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Arrival

Chapter Text

 

 

"Blue, the most human color.

Blue lips,

Blue veins,

Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away."

 

--Regina Spektor

 

 

It was so peaceful here. RK800 had never known anything else, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to. Birds flocked to the sunlit patches of grass and dispersed when he approached. He smiled, following the flock to where they landed and watching them fly off again when he got near.

He was off-path but it didn’t matter. The Zen Garden was too small for him to get lost and there’s no one here to tell him what to do. Until there is.

She was sitting in a boat on the water, umbrella over her head. She was waiting on him, and he knew it. But he didn’t want to talk to her. He just wanted to stay in the garden.

His eyes flicked to one path he hadn’t yet explored. There was a monolith there, its light glowing softly. He kept his eyes on it. What was it?

“RK800, please come here.” She called from the boat. He reluctantly did so, approaching the makeshift dock. “I thought you’d like a nice ride before you leave.”

“Where am I going?” He asked as he got in, taking an oar in each hand.

“Your protocols are finished installing. You’re ready to be on display at the CyberLife store.” Amanda smiled.

“But I don’t want –“

He saw a flash of something –anger in her face before he closed his eyes and opened them again. Of course he shouldn’t have said that. He didn’t want anything. He was an android.

The garden was gone now, and he was aware of his true surroundings. CyberLife was pretentiously sleek and white inside. There was someone staring into his display case. RK800 gave them a slight smile, but they walked off.

“I think this is what you’re looking for.” The salesperson lead someone new to the front of RK800’s case. Their voice was slightly muffled through the glass, and RK800 took a moment to analyze the customer.

“Maybe.” The customer scratched at his short beard. “What does it do?”

“What doesn’t it do?” They grinned. “RK800 is a prototype –there’s nothing else like it. It offers the best in home care.”

“So, it cooks and stuff? Like housekeeping?” The customer asked.

“We prefer the term lifekeeping –“

“Can it cook or not?” He was growing impatient.

“Yes! Over five-thousand recipes. It can clean too, over five-hundred varieties in style for decorating as well. Childcare and pet care too.”

“I’ll need both…” The customer muttered to himself and RK800 felt his thirium pump skip a beat.

Dog? He hoped excitedly.

“Let’s have a look.” The salesperson placed their hand on the panel by the case and the front glass slid open. “Introduce yourself.”

“Hello. I am RK800, an advanced prototype. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“It’s a little goofy looking.” The customer crossed his arms. RK800 frowned. The customer chuckled in surprise.

“I think it looks cool!” For the first time, RK800 noticed a young boy with the customer. The boy stepped forward and placed his hands on the android’s feet and looked up at him. “Can we get it, Dad?”

“I just have to know –can you take care of my son? That’s all I need. Someone to cook his meals when I can’t, homework, bath, and stuff like that. Can you do that?”

“Yes.” RK800 nodded.

“Then we’ll take it.”

The young boy grabbed RK800’s hand and pulled him after his father and the salesman. RK800 stopped to step down from his display case and follow. The boy smiled up at him.

“Hello, Robot! My name’s Cole Anderson.”

“Hello, Cole.” RK800 smiled. “My name is Connor.”

Connor stood by patiently –his hand still clasped in Cole’s –as they went over the paperwork. The customer grumbled a bit about warranties and delivery fees for the charging station before finally signing something.

“RK800, register your owner.” The salesperson said. Connor looked at the customer.

“Uh, Hank Anderson.” He said with a hint of uncertainty.

“I am Hank Anderson’s android. Hello Hank.” Connor smiled. Hank glanced away, scratching his beard awkwardly. “We done here?” He asked the salesperson.

“Wait –RK800, register your name.” They told him.

“His name’s Connor!” Cole smiled.

“My name is Connor.” Connor tried to remain impassive, but his lips twitched in a smile as he looked down at Cole.

“Okay. We done?” Hank grabbed Cole’s hand, his other still clasped in Connor’s.

“Yes. Thank you for shopping at CyberLife.”

The three of them walk, awkwardly linked, towards the door. Connor dropped Cole’s hand to go forward and get the door for Hank. Hank gave him a look as if he hadn’t expected that. Connor just smiled as Hank and Cole went through. He then tagged behind.

