It was a slow day in the precinct - no blood-soaked crime scenes to investigate, no paperwork to fill out, nothing to clean or organize - and Connor was bored out of his mind. The android had been spinning in his office chair for what felt like a millennia, flipping his coin and watching it land gracefully in his palm. Over, and over, and over again. But one look at the clock told him that the shift had only started an hour ago. He sighed dramatically, like a teenager being forced to attend a grueling family dinner, and leaned back in his chair. His eyes scanned over the room, landing on an ill-tempered, exhausted detective. He found himself analyzing his co-worker out of habit.
[Name: Gavin Lawrence Reed
Occupation: Detective (DPD)
Criminal Record: Illegal gambling, drug possession, drug distribution]
Lawrence, huh? Connor smiled at this newfound information, realizing he had never actually properly analyzed Gavin until now. Of course, he didn't have a reason too. Not when he was so focused on his mission, when he was nothing but a machine accomplishing it's task.
Connor didn't register the mans words, they were drowned out by his own thoughts. What would his life be like now if he had remained that way? Would he still have dull moments like this? Would he even care enough to notice them?
The android blinked himself back into reality, and noticing Gavin's confused expression, he realized he had been staring at the poor man with a blank expression for quite some time.
"You alright there, Connor? Your systems get overheated or something?"
Connor knew the detective was attempting to crack another one of his 'android jokes', but the tone of the mans voice portrayed more concern than he had expected. Still, he nodded and adjusted his tie, as if altering his appearance would make him seem more professional. As if Gavin cared about being professional.
"There is no reason to worry, Detective Reed, I was just...Thinking."
"Thinking about what? How handsome I am?"
Gavin rested his head on folded hands, raising a questioning eyebrow. Connor didn't know how to respond to the situation, so his expression twisted into one of discomfort.
"Not quite, Detective Reed."
The response made Gavin snort, a grin spreading across his face. He opened his mouth, presumably to make another witty remark, but was cut short by another voice.
"I hope you aren't making my brother uncomfortable again, Gavin."
Standing behind Gavin was an android with a similar appearance to Connor's, though anyone that spent more than a moment with the two knew that appearance was the only thing they had in common. RK900, or 'Nines' as Connor and the rest of the precinct had dubbed him, was glaring daggers into Gavin, who raised his hands in defense.
"Hey, cool it, tin can. We were just playing around."
His gaze turned to Connor, his expression begging the android for some sort of back up. Connor complied, knowing how protective his brotherly-figure could get.
"He's telling the truth. I made him uncomfortable first."
Nines looked between the two, taking a moment to read the situation before sighing and holding out a mug to the detective. Connor assumed it was coffee, and a quick analysis confirmed his suspicion.
"You probably don't deserve this, but here."
Gavin's cheeks heated with pink almost immediately, and he casted his eyes away as he accepted the gift, mumbling a thank you. Nines smirked at this, and gave Connor a look that said 'watch this' before leaning down and pressing a gentle kiss to Gavin's cheek. The detective's eyes grew wide, and he placed his palm on his face, as if he couldn't believe what the RK900 had done. He was completely silent.
"Oh, so that's how you get him to shut up."
This time, it was Lieutenant Anderson who spoke. Connor couldn't help but snicker at the comment, and Nines seemed quite amused himself. Hank made his way to his desk, setting down his own mug of coffee as well as a fresh box of donuts. Connor was going to comment on them, request that the Lieutenant choose something healthier, but his brother shook his head. There was no point in trying to convince the officer, especially when he was already prying open the box.
Hank's food choices had always been...Less than ideal, and no matter how many times he tried to explain it, Connor still didn't fully understand them. Why would someone choose something unhealthy, something that could potentially harm their body, over something that assisted it? At first he assumed it had to do with Hank's outlook on life, something about how 'everyone has to die of something', but even his peppier co-workers ate junk food every now and then.
He knew it had to do with dopamine, the chemical that induced positive feelings in humans, but he also knew that dopamine could be received in millions of different ways. So why would humans focus so intently on food?
"Hank, why do you eat junk food?"
