Sumo enjoys walks around the city best.
• Walk Sumo
“Hank?” Connor calls down the hallway, Sumo already waiting by the door, his lead clipped onto his collar. “You have exactly one minute before Sumo has an accident on the floor!” As if to emphasise the point, Sumo whines, looking pointedly at the door and then back at Connor. Something crashes from inside Hank’s bedroom, and he swears loudly.
“Fucking- Then take him outside then!” Judging by the muffled nature of his voice he is buried deep within his wardrobe, no doubt searching for another interestingly pattered shirt. Or his alcohol supply he thinks Connor doesn’t know about, consisting of three bottles of Black Lamb kept in a cardboard box labelled ‘winter clothes’.
If Hank ever goes digging through to find it he will discover that the bottles are not only missing, but have been replaced with an unflattering picture of a sea lion spread out on a beach, a bright sunburnt red and a pair of shades perched on its nose.
It was random and bizarre enough that Hank would definitely bring it up if he found it, thus informing Connor that he had been seeking liquor behind his back.
Huffing, Connor returns to Sumo, picking up his lead and unlocking the front door. He has barely opened it an inch before Sumo is leaping to his feet and flying out, the sudden jerk yanking Connor and leaving him to stumble over the porch after the dog.
“Thanks, Sumo…” He sighs, standing on the path as Sumo trots onto the grass to do his business, ignorant to Connor’s unexpected trip.
There is a slight breeze in the air, the wind tickling against the sensors on his face, making his hair sway a little and wafting the smell of damp leaves and earth. Shifting back and forth on his toes, Connor slips his fingers under the collar of his sweater and brings it up over his nose, breathing in the familiar, artificial scent.
Hank hadn’t owned an umbrella before Connor moved in, so Connor had gone out and brought a sleek black one from the local convenience store (“Don’t you ever pick red or something?”). Taking this out from the stand along with some dog mess bags, Connor clips on the lead to Sumo’s collar and waves a quick goodbye to Hank, making sure to close the door behind them.
Stress Levels: ^16%
This is the first time Connor has walked Sumo since his kidnapping.
He closes his eyes, taking another deep breath, his shoulders rising and falling as he does. He can tell Sumo’s finished by the way the lead is shifting around in his hand and the sounds of panted breaths drawing closer towards him.
This will be the first time that Connor, as in Connor, will leave the house since the whole incident. Hank had been adamant that he should recover for a while, to ‘get back into the swing of it’, as it were, despite Connor explaining that he is an android and he doesn’t need time to physically recuperate from such things. The expression Hank had given him had been unreadable and made the Thirium filtering around his chest crackle within their tubes, and before he could even think of running a diagnostic Connor was already backing down, agreeing that a few days rest wouldn’t do any harm.
Hank had patted him on the shoulder for that, and insisted that he would finally introduced Connor to Terminator.
The few days turned into a week. Nearly two, in fact.
Hank appointed himself chief dog walker, leaving at random times whenever Connor was distracted with something else. At first Connor hadn’t minded as much, Hank had gone through as much a traumatic experience as himself, after all. However after the fifth day it began to feel an awful lot like being wrapped in bubble wrap, as if the mere idea of taking Sumo out would send him crumpling as if soggy paper.
Connor was a lot of things, but delicate was never one of them.
Then again, the Connor from before would have spoken up about it, insisting that Hank stopped treating him like a piece of china perched on a precariously high shelf.
But he hadn’t. He had bit his tongue, even though androids don’t actually use their tongues to talk, had turned a blind eye, and allowed the man to continue to treat him like he was recovering from an injury, staying within the confides of the house and being, what he would later defined as, doted upon.
The house felt safe, stable, a barrier between him and…Whatever it was that still made him double check the doors at night, made him scan over the windows and leave him sitting on the edge of the bed, listening to Hank snore across the corridor.
800 had liked the house. He had liked to clean it.
00:01:12 later, Hank finally comes out the door, shrugging on his coat and eyeing the clouds overhead.
Searching local weather reports...
Detroit Local News: Today the weather will be cool with lots of cloud, however showers will be isolated so don’t expect rain everywhere you go.
Gently tugging at the lead to bring Sumo walking at his side, Connor informs Hank, “It will be overcast today, but there is only twenty percent chance of rain.”
“Uh-huh,” Hank’s tone is teasing as he stuffs his hands into his pockets, the two of them falling into step, “Which is why you have an umbrella.” He jerks his head in the direction of the object hanging off the hand holding the lead, the small rope loop fitting neatly over his wrist.
“I want to be ready for every eventuality.”
