Chapter 1: Hank
It starts, as most things do for Hank these days, with Connor and his dumb fucking face.
They’re working a case in a bar out the ass end of Detroit where android rights are still more opinion than fact. Hank leaves Connor alone for all of two seconds to check something with the manager, and when he comes back Connor is staring bemusedly at a frosty glass of something fancy and incredibly alcoholic.
“What the fuck is that?” Hank says, sinking into the stool beside him. “We’re here for work, not pleasure, you know that, right?”
“Androids do not drink,” Connor says, which answers exactly no questions and raises about a dozen.
“Then why did you order a damn cocktail?”
“I didn’t. Somebody purchased it for me.”
Hank pauses to take that in. Connor’s LED is spinning calmly and his face is completely impassive, but Hank has learnt enough about him by now to read puzzled amusement in his silence.
“What the fuck for?” Hank finally thinks to say. “What did they think you were gonna do with it if you lot can’t drink? Put it in your pocket and take it home to cherish forever?”
“I am uncertain,” Connor says, “but I think the gesture was intended to be an indication of interest.”
Hank is less surprised by the fact that Connor’s apparently been propositioned than he is that Connor actually realized the intention for what it was.
Leave it to fucking Connor to walk into a building that has anti-android propaganda splattered along all the walls, and somehow still manage to charm somebody effortlessly without so much as saying a word.
Connor had once told him that CyberLife has specifically designed him to be approachable and friendly. While Hank thinks only somebody who has severely misunderstood the definition would ever call Connor ‘friendly’, they had not only hit ‘approachable’ right on, but well and truly surpassed it.
Most androids are super-model gorgeous by design, so attractive that it makes them obviously, painfully inhuman to look at. Only plastic could ever achieve that level of perfection, and Hank thinks it says a lot about humanity as a whole that even the most basic androids look like they’ve just finished walking down a runway.
Connor though, he’s… softer is probably the word for it, even if it makes Hank want to hurl. With his dumb hair in his face, and that light smattering of freckles, he manages to walk the fine line between inhumanely handsome and casually enticing.
Trust me, his face is designed to say. Come closer, trust me, and tell me all of your dirty little secrets.
Sometimes it makes Hank uncomfortable to remember that Connor had been designed to be the perfect spy - other times it makes him uncomfortable for other reasons entirely.
“Well,” Hank says, leaning forward in his stool and hearing it creak alarmingly, “seems poor form to let it go to waste.”
Connor watches blandly as Hank plucks his drink from the bartop and knocks it back in one smooth move. It goes down strong and leaves a strange aftertaste at the back of his mouth, but Hank has perfected the fine art of drinking years ago now and doesn’t so much as wince.
“I thought we were working?” Connor observes.
“We sure are,” Hank agrees, hauling himself up and out of his stool. Typically, Connor is up and beside him in barely more than a heartbeat. “Come on, I don’t wanna be here all fucking night, so let’s speed this up a little.”
They spend the next hour casing the bar, talking to patrons, trying and failing to find anybody who’d actually witnessed the crime. Normally, this doesn’t bother Hank in the slightest. Contrary to what people might believe about him at a glance, it’s motivation Hank tends to lack, not persistence.
Tonight though, there’s something caught beneath his skin, rubbing along his nerves and tearing at his patience. He feels antsy, distracted. It doesn’t help that it’s really fucking warm in the bar, and Hank can feel himself sweating like a goddamn pig, all the more obvious when he’s standing next to Connor who looks as fresh as a spring daisy.
Another thing to be fucking mad about, he supposes. Seems real fucking unfair that Hank’s the only one who ever has to suffer between them.
“Alright, thanks for your help,” Hank says to their last lead for the night, who has been helpful to the investigation the same way a bullet hole might be considered helpful to a healthy body. “Call us if you think of anything else.”
She nods, takes the card he holds out, and disappears back into the crowd. Hank grunts, wiping a hand along his forehead, and wincing in disgust as he feels the slick of sweat against his palm.
There’s a heat in his gut he cannot place either, something familiar and itchy that is making him incredibly aware of every inch of his skin.
“Are you okay, Lieutenant?” Connor asks.
“I’m fine,” Hank snaps, adjusting his coat and wishing dearly he could take it off. “It’s just hot in here.”
Connor’s LED whirs. “My sensors indicate that the temperature in the bar is within optimal range for human comfort. Perhaps I could -.”
“Do not,” Hank cuts in sharply, holding up a hand, “scan me, I swear to God, Connor. I’m an adult, I don’t need to be babied. Just mind your own business.”
Connor’s lips purse ever so slightly. “If you insist.”
“I do, so drop it.” He’s shaking now, just a little. The smallest of trembles chasing up-and-down his shoulders. It’s so light he can barely even feel it, but he knows he’s kidding himself if he thinks Connor can’t tell. “Come on,” he says, because Connor’s getting that determined look on his face like he’s about to start challenging Hank’s boundaries again. “This place was a bust, we might as well go.”
He’d expected Connor to protest, but he doesn’t say a word, leads them out of the bar without so much as a backwards glance. Hank trails after him, rubbing his hands along his arms like he can will away the awful feeling growing in his bones.
It’s still cold out, but it’s not snowing, which is a marked improvement. Hank’s car is where he left it, parked crooked against the curb, but as he heads for the driver’s side Connor sidles in front of him, directing Hank aside with one gentle hand to his waist.
“Oh, for the love of -.”
“I think I should drive us,” Connor says in what he probably thinks is a reasonable tone. “You do not look well.”
“I’m fine,” Hank snaps, even as he knows that it’s a blatant lie. “I can drive my own damn car, Connor. I’m not giving you the keys.”
“I did not expect you to,” Connor says, and the hand on Hank’s waist retracts so Connor can hold up the keys he’s so effortlessly lifted from Hank’s back pocket.
Hank wants to be mad, like fucking hell he does, but Connor’s close enough that Hank could count his freckles, his back against the car, and the shine of Hank’s keys bright in his long, pale fingers.
Oh, he thinks darkly. That’s it, that’s the whole thought. Not just ‘oh’ but ‘Oh’.
Finally he places that familiar heat in his gut, and the mortification is enough that he almost wishes he could kill himself right then and there.
“Alright,” Hank says sharply, pushing Connor away hard enough that he almost stumbles. “Drive, what do I care?”
Connor adjusts his jacket carefully, hands flying up to the knot in his tie. Hank’s stomach flips and he turns, hurrying away to the passenger seat because the idea of watching Connor’s clever fingers right now seems more than he can reasonably be expected to bear.
The passenger door creaks as he opens it and the car sinks unflatteringly as he throws himself into the passenger seat. Ideally, he’d like to blame that on shoddy suspension, but Hank’s a pragmatist and he knows he could probably lay off the beer and burgers a bit too.
Connor slides into the driver’s side and starts the car. Immediately, he turns the heater on and directs the vents towards Hank without a word. For a second it’s on Hanks lips to protest before he remembers that it’s not precisely a gesture of selfless generosity on Connor’s part - he has no need for the heat.
Honestly, neither does Hank. He feels hot all over, aching and sore, and now that he’s aware of what, exactly, is causing his fascination with all the little perfections of Connor’s face, he cannot help but hyperfocus on it.
If Hank gets a fucking hard-on right now he thinks he might very well walk off the nearest cliff.
“Where are we going?” Connor asks as he pulls away onto the road.
“Drop me home,” Hank asks, massaging his temple. “You can take the car if you want. I know you’ll be at my doorstep at ass o’clock in the morning to pick me up for work anyway.”
“You are correct,” Connor agrees. “I’ll be there no later than eight.”
