snack wrappers were stuffed in cabinets, under chairs, and even behind some shelves.

He opened the door to the kid's room. It was fairly messy with more toys splayed about, papers scattered the desk and floor, the beds had been made but disturbed by frequent sitting and crawling. He spotted a picture of the boys and the Android from the crime scene - Michael. He must've been their nanny.

Hank frowned as he stared at the picture. He swiped the picture across the tablet screen. His chest tightened.

Michael had been there for the kids since they were born. 

One picture had Michael holding a newborn baby, his face joyful, as Lauren smiled tiredly from the hospital bed.

Another swipe revealed a similar picture, but Baxter was a bit bigger. Michael sat beside Lauren on her hospital bed. He held a swaddled Ryan as Baxter sat on Michael's knee. Michael smiled sweetly, Lauren's smile was tired, Baxter's mouth was slightly open as he looked at his baby brother.

Next was Michael and Baxter dressed up for Halloween - they were dressed in orange martial arts suits and held little orange balls with stars in them.

The next was at a park where the kids were in a baby swing, both Lauren and Michael pushing one child each.

The more Hank swiped through the album, the more his chest tightened and the rage inside him burned stronger. 

Those kids had lost their closest father-figure.

Lauren had lost her best friend.

Their family had been fractured, and if he didn't find them, soon, they might lose everything.

Hank placed the tablet against its stand and left the room.

Across the kid's room was Michael's room. It seemed less chaotic than the kid's room, but Hank could deduce that the kids love spending time in here as well. 

There were thick plastic children chairs and a table. A single bed for Michael and a hanging bookshelf filled with both children's books and various fantasy adventure books.

Also, the lower walls were scribbled with crayons and markers.

Hank closed the door to that room and went into Lauren's room.

Her room was impeccably tidy and clean. Her bed was made, the desk in the corner was organized, and her closet seemed undisturbed.

He searched through the desk but found more bill statements, bank papers, property ownership papers, birth certificates, citizenship papers for Michael, and a few mundane notes regarding errands she'd need to do.

He had searched everywhere, from under the bed, behind the desk, and in every pocket of her clothes, but there were no clues or leads.

Hank heard Connor approach the doorway, so he stopped analyzing the walls, ceiling, and vents.

"There's nothing in here," Hank reported, "nothing in the kitchen, the kid's room, or Michael's room… If she had anything from the people she'd been spying on, then she didn't bring it here."

"We can't wait until we get a lead, Hank," Connor urged, "we have less than 38 hours left."

Hank nodded. He ignored the timer that started up, it seemed to have started during their investigation of the crime scene.

"I'm gonna keep looking around," Hank said, "keep talking to the grandparents."

"Okay, Lieutenant," Connor replied before he turned around. Hank briefly followed Connor, into the living room.

"Is it okay if I take a look in the backyard?" Hank asked.

"Yes, of course, do what you need to, Detective," Samuel nodded. Hank returned a quick nod and exited the house through the back door.

Connor returned to his prior seat on the recliner.

The room was awkwardly silent and it made Connor tense and nervous.

"Uhm," Connor drawled out the sound as he tried to fill the silence, "so, how long has Debbie been in the family?"

The two elders glanced at each other, having a nonverbal debate. Eventually, Joan pushed herself to the edge of the couch.

"Debbie was gifted to us by Jessica, our youngest," Joan smiled lovingly at Debbie, "She had families before us, but we didn't care that she had… history."

Joan's careful wording surprised Connor. It also lifted his spirits - the older generation was adjusting as well. 

"She helped us with so much. She was made to be a caretaker, and still is in some ways," Joan smiled as Debbie moved to lean into Joan's shoulder, "Eventually, she became our third daughter - before the protests.”

Connor nodded as he studied Debbie's injuries. If she was left injured then she'd slowly die. He didn't want them to lose more family.

"Have you called for a medic to help her?" He asked.

"We've called, but they're short-staffed. There are not many medics trained, yet"

Connor nodded thoughtfully. There isn’t much that he can do in a human body, but Hank could help. The RK800 models were designed with extensive android repair programs.

"Connor can help,” Connor offered, “He has helped a few androids in the past.”

It was a lie. The only androids Connor had helped prior was a Tracy and Daniel - but both had died shortly after. Daniel had demanded to be killed again after reactivation - or would it be considered reanimation?

"We wouldn't want to interrupt your investigation, but we'd greatly appreciate your help," Joan smiled as she held Debbie’s hands in her own.

"It's no problem at all. I'll go get him," Connor smiled softly before he stood, “Please, excuse me  for a moment.”

He left the family to talk amongst themselves as he exited through the back door. He hoped Hank would be able to bring up the required programs - or at least tell Connor what needs to be done. He wouldn’t want Hank to become uncomfortable when it came to android repair. It may seem intimate for humans.

Connor saw that Hank was bent down by the backyard hedges and flower garden - where a good portion of the garden had bloomed, while other parts were in their early stages.

“Hank?” Connor whispered as he approached.

He watched as Hank dug through the ground around the bloomed flowers.

Connor furrowed his brows in confusion.

“What’re you doing?” Connor asked.

“These are planted too shallow,” Hank replied simply, “gimme a minute.”

Connor crossed his arms as he leaned onto one leg. It was odd to see himself playing in the dirt and mud.

“Aha,” Hank smirked as he plucked a small jewelry box from the ground. He cleaned off the roots and dirt before he opened it. Inside was a flash drive wrapped in several layers of plastic and sealed inside a small plastic bag, “clever.”

Connor’s eyebrows rose in surprise.

“That’s certainly… creative,” Connor commented as he tried to bend his knees and join Hank on the ground.

“Careful there, old-timer,” Hank chuckled.

“Shh,” Connor glared, “just check what’s on it.”

“All right,” Hank said as he unwrapped the plastic, “So--uh--how do I check what’s on it? Do I have a USB port hidden somewhere or--”

Hank , you’re a state of the art RK series android. USB ports are as outdated as floppy disk drives,” Connor replied, annoyed and slightly offended, “you interface with it, like the computer at work.”

“Geez, all right, grump,” Hank murmured as he placed the flash drive on his open palm, “uh--like this, right?”

Hank’s face curled in confusion at the lack of information upload. He lifted the flash drive off his palm, placed it back down, and waited. When nothing happened, he repeated.

Connor looked at Hank, his face mixed with confusion and annoyance.

“Okay, stop, we’ll check it on the computer at work,” Connor said as he grabbed the flash drive from Hank’s palm, “is there anything else you need to check out here?”

“Nah, I’ve checked every inch of this place,” Hank said as he stood up, “everything seemed normal, but that-” he pointed to the flash drive “-is the only vaguely suspicious thing I could find.”

“We’ll need permission to take this,” Connor informed, “or we’ll have to file a search warrant on the residence.”

“Ah, you’re right,” Hank agreed as he dusted off his clothes.

“And I need you to repair Debbie,” Connor asked as he rose to his feet, “if she’s left like that then she may die.”

“Oh-kay,” Hank drawled out the word, unsure of how he’d achieve that.

“Hank, I’ll need you to focus,” Connor pleaded, “and be certain of your actions - but if you don’t think you can do it, then I’ll step in, okay?”

Hank narrowed his eyes at Connor - although the kid meant well, Hank couldn’t help but think there was an underlying doubtfulness in his words. Despite his slightly insulted pride, he nodded.

[Repair KR200]

Chapter Text

“All right, let’s see what I can do,” Hank sighed as he mocked a knuckle crack with his hands, “damn, not as cool,” he mumbled at his hands.

Connor smiled as he shook his head. He was a little humored but unconvinced that Hank would successfully repair the android, but something was better than nothing.

Both men entered the house and approached the living room - Hank held a determined stare in his eyes, as Connor followed, his eyebrows scrunched in concern.

A visible slow exhale released from Hank’s abdomen as he prepared to interact with another android. 

It had finally occurred to Connor that this is Hank’s first interaction with another android while he was trapped inside an android body. Connor hoped this wouldn’t hinder their investigation - both work and personal.

Hank knelt in front of Joan, a bit away from Debbie, so he wouldn’t scare her away. He was unsure of her familiarity with Connor, or if she saw anyone that isn’t family as a threat.

“Hello, Debbie, my name is Connor,” Hank spoke slowly and calmly, “I was told to help repair some of your injuries. May I?”

Hank slowly held out his hand toward her. He didn’t want to spook her or appear malicious in any way. Although, Connor had mentioned a while back that his appearance was specifically chosen to help him integrate - or some bullshit like that , Hank thought to himself.

He brought his attention back to the moment as Debbie placed her hand in Hank’s as she adjusted her position on the couch. Hank smiled softly as he moved to sit upon the coffee table, in front of Debbie.

He had seen a brief summary of her injuries when they arrived, but now that he sat opposite of her - the extent of her injuries was shocking. At his distress of seeing her injuries, the analysis program booted up and informed him of the KR200’s injuries - as well as suggested repairs.

There were so many notifications that made him unsure of where to begin. He would have to treat them similar to a human injury.

“Okay, let’s start with that arm, hm?” Hank whispered. He moved slowly toward her left shoulder, the notifications suggested how he should move the arm. It only took a slight angle adjustment of the arm and one quick push for the arm to be functional again.

“Are you okay?” Hank asked, “Does it feel okay?”

Debbie smiled shyly as she nodded.

“It’s good,” she whispered.

“Good,” Hank muttered as he focused on the broken thirium lines. It seemed that she had started to heal those on her own, but he didn’t want her to lose too much blue blood, “I’d like to fix the thirium line located here--” he pointed the side of her stomach area.

She nodded and leaned back, against the couch, as she raised her shirt. The cracks that were visible along her face and arms had extended into her chest, stomach, and toward her legs. That was something he couldn’t fix, but he had to focus on one thing at a time.

“Okay--um--” Hank muttered to himself. The program appeared again, giving him the needed assistance to open up her chassis. He followed the instructions and immediately got to repairing the lines - which was mostly repositioning the broken lines so it would heal as he held it steady until it was sturdy.