Hank snorts, “Yep, sure, whatever you say.”
“You just don’t want get that sweater wet.”
Connor keeps his grip firm as Sumo attempts to pull them towards a set of bins, one of which has fallen over, the contents strewn across the pavement in a mess of wrappers and mouldy food. The dog strains, forcing the lead taunt, however Connor is unmoving as they march past, much to Sumo’s vocal displeasure.
“If you are worried, you don’t have to come.” He speaks up easily, his tone light. He doesn’t meet Hank’s gaze. “I’m perfectly fine to walk Sumo alone.”
Hank makes a kind of ‘pft’ sound with his lips, “Nah, don’t sweat it. The air would probably do me some good anyway.”
Connor doesn’t mention the fact that Hank’s been getting air all week.
Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Understanding
A sudden bark makes Connor jump, Sumo practically standing on his hind legs as he heaves himself forward, howling excitedly at the now highly panicked flock of pigeons that dart into the air around them. Passers-by scoff and tut as they dodge around the scene, causing Hank to scowl at them.
“I thought you said he’d gotten better at walking?”
“He did.” Connor sighs, bringing Sumo back into the ‘heel’ position. “Obviously walking standards slipped for a while.”
Hank smirks, “That’s it Sumo! Stick it to the man!”
“Hank, please don’t encourage him.” Connor scolds, fighting the way Sumo tries to cut behind them as something the other side of the road snatches his interest. “It is important that he-”
Sumo wedges himself between them, panting happily. Hank pats his head, “You don’t need no fucking rules, do you boy?”
“No one tells the Andersons what to do, do they?” Hank continues, voice low as if telling Sumo secrets, and there is an oddly mischievous glint in his eye, a side of Hank that only very rarely ever comes up to the surface. “Not me, not Connor, and not you.”
Something freezes dead in Connor’s chest, stuttering like a clock with a gear jammed, whirring desperately in an attempt to restart but halted by the unseen barrier. Hank is oblivious, and he carries on talking defiance with his ageing dog, blissfully unaware of the way Connor’s suddenly whirling processor.
“I promise, son.”
Connor doesn’t know how the Connor of before felt about Hank. He doesn’t know if he felt the same warmth as him, the same want to reach out and hold himself against Hank’s chest, but he wants to now.
Connor doesn’t know if what Hank feels is genuine. He doesn’t know if he is just projecting his grief-stricken high onto a blank model, an empty canvas for someone else’s portrait, but the way Hank looks at him, as if he’s scared for the future, as if he wants nothing more than to hold him but is too scared to push boundaries…
Sumo’s a heavy weight on his lap, but he may as well be paper as Connor climbs across the couch and into waiting arms, the two of them locking together tight with shaky limbs and even shakier breath.
“You’re gonna be ok. It’s ok. You’ll be fine.”
“Ok, Hank. I trust you.”
“No one tells the Andersons what to do, do they?” Hank continues, and there is an oddly mischievous glint in his eye. “Not me, not Connor, and not you.”
• Hank considers Connor family
The realisation is so sudden and jarring that he makes a small squeak in the back of his throat, blinking rapidly to clear his vision as they pass the Police Department towards the park.
“You alright there, Connor?”
A variety of works float up as if feathers on the wind, but all that he manages is a bland, “You are a terrible influence.”
Hank barks a laugh. “Fucking right I am!”
They cut across the park, which is busy but not overly so for a weekday, before joining the path that takes them along the river. The water is calm today, the dark waters moving steadily along as they walk.
Hank doesn’t see the appeal in walking along the river, but Connor has taken to it, especially at this time of night. Most of the clubs and bars have yet to close, meaning the streets are quieter than they will be in the next few hours. Plus, the lights from the flats and skyscrapers on the opposite side of the river reflect peacefully in the water, especially now that the winter ice is finally beginning to thaw.
Stress Levels: ^20%
Instantly recognising where they’re heading, Sumo bounds forward, which would normally not be a problem for Connor if it wasn’t for the fact that his right hand currently holds the lead, which has been wound across him and around his back from Sumo barging between them, ending up on Connor’s right side.
With a strangled yelp Connor is unceremoniously spun and snapped forward, his feet tangling beneath him and sending him crashing to the floor. Suddenly gaining a new companion at his height, Sumo decides to properly greet him by clambering on top of Connor, licking his face and walking all over his stomach.
In the background, Hank is wheezing.
Pushing Sumo away, Connor sits up, glaring. “Hank, your dog is a nightmare.”
Hank just splutters, “Oh, so he’s my fucking dog when he misbehaves is he?”
