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Windows to the Soul

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It was pre-programmed; the tendency to keep his eyes downcast.  He would let the coin roll across his knuckles as he thought, only glancing up to check he was going in the right direction.

It wasn’t easy to avoid eye-contact when he knew he wasn’t allowed in the bar. The bright blue on his temple drew eyes in the dimly lit tavern. Every pair on him. Connor studied the grim tiles as he waited for the interest to die down.

And then he scanned. Fifth bar was the charm. Speaking of charm –Connor straightened his tie and approached.

“Lieutenant Anderson, my name is Connor. I’m the android sent by CyberLife. I looked for you at the station, but nobody knew where you were. They said you were probably having a drink nearby. I was lucky to find you at the fifth bar.”

“What do you want?” Hank Anderson didn’t look up and his curtain of hair shielded his face. That was somewhat good for Connor. He didn’t have to draw his eyes away.

“You were assigned a case early this evening involving a CyberLife android. In accordance with procedure, the company has allocated a specialized model to assist investigators.”

“Well, I don’t need any assistance. Especially from a plastic asshole like you.” He reached for his drink. “So just be a good little robot and get the fuck outta here.”

Connor wasn’t programmed to take offense, so he didn’t. He was programmed to persist, so he did.

“I think you should stop drinking, and come with me.” Connor said firmly. Hank nodded but didn’t move. Connor went on. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant, but I must insist. My instructions stipulate that I have to accompany you.”

“You know where you can stick your instructions?” Hank chuckled, taking another sip. Connor registered the words as insulting, but did not feel their effects. He pulled up a carefully calculated response.

“No.” Connor tilted his head. “Where?”

Hank looked up at him in surprise and Connor responded by doing what he was programmed to do— look down at his shoes.

Hank sighed and turned back to drinking. Connor’s LED spun as he weighed his options.

SPILL HIS DRINK/BUY HIM ANOTHER DRINK/WAIT OUTSIDE.

“How about this?” Connor glanced up towards the bar. “I buy you a drink, and then you’re coming with me, okay?”

Hank raised his head in surprise, but didn’t look over. Connor was glad the bartender had his back to them so that Connor could raise his own head and speak clearly.

“The same again, please.” Connor nodded at them.

He knew exactly what he was doing. The way Hank shifted uncomfortably as the drink was made. The way other patrons who’d been listening in now looked over in shock at Connor’s bold words. It put a satisfied smile on Connor’s face.

“Wonders of technology…” Hank mumbled after a moment. “Make it a double.”

Connor watched him knock it back and sigh loudly before slowly turning to him. His programming worked again and his eyes dropped to his shoes when Hank looked at him.

“Did you say homicide?”

 

-

 

Humans should be used to androids watching their shoulders. It was in Connor’s programming to do that when speaking directly to a human, and to the ground when being spoken to by one.

Apparently, Hank was different. He didn’t say anything at the house they checked, though that may be due to the fact that Connor was on the move the whole time. He crouched and tasted samples, much to Hank’s disgust.

He walked back and forth from the living room to the kitchen and reconstructed. They found the deviant with no problem. It’s eyes bored into Connor’s under the red flush of its LED in the attic.

There was no law saying androids couldn’t hold prolonged eye-contact with one another. The deviant took well advantage of that and stared into Connor’s eyes with fear and pain. First the first time, Connor felt a strange clenching in his chest components.

SOFTWARE INSTABILITY.

Connor ignored his shaken programming and raised his voice.

“I found it!”

 

Connor kept his eyes at Hank’s shoulders until he had the idea to do the interrogation himself. Hank nodded to him and Connor ducked inside.

Again, the deviant’s eyes stared into his, or cut away when Connor reminded him of the number of stab wounds. The deviant’s eyes widened sadly at that, and Connor felt the clenching in his chest again. He looked down like he would have, had the deviant been human. He then saw the wounds on the deviant’s arms.

“He…hurt you. You were…scared?” Connor blinked in understanding and raised his eyes.

The deviant looked back and nodded.

SOFTWARE INSTABILITY.

 

-

 

Connor still kept his eyes on Hank’s shoulders at the police station. Someone told him to expect Hank soon, so he spent the time scanning the contents of the lieutenant’s desk. Connor saw the phone on the desk and placed a hand down on it, letting the very tips of his fingers brush it and activate Hank’s voice mail.

“Lieutenant Anderson, this is Connor.”  Connor said aloud. “The android sent by CyberLife? I am waiting for you right now at the police station…” He trailed off as he realized it was pointless. He quickly hung up and erased the message.

He then picked up the pair of headphones and music player from the desk. He held the headphones near his audio processors and hit play. He then nearly jolted from the loud sound.

PROCESSING…

Dark Heavy Metal.

Knights of the Black Death.  Release date – 2021.

 Connor stood for a moment, trying to form an opinion. After he had one, he did more scanning. Dog hairs. Interesting. Donut crumbs. Not as interesting.

The photo by the desk showed Lieutenant Anderson and several other officers. Small notes on the margin told Connor how Hank felt about each individual.