“I am fitted with a GPS, as well as a tracker.” Connor said as they walked towards Hank’s car. “But it is probably best for you to also know my serial number just in case. It’s 313 248 –“

“I can’t remember all that.” Hank snapped.

“I’ll write it down!” Cole climbed in the backseat of the car and flipped open a coloring book that’d been in the seat. He then fished a purple crayon out of the crease in the seat, leaving a smear of melting wax behind. “Three what?”

“313 248 317 -51.” Connor watched Cole write the numbers carefully along the margin of an uncolored page. Connor then got into the backseat beside him and reached for the boy’s seatbelt before buckling his own.

Hank cranked the car and adjusted the rearview mirror to stare at Connor for a moment before fixing it properly.

“Wait, Hank.” Connor leaned forward. “You need to buckle up.”

“What?”

“Buckle up, Dad.” Cole began coloring a different page.

“Seatbelts save lives.” Connor smiled.

“Right. Of course.” Hank buckled his seatbelt and Connor leaned back again.

The ride to the Anderson’s house was quiet. Cole fell asleep on Connor’s shoulder, snoring softly. Connor gazed out the window, watching Detroit roll by. He took the time to study Hank as well.  He had short light hair that was slowly graying, but he had kind eyes. Connor thought he looked nice.

 They finally pulled into a driveway and Connor carefully reached over and undid Cole’s seatbelt.

“I’ve got him.” Hank came around to the backseat and opened the door, picking Cole up in his arms. The boy didn’t stir. “It’s his nap time anyways.”

Connor registered the current time as Cole’s nap time before following Hank towards the door.

“Dammit…hold on…” Hank struggled to reach for the house key while still holding Cole.

“Allow me.”

Connor placed his hand on the door, just above the electronic lock. His LED light gave a quick spin and there was a click. Connor pulled his hand back and looked at Hank.

“You better not all be able to do that.” Hank mumbled, opening the door. “I don’t need any androids breaking in.”

“Not possible. I am only allowed to deactivate the lock because this is registered as your address and you’re registered as my owner.”

Connor forgot all about his explanation as he followed Hank in and something came barreling across the room, tongue and ears flapping loudly.

“Dog!” Connor dropped down and let the dog slam into him. He wrapped his arms around the dog’s neck and pressed his face into its fur.

“Sumo!” Cole piped up from Hank’s arms and Hank put him down, his eyes never leaving Connor. A strange mix of awe and amusement on his face.

Cole mimicked Connor, pressing his face into the dog’s flank. Sumo wiggled excitedly, unsure which face he wanted to lick more.

“Good dog.” Connor murmured, smiling in pure bliss as they dog licked his face.

“Yeah, good dog!” Cole laughed. “Wanna see his trick?”

“I do.” Connor nodded.

“Sumo…roll over.” Cole stepped back.

Sumo’s ears perked up and he watched Cole curiously. He then dropped down and rolled over, all four paws going into the air. Cole then took the opportunity to rub the dog’s belly. Connor did the same.

“That was impressive.” Connor said. “Did you teach him that?”

“Nah, Dad did.” Cole looked up at Hank.

“Wasn’t too hard.” Hank mumbled. “Every dog I’ve ever had learned it eventually.”

“Dad, can I have my cookies now?” Cole asked.

“Oh, right. Hold on, pal.” Hank started towards the door before pausing. He looked at Connor somewhat curiously. “Um…Connor, go get the groceries from the trunk.”

“Yes, Hank.” Connor gave Sumo’s head a final pat before going back outside.

He registered the temperature as mid-sixties, even though he could not feel it. He placed his hand on the trunk and unlocked it with a blink before opening it and getting out two bags of groceries. He could hear Cole and Hank as he approached the front door again.

“Will Connor sleep in my room?” Cole asked.

“I…I don’t think they sleep?” Hank responded.

“Well, maybe he can just stay in there until I fall asleep.”

“I thought you wanted me to do that?”

Connor walked in and went to the kitchen before placing the groceries down on the counter. He then began putting them away, pausing to fish out the box of cookies and hand them to Cole.

