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"Friends" to "Lovers"

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Connor looked at Hank, the information on his vitals and emotional state available.

Hank was eating a burger and watching TV. A game that Connor didn't need information on played on the screen. There were bread crumbs stuck in Hank's beard, which registered in Connor's programming as a background data that could be useful if Hank was a subject of an ongoing investigation.

This was a typical scenario - them sitting like this. It repeated itself at least two or three times a week, if things were peaceful enough for Hank to be able to watch TV and not pass out immediately after coming home.

Connor checked Hank's vitals. He didn't really need to, but he made a habit out of it - checking Hank's health status periodically gave him some understanding of whether his psychological and physical state have improved or not. Hank's vitals were fine, normal. He's cut back on booze since Connor moved in, but his diet still contained a lot of carbs and cholesterol. Connor nagged him about it every Wednesday and Friday and took it upon himself to buy some healthier products for the Lieutenant. He's also downloaded some cooking software, but hasn't had a chance to use it regularly yet.

Connor exited the info menu on Hank's health situation and opened the mental state data folder. Things have improved for Lieutenant since revolution happened. He's displayed healthy patterns of sleep (more or less) and healthier communication behavior. He hasn't displayed any more suicidal tendencies as of late, and his depression has subsided by 15%, according to Connor's diagnostics, which he counted as very good for just two months worth of changes and no help from a professional therapist.

"You look healthier than you did when we first met," Connor says, exiting that data folder.

"Oh, shut it," Hank says grumpily but with no real heat behind it. "If you're gonna go off about the burger again, I swear I won't take you with me to the crime scene tomorrow."

"I don't need your permission to do my job, and I'm not being sarcastic," Connor says flatly. "Your skin is less dry, your hair is less oily, you've lost about 4 pounds, and there's no swelling under your eyes. You look healthier."

Hank glanced at him and shruged before biting into his burger again.

"Thanks," he says. "Or something."

Connor saw his relationship status icon light up. He's turned it off a long time ago, but he got a software update recently - it must've been the reason why that feature was rebooted. The icon said "lover".

"What?" Connor breathed out to himself, confused. The system must've been lagging.

"What was that?" Hank asked, turning to look at him. Seeing the confused look on Connor's face, he set his plate down on the couch beside him and sat up straighter. "Hey, are you okay?"

"Yeah," Connor said, becoming aware of the fact that Hank was staring at him. He ran a diagnostic. "Just a system lag, probably."

"Hey, you are a system, remember?" Hank said, even more worried now. "What's up?'

Diagnostic process flashed a "100% done" at Connor and he raised his eyebrows at the data it presented.

"It's strange," he said, looking even more confused now. He glanced at Hank's worried expression and gave up on keeping the issue to himself. "Remember I told you about this relationship diagnostic system that was initially active when we first became friends? The one you asked me to turn off?" he asked.

"Yea, what about it?" Hank asked. "Creepiness aside."

"Well, it got turned on again by a system update and it's lagging a little."

"Oh. Well. What's it say?" Hank asked, clearly relieved that the problem wasn't about anything major.

"Lovers," Connor said simply.

"Ah."

There was a pause.

"What'd it say before you turned it off?" Hank asked.

"Friends, I think," Connor shrugged halfheartedly. "I'll just look into the diagnostics it ran and find out where the source of the problem is."

Hank huffed grumpily.

"What other relationship statuses does this thing have?" he asked.

"Hostile, distrusted, tense, neutral, warm, trusted, friend, lover and family, I believe. Maybe more," Connor answered.

"Huh. It's oversimplified, if you ask me. For example, it's a shame that it doesn't have the 'pain in the ass idiot roommate partner' as a relationship status," Hank grumbled.

"Right," Connor huffed, amused. He opened the data folder and played video evidence that the program saved to back up its classification.

"How would you classify it?" Hank asked, picking up his plate again. "In more words than one."

"I don't know," Connor said, a little distracted. "Hot depressed cop I get to live with?"

