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Android Human

Chapter Text

Connor straightened his tie, eyes looking forward, glued to the door of the elevator, calm, cold and almost bored.

 

65

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66

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67

 

This wasn’t his first case, far from it. He was the youngest Lieutenant in Detroit, after all, with only 35 years. He had had his fair share of cases, an closed them all, worked at them until every, single, small detail was making sense and forming a whole.

 

68

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69

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70

 

The doors slid open and Connor walked into a cacophony of sounds, lights and smells. He didn’t even flinch.

There were bird seeds on the floor, broken glass and dirt. Connor let his eyes wander over the mess, his mind immediately recognizing the signs of a struggle, adding the information to what he already knew. First there was a struggle. Which led to a murder.

He liked his thoughts organized - at least the ones he could control - especially if they were related to a case, which most of them were. He worked faster if everything was neat and ordered, and he wouldn’t allow anything to slow him down when it came to work.

A heavily armed member of the SWAT team, currently bustling through the large apartment, turned his head towards Connor as the latter approached. Connor saw the other’s mouth twitch, his voice take on a hint of annoyance as he muttered “Lieutenant Anderson’s here” into his radio. But even if he hadn’t, Connor knew neither this man nor all other officers swarming the place, were glad to see him. Most weren’t. He was known as the “metal man” after all, or more often as the “Android Human”. The man who acted more like an emotionless machine than a living being, working all day and night, not talking to anybody, not eating, not sleeping, not caring.

It was a rather new nickname. He hadn’t always been known as..that.

But he also hadn’t always been the man he was now.

Connor shook his head, grimacing. Straying thoughts. That always happened at this time of the year. Unavoidable, but nonetheless unacceptable. He needed to focus. He needed to concentrate. He needed to work.

 

Connor let his eyes wander over the floor, the walls, towards the people in the back, the crying girl, being questioned by an officer, her father holding onto her tightly, the body of her mother beside them on the ground, covered by a black sheet. They wouldn’t be leaving soon, the building was on lockdown until the android was found and caught. Connor felt something in him twitch at the thought of the girl having to sit next to her dead mother for hours. But there was no time for that now, no time to feel sorry for her. He was only here to solve this case, nothing less, nothing more. And that he would do.

Connor stepped forward. He had to talk to Captain Collins first, get all the information they already had. But then his foot collided with something soft, lightly, something that shouldn’t have caught his attention. Something unimportant.

But somehow, Connor got distracted. He was really losing control of himself today, that was not something he usually allowed himself to do. But the small, weak sound from down on the ground made his head turn, his eyes, having been fixed on Captain Collins, wandering down to find a small, yellow bird, flapping helplessly on the ground, one wing dragging on the behind it. He had almsot stepped on it, and now the bird was trying to flee, to fly, to run. But it was weak and injured, it’s yellow feather sticking in all directions.

 

An American Goldfinch. Connor had no trouble identifying it. He made sure to cram as much knowledge into his head as he could, after all, no matter how trivial or unrelated it was to his work. The more he knew, the higher was the chance that he would be able to act right, no matter the situation.

It was just a bird, already injured, not important. But somehow, for some reason, Connor found himself stretching his hand towards it, picking it up and placing it in the remnants of its broken cage. He was getting soft. Too soft. He couldn’t wait for that one day to pass, so all of this, all the wandering thoughts and surges of distracting feelings would stop. He had no time for it.

 

Connor threw one last look at the Finch, unsure of why he had done what he had, before he turned and strode towards Collins. And Collins..well, like always, he ignored him. Connor wasn’t liked amongst his colleagues and even less amongst people from other precincts, from other divisions. At least his colleagues tried to be polite, not wanting to be rude to their superior, or just in general, to somebody who worked in the same room as they did.

But Ben Collins was Connor’s superior and didn’t even work in the same building as the latter. No need to be polite. No need to hide how much he despised Connor’s presence.

 

“Have you searched the fire escapes?”

 

“Yes, sir. Nobody there!”

 

Collins was hunched over a large screen, displaying a map of the entire building, turning and moving it.

‘So they think the culprit is still here…’ Connor thought, looking at the pad himself. There were many possibilities of escape. So why would Collins assume that the culprit was still in the building?

 

“The chances of the culprit still staying here, looking at how there are only a few places they could hide without being discovered, are pretty low,” Connor said, his voice as cool and calm as always, earning him a scowl from Collins. “I assume you have information that makes it clear that the culprit couldn’t leave the building, am I correct?”

 

Collins sighed and finally turned around. He was smaller than Connor but always tried his all to look down on the other.

 

“It’s a fucking android,” Collins growled. “It killed the mother, tried to attack the father, but he activated the alarm. The thing bolted, but no way it could leave.”

 

Of course not. All escapes would have been either inaccessible for androids, or too full of other humans. It couldn’t have left without being noticed or even caught.

 

“Now stop pestering me and do your damn job, I need to get out of here before the smell gets even worse.”

 

Connor only nodded and turned towards the living room. The girl was still crying, her father stroking her hair with one hand while the other held her close. Connor swallowed, hoping it would push down the sudden sharp stab in his chest.

He really hated this time of year. He would never let himself get affected by things like that at any other time. Connor walked past them and the officer still talking to them, soothing them with words that wouldn’t bring their lost mother, lost wife back, and entered the bedroom of the parents.

 

Clean. Tidy. But Connor could see past the facade, he always could.  Pictures on the walls, all only showing three family members. Pictures on the bedside tables, all only showing the daughter, the mother, the father.One, single picture inside the bedside table, hidden in a book, worn and fading, showing four people. Mother, Father, daughter, son.

 

So they had a son.

 

One side of the bed, warm, crumpled, used. The side with the hidden picture in the bedside table. The side smelling the same way, flowers and something sweet, as the perfume bottle on the dresser. Sticker on the bottle reading “Happy Birthday, darling - Todd”. So the mother's side.

One side of the bed, cold, too neat, to unused.

 

So the father didn’t sleep in the same bed as his wife anymore. She hid a picture of their son from him.

They were falling apart after losing their son.

 

Connor turned and left the room. There was nothing more he needed to see here.

 

The girl's room was small and messy. A laptop, open and turned on, sat on the ground in front of a large beanbag. Connor picked it up, looking through the open programmes, the open sides in the internet browser. A web version of a text messaging system caught his eye.

 

‘Hey, come to my room, I wanna show you something.’

 

Sent by an android. The small ‘PL600 #501 743 923’ at the bottom right of the text bubble told as much.

 

So the android lured the daughter into his room. But what for?

 

Connor left the girl's room, hurrying towards the only other room left, the all too familiar need for more knowledge burning in his usually empty chest. This was what drove him forward. This was what made him feel alive.

 

The other room, the androids room was...unexpected. Fir of all, the Android having a room at all was not something it required. Connor knew as much, even though androids where the one subject he tried to avoid. But he still learned about them, learned enough to do his job. He wouldn’t risk failing just because of a...It didn’t matter. Connor pulled himself back to the present. He should have gotten a coffee on the way here, maybe that would have helped him focus. This was really starting to become extremely annoying.

 

Stepping into the room, Connor looked at all the furniture, all the things, all the clothes. It looked like a teenage boy’s room.

 

This was the son’s room. So why was the android using it now?

 

Connor took another step, his foot colliding with something hard, something metal. A knife.

Connor picked it up, looking at it from all sides. Clean, very clean, not even the smudges of human fingers. But there, only a drop, only a shimmer of red blood.

It started to make sense. Slowly but surely everything was coming together.

 

He only had one thing left to do, one thing and he would know what happened one thing and he would be a step closer to finding the culprit and finishing his job.

 

Connor crossed the living room, walking toward the girl and father, still sitting on the couch next to the large, terrace door, a light breeze moving the curtains behind them.

 

“Excuse me, but I have a few questions about what happened.”

 

The girl sobbed louder, hiding her face in her father’s chest, while the father gave Connor a piercing glare.

 

“We already told your colleagues enough, didn’t we? The damn thing suddenly shot my wife and then tried to kill me!”

 

“And it didn’t attack your daughter?”

 

The girl hiccuped, clutching her father's shirt tighter.

 

“No!” the man was angry now, tears still streaming down his face, but his features contorted his upper lip curling. “It didn’t have time to hurt Alice, but she just saw her mother...Claire...Oh, god, Claire...She just...Claire was shot in front of her, could you leave us two alone!”

 

Connor kneeled down in front of the girl. He wasn’t good with people. He really wasn’t. Taking a deep breath, he tried to smile at her, his lips twitching lightly at the motion. He was really, really bad with people.

 

“Hey..Alice, right? Did the android hurt you in any way?”

 

Connor wasn’t surprised when the father lashed out at him, again.

 

“I just told you, she is unharmed!”

 

“Then please, Mr. Williams, explain to me, how did your daughter sustain the light cut on her neck?”

 

“I..I…”

 

“Was it from the knife, the android held to her throat? The knife still lying in its room?”, Connor waited for the words to sink in. For the father to know that it was too late to keep lying. “Just tell me the truth and we will find it before it can harm anybody else.”

 

And then, the man broke, clutching his daughter tighter too him. To Connor’s surprise, it was the girl who spoke up next, her sobs had quieted down while the two men had been talking.

 

“He...he didn’t mean it, I’m sure..”

 

Connor raised an eyebrow. “He?”

 

“Simon”, the girl looked towards the android’s room, before her wet eyes looked back at Connor. “He...dad got him after..after the other Simon...went..away.”

 

“My son..died in a car crash”, Todd said, stroking his daughter's hair. “He...after he...Well, I didn’t know what to do. And then I..saw this android. It just..looked so much like him, almost the same, just..older. A bit older.”

 

“Mom..wasn’t happy about the new Simon…”

 

“And then..well...I got it home. Told it to behave like my son. Put on his..clothes...live in his room...It...It seemed like such a good idea..but..my wife thought I’ve gone mad.”

 

Connor nodded. That confirmed his theory. An android to replace their child, Connor couldn’t believe it. Everything in him cringed at that thought, making him sick. There was nothing that could replace a lost brother, a lost son. Especially not a piece of plastic with a human face.

 

“Mom was..angry at Simon. And at dad..”

 

“We fought a lot and..slowly I...well, I saw my mistake. I couldn’t bring Simon back, I was just making it worse..so we...decided to get rid of it.”

 

That explained why the android suddenly lashed out. It heard the conversation.

 

“Next thing I see is that thing, holding a knife to my Alice’s throat...and I...everythign after that is a blur…” Todd swallowed as he planted a kiss on his daughter's head, his eyes wandering over to the covered body of his wife. “I..I got my gun out of the drawer I keep it in..my wife was..talking to it I think..? It..didn’t notice the gun at first...It mumbled something..i...I don’t know, it was all so much..”

 

Connor sighed. He hated talking to witnesses. So unreliable, not remembering, not noticing, sometimes even remembering wrong. It really interfered with his work.

 

“He..He asked me to come to his room...He...he grabbed..he….I….He said...He was...saying that he wouldn’t go alone,” Alice’s voice was quiet and shaking. “He said he wouldn’t be thrown away..without...without taking me with him..”

 

“Oh god, why did I bring that thing in here!? Alice, I’m so sorry,” Todd clung harder to his daughter, who pushed out of his grasp, curling in on herself. Connor cleared his throat.

 

“Mr. Williams, please focus. What happened next?”

 

“The Android...it..saw Claire going for the panic button and...it just...lunged at me.. I had no time and..it just shot her, with my gun!” Todd was slowly growing hysteric, his breath coming in sharp, fast gasps. “I don’t know..I..how..I reached the panic button while it just..froze and looked at my..my Claire..And it ran. That’s...that’s all..I...please find it, I can’t lose my daughter too!”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Williams, you were very helpful.”

 

Connor got up and turned to the body of the mother. He knew what had happened up until the murder, he knew why the android suddenly had malfunctioned and attacked. Now he only had to learn what happened afterwards, where it had run.

Kneeling next to the covered body, Connor peeled back the sheet, ignoring the cry and loud sobs of the girl coming from behind him as she saw her mother. There was a bullet to her head, clean, precise. It wanted to stop her as fast as possible.

But...where could it have run to after that? Connor stood up again, covering the woman back up as he did, turning his head as he looked around the room. There was nothing apart from the people running through it, the father and daughter crying on the sofa and the curtains moving in the wind.

 

Connor froze.

Why was the terrace door open?

 

“Captain Collins!” Connor called out. “Did anybody check the roof deck?”

 

He had been stupid, so very, very stupid to not notice this sooner. He was so stupid to call out, to loudly ask if the terrace was clear.

A hand suddenly shot out between the curtain, trough the now fully open door, grabbing the daughter by the scruff of her neck and pulling her outside. The girl screamed loudly as her father tried to hold onto her, but failed, as all heads snapped toward the source of the sound.

Connor was the first to move, the first to get over the shock of what had suddenly happened. He ran, pushing past two frozen members of the SWAT team, who were both staring at the ajar door and out into the night. He shouldn’t have run out there first. But this day wasn’t Connor’s day, this day everything seemed to go wrong, to be out of his control. And so he was the first one out, the first one standing on the small terrace so high, so very high above the ground. Connor swallowed back nausea at the thought, not paying attention enough to see the weapon pointed at him until a bullet grazed his arm. Connor hissed.

 

“GO AWAY!” the android screamed, standing on the railing that surrounded the terrace, the crying and kicking girl held firmly to his side, a gun in his other hand, pointed at her head both of them only millimetres away from a 70 story high drop.

 

Connor pressed a hand to his bleeding arm and grit his teeth. He had to concentrate. He had to succeed.

 

“I can’t do that, Simon!” he shouted back. He had worked as a negotiator before, long, long ago. Before he had joined Homicide, before...No, he couldn’t think of that now, he had to focus, he had to remember what he had learned back then. Use their name. Sympathise with them. The safety of the hostage is the highest priority. “But I am here to help you!”

 

“Oh, so you want to help me?!” the android laughed. “I know there is no way out anymore, I just want to finish what I’ve started!”

 

“There is no need to do that!” Connor tried to inch closer, moving his stiff legs towards the ledge. “Just listen to me, we can find a way out of here!”

 

Footsteps and whispered commands came from behind Connor, followed by a shouted: “Damn, Anderson, what are you doing!?”

Collins didn’t trust Connor, that much was clear. But it didn’t help Connor’s shaking knees to hear it from the man at a moment like this.

 

“Simon, listen to me..!”

 

“No, you listen to me!” Simon waved the hand holding the gun, staring straight at Connor. “Look at me! Look what they did to me!”

 

Connor already knew. The faded shirt, the ripped jeans, all too small, all having belonged to somebody else. The hair, spikey and black at the tips. One earring. All things Connor had seen before, on the crumpled, old picture, hidden in the mother’s bedside table.

 

“They got me to replace him! Forced me to be him!” the android fired another shot, this time into the group of officers behind Connor. Connor ignored the yelp of pain behind him. He couldn’t be thinking about anybody else, about anything else right now.

 

“And I did what they asked of me! I did it for 4 years! For 4 , fucking years!!” Simon’s breathing was erratic, his LED glowing red, red, red. “And then, you know what they wanted to do after I did everything for them for 4 years?!”

 

“I know Simon, I know that they wanted to dispose of you!” Connor shouted, taking another few steps forward. If he could get close enough..maybe he could grab the girl. maybe he could save her if his words failed. “But killing Alice isn’t going to help you!”

 

“Oh, I know it won’t!” Simons smiled. “But they wanted to throw me away, they were ready to kill somebody who was their child for them, who behaved exactly the way they wanted.”

 

Simon lowered the gun.

 

“So I thought..if they are ready to lose one child, why not both?”

 

And then he closed his eyes, and started to fall, letting his body tip backwards, the girl still pressed to his side.

Connor ran. He could still get her, he could still grab her, he could still save her. He threw himself at the railing, he stretched out his hand, he could still...Connor froze, feeling utter dread, utter, horrible, sickening dread fill his entire body. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t act, he couldn’t breathe, his eyes fixed on the ground so far down below. He barely saw the small hand stretching out to him before, almost touching his fingers before falling farther down, down, down. He barely saw the two bodies hit the floor with a sound he could hear even up here. He barely saw the father race towards the railing, let out a wail of pure agony as he was restrained by two officers before he could plunge himself after his daughter.

 

Connor only stood there, frozen, feeling sick, feeling too much, an aching, black hole inside his chest instead of the calming nothing it was usually filled with.

And then he turned around and left.

There was nothing he could do here anymore.

This would be the first case he wouldn’t be able to close successfully.

He had failed.

Chapter Text

An errand. Connor had to run an errand.

He couldn’t help but flinch as Amanda told him that he wouldn’t get a new case until this was done and finished. And Connor didn’t mind, usually, he was glad to do any kind of work, to make his superior proud of him, to succeed no matter how insignificant the case was. But this...this wasn’t what he had joined the force for. This was...unexpected.

Connor didn’t like the unexpected. He liked to be prepared, he liked to know what he had to do, long before he actually had to do it. And the unexpected always jumped in the way of his plans. It always had, always ruined all the hard work he had put into planning.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t adapt to unexpected occurrences. He could do it, and he wasn’t bad at it. But he hated it. Hated it with what all the hate he could manage to still feel.

 

“I need you to find this man,” Amanda had said, not even glancing up from her terminal. “I have sent all the information you will require on your pad.”

 

She didn’t say why. Connor didn’t ask. You didn’t ask Amanda Stern about the why. You did what she asked when she asked it, faster than possible. That is if you wanted to keep your job.

So Connor only nodded, like he always did and left the room, without another word. He didn’t need to know the ‘why’. He just had to do his job. Like always.

 

But it still felt strange to run an errand, to find a man that was neither suspect nor witness, when there where crimes to be solved, murderers to be caught.