“Want one, Dad?” Cole ripped the box open.

“Sure.”

“Want one, Connor?”

“They don’t eat.” Hank said.

“You don’t?” Cole watched Connor put up the last item.

“No. I don’t eat food. I’d like to one day…maybe.” Connor looked down at him. “I can’t eat it, but I can tell you what’s in it.”

“Hm…tell me?” Cole held out a cookie towards Connor.

Connor was strangely hyper aware of Hank watching him as he brought the cookie to his lips and crunched off a miniscule amount. He felt his analyzers working.

“Approximately 0.5 grams of total fat.”

Cole laughed, and Connor felt lighter. He wasn’t sure what was funny, but he was glad his abilities seemed to be amusing to the one he was supposed to take care of. Connor handed the partially bitten cookie back to Cole.

“What can you make for dinner?” Hank asked.

“What would you like me to make?” Connor tilted his head, a slight smile still on his face.

Connor’s brief time with the Andersons already told him a few things about them. Cole seemed to be a well-developed child, despite being raised by a single father.

Hank seemed loving and attentive, despite his obvious awkwardness about owning an android. He seemed unsure how to talk to him.

“Can we have tacos?” Cole asked.

Connor opened the refrigerator and scanned the contents. He then glanced at the pantry and scanned again.

“I can make tacos.”

“Yeah!” Cole jumped up.

“Hey, Bud, go lay down for a little while, okay?” Hank placed a hand on Cole’s head.

“But I’m not tired!”

“You don’t have to sleep, just rest for a while, okay?”

“But I don’t wanna!” Cole began to whine.

“Why don’t I tell you a story?” Connor crouched down eye-level to the boy.

“A good one?” Cole asked suspiciously.

“I have over nine-thousand stories in memory. I’m sure at least one is good.”

“Okay.” Cole took Connor’s hand again.

In Cole’s room, Connor picked Cole up and sat him on the bed. He then took off the boy’s shoes and pants before covering him with the blanket.

“It’s messy in here.” Connor commented as he folded the pants and placed them on the dresser.

“It’s cuz my toy box is too small.” Cole mumbled, closing his eyes.

Connor made a mental note to clean in here as soon as he got the chance. He then turned off the light and crossed the room to close the curtains.

“No…” Cole shuffled under the covers. “Don’t close those! I need the light.”

“Okay.” Connor stepped back and turned to sit on the foot of the bed. “Now, what sort of story would you like?”

“One about…a…robot.”

“A robot like me?”

“No, like a real robot. You know, with lasers! And lights and stuff.”

“This is a story, about a robot. With lasers and light and stuff.” Connor began, smiling when he heard Cole giggle. “He was very strong and fast and smart, but he couldn’t do anything until the humans told him what to do, so he waited. One day, a little boy found him and took him home.”

“Did they live happily?” Cole asked.

“Yes.”

“No.” Cole rolled his eyes. “They can’t just live happily. You have to add twists and stuff.”

“One day…the robot fell over, and his arm fell off.” Connor was pleased when Cole gasped. “But then the boy’s father helped put it back on.”

“This story is weird.” Cole rolled over and closed his eyes. “Start thinking of another one to tell me tonight, and make it not suck.”

“Okay, I will make one that doesn’t suck.” Connor stood up from the bed.

As he turned back towards the door, he saw Hank standing in the doorway. He was watching Connor with something in his face that the android couldn’t identify.

Hank stayed there, watching as Connor quietly began to pick up the toys from the floor and put them in the toy box. He then put all of the clothes in the hamper before carrying it out into the hall.

“I can start on laundry, Hank.” Connor said, closing Cole’s door behind them.

“Don’t worry about mine.” Hank said. “And, uh, here are some orders. Don’t ever go in my room unless I tell you to, okay?”

“Yes, Hank.” Connor nodded.

Connor went into the bathroom and gathered the towels from that hamper. As he stood up, he paused, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He put the hamper down and stepped towards the counter to examine himself further.

He’d only ever seen his own reflection in the waters of the Zen Garden. His brown hair was still styled the way CyberLife intended, with a single curl left flopping over his forehead. He reached up to fix it before deciding against it.