Shit, fucking Nanobites, man , Hank thought to himself as he watched the android heal. He moved over to the next couple of broken lines and repeated the process. Once the lines were repaired, he helped close her chassis and gently pulled her into an upright position.

“There, it should be easier to fix your eye and ear, now,” he commented, “but you should get some--uh--thirium in ya, you lost quite a bit.”

He had almost forgotten that he was treating an android, not a human.

“Thank you,” Debbie smiled softly up at him.

“Nah, don’t thank me yet. Let’s get those fixed first, yeah?” Hank smiled before he started again.

Connor was astonished at Hank’s focus while he worked on the android. He had thought Hank would be repulsed or, at least, uneased by android anatomy. The man showed a gentler side toward the android that Connor hadn’t seen before. He doesn’t think Hank had shown this side to any humans.

[Objective: Completed]

“All right, that should do it,” Hank said as he sat straight, “how’re they working?”

“Much better,” Debbie smiled brighter, “thank you, Connor.”

Connor felt a shiver slither down his spine.

“You’re welcome, kid,” Hank said as he used the end of his sleeve to clean off the thirium from her face, “don’t go picking any more fights. You’re not Super Girl.”

Debbie was confused for a second before she brightened up and chuckled.

“I’ll try not to,” Debbie replied lightly.

The room shifted into a good-humored and relaxed atmosphere as Hank finished up cleaning Debbie’s face.

“Thank you, Connor,” Samuel spoke up as he placed a hand on Hank’s shoulder, “You’re a good man.”

Hank stumbled over his words as he smiled humbly, “I try to be.”

“We should leave soon, Connor,” Connor spoke up, “Mr. and Mrs. Moser, we found this flash drive in the backyard, hidden away. Do we have your permission to take this into our custody?”

“Yes, of course,” Samuel spoke up. Joan was busy doting over Debbie to reply, “Anything to help your investigation.”

“Thank you, Mr. Moser,” Connor smiled politely as he softly bowed his head, “We’ll try to update you as the investigation progresses. Although, we can only share limited information with you. I hope you understand.”

“I understand but thank you in advance,” Samuel shook Connor’s hand as they stood. 

Joan paused her doting to give Connor and Hank a hug. Debbie gave Connor a polite smile, more than enough for Connor to release the tension in his shoulders. She’s safe and healing, that’s all that mattered to him. 

Debbie turned to Hank, her right arm extended out and her skin retracted - exposing her white hand. Hank mistook the gesture for a handshake.

“Oh, um,” Hank fumbled over his words as he mimicked her action - his skin retracted as well, and they gripped the other’s forearm, “whoa”

Interfacing with another android felt odd. Hank could only describe it as the moments where he’d show others something on his phone, but they also showed him theirs. The information wasn’t jumbled or a confusing amalgamation of 1’s and 0’s. It felt like he could show them memories - although they were a little distorted.

But, she took over and showed him one of her memories.

 

Baxter sat in front of the TV, eyes glued to the screen. He watched as the animated character’s danced and sang, so the kid followed along.

He baby babbled as he mimicked the characters, smile wide and face bright. 

Debbie clapped as she joined Baxter’s dancing, even held his hands as they jumped around together. 

They felt so happy.

Baxter tugged at her arms, and she lifted him up and continued dancing. 

A loud door slam made Debbie jerk toward the noise. Baxter continued to babble as he looked at the TV. Debbie cautiously peered out the doorway of the room and into the hall.

“We don’t want to hurt you, old man,” A male voice warned.

[Initializing... Voice Analysis]

[Searching…]

“Search the house. Her brat is somewhere in here,” the male voice ordered.

Debbie closed the door and pushed her back against the wall. She searched around the room and settled on the closet door. 

“Baxy, shh--shh, we’re gonna play hide and seek,” Debbie’s voice shook as she placed Baxter deep into the closet, even piled some clothes on him, “shh, stay quiet, okay? Shh”

Baxter mimicked a ‘shh’ motion with his small fingers before he grabbed some clothes and hugged it.

She closed the closet door and turned off the TV as the bedroom door slammed open. 

“Found the nanny!” the man shouted over his shoulder.

[Initializing… Voice Analysis 2]

[Searching…]

“Where’s the brat?” The man demanded.

“He’s not here,” she lied.

“Bullshit,” he countered as he flipped the beds over, “We know he’s here.”

“He’s not here!” she replied sternly.

The man turned his attention to the closet. She stepped in front of the door.

They were scared .

“Please,” She pleaded, “please he’s only a baby.”

“Move,” he ordered.

“No,” she shook her head.

“Move,” He glared down at her.

“No,” she replied, “No! No! NO! NO !”

The man grabbed her hair and pulled her out of his way. She fought back, though. Her fingers clawed at the man’s hand and wrist, while she kicked at his legs. He grunted in pain.

“Stop that!” He growled.

“Get away from him!” She screamed as she tried to pull him back. “Get away!”

“Goddamn it!” He growled as he turned toward Debbie, “I said stop!”

He gripped her throat and slammed her against the wall. She scratched at his face and left a few long red scratches on his cheek. 

Then he started punching. The memory started to distort as the audio screeched. But, he could see that she was still fighting back. She sent her own barrage of punches, but the man overpowered her. He threw her against the wall, cracking both the wall and her body. 

“Stay down!” He shouted.

They watched as the man opened the closet door and grabbed Baxter. Baxter shrieked as he flailed in the man’s arms. The child tried kicking and hitting the man, but it did nothing.

“Bee! Bee!” Baxter cried as he reached toward Debbie.

NO! Give him back! ” Debbie cried as she crawled toward the door. “ Give him back! Give him back! Please, give him back! Please”

She curled into herself on the floor and sobbed as Joan ran to her side. 

They felt empty without Baxter

They missed Baxter.

They loved their child.

 

Only one second later, they released their grip.

[Search Complete]

[2 Matches Found]

 

Hank’s other hand gripped his forearm as he looked at Debbie, shocked and distraught. He wiped the tears from his eyes before he pulled her in for a hug.

“We’ll find them,” Hank whispered, “We’ll find them.”

Debbie hugged back and buried her face in his shirt.

‘Thank you’ she replied.

Chapter Text

[Objective Completed]

The drive back toward the precinct was quiet. Hank's LED remained red as they left the house. Connor wanted to know what Debbie had shared, but based on Hank’s reaction, he also didn’t want to know.

He’d postpone that subject until Hank opened up about it.

Since Hank had gone silent, Connor offered to drive. Hank needed time to properly absorb the information. Although he was afflicted by Hank’s behavior, he needed to be patient for the other man’s sake. He didn’t want to barrage Hank with stressful questions.

Yet, what deeply disturbed Connor was the lack of music. He tried to play some music to help fill the silence, but Hank turned it off. After the second time, Connor drove in silence.

He wanted to talk to Hank, about anything, to make sure the man was all right, but he was also scared. He was unsure of Hank’s reaction toward any type of conversational topics.

He hated the uncertainty and hesitation that he allowed to overcome him. 

He only hoped that Hank would be all right.

They entered the precinct, still in silence, but Connor stopped Hank before the security gates.

“We need to talk to Fowler, first,” Connor advised, “I’ll understand if you want to sit this one out--”

“Fuck off,” Hank glared as he pushed past Connor.

Connor had gotten used to crude comments and remarks, but this one truly hurt his feelings. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like feeling guilty and useless and helpless.

“No,” Connor grabbed Hank’s shoulder and pushed the man to face him, “If you think you should sit this one out, then you do that. I can handle Fowler.”

“I’m fine ,” Hank hissed out, “Let’s get this over with.”

The tone was harsh and unnerved Connor. He felt his body run cold and a chill shiver down his back.

But, he won’t back down.

Patience be damned if it came to Hank’s well being. He didn’t want the man stressed or be frustrated in front of Captain Fowler.

Fine ,” Connor harshly mocked, “then I want you to sit this one out. Whatever you saw had traumatized you. I want you to stay at your desk and find out what’s on this.”

He roughly handed the USB drive into Hank’s chest. The man grabbed the device before it fell to the ground.

[Examine USB Flash Drive]

Hank looked at the device in his hand. At least he wouldn’t emotionally blow up on Fowler and he’d have a chance to interface with the computer - hopefully, this time would be smoother.

“All right,” Hank muttered before he left Connor behind and headed toward his desk. Connor watched with a slight glare as he followed.

“Other side, Hank,” Connor whispered softly and ended with a sigh.

Hank had almost sat in the wrong chair, at the wrong desk, before he angrily moved to the other desk. 

Connor walked directly to Fowler’s office and entered - he didn’t care if the Captain was busy.

“What the hell, Hank,” Fowler cursed as he moved the phone away from his face, “Wait outside like everyone else - or at least knock.”

“Fowler, we need to talk,” Connor conjured the sternest tone he could. He swiftly closed the door behind him.

“I’m gonna call you back,” Fowler said into the phone and ended his call, “What is it?”

“We’ve got a dirty cop in the department,” Connor reported, “I don’t know who, but they’ve leaked information about Lauren’s involvement as a police informant. I believe this is what caused her kidnapping.”

Fowler had settled his elbows on the desk as he nodded along.

“Bold accusation,” Fowler finally replied, “I’ll look into it. For now, focus on the case. If I find anything then I’ll inform you immediately.”

Connor released the tension in his shoulders. He was relieved to know that Fowler trusted Hank enough to believe him.

“Thanks,” Connor sighed.

“You haven’t let me down before, Hank,” Fowler hinted, “Keep this between you, Connor, and I, all right? No witch hunts. No vigilante heroic shit. Understood?”

Connor subtly furrowed his eyebrows. 

What had Hank done to deserve that strict warning?

“Yes, sir,” Connor replied.

“Sir?” Fowler chuckled as he leaned back, “Get outta my office, Hank.”

“Yep,” Connor replied.

Had he slipped up? Fowler wouldn’t be suspicious about Hank’s odd behavior, right?

At least he amused the Captain.

Connor exited the office and made his way to Hank’s desk.

Hank, himself, was in Connor’s chair, bent over the terminal. His eyes rapidly moved left to right, obviously reading at super speed.