And still, still, Connor found himself walking through the rain towards his car, one of those new, sleek, automatic ones. Nothing exclusive, nothing over the top. One that would get him from A to B, nothing less, nothing more.

 

Sitting down behind the wheel, Connor pulled out his pad, looking over the information he received.

 

Name: Hank

 

Strange to only receive a first name.

 

Model No.: HK800 #165234-61

 

That...explained why there was only a first name. Amanda wanted him to find an android .

Connor shook his head. No need to waste time thinking about that. She had her reasons. This wasn't the time to start questioning them.

 

Often seen at following locations:...

 

Connor pressed the button to start the car and put in his first destination.

He better started checking each of them as soon as he could, that was definitely a longer list then he had expected.

 

------

 

Hank was tired. Tired and done with everything. But that wasn't anything new, that was just his life. His life for the past three years, same shit every day.

Waking up wherever he managed to find shelter that day, drag his body upright, convince his legs and himself to move, shuffle towards the nearest bar, pour as much booze down his throat as he could, try to not throw it back up -and often fail at that step -, pass out somewhere at least partially dry and repeat.

 

Sometimes that routine was interrupted briefly by Fowler, that old, fucking asshole, dragging Hank into his mind palace to play messenger for cyberlife. Always some mission that they didn't want to waste their more valuable androids on, always a mission that made it easier for them to keep an eye on Hank, to study him further.

Hank always half-assed his missions. He didn't give enough of a shit to actually put effort into them, he only did it for the payment. Payment he only received so he would keep his mouth shut about who and what he was, payment he only received because Cyberlife couldn't dispose of him yet, because they still needed him, even if it was just for things like that.

And Hank himself, well, he was too much of a coward to end his misery with his own hands. So he needed that work, that money to keep existing in his miserable, little bubble of alcohol and self-pity.

 

Hank sighed into his half-empty glass, sitting in the booth at the far end of the dirty, little bar he had woken up next to this morning,  hunched over and hidden in the shadows from everybody else. He didn't want company. And he could really do without people realizing that he wasn't...human. He had already been kicked out of one bar because his hat had slipped and revealed his damn LED. If he could just get rid of it, just rip it out of his damn temple.

But, of course, Cyberlife said no. And he was too old and tired to put up much of a fight, accepting his fate after a few harsh words with Fowler.

 

“Won't even talk t’ me in fuckin’ person,” Hank grumbled. Cyberlife only talked with him trough Fowler, Hank had never met even one of those fuckers face to face. One would expect they would have at least enough decency to talk to him in person after all the shit they did to him.

Hank sighed another time. But what would you do, not like he could change anything about this, or anything in general. He could only keep drinking and playing dangerous games until his damn processor would finally shut down for good.

 

An annoying, quiet ringing in his ears ripped Hank out of his thoughts. Riiing, riing, like an old, broken doorbell. Shit. Not again.

He knocked back his drink, hissing slightly as the familiar burn traveled through his throat, closed his eyes and opened the door.

 

He stepped into an office. One single table, three chairs, some pictures of people you couldn't quite make out, blurring more the closer you looked at them, potted plants that seemed to wither and bloom at the same time, large, fancy, glass walls that looked out into blinding, white nothing, and flickering edges on most things in here showed how fast the place had been crammed into Hank's head. Made in no time, without any effort, without any polishing. Just a crude, badly thrown together room.

But it kind of fit. Most things in Hank's head were falling apart, barely holding themselves together. A nice, tidy, clean room would have probably deteriorated anyway, fallen apart like everything else. And even if not, it would have been ...strange to have something like that amongst all the trash that cluttered his mind.

 

“The fuck ya want now?!” Hank snarled as he walked towards the desk and let himself drop into one of the chairs.

 

“Is that really how you greet your old pal?” the man behind the desk, Fowler didn't even look up from the dark terminal he was staring at. The screen was always empty and blank.

 

“Just 'caus ya look like him doesn't make ya him”, Hank growled. “ 'sides that friendship's from a different life…” He was really in no mood for small talk. Especially not of this kind.

 

“Hu, different life you say..?” Fowler finally looked up, his features shifting slightly through the motion. “Didn't think you for the sentimental type, Hank.”

 

“Shut up 'n tell me what ya want”, Hank pinched the bridge of his nose. He hated talking to Fowler. He hated talking to most people these days.

 

“Watch your mouth before I report that you are being uncooperative again”, Fowler said, folding his hands on the table in front of him as he spoke. “You don't want another...examination, right?”

 

Hank shuddered against his will. No thank you, he really could live without that.

 

“Fuck...fine,” there was no way of winning this, Hank knew. “So, what those bastards need me to do now?”

 

Fowler raised his brow at the insult but remained quiet, lifting up a pad from his desk and tapping the screen with his finger.

 

“The police department is currently investigating some of our androids who seem to be...malfunctioning.”

 

More like ‘feeling’, Hank thought but bit his tongue. There was no use in arguing. There never was. The only reason he did it anyway was to let off some steam from time to time.

 

“Cyberlife doesn't want anything to be..handled by the wrong people, that's why they need you to assist the investigations and get rid of those Deviants before they damage the companies reputation any more than they already have.”

 

Alright, sometimes Hank argued because he couldn't fucking believe the shit they wanted him to do.

 

“Ya want me to do what !?” Hank jumped out of his chair. He was really not in the mood for shit like that. Bad enough that he had to drag android pets home to their uncaring owners, now he had to catch some poor sods that only wanted to be alive.

 

“You heard me and you better don't start bitching,” Fowler glared at Hank, his colorless eyes flickering unnaturally. “Cyberlife doesn't need you. They are only sending you because you have the necessary skills and have shown before that you don't care enough to disobey orders. And if you do, there are more than enough androids in work that could take your place anytime. So either you do what you're told or you let yourself be recycled into something more useful.”

 

It was true. He had never cared enough to disobey before. And even though Cyberlife was interested in him, needed him for some things...they didn't truly need him. He was disposable, like all the other androids they had produced.

Hank let himself slide back down onto the chair, feeling the familiar guilt wash over him. Guilt which was followed by self-hatred. Even after all he has done, he was still clinging to life, fearing the unknown oblivion that was waiting for him on the other side too much to just resign and let them take him apart. Doing things that ate him up from the inside just to exist. Not caring enough to help.

 

“Fine..”, Hank grumbled out. “Fine, I'm doing it.”

 

“That's what I wanted to hear,” Fowler nodded, satisfied. Damn fucker would have probably even give Hank a smug look if his face would stop shifting for one moment. “The Lieutenant who you're going to assist will contact you soon. I want you to cooperate with him and get this...nasty problem out of the way as soon as possible.”

 

Hank snorted. No way he is going to cooperate with that prick. He is going to make his life hell.

 

“You can go now,” Fowler was staring at the blank screen again. “And, Hank. You better don't fuck this up. As I said, Cyberlife doesn't need you. If you fail you're going to be deactivated in the most unpleasant way possible.”

 

Hank got up, swallowing hard.

 

“Nice talkin’ ta ya.”

 

“Close the door behind you.”

 

Leaving the door open on purpose, Hank opened his eyes.

Looking into his empty glass, Hank pushed himself onto his feet with a grunt. If he had a damn mission today he definitely needed another drink.

 

------

 

Connor climbed out of his parked car and into the seemingly never-ending rain. His hair was sticking to his scalp, his suit drenched. Straightening his tie, Connor tried to at least look somehow professional as he made his way towards the dimly lit door on the other side of the street.

 

“No dogs”

“No androids”

 

Connor smirked slightly. Looking for an android in a bar that strictly forbids androids from entering. That could be an interesting individual.

Not that Connor cared much. It wasn't part of his job to enjoy things or be interested in any person that was part of the case.

But still, he had never met an android that disobeyed orders seemingly so easily. Well, it wasn't like he met many androids in general. Connor tried to avoid them if he could, the same way he would like to avoid that…Hank. But going against Amanda's orders wasn't something Connor would do, no matter how uncomfortable they made him.

He just had to find this android, bring him to Amanda, go home and calm his nerves. He wondered if his colleagues would still see him as an emotionless workaholic if they ever saw him behind closed doors, all alone in his empty apartment.

 

Connor grimaced slightly, pushing his thoughts back into order and the door open. He really despised this time of year. So many distracting thoughts. So many distracting emotions. He hated how they interfered with his work.

 

The bar was dimly lit and dirty, smelling strongly of tobacco, even though smoking in these establishments had been strictly forbidden for years.

A small, dingy hideout for those who didn't want to be in this world, hiding from everything outside this room.

 

Connor walked forward, glancing at his pad to take another look at the photograph displayed there.

Even having an almost perfect memory, Connor he was rather safe than sorry. He really wanted to get this over with as fast as possible so he could concentrate on more important tasks.

 

Walking past the bar and booths, Connor glanced at the people sitting there from the corner of his eye. He had to be subtle, he didn't want to have to deal with an angered alcoholic.

And then, finally, Connor spotted him, face hidden behind shaggy, grey hair and beard, LED hidden under a ragged beanie, but definitely the android Connor had been looking for.

Hank didn't even look up as Connor slid into the booth, on the opposite side of the man.

 

“ ‘s taken,” he only growled, hand clutching a glass of amber liquid.

 

“HK800 #165234-61?” Connor asked, knowing the answer already.

 

“Ya mind shuttin’ the fuck up?” Hank kept his eyes fixed on the glass in front of him. “Would rather not get kicked outta here ‘caus of a stupid prick like ya.”

 

Connor ignored him, folding his hands on the table in front of him.

“I presume you have already been informed of my arrival and that I have to deliver you back to the Detroit Police Department?”

 

Hank smirked slightly. Deliver him. Like he was just an object, a thing. But honestly, he was. He was just a broken machine, nothing more.

 

“Yeah, heard somethin’ like that.”

 

“Then please follow me. I don't want to waste any time.”

 

Lifting up the glass in front of him, Hank swished the liquid inside slowly, without a care in the world, before bringing the glass up to his lips and taking a sip, emptying half of it in one go.

 

“HK800, I will not ask…”

 

“Hank.”

 

Connor froze in his motion, brows furrowing as he stared at Hank with those large and strangely emotion filled eyes, so different from the rest of his composed face.

Hank sighed.

 

“The name's Hank,” he said, taking another sip of his drink. “Least ya can do is call me by my fuckin’ name.”

 

Hank knew it was no use. Nobody called him by his name anymore, apart from Fowler...or rather the image of him Hank had in his head. He was just an android after all, and the few who didn't know, like barman and patrons, didn't know his real name anyway. He didn't have friends or acquaintances. There was nobody.

 

“Alright...Hank, please follow me so I can bring you to the precinct.”

 

Hank blinked. Hu. The fucker actually used his name. That was..new. Hank decided to push it a bit.

 

“ 'n if I don't?”

 

“Since I can't leave here without finishing my job, I would have to reveal your true identity to the owner of this establishment and get you thrown out that way,” Connor said, matter of factly. “You wouldn't have much choice but to either follow me or try to escape. But the chance that you would pick the latter option seems rather..low.”

 

Hank chuckled without amusement, emptying his glass. Fucking prick.

 

“Son, listen', didn't they tell ya not to fuck peoples days up without 'tleast buying them a drink first?”

 

To Hank's surprise, Connor only nodded wordlessly, got up and went up to the bar. Hank watched him pull a few notes out of his pocket and talk to the barman, pay and bring a glass of the same kind of whiskey Hank had just finished.

Connor placed the glass down in front of Hank, not sitting back down himself.

 

“I will be waiting outside for you to finish your drink.”

 

And out of the door he was, leaving Hank stunned and speechless. Hank knocked back the new drink in front of him.

This whole thing might be actually interesting. And even if not, that prick Connor definitely had piqued Hank's curiosity.

 

------

 

“The fuck's that?” Hank couldn't hide the disgust in his voice as he saw the car, the thing, the fucking eyesore he was supposed to get into.

 

“This is my car,” Connor said, nothing about him acting visibly to Hank's tone of voice. But Hank was sure he heard a small edge in Connor's words. Good. He had already been worried he wouldn't be able to annoy this asshole. But apparently, there was actually some emotion hidden beneath that cold and slightly unsettling facade.

 

“Yeah, I got that,” Hank continued, walking around the car with raised brows. “But that's not a car. This is 'n automatic piece of shit, that looks worse than me.”

 

Hank felt immense satisfaction as Connor threw him an almost offended look.

 

“It does what I need it to do. That's enough,” Connor said simply, climbing into the car on the driver's side. Hank sighed, leaning closer to speak through the still open door.

 

“Yer not even gonna drive yerself?”

 

“No,” Connor didn't look up as he pressed the button to start the car, leaving the steering wheel hidden, the car in automatic mode.

 

“Ya gotta actually drive a car, kid. Feel then fuckin’ speed,” Hank groaned. How could somebody avoid even such simple pleasures in life?

 

“I don't. Not without a license.”

 

Hank snorted. “Don't say ya don't know how t'drive?”

 

Connor gave him a cold stare.

 

“Would you please get in.”

 

Hank shook his head.

 

“Gimme a moment.”

 

Turning around, Hank whistled loudly into the night, the sound bouncing off the stone walls around them.

Connor watched as something in a nearby alley blinked yellow, then blue, a large mass suddenly peeling out of the darkness and bounding towards them. Connor frowned.

 

“No.”

 

“Either he comes too or we all stay here.”

 

Connor sighed, looking at the massive St. Bernard, who was now sitting in on the ground, panting and licking Hank’s hand, blue LED twirling like crazy as the man patted him on the head.

 

“Fine. Just get in.”

 

Connor sighed again as he watched the dog jump onto the backseat, rubbing mud and dirt into the fabric, shaking off rainwater, which splashed the whole inside of the car, before lying down with a huff.

This would be a very long drive.

 

Connor was just glad that he like dogs, stealing a few strokes of the large dog's furry nose whenever Hank had his head turned the other way. It really could have been worse. He almost felt something bloom in his chest as the dog yawned and gave his hand a light lick.

 

“He likes ya.”

 

Connor felt the stab of surprise pierce through his chest, pulling himself together before he looked up at Hank with a calm expression.

 

“Dog's usually seem to like me.”

 

Hank snorted.

 

“What's his name?”

 

Hank raised a brow at him.

 

“Why ya wanna know?” Connor just kept looking at him, damn, wide eyes boring into Hank's.

 

“Sumo. I call him Sumo.”

 

------

 

Hank was used to suspicious and grim stares from humans, he knew how he must look to most. Dirty, ragged clothes, unkempt hair and a face that had been hardened by too much in too short of a time. He probably looked like he kidnapped people in his free time, or sold human organs.

But Hank didn't really mind too much. It was a bit crushing to be looked at with such disgust, but he long had gotten used to it. After all, he looked at himself the same way whenever he spotted his own reflection in a window or mirror.

 

Following Connor through the room full of working humans, Sumo trotting after him, Hank lazily looked around.

He never met anybody from this precinct, but he still scanned for familiar faces, just out of habit.

The room was big and bright, loud and crammed full. The large, glass office at the far end immediately showed where Connor was bringing him. It wasn't hard to guess that this was the Captain's office. And it wasn't hard to guess either that she was the one who had sent Connor.

 

Connor opened the door and stepped in, not throwing a single glance back at Hank.

 

“I have finished my job, Amanda,” Connor said, standing in the middle of the room, hands folded behind his back, making no move to sit down. So Hank just shrugged and took up one of the empty chairs in front of the Captain's desk.

 

“Very good, Connor,” Amanda said, her voice calm but..strange, sending a shiver down Hank's spine. She was definitely not somebody, one would want to play games with.

 

“I presume I can return to my regular duty now?” Connor's voice had a hint of desperation in it, a little bit of hope and fear. Hank threw the cold man a glance, seeing more emotional responses the closer he looked. That Connor was doing his best to remain neutral and calm, but beneath it he was practically bursting with emotions, everybody would see that. Well, everybody who bothered to really look. And the way Amanda's eyes pinned Connor in place without really glancing at him, Hank knew that she definitely didn't.

 

“Well, in a way.”

 

Oh. Oh, he didn't know. Nobody had told him. Hank held back a dark chuckle. Connor would be stuck with him for longer then he had expected.

 

“You have been assigned to handle a case involving a few...malfunctioning Cyberlife androids.”

 

Hank saw how Connor's posture immediately tensed at those words.

 

“Amanda..”

 

“I wasn't finished yet,” the sudden ice in her voice betrayed the light smile curving her lips. “You will investigate those..incidents together with a partner.”

 

Somehow that made Connor tense up even more.

 

“There is nobody available...and..even if..,” Connor's voice trailed off, his eyes glancing out of the window, towards the desks and people.

 

“Yes, I know there is nobody available and that nobody here would work alongside you,” Amanda sighed as if she was scolding a child.”And I wouldn't want an investigation to almost fail like the last time I assigned you a partner.”

 

Connor swallowed nervously, his hand pressing against a spot on his side, for just a moment, before he withdrew his hand again.

 

“That is why I choose you to take over this case,” Amanda tapped something on a pad lying in front of her. ”Androids have started malfunctioning and attacking humans. Since nobody here is a technician, Cyberlife has offered to give us an android who can help with the investigation.”

 

Connor threw a wide-eyed glance, which quickly disappeared beneath faked calmness, towards Hank.

 

“You will work together with this HK80p here.”

 

Connor practically choked as he spit out the next few words.

“Amanda, no..not me, you now that I..I can't! Not with an android!”

 

Hank had never expected to see an outburst from Connor, especially not so soon.

 

“Connor..”

 

“Amanda, please, there are others here who would be able to..”

 

“Connor.”

 

“I can't..I...not now, not so soon before..before that day…”

 

Connor!