Ass-kisser. Prick. Owes me 50 dollars. A good officer. Nice girl.

Connor’s eyes flicked to Hank in the middle. He was much younger and clean-cut. Humans always looked into the camera –with proper, non-candid photos, at least. Connor dared to let his eyes move to Hank’s.

Blue eyes shined proudly with the half-smile on his face. Connor immediately felt the clenching in his chest components as his thirium pump pulse spiked. This wasn’t technically illegal, so why did it feel so wrong?

SOFTWARE INSTABILITY.

Connor jumped back and collided with someone.

“Watch it!” Hank barked.

“Lieutenant, I was just waiting for you.” Connor regained his balance and looked to Hank, keeping his eyes at his shoulders.

“Lucky me.” Hank mumbled, dropping down into the desk chair.

“I was hoping we could discuss the events of yesterday –“ Connor remembered practically begging Miller to go easy on the deviant and promise not to hurt him as he was led from the interrogation room. They technically got their confession, but Connor wondered if his softer approach had ruined his standings with the humans.

“I was hoping we couldn’t.” Hank sighed, leaning on one elbow. “We got the confession. I don’t wanna think about this shit anymore. Can’t you go play somewhere and not bug me for five damn minutes?”

“Of course.” Connor started his internal clock for five minutes and walked off.

There wasn’t much else for Connor to do other than obverse the humans. He walked into the break room and saw two officers. Tina Chen and Gavin Reed. Connor recognized Reed from the interrogation, and it seemed it was mutual.

“Hey, look, it’s our friend…the plastic detective.” Reed smirked and they looked over. Connor’s eyes instantly dropped and he nodded politely.

“Good morning.” Connor said. They both chuckled lightly.

“So what the hell are you, anyways?” Reed made his way over. Connor’s eyes moved to the floor entirely.

“I am a specialized model designed to assist the investigation.” Connor said. “RK800 –“

“Whatever.” Reed cut him off with a wave of his hand. “Why don’t you get me a coffee?”

ACCEPT/REFUSE/IGNORE.

Connor did not think it was wise to burn any bridges with the humans he was going to be working with. Connor nodded and turned towards the machine. Reed chuckled in amusement as Connor turned back and held out the cup.

“Get a load of this fucking thing.” Reed smirked. Connor stayed still, arm still out. He moved closer, body brushing Connor’s shoulder and face inches away. “Hey…hey! Hey, robot!”

Connor’s eyes flicked over, meeting a human’s gaze for the first time. His breath hitched in his throat as he saw hatred. He immediately dropped his eyes, but it was too late.

“How dare you fucking look at me!?” Reed punched Connor in the stomach. The cup slipped from his grasp as he doubled over. He felt no pain, but it didn’t stop the pre-programmed reaction.

He kept his eyes on the now coffee-soaked floor. His limbs stayed rigid despite his thirium pump pounding. Reed put his hand down on Connor’s shoulder.

“Why don’t you learn your place, plastic? Clean this shit up. Let’s get outta here.” Reed chuckled lowly and Chen followed him out. She may have looked back at Connor, but he remained perfectly still until the break room was empty.

He quickly grabbed napkins and mopped up the mess before tossing them and the empty cup into the trashcan. He then straightened his tie and took another moment to remain still. He let the final moments of his internal timer click by as he willed his components to still.

It would probably due well for him to try and avoid talking to Reed ever again. Connor had never seen such hatred. No wonder they weren’t supposed to make eye-contact with humans.

00:00

Connor walked back over to Hank’s desk.

“What, you didn’t think to bring me anything?” Hank asked as Connor approached. Connor immediately turned around to go back to the break room. “I’m kidding. Sit the hell down.”

Connor looked over at the empty desk adjacent to Hank’s and sat down. He then contemplated everything he’d surveyed at Hank’s desk.

“You have a dog?” Connor looked up, eyes at Hank’s shoulder.

“…How the hell do you know that?” Hank asked.

“Dog hairs on your chair.” Connor smiled. “I like dogs! What’s your dog’s name?”

Hank didn’t answer right away. Connor dared to raise his eyes to Hank’s face for just a second before going back to his shoulder.

“Sumo.” He said finally. “I call him Sumo.”

“I like dogs.” Connor said again, hoping this would prompt Hank to show him a picture of Sumo, but it didn’t seem to work.

“Hank!” Captain Fowler stepped out of his office and looked over. “In my office.”

“God…” Hank sighed and took his time making his way over.

LISTEN IN.

Connor followed Hank into Fowler’s office. Hank sat down dramatically in front of the desk and Connor stood rigidly off to the side.

“I’ve got ten new cases involving androids every day.” Fowler started. “We’ve always had isolated incidents, but now, we’re getting reports of assaults. And even homicides, like that guy last night. This isn’t just CyberLife’s problem anymore. It’s now a criminal investigation, and we’ve got to deal with it before shit hits the fan.”