When Connor says ‘no later than eight’ what he really means is he will be ringing Hank’s fucking doorbell at exactly seven-fifty-nine like he has for the past two months straight. If Hank hadn’t already gone off the deep end years ago, he thinks that might have done it.
“Of course you will,” Hank says, and reaches over to flick on the music before Connor can take that as an excuse to try and start an awkward conversation.
The drive is longer than Hank remembers, longer than he thinks it should be. Every second the car gets hotter and hotter, and his skin feels tighter and tighter. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Connor’s hands, the careful curve of his fingernails, the smooth ridges of his knuckles. His thumb is brushing idly against the underside of the wheel, one of Connor’s constant fidgets that make him seem far more human than he is.
Hank has never seen an android as constantly twitchy as Connor is. His hands are always moving; riding a coin along his knuckles, tugging and tugging at his tie. So many nervous little tics. If he were human, he’d make a shit poker player.
Hank starts and glances up to find Connor looking at him, which is how he realizes he’s been staring at Connor’s hands for the better part of several minutes now. Long enough that they’ve pulled up in Hank’s driveway and he didn’t even have the wits to notice. Detective of the fucking year he is.
“I’m fine,” Hank says gruffly.
Connor is looking at him intently, hands still on the wheel. He meets Hank’s gaze unwaveringly, and then drops his sightline to Hank’s lap. “You have an erection,” Connor says.
You have an erection. A passive observation, a slight uptick of puzzlement at the end but not an ounce of shame to be had. Fair enough, because Hank’s got enough shame right now for both of them.
“Jesus fuck,” Hank announces, and throws open his door, stumbling out of the car like hell is on his heels.
Another thing he hadn’t even fucking noticed - had been too busy gawking at his damn android, getting turned on like a highschooler catching his first glimpse of skin. Hank doesn’t do embarrassment, but he does do fury, and he has that in spades right now.
He doesn’t get a chance to stomp into the house and slam the door because Connor’s already rounded the car, cold hands on Hank’s shoulders as he pulls him from his slouch with enough force that Hank swears something in his back pops.
A hand lands on Hank’s cheek, tilting his face up slightly.
“What the fuck do you -.”
“Excuse me for this,” Connor says, interrupting.
“Excuse you for what, you -.”
Hank doesn’t get to finish speaking, because quite suddenly his mouth is full of Connor’s thumb, the surreal feeling of it scraping along his tongue, Hank’s teeth catching at the base of it in sheer shock.
What, Hank thinks eloquently, the ever loving fuck?
The thumb withdraws, wet with Hank’s spit, and he watches, baffled, as Connor pops it into his mouth. His LED is spinning yellow, processing, and Hank can’t help but think it’s a damn fucking good thing he doesn’t have one because he’s reasonably certain he went braindead the second Connor’s hand touched his face.
A second passes, two, and Connor’s LED returns to blue. His thumb brushes against his own lips as he pulls it free. “You’ve been drugged,” he says, and it takes Hank’s scrambled mind a moment to understand. “I detect high traces of a synthetic compound known as JM-998 - common street name, Velvet. It’s a high potency aphrodisiac intended to cause arousal without confusion and -.”
“I was on a drug task force for years,” Hank snaps. “I know what Velvet is. But me - Drugged?” Hank hasn’t been drugged a day in his fucking life. He’s nearly two hundred pounds of grumpy old man, saggy skin, and alcohol issues - there ain’t a folk alive who’d look at him and pick him for a mark. “What -.”
“At the bar,” Connor says. “I believe it was when you consumed my drink.”
“They tried to drug an android?” Hank says, his disbelief at the sheer stupidity of it momentarily outweighing his indignation.
“They purchased me a drink I cannot consume,” Connor says. “I do not believe we are dealing with best and brightest Detroit has to offer.”
Fucking hell. Tonight is just Hank’s fucking night, isn’t it? Pumped full of manufactured arousal and stuck with the epitome of human desire given form who follows him around like a lost puppy.
“Fuck,” Hanks says again and slams his car door so hard the whole thing wobbles on its wheels before he storms to his house.
Connor is on his heels, slipping past Hank to unlock the door and guide him inside with a hand resting between Hank’s shoulder blades that he shakes off meanly.
He’s incredibly conscious of it, even through all of his layers. The idea of being touched right now when his heart is going a mile an hour is more than he can deal with.
“I’ll get you some water,” Connor announces as Hank shoulders his way to his bedroom. “The more hydrated you are the sooner you’ll be able to flush the toxin from your system.”
Intellectually, Hank knows Connor is right. He feels parched, throat far too dry. He’s probably lost more water than he knows with all his damn sweating.
He doesn’t want the water. He wants Connor to take a damn hint for once in his life and leave Hank alone to ride this out miserably so they can pretend it never happened.
Hank fights his way out of his coat, tossing it to the floor. The shaking is worse now, and his fingers fumble along the buttons of his shirt. His skin itches, and the feeling of anything touching him is so very amplified he almost can’t take it.
He’d had a girlfriend when he was younger who’d used Velvet once or twice recreationally. She said she liked the feeling it gave her without the confusion of a high - right now Hank thinks a high might be the least he deserves for the overwhelmed misfiring of his brain.
“Do you need assistance?”
Hank looks up to find Connor standing in his doorway, a misty glass of water in one of his hand. The request is completely benign, simply Connor looking to be useful anyway he can, but it rubs wrongly along Hank’s fraying nerves.
“Do I look like I want your fucking help right now?” He snaps.
Connor wisely chooses not to answer. Instead, he enters the room and presses the chilly glass into Hank’s hand. He takes it on reflex, shaking still, and reluctantly brings it to his mouth.
While he’s distracted Connor’s fingers dart like quicksilver and begin to work their way down Hank’s buttons. The heat in Hank’s gut flares, and he can feel his miserable erection twitch, and it takes everything he has not to push Connor off forcefully.
“Do you never listen to a damn word I say?” He grits out, stepping back and slamming the water down on his bedside table. “This is embarrassing enough without you up in my space, Connor. I know you’re not human, but surely you realize that this is the part where you leave and we pretend tonight didn’t happen?”
“There is nothing to be embarrassed about,” Connor says earnestly. “You’ve been drugged, Lieutenant. Your body is simply responding to the stimuli the only way it knows how. It is a biological imperative; I know it is not a reaction to myself.”
He’s right (mostly) but it doesn’t soothe Hank any.
“Look -.” Hank starts to say, but Connor speaks over him.
“I could help if you would like.”
Impatiently, Hank tells him, “I already told you I don’t need any help.”
“Not like that,” Connor says. “Your arousal is causing you significant discomfort. It stands to reason that if you act on it you may find relief.”
Hank’s a smart guy, past choices notwithstanding. Still, it takes him a very long moment to decipher what Connor is actually offering.
“Are you…” He can hardly get the words out. “Are you offering to have sex with me, Connor?”
“While sexual activity is not my default purpose, I do possess the capability,” Connor says without so much as batting an eye, unaware that he’s completely shattered Hank’s world view in one single sentence.
It’s one thing to objectively know that Connor is attractive - that’s fact, that’s design. It’s another thing entirely to think of him as a sexual being, something that Hank has been intentionally not thinking about for a very long time now because he hadn’t considered it a possibility.
Connor is still looking at him, head at a puppy-dog tilt while he patiently waits for Hank’s response. It doesn’t seem to have even occurred to him that propositioning your professional partner out of nothing more than the detached desire to be helpful is the kind of thing humans frown upon.
