AUGUST 15th, 2039
Connor awoke to a ball of brown and white fur catapulting itself onto his bed.
Opening his eyes and fully coming out of the stasis, he realised that this was Sumo.
He ran his hands over his soft fur, receiving the wet slobbery kisses over his face, smiling. The Saint Bernard seemed particularly affectionate and excitable, the reason why eluding him as he was distracted by the fluffy cuddles.
But then, finally pulling himself away from the great dog and scanning his surroundings, he found out the reason pretty quickly.
Loosely strapped upon Sumo’s head was a colourful party hat, the words ‘Happy Birthday!’ printed on it in bold letters. Deducing that it wasn’t Hank’s birthday, it wasn’t Sumo’s…
The only other person in the house was him.
He chuckled, moving to pull the hat off the dog but he grumbled and jumped off the bed before he could do so.
“I didn’t think you’d find that comfortable, Sumo.”
The only reply he was given was a snort as the dog sniffed at the floor, nosing slowly out of his bedroom.
Connor shrugged. It made sense. It was a year since his activation day. Strangely… he did recall Hank paying extra attention and asking questions when he had mentioned he was almost a year old since being activated.
But he hadn’t viewed it as a birthday. Merely the day after his testing was complete and he was finally activated and shipped out on the same day for his first mission.
Of course, with the development of android rights, birthdays had been allowed for androids, even encouraged. Markus had celebrated his, he remembered, as he’d created a painting for him as a gift. So had various other members of Jericho.
Still, it felt… different to view this as a human celebration, of him turning a year old. The body he was in was technically not even a year old because he’d fallen off the rooftop on his first mission. He shuddered. It hadn’t been a brilliant day of birth, if humans called it that, that was for sure.
However, with help from people like Hank and Markus, he was beginning to accept his new humanity. Perhaps embracing his birthday would allow him to really move into the next stage of his life.
Besides, it wasn’t like Hank would do anything massive for the day, right?
He walked out of his room and was met with balloons tied to the curtain poles, a banner proclaiming ‘Happy birthday/activation day, Connor!’, presents piled up on the living room table and Hank standing at the kitchen counter, a birthday hat askew on his head.
“Here comes the birthday boy.” Hank chuckled as he walked in, taking in his bewildered expression. “I know I probably went a bit… a lot extreme on this, but it’s your first birthday. You got to have a nice first birthday.”
Connor continued to scan over the room. “It’s…”
“I know.” He took a step towards him. “I know you’re still getting used to all your new-fangled emotions. But this doesn’t have to be big and stressful. Just a nice day where you can open some gifts and eat cake.”
He quirked a brow. “Did someone buy me a biological stomach, Lieutenant?”
“Smartass. Fine, I’ll eat cake. You can watch and drink a thirium pouch.”
Connor nodded. That didn’t sound too different. He followed Hank into the living room, sitting beside him on the couch.
“Alright…” Hank hummed as he looked over the gifts. “We’ve got a few things- a lot of things- from your friends at Jericho. One or two from the guys at the DPD… and me and Sumo piled some stuff together.”
Connor looked over it all with confusion, hands reaching out before pausing, reassessing. Eventually, he looked over to Hank for help.
“What… exactly do I do?”
Hank smiled. “They’re for you. Open whichever you want, but make sure Sumo doesn’t eat the wrapping paper.” He threw a slightly dirty look at the dog who was laying in front of the table, waiting. Sumo glared back at him.
Connor nodded. That sounded reasonable. Picking up the first gift, which was from Markus, he found even the tingle of excitement building in his chest, wondering with gratitude what his loved ones had chosen for him.
Markus had gotten him a book about fish, along with a selection of classical piano sheet music for him to play. Seeing the care put in, the thought about what he was interested in… was touching.
Tearing through the next few gifts elicited the same feeling. Everything was so thoughtful, even the Saint Bernard plush Sumo had ‘bought’ for him.
“Full of himself.” Hank jerked a thumb fondly at the dog when he opened the gift.
“It is very sweet, Sumo. Perhaps not as good as the real deal…” He bent down to scratch behind the dog’s ears. “But very cute, thank you.”