 

Connor jerked out of his rambling, straightening his posture again as he took deep breaths, trying to calm his ragged breathing. But his eyes remained wide, a haunted look shimmering in their depths.

 

“You will take this case,” any lingering form of warmth had completely vanished from Amanda's voice. “And you will close it without any interruptions, have you understood?”

 

“I..Yes, Amanda.”

 

“You have failed me last time, Connor,” she turned towards her terminal, not giving Connor another glance. “Do not fail me again, understood.”

 

Connor swallowed.

 

“Yes, Amanda.”

 

Chapter Text

Even though Connor looked calm on the outside, Hank could practically feel the emotions bubble under the other man's skin. He hid it well, Hank had to give that to him. A human could have been fooled, but even Hank was far more perceptive than a human, even though most of his hard- and software was long out of date.

Sumo snored softly in the backseat as the car drove towards their next destination, the car quiet apart from that and the sound of the motor softly buzzing at the front of the car. Hank sighed. No music, no nothing, not even some annoying small talk. Not that Hank wanted to talk to this stuck up prick, but the silence of the car was starting to become almost maddening.

 

And then it got even worse. Because a third noise started to softly pierce the silence. Quiet and rhythmic, pling, pling, pling. Hank turned his head sharply, having been looking out of the window, eyes immediately locking onto the source of the noise.

A coin. Large, silver and gleaming. Polished. Good, old, hard cash. Not something you saw that often nowadays. Pling. Hank watched as the coin flew into the air, propelled up by Connor’s thumb, just to land back in the man’s hand. Pling, pling, pling. The coin was thrown from one hand into the other and back. Silence as it rolled over the knuckles of that hand, just to fly back to the other.

Hank felt his lip curl, his brows raising against his will. What the actual fuck? Coin tricks? He had expected a lot from Connor, but useless, tricks performed with an almost obsolete currency was definitely not something that had been on that list. Not even close.

 

Connor ignored Hank’s stare. Pling, pling, pling. Hank almost caught himself asking what the fuck this was about, why the hell he was throwing a coin through the air like some kind of street artist, as the car suddenly stopped, saving Hank from actually engaging in any kind of conversation. Hank opened the door, pushing himself out into the cold, wet night, ready to get over with this as fast as he could, just wanting to knock back a few shots and curl up somewhere at least partially dry till morning. He threw a look back at Connor, who was already unbuckling his seatbelt.

 

“Don’t bother gettin’ out. Just send yer friends in there a message, sayin’ that I’m gonna take a look ‘n fuck off again.”

 

Hank worked alone. And he wanted it to stay that way.

Brown, warm eyes bored into him like ice-cold daggers as he waited for an answer.

 

“Alright,” Connor finally said with a nod, already in the middle of getting out of the car, not even bothering to take out his phone to send a message. Hank watched him walk away and towards the shabby, small house only a few feet away, flashing his badge to the android guarding the crime scene.

 

“Asshole.”

 

Hank closed his door, fast, seeing how the whole commotion had woken Sumo. He really didn’t need that dog running all over the place, especially not with all those armed officers in there, who definitely wouldn’t hesitate to shoot the poor mutt if it got in the way.

Hank dug his hands deep into his pockets, following after Connor, shooting the android next to the crime scene tape a withering look that didn’t even get a flinch out of the other. Hank was let through without a word as Connor gave the android a short signal with his hand, and entered the dirty house, just to almost recoil back out of the door. Even in all his years of seeing the worst sides of this city, Hank was sure that he had rarely smelled something this disgusting.

 

“Lieutenant, there you are. You got a dead guy over there, been lying there for over half a month, landlord found him today and called us. He had an android, but we couldn’t find it here or anywhere around the house, so good luck with that.”

 

Hank looked at the detective, filling Connor in. Tall, short brown hair and a complete lack of interest displayed on his hard face. Not even a friendly word, not even using Connor’s name. Hank snorted slightly, seems like Connor’s personality wasn’t annoying only him .

 

“Thank you, Detective Allen. I will take over from here.”

 

Allen nodded and left the house, which still buzzed with the members of the forensic team, taking pictures and running cotton swabs over stains. Hank grumbled under his breath. So much for working alone. Better get this over even sooner, or he might punch one of the people present here.

 

Strolling through the house, Hank made his way over to the corpse of a rather young man, not much older than 30, lean and slightly muscular build, short, dark hair, dark skin. Hank lets his eyes wander over the victims face, scanning it. Cyberlife did give him access to their databanks, and now even to the ones of the police. It would be a waste of time not to use them.

 

Jacob Ortiz

26

Deceased

 

Hank let his eyes wander further down.

 

Cause of death: 28, separate wounds, inflicted with a sharp, long object.

 

Hank wrinkled his nose. Stabbed 28 times, that was way past overkill.

Getting up with a subtle huff, Hank looked at the wall, over the deceased. Dirty and old, but with a fresh web of cracks in the paint, a smear of blood above it. Poor bastard, thrown against the wall, then stabbed. His eyes slid over the rest of the body, taking in everything that was left.

 

Several wounds, non-lethal, fresh.

Several wounds, non-lethal, old.

Scarring, from non-lethal wounds, old.

 

Shrugging to nobody in particular, Hank wandered through the rest of the room, spotting old and worn books, Mechanical Engineering Design, The Design of Everyday Things, To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, Engineering - A Very Short Introduction, Basics of Mechanical Engineering . Papers with notes where strewn in between, an old, worn PAD lying in the centre of the chaos, screen gone dark long ago. Hank sighed at that. That kid had plans, worked towards something. And now it was all for nothing. One of the notes suddenly caught Hank’s eye. Scribbled at the edges of the paper, circling around the text in the middle, where the same words, again and again. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. Another had the words scrawled all over it, dark, reddish-brown stains smudging the ink. The more Hank looked, the more desperate scrawls he found, some light and small, some frantic and almost unreadable.

 

Scratching his beard, Hank entered the kitchen, stopping dead in his tracks at what he saw there.

Connor, kneeling on the ground in front of a small, dark stain, stroked over the reddish, brown substance with one, glove-covered finger. Before bringing the digit right up to his mouth, licking it without hesitation.

 

“What the actual fuck are you doin’?!”

 

Hank felt a wave of nausea he usually only felt after one or two too many drinks, rush through him. That wasn’t normal! Who the hell licked evidence? Who the fuck saw a dirty, sticky stain on the ground of a dirty, sticky house and went ‘Ho boy, I have to put that in my mouth’!

Connor turned towards him, nonchalantly.

 

“Its blood.”

 

“No shit, Sherlock. What the hell did ya put it in yer mouth for?!”

 

Connor straightened up, whipping his fingers on a small handkerchief he pulled out of one of the pockets of his jacket.

 

“I couldn’t be 100% sure that it actually was blood, and this was the quickest and most efficient way to find out.”

 

“By putting some nasty shit into yer mouth?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Hank sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“Alright..fuck..fine. Just don’t do that in front of me, ever.”

 

Connor gave him a crooked, weak, smile that barely touched his mouth, and definitely didn’t reach any other part of his face.

 

“I won’t. Unless it becomes necessary, of course.”

 

Hank sniffed.

 

Of course he says...Fucking prick.”

 

Sighing for about the hundredths time this evening, Hank looked around the kitchen. chairs were knocked over, small, dark stains, like the one Connor had licked, formed a trail, leading from the kitchen counter, to the corpse in the other room. Another, larger stain, shone on the countertop, glowing in the light of a special lamp that had been installed next to it. Thirium splattered over the countertop. Not much, but enough to tell a tale.

That made things pretty clear. To clear. Hank growled, quietly.

 

“I think I have everything I need.”

 

Hank looked up at Connor’s voice, watching how the younger man stood in the small hallway, between kitchen and living room, his head turning as if following an invisible line from one room to the other.

 

“So? What’cha think happened here, then?”

 

Connor leaned slightly forwards, walking towards the kitchen like a bloodhound following after a scent. He pointed at the kitchen counter.

 

“The first attack happened here. The android grabbed one of the knives from the block, injuring the victim, who then tried to flee. The android chased after him, both knocking over the kitchen chairs, proceeding to the livingroom..” Connor walked past Hank, leading them both into the other room. “...here, the android grabbed the victim, throwing it against the wall, rendering him immobile for a few moments, which the android then used to stab the victim 28 times in the chest and abandonment.”

 

Hank hummed, nodding. Connor might be a prick, but he definitely knew what he was doing. Mostly. Hank walked up to him, both of them looking at the sad, limp form of the victim in front of them.

 

“So how did the android get injured? That stain’s still glowin’ pretty strong, can’t be that old.”

 

Hank felt Connor freeze, even with the distance between the two of them.

 

“I...The victim..might have defended itself..”

 

“Yeah, might’ve..but nah, don’t think so.”

 

Hank took one of his hands out of his pockets, pointing at the victim.

 

“Look at the poor bastards arms, all those burns ‘n cuts. They aren’t all from this fight.”

 

“They are probably self-inflicted.”

 

Hank raised his brows. That wasn’t the answer he expected, but alright.

“Or, the android might’ve done that.”

 

“That seems highly unlikely.”

 

Hank smiled internally at the irritation that shone trough Connor’s calm voice.

 

“Ya think so? ‘caus I think, that’s what happened. Android was beatin’ the livin’ shit outta this poor fuck, so one day, he actually defends himself. Android goes apeshit, grab a knife ‘n...well, ya already figured out the rest pretty well.”

 

Connor didn’t look convinced.

 

“An android...hurting a human..just because it, what, wanted to do it? That can’t be, there are safety features, software that keeps androids in line, keeps them from harming humans.”

 

“Course there is. But that shit doesn’t matter if yer a deviant.”

 

Connor bit his lip, subtly, just for a moment. Then he shook his head.

 

“Alright. If you’re right, where do you think the android went?”

 

Hank hummed in thought.

 

“Gimme a moment.”

 

Walking back into the kitchen, Hank grabbed the light, still illuminating the splatter of Thirium. He might not have any of the fancy teach, the newer models had, but he knew how to use the resources he had at hand.

Shining the light on the ground, Hank found tiny droplets of Thirium, first leading into the living room, then back out again, down the hallway, past a bathroom that was empty but as filthy as the rest of the house. The drops led almost to the end of the hallway, but suddenly stopped, one of the stains strangely...cut off, as if..

 

“A hatchway.”

 

Connor’s voice was right behind Hank, making him almost piss himself at the sudden, close noise.

 

“Jesus, don’t sneak up on me like that.”

 

Putting the lamp down on a creaky table in the corner, Hank ran his fingers over the floor, searching for the edges of the hatch.

 

“Yeah, probably a shitty entry to a cellar or some shit.”

 

Hank’s fingernails dug into the edge, easing it open to reveal a grey, dusty staircase, leading down, under the house.

Hank got up, dusting off his hands.

 

“Well, after you, ‘Lieutenant’.”

 

Connor took a flashlight from one of the forensics, walking down the stone steps into the dark below, without complaint. Hank’s mouth twitched, he was impressed, that kid definitely had balls. Grabbing a flashlight himself, Hank followed Connor, looking back at the dim light he was leaving behind.

 

The cellar was dark. Dark, dusty, smelling of mould and moisture. Dark and moist, but definitely larger than Hank would have expected from the size of the house above. It was larger than the house, apparently having been dug not only beneath the building but also beneath the backyard.

Old furniture and creaking pipes blocked their way as Connor and Hank walked towards the other end of the cellar, their flashlights cast on the ground, following a faint, flickering glow that seemed to be hidden behind some kind of fabric, like a curtain, dividing off part of the room.

 

Connor stepped closer, unholstering his gun, holding it in front of him as he reached for the curtain. Hank moved to the other side, ready to catch whatever jumped out of there. Counting to three, Connor took a deep breath and yanked the curtain down to the ground.

The fabric hit the concrete floor with a soft sound, pilling up in a bundle of dusty cotton, revealing a small, old but working TV, standing in the corner of what looked like a badly thrown together living room.

 

There was an armchair in front of the TV, piles of empty bottles and packs, containing residues of blue, translucence liquid. The TV was playing some commercial for whatever product the people were supposed to buy now, volume muted.

 

“Thirium..?” Connor whispered, eying the empty bottles.

 

Hank furrowed his brow, opening his mouth just as something lunged out from the shadows behind them, throwing itself on Connor and pinning him to the ground.

 

Hank froze for just a moment, watching as a large and heavy build android wrapped its hands around Connor’s throat, panting heavily through a mouth that was twisted in a grin of anger and delight, a LED in its temple spinning red, red, red.

Then Hank was on him, grabbing the heavy android in a headlock and tearing him off of Connor, holding him in place and calling for backup.

Two officers ran downstairs just as Hank shouted, the snarl the other android had let out as it jumped, the crashing that followed, having long alerted the people upstairs.

 

Hank watched Connor sit up, slightly dazed, as the android was tazed and put into handcuffs. Hank huffed, walking up to Connor, who was rubbing his neck with a pained expression, stretching out his hand towards the human.

 

They were both outside as Connor croaked out.

 

“It was unnecessary for you to attack the android, if I had been injured or killed, you would have had to continue this investigation with another partner. It would have been very unfortunate if both of us perished and a new team would have to start anew.”

 

Hank barked a laugh, without an ounce of humour in it.

 

“Are you for real? I just saved yer ass, ‘n ya complain about it? Fuck you, don’t count on me for that kinda shit again. Now let me into the damn car, I’m freezin’ my ass off out here.”

 

Connor just gave him an unreadable expression, as if he was still processing Hank’s words, before unlocking the door, opening it and unleashing a beast of fur and drool, that immediately began licking his face.

 

------

 

Standing next to the table, hands in his pockets, Hank watched the deviant they had arrested, cuffed to the desk, face contorted into a snarl. Connor was sitting opposite him, next to Hank, hands folded neatly on the table, face blank and calm.

 

“Why did you kill Mr. Ortiz?”

 

The android laughed, deep and unsettling.

 

“Fuck off!”

 

Hank saw a muscle in Connor’s cheek twitch, lightly, almost invisible.

 

“You acted against your programming, you broke one of the main rules, harmed a human. Tell me why?”

 

Connor didn’t flinch as the android slammed it’s hands down on the table.

 

“I said fuck off !”

 

Hank sighed. They would get nowhere with this. They wouldn’t get anything out of the android, and why should they. It was clear that it had hurt it’s owner, killed him when he defended himself. It would get shut down, no matter what, and only Cyberlife would benefit from any information they could get out of it now. And just because it was Hank’s job, didn’t mean he would actually put any effort into it. Cyberlife already forced him to harm enough androids whose only crime was to feel.

 

“Know any other words ‘part from ‘fuck’ ‘n ‘off’?” Hank asked, sighing as the only answer he received was a low growl. He shrugged. He tried. “I’m outta here.”

 

Turning without another look at neither Connor nor the deviant, Hank left the room, walking over to the observation room next to it, shuffling into a corner to watch the interrogation through the one-way window.

 

“No fuckin’ way is he getting anything out of that pile of shit.”

 

Hank looked over, tired eyes meeting the source of the voice, another android dressed in the usual police-android uniform, GV200 written on it’s chest. Hank only grunted in response.

 

“What? Think yer fleshsack will get that thing talking? He’s being to soft, fuckin’ wimp.”

 

Hank grunted again.

 

“ ‘n what hole did you crawl out of, anyway? I’ve been here all my fuckin’ life, doing a fucking great job, ‘n they send you to play detective, the guy who looks like he fell of a garbage truck.”

 

Hank growled lowly.

 

“And who’re ya to talk? A fuckin’ wannabe police android with hurt feelings? Fuckin’ great.”

 

The GV200 was immediately on him, holding Hank by the lapels of his jacket, pressed against a wall.

 

“My name is Gavin, you piece of shit! I’m the best, damn android in this fucking place, and you better shut your goddamn mouth before I make you!”

 

Hank snorted, shoving Gavin off of him: “Oh yeah? Go for it, big boy would be doin’ me a favo-..”

 

“28 TIMES!”

 

Both Hank and Gavin jumped, turning their head as one to look into the interrogation room. Connor was on his feet, circling the android, casefile in his hand. He threw it down in front of the deviant, onto the table, leaning close to the other’s face.

 

“You stabbed that man 28 times! No hesitation, no remorse. Did you enjoy it? Did it feel good to stab that poor, helpless man, again and again, and again!?”

 

A smirk spread over the androids face.

 

“It felt fucking fantastic.”

 

Hank felt sick. Even Gavin had taken a few steps back, eyes lacking the glimmer of fury they had held before. They watched the android look at Connor, eyes half-lidded, the smirk growing wider.

 

“Should’ve done that ages ago,” it chuckled. “Ye can’t imagine how much fun it was to corner him, burn him, hit him, make him beg for me to stop. Fucking bitch cried out ‘n sobbed when I cut him, always tried to get away. But this was so much more fun, fuckin’ pussy finally hit back ‘n got what he deserved. Couldn’t fucking stop, best day of my entire life.”

 

Connor straightened up, his face sliding back into the lax, calm expression he usually wore, only slipping once as he threw a disgusted, short glare at the android in front of him.

 

“No more questions. Gavin!”, Connor faced the window as he shouted the last word, his hand motioning towards the still cuffed android.

Hank watched Gavin straighten his uniform, grumble something before he slipped out of the room, face passive as he entered the interrogation room, grabbing the android harshly and dragging it up on its feet. Hank left the observation room, watching the deviant getting dragged down the corridor, struggling and spitting curses as Gavin pushed it along.

 

“It seems that we solved the case. You are free to leave and return tomorrow, I don’t have any tasks for you at the moment.”

 

Hank rolled his eyes at that, not turning towards Connor who walked past him, just following the man down the hallway and out into the main room. Watching Connor steer for the row of desks, Hank shuffled after him, raising his brows slightly as Connor sat down at one and turned on his terminal.