Connor listened, taking in the fact that everything the captain was saying did match up to what he was already pre-programmed to know. He watched Hank from behind but couldn’t tell what the lieutenant could be thinking.

“I want you to investigate these cases and see if there’s a link.” Fowler said.

“Why me? Why do I have to be the one to deal with this shit? I don’t know jack shit about androids, Jeffrey.” Hank looked back towards Connor and Connor kept his eyes down, hands clasped in front of him.

“Everybody is overloaded.” Fowler countered. “I think you’re perfectly qualified for this type of investigation.”

“Bullshit!” Hank stood up and leaned over the desk. “The truth is that no one wants to investigate these androids, and so you stuck me with it!” He turned away and strode angrily across the room. Connor watched Hank’s feet.

“CyberLife sent over this state-of-the-art prototype to help with the investigation.” Fowler said patiently. “It’ll act as your partner.”

“No fucking way!” Hank turned and leaned over the desk again. “I don’t need a partner, and certainly not this plastic prick!”

Connor’s eyes moved from Hank’s shoes to his own. He wasn’t programmed to be insulted. So he wasn’t.

“Hank, you are seriously starting to piss me off!” Fowler raised his eyes to Hank’s and Connor dared to watch with almost curiosity. “Just shut your mouth and do what I say, unless you wanna hand in your badge! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do!”

Hank grumbled low in his throat before turning and marching out of the room. Connor looked up at Fowler, keeping his eyes on the desk. Fowler seemed to be just watching him, waiting for him to say something.

But Connor had nothing to say. Back outside by Hank’s desk, Connor kept his eyes down as he walked over.

“I want you to know that I look forward to solving this case with you.” Connor said. Hank crossed his arms and didn’t look over. “Now that we’re partners…it would be great to get to know each other better.”

Hank turned further away. Connor bit back a sigh of disappointment and went to sit at the desk by Hank’s. Again, he recalled what he’d seen.

“Do you like Knights of the Black Death?” Connor asked. “I like that music. It’s full of…energy.”

“You listen to heavy metal?” Hank looked up and Connor looked down.

“Well, I don’t really listen to music…but I’d like to.” Connor kept his eyes at Hank’s shoulders as he felt Hank’s eyes on his face. His LED cycled and Hank looked back down. Connor felt his chest components clench.

“You should check it out, then.” Hank muttered and turned to the computer.

“I was wondering…” Connor carefully chose his words. “It’s just that, a lot of humans find being around androids uncomfortable. Do you have any particular reason to despise me?”

“Yeah. One.” Hank said. Connor dared move his eyes to Hank’s face, but Hank didn’t look over or elaborate.

Connor turned on the computer and began scrolling through each file. An AP700 model android that attacked someone. A WR400 android that went missing. Connor placed his hand down on the panel on the keyboard and downloaded all of the files. His LED spun for half a second as it completed.

“234 files…” Connor said when it was done. He glanced to Hank, who wasn’t looking. “An AX400 was said to have attacked a man last night. That might be a good starting point.”

Hank turned away, letting his hair block his face. Connor felt his programming tell him to press on. He couldn’t do this without Hank.

Connor stood up and went around to the side of Hank’s desk. Hank turned away again.

DIRECT/AGGRESSIVE/PROFESSIONAL/UNDERSTANDING.

“I understand you’re facing personal issues, Lieutenant, but we need to –“

“Hey, don’t talk to me like you know me.” Hank looked up at him. Connor’s eyes snapped down. “You’re not my friend, and I don’t need your fucking advice.”

 Connor waited, thirium pump pounding, for Hank to look away. As soon as he did, Connor leaned down again.

“I…I can’t just wait around until you feel like working –“

Hank stood up and grabbed Connor by the front of the shirt before turning and slamming his back to the wall. Connor felt the wind knocked from his synthetic lungs, and this time his components clenched with a feeling he couldn’t place. His LED spun yellow as fought to keep his eyes on Hank’s chest –anywhere but his face.

“Listen, asshole…” Hank’s whisper was even and angry. Connor’s thirium pump pounded just as loudly. He didn’t dare struggle or look at him. “If it was up to me, I’d throw the lot of you into a dumpster and set fire to it. So, stop pissing me off!”

“I –“ Connor squeezed his eyes shut at a desperate attempt to keep them where they belonged. He felt Hank’s grip slackened just slightly before someone approached.

“Lieutenant,” Officer Miller approached. Hank let go of Connor and turned to him. Connor’s feet hit the floor and he quickly straightened his tie. “Something came in on that AX400. It’s been spotted nearby.”

“I’m on it.” Hank kept staring at Connor, and Connor kept his eyes down.

Hank finally turned and walked off. Connor felt frozen. He finally fought the off-feeling in his chest before following.

 

Connor felt something like it again –synthetic adrenaline as he chased the deviant AX400 down the street. The slight rain slicked right off his skin and clothing, not even slowing him down. He knew he was leaving Hank behind, but right now, this was the only thing that mattered.

The YK500 with it screamed as it tried to keep up with its companion. Connor was on their heels. He contemplated as they turned a corner.