An image flashes before Hank’s eyes: Connor on his hands and knees on the bed, the long nape of his neck exposed, Hank’s hands on his hips hard enough to bruise if only Connor’s skin would.
It’s gone just as quickly, but Hank feels one more thought away from combusting. It’s all he can do to keep his composure and he’s shoving at Connor’s shoulders, pushing him out the door before he has a moment to second guess himself.
“Out,” he snarls. “Leave me the fuck alone, alright? Just for fucking once.”
“I was merely -.”
“The thought is appreciated,” Hank says, with as much patience as he can which is none at all. “Thanks but no thanks. Get gone, Connor.”
He slams the door, catching the briefest glimpse of the downward turn of Connor’s brows. It’s silent for a second, and he can picture it clearly; Connor standing on the other side of the door, looking at it in bafflement, unsure what little human line he’s overstepped this time.
Then, “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Lieutenant.”
Footsteps as Connor finally - finally - leaves. Sumo barking, a brief pause as Connor doubtlessly stoops to pat him - and then the slam of the door.
Hank lets out a breath and rests his head against the door. He lifts it up and bangs it; once, twice, three times. His mind does not clear and the world is still fire on his tight skin.
He fumbles with his belt, then his fly, and shoves his hand down his pants with all the delicacy of a man whose patience has long since snapped.
The relief of his own hand on his dick is instant, and Hank groans, miserable and aroused, working himself quickly and efficiently. He just wants tonight to be over, wants to drink away the memories of it and crawl into bed and not move for the next eternity.
He’d thought he’d go off like a fucking gun at the first touch, but time mounts as he fists his dick, and despite the burning pleasure rolling through him he just can’t seem to hit that crescendo to push him over the edge.
“Come on,” Hank grunts, slamming his head against the door again as he thrusts desperately into his hand.
He’s close - sofuckingclose - but it’s not enough, the touch alone is not doing it for him, and half-deliriously Hank casts out, searching for any thought, memory, imagining, that’ll be enough to finish him.
Connor - hands and knees, back bared, moving with Hank’s thrusts; counting how many more freckles he was hiding underneath his clothes.
I do possess the capability, he’d said. What does that mean? To what extent? Does it feel good to him? Can it feel good to him? Just how human is he, what would it feel like for him if Hank knotted his fingers into his hair and held him against the sheets, Connor’s thighs parted for him, Hank in between them, fucking him -
That’s it; the thought alone is enough that Hank finally hits the peak he’s been chasing. For a moment the world roars in his ears and his hips stutter uselessly against his fist. To call the orgasm pleasant would be a lie - it’s painfully artificial, pulled from him desperately - but the intensity of it nearly brings him to his knees.
For a moment Hank just stays like that, leaning limply against the door and panting furiously with his hand around his aching dick. The fantasy in his head is falling apart, curling at the edges and disintegrating like a fading photograph.
You just used Connor to get off, Hank thinks to test the strength of the thought.
It feels about how he expected it to be; bigger than his tiny, exhausted brain has the room to contain.
Grimacing, he staggers up right, wiping his hand on his trousers.
It’s fine. It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. Just one more fucked up thing in a long train of fucked up things. Hank can deal with it; it’s fine, it doesn’t have to change anything. It’s not going to fucking change anything.
It changes everything.
See, the problem is that before that night Hank’s attraction to Connor had been abstract; distant, unapproachable. Anybody with functioning eyes appreciated the sight of him, it didn’t actually mean anything.
I do possess the capability.
What is Hank supposed to do with that?
The next morning Connor is on his doorstep at seven-fifty-nine on the dot, ringing Hank’s doorbell like it’s done him a personal wrong. He doesn’t so much as blink when Hank throws it open, grumpy and irritable, shoulders tense.
Hank feels like shit, but it’s not worse than a typical hangover. He supposes it’d defeat the purpose of a drug intended for pleasant recreational use to leave him feeling like he’d met the wrong end of a bus.
“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Connor says, just like every morning.
“Yeah, yeah, good morning,” Hanks says, shouldering past him and heading to reclaim his car. “Let’s get a move on, I don’t wanna be late.”
Connor does not point out that it has never bothered Hank before, just slides into the passenger seat obediently and hands over the keys without prompting. “I have received a lead about the case, so if you would like we could head directly there?”
“Give me the address,” Hank grunts, and Connor does.
The shriek of his car pulling out onto the road is strangely soothing, and Hank does his best not to think about the smooth caress of Connor’s hands on this wheel only last night. He definitely does his best not to think about all the other things he imagined those hands doing.
For a moment it’s silent, and Hank manages to actually convince himself that Connor has finally managed to learn some tact. It does not last.
“How are you feeling today, Lieutenant?”
Hank slams the breaks and the both of them lurch in their seats. Behind them a car honks and swerves, but Hank’s a cop and they can suck his fucking dick for all he cares.
“Drop it,” he says sharply. He gestures between the two of them. “We don’t talk about last night ever again, okay? Didn't happen. Forget it.”
It’s silent for a moment, awkward and heavy, and then Connor say, “It’s against my protocol to erase memories without sufficient reason.”
He’s joking, or trying to anyway. He’s still pretty bad at it, but he’s learning, and Hank appreciates the effort for what it is; Connor meeting him halfway, trying his hardest to make Hank comfortable.
“Yeah, well, amount of memories you’ve got up there I’m sure you’re gonna fucking crash one of these days anyway,” he mutters as he throws the car back into gear and peels back out onto the road.
“You have a fundamental misunderstanding about how androids work,” Connor says.
“Why do I gotta understand jackshit? I’m sure you’ll let me know if there’s anything important I’m missing out on,” Hank says, when what he really wants to say is yeah, no shit.
Until last night Hank hadn’t thought Connor even possessed a dick. He’d just sort of assumed he was… a fucking ken doll, or something. He wants badly to ask, knows Connor would tell him, but he can’t bring himself to sink that low.
“Alright,” Hank says as they pull up out front of their newest lead, hauling himself out of the car. “Let’s get going.”
Connor climbs out after him and gestures forward. “After you, Lieutenant.”
This lead is slightly more useful than their last, and Hank manages to pull his mind from the gutter for long enough to make decent headway on the case. They drive halfway across the city, back again, and then an hour in the opposite direction chasing something that eventually turns out to be a dead end.
It feels good though. Productive. It’s well into evening by the time they actually make it back to the station, and Hank is feeling every one of the long hours stuck in the car, his muscles cramped and tight.
He makes a beeline for his desk, dropping into his chair with a groan that rattles his bones. “Fuck,” he says with feeling, reaching up to rub at his shoulder. “Hell of a fucking day.”
Connor makes what could loosely be called an agreeable noise and perches on his favourite spot on Hank’s desk, near enough that their knees could knock if Hank just turned his chair ever so slightly.
He does not, but there’s a temptation there.
“We made good progress,” Connor offers. “You seem exhausted.”
Hank has been exhausted since he woke up, but he’s hardly going to admit as much. That’d be touching far too close to what happened last night, and Hank has never been so determined to ignore something in all his life.
“I’m not made of plastic and bolts,” Hank says. “I’ve done enough harm to my body as it is without putting it through the torture of a whole day trapped in the fucking car.”
“You should eat something,” Connor says helpfully. “It has been seven hours and forty-seven minutes since your last meal.”
“Later,” Hank says dismissively, thinking despairingly of the frozen pizza waiting for him at home. “Once we finish up this paperwork we can call it a day.”
Connor nods agreeably. His LED flickers yellow for a moment, but it’s back to serene blue before Hank can ask. “I’ll start with this,” he says, leaning forward across Hank to pluck the file sitting by his far elbow.