After everything was placed neatly back on the table, he thought they were finished. But Hank looked to him and proclaimed:
“Okay. I have one last gift for you…”
Connor tilted his head. “But I appreciated the things you have already gotten for me, Lieutenant. They were very generous.”
“This isn’t a thing.” He replied, getting up off the chair. “Come on, follow me.”
The android was intrigued as he was led out to the car. Sumo was put in the back, so he assumed it couldn’t be another vacation or they would have left him with the neighbours.
Still, it seemed like Hank wished this to be a surprise, so he looked down at the mini Sumo plush he had brought with him, stroking his fingers over the soft fabric. He chuckled to hear Sumo whining with jealousy from the back.
Connor managed to distract himself as such until the car pulled to a stop. Looking up, he found they were in the park.
Hank strode ahead of him once Sumo was on the leash, and he hurried to catch up. It didn’t seem like they were in the mood for sightseeing today, the scenery rushing by as Hank continued on.
But, just as Connor was about to inquire where they were going, he found himself at a familiar place. Looking out over the Detroit bridge.
Hank sat down on the bench, holding Sumo’s leash and patting the spot beside him for the dog to hop up.
“I remember this place.” Connor mused, standing beside the bench. Earlier in the day now, he didn’t look out at the stars twinkling overhead but instead the crisp summer sky. “You almost shot me here.”
Hank laughed. “If that’s what you’re asking; no, I’m not going to shoot you. That would be a shit birthday present.”
“It would indeed be rather unpleasant.”
“And illegal.” Hank added. “But… that is partly the reason I brought you here. Not the almost shooting thing. Maybe just the… almost.” He sighed.
“I wasn’t even gonna think about it; you were getting on my nerves, there was too much going on in my head… I was just going to shoot you. But then- you didn’t kill those tracis. And you stood there and told me you were afraid to die. This was the first place I realised that you were actually alive… and all the better for it, otherwise, where would we be now?”
Connor mulled it over. If Hank had shot him, it would have… well, severely halted the growth of their relationship.
“But I don’t want to think about that.” Hank continued on. “I didn’t shoot you. You had a heart. And now it’s your first birthday. In that year, you helped the leader of the android revolution… You pulled me out of whatever rut I’d fallen into. And honestly? I couldn’t see my life without you right now, son.”
Connor glanced to Hank as he paused. He didn’t comment on the way his voice had choked up, instead placing a hand gently on his shoulder, a sign of comfort.
“It’s really helped me, living not on my own again—no offense, Sumo. But just having someone in the house, you… Even if you are a pain in my ass sometimes.” He chuckled.
“What I’m trying to say is… Well, I know you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. A long life. A life where you’ll always look like that, where you’ll be forever young- and a while from now, you’ll be living a new life, without—” he looked up to Connor. “But right now, where we are? I like that. I don’t want it to go away. So that’s why…”
It appeared Hank had hit his quota for sappiness, as he simply held out a piece of paper to Connor wordlessly.
Connor took it off him, quickly scanning over it. It was a form. Official looking, with Hank’s signature at the bottom, and room for his…
“An adoption form?”
“If it’s too much, just tell me. I don’t want you thinking I’m some clingy old man but—”
He handed it back to Hank, his signature printed on it. “Thank you… dad.” The word was strange. It wasn’t likely he’d always use it- but the meaning then, the feeling it brought… it was the best birthday present he could have asked for.
Hank smiled back to him. “Great. Now, what about we get out of here? The view’s pretty, but it’s gonna get hot as hell later in the day and that cake back at home isn’t going to eat itself.”
Connor followed after him, back to the car. “Of course. I have heard, however, about this new android update which can install human mechanics such as eating…”
“I’m not saving you any fuckin’ cake, Connor. It’ll go old.”
Connor wouldn’t have it any other way. The small moments of genuine affection and feelings let out into the air… The regular day-to-day life of working at the DPD and bantering with Hank… Being forever young, one day, that all might end. But for now, he would live in the moment, and he would embrace it. All the emotions that would come with deviancy, whether good or bad, or even a mixture of both… He couldn’t ask for a better Lieutenant turned father-figure to help him through it.