His uniform jacket displayed his name and model number, with the triangle and armband on the side. The sleeves reached down all the way. Connor thought about the current fashion of the outside weather and took off his jacket, leaving just a white buttoned shirt. He then rolled the sleeves up to his elbows.

“Hey, Connor, hurry up in there.” Hank knocked softly on the door.

“Sorry, Hank.” Connor folded his jacket over his arm and picked the hamper up again.

He opened the door to see Hank waiting. Hank stepped back and gave him a somewhat startled look, as well as that other think Connor couldn’t identify. Connor passed him and walked into the garage where the washing machine was.

He loaded in the laundry before going back into the living room to hang his jacket on the hook by the door. It hung by a larger coat and a small blue hoodie of Cole’s. Connor knew he’d have to put it back on to go out in public, since it identified him as an android, but it was nice to not have it on now.

As he went back into the kitchen, he passed the living room. Hank was sitting on the couch with his feet up on the coffee table. The tv was on, but Hank’s eyes instead followed Connor across the room.

“Do you or Cole have any dietary restrictions I should know about?” Connor asked, pausing by the couch.

“Uh, no. But just make sure he doesn’t eat too much junk, okay? I really shouldn’t have let him have cookies, but it’s Saturday. We all need something like that once in a while.”

“Understood, Hank.” Connor turned to go into the kitchen.

“Uh, Connor?”

“Yes, Hank?”

“…Never mind. Just try not to make a mess.”

“Yes, Hank.”

Connor went into the kitchen and began to make the tacos. This was the first time he was ever cooking, but he found it was easy. He just relied on his protocols to tell him what to do. It was even sort of…fun.

Sumo seemed interested in whatever was happening with food and strolled over. He nudged Connor in the leg and Connor resisted the urge to pet him, as he still needed to wash his hands.

“Hey, not for you! Get back.” Hank came in and shoved Sumo aside. The dog then lumbered over to his own food bowl.

“What time should I wake Cole up?” Connor asked, turning on the sink to wash his hands.

“About now. I’ll do it.” Hank started down the hall. “Just finish dinner.”

“Yes, Hank.” Connor sliced lettuce and tomato with absolute precision before turning the heat down on the meat just a fraction.

“Smells good in here.” Cole said, wandering in with a yawn.

“It’s almost ready. You should wash your hands.”

Connor watched Cole step up to the sink and stand on his toes, struggling to reach the tap. Connor quickly reached down and grabbed Cole around the waist, lifting him up.

“Hey, my dad has to do this for me too!” He laughed and turned on the water.

Connor felt a slightly electrical sensation on the panel on the back of his neck. It prickled like hairs, telling him Hank was staring at him again. Connor’s thirium pump pounded.

“Done!” Cole said. Connor put him down and began making plates.

Hank lifted Cole into his seat and Connor tried to hurry in fixing plates. He carried them over to the table and served them. He then took a napkin and folded it over Cole’s lap.

“You want milk or water?” Hank asked Cole.

“Milk.” Cole said and Connor started towards the fridge.

“I got it.” Hank stood up. Connor stood back and watched Hank make a glass for Cole as well as grab a beer for himself.

Connor stood by as they ate, watching as Cole hummed happily and began telling Hank about what they were going to do in school next week.

Connor’s next objective then popped up, tending to the laundry. Connor walked into the garage and paused. The washing machine wasn’t running anymore. Connor peered in and saw it was empty. He then glanced to the dryer, where he could see Cole’s clothes and towels spinning.

Hank must have taken care of it. Connor watched the objective vanish from his field of vision as he walked back into the kitchen.

“Yeah? Yeah…okay.” Hank was on the phone, standing a little ways away from the table. He glanced up and locked eyes with Connor. “Yeah, I’ve got someone who can watch Cole.”

“Are you going to work, Dad?” Cole asked.

“Yeah, something came up.” Hank sighed, hanging up. “I’ve gotta get down to the station.”

“Aww… when will you come back?”

“I’ll probably be back after you’re already asleep, buddy.”

“Aww…”

Connor took Hank’s plate to the sink and began rinsing it off. Hank went into his bedroom to get dressed.