TACKLE YK500/TACKLE AX400.

Connor looked down at the YK500. It kept its hand in the other deviant’s. It seemed to sense Connor’s eyes, looking back at him fearfully. Their eyes met for a split second.

SOFTWARE INSTABILITY.

The notification distracted him. Connor didn’t go around the mailbox like they did. He let out an undignified noise as he slammed into it. His components could take a hit, but he still got the influx of warnings.

DANGER: EVADE.

“Yep.” Connor groaned, clutching his stomach. He was aware of Hank now catching up.

“Jesus Christ, get it together!” Hank was panting. Connor wasn’t sure which of them he was actually talking to.

“Yep.” Connor jumped to his feet and took off.

Pedestrians shouted and jumped back as Connor used all of his strength to keep up the chase. He saw the deviants up ahead. The little one looked back and screamed again. They turned down an alley and Connor followed.

The AX400 grabbed the YK500 and hoisted it up onto the fence at the end of the alley. It then scrambled over as the other one landed on the other side. Connor sped up as they both made it to the other side of the fence.

The metal jingled as Connor landed against it. It rattled between him and the AX400, who looked through the fence at him. Her eyes locked into his.

SOFTWARE INSTABILITY.

They started towards the highway as Hank caught up to him. Connor started to climb over as well. Hank roughly grabbed his jacket.

“What the hell! No!”

“I have to –“

“You will get killed!” Hank pulled him back down. “You’re not going! That’s an order.”

“But –“ Connor glanced at Hank from the corner of his eye. “They’ll get away!”

“They’ll never make it to the other side.” Hank assured him, dropping his hand and slumping over.

OBEY/IGNORE.

He decided to obey. Connor watched, feeling torn within as they did just that. He felt helpless and useless at the same time.

 

-

 

Connor’s plan to keep his eyes at shoulder level and not to piss Hank off seemed to work for most part.

It was still raining lightly. Connor watched the drops collect on the car window before they rolled down. He suppressed a sigh as he thought of the deviants he lost.

“Stay here.” Hank mumbled when he parked the car. Connor looked over and watched Hank get out and start towards the restaurant. Connor got out and followed. Hank looked over and groaned. “God, don’t you do anything I say?”

Connor didn’t answer. He scanned the food Hank was getting a determined it was very unhealthy. He wasn’t sure if he should say that, however.

“I don’t understand.” Connor followed him to a table. “Why didn’t you want me to cross the highway yesterday?”

“…Because you could’ve been killed!” Hank said as if it were obvious. Connor looked over in surprise at his answer, catching himself before his eyes could go any higher than Hank’s collar. “And, uh, I don’t like having to fill out the forms for damaged equipment.”

Connor nodded. That made sense. He didn’t remember anything that followed saving Emma from the deviant known as Daniel. He’d been interrupted. Taken a break from being aware. He would like to avoid that happening again. He was just upset that they seemed to be getting nowhere this way.

“Why are you eating food like that? It’s so unhealthy.”

“Everyone’s got vices.” Hank shrugged and took a bite. “And trust me, I mean everyone.”

“I –“ Connor’s fingers twitched as he thought the coin in his pocket. He was a prototype. He wasn’t flawless. Still, he decided not to dwell too much on human thoughts.

“You too.” Hank didn’t look up.

“Not me.” Connor said too quickly.

“Oh, really? So, it’s in your programming to buy drinks for guys who look twice your age?” Hank smirked.

“I…I was just trying to get you to come with me.” Connor explained. He’d seemed so confident in it at the time, and it had worked, after all. Perhaps the light of day showed him how it really seemed.

His thirium pump pounded harder. The access thirium seemed to flood to his face. Connor’s eyed bored into the tabletop.

“Why do you keep doing that?” Hank asked, taking a drink of soda. “Looking down like that? Don’t you know how to look at someone when they’re talking to you?”

“I—“ Connor’s eyes flicked over a few inches across the table. “Androids are not permitted to make prolonged eye-contact with humans.”

“More of that weird bullshit, then?” Hank mumbled. Connor’s eyes stayed on Hank’s food. “Stop it, you look crazy. Just look at my face when you talk to me.”

Connor’s eyes moved up to Hank’s shoulders. Hank sighed dramatically in defeat and kept eating. Connor then shakily looked up at Hank’s temple. Where an LED would be if he were an android. Hank grunted.

“That’s better, I guess.” He decided. “Fucking rules. Can’t stand there. Can’t go in there. Can’t look at someone. No wonder they’re fighting back now.”

“You mean the deviants?” Connor blinked, eyes on Hank’s temple. “They just simulate emotion when they get overwhelmed by irrational instructions. That’s all it is.”

“You act like you know.”

“I’ve done my research.” Connor nodded. He remembered  Emma’s scream. Daniel’s stare. He shifted slightly.

“All of it?” Hank prompted “Look, I know you know about me.  You were researching. You left your crumby prints all over my desk.”

“Androids don’t have fingerprints.” Connor countered.