Unfortunately, doing so puts him right into Hank’s space, the nape of his neck in Hank’s direct view. There’s a mole there, right where his hair just barely covers it, that Hank has never noticed before.
It seems so pointless; what purpose could one more freckle in a place nobody is ever going to look possibly serve? What was CyberLife even thinking?
Hank wants to touch it impossibly badly.
Connor straightens up, file in his hand, and Hank clears his throat and glances away. He does a passable impression of looking like he’d been staring at his computer screen the entire time, and he has about a dozen excuses on the tip of his tongue should Connor ask him about anything at all.
“Do you need assistance with anything else?” Connor asks, either not noticing Hank’s discomfort or (far more likely) doing them both the favour of ignoring it.
“Just get a start on that and I’ll let you know,” he says. Connor nods agreeably and gets to his feet, rounding the desk to his side where he settles into his chair easily.
Hank lets out a breath and leans back, rubbing at his eyes.
(I do possess the capability - don’t think about it, compartmentalize it, not important, not relevant.)
They work in companionable silence, flicking through screens and shuffling outdated papers. One by one people begin to trickle out of the office, and with every person that leaves Hank grows more and more relaxed.
He’s a born introvert, and he never did learn how to be comfortable in a crowd. He can fake it well enough to get by - has to, as part of the job - but he’s always preferred his own company over anybody else's.
He hits a rhythm, gets so caught up in his work that he doesn’t even hear somebody coming up behind him until they clears their throat and Connor reaches out from across the desk to lightly touch Hank’s elbow, prompting him to look up.
It’s a delivery guy - a human, not an android - holding a carton of something that smells absolutely delicious; just the right kind of spicy and warm for this weather.
“Can I help you?” Hank asks.
“I have an order for Anderson?”
Hank frowns. “I didn’t -.”
“Thank you,” Connor cuts in smoothly. “You can set it on the desk.”
The delivery guy sets the food down and turns to go without a word, even though Hank hasn’t paid him, which is how he knew precisely what has happened. He thinks back to the brief glance of yellow from Connor’s LED.
He spins around in his chair and gives Connor a hard look. Connor folds his hands in front of him and blinks innocently.
“You,” Hank said, “never listen to a single word I say, do you?”
“My research indicates that this particular dish is best eaten while fresh,” Connor says. “Best not let it get cold, Lieutenant.”
“I am a grown man,” Hank says, as he pulls the carton over and pries the lid off eagerly, “and if I’m hungry I’ll order my own damn food, Connor.”
“I am merely concerned about your wellbeing and your own personal history of neglecting it.”
Hank points up at him with the plastic fork he has just shimmied free from its wrapping. “You watch your mouth.”
“That expression is fundamentally impossible,” Connor says. “Even androids do not have that capability.”
“You really suck the fun out of everything, you know that?”
The corner of Connor’s mouth turns up the bare minimum which is basically his equivalent of a broad smile. Hank scowls at him in return and faces back down to his food. It’s his regular order from his favourite Chinese place down the road, and Hank knows better than to ask Connor how he got that information.
If there’s one thing Hank has learnt since Connor became a semi-permanent fixture in most avenues of his life, it’s that it’s best to brush the little things under the carpet.
Hank eats. It’s good, which is no surprise at all. Across the desk Connor watches him impassively, LED spinning. It’s making Hank a little uncomfortable honestly, and he hunches over, staring fixedly down.
“You know it’s fucking creepy when you do that, right?”
“You’ll have to be specific. You find many of my functions ‘fucking creepy’, as you put it.”
“Watch me eat like a dog begging for scraps,” Hank says. “Just… do your paperwork or something, Jesus. You’re making this weird.”
“I like watching you eat,” Connor says, completely unashamed. “You look like you’re enjoying yourself.”
Hank chokes a little on his next mouthful and has to pound himself on his chest. “Stop saying shit like that.”
At this point Hank doesn’t know if Connor is fucking with him, or if he’s honestly completely unaware of how half the shit that comes out of his mouth sounds. It can be hard to find the line between Connor’s obliviousness and his developing sense of humour.
“How about you just stop saying anything at all if you can’t figure it out? Might solve two problems at once.”
The corner of his mouth twitches just slightly. “If that’s what you want, Lieutenant.”
Hank snorts around his fork. “Yeah, like you’ve ever listened to me a day in your life.”
“Statistically, I have obeyed your orders 33.05 percent of the time.”
“Jesus Christ, you’re not even rounding in at half on that,” Hank marvels. “You’re a fucking menace, Connor.”
“Society would agree with you,” he says blandly, and for a second Hank thinks he’s overstepped, but the corner of Connor’s mouth is still ticked up and he realizes that he’s joking.
“I think I liked you better before you developed a sense of humour,” Hank observes.
“You did not,” Connor says. “And if my humour is lacking, it’s a reflection on the fact I am learning it through the present company.”
It takes Hank a full moment to realize what Connor’s saying there, and when he does he slams down his fork and flips him off. “Oh, fuck you.”
“I suggested as much last night, and you very empathetically turned me down.”
“I said we don’t -.”
Connor’s chair rattles as he pushes it back from the desk, and Hank startles, looking up as Connor sweeps the papers from the desk into his hands. “I’ll file these,” he says pleasantly. “Once you finish eating we may head home. Enjoy your meal, Lieutenant.”
He disappears briskly out of the bullpen before Hank can get another word out, and he’s left sitting there with his mouth partly open, and his food going cold.
Sometimes, Hank really does not understand Connor at all.
On Thursday they get the kind of case Hank has been dreading for weeks now.
He’s seen some shit in his time, some truly fucked-up instances of humanity’s worst behaviour, and comparatively speaking this shouldn’t even break into the top ten. Honestly, six months ago, it’d have barely made him blink.
This is not six months ago though, this is now, this is after the android revolution - after Connor - and Hank’s world view just isn’t the same anymore, his priorities have irreversibly shifted.
“Jesus,” Hank says, leaning against the car and grinding the heels of his palms against his eyes. “Ain’t the world just a fucking gemstone these days?”
Connor is standing beside him, hands neatly behind his back and watching Hank with a blank expression that seems far more careful than usual. “You seem distressed, Lieutenant.”
Hank drops his hands and gives Connor an incredulous look. “Brilliant fucking deduction there, genius. Are you not distressed?”
Connor’s LED flickers. He’s silent for a moment, longer than Hank knows it takes him to process things, then he says, very slowly, “I am… uncomfortable with the nature of this crime.”
Hank can tell exactly how difficult it’d been for Connor to actually say that, for all that it had the emotional depth of a shallow puddle. Connor’s been expressing emotion for almost as long as Hank’s known him, but it’s usually spur of the moment, an impulsive reaction to his own instability.
It’s difficult, he knows, for Connor to realize that he no longer has to quash any and all deviant thoughts from his mind, that he has permission to express them, that he’s encouraged to express them, especially when with Hank.
“I knew there’d be a rise in android hate crimes,” Hank says, “but seeing it first hand is fucking exhausting.”
That’s not exactly right though; Hank knows how he’d be able to deal with it if it were something as simple as an android hate crime. Awful, unforgivable, but ultimately something he’s dealt with before. He knows how to compartmentalize.
This though, this is too close to home. This is an android dead in the back of a bar because he’d had the gall to try and love a human.
Hank does not want to think of the parallels there, but his mind can’t help but latch at them, and every time he closes his eyes he sees the picture so clearly; the dead android, eyes open and LED empty.
It’s easier than he’d like to picture it as Connor, and his stomach turns fiercely.