Hank choked on his burger. Connor glanced at him to check his vitals, didn't see any need to help and let Hank cough in peace.

"What?" Hank asked, his voice rougher now, yet somehow still a lot more high-pitched - for dramatic effect, Connor guessed.

"I don't understand the question," Connor sayd. His LED flashed yellow to blue to yellow again.

"Oh don't bullshit me, you glorified toaster, what do you mean 'hot'?"

Connor gave him an offended look.

"I'm not making you toast anymore, ever, Lieutenant," he said. "And I still don't understand the question. Would you like an urban dictionary definition? "Hot - someone that's EXTREMEMLY good looking but not like cute, more like sexy. When they walk by, you turn your head and wish you had a pause button or something," he read the text his search app had provided him with.

All the while he was looking through the footage his programming collected. It was mostly Hank looking at him, touching him and talking to him, and also data of their vitals in those moments. Also percentages of how long and how frequent they were around each other and looked at each other. Overall what he saw left Connor... impressed.

"Did you download some kind of a pranking software, too?" Hank asked. "Because I'm not 'hot', Connor. I'm depressed, dirty, fat, old and a millennial. Check your android camera eyes, kid, and google recent beauty standards while you're at it."

Connor closed the programming folder. Yes, now he got why the diagnostic classified their relationship the way it did.

"Is that why you're not making a move on me, Hank?" he asked.

Hank blinked at him.

"Excuse me?"

"Your self-image is unreasonable," Connor said, his full attention back on his partner. He opened his statistics app and read in his professional collected android voice. "Your body type and overall appearance have been glorified among the gay community for dozens of years now, specifically in Japan it's known as 'bara', in America it's known as a 'bear' body type. Both are considered manly and sexy. Your personality type has been in public's eye since 1980-s, when buddy cop movies got very popular. You're not an unpleasant person, you're quite manageable even when you're very intoxicated, and you have more than 25 redeeming qualities, such as kindness, good sense of humor, love for dogs, professionalism, loyalty, empathy-"

"Okay, that's enough," Hank interrupted, raising his hand.

Connor fell silent.

Hank looked down on his hands. His body language indicated presence of an inner conflict, defensiveness and an active thought process, so Connor didn't interrupt. After a minute and 23 seconds Lietenant sighed, which Connor's systems translated as a signal that Hank got to a conclusion.

"Fine," he said. "Maybe you're right and my self-image thing is fucked and may not be based on whatever it is that you're talking about. But I still don't get why you'd see me that way, of all people."

Connor blinked at him.

"Because you're you." he said. "Obviously."

"Not helping."

"I don't think I can explain it better, Lieutanant."

"Try."

The expression on Hank's face was very... Connor ignored analysis of his micro-expressions. The important thing was that it made Connor feel like this was important. So he took some time to try and formulate his feelings into words, his LED flashing yellow.

"I think it's not about your appearance, specifically," he said, finally. "According to multiple papers on Psychology, humans base their perception of beauty on their parents and societal norms of beauty. Since I don't have any parents or beauty standards, I don't have any psychological gear to have a preference for any type of human appearance. What matters to me, as a deviant android, are emotions being around you makes me feel. I like the combination of your personality, social behavior, cognitive and sensitive responses, sense of humor and the relationship I happen to share with you. I feel comfortable, understood, safe and accepted around you and I like to think that I understand and accept you with all your quirks and all the added challenges of maintaining any human relationship, too. Being around you makes me feel good, better than when you're not around. So I suppose I consider your body hot because it's yours. You express who you are through your body language. It's a part of you, so I like it. 'Sue me', as you say."

There was a pause. Hank stared at him. Connor stared back. Hank blinked and lowered his gaze.

"I'm too sober for this," he said.

"There is no alcohol in the house," Connor noticed, and added cautiously: "I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable, Lieutenant. I didn't mean to."

Hank pressed his lips together.

"I'm not exactly used to touchy-feely talks," he said.

"I see," Connor nodded.