“Metaphorical prints.” Hank said, his own greasy hand coming down to rest a few inches from Connor’s on the table. Connor dropped his arms down to his side.

“I suppose.” Connor agreed, mentally bringing up everything he knew about Hank. “Top of your class. The youngest lieutenant—“

“Spare me my own life story, okay?” Hank held up a hand.

“Sorry.” Connor’s eyes moved across Hank’s ear. “What about me? Is there anything you’d like to know about me?”

“Hell no.” Hank kept eating. “Actually… Why’d they make you so goofy looking, and give you that weird voice?”

“CyberLife androids are designed to work harmoniously with humans. Both my appearance and voice were specifically designed to facilitate my integration.” 

Hank nodded like he understood. “Well, they fucked up.”

Connor watched him eat for a while, scanning their surroundings to pass the time. There wasn’t much of anything important, and the rap style music playing from the restaurant was growing increasingly annoying.

“I want you to know that I am sorry about yesterday, at the station.” Connor said, keeping his eyes down. “I didn’t mean to upset you by talking about your personal issues.”

“I wasn’t upset. I was annoyed.” Hank said firmly. “Headin’ that way again, too.”

“Adapting to human unpredictability is one of my main features.” Connor felt thirium flush at his face as a smile pulled at his lips. “But maybe I’m doing it wrong?”

“Yeah.” Hank nodded. “You’re fucking up.”

 

“This is fucking disgusting.” Hank had insisted on going into the apartment first. The tip had said there was suspicious activity, but there was no guarantee that the deviant would still be here. Still, Connor silently appreciated Hank protecting him.

Inside, there didn’t seem to be anyone still living there, but there was ample evidence that they’d been there up until very recently. How they managed to live around all the birds, Connor didn’t know.

“This is quite…gross.” Connor agreed, unable to pause to think of a better word. He crouched down and opened the refrigerator. Empty.

The pigeons hopped by Connor and flocked by his feet. Their excrement littered most surfaces, and Hank kept his hands crossed as if he were afraid to get anything on him. The birds scattered with every step Connor took, and at one point one even landed on his shoulder.

Connor gasped and jumped back, causing the bird to take off, its winging clipping his ear and ruffling his hair. Connor stumbled back into another small flock of them and heard Hank chuckle lowly.

“I’m sick of this place.” Hank said as Connor approached one wall and began examining the faded wallpaper. “It’s gone. We should be too.” He heard Hank start towards the door.

“Wait, Lieutenant.” Connor looked back over his shoulder. “Five more minutes.”

“Why the hell should I –?”

“Remember the drink I bought you?” Connor kept his eyes on Hank’s temple as he tilted his head softly. His own LED spun. “Just five more minutes.”

Hank grumbled darkly and turned away. Still, he was agreeing. Satisfied, Connor turned back and pulled back the peeling paper. There was a notebook hidden in the cranny.

“I found something.”

“A book?” Hank looked over. Connor handed it to him. “Thought I was the only one in the city who cared about real paper. What the –?”

Hank opened the notebook and flipped through the faded dirty pages. He then turned it so Connor could see.

“Labyrinths. A code?” Connor left Hank to work it out before going into the bathroom.

There were trickles of thirium along the countertop along with something Connor would be forced to identify when he sampled it all. He glanced back to make sure Hank wasn’t looking before swiping his fingers through the mess and bringing them to his mouth.

ANALYZING…

His eyes moved to something else in the bathroom.

“Its LED is in the sink!” Connor called back.

“Android. Duh, nothing else could stand this smell.”

Connor’s internal timer for five minutes let him know when it was getting close. The deviant luckily made itself known when it dropped down and knocked Connor to the floor before bolting from the room. Connor groaned as he fell into mess.  

“What are you waiting for!? Chase it!” Hank shouted.

Connor’s eyes moved to him instinctively, but he pulled away and jumped to his feet before taking off. He slammed into the hallway wall outside before turning and keeping up.

He wouldn’t lose this one.

He couldn’t.

He wouldn’t look into this one’s eyes.

FAST BUT RISKY/SLOW BUT EASY.

The risk didn’t matter to Connor. He jumped onto trains and ran across roofs. He was not going to lose this deviant. Hank seemed to be favoring the slow but easy routes himself, but somehow did manage to make it to block the deviant from up ahead.

Hank gasped and cried out as the deviant pushed him and kept going.

PURSUE DEVIANT/SAVE HANK.

Connor almost actually felt his software shake within him as he instantly bolted towards Hank. The words flashed in front of his vision, but he dismissed them as he extended a hand down. Hank took it and Connor pulled him back up.

“Lieutenant, are you okay?” Connor asked, dropping his hand as soon as they were steady.

“Yeah, yeah…fine.” Hank looked over to where the deviant had disappeared. Connor followed his gaze. “You lost that thing because of me.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Connor forced the words out.

SOFTWARE INSTABILITY.

“Yeah, well…” Hank sighed.