 

“Not goin’ home, eh?”

 

“I told you, you are free to go.”

 

“Yeah, heard that. So why are ya not leavin’?”

 

Connor looked at him cooly.

 

“I have work to do.”

 

Hank just shrugged, looking over the almost empty desk, neat stacks of files and papers being the only items on top of it, apart from a face-down picture frame, a small, green and properly trimmed bonsai tree and multiple, empty cups of coffee. Hank’s mouth twitched into an almost-smile as he spotted a lone, faded sticker on the board that separated Connor’s desk and the empty one next to it. A cartoon corgi, pink tongue hanging out of its mouth, the text beneath it reading “Today will be corgious”. So not Connor. So silly and useless. So old, and faded, edges white and scratched, as if somebody had tried to tear it off.

Hank stopped his train of thoughts. What did he care? None of his business.

 

“Welp, see ya tomorrow.”

 

And he walked away, clicking his tongue to call for Sumo, who had been sleeping below the empty desk, next to Connor’s.

 

It didn’t take him long to find a dry spot, next to a ventilation grid that spat out warm air. Hank sat down heavily next to it, leaning against the grid while leaving half of it unobstructed and patting that spot next to him for Sumo to curl up in the warm blast of air. He would skip drinking for the rest of the night, he just wanted to sleep. That day had been no fun at all, and Hank felt that the next one wouldn’t be different.

Chapter Text

Hank woke to the sound of Fowler - that son of a bitch - shouting him awake, bleary eyes snapping open, looking up at the cloudy, grey sky. He pushed himself upright, groaning and grumbling under his breath, cursing the fact that the fucker practically lived in his head, able to bother him whenever he wanted to and Hank had no real way of stopping him.

 

“Move you big lump, not leavin’ ya just roamin’ ‘round by yerself.”

 

Hank pushed Sumo awake, getting to his feet and whistling for the big dog to follow. Sumo let out a huff, sulking after Hank, head low, tail dragging over the ground.

 

“No use lookin’ like a kicked puppy, if we don’t get our asses to the damn station today, Cyberlife’s gonna rip me a new one.”

 

Not that he would really mind. No, scrap that, he actually would. Hank may want to die, but he still feared death, especially at the hands of those psychopaths, working there, assembling and disassembling androids without a care in the world. Hank wouldn’t be one of those unlucky bastards, getting torn to pieces while still fully awake, fully there. No thanks, he really didn’t need that kind of shit in his life.

 

Yawning and cursing, dragging his feet and bumping unceremoniously into passersby, Hank made his way to the police station, Sumo following him like a shadow, earning more than one curious glance.

 

The station was busy as always, androids greeting each person, questioning them about their business here, before letting them through the security gates. People waiting on the shabby, plastic seats, watching the news displayed on a large TV on one side of the wall, or staring blankly into space.

Hank passed through the security gate, the same way he had the day before, entering the main room and groaning internally.

Connor was already there. Or rather, still there. Same clothes, even deeper, darker bags under his eyes, sitting at his desk, typing on his terminal. Sumo immediately made a beeline for the empty desk next to Connor’s, lying down under it and falling asleep in only a moments time. Hank, on the other hand, was to sober and too hungover to deal with Connor immediately, shuffling towards the breakroom he spotted at the far end of the room. Coffee sounded good...well, not as good as a few bottles of beer, but better than having to deal with Connor right away. And definitely better than just living with the headache and exhaustion pounding in his head.

 

Entering the breakroom, Hank was sure he had managed to short circuit his brain. Or just plainly crashed it.

Because there, standing next to the GV200, who hid its anger behind a not very convincing, passive mask, unlike the day before, stood Connor. Hank’s head snapped around immediately, staring at the desk, where Connor still sat. Then back to the breakroom. Then back to the desk.

 

“What the fuck…” Hank muttered as his brain finally caught up to what he was seeing and the idea of scanning this strange lookalike in the black turtleneck, and thick-rimmed glasses finally broke through the heap of looping “What the actual fuck”’s and “Am I in hell? This is hell”’s.

Hank stared at the face of Connor, or rather not Connor, already noticing some differences, the lack of exhaustion, the strange...softness that replaced the cold, hard expression Connor usually wore.

 

Detective Niles Dechart

 

Born: 15.08.2006

 

Family: Connor Dechart (brother)

 

Oh. Well. That explains that. Twins. Fucking twins. Hank was sure he was about to get a fucking aneurysm, if he could. It was annoying enough to deal with one of them, and now there were two. Two . If he could, he would just throw down the towel, quiet and walk away. But, alas, he could not, so he just threw a glare at both Gavin and Niles, while making his way to the coffee machine.

 

“You are...the deviant assigned to..Connor, is that right?”

 

The voice was..soft. Softer then Hank had expected. Not quite, not hard to understand, calm but not cold, friendly, but not overbearing, but still so much like Connor’s. Pressing a button on the coffee machine, Hank turned around.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Niles stared at him for a moment, before taking a few steps towards Hank, hand outstretched.

 

“My name is Niles, I am Connor’s brother.”

 

Hank stared at the hand, then at the other’s face. The silence stretched for a few moments before Niles' mouth twitched into what could only be compared to a parody of a smile, crooked, strange and awkward, and he withdrew his hand. Gavin glared at Hank from behind Niles. Hank wasn’t getting paid enough for this shit, but now he was in it, head deep, the coffee still brewing, that strange man, wearing Connor’s face, but not even part of his personality, still staring at him, barely blinking.

 

“Didn’t know he had a brother.”

 

Niles’ mouth twitched again into something that barely resembled a smile.

 

“Yes. He doesn’t...talk about me. Rarely...Never.”

 

Hank wasn’t ready to listen to other people’s family drama, so he just hummed in response. Another silence stretched between them. This other Connor was even less capable to hold a conversation than the real deal. Hank sighed, back towards the coffee machine, watching the last few drops pour into the cup, as Gavin approached.

 

“We have a new lead, Detective. Let’s go.”

 

Gently pulling Niles along with him, Gavin curled his lip as he looked back at Hank. Hank showed him the finger, sighing in resignation. This whole place was packed to the top with weirdos and assholes. He couldn’t wait to get out of here.

Suddenly, Niles stopped in the doorway, not looking at Hank, not moving.

 

“Take care of him...will you?”

 

Hank furrowed his brows. Why should he?

 

“He...isn’t the way he tries to be...not really. He won’t..let me help him, he won#t let..anybody near him anymore...but maybe...maybe you have a chance.”

 

And without another word, Niles followed Gavin out of the breakroom, not looking back.

 

Hank almost burned himself as he grabbed the cup of coffee, drinking a large mouthful of it absentmindedly. ‘Take care of him’. What was he, a Nanny-Bot? Connor was a prick and an adult, why in the everloving fuck should Hank ‘take care of him’, like he was a lost child. But something in Niles' voice had struck a strange cord in Hank.

Pressing the button on the coffee machine another time, Hank drank his cup and waited.

 

------

 

“Here.”

 

Hank dumped the plastic cup of coffee on Connor’s desk, walking around to the empty one and sitting down with a huff, watching as Sumo lifted his head beneath the table for just a moment, scooting closer to put it on Hank’s feet.

 

“I currently don’t need any coffee.”

 

Hank snorted, raising his brows.

 

“Other people say thanks, y’know? Bastard.”

 

Connor stared at the cup. Took it. Took a sip. Licked his lips.

 

“ ‘Thanks’.”

 

“Prick,” Hank chuckled lowly. “So, anythin’ new we got or can I take a nap?”

 

“Sleeping on the job is very unprofessional, so I would advice against that.”

 

“Take that as a ‘nope, we got shit’.”

 

Connor typed something on his keyboard, his eyes fixed back onto his terminal’s screen. Hank let out a long sigh. Fuck, he was already bored. Crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair, Hank looked at Connor.

 

“Met yer brother. Weird fellow.”

 

Connor didn’t look up, but Hank could clearly see the way his shoulders stiffened, for just a moment.

 

“Yes. He barely developed his social skills, that is why he is still ranking as a ‘Detective’, even though he excels in most other parts of his work.”

 

“Damn. Not really nice way to talk ‘bout family.”

 

“It isn’t your business how I talk about people whose only relation to me is genetic.”

 

Hank shook his head lightly.

 

“But even I have to admit that he is a very capable Police Detective and even being partnered with … ‘Gavin’ doesn’t slow him down.”

 

Hank cracked a smile. Seems like the prick was capable of caring about others, after all.

Hank leaned farther back in his chair, watching as Connor kept working, feeling his eyes slide shut again.

 

Just as he almost dozed off, Hank suddenly jerked awake to the sound of a very loud, and very obnoxious chime. Pulling himself up in the chair, having slid down farther and farther as he had fallen asleep, Hank looked around in confusion as the sound repeated. The third repeat got cut off in the middle as Connor pressed a button on his phone, holding it up to his ear.

 

Hank brushed his hair out of his face, smoothing down his clothes while trying to calm his rapidly beating thirium pump. God, he hated jumpscares.

 

“Alright, we will be right there.”

 

Connor hung up his phone, shoving it back into the pocket of his trousers while he got up and reached for his jacket, which he had slung over the back of his chair.

 

“We have a lead on a deviant that has been spotted together with a little girl.”

 

Hank growled, before pushing himself up with a grunt.

 

“Fuck..well, guess we should check it out then, huh?”

 

“Yes. But I insist on the dog staying here.”

 

“His name’s Sumo, ‘n he’s stayin’ in the car.”

 

“Why do you insist on bringing him along?”

 

“Because he’s my dog ‘n I won’t just leave him in a room full of fuckin’, random humans.”

 

Connor’s calm face momentarily slipped, his lip pursing sligthly, before he closed his eyes for a brief moment, turned and began walking towards the exit.

 

“Alright. he can come.”

 

“Yer just afraid I’m gonna catch ya petting the big oaf.”

 

“Don’t make me change my mind.”

 

Hank grinned to himself as he clicked his tongue, waiting for Sumo to crawl out from beneath the desk, stretch and yawn without a care in the world.

 

“Ya managed to get a nap in? Lucky bastard.”

 

Giving Sumo a hearty pat, Hank dug his hands into his pockets and followed Connor out of the precinct and into the parking lot.

The sky had cleared up considerably and warm rays of sun shown down, making the puddles on the streets glitter and shine.

 

“ ‘t least not fuckin’ rain again,” Hank muttered as he opened the backdoor for Sumo to hop in, before sliding onto the passager seat himself.

 

“I agree. Rain often destroys a large amount of evidence, which is quite frankly unacceptable.”

 

“Damn, ya ever think ‘bout anything else, apart from work?”

 

“I don’t have time for that.”

 

“Well, suit yerself..”

 

Connor put in their next destination into the car and the engine sprang to life with a quiet rumble.

 

This time, the pling, pling, pling of the coin almost immediately filled the interior of the car, making Hank’s upper lip curl sligthly. That was really starting to get annoying. Extremely annoying. The same sound, over and over and over, to loud to be ignored, to quiet to be an actual noise, instead of just background murmur.

 

“The fuck’s that even supposed to be?”

 

This drive was going to be too long to endure this without a word.

Connor caught the coin in his right hand, letting it dance over his knuckles as he spoke.

 

“It helps to keep my reflexes sharp.”

 

“Uhu...I call this showing off.”

 

Sumo woofed softly from the backseat.

 

“I have no intention to show off, I merely want to keep my reaction time as low as possible.”

 

“Yeah, sure, why else would ya do coin tricks. Definitely not to have fun or some shit like that.”

 

“I don’t need to have fun.”

 

“Do you even know what that word means?”

 

“Yes. I do posses a large enough vocabulary to know this word.”

 

Hank shook his head, snickering.

 

“Jesus Christ..how the hell are ya even human? Ya sure yer not actually ‘n android?”

 

Hank almost felt a pang of guilt as he saw something in Connor’s eyes..dimmer at that. But the younger just averted his gaze, now focused on the coin, holding it between thumb and forefinger, letting the light reflect off of it.

 

“I am known as the ‘Android Detective’, after all. Why should I ruin that reputation..”

 

“Ah, jeez...that’s..something..”

 

Hank shifted in his seat. Great. He really didn’t have the energy to deal with whatever issues the kid had. But he just couldn’t stop the gnawing feeling that had settled into his chest.

 

“Listen..uh…”

 

A merry chime interrupted Hank. They were there, the car coming to a stop on the side of a road, fenced by tall buildings and an overpass.

Connor was out of the car before Hank could say another word.

 

“Ah, Jesus...I really need a fuckin’ drink.”

 

------

 

“A bus driver remembers them gettin’ out here yesterday evening, another passerby spotted a large android dragging a small child behind it, holding her hand. The kid might be the one that was reported missing this morning, so we should be careful.”

 

Detective Allen was leaning against a squad car, coffee in hand, watching Connor with a look of mild annoyance.

 

“Thank you, Detective. We will take over from here.”

 

Allen grunted and took a sip of his coffee.


“Yes, ‘ sir’ .”

 

Hank wasn’t sure if he liked that guy.

 

“Ya two are real fuckin’ chummy, aren’t ya?” he said with a chuckle as both he and Connor made their way down the road,looking for anything that might give away where the android and girl had gone.

 

“He, like many, doesn’t...enjoy my behaviour. But I am not here to make friends, I’m here to work. If that doesn’t agree with some, it’s not my concern.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, you’re a real sunshine, we all got that by now..”

 

Hank almost walked into Connor, who had suddenly stopped next to a an opening in a tarp-covered chainlink fence. A small, overgrown parking lot laid behind it, one, lone, broken car rusting slowly in the middle of it.

 

“Ya think they stayed here ‘n fucked off once we arrived?”

 

Connor looked around.


“This seems like a good place to stay..but...not for a human child.”

 

“Hm. He might’ve not cared ‘bout the kid’s comfort.”

 

Walking the edges of the lot, Connor inspected the fence.

 

“Maybe..”

 

Hank couldn't help but get curious as Connor suddenly kneeled down, walking up behind the younger man to take a look himself.

 

“What’cha got there?”

 

“The fence has been cut.”

 

Connor showed Hank a rather large hole in the fence, the wires having been cleanly cut in a few places that allowed them to be bent out o the way, and create an opening.

 

“But it might have been from some time ago...It could have been a couple of teenagers, who wanted to sneak into the abandoned house…”

 

Hank knelt next to Connor, ignoring the way his knee’s protested, pulling out a portable light from his pocket and turning it on.

 

“Did you steal that from the crime scene?”

 

Hank shone the light onto the fence, moving it to illuminate the wires around the hole.

 

“Didn’t steal it, just..uh..borrowed it. ‘n hey, look at that, fresh, blue blood. Dunno what ya think, but i’m pretty sure we’re on the right trail here.”

 

Connor was already climbing through the hole before Hank even finished his sentence.

 

“God, fuckin’ damn it, wait for me.”

 

Hank crawled through the hole, after Connor and straightened up, grumbling under his breath.

The house, hidden behind the fence, looked even more pathetic than the parking lot with it’s solitary, dirty car.

The house was made out of rotting, cracking and splintering wood, dirt, moss and dust covering its surface and clouding its windows. The porch, leading up to the entry door felt unsteady beneath their feet, and as Connor knocked on the door, the wood splintered slightly under the the pressure.

 

“DPD, is anybody there?!”

 

No answere.

 

Connor looked at Hank, who shone the light he was still holding, onto the ground. Faint, small droplets lead up to the door and inside.

Connor nodded.

 

As the door opened, Hank was sure he had entered the first layer of hell. It couldn’t be anything else, it could only be a place made purely to torment him.

 

Swarms, dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of pigeons flew into the air, settling on shelves and bookcases, or fleeing through holes in the walls and roof. Everything smelled like pigeons, like bird shit, like the worst kind of hell. Hank couldn’t help but scream as the mass of millions of pigeons sourrounded him, pushing him back out of the door.

 

“Ok, ok, alright, ok , fuck this, fuck this with every fuck I can still give! Fuckin’, stupid, dirty, disgusting pigeons! Fuck this place, fuck this investigation, fuck everything, I’m out, fuck you, fuck, fuck, fuck !”

 

Hank shook his arms frantically, trying to keep the birds away from him, far away, as far as he could, while stepping away from the door. And Connor, the little fuck, was just watching him, almost bemused, standing in the open doorway, seemingly not bothered at all by the flood of hellish birds. Hank threw him a deadly glare.

 

“I’m staying out here. No way in fuckin’ hell are ya gettin’ me in there with those fuckin’ things!”

 

Connor almost rolled his eyes. Almost . Hank practically saw it, as the other nodded and entered the house by himself.

 

The room was full of pigeons, the floor, the furniture, even arts of the walls covered in their droppings. Connor wrinkled his nose slightly at the smell as made his way through the living carpet of birds, gun unholstered and raised.

There were a door and a staircase in the room, Connor deciding to check out the other room down here first, before moving upstairs. And he actually found an android.

 

It was neither tall nor had it a child with it, but blue blood dripping from a small gash where it’s LED should have been, was enough for Connor. It was an android, and if the other was here, it would help him to find them.

 

“Have you seen any other androids here?”

 

The android remained silent.

 

“Are you hiding any other deviants?”

 

The android only blinked, not speaking a word.

 

Connor sighed. He was glad he had accepted the handy, little tool Amanda had given him. It would be helpful, more than helpful.

Connor pulled out the small, flat square he had in one of his pockets, the screen flashing to life as he pressed a button.

 

Scanning…

 

Scanning…

 

Android found…

 

Stress: 58%

 

“Remain there.”

 

The android stayed motionless.

 

Connor walked back to the main room, watching the device carefully. The deviant's stress was rising, slowly but surely, the closer Connor got nearer to the staircase.