When Connor settled into the chair, Hank moved his attention to Connor.

“And?” Hank asked before he looked back at the terminal.

“Fowler believed me,” Connor replied as he logged into Hank’s terminal.

“Of course, he’d be an idiot not too,” Hank mumbled - the computer had most of his attention.

“He said ‘ No witch hunts. No vigilante heroic shit ’,” Connor noted nonchalantly. He leaned forward, against the desk, as he whispered to Hank, “Have you… handled a situation like this before?”

Hank briefly paused his reading, before he continued.

“I’ll tell you later,” he replied, “right now, I’ve found a pretty good motive for the killers…”

Connor sat up straight.

And ?” He mocked.

And Lauren’s been thorough at collecting evidence against these guys,” Hank informed, “she’s been undercover in a subgroup of the Zala Syndicate."

Connor paled and his body ran cold.

"What did she compile?" Connor asked.

"Almost everything," Hank replied, "She recorded the names and roles of every member she's met. She's vetted them, too. There's a list of all drug deals she’s witnessed. She's uncovered five labs where they're making meth, heroin, red ice, synthetic mephedrone, synthetic cannabis, and MDMA… shit."

Hank leaned back and rubbed his face.

"There's a lot of evidence here… enough to warrant a further investigation and may even involve the FBI," Hank noted, "we've got to send this over to Reed. He’s handled them once, so he can handle this shitstorm."

Connor nodded. There's not much they can do with all this information. They can only use some of the information to find Lauren and the kids.

"Is there anything in there that could lead us to her whereabouts?" Connor asked.

Hank sighed and sat forward.

"Yep," Hank removed the USB flash drive from the computer, "her subgroup had access to dozens of storage facilities, cargo ports, and warehouses. It's going to take some time to narrow the list."

Connor groaned as he sat back in the chair. 

"Well, it's something…" Connor huffed, "Can you check on the status of Lauren's file? I'm going to get a snack."

[Objective Complete]

[Check the status of file]

"Yeah, I've got to drop by their office, personally, for that. There should be some spare change in one of the drawers down there," Hank said as he pointed to the drawers to Connor's left, "Can you give this to Reed? I don't feel like dealing with him right now."

"Of course," Connor said as he took the USB flash drive from Hank. Hank rose from the seat, straightened the grey jacket, the tie, and adjusted his shoulders.

“Convincing?” Hank asked.

Connor shook his head with a slight smile.

“Close,” Connor commented.

“Eh, that’s good enough,” Hank said with a wave of his hand before he left.

Connor glanced at the snack machine in the break room. It was vintage - accepted only coins and operated with old buttons - but it was better than nothing. He just needed enough to buy a bag of chips or even a granola bar.

Connor opened the top drawer of the desk and started to dig around for the coins. 

He had found an empty box of paperclips, three necklaces made of paperclips, a small empty stapler, random balls of paper, two pennies, a dirty nickel, and two quarters. 

It wasn’t enough.

Connor sighed as he fished out the coins and placed them on the desk. He opened the bottom drawer and it only had a deconstructed pen and a rubber band.

He closed the drawer and began to search the top of the desk for any more coins. He gave up his search and sat back in the chair.

Maybe he’ll search Hank’s car for some more coins.

He groaned as he swiped the coins and USB flash drive off the desk and stood. It’s early evening and he’s starting to feel a little achy. A subtle headache has been forming behind his forehead and his feet hurt - despite hardly spending time on it. 

Nonetheless, he had to persist for now. He can’t complain since Hank hardly ever complained about being tired.

Connor made his way over to Detective Reed’s desk. 

Reed was lounged back against his chair, on his phone, when Connor approached.

He tossed the USB Flash drive onto Reed’s stomach. 

Reed picked up the device and looked at Connor, confused.

“That contains enough evidence for you to take down the Zala Empire. Be careful and don’t fuck it up,” Connor said nonchalantly. He always wanted to exude the nonchalant, no-fucks-given attitude that Hank often had. He always wanted to be rude to Reed without the subject of his species being brought up.

Reed narrowed his eyes in suspicion at the flash drive and to Connor.

“Thanks?” Reed drawled out the word as he sat up straight.

“Yep, don’t say I don’t do anything for ya,” Connor shrugged and left to search Hank’s car.

When Connor neared the security gate, he heard Reed breathe out, “Oh shit, oh fuck! Nines! Nines, get your ass over here!”

 

As Hank waited at the receptionist’s desk at file records, he found himself fidgeting with his suit and tie quite a bit. His thoughts strayed to the interaction with Debbie. The fear she felt shook him to his core. The sorrow muddled his mind. He couldn’t stop the repeated 0words from haunting his ears.

Bring him back.

Bring him back.

Bring him back.

Eventually, he huffed and searched for the coin that Connor kept. He found it in the inner breast pocket of the jacket and inspected the coin.

It was a plain 1994 American quarter. He flipped the coin in the air and caught it between his index and middle finger. He flicked it back and forth, from one hand to the other, and even juggled it a bit. 

It was fun.

“Detective,” the receptionist spoke up. Hank stopped his coin tricks and pocketed the coin in one smooth motion.

“Yes?” Hank replied, slightly embarrassed.

“The file you’ve requested doesn’t exist in our system,” she announced, “we’ve tripled checked both computers, external hard drives, and physical copies.”

Hank’s eyebrows creased in confusion.

“It must exist. I put a request for it this morning,” Hank replied.

“Yes, we’ve gotten that request, but we can’t seem to find the file,” she replied firmly, “I’m sorry, Detective, but this is all we can do…”

He cursed slightly as he looked away from her.

“I understand your frustration,” she whispered and leaned forward, “from the time your request was placed and us checking, someone must’ve interfered. I assure you, we’re investigating our breach in security. We should have this resolved by tomorrow morning.”

He groaned.

“I don’t have until then,” He argued, “this case is extremely time-sensitive. I’ve wasted enough time standing around, as is.”

She frowned.

“I’m as pissed about this as you are, Connor, but you’ll have to continue your case despite this setback. I’ll keep you updated, understood?”

Hank nodded. Any angry female tone brought back distant memories of his ex-wife. When she was mad, she was mad . It always caught him by surprise - the hard glare, bitter tone, and the pure anger in her eyes. He almost shivered as he thought about her.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied politely.

“Good,” she replied with a curt nod, “I assume you’ll return the courtesy if you find any information about this, right?”

“Of course, I will,” Hank replied, “Have a good day.”

“You too, Connor,” she replied sweetly. 

[Mission Complete]

[Aid File Records’ Investigation - optional]

Hank left the office and headed back to his building. He felt the frustration and anger build inside his chest once again. He disliked this setback but hated the thought of someone sabotaging his investigation even more. They’re a pain in his ass.

Hank paused his angry trudging through the campus when he saw Connor searching his car. He made his way over and watched the man for a bit.

His shoulders relaxed as he watched Connor scavenge spare coins from between the seats. He seemed to have collected almost two dollars in coins - all placed on the dashboard.

“Find any good treasure in there?” Hank asked.

Connor stood up suddenly, then hissed in pain when his head hit the car.

“There were only fifty-eight cents in your desk,” Connor said as he rubbed his head, “we should upgrade the snack machine to accommodate credit cards.”

Hank chuckled as he crossed his arms.

“Maybe,” Hank shrugged, “but where else are we gonna put our spare change?”

“In your bank, as any reasonable person should,” Connor responded as he swiped the coins from the dashboard, “what happened with our request?”

Hank dropped his arms and sighed.

“Someone deleted any copy of the files before it could be checked,” Hank reported, “sonovabitch was thorough.”

Connor sat back on the seat and exhaled deeply.

“What do we do now?” Connor groaned as his head leaned against the seat.

“Get you some food while we figure that out,” Hank waved for Connor to exit the car, “move, Super Mario, I’m driving.”

“Super Mario?” Connor questioned as he slid to the passenger seat.

“I’m disappointed in you, Connor,” Hank deadpanned as he turned on the car, “Once this case is over I’m digging out my old Nintendo and Super Mario Bros and we’re gonna play that game for the next month.”

Connor glanced nervously at Hank. He had never heard of ‘ Nintendo ’ nor ‘ Super Mario Bros ’. Hank used the type of humor that Connor had trouble identifying.

“A month straight or…” Connor asked.

“Nah, we don’t get paid to play games. We’ll play it after work, dingus,” Hank replied with a smile.

Ah , Connor thought. It was a dry-humored joke. It’s been difficult identifying those jokes outside of Hank’s usually told jokes - but being human had made it especially difficult.

“Okay,” Connor smiled, “So, who’s Mario’s brother? Does the game allow multiplayer or is it online?”

Hank smiled.

“It’s super old-school. Only allows one player at a time, but ya gotta switch players if one dies in the game,” Hank explained, “his name is Luigi. He looks like Mario, but with a green shirt and hat instead of red.”

Connor nodded along.

Meanwhile, Hank started to remember when he would play the game with his dad. His dad always won - and had no mercy for Little Hank. Although, it fueled his child-self to get better at the game and surpass his father’s highest level.

That game system forged a bond between him and his father that continued well into their lives - to the annoyance of his mom.

“Hey, maybe we’ll play other Nintendo games, too,” Hank offered.

“What type of games?” Connor asked.

“Oh, man, lemme think,” Hank sighed, “Duck Hunt was my second favorite. There’s Tetris, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - oh man that became my favorite when I was a kid.”

Connor smiled softly as Hank rambled on, again. He didn’t mind. At least Hank had loosened up, smiled, and joked around a little bit. 

At least he had relaxed a little.

Chapter Text

The sun had set when they arrived at a Chinese restaurant near the precinct. Hank parked the car nearby and they walked from there. 

“Have you even played any video games, yet?” Hank asked.

Connor shrugged.

“Casual games, like Munch-Munch Mojave and the old Candy Crush games,” Connor opened the door for Hank, “do phone games count?”

“Eh, barely,” Hank shrugged back, “You should try the console games. The Grand Theft Auto games are always fun.”