The question seemed out of the blue, especially amidst the conversation the Lieutenant was having with Connor's counterpart.
"Oh come on, kid, this again?"
Hank sighed, laying his half-eaten donut on his desk and turning to face his partner.
"I told you, healthy shit just doesn't taste as good."
Gavin nodded from his desk, agreeing with the older man.
"But...You can alter the taste of food by pairing it with other food, can you not?"
"Well, yeah, but it isn't really the same."
Gavin chimed in, his head pillowed in his arms. Nines watched over him with a gentle smile, placing a hand on his shoulder. The touch made Gavin turn away from the conversation to hide his face again. It was almost charming, how easily he became flustered. But Connor's mind quickly drifted back to the conversation when Hank continued his explanation.
"Junk food is all about the artificial taste. It's not really something you can replicate with a fruit or vegetable. Like -"
Hank held up his donut, coated in pink frosting and sprinkles.
"- This donut. It's supposed to be strawberry, but it doesn't taste like fruit. It tastes like fake fruit. Artificial fruit."
Connor raised an eyebrow in confusion, turning to Nines for further explanation. The android just shrugged.
Hank took another bite of his breakfast, and then used it to point to his partner across from him.
Connor still didn't understand. Apparently, that was quite clear, because Hank sighed and laid his head in his hands.
"It's just something you have to experience yourself, kid. I can't really explain it."
Experience himself? Connor had never thought of that. He had spent so long analyzing and asking for other perspectives that he never acknowledged the fact that he was free to live these experiences on his own. After all, he was alive now. He was free. He could do whatever he wished, try whatever he liked. As long as it was within legal parameters, of course.
"Oh no, you've given him an idea."
Connor turned to Nines when he heard him speak, narrowing his eyes in a playful glare, which only made the other android laugh to himself.
"I'm joking, I'm joking. Don't worry, Con."
Hank's gaze shifted between the two, trying to find some sort of hint as to how they could read each other so well, especially considering their differences. Instead of dwelling on it, he turned back to his partner, curious to hear what idea he had come up with. Connor caught on in a matter of moments.
"I'll try it myself, just like you suggested."
That got Gavin to raise his head, his expression twisting with confusion and intrigue. Hank wore a similar expression, and the two glanced at one another to share a moment of 'what on earth is he talking about?' before Gavin took initiative and spoke up once again.
"Wait, wait, wait...You mean like...Eat food? Actual human food? Can androids even do that?"
Connor nodded, and the two humans looked shocked. Of course, he knew he would have to explain himself in depth yet again.
"Many android models were built with the capability to ingest human food. Sharing a meal is one of the most important parts of human culture, and because androids were meant to adapt to human life, it is only logical to incorporate it into their design."
Nines nodded along with his brothers explanation, and the two humans just stared in awe.
"I could explain the technical aspects, if you like."
The opportunity had made Connor quite excited. He had always loved talking about his creation, about how advanced CyberLife's technology could be. Despite all that happened, he still found himself fascinated with the fine details put into his and other androids design. What was the difference between an AJ700 and an AX400? How advanced had their technology become over the years? What new features were added, and just how human had androids become before deviancy became prominent?
Seeing Connor's genuine excitement - his eyes wide and shining, a smile tugging at his lips - Hank couldn't bring himself to stop the android's explanation. Even if he didn't really understand all the technical mumbo-jumbo, he wanted his friend to feel free to discuss what he liked. So he waved his hand, giving the silent go ahead to continue speaking, which made Connor so enthralled he was practically bouncing in his seat.
"Well, one of the less popular biocomponents acts similarly to a human stomach. The outer casing is an incredibly sturdy material, similar to a strong plastic, while the inside is lined with metal. The biocomponent is filled with potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and hydrochloric acid. When an android ingests human food, it is transported to the biocomponent, where it is then dissolved in the mixture of chemicals."
Hank and Nines both nodded along with interest, but Gavin seemed confused by the process. The detective raised his hand above his head, as if he were back in school, and Connor were his professor. The android indulged in Gavin's actions, happy to answer any question that came his way.
"Yes, Detective Reed?"