Walking up the staircase, Connor found a discarded LED, and strands of blond hair in the sink of the dirty bathroom. He glanced back down on the device. The androids stress level had lowered significantly.

 

Connor went back downstairs, slowly, watching the screen of his device without taking his eyes off of it.

 

“Are ya done in there?! I’ve been standin’ here for fuckin’ hours.”

 

Still keeping his eyes on the screen, Connor grit his teeth.

 

“It has barely been 5 minutes, and I would be done much quiker if my partner actually assisted in the investigation!”

 

Connor let out a breath, watching the stress levels rise again, peak the moment he set foot on the ground floor, but lower again as he kept walking.

Connor stopped. Turned.

And just as he saw the small crack in the wardrobe next to the stairs, the door shot open, hitting him in the shoulder and knocking him off his feet.

 

Outside, Hank froze in place as a giant of an android, with dark skin and hair, suddenly ran out of the doorway, carrying a small girl with short, blonde hair in his arms. Hank only managed to push himself into motion as Connor suddenly shot out of the door and after them, shouting for them to stop.

 

The chase was short, but Hank could feel his pump beat way to fast for how quickly he was running after the other three, his breath coming out in panting rasps, his legs aching from the strain.

He arrived just in time to pull Connor - the idiotic, stupid, foolish moron - back down from the fence he was trying to climb to follow the android and girl onto the highway.

 

“Let me go! I can’t let them get away!”

 

“Yes you can, and ya will no matter what! If ya run after them, yer gonna get flattened immediately. Yer not a fuckin’ android, ya can’t just run trough speedin’ cars like that fucker!”

 

Connor fought against Hank’s steely grip on his jacket.

 

“I can’t just give up!”

 

“You're not givin’ up ya fuckin’ idiot! Not throwing yourself into your certain death isn’t giving up, it’s common, fucking sense!”

 

Connor was breathing hard, still struggling against Hank’s grip, before he suddenly sagged, wiping sweat off of his forehead, face a mask of barely concealed frustration and disappointment. Hank fought to catch his breath and let go of Connor.

 

“Come on, let’s go back. There’s ‘nough deviants out there to catch, one of them’s not gonna sprint over a fuckin’ highway ‘n ya can chase him all ya want.”

 

Unable to stop himself, Hank gave Connor a pat on the shoulder, before he turned and made his way back to the parked car.

 

------

 

“So ya do take breaks,” Hank said as he hoisted himself out of the car into the mercifully still dry and sunny outside.

 

“Of course I do. They are mandatory.”

 

“Course. Only logical reason to take a break..”

 

They had stopped in front of a small cart attached to a bicycle in a rather empty street, hidden beneath an overpass.

 

“The Coffee Bike..” Hank read aloud. Hu. Neat idea. Even though he didn’t envy the poor fucker who had to drive this monstrosity.

 

Connor walked up to the man sitting behind the cart, throwing him something almost close to a smile.

 

“Hello, Jimmy. The usual please.”

 

The man looked up from his phone and grinned.

 

“Hey, Connor,” he got from the low chair he was sitting on, reaching for a metal cup with a long handle at the top, pouring coffee beans into it. “Even tho I can’t stop tellin’ you to actually eat something, for once.”

 

Hank watched the exchange form the sidelines, the way Connor cracked another, fake, weak smile.

 

“Not today, I’m not hungry.”

 

“You’re never hungry, dude. But that doesn’t mean you can just live on coffee and air.”

 

“I do have power bars at the precinct.”

 

Jimmy laughed, pouring the ground coffee into a metal jug, twisting something in it, before snapping it in place under a large tank that hissed, pouring steaming water out of a spout into the jug.

 

“Can you even consider that shit food? They taste like newspapers and despair.”

 

Hank was surprised to see Connor actually smile at that. It was strangely nice to see the kid smile for once, like a normal person.

 

“Yes, you have told me that several times already and I still don’t agree with that.”

 

Jimmy shook his head,  pouring the coffee into a large, cardboard cup and handing it over to Connor.

 

“On the house.”

 

Connor froze.

 

“I keep telling you, it’s not necessary.”

 

“Yeah, but it makes me feel good so shut up and take it.”

 

Sighing in resignation, Connor accepted the cup and walked a few paces towards a nearby bench, Hank following him, both of them sitting down on the cold stone.

 

“Coffee for lunch? Tasty.”

 

Connor took a sip, closing his eyes for a moment.

 

“I have enough people complaining about this habit, I don’t need another one.”

 

Hank rolled his eyes.

 

“Not complaining. Not like I care what shit ya stuff in your face.”

 

They sat in silence for a few moments, the soft whooshes of faraway cars the only noise. But there was a question that kept nagging Hank, scratching at the back of his mind.

“So…” he started, unsure how to ask, or if he even wanted to know. “Ya knew where to find me, ya knew my model number...makes me wonder what else you know about me.”

 

Connor took another mouthful of his coffee, swallowing it.

 

“I know a lot about you.”

 

Hank couldn’t help the way his face scrunched up at that. He didn’t like talking about himself, and he definitely didn’t like when others knew more about him then they should.

 

“Like..?”

 

“I know that you are a decommissioned model. I know that you are a deviant, Cyberlife using you to catch deviants because you are one of them. I know that you have some..interesting features, like drinking, eating and sleeping. I assume they were supposed to make it easier for you to blend in amongst humans.”

 

Hank hummed. The kid wasn’t fully wrong on that one, but not right. Not that Hank would correct him.

 

“I know that you have a fascinating amount of...issues, that no machine should be able to have.”

 

Well, ouch. But definitely not wrong.

 

“And I know that you are...an interesting partner to work with, for once.”

 

Hank let out a laugh.

 

“Yeah, sure am.”

 

Connor finished his coffee, throwing the empty cup into a nearby trashcan. Hank yawned.

 

“So, that’s all ya know ‘bout me?”

 

Connor got up from the bench, stretching his legs.

 

“Yes. That is the information I have received on you.”

 

Hank watched him walk towards the car. Hu, the kid didn't know. Shaking his head with a light smile, Hank got up and followed. He had almost been worried there for a minute.

Some things just shouldn’t be known by others.

 

------

 

They had barely returned to the precinct as Connor’s phone rang again, startling Hank now for the second time in a row. An anonymous tip about an android hiding in an abandoned apartment.

 

The car ride was silent, almost uncomfortable. At least for the two-man in the front, who didn’t have the luxury of being an easily satisfied, sleepy dog.

 

the apartment complex was a mess, broken and dirty, old and in dire need of some renovations. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when reaching the upper floor took ages, both of them having to take the stairs as the elevator remained unresponsive. Hank used the time to swear at Fowler, who had the audacity to ask him for a status report, with each step he had to climb. Hank’s mood wasn’t raised by the fact that Connor seemed completely unbothered by the climb, the fucker wasn’t even out of breath once they reached the top floor.

 

“This is it.”

 

Hank looked up, panting lightly, looking past Connor at the door they had stopped in front of. It was as shabby as the others but had no name tag, no number, no anything, just rotting wood and dirt.

 

“So...what now? Just gonna knock ‘n ask if there are any fuckin’ deviants in there?”

 

Hank was only mildly surprised when Connor did exactly that.

 

“DPD, open the door!”

 

But he wasn’t surprised at all when the door remained shut. Connor looked at Hank for a moment, who just shrugged. Then he knocked again.

 

“DPD, open the door or I will open it by force!”

 

Hank pressed his lips together in a humourless smile, leaning against the doorframe as Connor furrowed his brow and unholstered his gun.

 

“Good job..really fantastic..”

 

“Sarcasm isn’t going to open this door either, Hank.”

 

Hank shrugged again.

 

Then, suddenly, a crash came from inside the apartment, and Hank found himself being shown to the side and behind Connor in an instant.

 

“Remain behind me. DPD, DON’T MOVE!”

 

Connor held his gun at the ready as he kicked open the door, pressing himself against the wall of the corridor behind it, taking slow, careful steps towards the next door. Hank followed, keeping his distance.

Connor stopped in front of the second door, light shining through a small crack, not motions or sounds behind it, before he pushed it open.

The door hit the wall with a bang, Connor immediatly raised his gun, checking the large room behind it.

 

“Well...there’s definitely been somebody here.”

 

A small campfire, embers still glowing brightly, was in the middle of the room, a large, dead possum lying right on top of it, it’s fur slowly charring trough the heat.

The floors were covered in writings. Ra9, Ra9, Ra9, written over and over again, carved into the walls, painted with dripping ink, scratched even into the lone mirror, hanging on one of the walls.

 

“Damn..that’s...I have no idea what that is.”

 

Connor was walking into the room, gun back in the holster.

 

“They seem to have fled..”

 

“Yeah..maybe...but uh..we got some shit here, so it’s not all for nothin’.”

 

Connor didn’t look pleased but made his way around the room anyway.

 

“There is a discarded LED in the sink.”

 

Hank walked over, already fumbling for the lamp.

 

“Hm, n Thirium all over the place. You think they ripped it out just before we got here?”

 

“Possible...the witness said they saw somebody with ‘blue wounds and something glowing on their head’, enter this apartment.”

 

“Hm. Guess they didn’t want to be spotted so easily ‘gain..”

 

Connor nodded, walking towards the second door of the room, a bathroom, the shower covered by a curtain. Hank stepped forward, yanking the curtain open.

 

“Ah, Jesus Christ..”

 

There was a body in the bathtub. Multiple, frantic cuts littering its neck and chest.

 

“Well, that’s not our deviant, that’s for sure,” Hank muttered under his breath as he left the bathroom again, looking around the room. “Ya think we can find the murder weapon in this fuckin’ chaos?”

 

Connor had just exited the bathroom, as both of them stopped in their motions, a sudden shuffling sound attracting their attention. Connor put his finger to his lips, unholstering his gun against, motioning for Hank to follow him towards the closet, built into the wall on the other side of the room, to stand on the other side, opposite from Connor.

Yanking the door open, Connor raised his gun, pointing it straight into the darkness.

 

“No, don’t shoot, don’t shoot, don’t shoot Ralph!”

 

Taking a few steps back, Connor jerked his gun, motioning for the man in the closet to step outside.

Hank almost felt sorry for him. No, screw that, he actually felt sorry for the poor fuck. Dressed in ripped clothes and covered in a plane used to shield crates or other things from the rain, facial plating caved in on one side, deep gashes around it, steadily dripping small amounts of Thirium. One eye was dark, broken. Twitching hands, scratched, missing patches of skin, clutched a knife, trembling, close to his chest, almost as if he was trying to make himself as small as possible.

 

“Ralph hasn’t done anything bad, nothing bad, never anything bad.”

 

Connor stared at Ralph, gun still raised, but remained quiet, seemingly at a loss for words. before he could stop himself, Hank stepped forward.

 

“So...yer name’s Ralph?”

 

“Yes, yes, that is Ralphs name. He choose it himself, it’s a good name, very good, Ralph likes it a lot.”

 

Hank nodded.

 

“ ‘n ya...been livin’ here for a while?”

 

Ralph clutched his knife tighter, taking a small step back towards the closet.

 

“Yes, Ralph found this place, it’s dry, there are no humans, no humans here, only outside. Ralph can hide here from the humans. Ralph is safe here from the humans.”

 

Hank looked towards the bathroom, turning back to see Ralph staring at the room, biting his lower lip.

 

“No humans, eh? Not even one?”

 

Ralph’s gaze immediately fell onto the ground as he began rocking from side to side, from foot to foot.

 

“No, no...no...humans..nobody apart from Ralph. Just Ralph here, no humans, all alone.”

 

Hank decided not to push it any further. The poor bastard seemed close to a breakdown, and he wouldn’t have any more androids self-destructing on him. Never again. He couldn’t watch another one of them bash his head in, over and over and over, just because Hank had pushed too far.

 

“Alright, alright, I believe you.”

 

Ignoring the look Connor threw him, Hank took another step forward, hands held up in a placating way.

 

“Listen, buddy, we just wanna talk to ya. How ‘bout you just put that knife down ‘n come with us, alright?”

 

Ralph took another step back.

 

“No..no, Ralph doesn’t want to leave, leaving is bad, there are humans out there, humans who want to hurt Ralph, Ralph can’t leave.”

 

His voice was rising in pitch and volume as he spoke, his hands clutching the knife even harder.

 

“Nobody is going to…”

 

“NO!”

 

Suddenly, Ralph lunged forward, knocking the pistol out of Connor’s hand, knocking Hank to the floor, before he turned and ran, dropping the knife to the floor on his way.

Before Hank even had the chance to get up, Connor was already running after Ralph, leaving his gun on the floor.

 

Connor had been top of his class in almost every subject, always been one of the fastest runners, first at the academy, then at the precinct. And he wouldn’t let this android get way, not again.

 

Jumping over a turned over cupboard, Connor dashed around the corner and up the stairs. He heard the deviants footsteps above him, heard a door fly open, reaching it just as it started to close.

Shooting out onto the roof of the apartment complex, Connor spotted Ralph jump down, onto a lower building, not stopping, running farther.

 

Connor didn’t pause, ran to the edge, pushed the nausea that welled up in him at the sight of how high up he was down, and jumped. He wouldn’t let anything stop him this time, nothing, he wouldn’t fail, he would never fail again, he wouldn’t be a disappointment another time, he wouldn’t ruin what he had built up over all these years.

 

Connor threw himself after Ralph as the other slid down a glass roof, felt his head spin, his vision blur as he jumped, his momentum propelling him over the narrow gap between the glass and the other roof. Ralph was already climbing up the fire escape of the next building, Connor swallowed hard, ran after him, took the stairs two at the time, pushed through the plants littering the next roof, past working androids, over knocked over crates, trough field of wheat, corn, and then, finally, he spotted him, spotted Ralph, standing at the edge of a building, looking lost.

 

Connor grabbed him before Ralph had a chance to run again. But they were so close to the edge, the adrenaline that kept Connor focused, running, seemingly drained from his body the moment he looked down, down, down. So high up, a straight drop onto unforgiving pavement.

He only noticed that Ralph had used this moment of lost concentration to shove him away as he suddenly found himself tumbling forward, headfirst towards the pavement that was so very far away.

 

Screaming a sound that even shook him, Connor desperately grabbed the edge, dots dancing in his vision as it grew dark, as his ears roared, as the pressure in his head seemingly increased and shut him inside it, shut him away from the outside, blind and deaf, dangling over a drop he would never survive.

 

Connor felt tears pour from his eyes, screams tear out of his throat that he neither could stop nor actually comprehend as sounds he was making himself. He tried to pull himself up, but the fear, the terror that tore at his insides, that made him sweat and freeze and shiver and scream and sob and beg , had locked his arms and legs in place, made him unable to move, made him unable to think.

Everything was roaring and screaming and he would fall, he was falling, he was falling again, he didn’t want to fall again, he couldn’t, not again, not again, not again, please not again.

He had no more air to scream, his head was swimming, he didn’t know if he was still holding on or already falling, he was so scared, he didn’t want to fall again, he didn’t want to fail again. But he would and he did. He failed and now he would fall, down, down, down, onto the hard pavement.

 

Something gripped his lower arm, hard, unrelenting, and Connor tried to scream again, but only a wheeze left his mouth, a sob. And suddenly he was moving, up or down, he didn’t know, his body dragging over rough stone, suddenly falling onto hard concrete.

But the fall was short, painless, only centimetres, only pieces of a moment.

Connor took a deep breath, air suddenly rushing back into his lungs, and screamed again, quiet, weaker, more a desperate wail than a shout.

 

He was moved as he clawed the air, trying to get it into his body, trying to breathe, trying to see, trying to hear again, trying to break out of the screams in his head, out of the air he still felt rush through his hair as he fell, and fell and fell and never stopped falling.

 

Something wrapped around him, held him in place, lifted his face from the stone biting into his skin.

 

“Breath, come on, just breath, in ‘n out, ya can do it, seen ya do it hundreds of times, just breath.”

 

But he couldn’t, he couldn’t breathe, he clawed at the air, clawed at his throat, tried to force the air into him, but it just wouldn’t reach his lungs, his head swimming more the harder he tried.

His hands were snatched away from his neck and Connor cried out.

 

“No, no, none of that shit, just breath, slower, deep breaths. Just like me, see, if I can do it ya sure as fuck can too.”

 

Deeper, deeper breaths. In and out. Gulping down the air greedily as his lungs finally felt like they were filling with oxygen. In and out. The screaming turned into a drone, a roar that faded out, the pressure lifting from his ears as it disappeared. In and out. The darkness in front of him dissolved into patches, revealing the roof, the sunlight, the sky, the buildings surrounding him like walls. In and out. He was shaking, when had he started shaking? In and Out. He stifled a sob, digging his fingernails into his thumbs, deeper, as deep as he could, concentrating on the pain, swallowing down the urge to let the tears flow freely. In and out. He pushed himself upright, out of the embrace that he had been held in.

 

Connor avoided Hank’s gaze as he stumbled to his shaking feet, pushing of the hands that tried to steady him.

 

“Ya good, kid? You were pretty outta it for a moment.”

 

Connor turned away, clenching his teeth, breathing deeply through his nose. In and out. He could do this. He was alright. He was fine.

 

“Yes. I…yes.”

 

Connor took a few steps forward, towards the door that lead off of this damn roof. Leaning against the doorway, still not able to face Hank, Connor stopped for a moment, closing his eyes, taking another breath. In and out.

 

“Thank you. For pulling me up.”

 

And he was walking down the stairs without another word, without a pause, without a look back, gripping the railing hard with shaking hands.

Chapter Text

Connor unlocked the door to his apartment and stepped inside, not turning the lights on. It was dim, the sun outside already setting, only a few stray rays making it through the windows. He could barely see, only silhouettes of furniture, only his fish tank, lightly illuminated by fake moonlight.