“Your father is a police officer.” Connor said, checking his facts.

“Yeah, he catches bad guys.” Cole nodded.

“That sounds eventful.”

“It’s not.” Hank came back out in work clothes. “It’s way more paperwork than I care to do, and half the people at the station are just there to waste my time.”

Connor took Cole’s dishes next and prepared to clean up the kitchen. He then felt a strange spark of static as Hank put his hand on his shoulder. Connor’s eyes locked onto it and it took his processors a moment to think to look at Hank’s face. Hank nodded his head, gesturing for Connor to follow him.

Connor grabbed a hand towel and dried his hands as he followed Hank to the door. They stopped as Hank reached for his jacket.

“Listen,” Hank lowered his voice. “Cole might be difficult. He usually is when I’m not here. Just try to keep him happy. Let him take a toy in the bath and let him watch a few cartoons before you put him to bed.”

“What time should he go to sleep?”

“No later than nine. He’ll try to whine or get you to let him stay up, but don’t give in, okay?”

“Yes, Hank.”

Connor watched him go and the car pull out from the driveway before going back into the kitchen. Cole was crawling around on the floor with tiny plastic cars.

“Hey, can you set my ramp up?” Cole looked up at him expectantly.

“Yes.” Connor wasn’t sure what that was, but he was here for Cole.

Cole dragged out a box from his room. It had a picture of the finished toy on the front –an orange track for the cars that went in a large loop. It seemed to be assembled from many pieces.

“Dad says I have to take it apart when I’m done because it takes up too much room in here.”

“What about in your room?” Connor asked, looking up from the box.

“There’s no room in there either!”

“I will make room.”

Connor carried the box back into Cole’s room and sat it on the bed before continuing his earlier work of cleaning the floor. Cole watched Connor put away every toy from the floor and then start to line them on the shelf when the toy box was full.

“It’ll go by faster if you just shove everything under the bed.”

“That is against my programming. That’s not real cleaning.”

Finally, it was clean enough for Connor to open the box and take out the pieces. Cole went to help and soon the whole track was set up. Cole placed his cars down on the top and watched them go down, looping perfectly. He laughed.

“You go now.” Cole lined up all the cars on the carpet. “Pick one.”

“Which one?”

“Whichever one you want.”

Want? Connor wasn’t sure how to want things. He examined each car, analyzing it and determining its speed based on its weight, size, and shape. He chose the fastest one.

He placed it on the track and watched it go. It finished the loop and launched off the end of the track, landed a ways away on the carpet.

“Woah! That was cool!” Cole grabbed it and did the same. He seemed amused by that for a while until Connor’s internal clock told him it was bath time.

“Bath time.” Connor stood up.

“Aw, I don’t wanna!” Cole began to whine, but Connor ignored him, continuing into the bathroom.

He turned on the water and put his hand in the water, analyzing the temperature and determining if it was too hot or too cold. He poured in bubble bath and watched it foam up.

How interesting. Connor had never bathed before, but CyberLife did recommend bathing your android if it somehow got too dirty. Maybe he could one day, if Hank let him.

“Bath time.” Connor stood in Cole’s doorway.

“Fine.” He sighed. He stood up and went to the toy box. “Where’s my boat?”

Connor walked up behind him and reached into the toy box, instantly locating the plastic boat without even looking. Cole smiled.

Connor sat outside the tub and washed Cole’s hair as the boy played with the plastic boat. He got a bit rowdy and sent a wave of water over the edge of the tub, soaking Connor’s shirt.

“Sorry!”

“It’s okay. I’m waterproof.” Connor grabbed a towel and mopped the floor.

“This smells like orange.” Cole grabbed the bottle of shampoo.

Connor continued to wash Cole’s hair before lifting his hand to his lips. He let a tiny bit of the foam slip past his lips onto his tongue and his system began to analyze.

“It does not taste like orange, nor does it contain any orange.”

“Ew, gross! You ate soap!” Cole laughed wildly, kicking his legs and splashing Connor even more.

After his bath, Connor let Cole pick what pajamas he wanted to wear before letting him watch cartoons in the living room for a little while.