"So uh, you just like...Swallow the food, and then it disappears? Or do you have to like...Deal with it later?"
From beside him, Nines rolled his eyes. But nobody was shocked that Gavin had asked about something so...repulsive. At least he hadn't gone into detail.
"The food is dissolved within the bicomponent, Detective Reed. Androids have no need to..."
Connor's nose scrunched up in disgust as he tried to find the right words. Gavin seemed amused by this, but Hank and Nines were listening closely, glad to wait for the proper explanation. When it didn't come, Nines took over, sensing his brother's discomfort.
"...We don't have to expel waste, like humans do."
Connor nodded in agreement, watching as Gavin leaned back in his chair. Hank looked over his breakfast with a new perspective before taking another bite, and the room sat in silence for a moment. Connor's eyes drifted back to the clock. Had he really spent an hour talking with his co-workers? It had only felt like minutes to him.
"So, you wanna try eating, ey?"
The android pulled his eyes away from the clock and instead focused them on the Lieutenant sitting across from him.
"I would like to, yes. It sounds like an...Interesting experience."
Hank smiled brightly at his partner's response, seemingly excited for this new, wonderful idea.
"Alright. Let's give it a shot, then."
It had been exactly twenty-seven minutes and forty-four seconds since Lieutenant Hank Anderson had left Connor alone in his home. Earlier that day, the two had discussed Connor's interest in "human food", and the second they got home Hank insisted on picking up dinner for the both of them. Connor had asked to tag along, but the other refused, deciding that the android's first meal would be a surprise. Since he left, Connor was counting down the seconds. He felt so many emotions bubbling up inside him. Excitement and nervousness being the main two.
Sumo caught the android's attention with a lick to his hand, forcing Connor to meet the sweet pups gaze. He clearly wanted attention, and who was Connor to deny him? With a pat to his lap, Sumo had jumped onto the couch and laid across him with a satisfying plop. Connor happily scratched behind his ears, and pat his head, just as he knew the fuzzy companion loved. Sumo seemed incredibly grateful for the affection.
"What do you think Hank will bring back for me?"
Connor asked, watching as Sumo lifted his head and panted happily. It wasn't a proper answer, but it made the android smile nonetheless. Still, he found himself waiting impatiently. Sitting on Hank's couch with an awfully sweet dog across his lap, and his eyes focused on the clock. Still waiting. Still counting down each second.
Finally, he heard the familiar rumbling of a car engine, and saw headlights beam through the living room windows. Sumo's head lifted at the noise, and he jumped off of Connor's lap to make his way to the door. Ready to protect the android from whatever evil lie beyond it. Within a few moments, the car had turned off, and Connor heard the door unlock. He waited on baited breath. When it opened, Lieutenant Anderson stepped in, holding a white paper bag and a drink tray. Sumo barked at the sight of his owner, and Connor practically ran to Hanks side in order to keep the dog from jumping on him, and potentially ruining their dinner.
Hank offered a smile as he held up the bag, as if to say 'look what I have', Sumo barked at his lack of attention.
"Yeah yeah, hello to you too, Sumo."
Connor couldn't help but laugh at the display, and Hank nodded to the dogs bed in the corner of the room, watching as the Saint Bernard trudged over to it and laid down begrudgingly.
"Is there anything I can help you carry, Lieutenant?"
Hank shook his head as he stepped inside, pushing the door closed with his foot and making his way to the dining table. Connor followed him, nervously fidgeting with the coin in his pocket. He was still getting used to being treated like a human, still getting used to hearing "no" when he offered his help. But he certainly didn't mind it. Hank ushered him to sit down, and Connor did as he was told, his legs bouncing up and down as his gaze wandered around the room. He was trying to look anywhere but the bag that Hank had laid in the center of the table. He didn't want to seem desperate.
Hank sat down in the chair across from Connor, pulling various food items from the bag. First, there was something wrapped in paper, which Connor quickly analyzed. A cheese burger with two patties, no onions or mustard, Hank's usual order. Next was a container of fries, which Connor also assumed Hank ordered for himself. Then, finally, the Lieutenant pulled out a small cardboard box and placed it in front of his android partner.