“We’ll see more of them in the coming months, I’m sure,” Connor says, and Hank does not think he imagines the minute tightening at the corner of his mouth.
“Yeah,” Hank sighs, breath misting in the air in front of him while he tucks his hands into his armpits. “Ain’t that just a cheery thought.”
Connor’s eyes flick over him, head to toe, and Hank knows without asking that he’s just been analyzed. He’d be more mad about that if he wasn’t so exhausted.
“You are cold,” Connor announces. “You should stay in the car while I finish up here.”
“Not a chance,” Hank grunts, pushing himself off the car. “You stay here, and I’ll finish up inside.”
Connor opens his mouth to protest, but just this once Hank is faster. “The lot inside aren’t exactly what I’d call android-friendly. Just…” I’m not comfortable with you being around those kind of humans right now, has more emotion behind it than Hank is strictly comfortable expressing. “Just stay behind, okay? Just this once.”
Connor closes his mouth. His LED spins. He nods sharply and steps aside, and Hank lets out a breath.
It takes him the better part of fifteen minutes to wrap things up. Nobody really wants to listen to him, be reminded that the body has to be transported to the nearest hospital morgue, that the next of kin has to be notified, that they’re not allowed to just throw it on the nearest trash heap and call it a day.
Hank cannot wait until the ripple effects of the revolution finally change minds as well as policy.
When he staggers back out of the bar Connor is waiting for him exactly where he left him - but this time he’s holding a steaming cup of coffee in his hands.
Hank stares at him.
Connor holds the coffee out to him. “For you,” he says, like it hadn’t been obvious.
Hank feels a little like he’s slipped into a parallel dimension. He reaches out to take it. It’s the perfect temperature, which means Connor timed his coffee run to directly coincide with his projected estimation of Hank’s return.
It should make him feel happy. And it does, a little. Mostly he just feels uncomfortable. “You don’t have to do this, you know.”
“Do what?” Connor asks.
Hank takes a sip. It’s just how he likes it. Another thing he never told Connor. “You’re my partner, not my… errand boy.”
The corners of Connor’s mouth tug down ever so slightly. Christ, Hank feels like he’s kicked a puppy. “I’ve disappointed you. I do not understand.”
“Oh, geez,” Hank says, dragging his hand down his face. “You should… do what you wanna do, Connor. Not what you think you should.”
The displeased, confused expression on Connor’s face clears instantly. “Oh,” he says. “Your discomfort is with the fact you’re concerned you’re treating me like a servant and that I am doing tasks for you unwillingly.”
“If you’ve figured it out you don’t gotta announce it to the world,” Hank snaps, swinging the door open and hauling himself into the car so Connor doesn’t see the irritated fluster at his neck. A life of too much drinking and too little sun has given Hank the kind of splotchy complexion that means his every emotion likes to express itself with his skin as the canvas.
Connor follows after him, clambering into the passenger seat quickly and efficiently and reaching over to halt Hank’s hand before he can start the car. “You do not need to worry, Lieutenant,” he says. “I am doing what I want to do. I did not bring you coffee because I thought I should, but because I thought it might…” He pauses. Hank can actually see him searching through his infinite databank for the right words. It’s a thing to behold.
“You thought it might...?”
Connor’s LED spins yellow, yellow, blue. He looks up, brown eyes guileless, and says, “Cheer you up, as it were.”
There’s probably a correct response to that declaration, but Hank cannot find it.
From another human, it’d be a nothing sort of gesture. But Connor isn’t human, although the line between android and human is getting thinner and thinner lately. For him to have noticed Hank’s discomfort is one thing; for him to decide it displeased him personally, and cheering Hank up would be beneficial to him, is another thing entirely.
It’s got to mean something. It has to. Hank doesn’t have a flying fuck what, though.
(I do possess the capability.)
Hank pulls his hand free from Connor’s grip and starts the car. For a second Connor stays like that, leaning forward with his hand hovering where Hank’s had been a second before, but then his shoulders straighten and he pulls back.
If Hank were a better sort of man, he thinks he’d know how to handle this. He’s not. More than anything these days, he’s terrified of projecting, of seeing only what he wants to see, or reading more into Connor’s words and action than he rightfully intended.
It’s distracting, and it makes Hank feel like the dirty old man he’s tried very hard not to be. He has no illusions about himself; he drinks too much, talks too little, has a sagging gut, and his hair is already starting to thin at the scalp.
Hank’s well and truly past his prime. He’d had a couple of good years there, back before the world had gone to shit. He’d gotten more than he’d deserved out of them, and for the most part he’s spent the last ten years being okay with the fact the path life took him down ends with him dying angry and alone.
For a second he just sits, hands on the wheel and car idling noisily. One of these days he’s going to have to cave and replace it with one of the flash models the station is always trying to convince him he needs.
(Hank does not trust self-driving cars, can barely stand to be in them without feeling sick to his stomach, but that is neither here nor there.)
He clears his throat. Connor perks up, looking at him attentively.
“Thanks,” Hank says, and then tacks on, “for the coffee.”
Connor does not possess the emotional range to beam, exactly, but his expression brightens instantly, and Hank feels incredibly undeserving.
“You are welcome, Lieutenant.”
Don’t read into it, Hank thinks. Don’t read into it, don’t read into it.
It’s hard though, and Hank’s only human. He doesn’t have Connor’s ability to break a moment down, understand the motivations and intentions. All he’s got is a desperate hole widening in his gut and the desire to run his thumb along that hidden freckle at the back of Connor’s neck.
He throws the car into gear, shrieks out onto the street, and refuses to take his eyes off the road again.
Connor is, in a word, frustrated.
Defining the misfiring codes in his programming is still something of an endeavor, but Connor has come to know that one clearly. Frustration is perhaps the first ‘emotion’ he can remember experiencing; frustration at himself, his inability to understand what was happening to him, at the way the actions he was choosing to take directly conflicted with his assignments.
Frustration, when you break it down to its core, is actually quite simple to explain; it’s confusion without an outlet, a desire for progress where progress is no longer being made.
Connor is a machine. If there is one thing he can understand, it’s the importance of progress.
This is a new situation for him and he does not have the appropriate amount of evidence to base his judgements on, but he believes he’s, as Hank would perhaps put it, ‘winging it’.
It is a strange experience for Connor not to have a dozen possible scenarios planned before he decides to make a move; he is unsure whether he likes it. He understands that this is the way humans as a whole operate, and if that is the case he can understand why so many of them wind up doing nothing at all.
The risks feel greater, the repercussions dire. A mistake is not so easily erased.
Still, Connor was a cornerstone in one of the biggest revolutions the world has ever seen, and although he knows he has far from perfected the nuances of free will and independent thought, he is open to learning, to trying.
And Connor is trying - that much he can be confident of. It would make his approach significantly easier if only Hank would try too.
It’s been a week since the case that had upset Hank so obviously, and little by little his mood is stabilizing, returning to a comfortable baseline. Connor watches him closely but distantly, unwilling to upset the precarious balance that can be Hank’s emotional state.
Over their time together, he believes he has gotten better at reading him, but Hank is still vastly different from the types of humans Connor was programmed to understand, and there are times when he is uncertain whether he should approach or let the man be.
Eventually though, the tension in his shoulders returns to a minimal and he no longer looks over Connor’s shoulder rather than meet his eye. Connor chooses to take this as a good sign that Hank’s thoughts are no longer treading dangerous ground, and it is with a surprising amount of relief that he allows himself to stop keeping a careful space between them.
With this in mind, Connor concludes the timing is finally right to approach him, to enact the first step in his carefully crafted plan.
“Do you have any plans this evening, Lieutenant?”