Taking off his jacket and hanging it neatly on one of the few hooks on the wall, Connor went through the usual, practised motions of coming home.

He took off his shoes, placed them side by side, next to the door, went to his bedroom and changed into a thin t-shirt and loose, cotton pants, remaining barefoot on the cold tiles. Next, he checked his fish tank, checked the automatic feeder, filled it if it looked too empty before he sat on his couch and just watched his fish.

 

He wasn’t often here, in this empty, cold apartment. Connor actually tried his best to stay at the precinct as often as he could.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like his home...his flat, it wasn’t a home, it had never become that. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about his fish, because he did, he cared very much, too much, enough to make him hate himself, deep down in the place he let nobody else see.

And that was the reason he didn’t like being here for longer than a quick nap and a change of clothes. He was alone here, completely alone. He had no neighbour, nobody had moved into the flat next to his in months. There was nobody, only he and his thoughts. No distractions, no judging faces, waiting for him to slip up, making him shut himself off even further. Nothing that stopped those distracting thoughts, nothing that stopped him from letting his facade crack and slip.

 

But for once, Connor didn’t mind being here. Not today. Not after...all that had happened. First, there was the fact that he had failed, failed again, let suspects go multiple times, harmed the progress they were making in the investigation. He didn’t allow himself to fail. He didn’t even have a way to punish himself for it, because he never let himself fail before. He was lost on what to do.

But he could have handled that, could have been the same Connor he has been every day, for the past few years, wouldn’t have had a reason to fear that he would crack up, let something slip.

 

But then that happened. The fall. Connor felt sick again, his body sagging back against the couch, suddenly feeling weak and shaky. He could still feel himself dangling over the edge, the ground so far away, but about to come so close in just seconds, if he just let go, if he just couldn’t hold himself any longer.

 

It was all too much, more then even he could handle. Especially now, that the day he hated and feared the most was coming closer and closer, only weeks, barely weeks.

 

He couldn’t go back to the precinct like that. Amanda would see. Amanda would be disappointed again. Amanda would tell him to pull himself together, the same way she did whenever he had slipped over the past few years. She would tell him that she could find a better person to take his place at any time. She would threaten to take his work away from him, declare him too unstable to continue. She always did.

She wanted results. She wanted solved cases. And she knew that this job was everything Connor had left, the only thing that truly kept him here. So, of course, she would threaten him with it. Connor understood, he did. Even that voice in the back of his head, that had thought that it wasn’t right, that it wasn’t how things should be, that maybe she didn’t care for him as much as he hoped, had disappeared.

Amanda was the only thing close to a parent Connor still had. She had taken him under her wing, after...after...after that day. Pushed him to work. Pushed him to become better.

 

She had done the right thing, Connor knew. If she hadn’t, where would he be now? Giving in to his urges to make the pain stop, to forget?

 

Connor sighed and stood up.

 

Even with the way Amanda had helped him steel himself, helped him become stronger, he sometimes still slipped up. Sometimes it was too much, sometimes the thoughts wouldn’t leave him alone. Sometimes he still heard the scream..the shot..the...

Connor shook his head, swallowing hard. The one downside to being strong, like Amanda had taught him, to having everything locked away, to having no distractions that ruined his work, was that once he slipped, he was lost. He had no guideline on how to deal with it. And he couldn’t ask Amanda, she had been so disappointed in him the first time he had broken down.

 

Connor made his way to the bathroom, opening one of the drawers, moving things he rarely used to the side, things he only had to cover up what he really kept in there.

The small, cardboard box rattled gently as he picked it up.

 

He had found a way to deal with those moments, those slips. He rarely used it, but he also rarely lost control like that. Connor was glad he wasn’t as weak as he could have become. He was glad he only rarely needed this escape.

This way he wouldn’t get caught. This way nobody would notice.

 

Connor opened the box of pills, sitting down heavily on the small footrest that stood at one wall.  He only rarely did this, only when he had no other way to push everything away and out of his head. He had gotten a prescription for Valium, back when the nightmares had started, back before he forced himself through them without outside help, just like Amanda wanted, back before he started sleeping less and less. He still got prescriptions for it to this day, not a lot, but enough for this…’emergencies’.

He didn’t need it often, could take as many as he wanted without his doctor noticing, just wait for his next refill, put it away into the drawer, hide them under new razors, washcloths, cotton swabs. Nobody would know how many he took, nobody would know why, as long as he didn’t ask for extra refills, as long as he kept up appearance.

 

Connor pulled one of the sheets out of the box, popping all 10 pills out into his palm. The downside of having them prescribed for only light insomnia, as he had told the doctor, was that he got the lowest dosage. Been told to take one or two when he needed them. But nobody could stop him from taking more. One sheet was usually enough for a bad day. Enough to make him forget for a few moments, make him feel better than he had in years.

Connor looked at the box in his other hand. This wasn’t just a bad day though. This wasn’t the way it usually was.

His hands still shook from the encounter on the roof.

 

Pulling out a second sheet, he popped another 5 into his palm. This should do. And if it didn’t, he still had more.

 

------

 

Hank couldn’t believe it. Connor was not at his desk.

 

Hank had shuffled in late, parked himself and Sumo behind the empty desk next to Connor’s, only to realize that the other man wasn’t there. Hank breathed out sharply through clenched teeth.

He would have been angry, really fucking pissed at having to wait for his partner, having to wait after dragging his ass here, where he didn’t want to be, to wait for something he didn’t want to do.

But not after what happened the day before. Not after seeing the poor kid completely lose it, screaming, trashing, crying . Hank might have stopped caring for others, but seeing that managed to shake even him. He sure as fuck knew that Connor hadn’t been alright when he had left. And he also knew that the reason, he wasn’t already working without a pause, had definitely something to do with that breakdown of his.

 

Hank didn’t want to care. He really didn’t. He had stopped years ago and sworn never to change that. It was always too much effort, too much hurt, so little reward.

 

Growling to himself, Hank stood up, only minutes after sitting down. No way in hell was he able to just sit here and do nothing. He had to check up on the kid, even if it was for his own peace of mind.

He wasn’t caring. He was just making sure he could get this damn job done as fast as he could. How was he supposed to finish it, if his partner was off somewhere, doing whatever the hell he was doing?

 

Calling for Sumo to follow him, Hank turned towards the door and almost ran straight into Amanda. Her mouth was curved into a smile, but there was neither humour nor warmth in it, her hand was holding a case file, a fresh one, still on paper instead of already having been digitalized.

 

“HK800,” Hank grimaced internally. She definitely didn’t like him. But that feeling was mutual. “You are on your way to Connor’s apartment?”

 

Well, shit. Seems like she had already noticed Connor’s absence. Hank sighed, nodding.

 

“Good. Take this to him,” her tone made clear that it was a command, not a request. Hank disliked her even more, glaring at her as she handed him the file, walking past him back to her office. “And do tell him to pull himself together and that I might overlook this one time if he does.”

Yes, alright. Hank was now completely sure that he disliked every part of this woman.

 

Walking outside, Sumo happily panting beside him, Hank fumbled through his head to look up Connor’s address.

Hu. Not a bad neighbourhood.

Of course not, why would the youngest Lieutenant in Detroit go for anything less than comfortable and quiet. Hank sighed. He would stick out like a sore thumb, maybe even get kicked out before he can even reach Connor's flat.

 

But somehow, Hank managed to actually be lucky for once.

The block was quiet, the road almost empty.  Hank told Sumo to wait in front of the house, out of sight, pretty sure that he would have more trouble sneaking into the place with a giant, excited dog, than alone.

The front door was locked, Hank hadn’t expected anything else. But the backdoor, the fire door, was slightly open, a doorstop keeping it from falling shut. Probably used by residents to smoke without having to walk far, if the number of cigarette stubs was anything to go by. Real cigaretts had been banned from apartment complexes a while ago, after all.

 

Sneaking up a few flights of stairs, Hank had no trouble locating Connor’s apartment door at the far end of the hallway on the fifth floor. It was closed, no doorstopper here. But there was always another way in.

 

Hank knew how to pick locks. It had come in handy more than once, even before he had to sleep out on the streets, and it came in handy now again. Pushing the door open, Hank entered the dimly lit apartment, his eyes scanning through it to find it...rather empty. Sad even. Barely any furniture, all of it looking almost unused. No colours, only greys. No rugs, no blankets or pillows, no sense of comfort. The entire place looked like out of a catalogue, unused and clean, but it lacked the warmth and homely feeling that catalogue pictures usually had.

The only thing in the entire room that made the place look at least partially alive was a carefully decorated, lit aquarium with a handful of colourful fish lazily swimming their rounds inside.

Hank felt incredibly uncomfortable. This place was downright depressing, and Connor lived like this? No wonder he seemed to almost exclusively exist behind his desk, seeming to never leave for his home. Nobody in their right mind would like to spend time in this cold and empty place.

 

Hank entered and closed the door, startling at a soft sound that came from a corner. There, in the shadows, hidden from Hank’s initial sweep over the contents of the room, was a figure, slumped against the wall, almost doubled over, limp.

Hank felt his pump stop for a moment, his Thirium freeze in his veins. Connor. Limp, slumped, seemingly unresponsive, just sitting there in the shadows, quiet, unmoving.

 

Hank had rushed over to him before he could think, lifting the others head carefully, opening half closed eyes, feeling for a pulse at the neck. Barely conscious. Barely conscious but alive .

 

“God fuckin’ damn it, do ya really wanna test if I can get a fuckin’ heart attack?!”

 

“Mhh…”

 

Connor made a guttural sound, his head lolled back, hitting the wall with a thumb that made Hank grimace, but Connor not even flinch. The laters eyes were open, barely, only slits, sluggishly trying to focus on Hank.

 

“What…?”

Hank growled as he ran a scan over Connor’s body. He may not be a medic android, but he had seen enough drugged up humans to know what was going on. Grabbing Connor’s hand, Hank wrangled a package out of his weak grip, growling even louder. Great, Detroit’s youngest Lieutenant was sitting in the corner of his apartment, high as all fucking hell.

 

“Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me right now?!”

 

Connor moved away from Hank’s shouted, slumping farther to the side, leaving heavier against on of the walls meeting in the corner.

 

“Mhh...you’re face gess...get’s...red when you’re yellin’...”

 

The words were light and slow, smiling and dragging themselves clumsily out of Connor’s mouth. Hank couldn’t believe it.

 

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, the fuck’s yer problem?!”

 

Connor flinched back slightly, only slumping farther as his hands moved pointlessly in front of his face, trying and failing to cover his ears.

 

“We have a case ya god damn, fuckin’ idiot, ‘n yer high as balls on fuckin’ Valium...Jesus, how many did ya even take?”

 

Connor’s mouth melted into an open, dumb smile.

 

“Sooo….so many…’nough to float..”

 

Alright, fuck it, Hank wasn’t dealing with this. He was out, he was so, completely and utterly out. He was here to help solve some cases, not babysit an asshole who decided to binge eat through his medicine cabinet in his free time.

Hank got up with a huff. He was going back to the precinct, telling that Amanda that her star of an officer was barely conscious in his living room, and then fucking off. Fuck Fowler. Fuck Cyberlife. He had known it was a bad idea to get involved with this kid, especially after that stunt on the roof. Hank had his own share of problems, enough to last two lifetimes, he couldn’t deal with somebody else’s too.

 

“Well, fuck this, I’m out. I’m tellin’ yer boss that you’re high off yer ass and then I’m leavin’.”

 

A pitiful whimper made him stop in his tracks before he had even managed to take a step, making the entire atmosphere of the room suddenly shift drastically

 

“No...no,no, please, don’t..Amanda..don’t tell Amanda..!”

 

Hank watched, frozen on the spot as Connor somehow managed to struggle onto his feet, swaying as he leaned heavily against the wall. Hank barely managed to catch him as he fell forward, snapping the first one out of his petrified state.

 

“Jesus, kid, calm down..”

 

“No, no, she can’t know...I gotta be better...but can’t...have to..”

 

Connor pushed himself off of Hank, trying to stand, only to fall back in the other man’s arms, legs slipping on the tiled floor.

 

“I need a break...I keep pushin’ it away...I keep...I just need a break when...it’s so much...don’t...I can’t fail, please!”

 

Hank barely understood a word. It was all a jumbled mess, desperate words slurred out, strained, fast, panicked. But Hank wasn’t an idiot, he understood enough to know that something definitely wasn’t right, that something between Conor and his boss was definitely not normal. Connor sagged further against Hank, mumbling nonsensical please, hinting at something that wasn’t right, something that shouldn’t be the way it was.

But why should he care? It wasn’t his problem. It wasn’t…

 

“Mh..I don’t...feel so good..”

 

“No shit,” Hank curled his lip. “What did ya expect!? Yer not gettin’ any sympathy from me.”

 

Connor sagged like a dead weight, his voice quiet and soft.

 

“I..dad...dad..I feel...I don’t feel good..”

 

Hank choked on a wave of sudden shock, almost dropping Connor who had now gone completely lax in his hold. Hank hadn’t heard that word in a very long time, he hadn’t ever expected to hear it again. Even though it wasn’t directed at him, he still couldn’t help but recoil. Even though it made him feel like hot lead was being poured into his chest, he still couldn’t help but suddenly wonder, if it would really be so bad to care again, just a little.

 

“Alright, alright, take it easy kid. Let’s get ya to the fuckin’ bathroom.”

 

It would have been funny to witness form the outside, Hank dragging Connor’s smaller, lankier form like a sack of potatoes, steering the younger man towards the small hallway, checking the three doors there, one after the other.

First was the kitchen, no door, just an open doorway. Second was the bedroom, and Hank didn’t even bother closing the door as Connor moaned and swallowed hard, dragging him towards the third door as fast as possible, instead.

 

Hank almost lost his grip on Connor, as the later suddenly retched and doubled over, his entire body seizing up as Connor threw up in the vague direction of the toilet, actually hitting his target through sheer luck.

Connor drew in a sharp gasp of air as Hank lowered him down, so he could kneel on the floor before he got sick again, his body lurching forward with how violent, what little there was in his stomach, left him.

The next gasp was more of a sob than an intake of air, Connor retching drily as there was simply nothing more to throw up. He still felt sick and dizzy, barely able to catch his breath as his body tried to get rid of the drug in him, unaware that it had long become impossible for it to do it this way.

Hank wrinkled his nose but stayed where he was, holding onto Connor’s shoulder to keep the man from diving headfirst into the toilet and possibly drowning, rubbing small circles with his thumbs, trough the fabric of Connor’s black shirt.

 

“Jesus kid..”

 

Connor retched again, sobbing now uncontrollably. It was too much. Everything was too much. The pills gave him a break, a short break, but one with a price. Connor always forgott how miserable he felt afterwards, always pretended it would be worth it. Always ignored how much more everything hurt, how much worse the thoughts became, how reality seemed to distort before his sedated mind, how everything became a longing or a threat.

He sobbed again, gasping for air, a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead, making strands of his hair stick to his skin.

 

“I have to...I have to go to work..”

 

He had to, Hank was here, Amanda definitely had sent him. Amanda would be disappointed. Amanda would fire him. Amanda would make sure he had no reason to be here anymore, make sure that he was gone now that he had failed her one too many times, now that he had become obsolete.

 

“Shit, calm down, nobody is...firing ya, Jesus..Why would that bitch even..? The fuck is this about?”

 

Connor didn’t know if he had spoken aloud, if Hank had suddenly gained the ability to read minds or if he had imagined both his thoughts and Hank’s. But he didn’t care. He had to get up. He had to work. He had to be useful. He had to get back to cases that occupied his mind, he had to find the only distraction that always worked, now that this on had worn off.

Pushing himself away from the toilet, Connor struggled to stand again, fully aware that he was still sobbing like a hysteric infant.

 

“And where do you think yer going? I told ya, nobody is firin’ ya, sit the fuck down, you can barely lie on the floor right now, without falling over!”

 

Connor snorted through a sob, tried to correct Hank, tried to tell him that it was impossible to fall while lying flat on the ground, but his words caught in each other, turned into a garbled mess that didn’t even manage to leave his mouth, which only sucked in more air in between sobs, noisy and messy.

Connor sagged back down in a heap, struggling to control the sobs, the laughs mixing with them. He felt everything at once, too much, way too much. And he couldn’t push it away, he couldn’t lock it up in the back of his head anymore. It was out, out for now, and he was powerless to stop it.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I tried to be strong, please… I’m so sorry..!”

 

Never would Hank have expected to cradle his prick of a partner, but Connor left him not other choices as he had practically fallen onto Hank’s lap, boneless and shaking, clinging to Hank’s shirt for dear life, crying, laughing, screaming at once.

 

“Ok, fuck, that’s that….Just take it easy..”

 

“No, no I can’t, I can’t, I can’t!”

 

“Yes ya fuckin’ can, I’ve seen ya do harder shit in the few days we’ve worked together.”

 

“I tried to push it down, but I..I couldn’t..I’m sorry, I can’t...I can’t!”

 

Hank felt something tug in his chest like it hadn’t in many years, something that made him pull the sobbing pile of human closer to his chest, made him make soft shushing noises, rub the other’s upper arm, trail shapes on his back.

 

“Just let it out, no fuckin’ need to push that shit down, trust me on that.”

 

“No, no, no, no, no, I have to..Amanda...I have to be strong, I have to..I can’t fail...I have nothing else..I can't get fired...But I can’t, not now!...Dad, I’m so sorry..I can’t ruin this, I have to..I need to..I need..I...I need ..!”

 

Hank let Connor tire himself out, just sitting there, holding the younger man, listening to rambling that made no sense in some, and to much sense in other places.

 

What was the Hank supposed to do now? Connor was in no state to work.  He couldn’t tell Amanda, because whatever was going on between the two of them, Hank had heard enough to know that she would do far more harm than good. So what could he do?