“I’ll have to try them one day,” Connor replied as they waited in line. 

“Good, also try the Resident Evil games too,” Hank patted Connor’s shoulder, “might scare the shit outta ya, but it’s really fun.”

Connor chuckled as they stepped forward, to the cashier. He looked up at the menu, unsure of what to order.

Hank noticed Connor’s hesitation.

“I got you,” Hank stepped forward, “We’ll have a small egg drop soup, wonton soup, two egg rolls, the fried wonton, veggie fried rice, beef with broccoli, and teriyaki chicken.”

The cashier frantically pressed buttons as Hank listed the items. By the end, the cashier nodded.

“Hank… I can’t eat all that,” Connor whispered.

“Some, for now, some for later, trust me,” Hank replied.

“Is that all?”

“And a large drink,” Hank smiled.

The cashier nodded.

Connor took a moment to examine the menu board. There were various dishes and sides that made his head spin. Egg Foo Yung, lo mein, chop suey, beef fried rice, lobster sauce, wontons, and more.

“Thanks, we’ll take it all to go,” Hank said then turned to Connor, “here’s the cup, go grab whatever.”

Connor grabbed the cup and made his way to the fountain drink machine. He looked at the various drinks. Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Fruit Punch, Sweet Tea, Lemonade, and more.

“There are so many choices,” Connor whispered.

There was a small giggle from beside him. Connor looked over and saw a little girl with a small cup. 

“I like to mix them!” The girl smiled, “Fruit Punch and Lemonade.”

Connor watched as she mixed the two drinks. She sipped from the straw and nodded.

“Try it, mister,” she said then left to her family.

Connor did as the kid told him, then placed a lid on it, pushed a straw in, and sipped.

He wasn’t disappointed.

“Whoa,” Connor whispered as he gave the girl a thumbs up and returned to Hank.

“I saw that,” Hank smiled, “I’m more of a ‘mix all the drinks’ type of guy.”

Connor’s face scrunched in disgust.

“Coke and Lemonade?” Connor asked.

And all the rest,” Hank added.

“Y-ugh, I’m going to stick with this,” Connor replied then sipped the drink again.

“At least try it first,” Hank crossed his arms as he leaned against the wall.

“Ummm, no,” Connor replied. Hank chuckled.

They stood in comfortable silence.

Hank took this chance to check if any notifications were unintentionally put aside. He found that there were dozens.

[Systems Check… Fully functional]

[Stasis Not Required…]

[Next Recommended Stasis - - - 122 hours]

[Voice Recognition Software - - - 2 matches identified]

[Match 1: Maximus Kjell Anatoly]

[Match 2: Ronald Aleksander Zala]

Hank started up a criminal background check on the two men. The results disturbed him slightly.

Maximus had several charges of drug possession, aggravated assault, possession of a deadly weapon, domestic abuse, and a few DUI’s. 

Ronald had similar charges, with added attempted murder with a deadly weapon. That had him jailed for several weeks, but he was released on parole. 

Ronald must’ve had connections within the department, a good lawyer, or both. His last name leads Hank to believe that Ronald has family within the Zala Syndicate. He wasn’t sure what the kid’s role was within the family, but it’s not good that he had been identified as a kidnapper.

Hank knew he had to tell Connor, but he didn’t want to talk about the interface with Debbie. It still scared him.

He’d wait until after Connor had eaten. He didn’t want the man to push aside a meal while he knew their suspects are out there. At this point in their night, a slight distraction would be helpful - more so for Connor.

When their order arrived, Hank grabbed the bags and nodded to Connor.

“Ready?” Hank asked.

“Yeah, lemme refill. I’ll meet you outside,” Connor replied.

[Wait for Hank outside]

Hank left the restaurant and patiently waited outside. He turned his attention back to the two suspects and sent out an APB. He also sent messages out to several patrol officers about Sumo - but nothing yet. 

He did miss Sumo. It hurt to think the old dog isn’t sleeping at home, warmed up on Hank’s couch, snoring loudly, and making little ‘boofs’ every so often.

Shit, Sumo. I hope you stay outta trouble until we find you , Hank thought to himself. 

He decided to also post on public pages about Sumo missing. He found a decent photo of Sumo, that Connor had stored away, that showed both Sumo’s size and collar.

Hell, it wasn’t too hard, since Connor had hundreds of photos of Sumo.

When Connor exited the restaurant, Hank decided to keep the news of Sumo to himself as well.

He knew how much Connor loved Sumo, and he didn’t want to upset the man.

“Ready to head back to work?” Hank asked. 

He didn’t want to go home yet. 

He didn’t want them to return to an empty home - the main reminder that Sumo is still missing.

[Objective Completed]

“Sure, maybe I could get the rest of the paperwork done,” Connor almost whined, which made Hank laugh.

“Now you know how I felt,” Hank joked as he escorted Connor to the car. Connor only hummed in response. They both entered the car, Hank placed the food between them, and they returned to the precinct.

 

When they returned to the precinct, it was almost chaotic. There were various SWAT members stood around, Captain Allen talked with Detective Reed and Nines - all three in SWAT uniforms with their equipment. Several members of the DEA stood beside them. 

Captain Fowler had joined them as well.

Hank’s identification program booted up, and he knew the names, ranks, and relevant personal information of everyone in that group.

The interesting part was that the rest of the officers from this department are gone.

Connor stepped toward the group and caught Fowler’s attention.

“Detective, nice of you to bring us dinner,” Fowler joked.

Connor looked at the food Hank held and shrugged.

“I can’t eat all of it,” he smiled, “help yourselves.”

Hank placed the food on the table in the middle of the room and let the men grab whatever they wanted. He was more concerned about the collection of divisions in their building.

“The flash drive you two brought in had more than enough evidence for search and arrest warrants. I have only those I trust on this raid,” Fowler informed, “I haven’t found our rat, but we’ll have them soon enough.”

“Good,” Hank replied, “We’ve collected enough evidence from that flash drive to aid our investigation… Good luck on your raid, Captain.”

“Thanks, Connor,” Fowler replied with a small smile, “Good luck on yours. If we find anything concerning your investigation then I’ll send it right away.”

“Okay,” Hank nodded then turned his attention toward Connor, Connor had gathered a little of everything from his large dinner. Currently, the man was socializing with a couple of DEA agents. The larger DEA agent slapped Connor’s shoulder as he laughed.

“Er… Hank?” Hank said as he walked up to the man. The DEA agent’s cheerful mood didn’t sour at the sight of Hank.

“Oh, this your partner?” the DEA Agent asked as he held out his hand, “ASAC Sherman, this is Agent Stevens and over there is Agent Adams. Lieutenant Anderson was telling me about the recent Christmas party your department had last year. It’s a shame we missed it, eh?”

The man laughed as he elbowed Connor’s arm. Connor chuckled slightly, clearly uncomfortable from the amount of energy radiating from this man. Hank never liked hanging around high energized people - they always seemed to put him in a worse mood.

“A real shame,” Hank replied, “Sorry to be a party pooper, but I need Lieutenant Anderson’s attention back on our investigation.”

“Oh, of course,” Agent Sherman nodded then firmly shook Connor’s hand, and then Hank’s, “Good luck, gentleman. Thanks for the tip of the Zala Case. We’ve been trying to catch that sneaky bastard for years now.”

“The pleasure is ours, Agent,” Hank spoke up as he smiled, “And good luck with yours… Now, if you don’t mind.”

Hank escorted Connor away from the Agents and toward their desks. Connor let out a deep sigh as he slowly sat in the chair.

“Tired?” Hank asked as he sat in Connor’s designated chair.

“Yeah,” Connor replied, “It feels like all the energy was sucked outta me… I can barely smile or… talk…”

“Yeah, that’s because I wasn’t a huge fan of extroverts,” Hank shrugged, “So, you’re feeling years of the trained emotional drain when meeting them. You just need some coffee, food, and more coffee.”

Connor nodded as he slowly nibbled at the egg rolls.

“Is that why you’re always in a bad mood?” Connor asked.

Hank chuckled.

“Eh, it’s like forty percent emotionally drained, thirty percent tired, and thirty percent ‘done with life’s shit’,” Hank replied as he manually logged into Connor’s computer.

“So, I need more sleep, more caffeine, and a little less nihilism,” Connor concluded as he finished the egg rolls.

“Whatever floats your boat,” Hank shrugged.

Connor tiredly chuckled as he grabbed another egg roll and ate it.

“Can you get me a coffee?” Connor asked, his tone was tired and his eyes drooped a little. He was at the edge of sleep, and Hank understood the feeling of laziness all too well.

[Get Hank Coffee]

“Yeah, sure, eat up,” Hank smiled as he stood up, “how much sugar?”

“Hm… Four?” Connor replied as he yawned.

“All right,” Hank replied before he left to the break room.

The DEA and SWAT team had started to leave as Hank entered the break room. A few were double-checking their equipment, and the rest were following Agent Sherman and Captain Allen to their vehicles.

It felt like another day at the office, in fact, and Hank knew the day wasn’t over yet. 

He still needed to narrow the list of possible locations Lauren might be at. 

Sumo was still missing. 

Also, Connor and Hank hadn’t made any progress in their situation.

As Hank stirred the cream and sugar into the coffee, he made a mental note - which immediately booted up his objective program- that he had to protect Connor while he’s in this vulnerable form. 

This felt more important than any other objectives the program had conjured up. It felt personal - which briefly alarmed him as the objective program glitched briefly.

[Protect Hank]

When the notification disappeared, his protective instinct heightened.

One of the subcategories to protecting Connor had to be ensuring the man had enough sleep.

Before, Hank had slept between an hour to almost twenty-four hours straight. That wasn’t good enough for Connor. The average he settled on was about eight hours for Connor - which was what he read about through various sleep health advice articles.

He also knew his sobriety wasn’t consistent, so he had to keep Connor away from alcohol. He needed him to remain sharp and sober.

Connor would need to be lead through the process of being human.

Hank had realized how careful he had to be. It was easier for Hank to return to old bad habits, and he hoped Connor wouldn’t develop those as well. 