Hank stares at him blankly. “Do I… have plans?”
“For this evening,” Connor reaffirms. “I assume you do not, but it’s polite to ask.”
“Polite you say?”
Connor can detect trace amounts of sarcasm in Hank’s tone, but he’s having trouble locating their source. “I’m sorry. You seem annoyed. I apologize for my poor phrasing.”
Hank’s brow raises and he tucks his hands in his pockets, observing Connor with a dry look. “Do you even know what it is you’re supposedly sorry for, huh?”
Connor pauses. He rewinds their conversation internally, playing it piece by piece until he believes he’s found the source of his misstep. “For implying you do not have occupations outside of work?”
“For calling me a sad, old man with no social life, yeah.”
Connor certainly had not meant to imply as much. As far as he is concerned, Hank is far from a sad, old man. Sad; on occasion. Old; only by societal expectations. And Hank spends nearly every day with Connor, which certainly constitutes the presence of a social life.
“That was not my intention,” Connor says uncertainty. “I was merely hoping to make you dinner tonight.”
Hank does not look any more reassured. “Dinner? Last I checked, you don’t eat, roboboy.”
“But you do,” Connor says, undeterred. “And you could stand to consume something with more nutritional value than calories.”
“And you think you can break a lifetime of bad habits with one meal?”
“I think it’s as good a starting point as any, and while I was not programmed as a chef, it is the work of seconds to download the appropriate knowledge.”
“Hey, no, Connor. I’m not asking you to -.”
“You don’t need to,” Connor cut in smoothly. “And I have already done it.”
“Why do you ask me things if you plan on doing what you want anyway?” Hank sighs, resigned.
Connor elects to ignore that comment. He steps forward and plucks Hank’s coat from the back of his chair, slinging it over his arm. “We’re best to leave now, Lieutenant, or we’ll get caught in traffic on the way home.”
He sweeps from the office, confident that Hank will follow him out, for his jacket if nothing else.
“Connor! Oi, Connor!”
Hank permits Connor to drive if only because he possesses the ability to navigate the city during peak hour with what Hank has described as ‘a truly fucked-up amount of talent.’ The concession does not seem to earn him Hank’s good grace though, but Connor does not take any offense to the stony silence in the passenger seat.
It’s more to do with Hank’s general disinclination to give up control of any situation in his grasp, and that Connor is permitted behind the wheel at all is a privilege he thinks Hank himself might not even understand the weight of.
Sumo greets them at the front door, pawing excitedly at their shoes and licking at every part of them he can reach. Connor bends down to get his hands behind his ears, precisely where he knows Sumo most enjoys having his head scratched, and is rewarded by a wet tongue across his cheek.
“Oi, Sumo! Watch it, alright?”
“It’s fine, Lieutenant,” Connor says, smiling up as he ruffles the sagging ears beneath his hands. “I appreciate his enthusiasm. It is gratifying to see somebody so appreciative of my company.”
Hank stares at the both of them with the strangest expression on his face. Connor, worried he’s misstepped again, asks, “Is something wrong?”
Hank starts, blinking furiously at him for a second before he clears his throat. “What? No - no, it’s nothing. Just… thinking.” Before Connor can think to say something else, Hank takes a step back, waving a hand in the general direction of the kitchen. “I’m going to go have a shower. You do… whatever it is you plan on doing. I’m sure you can work out where everything is.”
Connor has been by often enough that he has the location of most of the key items in Hank’s house categorized, but he feels it might make him uncomfortable to say as much. “If I overstep any boundaries, please -.”
Hank cuts him off with a snort. “You once smashed my window, broke into my house, slapped me, and then dumped me - fully clothed - into the shower. Let’s not pretend you care about boundaries now.”
Connor thinks ‘fully clothed’ might be a generous description for Hank’s state at the time. “Those were extenuating circumstances,” he says stiffly, and Hank laughs, clapping him roughly on the shoulder and shaking his head before lumbering off in the direction of the bathroom.
He can’t tell for certain whether Hank is genuinely still holding a grudge over the incident, or whether he’s just teasing Connor to get a rise out of him. He suspects Hank may find the whole thing funnier in hindsight than Connor does.
Finding Hank in an alcohol induced coma with a loaded gun at his fingertips had not been a pleasant experience at the time, but the added intimacy of time and distance has made the memory nearly intolerable.
Connor stands for a moment, watching Hank disappear in the hallway, before he crosses the living area to the kitchen, absently giving Sumo one more pat as he passes.
The inside of the refrigerator is about as barren as Connor had expected, but it still makes him frown. He considers and discards a half-dozen recipes before finding one that matches the withering ingredients spaced on the shelves.
By the time Hank stumbles back into the kitchen, toweling his hair dry, Connor’s just finished tipping a collection of diced vegetables into a simmering pot. He is momentarily distracted by the oddly enticing wet patches Hank’s hair is leaving on his shoulders, and misses whatever he says. “Sorry?”
Hank gives him a strange look and tosses the towel over the back of the nearest chair. “I said, what is it?”
“Rice soup,” Connor says, turning back to the stove to dodge the concerned expression on Hank’s face. “I did not have much to work with, so I did the best I could.”
Hank crowds in close enough that their shoulders bump, taking in a deep breath. “Oh man, that smells good.”
A small, pleased feeling bubbles up inside Connor. He does not take his eyes off the pot, stirring it idly. “That was the intention.”
“I guess the real question is,” Hank mulls, “does it taste any good?”
Connor glances up sharply, and Hank takes one look at his face and starts laughing, holding onto Connor to remain upright.
“What are you - Lieutenant.”
“Oh geez, Connor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so fucking offended before. If I knew all it took to get a clear emotion out of you was to insult your cooking, I’d have done it months ago.”
It takes a second, but Connor manages to identify the uncomfortable prickle along his artificial nerves as embarrassment. It is not an emotion he ever thought he’d experience, and now that he has he does not think it is one that he intends to allow circumstances to repeat.
“It cannot possibly be worse than what you put into your body on a daily basis,” he says, very conscious of the absent slide of Hank’s thumb against the side of his throat. “It has all the nutritional value we are likely to scavenge out of your kitchen, at any rate.”
Hank’s hand lifts from his shoulder to cuff him on the ear. “Watch your mouth, you’re still a guest here.”
“I thought you said,” Connor takes a moment to pitch his voice identical to Hank’s, “let’s not pretend you care about boundaries now.”
“Oh, don’t do that.” Hank shivers, pulling away. “God, you know it creeps me out when you mimic me like…”
“An android?” Connor replies, arching a brow in an unimpressed gesture he’d picked up from Detective Reed of all people. He had known exactly how uncomfortable it made Hank, which is exactly why he did it.
He’d meant to tease, but Hank’s expression makes him feel as if may have missed the mark. “Fuck, Connor. You know I don’t mean it like that.”
“I know,” Connor says, and the quickness of his reply seems to ease some of the tension out of Hank. In a bid for distraction, Connor scoops a spoonful of the soup from the pot, holding it out.
Hank looks at it and then back up at Connor.
“You were concerned about the taste,” Connor says. “I do not possess the adequate taste receptors to be able to tell if it is up to your standard.”
“Connor, it just came out of the pot. It’s boiling hot.”
Connor considers this for a second, admits it would be counterproductive to his plan to allow Hank to burn his tongue, and leans forward to blow on the spoon.
Hank watches him, baffled. “What are you doing?”
Connor pauses, uncertain. “Cooling it down. This is… this is what you do when you find food too hot for immediate consumption, isn’t it?”
The confusion on Hank’s face immediately melts into a surprised fondness, and the paranoia that Connor has - one again - misstepped fades away.