"I wasn't really sure what to get you, but I thought we should start small."
Connor opened the box, and inside he found ten oddly shaped chicken nuggets. It certainly wasn't what he expected.
"They're chicken nuggets."
The android smiled, pulling one out of the box and examining it with interest.
"These are not made of chicken. They actually contain traces of-"
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever."
Connor laughed to himself as Hank reached into the bag again, pulling out an assortment of sauces and laying them in front of his friend.
"You can try as many as you want, but I think barbeque is the best. Oh! And -"
Hank pushed the bag out of the way and brought the drink tray towards him, setting one cup next to himself and one next to the android.
"- I don't really know if you can drink soda and whatnot, so I just uh...Put some blue blood in a cup for you."
Connor couldn't hold back his smile, not when Hank was being so kind to him. He had gone through all this trouble ordering the android dinner, asking for every sauce on the menu, and even putting Thirium in a fast-food cup to enhance the experience. All for Connor. All because he had mentioned an interest in sharing a meal with his friend. It made Connor's chest warm, gave him a fuzzy, happy feeling. Something he only seemed to experience when the other was around.
"Thank you, Hank, I really appreciate this."
The Lieutenant rubbed the back of his neck, eyes casting away from him as he chuckled softly to himself.
"Yeah, it's fine. Don't mention it, kid."
Once he was sure Hank knew of his appreciation, Connor took a sip of his "drink", and then opened one of the sauces laid before him. Hank had said barbeque was his favorite, so that was what Connor chose to try first. He dipped his first nugget into the sauce, resisting the urge to analyze it as he held it to his mouth. Hank was staring intently, and Connor closed his eyes as he finally took a bite.
The first thing he noticed was the taste. The sauce he had slathered over the chicken-like substance was tangy, and yet it still had a sweetness to it. The chicken itself didn't taste like much, but the fried coating was crunchy, and rich. The texture was odd, but certainly not as odd as he had assumed it would be. Overall, it was quite a pleasant experience. For a moment, Connor had forgotten all about his friend's prying eyes. But when he looked up from his meal, he saw the man's curious expression.
"So? What do you think? Do you like it?"
He nodded vigorously, swallowing his first bite and taking another sip of his "drink" before opening a new sauce - honey mustard - and dipping his half-eaten chicken nugget in it.
"It's a very interesting experience."
Connor started, popping the chicken into his mouth and noting the difference in taste. He liked this sauce much better, but he still had more to try, so he happily opened another container.
"Interesting good, or interesting bad?"
The android was going to respond, but he was much to immersed in his taste test, and the next sauce he tried made him pull a disgusted face. Sweet and sour? He made a note to never order it again.
Hank filled in the blank for him, and Connor shook his head.
"No, no, it's good! Well, that sauce wasn't. But I liked the previous ones."
The man nodded, picking up the sauce Connor tried and reading over the label. His lips drew into a smile, and then he chuckled softly to himself.
"Don't like sweet and sour sauce, ay? I'm not surprised, Cole used to hate this stuff too."
Connor's expression softened at the mention of Hank's son, and he paused his meal to look over the others face. He didn't mean to bring up any bad memories, and he certainly didn't want to be the cause of his partner spiraling. Hank seemed to notice this, and waved his hand dismissively.
"Don't worry, kid. I'm not upset, or anything. Just brought back some memories, that's all."
He nodded in understanding, slowly pulling the honey mustard closer to him and dipping another piece of chicken in it. He hoped Hank wouldn't notice, but his hopes were dashed when the man nodded to the small sauce cup.
"That one's your favorite?"
Connor swallowed his food and took another swig of Thirium before speaking up.
"I think so."
Hank stuck his tongue out, gagging dramatically before finally unwrapping his own meal and popping a (now cold) fry into his mouth.
"I hate mustard."
The comment made Connor sigh as he watched his friend take a bite of his burger. He was going to ask for one himself, but his understanding of table manners told him that was considered rude. Instead, he made a note to ask for something similar the next time Hank brought home dinner.
"I know you do, Lieutenant."
"We really are opposites, aren't we?"
"I'd say so, Lieutenant."