“Of course.” He holds his chin up. “He’s usually perfectly behaved for me.”
Still snickering, Hank offers Connor a hand, assisting the android up. He scan’s Connor over, “You’re a right mess.”
“That is hardly my-” His eyes turn wide as Hank licks his thumb. “Hank, no!”
“Oh shut up.” Grabbing Connor’s chin, Hank wipes at a smudge on his cheek, human saliva joining Sumo’s on Connor’s synthetic skin. “You can’t go walking around like this. Jesus Christ, hold still…”
“Stop fidgeting.” Hank chastises, moving to its chin, “I’ll be done in a sec.”
“I can do this myself, if you show me to the restroom-”
“Fuck off, you always miss a spot.” Chuckling, Hank readjusts 800’s shirt. “You’ve gone and stained this. I swear you can be just like Cole at times.”
• Hank has a habit of cleaning using his thumb and spit
• Letting Hank do this is the quickest way for it to stop
“Not my fault.” He states indignantly, frowning off to the side as Hank starts fixing up his clothes and hair. He gets a chuckle in return.
As he goes to stare up the path, Connor’s programming immediately dictates his gaze to the flecks bright blue splattered across the pavement, glowing stark in the light of day despite having evaporated from human sight weeks ago.
His voice practically disintegrates within his throat, “Oh.”
“Oh?” Hank echoes, oblivious.
“That’s where I was taken.”
Hank goes dead still, slowly bringing his thumb down to follow Connor’s eye line.
Stress Levels: ^22%
“I never actually got here, you know.” Hank’s tone is serious, slightly gruff, and Connor doesn’t miss the way his hands clench at his sides. “I got stuck in fucking traffic, and by the time I got here it was all cornered off. All they said was that you were gone.”
Sumo tugs on the lead again, impatient, but Connor doesn’t budge. Hank breathes deeply, looking deliberately away and burying his hands away in his pockets again.
“What did you do?”
“I went straight to the department, tried to get all the CCTV up and stuff.” He laughs with very little humour now. “Shouted up a right shit-show.”
“I see…” Connor’s voice is equally as quiet, as if they are both scared that talking too loud will call upon them bad omens from above. “I don’t really remember. Between being reset,” He reaches up his free hand to gently prod his scar, “And being in the back of the van with Gavin, there’s nothing.”
Hank’s turned to watch him, his eyes filling with the same determined, forceful care that’s been watching Connor since they got back from the tower. Like his arm were made of eggshells, Hank stops Connor’s examination of the mark.
“Easy, kid.” He says, “Do you want to go home?”
“No.” Connor answers instantly, making Hank open his mouth to rebuke him. Connor jumps in before he can. “No, I’m not…I’m not fragile, Hank. I can deal with this. I’m not scared of some stupid…” He waves his hand erratically at the spot a little way away. “Area of the road. Sumo likes walking this way, I like walking this way. I’ve dealt with far worse things than this.”
Frowning, Hank keeps his hand on Connor’s arm. “There’s a difference between a shitty crime scene and something personal. Trust me.” He swallows. “There’s places I don’t drive.”
“Hank, I can do this.”
His face pained, Hank sighs. “Connor-”
“I can. Look.”
With that, he pulls himself from Hank’s grip, marching forward with the best air of confidence he can muster, determined footsteps going right over the spot, over the splashes of Thirium that weren’t fully cleaned away, over the area where he had been shot, beaten, forced onto his knees and removed from existence. Sumo walks along beside him, eager to be on the move again.
Stress Levels: ^31%
He clears the area with flying colours, ending up on the other side, his back to Hank. He slows to a stop.
“Connor?” Hank calls after him.
His shoulders are rising without him even knowing.
“Connor? Son?” Footsteps are approaching him hurriedly.
His hands shake.
“Shit.” Hank hisses, and arms come around his shoulders. “Easy, easy.” In an instant Connor is carefully pulled into Hank’s shoulder, a hand running through his hair. “Damn it kid, you never listen to me.”
“I don’t get it.” Connor informs the material of Hank’s coat. “I was never like this before. Fuck, there’s been so much worse. Amanda, Jericho, the other Connor…”
“Yeah, that’s true.” He feels Hank nod. “But you’ve never been fully deviant before when it happened, have you? You were still new to that shit. And now you’ve got extra, with everything from Eight Hundred and all his…I won’t lie kid, he wore his heart on his fucking sleeve.”
“I know he did, but I’m not…” He lets out a frustrated growl. “I don’t get this.”
“I don’t like it.”