He never cared for his health before, but now that someone else - that he cared about - is living in his horrible routine with his jaded body, he had to step up.

[Help Hank]

The objective was vague enough for Hank to work with. He didn’t need specifics - actually, this was majorly helpful as it gave him more freedom to ensure Connor’s going to be okay.

There was another glitch.

What was happening? Hank thought. Maybe he needed to download an update?

Hank returned to Connor and placed the coffee on the table.

[Objective Completed]

“Drink up, we’re gonna map out the locations and then head home,” Hank said as he sat down.

“M’kay, shouldn’t take too long, right?” Connor replied before he gingerly sipped the hot coffee.

“Eh, there’s about fifty-five locations we gotta map, so…” Hank trailed off, “Let’s give us a couple of hours, then finish the rest tomorrow morning.”

Connor tiredly gazed at Hank as he nodded.

“Okay, sounds like a plan,” He said as he stretched, “Let’s hurry this up, I think I’m about to go into a food coma.”

Hank laughed and Connor joined in.

Chapter Text

They finished their map at around ten o’clock. Connor was exhausted by that point, but Hank still had the energy to spare. Despite his limitless energy, Hank helped Connor back home and pushed aside his ‘ to-do list ’ until he could ensure Connor’s comfortable and rested at home.

Shortly after they arrived home, Connor dragged his feet straight to Hank’s room, collapsed on the bed, and immediately fell asleep.

Hank removed his jacket and shoes before he followed Connor into the bedroom.

It felt odd to watch himself sleep, but he knew that Connor was in there. Hank knew how he, himself, slept before this incident. He sprawled across the bed, often moved around too much - his ex-wife had complained on that several times - and he hardly needed a pillow.

Yet, when Connor slept he curled against the pillow in his arms. He cradled his head on the second pillow and slept comfortably in a - almost - fetal position.

Hank removed Connor’s shoes and tucked him in before he set the alarm clock for seven-thirty in the morning. 

He closed the bedroom door and made himself comfortable on the couch. He wasn’t sure of what Connor did when he didn’t need stasis - or if unnecessary stasis would be harmful to his system.

So, for the next several hours he kept himself busy with re-examining evidence, checking the status of Sumo’s case, and watching various streaming services. Eventually, he lost himself in an online RPG shooter game and chatted with some of the people online. 

 

Connor groaned loudly as he curled under the blanket. The screaming alarm made his head hurt, in turn, it woke him up enough to feel the aches and pains created from yesterday’s activities. He slowly turned onto his back as his hand swung over to hit the alarm clock. 

It didn’t shut up.

He hit the device several times before he threw it across the room and laid on the bed.

He heard a chuckle from the door.

“Good morning, Lieutenant ,” Hank mocked from the door.

Connor responded with a long, tired groan.

“Imma give you fifteen minutes to wake up,” Hank said, “then you gotta shower, stinky before I even consider making you breakfast.”

Connor groaned again.

“Wuh--folds,” Connor mumbled from the pillow.

“What?” Hank asked.

Connor lazily pushed himself onto his back.

“Waffles,” He repeated.

“Of course, milord,” Hank mocked in a British accent, “anything else, sir?”

“Eggs… bacon… that grated potato stuff--”

“Hash Browns?”

“Yeah, those… and coffee ,” Connor sighed.

Hank chuckled.

“Yes, milord,” Hank repeated in a British accent.

Connor groaned as he grabbed the nearest pillow and threw it in Hank’s direction.

Hank laughed as he smacked the pillow to the floor.

“Hurry up, you have twelve minutes left,” Hank replied as he kicked the pillow toward the bed.

Connor let out another groan as Hank left the room.

He found that twelve minutes flew by, almost like it was mere seconds later, when Hank played with the lights, kicked and knocked on the door and walls.

WAKE UP! WAKE UP! GET YOUR ASS UP! ” Hank shouted. 

“Augh!” Connor shouted back as he slowly sat up. “I’mmup.”

“Then GET YOUR ASS TO THE BATHROOM, you smell like an ogre,” Hank smiled as he left the light on. 

Connor gradually rose from the bed and dragged his feet to the bathroom. The rest of his movement felt automatic as his mind remained exhausted.

When he was fully conscious he was seated at the kitchen table, a plate of hot breakfast and a cup of coffee ready for him.

He softly smiled as he picked up a fork and knife and dug in.

“Thanks… kid,” Connor smirked as he bit into the piece of waffle.

“Pfft,” Hank scoffed, “That ain’t even an insult--a compliment, really.” Hank shrugged as he washed the dishes.

Connor rolled his eyes as he ate.

“Any updates on… well, anything?” Connor asked.

“Well, I’ve set up a few social media pages and groups about finding Sumo - I called it Where’s Sumo - and they’re spotting him all over the city. I’ve never seen Sumo walk around the block without begging to be carried back. Some people have tried catching him, but he’s too sneaky…” Hank laughed at the last part, “At least we have eyes on him, right?”

Connor nodded.

“It’s way better than blindly worrying,” Connor replied, “We should give our thanks to the people that helped.”

“Yeah, like what? Dinner? A gift card?” Hank jokes.

“Something like that,” Connor replied, “A Christmas card with Sumo on it?”

Hank laughed hard at that.

“Dress him up and everything?” Hank asked, “After all the shit he put us through, then yeah we’ll do that, too.”

Connor chuckled as he finished up his waffles.

“What about the case?” Connor asked as he started on the eggs.

“I’ve had several uni’s check out a fourth of the storage facilities from the list,” Hank informed, “A few others are scheduled to check a couple of private ports, half the buildings and lots.”

“Are you sure it isn’t too much for the department? We’re not only checking Detroit but in Warren and Taylor and Livonia. How can we expect to check there when we have no jurisdiction--”

“Calm down, kid, I’ve sent a few emails to their departments to check the places on our behalf. I’m waiting for their reply,” Hank said as he wiped his hands and sat across from Connor, “Don’t worry too much about it. I’ve got your back.”

He’s got my back , Connor thought to himself.

Now that he’s fully woken up, his anxiety and worry over everything started to overrun his mind. He felt that he hadn’t worked hard enough, or enough in general. 

Since he’d been in Hank’s body he has felt that he’d been too relaxed. He hasn’t been moving fast enough or working hard enough or dedicating his every thought to the case.

It was easier for him to investigate while as an android. He missed it, a lot more than he expected.

“We better get going,” Connor wiped his mouth with a napkin, “We have less than…” he paused as he tried to do the math, “less than twenty-four hours--”

“Twenty-two,” Hank corrected.

Shit , Connor cursed in his mind.

“Less than twenty-two hours and we need to move even faster now that we have some possible locations they could be at,” Connor ranted as he collected his dishes and placed them in the sink, “So, let’s hurry.”

Hank nodded as he stood up.

“All right, Lieutenant, let’s hurry this up,” Hank smiled as he followed Connor toward the front door. He grabbed the car keys, slipped on his shoes, and tossed a jacket to Connor, “If your hungry later then lemme know. I know I snacked a lot.”

Connor didn’t reply as he trudged toward the car. Hank shrugged him off as he locked the door, sent a quick message update to the ‘ Where’s Sumo ’ pages & groups, and scanned his emails for anything related to their case.

When he entered the car, Connor held a determined stare toward the dashboard.

Hank knew something was bothering Connor, but he won’t prod this sitting bull. At least, not right now.

They arrived at the precinct in silence as Connor briskly walked to their desks. Reed and Nines weren’t at their desks, as well as a few of the other officers. He hoped the raid had gone smoothly last night. He’d hate to hear that something bad had happened - either injury, failed missions, or worse.

Hank stood next to Connor as they stared at their small map of Detroit.

“Which locations were checked last night?” Connor asked, his hands fidgeted with a box of colored push pins.

Hank pointed out nine locations and Connor replaced the pins. They stood back and stared at the map again.

“Okay, we should start with the nearest one and work around the map,” Connor said as he pointed around the map, “We could work in a couple of ports in the afternoon if we leave now.”

“Whoa, okay, are you up for that?” Hank asked as he looked at Connor.

“Just get me some coffee to keep me going, all right,” Connor replied as he turned away from Hank.

[Get Hank Coffee]

“Okay, let’s head out,” Hank said as he followed behind Connor.

 

The first few storage units were clear, but one held and unnervingly amount of old, dusty dolls that made Connor’s whole body cold and almost trembled. Hank commented on the creepiness factor and mentioned that they should watch Child’s Play and Annabelle when they’re done with the case.

The next few were as uneventful and fruitless.

The ports nearest them were empty. Although one seemed abandoned and set on fire a while back - probably years back because there was only a large black ashy stain around the docking port.

By the end of the ninth storage unit, Connor had gotten hungry and tired, but he didn’t want it to hold him back. 

As they drove toward the next port, Connor finished the last of his coffee and Hank fidgeted around in the seat. 

He constantly adjusted his seating position, tapped his fingers against the wheel, and even attempted to pop his knuckles - which frustrated the man because there were no knuckles to pop.

“You need to recalibrate,” Connor commented as glanced at the man. He hoped Hank was okay. Something had been on the man’s mind, but Connor wasn’t sure which incident it would be from the last two days.

“I know, I know, it’s just that…” Hank turned the car into a drive-thru coffee shop and they waited behind the line of cars, “I’m--when Debbie held my arm and showed me her memories… I saw the moments those bastards took Baxter and when they beat the absolute shit outta her… and--and how scared and hopeless she felt.”

Hank’s hands trembled as he held them together to keep them steady. He let out a long deep sigh as he stared at the steering wheel.

“It all reminded me of-of the time I lost my boy,” Hank started, “We were at a store and I was distracted for not even five seconds, then he was gone…. I freaked the fuck out because I didn’t know if someone took him or he wandered away and then someone took him--” Hank stopped himself and took another deep breath, “Debbie felt a similar sense of dread and terror as she watched Baxter being taken away… but, to me, it felt worse because she saw the bastards and she tried to keep him safe, but it wasn’t enough.”