Hank cleared his throat without looking up at the android. They sat there in silence for a few seconds. Connor listened to the emotions he was experiencing, trying to adjust. He felt strange - the word "awkward" would probably be right if he needed to describe the feeling - so he hugged himself loosely like he would if he were cold. That seemed to help.

"I love ya too, you know," Hank said, suddenly, making the android focus and look at him, surprised.

"Love?" Connor asked. He doubted his sensors picked that up right.

"Well, yeah," Hank shrugged without looking at him. "What you said about acceptance and comfort and safety and all that - I get it. Right back at ya."

"Oh," Connor said. He processed for a few moments.

So that's what love meant to Hank. He did his research on human emotions, and of course the one everyone seemed to focus on the most was love. Descriptions of what it felt like were quite different, and ranged from overly simple to highly poetic, though, so he came to a conclusion that love meant different things for different people.

"Can I ask you a personal question?"

"Jesus," Hank sighed. "Okay, yeah, shoot."

"This conversation began when I said I considered you hot. So I'd like to ask you if you only like me as a family member or if you also find me attractive in a romantic sense?" he asked.

Hank glanced at him from the corner of his eye, not turning his head from TV. "Guilty", "flustered", "uncomfortable" read data Connor's programming was decoding from Hank's expression.

"I can't say I never considered the possibility," he said after a few moments. "You have a kind heart, Connor. Anyone would be lucky to have you as their partner."

Connor processed the information.

"Hank?" he said.

"Yeah."

"I really find you attractive in all possible ways. I've done my research. And if what I said means love to you, then I can safely say that I love you from the bottom of my deviant unstable software heart." Hank gave a soft smile at that, and Connor felt his core heat up, even though no indicators showed any change in his temperature. "No matter what you think about yourself, I still feel this way, and if you were willing, I'd be so very glad to be more than just your friend. So the question is - are you willing?"

Hank turned his head to look at the android, and Connor felt like something dislocated and fell in his chest. It must've showed on his face, because Hank turned to him full body and grabbed him by his shoulder..

"Come here," he said and pulled the android into a hug. Connor let him. He buried his face in Hank's neck and breathed through the tension that was building in his chest because suddenly this was very very real.

"There are so many reasons why it could be a very bad idea," Hank said. "We work together. You're not experienced and I'm really old. I'm depressed and you've had emotions for two months maybe. We live together and you don't have anywhere else to go."

Connor closed his eyes tighter. All of those reasons were really valid, his logical part understood that. But it miraculously had no impact on the part of him that started this conversation in the first place.

"But if you really, really want this, if you're willing to try and put your heart on the line - fuck it," Hank said, and Connor's eyes snapped open. "It'll probably be really hard in the process sometimes, I'm not gonna lie," Hank went on, "but I meant what I said, and if you feel that it's worth it - I'm in."

Connor tightened his grip on Hank's shoulders as he felt the tension in his chest disappear all at once, just like that. Relieved, he couldn't bring himself to say anything right away, so he just nodded eagerly against Hank's shoulder. His chest was flooded with familiar warmth as Hank said:

"Okay," a smile in his voice. "Okay then."

They didn't let go - they just breathed and hugged through the wave of emotions both felt. Connor's sensors picked up Hank's smell, his heartbeat, his body temperature, the relaxing pace if his breathing. The machine part of him listed all the information away into some long-term memory folders. The alive part of him felt accepted. And comfortable. And happy.

"Hey, Lieutenant," Connor said quietly, after some time had passed.

"Won't you just let me enjoy this in peace?" Hank asked lightly. "I've wanted this for months, too, you know."

"I know," Connor pushed away gently, enough to look at Hank's face, and Hank let him, relaxing his arms around the android.

Connor looked at Lieutenant's eyes silently. His programming registered some micro-expressions, "happy" being the most prominent one. Connor leaned in to touch their foreheads together.

"Lieutenant," he said quietly. "I'm in lesbians with you."

A beat.

"Oh my God," Hank said.

And kissed him.