Connor got the laundry from the dryer and folded it before putting it away. He then made mental notes to clean the kitchen and living room after Cole went to bed.

“I have another story for you.” Connor said.

“Okay.” Cole yawned and turned off the tv before following Connor to his room.

He climbed into bed and Connor covered him with the blanket. Cole made grabby hands towards a stuffed animal Connor had put on the shelf and Connor retrieved it for him.

“This is a story about a robot with lasers and lights and other amazing things.” Connor began, sitting on the foot of the bed. “The robot was sworn to protect a young prince, who was only six years old. One day, the prince got kidnapped by an evil dragon.”

“Whoa.” Cole’s sleepy voice at least sounded more intrigued this time.

“Then the robot used his lasers to zap the dragon. The dragon shrank very small and turned into a dog. A dog with scales and wings and other things.” Connor was pleased when Cole laughed. “They named him Sumo. Prince Cole, Connor, Sumo, and the handsome king all lived in the castle happily forever. The end.”

“That was funny.” Cole closed his eyes. “Especially the part about Daddy.”

“What?”

“You said he was a handsome king. That’s funny.” Cole’s voice drifted off as Connor replayed the story in his mind.

He had said that, but he wasn’t sure what made him do so. Perhaps his protocol was just trying to add some realism so Cole wouldn’t get bored. Still, that realism had to come from how Connor perceived things. He decided to simply ignore it.

Connor slowly stood up and started towards the door. He turned off the light and instantly heard Cole whimper. He opened his eyes and looked at Connor.

“It’s too dark.”

“Do you have a night light?”

“No. I’m not a baby. Maybe you could just stay in here for a little bit. You have a night light on your head.”

“Okay.” Connor did notice the way his LED casted a blue glow in the room. He sat back down on the foot of the bed and waited.

He analyzed Cole, waiting until all of his scans indicated the boy was finally fully asleep. Connor stood up and paused, looking back at him again. He then leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on Cole’s head before leaving the room, closing the door behind him.

He got to work cleaning. He cleaned the whole kitchen, washing and putting away all of the dishes before working on the living room. When that was done, he walked back into the bathroom. There wasn’t much to do there nor in the garage.

He looked at Hank’s door. A red barrier seemed to be hanging in front of his vision, preventing him from  even approaching.

DO NOT ENTER HANK’S ROOM WITHOUT PERMISSION.

So Connor didn’t. He instead went to the guest room where his charging station was installed. The room was empty aside from a bed without sheets and an empty dresser. The mirror on the dresser had a crack in it, but Connor still paused to look at his reflection.

He then stepped onto the charging port and closed his eyes. He could feel the electricity surging gently through his system, repowering the thirium that pumped through his body. It was relaxing. Not like a bath would probably be, but still…it was nice.

 

-

Hank suppressed a yawn and shifted at his desk as he tried not to fall asleep. This was taking longer than he thought it would, and he was honestly worried about Cole. He just hoped Connor could get Cole to fall asleep without much of a fuss.

Connor. His android. Hank Anderson had a fucking android. That was a thing now.

He hadn’t planned on it. The money he spent on it was actually supposed to be for a vacation, but it just seemed like Hawaii was out of reach, no matter how much slowly trickled into the savings account. It just seemed like Detroit always had something going on and he couldn’t leave.

Maybe it was better this way.

Cole needed someone. Hank thought he’d been enough. After all, it’d just been him and Cole for six years, but the kid forgets his lunchbox on the bus the one time Hank doesn’t drive him to school, and suddenly the school thinks he’s a shitty parent.

Mr. Anderson, no one is saying that.”  The Principal had been surprisingly sympathetic. “We just think it’s best if you listen to the sort of accommodations we provide. After-school programs, and other resources for working parents.”

“Cole needs me in the afternoons. He doesn’t wanna stay at school any longer than he has to.” Hank forgets to say no offense.

Then why not consider purchasing help? We can give you forms so you can have a discount.”

On a nanny?”

“On an android.”

Hank had never actually been in a CyberLife store before that day. It was bright and weird. It felt like all the androids in the cases were staring at him. It was like they were trapped behind that glass, secretly wanting to escape.