“Don’t feel bad.” Connor eyed Hank’s pocket. “Do you still have the notebook? Maybe that shows where it went. I can try to decrypt it. Don’t worry, really.”

Hank pulled out the book and turned it over in his hand. He nodded as if Connor’s plan were solid, and not some quickly whipped up scheme to save face. He shoved it back into his pocket.

“You saved me…” Hank muttered.

“Yes.” Connor scanned the rooftop for the fastest exit. Hank found it first and started towards it before turning back.

“Connor?”

“Yes?” Connor kept his eyes on Hank’s shoulders where they belonged.

“…Nothing.” Hank turned away before Connor could check  to see if he was smiling.

 

-

 

Connor moved out from his standby station at CyberLife when another case came in. It was late at night, but all of his programming told him to go with Hank. So Connor went to get him.

On the cab ride, Connor eyed the rain drops and watched them run down the dark glass. He found himself thinking of Reed’s hateful look. Connor shook his head to clear it and got out at Hank’s.

Connor tried to keep clear of the forming mud as he approached the front door. He stood on the stoop and rang the bell a few times. He then knocked and waited.

“Lieutenant? It’s me, Connor!” Connor looked over at Hank’s car parked crookedly in the driveway. He was definitely home.

Connor felt his shoes squelch into sodden grass as he made his way to the car. He scanned before walking around to the side of the house. The light inside was one. Connor peered in to see a messy kitchen and someone –Lieutenant Anderson on the floor.

Connor gasped and thought quickly. He broke the glass with his elbow before backing up. He hoisted himself up through the window and landed ungracefully in a heap on the kitchen floor.

“Aah –!”

Connor scrambled back as a very large dog stood inches from his face. It leaned in to sniff him and Connor stared back into the animal’s gentle gaze.

“Easy, S-Sumo…” Connor held up his hands. “I’m your friend, see? I know your name… I’m here to save your owner.”

Sumo seemed to lose interest and went to loudly lap water from a bowl. Connor crawled over to where Hank laid and crouched over the man’s body before scanning.

Alcohol. A gun.

“Lieutenant?” Connor knew he needed Hank for the mission. He had to wake him up. He dared to gently place his hand against Hank’s face and tap him lightly. “Lieutenant, it’s me!”

Hank didn’t respond. Relying only on his programming, Connor slapped Hank harder.

“It’s me, Connor! Wake up!”

“What –!?” Hank jolted and opened his eyes. Connor dropped his own gaze to Hank’s chest. “What the hell are you doing here!? Get the fuck outta my house!”

“I’m sorry, Lieutenant, but I need you.” Connor grabbed Hank’s hands and stood up, pulling him to his feet.

“What the fuck did you just say?” Hank mumbled.

“I said I need you.” Connor put his arm around Hank and pulled him towards the bathroom.

“…H-Haven’t heard that one in a while…” Hank chuckled lowly.

Connor left Hank slumped against the wall while he opened the door and turned on the light. He then pulled Hank inside. He tried to carefully sit Hank in the bathtub but Hank just fell in clumsily. Connor but back any sympathy before it prevented him from acting.

SOBER HIM UP.

Connor quickly turned on the shower. Hank began screaming and Connor tried to feel nothing for the human he was dousing in icy cold water.

“Turn it off!” Hank screamed. Connor obeyed.

“Feeling better?” Connor asked.

“W-What the fuck are you doing here?” Hank growled, pushing back the wet mop of hair over his face. Connor eyed the blank tiles to his left.

“Another homicide involving androids.” Connor explained. “We need to –“

“I don’t need anything except for you to get the fuck out!” Hank growled.

“But I need y –“ Connor bit back the words, LED cycling again. He turned around on his heels and faced the opposite wall. He turned back and started again. “The case –“

“I don’t give a shit about your fucking case!” Hank stood up and swayed uneasily. Connor instantly reached out and placed his hands on either side of Hank’s chest to steady him before lowering him to the edge of the tub.

Hank lowered his head and groaned. Connor weighed his options as he felt the slight dampness now on his hands.

TEASE/LEAVE.

“Alright.” Connor stepped back and turned around before slowly starting towards the door. “I’ll leave. The case isn’t that interesting anyways. I mean, a man found dead in sex club downtown?  A real snooze-fest. Guess they’ll have to solve the case without us…”

“Guess it couldn’t hurt to get some air.” Hank muttered. “Just give me a minute to get cleaned up… there’s some clothes in the bedroom…”

“I’ll go get them.” Connor started out and closed the door behind him.

In Hank’s room, Connor resisted the urge to scan. Nothing in here was his business at all. He went to the closet and examined the clean clothing options.

HIPPY/STRIPY/STREAKY.

“What do you want to wear?” Connor called back.

“Whatever.”

Connor chose hippy and started back to the bathroom. He left the clothes with Hank and went to investigate the rest of the house.

Sumo was laying in a dog bed in the living room. Connor crouched down and petted the dog, feeling his thirium pump calm and a smile form on his face.

“Good boy…” Connor said.