“I know you don’t. I fucking know.” Hank’s fingers continue to rake through his hair, carefully working out the knots in the same manner Connor has done to Sumo hundreds of times. “It’ll take time to get over it. There’s no point in rushing it. Hell, think of Chris! He was off for a month after all that mayhem with Markus.”
Connor’s shoulders sag, defeated. “I suppose…I still hate it, though.”
“I’m not saying you don’t. Just…Take it easy, son.”
“Will things get better?”
Hank lowers his hand to wrap both arms securely around his shoulders. “What’s the fucking quote you’re always telling me? Time’s the best something or other?”
“Yeah, that’s it.” A hand starts running up and down Connor’s back. “So take your own goddamn advice for once and chill.”
Connor sighs, and pulls out of Hank’s hold. He glances towards the Thirium on the ground, splattered there like little beacons that his eye cannot help but be naturally drawn to. Rough fingers take his chin, tilting his face away, forcing brown eyes to meet blue.
“Hey, stop it.”
“Dwelling on it solves shit, kid.” Hank visibly swallows, a flash of something glinting through his gaze.
Connor shuffles, and his fingers dip into his pocket, his nail running over the surface of his coin. “It’s hard not to.”
It really is. It’s hard not to lie in bed thinking about the other self he temporarily was, the other being who developed thoughts and feelings and opinions. He can’t just ignore it, bury it down like he did with Amanda, lock away those thoughts and refuse to ever acknowledge them again, because unlike Amanda, his other self interacted with his own world. He had talked to Hank, to Sumo, he had been in their kitchen and living room. He had seen their car, and where they worked. Everywhere Connor went now, he was on the receiving end of flashes of memory that weren’t his.
The Zen Garden had never been a physical plain. He had never visited it in real life, and that’s why ignoring it is so easy, because he never has to go there ever again. In fact, Connor can’t even go there again. The reset had removed any trace of it.
Their own house is different. Connor can’t just abandon their house.
“Yeah?” With a sudden, slightly strained smirk, Hank flings an arm over his shoulder in a gesture he has only ever done once to Fowler when he was drunk at the Department party, dragging Connor to his side. Connor makes a little yelp noise at the jostle, completely snapping back into reality. Hank’s arm is tight, and he forces Connor into walking beside him, “Well good thing you’ve got Sumo to help you, hasn’t he boy?”
Understanding he’s being talked to, Sumo barks and wags his tail hard, jumping around their feet in excitement, tongue hanging out. Hank laughs, squeezing Connor’s shoulder.
“Hank, Sumo’s a dog.” Connor huffs, but the very corner of his lips have twitched upwards at the happy yelping noises Sumo is making, dancing about on his paws as they leave the path by the river to cross into one of the smaller public parks in the wealthier side of town.
Stress Levels: v22%
Hank scoffs, pushing Connor lightly away. Something about his body language shifts, the tenseness dropping. “Well he can’t help that, can he? Damn, Connor, you can be so picky.”
“Don’t worry Sumo,” Hank leans over and gives the dog a good pat on the head. “I won’t judge you.”
Connor snorts, lifting his free hand to cover his face. He speaks through his fingers, “He got his head stuck in the chair legs the other day. Twice. And again this morning.”
Hank stutters, wetting his lips. “Ok, I’ll judge you a bit.”
This is a distraction, Connor knows that. He’s not stupid. In typical Hank fashion, they are smothering things that they probably shouldn’t and moving on. And normally he would be annoyed at Hank changing the conversation in such a way, at his attempt to lighten the mood and discuss other topics. Normally, Connor would persist, pushing back against the denial and the forced ignorance, but…
They round a corner and Sumo goes as still as a statue at Connor’s side, ears perked and tail stilling. Hank nearly trips over him, stumbling on his feet to detour around.
“Sumo?” Turning in the direction Sumo’s facing, understanding crosses Connor’s face. He smiles sweetly. “Hank, do you want to walk him for a bit?” He doesn’t wait for an answer before forcing the lead into Hank’s hand.
“Hm? Why, what’s-” With a very high-pitched squawk Hank Anderson, long time Lieutenant of the Detroit City Police Department, a man who is somewhat grizzled, hard when he needs to be, and as seen more dead bodies than alive at this point, is unflatteringly dragged across the flowerbeds as Sumo goes at a full sprint towards Goldie, who in turn grumbles and walks calmly away.
“That’s it Sumo!” Connor yells after them, cupping his hands around his mouth to carry his voice, “Stick it to the man!”
“Oh fuck you Connor!”
Lieutenant Anderson, Hank: ^Family