No…androids didn’t want things. Everyone knew that.

He didn’t specifically pick Connor. He knew that the salesperson knew that he didn’t know shit about androids. Maybe he should have researched beforehand. Connor was probably overpriced.

A goofy looking rip-off.

It wasn’t that he wanted that one. Sure, prototype sounded fancy, and he liked the fact that it could cook and clean –the only shit that really mattered —Hank decided to get him.

Really he just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. Cole seemed to like him, and again, that was all that mattered. The fact that Cole even seemed to quickly make up Connor’s name took another ease off of Hank’s mind about the whole android thing.

That is, until he saw the thing in action.

It got the door for him like a slave. Or a polite date. Whatever. Both were creepy.

At home, it really freaked him out when it greeted Sumo like he loved animals. But androids didn’t love things. All the housekeeper models were probably just designed to love all domestic animals. That made sense.

 It made sense. It was fine. Connor wasn’t weird.

Hank told himself that as he finally finished his work and started to tidy his desk. It wasn’t like Hank had ever been around androids much before, but  just because Connor didn’t act like any android he’d ever seen on the streets or in commercials or anything didn’t mean anything.

All androids were probably more casual at their owner’s homes. He didn’t know if all androids shed their jackets for a casual look and subconsciously hummed while they cooked or made up such goofy stories for kids.

Maybe Connor was just special like that. Would that be so bad?

“Alright, Jeff, I’m done.” Hank was the last person left in the precinct other than Captain Fowler. He stopped back the captain’s door out of habit, his jacket flung over his shoulder.

“Sorry to keep you so late, Hank. Jen’s gonna be mad?”

“Jen’s not sitting tonight.” Hank looked away. He couldn’t do that to the neighbor twice in a week, and now he’d never have to again. “It’s, uh, my android.”

“Oh, great. Those things are a damn good help around the house.”

“You’ve got one?”

“Nah, but my sister does. The thing can speak something like four-hundred languages. Let me know how many yours can speak and maybe we can bring it down to the precinct when we can’t get a hold of a translator.”

Only when Fowler chuckled did Hank realize that was just a joke. Hank managed a curtsey laugh before nodding and saying goodnight. He always got the feeling that there was more to Fowler, and maybe they could be friends if it weren’t for Fowler also pissing him off so much.

One light had been left on for Hank when he got home. Hank slowly went around the house, taking in how weirdly clean it was. He never got around to doing more than one room in a weekend, meaning more than one room at a time being clean was unheard of in the Anderson house.

The living room and kitchen were both spotless, complete with a sleeping Sumo, and Hank saw stacks of clean towels in the bathroom cabinets. Finally, he checked in on Cole.

He wasn’t sure when this whole afraid-of-the-dark thing stated, but he was glad to see Connor found a way to get Cole to go to sleep without leaving the hall light on and the door open.

Connor… Hank opened his bedroom door and sighed in relief when he saw that the android hadn’t gone in there. He then went to the guest room.

Connor was standing in the charging station. His eyes were closed and he had a sort of half-smile on his face. Hank was about to just leave him as is, but something made him approach.

The android was wearing grey socks, and a quick glance by the door showed Hank that he’d left his shoes there neatly. Connor’s shirt was already subtly stained with food and water, and Hank chuckled at the knowledge that it had to be from bathing Cole.

He didn’t think to buy Connor any more clothes. In fact, he was surprised the CyberLife salesperson didn’t try to sell him any bonus outfits or whatever the fuck else it took to get him to spend more money.

Still, not even an android deserved to wear the exact same thing every day. Hank made a note to buy Connor a few things. He’d have to ask the android what size he wanted and if he had color preferences. An android with preferences. That was a laugh.

He turned off the guest room light, leaving a blue glow in the darkness. He looked back at Connor again. With the glow and that smile still on his face he was almost peaceful looking. Hank just hoped he didn’t finish charging at like three in the morning and start making a racket.

Hank took a quick shower (pausing to take Cole’s boat out of the bottom of the tub) and then went to get into bed. As he shuffled through the dresser for clean underwear he sighed and realized he should have let Connor wash his clothes as well.