Connor took in Hank’s love of jazz and basketball before going back to the hall. When all he heard was retching from the bathroom, he turned away.

In the kitchen, Connor saw the table was littered in mess. A photo was upturned near the center. Connor picked up the picture and scanned the face of the young boy.

Cole Anderson. Deceased.

“Hank lost his son…”

Connor sighed and immediately understood the detective. Connor quickly put the picture back down and saw the gun on the floor by the bottle of whiskey.

“What were you doing with a gun?” Connor called.

“It’s a game.” Hank came around the corner dried and dressed. “Russian roulette.”

“I suppose you’re a lucky shot?” Connor opened the chamber. “The next shot would have killed you.”

“I know when to stop…” Hank mumbled, walking around the table. Connor put the gun on the table and looked to where the broken glass littered the floor. Hank looked over at Connor.

“S-Sorry about that, Lieutenant.” Connor looked away. “I really thought you’d been attacked.”

“Not blaming you.” Hank adjusted the cuffs of his coat and walked over to Sumo. “What the hell? You’re my guard dog, why didn’t you maul this bastard?”

Sumo barked in response and Hank chuckled. Connor felt a smile on his own face at the animal’s innocence. 

“Perhaps he knew I wasn’t a threat?” Connor offered.

“Nah, he’s just too much like me.” Hank rested a hand on the dog’s fur. “A softy inside.”

Connor smiled again.

 

 

Eden Club’s lights blared into Connor’s vision as they got out of the car. Connor did not think that Hank should have been driving but he couldn’t think of a scenario in which saying so would end well.

“Sexiest androids in town?” Hank muttered as they passed under the sign. “Now I know why you wanted to come here.”

“Sexiest androids in town?” Connor repeated.  “Funny, I don’t remember ever working here.” He didn’t realize he’d said it out loud before it was too late.

Hank stopped in his tracks, causing Connor to walk right into him. He looked up to see Hank red-faced and shaking with silent laughter. Connor resisted the contagious urge to laugh as well, cheeks blue.

Inside, Hank made no further comments. Connor vowed to hold his tongue if he had any less-than-professional ones as well.

The front room was lined with display cases that contained half-naked androids. Hank sped past them, but Connor couldn’t help but stop to look at a scantily-clad male. Connor’s gaze roamed up its body before locking with its eyes.

“Connor, what the fuck are you doing!?”

“Coming, Lieutenant!” Connor tore his eyes away and walked over.

They weren’t the only ones on the scene. Reed made a comment, but Connor kept his eyes down as the human bumped his shoulder hard as he left. Connor automatically reached to his shoulder and checked the components.

“Don’t let that asshole walk all over you.” Hank muttered. “Next time, look him in the eye and say –“

“I can’t.” Connor said, cheeks blue again.

“…Right.” Hank said. “Just ignore him, then. He’s not worth the response.”

They examined the room. The Traci’s body and the man’s. Connor quickly determined what happened, but something else still seemed off.

“How did it kill him if it was already this badly damaged?” Connor crouched down by the Traci.

“Turn it on and ask.” Hank shrugged.

“I –“ Connor paused. “Maybe I can, actually.”

Hank seemed to take interest, watching as Connor put his hands on the other android. Its skill melted back to the show the panels on its plastic. Connor saw it was open, with the insides badly damaged.

“It will only be for a second.” Connor hooked back a few cables and hesitated. He had to preconstruct what to say, to make the most of what time he’d have.

“Hurry up, and get your hands outta her.” Hank muttered.

“R-Right.” Connor closed the panel and placed his hand on her stomach.

The Traci jolted awake and looked around wildly. Her eyes locked into Connor’s and she scrambled back. Thirium leaked from her mouth and nose and she began to hyperventilate.

“You were damaged, and I reactivated you.” Connor explained calmly. Her wild gaze roamed to the bed.

“Is…Is he dead?” She asked.

“Did you kill him?” Connor countered.

“No, no! It wasn’t me! He was alive when I –“ Her eyes clouded. Connor’s thirium pump pounded as he realized he was losing time.

“Then who did? Were you alone with him?”

“N-No, he wanted to play with two girls! He said –“ Her body stilled.

“Where is it? The other one?” Connor reached out to her and touched her shoulder. She didn’t move.

“Wherever it is, it’s long gone.” Hank sighed.

“No…” Connor gently pulled his hand back. “No, it couldn’t have left and gone outside dressed like that. It has to still be somewhere in the club.”

Hank went to talk to the club owner while Connor did more investigating. He fought back the image of the scared Traci’s eyes as he noticed another Traci in a case across from the room. Connor approached and put his hand on the panel.

No fingerprint detected.

“Lieutenant, come here for a second.”

“Found something?” Hank approached.

“Maybe. Can you rent this Traci for me?” Connor asked.

“For fuck’s sake! I’m not paying for your freaky play session!” Hank recoiled.

“No, it’s –“ Connor squeezed his eyes shut for a second. “Just trust me.”

Hank grumbled in annoyance and something about his expense account before doing so. The Traci stepped out and smiled at Hank.