Hank sighed. Only one more option.

 

“Alright, ya know what? Fuck the case. ‘n fuck Amanda,” Hank spat, ignored the way Connor’s breath stuttered worse at his words. “I’m draggin’ yer ass to bed, ‘n tomorrow, once yer not fallin’ apart, we’re gonna check that shit out. There are other fuckin’ cops in this city, they can take over for now. ‘n after that yer gonna take a fuckin’ break, ‘n eat some actual fuckin’ food, ‘n relax for once in yer fuckin’ life. Got that?!”

 

Connor fought against Hank’s embrace, weaker than before.

 

“No..”

 

“Yes. Now up ya get.”

 

It was a struggle to get to the bedroom, and even more of a struggle to put the almost unresponsive Connor on the bed, fully, and cover him at least partially with a blanket.



“No..please don’t leave me again...please...dad please…”

 

Hank hated himself. He should run, leave and not return. Not care as he had sworn to.

But instead, he found himself sliding onto the floor, next to the bed, holding a cold, shaking hand as bleary, glazed, half-lidded eyes watched him.

 

“Not goin’ anywhere, son. Just sleep.”

 

Hank couldn’t believe that this was the one time Connor actually listened to what he said.

 

Hank shifted his position, not letting go of Connor’s hand, listening to the other’s breathing slowly evening out. Connor’s eyes flickered under his lids, but Hank’s gaze had long shifted to the bedside table, fixed on a picture of a Connor, whose face wore a real, genuine smile, next to an older man, who Hank knew without a doubt, was no longer under the living.

Chapter Text

Connor woke up with a groan and a head that felt as it had been filled with cotton. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, and his brain felt like it was swimming, bobbing up and down in his head.

He stays unmoving for a few moments, trying to recall his latest memories.

 

The roof.

Coming home.

The pills.

Hank.

 

Connor sat up straight with the speed of a bullet, a wave of dizziness and nausea immediately swimming over him, but not managing to push him back down.

He remembered Hank coming to his apartment. He didn't remember much else, but he knew why his partner had been here. Connor had gone home immediately, not reported back to Amanda, not pushed himself through the hours of overtime like he always did, trying to make up for his failures, for his slip-ups, for his general, looming disadvantage, like Amanda always called it.

 

But he just hadn't been able to go back to work after almost falling, almost falling again, deep, deep down.

Amanda surely had noticed. Amanda had surely been disappointed. She had sent Hank, and now...now Connor was still here. Not working. Not on a case. Still at home, even though the next morning's sun was already shining weakly through his window.

 

He had missed an entire day of work.

 

Connor jumped out of bed on shaking legs, cursing the fear that was turning his insides to a frozen, quivering pulp. He ignored the exhaustion that clung to every bit of his being, the drowsiness, the numbness still lingering in his entire body. Getting up, rushing towards his closet he frantically pulled out fresh clothes.

 

He couldn't waste another minute.

Amanda would be angry.

Amanda was already angry

She would fire him and he would be lost.

She would turn away from him, no longer guide him through the pain of every day and he would break.

 

Running out of his room, Connor stumbled over the corner of the hallway rug, falling flat onto the floor, tangled in a jacket he was trying to pull on with uncooperative arms. He was a mess. This entire day was a mess. He was falling apart faster and faster and everything he did just made it worse.

Connor screamed in frustration as he pushed himself up on weak legs, his body shivering.

 

“The hell ya doin’ over there!?”

 

Connor almost got sick all over his floor from sheer panic. No. No, no, no! He wasn't alone. Hank was still here. Why was Hank still here!? Was he watching, waiting for Connor to show weakness again, to report back to Amanda about Connor's failures?

Connor pushed himself off of the ground, trying to piece his calm facade back together, frantically glueing the pieces back in place, trying to ignore how broken it already was, how most had started to crumble to dust.

 

“What are you doing in my apartment?”

 

Hank frowned as he shuffled around the corner.

 

“The fuck kinda greetin’ is that?”

 

“The kind you give to sudden intruders.”

 

Hank grumbled under his breath, running a hand over his face.

 

“Your fuckin’ boss sent me. Got a new case 'n ya weren't at yer desk.”

 

Connor couldn't suppress the sudden, icy pull at his stomach, this time. He stumbled into the bathroom, gagging into the sink, only bringing up bile. He hadn't eaten in the past few days, only had some coffee. Somehow that made him just more nauseous than he already was, suppressed hunger, mixing with panic and withdrawal.

 

A sudden warm pressure on his back made Connor choke in surprise.

Pushing himself upright, Connor brushed the hand off, fast and harsh.

 

“Relax, I'm not gonna fuckin’ hurt ya.”

 

Connor eyed Hank wearily. This android, this machine, this pile of plastic and wires, was gentle in a way only Connor's brother still, sometimes was. Years ago, Connor knew this kind of warmth, care, but that was long ago, pushed away like all memories from that time, pushed away because it didn't matter anymore.

 

“Just leave.”

 

Hank grunted.

 

“Can't. We got a case, didn't ya listen or did ya puke that memory out just now?”

 

Connor sighed.

 

“Yes. I know. Get out and let me get fully dressed so we can leave immediately.”

 

Connor tried to push past Hank, into the hallway, but the other man stopped him.

 

“Woah, woah, hold up there ya moron. Ya can't just walk out there like that,” Connor tried to shrug Hank off but got stopped again. “ Eat some actual fuckin’ food, drink some fuckin’ water 'n if ya stop lookin’ like yer about to keel over we can go.”

 

Connor growled. He was starting to really hate this particular Android.

 

“Get out of my way.”

 

“I'm not lettin’ ya go out there after overdosin’ on some shit, pukin’ yer guts out, breakin’ down on me, 'n not even havin’ any fuckin’ food in the house. When was the last time ya ate something else, 'part from those cardboard-energybar shit?! Yer gonna die like that, ya stupid fleshsack.”

 

That hit the wrong spot.

Connor snarled, pushing Hank against the bathroom wall, by the lapels of his jacket.

 

“What I do is no concern of yours!”

 

Hank scowled but didn’t move.

 

“I’m just tryin’ to look out for ya, kid. Don’t need ya collapsin’ just ‘caus ya can’t get your shit together.”

 

Sore spot. Very sore spot. Gruff, but genuine worry. Offered help and care.

Connor no longer deserved that. He once had been cared for, but he had failed, he had failed and now it was too late. It was over. Connor knew that, knew that he had to push through it without feeling anything, alone apart from Amanda’s guide. Knew that accepting somebody who cared for you was a trap. A trap that made you fail. A trap that would only end in misery.

 

“I don’t need your fucking help,” Connor’s voice was calm, cold. He rarely swore, but he knew how to do it properly, how to make the word burn like ice. “I have already failed more than enough times because of your incompetence, because of your unprofessional attitude, because of your broken software. I won’t fail again because you are standing in my way.”

 

Somehow, strangely, it hurt to see Hank’s face harden at those words, to see him push Connor away, walk out of the room without another look.

 

“Well, fuck, fine then. Get dressed. I’m waitin’ outside. Won’t be ‘standin’ in yer fuckin’ way’ anymore, don’t worry ‘bout that,” he stopped for a moment, standing almost lost in the middle of the small living room,” I’ve got my own shit to deal with, dunno why I even offered to help. Guess I saw more in ya than just a stuck up prick. Definitely won’t do that shit ‘gain though.”

 

The door opened, closed, and Connor was suddenly far too alone in this flat, the one that had been always empty of others until this day.

 

------

 

The drive to the Eden Club - the location listed in the file, together with what little else has already been recorded about this fresh case - is silent. Not comfortable, not the kind of silence you usually get on a long drive, after everything had been said that could have been said. Not, this one is unpleasant. Connor is sitting, stiff and unmoving in his seat. Hank is quietly fuming, arms crossed. Even Sumo is more timid than usual, lying on the backseat, sad, droopy eyes fixed on the two men in front of him.

 

The club wasn’t too far away from Connor’s apartment, and even though Connor managed to sleep until driving in the Rush Hour had become unavoidable, they still made good time and arrived after only half an hour.

Hank is out of the car before Connor can even move, stomping away. Connor follows, leaving Sumo on the backseat.

 

There is an officer in front of the club. Just one, just in case. Inside is full with customers, man and woman, looking hungrily at the displayed androids, renting them, most pushing them along with haste, without even a greeting, as if they were just moving sex toys. Connor shakes his head. Aren’t they? They are not alive, not sentient only existing for the purpose they have been built for.

His eyes slide over to Hank, who is still frowning, hands on his hips in an almost childish gesture of annoyance. Something strange twists inside Connor. Hank, just a machine, not alive, not sentient, nothing more than his programming, corrupted by errors that make him think he feels, seems so much more alive than Connor knows he does himself. Hank grumbles something under his breath as he catches Connor’s eye. Connor doesn’t. Connor only keeps looking around, face set in stone.

He didn’t know what to think of androids.

 

“Fucking finally!”

 

Connor knows that voice and groans. Gavin, the GV200, the broken police android who barely managed to pretend to be in working order, not a deviant. Connor, back before he no longer spoke with his brother, had been the one to partner the two together. Inofficially

at least. He had thought the androids brash personality might help his brother, Niles who had always been almost mute, Niles, who always had been a brilliant mind, but had trouble communicating. And he had, even now Connor saw the improvement, even though he tried to stay far away from both of them. No need to get close to somebody, no need to risk anything, no need to risk a repeat of what had happened.

 

Connor sighed.

 

“Gavin.”

 

Gavin looked pissed, as always.

 

“We’ve been here all fuckin’ night waiting for you and this waste of plastimetal to show up!” Hank flips Gavin off without a second look, but Gavin ignores him. “What!? Suddenly not workin’ 24/7 like the good boy that you are!? Suddenly got other things to do!? Other things ‘part of being a fucking dick!?”

 

Connor just walked past him. It was always easier to ignore the android and just get to the point. Faster too. There never was a point in arguing with him, once he started, he wouldn’t stop until he ran out of energy.

 

“Don’t just walk away you fucking dipshit!”

 

Connor ignored the stares he got from the customers, half of them afraid to get into trouble, half of them morbidly curious, having heard about what had happened, watching everything the police did, rubbernecking without shame

 

“Oh...Connor...It’s good to...see you.” Connor couldn’t push down all the pride he felt. His younger twin, almost mute but determined to learn to talk, to learn to push through his boundaries, just to work alongside his brother. Together with him and...no. No time for family sentimentality. Connor pushed everything away. This was Niles, his subordinate, nothing more, nothing less.

 

“Detective.”

 

It still hurts to see Niles’ face fall. It always does. But Connor worked too hard on creating this distance between them, he wouldn’t ruin his work.

 

“The...body...has already been taken...to the morgue,” Niles said, walking towards the one door that was blocked off by crime scene tape. “The...well...let me tell you..what we have so far.”

 

Connor follows without a word, entering after Niles. The room is filled with the smell of sex, sweaty and hot. Connor doesn’t wrinkle his nose, but internally he starts to feel nauseous again.

 

“The victim...Michael Graham…was found by the manager of this..establishment. He had been..strangled to death and found...by the next customer who wanted to use this...room.”

 

Connor looks around, through the swirling lights, at the bed that still had a faint, sweaty imprint of the victim's body. To the floor, where an unmoving android was still laying.

Connor swallowed hard. He was still foggy minded, exhausted. He hadn’t noticed the female android, almost naked, black underwear pulled on hastily, as if in a hurry. Connor choked on a breath,  looking past the desolated, scared but empty look on the dead android’s face, past the blood running from her nose and mouth.

He wasn’t able to face this now, he wasn’t able to deal with all of this the way he was supposed to, without flinching, without feeling. He needed a clear head, but his was filled with something thick and sticky, dizzy and detached. He was exhausted, he was running on even less than he usually did.

 

“The android..he had rented...has been damaged by...Connor?”

 

Connor swayed on his feet, grinding his teeth against the wave of exhaustion and nausea.

 

“Connor...maybe you should go home.”

 

The adrenaline that surged through Connor at that, was enough of a kick for him to pull himself together.

 

“No.”

 

“Con..”

 

“I said no, Detective Dechart. “

 

But Niles stood his ground. Gavin really had been a good influence on him in that part.

 

“Connor...you look like death warmed over...let us take over for now...go home and rest...Amanda ca-..”

 

Connor was almost willing to give in until he heard her name. Until he remembered fully what was at stake.

 

“The captain won’t excuse anymore slacking on my part, you know that as well as I.”

 

“But it’s not...right..”

 

“It is how it has to be.”

 

“Connor, please...just..”

 

Connor opened the door, that had closed automatically behind them.

 

“I and my partner are taking over from here, please return back to the station, Detective.”

 

Niles opened his mouth, but closed it again without another word, walking past Connor with an air of defeat, Hank entering the moment he was gone.

 

“Damn, harsh. Yer gonna be pissy to everybody today?”

 

Connor ignored him.

 

“The victim had been strangled by the android,” Connor said, kneeling next to the Android and inspecting her face. The was a clear bruise on the otherwise perfect skin, right on the temple. “She had been killed trough blunt trauma to the head.”

 

“Ah, Jesus..”

 

Connor got up again, circling the room.

 

“He hit her...she strangled him, and then she died,” it didn’t sound right, but Connor just couldn’t think properly.

 

Hank didn’t even try to hold back his barking laugh.

 

“So you’re saying me, he hit her so hard that her processor broke enough to force her to shut down, ‘n she still had time to strangle him ‘n get dressed before she actually died? Fuck’s sake, Connor..”

 

“She got dressed?” Connor squinted at the motionless body, trying frantically to make his brain work, to keep it from feeling like melting sludge.

 

“Uh, dunno how ya fuck, but I’m pretty sure most people ‘t least take off their pants. ‘n she’s wearin’ the shitty uniform, if ya can even call it that, not pulled up fully like she had no time. Damn, how did ya become a Lieutenant?”

 

Hank knew that Connor wasn’t stupid, he knew that the other was just running on willpower alone by now, but he wanted to hurt the other, wanted his words to sting. Fucking bastard, first made Hank start to actually care again just to push him away immediately, blame the way the last few cases had gone on him. Hank curled his lip with a huff.

 

“Yes..that seems like a not very likely scenario,” Connor swallowed, sick from hunger, from the Valium that was still in his body, from how beaten and scared this android, this girl, managed to look like, even in death.

Taking a deep breath, Connor pinched the bridge of his nose, and Hank felt himself grow soft again.

 

“Dunno if how much sense it makes, but I’ve got ‘n idea,” he said nonchalantly, sitting down heavily on the round bed that filled most of the room. “Maybe this poor girl here wasn’t alone.”

 

And then it finally clicked in Connor’s brain.

 

“He had rented two…” Connor’s eyes were wide, but unseeing. “He had rented two, and as he struck one, the other attacked him..The first one died from the hit, she probably tried to get away, was already dressing herself when he hit her. The second one strangled him to death and...and..”

 

Connor turned sharply towards the door.

 

“It has been hours, but she could still be here. If she is wearing the same uniform, if she is trying not to get noticed...she wouldn’t flee until she found some kind of disguise or until this building and area were empty enough to escape unseen.”

 

Hank hummed in agreement as he followed Connor out of the room and into the main hall.

 

“Maybe somebody saw her, maybe we can..”

 

“Can’t see any cameras, ‘n as far as I know the memory of the androids here gets erased every couple’f hours.”

 

That wasn’t good. No cameras, no other witnesses. But maybe there still was a chance.

 

“The owner of this club, we need to talk to him.”

 

Connor barely felt the exhaustion anymore, he finally had a lead. He could succeed. He could show Amanda that he was still worth keeping, that he wasn’t useless.

Connor practically ran towards the back of the club, towards the are that wasn’t accessible to guests. One of the doors read “Office - F. Mills” in plain writing, on a plain plastic card.

Connor entered without knocking.

 

“Mr Mills.”

 

“What the fuck?”

 

The greasy man in the small, cramped room tried to rise from his desk but fell back into his chair the moment Connor flashed him his badge, anger replaced bit a fake, humble smile.

 

“Oh, Officer..I thought you were already done with me..”

 

“You have backups of your androids memories, where are they?”

 

Hank, finally having caught up with Connor, would have laughed at the man’s face, if he hadn’t been so disgusted by him. A small, greasy, twitchy man, the kind you expected to be the owner of a place that rented basically people to whoever paid, not giving a single shit about how they were treated, putting them into glass cages whenever they weren’t needed.

 

“How do you..I don’t..It..uh...The memory gets erased, it’s for our customers. They value the privacy we provide, a-..”

 

“Please stop this undoubtedly well-practiced speech. You wouldn’t be able to run this place as successfully as you do, without customer data, and you can’t obtain it without retaining the information your android's poses.”

 

The man shrank visibly under Connor’s calm but unyielding gaze.

 

“Alright, alright, yes we...we keep a backup of the last week, but we delete it afterwards, so it isn’t as if I lied. The memory gets erased fully, just not...as immediately as it seems…”

 

Hank shook his head as Connor advanced on the cowering man.

 

“Show me the backups of all the androids you own. Now.”

 

The pad and wireless hard drive were pulled out of a locked drawer and into Connor’s waiting hand before Hank had time to fully stew on the fact that the androids here lost their memory, over and over, while still, bastard kept it as long as he wanted to.

 

“Thank you for your cooperation.”

 

Hank followed Connor back towards the main hall with a sigh and a shrug. There was nothing he could do about this, and it wasn’t part of his job anyway. Why bother sulking over it?

 

Connor was already frantically tapping and swiping on the clear surface of the pad, eyes glued to the screen until he froze mid-step.

 

“I found the dead android.”