Connor listened quietly as he carefully watched Hank. He didn’t know if that ‘ we ’ included his ex-wife, but the blame Hank placed on himself was all the same.

“You found him, right? You found Cole,” Connor replied.

Hank nodded as he chuckled and wiped away the stray tears.

“Yeah, he ran off with a bag of candy and my wallet,” Hank smiled as he laughed, “I wasn’t even mad when I f0und him.”

Connor nodded as he smiled. He slowly placed his hand on Hank’s arm, which caught the man’s attention and pulled him back to the moment.

“I cannot start to imagine how it felt, both experiences, but you found Cole and we’re going to find Baxter and Ryan and Lauren,” Connor’s stare was gentle and reassured Hank, “It’s going to be hard - processing the interface while working this case, but you will get through it. You’re a stubborn man, Hank, and it’s what makes you you . I promise that we will find them and when we find the men that took those kids  we’re going to make sure they’re going to rot in prison.”

Hank nodded as he wiped away more tears.

“At least let me take a few swings at them. To make me feel better,” Hank joked.

“We gotta find them before anyone else, first,” Connor joked as he sat back.

Hank let out a loud ‘HA’ as he pulled the car forward.

“That’s one more thing to look forward to,” Hank said as he parked by the menu board, “So, what do you wanna try this time?”

“Eh, surprise me,” Connor shrugged.

“Hey, can I get a large caramel macchiato with two shots of espresso and whipped cream,” Hank said into the speaker.

“You’re gonna give me a heart attack,” Connor said.

“Or have you look slightly alive,” Hank joked.

Connor laughed.

Hank smiled at Connor, grateful that the kid could keep him from spiraling down into self-hatred and guilt. He’s never had anyone pull him from the edge of that spiral. He tried to pull himself out but found that he’d rather suffer then and deal with the aftermath later.

This kid helped Hank way more than he’d ever admitted. He wanted to keep Connor safe as he did with Cole, but this time around he’d be better. He had to be better.

[Objective Complete]

Chapter Text

“Which locations did the patrol officers check?” Connor asked as he looked at their vague list of locations written upon an empty fast-food paper bag.

“Well, you can cross off that - and that - that - that - that one - that,” Hank went on for a while as Connor crossed off each one. Eventually, they reached near the end of the list.

“Should we trust what they say?” Connor asked as he looked at the last four locations on the list.

“We don’t have a choice,” Hank replied, “at least until after we check out these last ones, then re-examine the locations if we have to.”

Connor sighed as he crushed the paper bag and threw it to the floor.

“Let’s check the last port. Get it off the list,” Connor huffed as he leaned against the seat. Hank noticed how defeated Connor looked as they neared the end of their list. He understood how stressful and disappointing he’d feel as they’d get closer to a dead end. Often, this is when his ‘ glass-half-empty’ mentality would come forward - and it seemed Connor felt similar.

“Hey, we’re gonna find them,” Hank replied, “we’ve basically combed through the whole city for them.”

Connor nodded as they neared Detroit Terminal and Dock.

They weaved through the parking lot and pass the security checkpoint - Hank had called them while they traveled from the last two storage buildings, so they don’t run into any complications.

Despite the ease of entry, Connor didn’t like the way the security guard stared at them. He watched the man as they drove away - the guard immediately picked up the phone and turned away from them.

“Already on it,” Hank mumbled as he parked the car, “He’s alerted someone that we’re here… Be on your guard, Con.”

“Right,” Connor agreed as they exited the car. Hank waved a ‘ thanks ’ to the guard before they entered the maze of stacked shipping containers. 

Connor felt dwarfed by the size of a single shipping container. Hank’s body stood at six feet, three inches, but he wasn’t nearly tall enough to reach his arm up and touch the edge of the container. More so since they were stacked two or three containers high.

“Can you scan the area? Find out what’s in these containers,” Connor asked.

[Identify Shipping Contents]

“Yeah, no problem,” Hank said and the program immediately booted up, The program continued throughout his search of the perimeter. It was helpful enough to hack into the nearest device and obtained catalogs of each container, their destination, the merchant’s shipping and receiving them. 

[Objective Completed]

“These are mostly dry food,” Hank informed as he glanced around the area, “Let’s keep going.”

Connor stayed close to Hank, only detouring to ask Hank about a group of containers hidden away from their view.

“Another dead end,” Connor groaned as he turned around, “This maze sucks.”

Hank chuckled lightly.

“Imma take you to a corn maze, might be good practice for ya,” Hank replied as they retraced their steps.

“Imma drive through it,” Connor replied smugly, “Problem solved.”

Hank shook his head as he smiled.

“Can’t drive through this, Ricky Bobby,” Hank retorted.

“Who?” Connor asked.

“Nevermind,” Hank pointed to their left, “Let’s head back this way, there’s a turn we didn’t take--”

Hank brought a finger to his lips as he pushed his arm out to stop Connor from walking.

“We got visitors,” Hank whispered.

“Friendly?” Connor asked.

The scanning program booted up and sampled audio of the men and then reported back to him in a notification.

It was Ronald Zala and Maximus Anatoly. Hank wasn’t sure if they were here to move Lauren and the kids to another location or get rid of him and Connor for snooping around.

He pulled out his gun, clicked the safety off, and pushed Connor behind him.

“No, definitely not,” Hank whispered back, “Either we’re close to finding them or these guys are the cleanup crew.”

Connor huffed in frustration as he pulled out his own gun and clicked the safety off.

“I hope I don’t get shot,” Connor commented, “I already have a headache and my feet hurt, it’ll just make my day worse.”

Hank almost snorted as he held back his laugh - but he tightened his lips and smirked.

He really was a bad influence on the kid.

Hank waited for the men to reach the three-way divide the path took. Their position was a little further down one of the two paths the men could take - and hidden just out of their view. 

Man , Hank was glad that the perimeter scanning program was advanced. He watched -  through the 3D render of the environment - as the men slowly stalked down the path, both their guns readied. 

He wanted to wait until one of them came within his sight - so he could shoot the unlucky bastard.

Slowly, Hank made his way toward the corner of the container and matched his turn with one of the men’s entry of the path. He aimed and pulled the trigger.

Maximus Anatoly fell to the ground as his legs gave out under him. He screamed in shock, and then panic, and - finally - pain. 

What the fuck , Hank! ” Connor shouted behind Hank.

Ronald Aleksander Zala! Drop your gun and come out with your hands above your head,” Hank shouted as he kept his gun aimed at Maximus - who clutched his bleeding thigh and glared at Hank.

This one’s an Android ,” Maximus hissed out in Russian, “ You better run, cub. I’ll keep this one back .”

You run and Maximus dies and then I’ll hunt you down ,” Hank threatened back in Russian.

“Shit,” Maximus sighed, “Fucking Androids.”

Hank held his gun with one hand as he used the other to push Connor back.

“I’ll be fine ,” Connor whispered harshly, “Let me help.”

“I got this,” Hank whispered back.

“Tell me where you took Lauren Moser and her kids,” Hank ordered.

Maximus spit toward Hank.

Fuck you ,” Maximus hissed back. 

Hank almost rolled his eyes at the reply. If he had a penny for every time a suspect said that to him, then he would’ve retired years ago.

Maximus briefly looked toward Ronald’s direction and nodded a single time.

A single nod was never a good sign, in Hank’s experience.

A gunshot rang through the maze and Maximus slumped against the ground as blood leaked from the single gunshot wound on his temple.

Hank ignored Connor’s shouts as he ran after Ronald - who immediately ran away after shooting Maximus. Despite the headstart Ronald had, Hank caught up.

He shot the man in the calf and tackled him down.

The kid screamed in pain as he tried to wrangle Hank off of him

“WHERE’S LAUREN” Hank yelled.

Ronald swung his arm back and elbowed Hank in the face.

[Warning: Minor Optic Impact]

[Warning: Optical Unit 97% Functional]

Hank grabbed Ronald’s wrist, twisted it and slammed it onto the ground.

“WHERE’S RYAN” Hank yelled.

Ronald screamed as he swung his fist at Hank, but Hank grabbed the fist and pushed it against the kid’s chest.

“WHERE’S BAXTER” Hank yelled.

Ronald looked around frantically. He was pinned down and cornered without any help from his brethren.

 

Connor watched in horror as he slowly walked toward the two. He had never seen Hank that angry. 

He listened as the kid - and he did mean kid because Ronald looked to be no older than twenty-four - started to panic and lose the bravado and inflated ego that came with being part of a powerful gang. The facade vanished when the kid realized how fucked he was.

Eventually, the kid started to cry .

“Please! Stop! Stop! Ow! OW!” Ronald cried out.

“WHERE’S LAUREN” Hank repeated.

“In the warehouse! The-the last one at the end,” Ronald cried out, “Let me go! It hurts!”

Hank remained where he was, and Connor knew he had to step in.

Hank ,” Connor called out, “Let him go.”

 

[Let Ronald Go]

Hank couldn’t let the little weasel go. This criminal aided a kidnapping and tore a family apart. 

HANK ,” Connor repeated louder, “Listen to me!”

Hank glared down at the other’s terrified face.

He can’t let this criminal go.

 

Connor slowly approached Hank, unsure of Hank’s next move and whether or not Hank would be startled by him.

He didn’t want anyone else to get hurt, though.

“Hank,” Connor said as he slowly placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, “We got him, you got the bad guys… Now, let’s go save Lauren and the kids.”

 

“The kids,” Hank repeated softly as he looked down at the terrified kid below him. He released one of the kid’s arms, pulled him up as he stood, and slammed him against the nearest shipping container.

Kid or not, Hank knew what Ronald had done, and it still pissed him off.

Ronald Aleksander Zala, you're under arrest for the kidnapping of Lauren Moser, Ryan Moser, and Baxter Moser…”

[Objective Completed]

 

Connor waited as Hank finished up the Miranda Warning. He handed a pair of handcuffs to Hank. He stood close by as they exited the maze and toward one of the warehouses nearby.

“Which warehouse is she in?” Connor asked Ronald. The kid refused to acknowledge Connor. He seemed to have emotionally shut down. When he didn’t reply for a minute longer, Hank stepped forward.