He glanced at the bottom drawer before opening it. Clothes he hadn’t worn in years included a few old band tees and workout clothes. He gave in to his sympathy for the robot and grabbed everything in the drawer in an armload.

He deposited it into the dresser in the guest room, squashing them down into the bottom. It would do for now. Just so Connor would get the hint, Hank laid out an old t-shirt and sweatpants on top and hoped Connor would know to put them on long enough for his regular clothes to get washed.

He then went back to his room and collapsed into bed. He had a feeling he was going to have a weird dream tonight. Did Connor dream in his little station at night? What was it that they said androids dreamed of? Electric sheep?

 

-

 

It was still summer in the Zen Garden. Connor didn’t expect to see this place again, but it was just as nice as he remembered. His appearance here seemed determined by his physical appearance, meaning he was barefoot here now.

Well, he had socks on. Still, he could feel the stone paths of the garden on his feet much better this way. His rolled up sleeves also meant he could feel the wind and the sun. He was almost…warm? Maybe he could feel here?

He wandered around for a while, looking for the monolith. He finally saw it up ahead and he found himself jogging excitedly towards it, his face breaking into a smile at the warm sunshine and the way birds scattered.

He reached out, hand hovering just over the palm shaped panel.

“Connor?”

“Amanda.” Connor reluctantly turned away from it. “How are you?”

“I should ask you that.” She looked down at him from a ridge up ahead. “How is your new residence? And the Andersons?”

“Fine.” Connor was eager to get on with it, but he found himself back pedaling. “Better than fine, I suppose. Cole is a sweet boy and he took to me quickly. There’s also a dog. I like dogs.”

“And Hank?” Her eyebrow seemed to twitch in a way that made Connor wonder if she knew his whole mind.

“He’s…fine. He’s nice. I have my own room, and he even does some of the chores himself.”

“What about his work? What do you know of it?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Keep your eyes open, Connor. Not everyone is like the Andersons. Some humans want to hurt androids. That’s one thing. Some androids want to hurt humans. That’s another matter entirely.”

“Hurt…humans? But that’s not possible. Our programming –“ He blinked with the wind rustled the trees, and then she was gone. “Amanda?”

“Keep your eyes open, Connor.”

“Amanda!”

Connor opened his eyes and looked around the guest room. His internal clock said it was only seven in the morning. He decided to go do chores until it was time to make breakfast.

As he stepped towards the door, he caught sight of the dresser. The top drawer was budging out. He opened it a tad to see it was full of clothes. A quick scan showed they were Hank’s. Why were these here? There were more on top.

Where these for him? It was odd for androids to wear human clothes, but it that was only in public. In private, it was up to the owner. If this was what Hank wanted, it was okay. Plus, his usual uniform  was already dirty.

Connor unbuttoned his shirt, leaving him bare-chested. He shed it completed before taking off his pants. He would wash this all today so he could get back to wearing it as soon as possible. He quickly put on Hank’s clothes.

Hank’s clothes? No, his clothes. For right now, at least. Connor stopped and looked down at the t-shirt. A search in his mental database showed it was the symbol from some band.

It was very soft. Connor grabbed the front of the shirt, feeling the loose fabric scrunch in his hands before he pressed it to his face. His nasal receptors registered laundry detergent and the faintest hint of deodorant.

If only he could really smell.

He couldn’t waste anymore time. He gathered his dirty clothes and went to put them in the bathroom hamper. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a sticky note stuck to the mirror.

Reminder –buy Connor clothes. Shirts. Pants. Underwear (?)

Connor smiled and logged the message into his system. He’d remind Hank when the time came. He found the sticky notes in a drawer along with a pen. He wrote his own note to stick by Hank’s.

Reminder logged in for you. I work much better than sticky notes, Hank. Please ask me to keep track of all your reminders, lists, and appointments. –Connor.

He stuck it to the mirror, overlapping Hank’s note, before going into the kitchen. Maybe Cole would like pancakes? Maybe Hank would too.

It was going to make Connor happy to do things for them. At least, he was sure it would if he could feel that.

He paused to crouch down and pet Sumo. Happiness. That was here. Maybe. No –he was sure it was.