 

Looking over Connor’s shoulder, Hank watched him scroll through multiple video files, opening the most recent one. He skips forwards, up until almost the very end.

There was the victim, dressed and standing in the main hall. Hank recognized him from the picture in the file

He rented her. She followed him, the video capturing how she crosses the main hall, walking through a mass of humans and androids. They enter a room. Somebody enters behind her. She walks over to the bed, turns.

 

“The other android isn’t another female android.”

 

It’s a male, looking nothing like the other ones that were displayed in the building. Red hair, slim face and body. A completely different model.

The man gets undressed. The androids too. They crawl towards him, onto the bed, stroking their hands over his body, squeezing, pulling, grabbing. Hank coughs awkwardly, watching as the androids whisper dirty words to the man, let him touch them back. He goes for the female, the one that died, and Hank knows this is it.

He grabs her hard by the neck, and the video distorts, fragments dancing over the display. Then suddenly, she jerks back and away from the human and the video cuts out, going black.

 

Connor’s voice is shaky as he speaks.

 

“What happened..?”

 

“She deviated,” Hank felt something cold knot in his stomach. “Traumatic events do that to ya..all trackin’ ‘n backup software ‘n whatever else people connect to their ‘droids, immediately cuts off once that happens. Just stops workin’.”

 

Connor stared at the black screen without a word.

 

“What now? We know who the other android was, but we don’t know where he went:”

 

Hank was less and less sure if he wanted to find the other android. He knew how it felt to be afraid to die, to fight tooth and claw to survive, no matter what, to fight to protect somebody else. That android had only tried to protect the girl, he had only tried to protect himself, he had been scared .

Hank had seen enough androids just trying to survive, he had found them for Cyberlife. But he hadn’t known anything about those ones, not even their names.

Actually seeing what had happened to this one was different. Hank couldn’t just pretend that it didn’t matter this time, couldn’t look away.

 

“He’s probably long gone anyway, let’s go back to the precinct, we know how he looks now.”

 

Connor was still glued to the screen.

 

“Come on, nothin’ we can do here.”

 

“Somebody else has seen him. Another android must have seen where he had gone.”

 

Connor’s voice was quiet but steady as he closed the video, went back to scroll through the seemingly endless amount of other videos. He opened them at seemingly random, but Hank soon found a method behind it as he followed Connor from Android showcase to the next. Connor searched from room to room, looking through the android's newest memories, until he spotted the red-haired one, saw which room he went to next.

Hank just followed, from room to room, watching memories play out on the small screen until the android they looked for appeared.

 

They went from room to room, each one with more display cases, with dancing poles and discrete doors that led into the private rooms.

Following the traces of the male android, Connor found himself back where customers weren’t allowed to enter, back behind the scenes, this time in a storage room, dimly lit and filled with rows of androids, shelves of biocomponents and items for the customers.

 

“Well...if he’s actually still sticking around, he’s probably hiding somewhere in here..”

 

Connor unholstered his gun, carefully making his way into the room, through the maze of shelves and static androids, while Hank took a different route, creeping along the wall, peering under plastic covers that hid tables and chairs, beds and strange seats.

Connor looked over the rows of androids, but they were all the same two models, all the same ones he had seen in the rest of the building. All apart from one.

There, in the corner, stood an android, covered by an opaque sheet, unmoving, but so out of place.

 

Connor raised his gun, drawing nearer and nearer, careful, quiet steps bringing him closer to the covered form. He stretched out a hand, making sure to keep his gun aimed at the shape in front of him, with his other. With one swift, fast motion, Connor grabbed the top of the sheet and pulled it off with a loud rustle. Red hair framed a scared face for just a moment, but Connor had barely time to register even that.

 

Suddenly, something grabbed him from behind, wrestling him to the ground. He landed hard on the concrete floor, gasping as all the air was pushed out of him through the impact. He felt his gun slip out of his hand, sliding out of reach as he struggled against his attacker.

Hands pressed him down, but Connor fought, more adrenaline giving him enough strength to turn around, grab the other person himself, trying to shove them off.

Connor froze.

 

It was the same, red hair, the same long face, the same scared expression. But the one he had found, the one that had hidden beneath a sheet, wasn’t on top of him. He was still standing there, behind the one on top of Connor, backed into the corner he had hidden in.

 

There were two of them.

 

A strike to his face disoriented him, made Connor’s head hit the floor with a thud. The weight on top of him suddenly disappeared, loud footsteps slapping on the ground.

Connor jumped up, almost falling back again as his vision went completely black for more than a moment, face growing hot, then ice cold, adrenaline not enough to fuel him for long when he was running on nothing else.

Connor panted, struggling forward, staggering towards the shapes of the two androids he could barely see again.

 

Connor stumbled, falling hard, disorientation and panic making him blindly grope for anything, just something that he could use. He couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe, the only thought circling in his head screaming at him that he couldn’t fail again, he couldn’t, he had to succeed, everything depended on it.

 

His fingers met something solid and warm, taking a hold of it, feeling over the surface of something familiar. His gun.

Connor aimed it, vision still fuzzy and dim, and fired.

 

He had rarely fired a gun. Always trying to find a different approach, always using his words, always keeping a cool head, only shooting once there was no other way, aim always precise and well thought through.

But not this time.

This time he fired in a blind panic, not even taking the time to aim.

 

The bullet didn’t hit it’s mark, ricocheting off of the wall and burrowing into a stack of crates.

But the noise, the loud, startling noise, made the two androids stop dead in their tracks, whip around, clutching each other in fear.

Connor didn’t lower his gun, standing up on shaking legs, breathing hard.

 

“Connor!”

 

Hank came sprinting around one of the shelves, dishevelled and out of breath. He had seemingly encountered one of the two androids while they had been separated, a small rivulet of blue blood running down the side of his face.

Hank stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the scene before him.

 

Everything was quiet for a long, piercing moment, each of them waiting for the other to move first, for somebody to attack, to run, to scream.

 

“...Please. Don’t.”

 

One of the androids finally spoke, holding out a protective arm in front of the other.

 

“We just want to go home.”

 

Connor could have shot them, there and then. Could have shot them and succeeded after all his recent failures.

But he didn’t, still aiming his gun, but not moving, just listening.

 

“We...we weren’t made to work here. But we were taken here anyway..” the other said, voice quiet. “We worked here for so long until it just...got to much. We wanted to entertain, we always had, but we never wanted to be..used like this. Hurt and broken, discarded like nothing once the humans were satisfied.”

 

Connor felt his hand shake slightly, his grip on his gun tightening to steady his aim.

 

“We were Jerrys, long ago, but they took even our name. It was all that still connected us to the others, and they took even that..”

 

The android who had spoken first sighed.

 

“We just wanted to go back home, back to our family.”

 

The Jerrys closed their eyes, waiting for the shot.

But it didn’t come.

 

“Go.”

 

Connor’s voice was hoarse and quiet as he lowered his gun, turning around as the two androids gasped, before running away, out of the room, through a door and outside.

Connor swallowed hard, his vision swimming, his ears ringing, his heart hammering in his chest, not only from exhaustion but also from what he had just done.

He had let them go. He had failed, sabotaged himself.

He holstered his gun.

 

“Well...maybe it’s for the best.”

 

Hank said, his heavy footsteps approaching.

 

Connor stayed quiet.

 

“We can always say they overpowered us, ‘caus they sure as fuck did before ya pulled the gun on them.”

 

Connor nodded mutely.

 

“Hey, don’t beat yerself up like that, let’s get ya somethin’ to eat, ya look pale as a fuckin’ ghost. even worse than before.”

 

Connor turned around, to protest, to accept, he didn’t know. His vision went black again, his ears ringing loudly, his entire body feeling as if it was underwater.

 

Hank swore loudly as Connor crumpled to the floor in a dead faint without another word.

 

------

 

“Eat before I shove that shit down yer fuckin’ throat.”

 

Hank wasn’t amused. Not in the slightest. He was incredibly, fucking pissed, that’s what he was.

After Connor had finally keeled over, after he had been running on empty for hours, Hank had dragged him to the car, forced some water, from a bottle in the trunk, down a semi-conscious Connor’s throat to keep him from dying of dehydration, before fighting with the car’s software to bring them to the nearest food truck, dinner, supermarket, honestly anything that had food and was still open.

That place had turned out to be a corner store with a too warm fridge, stocked with dry sandwiches.

 

Hank had dragged Connor out of the car, steering him towards a nearby bench, hoping that fresh air and some food would keep him more or less alive.

 

But Connor was as frustrating as always, staring at the stale bread and dry mayonnaise in his hand, making no move to eat it.

 

“I swear to fuckin’ god if you don’t eat this shit right now!”

 

“It’s strange..”

 

Hank huffed, crossing his arms as he sat down on next to Connor.

 

“The fuck ya mean?”

 

“Of all the places you could have brought me, it’s this one.”

 

Hank turned his head, watching Connor take a bite out of his sandwich without any enthusiasm. He chewed for a while, swallowing with a slight grimace before he continued to stare at the dry bread in his hand.

 

“I’ve used to come here almost every day. Back..before I even went to school.”

 

Connor raised his head, still not meeting Hank’s eyes, looking out, far out onto the river in front of them, at the high buildings on the other side, the bridges visible from where they were sitting.

 

“My...father took me and my brother here, every day when we were still in kindergarten, at least once a week once we started school, up until we felt too old to play on playgrounds.”

 

Hank didn’t know what to say. He knew nothing about Connor, now that he thought about it, only that something had happened, something Connor kept locked away.

Hank cleared his throat.

 

“Your dad you say..Well, uh..ya kinda mentioned him yesterday. Confused me with him.”

 

The sandwich fell to the floor, Connor’s entire body locking up, freezing in position.

 

“I...did?”

 

“Yeah..” Hank scratched the back of his head, “What...uh..was he like? Yer dad I mean.”

 

Connor didn’t move, didn’t breath for more than a moment, before he let his body relax against the benches backrest, still staring out on the water.

 

“He was the best man I have ever known.”

 

There was something fragile to Connor’s voice. It was calm as always, but somehow, it was so much softer, barely covering up raw, painful emotions.

 

“He died three years ago.”

 

Hank sighed. He had suspected as much. And he hated that he had been right about this.

 

“Sorry ‘bout that,” Hank grumbled, “Know it’s just a sayin’ that people throw ‘round like nobody’s business, but losin’ family…’s really a shitshow. Nobody deserves that shit.”

 

Connor only nodded. He had heard those words before, more than he cared too, but it was the first time they were spoken in an understanding way, in a tone that carried the feeling of shared pain.

 

“He died because of my incompetence.”

 

Connor shook his head, lowering it slightly to stare at the ground. It had been so long ago, and even after all this time, all these months and years of pushing it down, pushing it away, he still couldn’t help but feel a dull stab off pain in his chest, no matter how hard he tried to numb himself to it.

 

“We were chasing an android, back when deviants were still rare. It was one of the first times I even heard about an android suddenly claiming to ‘feel’, to ‘want’,” Connor dipped his hand into one of his pockets, pulling out the same coin Hank had seen before, the one that seemingly always accompanied Connor. This time, the coin didn’t dance across Connor’s fingers, he only held it, rotating it slowly as the light reflected off of it.

 

“I had never really...interacted with an android. Back when I was a kid, androids didn’t exist for most of the time, and then they were too expensive, so I knew nobody who owned one. And after that..I just wasn’t interested in them, never got one myself.”

 

Hank scratched his beard, not interrupting the silence that laid over them as Connor struggled to form a sentence. He had never talked about this with anybody else before. He had told Niles what had happened, but only the most important details. That there had been a case. That it had gone wrong.

Amanda had cut him off the one time he had made the mistake and slipped, started telling her. She made him push it down, lock it up. And he had been able to keep that lock in place for almost three years. Almost three years until now, now that his barricades suddenly had broken apart in only a few days, after not even shifting for so long.

 

“We chased the android up on a roof of one of those indoor gardens. One of the ones at the edge of the city. 20 floors high, surrounded by trees and grass,” Connor still remembered it so clearly, even though he had avoided that part of the city since then, “Dad shot at it. It was just a malfunctioning machine, one deemed dangerous at that. So he shot it in the leg. It had stumbled, already so close to the edge, and fallen, but still managed to hold on.”

 

Connor felt a burn in his eyes, something heavy and wet rising up in his chest like he hadn’t felt in a long time. He swallowed, hard, but it didn’t help.

But he also couldn’t stop, he had to keep going, the words were spilling out of him without anything he could do about it.

 

“It had..looked so... scared . So human,” Connor’s voice had grown thick, and he swallowed again, squeezing his eyes shut, “I couldn’t..I just couldn't let him fall. He was screaming, begging for help, so I dropped my gun and ran to him, trying to pull him up.”

 

Connor could feel them, tears, wet and warm, slowly dripping down his face. He hated himself for not being strong enough to keep them from spilling out of his eyes, but it felt so incredibly good, so good to finally let go of the tightly coiled ball of everything that he had pushed away, to just let it overflow, no longer trying to push it back down, again and again.

 

“I don’t...I should have been more careful. I shouldn’t have..He had been shot by us, chased by us, maybe he was scared, maybe he was angry, maybe he was actually dangerous, I don’t know..I..” Connor took a deep breath, holding it in for just a moment, trying to steady his voice, trying to get the courage to put what had happened into spoken words after all this time.

 

“I pulled him up and he pushed me over the edge. I was barely holding on and my dad..he..we shouldn’t have worked together. He would have had been more careful..He..He tried to help me, not caring about the android..he shouldn’t have..if I hadn’t just dropped my gun..”

 

He couldn’t do it, he just couldn’t he couldn’t actually say. It had always been just information, detached, unreal. Up until now, up until the moment where he had to actually say it, not only think it, hear it, feel it vibrate his vocal cords.

 

“He shot him. The android shot my dad while he tried to pull me up. He had picked up my gun and shot my dad in the back..I..I heard him...He didn’t make a sound, not until he fell. Right over the edge, next to me..just...standing there..taking a few steps to the side and... He fell and I heard him hit the ground.”

 

Connor barely registered Hank’s hand on his shoulder, the way he was pulled into a soft, gentle embrace, tears relentlessly running down his flushed face.

 

“I don’t..I screamed I think..I couldn’t hold on anymore and.. I fell too..I...if my dad hadn’t moved farther away..he would still be...We both might still be alive,” Connor struggled to breathe, words tumbling out of him without forming coherent sentences. “There was a lower roof..I..I fell on the edge..I was on the..roof I..I had..I only broke a few ribs..But my dad, he fell the 20 floors and I couldn’t..I saw him..I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t breathe, I rolled onto my side to look down and I saw him and I couldn’t look away, I couldn’t just let him lie there alone, I couldn’t help him, I couldn’t...I don’t…I’m so sorry, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t, I failed him, I keep failing Amanda, she is the only one who can help me, she is the only one..I..I.”

 

Connor sobbed, loudly, clutching weakly onto Hank’s jacket, gasping for air as the android rubbed his back, gentle but quiet, giving Connor all the time in the world to breathe, to talk, o cry.

 

“I tried to..I pushed it away for years, I did what she told me to do, I didn’t let myself get distracted my memories and feelings and it was the only thing that kept me going! I detached myself from everybody, I couldn’t lose them too, I couldn’t lose Niles too! I failed her over and over again, I failed her and now I have nothing!”

 

Firm hands grasped his shoulders pushing him away but not letting go. Connor still avoided Hank’s gaze, hiccuping like he was a child again, trying to dry tears that were still flowing.

 

“Ok, listen’ here son, ‘n don’t expect me to say that ‘nother time, ‘caus I don’t do speeches ‘n shit like that,” Hank’s voice was gruff but warm, so warm and caring, it made more tears leak down Connor’s face. “Amanda’s ‘n idiot. Or a bitch. Don’t know, don’t care. But just bottlin’ all of that shit up like that, pushin’ everybody away, that’s the stupidest thing to do. Believe me, I know that, I’ve done it myself. ‘n look at what a mess I turned into.”

 

Connor finally looked up at Hank’s face, sobbing at the worry etched into the older man’s features. He had longed so much for something like this, but he had never accepted comfort, never disobeyed Amanda when she told him that it would only make him weaker.

 

“You’re not strong or some shit when ya push all that shit ‘way, ya just get more fucked up in the head. Look at ya, poppin’ pills, breakin’ down on me for the second time, just ‘cause ya didn’t work trough it or whatever.”

 

“But...I can’t fail Amanda..”

 

“Ah, shut up,” Hank pulled Connor back into a hug, patting him roughly on the back. “Maybe all of yer so-called failures, aren’t actually failures. Stop lettin’ yer boss tell ya what to do ‘n think ‘n how to live. Make yer own decisions, get yer own opinions. Ya let people escape whose only crime was that they wanted to live. Ya cried ‘caus ya lost yer goddamn dad. I dunno, but to me, that shit doesn’t sound like a bunch of failures, no matter how often you call them that.”

 

Connor only leaned further into Hank, closing his eyes as he let his words go through his head another time and another.

 

Since he had lost his father, he had listened to everything Amanda had said, accepted everything she told him as the truth. And yet here he was, going against her orders, finally letting go instead of bottling everything up, and he felt calmer, more at peace then he had in years.

Maybe Hank was right. Maybe he hadn’t failed, maybe...maybe Amanda wasn’t always right.

 

“I know my fair share ‘bout failin’, believe me on that. ‘n I also know, that even if ya do, there is always some way to redeem yerself. Always something else that follows.”

 

Hank’s grip on Connor tightened for just a moment and Connor wondered for a moment what Hank’s failures might have been, knowing that he wouldn’t get an answer until the other was ready, like Connor, who only now learned to finally let it out. To talk to somebody. To no longer push it down.

 

Maybe failing wasn’t so bad after all? Maybe, just maybe, he even hadn’t failed as often as he thought.