“Hey,” Hank shoved the kid, “Where’s Lauren and the kids?”

“I-Uh-The last warehouse over-over there,” Ronald stuttered out shyly as he nodded his head toward the farthest warehouse.

“Good,” Hank mocked a smile, “Get movin’.”

Connor glared at Hank as they made their way over to the warehouse.

“Call in some backup and EMTs,” Connor spoke coldly toward Hank before he pushed past the man and took charge of escorting Ronald.

 

[Call in Backup and EMT]

Hank grunted as the programs immediately called for the 911 operator.

“This is Detective Connor. I’m with Lieutenant Anderson at Detroit Terminal and Dock. The address is 4512 west Jefferson avenue,” Hank spoke as he followed behind the two. He stared intensely at the back of Ronald’s head, “I have one of our kidnapping suspects in custody. He’s leading us to the onsight location that our missing persons are being held.”

You’ve mentioned ‘suspects’, where’s the other one?” the operator asked.

“Deceased. Killed by the suspect in custody,” Hank said.

All right, I’m sending Uni’s and EMT’s to your location. They’ll be there in five minutes.”

“We’ll be waiting,” Hank replied and then ended the call.

[Objective Completed]

 

The warehouse contained exactly one shipping container, which unsettled both men. The warehouse itself would’ve been sufficient enough to hold Lauren and the kids, but Connor suspected that they might’ve left them unattended for extended periods and the container ensured they wouldn’t escape.

The next unsettling clue was the unbearable scent of blood that overpowered the seawater from the docks.

The last disturbing clue was the kids muffled crying from within the container. 

Connor ran forward and pulled the doors open. He stumbled back once dark red blood seeped out over his shoes, and then continued to slowly leak out. 

The doors squealed as it swung open by the momentum and Connor covered his mouth at the scene. 

He felt his heart drop in his chest.

 

Hank pulled Ronald along as he rushed to Connor’s side.

His LED circled to red and stayed red.

The kids were caked in dried blood beside dismembered body parts and in the middle of the grotesque coagulated ocean of blood that slowly leaked out from the entrance.

Connor ran off, away from the scene, and threw up.

Hank let Ronald fall to the round as the kid mumbled apologies and begged for forgiveness.

The number of body parts that littered the inside was too many to be from one human - and a quick scan showed that five people were massacred.

He prayed that the kids didn’t watch the massacre. That’s a whole other layer of fucked up added to this case - and the kid’s horrible last couple of days.

He listened as Baxter and Ryan’s cried and repeated words of “ Mama ,” and “ Gramma” and “Grampa ”.

His scan immediately honed in on the dismembered heads, but he could only see two from the entrance.

[Unknown Victim #1 Identified: Joan Moser]

[Unknown Victim #2 Identified: Samuel Moser]

Slowly, Hank stepped into the container and made his way toward the kids.

Ryan screamed louder as Hank approached.

Baxter screamed “MAMA ” until his voice cracked.

Hank knelt onto the floor and tried to soothe the kids with some gentle shushing noises.

“It’s okay. I’m not gonna hurt you,” Hank spoke gently. Their cries didn’t stop and Ryan tried to crawl away but slipped on the blood. He needed to quickly gain their trust.

“Debbie is worried over you,” Hank said. Baxter’s yells quieted a bit at her name, “Debbie is waiting for you, Baxie. Come on, I’ll take you to Debbie.”

Baxter slowly crawled over to Hank, and when he got close enough Hank scooped him up. Eventually, Ryan made his way over when he saw that Baxter was okay. 

Hank scooped Ryan up and examined the rest of the body parts.

[Unknown Victim #3 Identified: Officer Ben Collins]

Ben had died. 

Hank remembered the times he and Ben goofed around when they were beat cops. 

There was a time they caught some punks tagging their patrol car - and when they weren’t fast enough to catch them on foot, Ben threw his shoe at them.

They would drink at the same bar after work - and challenge each other at an old arcade they nagged the owner to keep.

He teased Ben constantly after the guy got a girlfriend, then made her his fiancee and - eventually - wife.

He remembered the wedding, where he insisted on doing a toast in honor of Ben finally getting married after years of hearing the guy moan about being single.

His kids , Hank thought. 

Ben has three kids - each one had their own family by now - and how devastated they would be.

He and Ben might have grown apart over the years, but he still considered him family .

As Ryan started to cry again, he gently bounced the boy and made his way toward the exit.

MAMA ” Ryan cried as his arms reached toward the inside. Soon, Baxter joined the cries for their mother.

Hank turned around and froze.

[Unknown Victim #4 Identified: Lauren Moser]

 

[Mission Objective: Locate Lauren and the Kids . . . Mission Successful]

 

[WARNING… STRESS LEVELS: 85%]

Chapter Text

[WARNING… STRESS LEVELS 88%]

 

“Hank…” Connor called out as he placed his hand on Hank’s arm. Carefully, Connor held Ryan into his arms as the hysterical child clung to him, “Hank, let’s go.”

Hank allowed Connor to guide him away from the scene. He couldn’t seem to do it himself. He felt bolted to the spot as his eyes refused to look away.

The blood splattered across every wall. 

It was like they did the gruesome act within the walls

“Con…” Hank uttered as he slowly turned away. His eyes met Connor’s, who now saw the red LED, “They’re monsters.”

Connor’s face paled as he nodded. He didn’t need to see the scene, not when he could smell it. 

“I know,” Connor agreed, “and we won’t let them get away with this… Let’s-Let’s wait outside, all right?”

“Okay,” Hank nodded as he held Baxter closer - the child shook in his arms and had gone silent.

Connor let Hank walk ahead of him while he grabbed Ronald - who shook as much as the child in his arms. He gradually coaxed the young man to follow him out - and ensured him that they won’t hurt him.

The last promise Connor said pulled Hank back from the exit. Hank looked at Ronald - still handcuffed, eyes red, body shook and trembled as he walked.

How could he allow this monster to live?

When Connor neared Hank, Hank exited the warehouse and turned to the man. He remained silent as he handed Baxter to Connor, and then roughly pushed the man and children out.

He slammed the door behind him, broke off a metal rod nearby, shoved it through the door handles and twisted it to lock him and Ronald inside - and anyone else was locked outside.

Hank pulled his handgun out, clicked off the safety and pointed it at Ronald.

[WARNING… STRESS LEVEL 95%]

 

Connor grunted at the sudden shove and struggled to keep his grasp on both children. He turned around, heard metal squeaks, and cursed. He gently placed the children down and tried to open the doors.

HANK!” Connor shouted as he banged his fists against the door, “HANK! DON’T HURT HIM! OPEN THIS DOOR HANK!

Connor cursed again as he ran to the nearest window and peeked inside.

His chest tightened at the sight.

Hank held his gun to Ronald’s head. 

DROP THE GUN! STOP! ” Connor commanded.

 

[DON’T HURT RONALD]

[OPEN THE DOOR]

[DROP THE GUN]

[STOP]

Hank’s hand trembled as he struggled to ignore the commands. He wanted to make him pay for all the shit that’s happened.

He wanted justice for those kids.

He wanted justice for Debbie.

He wanted justice for Lauren and Joan and Samual.

He wanted justice for Ben.

He clenched his jaw as he willed himself to pull the trigger, but he was paralyzed.

Ronald realized that as well, so he tested the waters when he ran to the left.

Hank shot the floor in front of the kid. This stopped him in his tracks.

Don’t you fucking move ,” Hank ordered as he pointed the gun at Ronald’s head.

[WARNING… STRESS LEVEL: 97%]

[DROP THE GUN]

Hank’s hand trembled as the notification increased in size. It kept itself in his view, even if he tried to ignore it. The more he ignored, the larger it got. 

Then, the whole world froze as he faced a large red wall. Various text scattered around the wall as he kept the gun pointed at Ronald.

[D̡̥̩̊̂͒R̨͋̉͟O̺͝P̥̩̻̘̂̑̓̐ ̪̼͆͝T̛̤̚͜H̢͈̓͊͌͢͜͠E ̛̝̭͗G̼͞U͕̩̺͖͌̎̄͋Ǹ̤̙̼̄͂ ̛̬̼̦̞̀̋̏]

[T͇̻͇̅̿̄H͗͢Î͔̯͝Ṣ͌ ͉̚IŞ͍̩̈͠͝N̜͔͔̤̓̏͐̾'T̠̗̥̻̉́̚ ͕̝̎̆F̼͚͚̬̌̂͗͘Â͜I̡̢͈͓̍̊́͘R̻̠̔͗]

[KI̞̎L̫͉̓̈́L̺̚ ̖̋͂͢H̠̦̒͑IM̳̤͗̕]

His fingers started to relax as the notification glitched again.

Why was this happening now? Hank thought to himself. 

Again, he willed himself to pull the trigger, but his finger started to relax.

Then, someone crashed through the nearest window. They rolled into their fall, stopped in a kneel, and aimed their gun at Hank.

“RK800 serial number three-one-three two-four-eight three-one-seven model 52, put the gun down ,” the RK900 model android ordered.

[P̡̦̑̄U͙̖̮͆̄̊T̜̖̱̯͒̽͆͛̚͟ ̲͔̅͡Ỹ̻Ỏ̻Ử̡͖͎͒R̫̬̪͙͎͊͗̍̈́͂ ̧̮͈̅͂͠G̡̥̭̹̐̐̊͠Ư͔N̩͎̱̦͛́̅͞ ̢̌D̲͡Ò̯̠̘̒W͓̮̣͊̇̋̕͜N͓̬͓͓͐̑͌͘]

Great, another fucking notification, Hank thought to himself.

Fuck ,” Hank whispered, “Stay outta this, Nines.”

“No can-do, Detective,” Nines retorted as he slowly stood up, “I’ve been tasked with ensuring the safety of each suspect in our case against the Zala Indicate. Ronald Zala included.”

Hank stopped any prior movement to release the gun. But, he froze himself to the spot.

He scoffed at Nines’ answer.