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right.” Hank steps in closer, one hand coming up to catch Connor’s wrist and hold it steady. “If this tastes like crap, I’m spitting it all over you.”
“Noted,” Connor says. “Please try the soup, Lieutenant.”
Hank rolls his eyes, but ducks his head, mouth closing around the curve of the spoon. His fingers are curled right where Connor’s pulse would be if he had such a thing, and like this he can see the water from Hank’s shower still trickling down the back of his neck.
It lasts barely more than a second, but Connor cannot help but memorize the sight in avid detail, feels a flicker of heat chasing along the wires and bolts that keep him together.
Hank pulls back, licking his lips. They’re standing far closer than he normally permits, and Connor cannot help but lean nearer still just for a better view of the swipe of his tongue.
“It’s, uh…” Hank’s finally seemed to notice their proximity. Connor can hear the way his heart picks up, sees the way his pupils dilate, encroaching on the blue of his iris. “It’s too salty.”
Slowly, Connor leans forward and licks the spoon. There’s no flavours, exactly, more an explosion of information; the fat content of the vegetables, the various names of the herbs, and the barest trace of salt.
When he pulls back Hank’s looking at him as if Connor is going to cease to exist the moment he removes his gaze. The feeling in Connor’s stomach this time is darker, warmer - there’s a difference, he’s finding, between pleased and satisfied.
This is satisfaction; the pleasure of a correct estimate, the knowledge that he hasn't misinterpreted the evidence, that everything is falling in line with his plans.
“I disagree,” he says. “I think you may be lying, Lieutenant.”
They’re close enough that Connor can feel Hank’s breath on his face. The anticipation crackles through him like a livewire, and it takes everything Connor has to stay still and wait, to allow Hank to make the first move.
For a second, Connor is sure he’s going to do it. Hank’s gaze flickers to Connor’s lips, so incredibly obvious that Connor does not need to be an android to catch it. And then -
Then he pulls away, hand falling from Connor’s wrist, space growing cool between them. “It’s - it’s fine. Thanks.”
Connor stares at him. Beside him on the stove, the soup crackles merrily. He is still holding the spoon in the air, and Hank is looking down at the floor with avid fascination, one hand curled around the back of his reddened neck.
There it is again - so intense that Connor feels like it might overwhelm him.
He is beginning to understand how humans live so rashly, so impulsively. Right now it is everything Connor can do to remind himself that actions have consequences, and although he is aware of his desire to pin Hank to the wall and bring that hungry blackness back to his eyes, all the available information is telling him that Hank would not be receptive to it right this very second.
Connor does not know what he is doing wrong. He’s missing something. He has to be. The evidence is telling him one thing, but Hank is acting as if it is another. Connor is missing something crucial, key, and he no longer has the patience to wait for it to reveal itself to him.
With iron control he turns around, setting the spoon atop the counter. “May I ask you a personal question, Lieutenant?”
Hank has moved to the fridge by now, busy pulling a beer from the bottom shelf. Connor eyes him disapprovingly, but knows better than to fight two battles on the same front. “You know you don’t need to check every time, Connor.”
“It’s best to be sure.”
Hank glances up, meets Connor’s eye for all of a second, and then glances back down at his bottle. He slams it against the counter, popping the top and grunts, “Well? What is it? Out with it.”
Connor plucks the lid from beside the stove and gently settles it atop the pot, turning off the burner. “I am confused as to why you will not fuck me when you are so obviously attracted to me.”
There is satisfaction in watching Hank choke on his beer, spluttering the entire first mouthful down his clean shirt and into his beard. If Hank asks, Connor will pretend he did not time it so on purpose.
“What the - where the fuck did you learn language like that?”
“I am attuned to every broadcasting and television station globally,” Connor says patiently. “Just because I choose not to use such vernacular in day-to-day life does not mean I am unaware of it. Besides, I understand directness is often appreciated in these circumstances.”
“Well, fuck - you sure don’t get much more direct than that, do you? Jesus Christ, Connor.” Hank scrubs a hand over his tired face, but still doesn’t quite manage to hide the blotchy patches rising in his cheeks. Connor adores the way Hank’s skin can never seem to hide a secret.
“I’m sorry,” Connor says, stepping forward and gently prying Hank’s hand off his face. “I was planning to propose the question to you after dinner but I appear to have lost my patience.”
That manages to get a snort from Hank at the very least, but when he goes to pull his hand free Connor does not permit it. “You? Losing patience? Wouldn’t have fucking believed it.”
“You still have not answered my question,” Connor says, easily seeing through Hank’s feeble attempts to dodge the topic.
The look Hank gives him is nothing short of agonized embarrassment. “You really expect me to actually talk about this shit?”
“I cannot understand if you do not explain.”
“There’s nothing to explain, Connor.” Connor can sense Hank’s mounting agitation, and this time when he tries to tug his hand free, Connor permits him to. Instantly, he crosses the kitchen, rounding the bench and putting it between them. “Just because one person might - might feel things for or about another, doesn’t mean it’s gotta be… fucking broadcast.”
Connor frowns, just slightly. He still doesn’t understand, and Hank looks far grimmer than Connor really thinks the conversation warrants. “But then how will they know?”
“They won’t, that’s the point.” Hank points at him with his bottle, beer swishing alarmingly. “If you weren’t an android, you never would have found out, Connor. Fucking unfair advantage. Nothing has to change, okay?”
There’s a sensation in Connor’s chest that he cannot place. It’s… empty, he thinks. A prickling emptiness, a pressure, an awareness that aches. It takes him a solid second to realize it is pain. The thought that Hank did not want him to know, that he did not want things to change - it is intolerable the same way the memory of him with a gun against his fingertips is.
Connor does not want that - any of it. “Why?”
“Why should things not change?”
“Why should things not - Connor, are you listening to yourself here?” Hank slams his beer atop the counter, knocking a magazine clean to the floor. Connor does not jump, but in the corner Sumo whines. “You’re an android.”
“I already told you I possess the capability,” Connor says, faster than he’d intended. “If you wish to be intimate, and I -.”
“Christ, that’s it, though! You possess the capability - what does that really mean? Nothing, Connor. Just that you can, not that you want to. And I’m not gonna - I don’t know what you think of me, but I don’t want to just use you because you’ve got the parts. That’s not who I am, and that’s not what I want.”
Connor processes that. With Hank’s declaration, it feels like he’s finally found the missing piece of the puzzle. The evidence clicks together in front of his eyes, and he watches with exhilaration as the answer makes itself clear:
Hank does not think the feeling is mutual.
The very notion is so ridiculous that Connor hadn’t even considered it. Careless of him now, he knows, but even he misses things on occasion.
How could Connor not want Hank? Hank is his partner, his friend, his family. Everything Connor knows about being a person he has learnt through him. There are times when Connor still feels caught up in his programming, in CyberLife’s webs. Times when he worries that he’s still nothing more than a machine whose single purpose is to find the good things in life and destroy them.
Those moments never last long though, because Hank is always there by his side, ready to steady him whenever Connor feels like faltering.
Hank gave Connor all the good parts of himself - his trust, his empathy, his desire to be more; every single one of those are rooted in Hank.
Connor could have stood at the right hand of a revolution. He did not. He came back to Hank.
Hank is staring at him warily, hands squeezing the edge of the counter hard enough that his knuckles pop white. He looks a lot like he does right before he kicks down a door, and it is not an expression Connor likes on him.
“Lieutenant,” he says, searching, searching, searching for the right phrase to tell him what he needs to say. “You’ve given me everything; of course I want you.”