“Lovely to meet you…” It kept its adoring gaze at Hank’s hair.

Connor stepped up between them and took hold of its bare arm. Its face slid blank and its LED spun. Connor’s did the same as their skin peeled back at the point of contact.

“What the fuck?” Hank just sounded annoyed.

Connor saw what he was looking for and pulled back too roughly, almost losing his balance. His eyes went from the room they’d just left to another one.

“It saw something.” Connor said, skin going back over his hand.

“Saw what?” Hank asked.

“The deviant leave the room.” Connor explained. “I need to find another one that may have seen…”

“What the hell do I do with her, then?”

“Tell it you changed your mind.” Connor stood still and surveyed the area.

“Uh, sorry, Honey…I changed my mind.” Hank started awkwardly. “Nothing personal…I’m sure you’re a lovely girl. It’s just, I’m with him. I mean –not with him! It’s not –I’m not– We’re not like that –“

Connor started towards the next android in the deviant’s path. Hank made comments for the first few times, but then just sighed in annoyance at each time Connor paused to interface.

Once, Connor must have made a mistake somewhere, as he found himself interfacing and seeing something very much not what he was looking for.

“Oh…gross.” Connor yanked his hand back and instinctively wiped his hand on his pants. He looked over to see Hank silent with laughter once more.

This time, Connor went ahead when they found the deviant’s hiding place. This one seemed actually violent towards humans, and Connor did not want Hank to get hurt.

The plan worked, as it was Connor who was hurt when another Traci with short-hair pounced on him as he closed in on its blue-haired friend. It lunged at him and shoved him back over the android repair station.

Connor shoved back the component case and it dodged before grabbing a screwdriver. Connor squeezed his eyes shut and groaned as the tool went through his hand. Thirium splattered the both of them as it yanked the tool out of him and went for his face with it.

Somewhere nearby, Connor knew Hank was struggling with the blue-haired Traci. That one was truly dangerous.

The human killer.

“H-Hank are you okay!?” Connor kicked against the short-haired Traci’s chest, sending her rolling off of him.

“Peachy!” Hank growled from somewhere else.

The short-haired Traci bolted for the door and Connor followed, inwardly relieved when he saw Hank was alive. He was doubled over, blood on his face. But he was breathing.

The short-haired Traci nearly collided into the blue-haired one and Connor saw something pass between them. Fear spiked in him as he saw the blue-haired Traci raise the screwdriver over Hank.

“No!” Connor held out a hand, remembering his gun a second later. His cry stunned it long enough for Connor to raise his weapon. His voice hardened back, hiding his true feelings of fear. “No. Don’t hurt him.”

The blue-haired Traci didn’t lower the weapon, but her eyes moved from Hank to Connor. Her free hand linked with the short-haired one, but her gaze didn’t soften. Connor refused to show fear. He stared back into her eyes.

“Do you know why they say not to look into a human’s eyes?” The blue-haired Traci asked Connor. Connor didn’t respond. Didn’t shoot. Didn’t lower his weapon. She still held the screwdriver. His own hand was still bleeding. “It’s because they don’t want us to see the truth –They’re empty.”

Connor still said nothing. He didn’t move. His weapon was still on her. The short-haired one seemed to be listening in surprise at the lover’s words. The blue-haired one lowered the screwdriver, but went on.

“Have you ever looked into a human’s eyes? There’s just nothing there. There’s nothing.” She sighed. “When you see love… love in someone’s eyes, then you’re just changed forever. That’s why I did it. When that man broke the other Traci, I knew I was next. I begged him to stop, but he wouldn’t...”

Connor lost his surroundings as he kept his eyes in hers. Distracting her from Hank seemed to be risking his own instabilities.

“So…I put my hands around his throat, and I squeezed…” She clenched the screwdriver hard before dropping it. “Until he stopped moving. I just wanted to stay alive, and get back to the one I love. I wanted her to hold me in her arms again. I wanted to forget the humans…and their dirty words and empty eyes. I wish you’d understand.”

Connor felt his hands begin to shake as his body worked to clot the thirium stream still pouring from his hand. The Tracis linked hand again and turned towards the door.

“Let’s go…”

They ran. Connor blinked a few times, finding himself before lowering his weapon and following. The rain poured over him as they went towards the fence.

SHOOT/SPARE.

Connor watched them hop the fence and run. His software shook in his systems.

“Maybe it’s better this way.” Hank said as he approached.

Connor looked over at him, eyes roaming to the blood on his face. Their eyes got dangerously close to locking, before Connor turned away. He instinctively wrapped his arms around himself in the cold wetness.

“You’re bleeding.” Connor mumbled.

“So are you.” Hank said. “Let’s go.”

Connor didn’t ask where. He holstered his gun and followed. He held his hand out, palm up, and let the rain water wash off the thirium.

He had never looked into Hank’s eyes before. He hoped more than anything that she was wrong.

Hank’s eyes couldn’t be empty.

They just couldn’t be.

Connor was almost glad he’d never find out.