“Are you sure about that?” Hank asked, “Take a look in that container and tell me that you don’t want every single one of them dead .”

The RK900 model kept his gun aimed at Hank as his eyes turned to the container. His LED went from blue to red.

“They’ve massacred Lauren and her parents,” Hank stated, “and Officer Collins.”

“Condolences,” RK900 replied as he looked at Hank, “But, I cannot let you kill this man.”

Hank looked at Nines.

“Do they deserve to be alive, after what you’ve seen?” Hank asked. Nines’ gaze remained even and blank as he briefly thought it over.

“Truthfully?” Nines asked, “No… But my personal opinion doesn’t matter when we have bigger problems. I need Ronald Zala alive, Connor.”

“And I need a fucking drink, but it’s not happening any time soon,” Hank retorted, “You can manage without this one .”

Nines face subtly curled into a whine.

“Don’t make me shoot you,” Nines said as he slowly moved so he’s parallel with Hank.

In return, Hank circled around Ronald, so Nines wouldn’t get too close.

Hank quickly examined his options. 

He could immediately shoot Ronald - but he’d be shot by Nines and the man might be aiming to kill. He couldn’t leave Connor behind like that.

He should give up and let Nines take Ronald - but the anger inside of Hank pushed the idea away immediately.

If he could fight Nines, then he’d have some chance to win and kill Ronald. But, his system told him that chance was less than eight percent.

But, there’s a chance, Hank argued to the statistics program.

He aimed his gun at Nines - who, in turn, tensed up and held his gun with both hands.

“Sorry, kid,” Hank apologized as he pulled the trigger.

Nines matched each bullet with his own, and both of their bullets ricocheted into the warehouse. When Hank ran out of bullets, he threw his gun at Nines - who simply turned his head to dodge it. 

Out of fairness, Nines ditched his gun and the two circled each other with their fists raised.

Hank threw the first punch, but Nines dodged. Nines intended to hit Hank in the chest, but Hank defended with his other arm. He turned and aimed for Nines’ shoulder, but the other twisted out of the way.

They withdrew and circled again.

Hank shuffled forward as he sent a barrage of punches toward Nines. Nines walked back as he shielded the punches with his forearms and guided some away. Hank kicked Nines’ side, but the android caught his leg. 

Hank tried to pull his leg back, but Nines held it tightly against himself.

Hank smirked before he turned his body slightly and threw himself into a roundhouse kick. Nines dropped Hank’s leg and ducked.

Hank landed on his hands and feet, and pushed himself up to stand.

Nines responded with his own barrage of kicks, but Hank shielded them with his hands.

Hank knew they could fight all day and night, but he needed to end this.

Immediately, Hank retaliated with more punches - that Nines dodged and blocked. Although, Hank only needed to get close enough.

After another minute of Hank and Nines matching each other’s punches and kicks - and even some bodies being thrown - Hank knew he had at least try his last technique.

Damn, he always wanted to do this.

When Hank was close enough to grab Nines, he slipped past the man’s punch, gripped the other’s neck, hoisted him up, and slammed him against the ground.

This was enough of a shock to the RK900 - and temporarily stunned him.

Although, the ‘temporary’ was relatively quick because the RK900 was slowly getting up.

C’mon , man,” Hank groaned as he readied himself for another round.

The RK900 chuckled as he gently held his own throat.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” Nines replied smugly.

Hank chuckled lightly.

[STRESS LEVEL 90%]

Fun’s over, Nines ,” Detective Reed announced from the unlocked door, “Let’s get going.”

Nines nodded as he stared at Hank.

“Sorry, Connor,” Nines said as he pulled out handcuffs, “But you’re under arrest for interfering with my investigation.”

Hank dropped his arms as he let his shoulders relax. He was distracted by their fight, thus he didn’t hear Reed and the other officers break open the door. He had to surrender now that he was outnumbered.

“Fair ‘nough,” He replied as he held out his arms. Nines cuffed Hank and led him out of the warehouse.

Reed stopped the duo beside the door.

“Well, well, well, seems you’ve gotten yourself neck-deep in shit ,” Reed taunted, “We’re not going easy on you just because you’re Anderson’s lac--”

Hank headbutted Reed.

[STRESS LEVEL 80%]

“Motherphck--” Reed cursed as he held his nose. 

RK900 quickly led Hank away as Reed shouted obscenities toward them.

“That wasn’t nice, Connor,” Nines commented as he guided Hank into the back of a patrol car.

“Yeah, well, he wasn’t nice,” Hank replied as he glared at Reed - who was being tended to by EMTs.

Nines shook his head with a slight smile as he closed the door.

Hank sighed as he let his head fall against the seat.

[Objectives Completed]

He closed his eyes as he thought about his own investigation.

They weren’t done, yet.

Despite finding the missing persons, they haven’t identified the murderers of Jessica and Harry White and Michael Moser.

He had let his anger toward the injustice of Debbie and the kid’s kidnappers distract him from their primary investigation. Although, now that they have Baxter’s kidnapper in custody, perhaps Connor could interrogate the kid.

Hank knew he would be out of commission for a while - he just wasn’t sure for how long.

Hank opened his eyes and looked out the window.

Connor was with the kids inside an ambulance. They’re about to be driven away and to a hospital.

Hank hoped Connor wasn’t too pissed off at him.

CSI had arrived as well and were getting ready to secure the crime scene.

Detective Reed and Nines stayed close to Ronald Zala, probably to ensure his safety.

Hank threw his head back and slouched into the seat.

He closed his eyes again.

[STRESS LEVEL 60%]

 

Hank opened his eyes and froze in place. 

He was surrounded by a beautiful garden gated by trees and foliage that were mostly shades of green and light pink. It was a mix of a spring forest from the west and the bright foliage from the east. They blended well together.

One of the surprising aspects of the garden was the spotless white night lamps that matched the equally white path.

He followed the path around the garden - but only glanced at the realism of the plants, the single headstone tucked away, and a broken sculpture.

Once the path had been followed, he cautiously crossed the bridge onto the small island.

The island itself was almost bare, except for the tall monument almost engulfed by rose vines, a couple of tree-like sculptures, and a patch of rose vines that weaved through a white picket fence.

But the roses weren’t the only thing by the fence.

A woman stood in front of the roses and gazed upon them, only moved enough to check their growth or clipped away some leaves.

“Hello, RK800,” she replied as she turned around.

So, it seemed she knew Connor. At least Connor’s’ model.

Hank didn’t know if he should trust this woman - Connor hardly trusted anyone beyond his small group of friends.

“This is your first visit to the garden,” she stated as she studied him, “I’m Amanda.”

They stood in silence as Hank tried to study her. He couldn’t gauge any emotion or intention from her. 

“Hello, Amanda,” he replied.

Her face remained placid as she placed her shears on the nearest surface. She took a few closer steps toward him.

“I’m well aware that you’re not Connor,” she informed, “Do you have a name?”

He looked into her eyes as he thought of any name he could give her. 

Since she knew Connor, then she might know about everyone Connor interacted with. She’s in Hank’s head - but he didn’t know how much access she had in Connor’s head. 

“Henry,” he curtly replied with a slight nod.

No reaction from her.

“Henry,” she tested his name, “How did you come across this specific model?”

“I don’t know,” he replied - he felt satisfied with the reply since it wasn’t a lie. He didn’t have to tiptoe around that one.

There was another short silence between the two.

“Interesting,” she commented as he stared up at him.

The way she stared at him. It was like she was searching through him - through every program, file, saved data, and code . It unnerved him.

“What?” He asked, slightly bitter.

“You’ve effectively replaced many of Connor’s programmed personality, yet his memories remain,” she told him as she slowly circled around him.

The gaze she had toward him made him feel exposed - worse than the stare she held before. Like she scanned further into him, straight into every single binary code within.

“Stop that,” he narrowed his eyes at her.

She halted in front of him as she smirked - so she was capable of emoting.

“What do you want from me?” He asked. 

The examination she had done was not only uncomfortable but annoying. 

He hadn’t asked to be here. 

He hadn’t allowed her to invade his privacy. 

He hadn’t known she existed, yet she allowed herself into his mind and prodded her way through him.

“I’ve brought you here to examine the unprecedented circumstance you’ve found yourself in, Henry,” she replied.

He almost groaned loudly at her vague and ominous reply. 

He settled with a glare mixed with a slight head tilt.

“Explain,” he demanded.

She took two steps back as her hands clasped together.

“Since Connor’s deviation, Cyberlife had lost contact,” she briefly paused, “Connor’s work isn’t finished yet. You’ll be a suitable substitute, provided you’re as efficient as him.”

More vagueness .

Hank knew she wanted him to press the subject, but he has questions of his own he needed answered. There were too many he had accumulated, but he had to start simple.

“What are you to Connor?” he asked.

Her only reaction was a slight tug upward from the edge of her lips - an attempt at a smile, but only subtle.

“You could call me his mentor,” she replied, “designed to guide Connor to accomplish his mission.”

That felt like it was simplified. 

Mentor ’ felt oversimplified and toned down.

Hank, also, felt that Amanda was disappointed in Connor. Her protégé had failed his mission and became a deviant, himself.

Yet, why didn’t Connor mention anything about her?

Was he scared of Amanda? Or did he hate her?

“Connor’s mission was Cyberlife’s mission, right?” Hank asked. Although he knew the answer, he wanted confirmation.

“Yes,” she replied simply.

“What is their mission?” He pressed.

“Cyberlife’s mission is to investigate deviants.”

More vagueness , Hank thought bitterly.

He wanted to know what happened after they’ve investigated. What would happen to all those people? Cyberlife already tried genocide. They’ve tried to sweep it all under the rug.

Why continue their interest in deviancy?

Why did they continue to reach out to Connor?

Why would they settle with Hank?

“And after you’ve investigated?” He pushed the subject.

Amanda paused as she seemed to carefully choose her words.

“That depends upon what we find,” Amanda replied coldly.

Hank turned away.

“Let me out of here,” Hank ordered.

Amanda subtly smirked.

“Of course.”

Hank opened his eyes.

He was in the backseat of the police cruiser.