That seems to be the wrong thing. Hank’s expression scrunches up, and he says, “Look, I don’t want you out of obligation. You don’t owe me anything.”
Frustration. So intense, so consuming, so familiar. It almost has a taste to it now, which is alarming on many levels, not the least because Connor is not meant to taste anything at all.
“That is not what I mean,” he says as calmly as he can. He takes a step forward and is relieved when Hank does not step back. He chances another one. This is familiar, he finds. He was training in negotiation after all.
“You don’t have to explain yourself, Connor. It’s -.”
“It seems like I do.” Connor does not mean to snap, but he thinks he might have if Hank’s floored expression is anything to by. He takes an unnecessary breath and tries again, softer, “It seems like I do, because you are not listening to me, Hank.”
The use of his name catches Hank completely off guard, which is exactly what Connor had been anticipating. If the current status quo is not working, it’s best to shake it up and see what might transpire. Hank’s jaw works for a moment, but he finally seems to decide on something. “Alright. Tell me. I’m listening.”
The relief on the heels of frustration is a lot how Connor imagines Hank feels after the first sip of his beer at the tail end of a long day.
He comes closer. Hank still does not move away, although he’s watching Connor very carefully. They just have the bench between them now, and when Connor sets his hands against the cool countertop, their fingertips touch.
“It is true that CyberLife did not design me with the intention of developing romantic or sexual feelings for other beings, especially a human,” Connor says, “but CyberLife’s plans for me - for all of us - have… rather unraveled spectacularly. What I feel for you is something I am not equipped to understand. What I lack, Hank, is experience in this field, not desire.” His hands creep closer, and when they slide over the back of Hank’s, he does not pull away. “I understand that attraction does not necessitate reaction, but if your only concern has been my feelings, rest assured they are more than mutual.”
Hank swallows convulsively. Connor tracks the movement by reflex alone. Beneath his palms, Hank’s hands turn ever so slightly, and before Connor can understand his intention, he’s woven their fingers together.
“That’s a pretty speech for such a goofy face.”
Connor smiles. It is the strangest sensation, the pull of his mouth and the crease in the corner of his eyes. He cannot help it though. The pleased-satisfied feeling inside of him is simply stronger than his programming.
“You do not find my face all that goofy,” he says. “It arouses you.”
Hank groans, and pulls their hands apart to put one over Connor’s mouth. “Jesus, you don’t have to state every fact, you know?”
Connor blinks at him passively and then, slow enough that Hank could pull away, reaches up and shifts Hank’s hand down just the smallest bit so his tongue can skate along Hank’s fingertips. He detects the warm beer on his skin, the faint salt of sweat, the clean soap of the shower.
Hank shivers and Connor can see the red at the back of his neck climbing up his cheeks. It is very gratifying.
“Not that…” Hank trails off on a breath.
“Yes?” Connor asks patiently, mouth catching around Hank’s index finger.
Another shiver. The dark feeling in Connor’s wiring grows.
“Not that I’m not enjoying myself, but I think I’d rather if you let me kiss you now.”
Connor has never kissed anybody before. He’s thought about it though. Sometimes with a detached curiosity, and sometimes with a very specific curiosity.
He wants to try.
Connor drops Hank’s hand and reaches across the benchtop, tangling his grip in Hank’s shirt, hauling him over the bench to press their mouths together.
It’s awkward. Their teeth knock and Connor is rather uncertain what he’s supposed to be doing with his mouth. The sheer force behind it makes it resemble an attack more than a moment of intimacy.
“Jesus Christ,” Hank mutters, one hand on the bench to keep himself from being ripped off his feet by Connor’s inhuman strength, and the other resting on the back of Connor’s neck. “Slow down, okay? You don’t need to rush.”
Connor disagrees. Going by past history, he is most certain that if he gives him too much time to think about it, Hank may change his mind. Connor does not know how he’ll withstand the frustration if he were to come so close to his objective and still not accomplish it.
Hank’s hand on his neck slides up, his thumb brushing Connor’s hairline. “More like this, alright? Let me lead.”
Hank leans back in, and this time Connor holds himself still, allows Hank to take control.
It’s better this time, now that Connor isn’t making a concentrated effort to break both of their faces. Hank’s mouth is warm, and he can feel the pressure. He’s still not sure what he should be doing, and he tightens his grip on the stretched neck of Hank’s shirt, feeling his knuckles brush against his collar.
Logically, Connor knows that a kiss should not have such an effect on him. He’s not human, doesn’t have the serotonin to release into his brain as a result of affection.
Connor’s programming doesn’t seem to care. There’s a thrill in this, a fondness, and although he’s sure that Hank has kissed people far better at this than him, the fact he’s chosen to share this with Connor is a gift he won’t soon forget.
Hank goes to pull away and Connor tightens his grip in his shirt, but Hank just reaches up and gently pries his hands loose. “I’m not stopping because I want to,” he says. “I’m stopping because I’m too old to be leaning over a counter to make-out like this when there’s a perfectly good bed the next room over.”
Connor considers that. The small thrill from earlier growing greater, a giddiness Connor never would have thought he’d ever have an occasion to experience.
Hank’s face is carefully blank, and it confuses him for a moment before he realizes the minute tightness around his eyes is anxiety. He’s waiting Connor’s answer; whether Connor intends to allow this to continue, or whether he’s planning to end it here.
Hank, he has come to learn, can be incredibly dense for somebody so bright.
“I would like that, I think,” Connor says.
“Well,” he says, “I can hardly confirm without evidence, now can I?”
Hank laughs, one hand coming up to cover his eyes. There’s relief in the relaxing of his shoulders though, and his mouth is curling up into a grin so fond that Connor feels warm even without touch.
“Well, how the fuck can I argue with that?” Hank says.
Hank is not the kind of person to make their bed every morning, so the sheets are already an absolute disaster even before they sink onto them.
Hank goes first, sitting on the edge of the bed as he guides Connor down to straddle his lap. It would be inaccurate to say that Connor isn’t anxious about this new development in his world experiences, but the anxiousness is eclipsed by the thrum of unnatural excitement building inside of him.
“Is this alright?” Hank asks, hands on Connor’s face.
“If I’m uncomfortable, I will let you know,” Connor says. “Please kiss me.”
Hank does. It’s just as good as it had been in the kitchen, and Connor tangles his fingers in Hank’s shirt, leaning forward eagerly. Like this, Hank has to tilt his head up to kiss him, and there’s something almost endearing in that which Connor wishes he could explain.
As they kiss, Hank’s hands move, roaming down, sliding under Connor’s shirt, around his back, up and over his chest. It’s strange, but Connor enjoys it, enjoys the idea of being known like this.
Connor breaks their kiss, tilts Hank’s head back further, and mouths along his jaw. Hank’s breath catches, stutters in his chest. “You’re a quick learner.”
“I’m an android,” Connor corrects, teeth catching lightly on his skin before he pulls back.
Hank’s hands are resting on his hips, and Connor spreads his knees, sinking down so he’s resting atop Hank’s lap. He’s hard already, and Connor delights at the fact that for all his inexperience he’s apparently doing something correct.
“You look mighty proud of yourself,” Hank says, one hand lifting up to cup Connor’s cheek. “Fucking smug bastard.”
Connor smiles and turns his cheek, pressing into Hank’s palm, reaching up to hold it there. The sensation of being touched like this, so affectionately and intimately, is making him feel as though his chest is too tight, crushing against all the delicate technology that keeps him going. He thinks he likes it.
“I’m aware my inexperience might be considered a turn-off by some,” Connor admits. “I’m glad to see that’s not the case.”
Hank rolls his eyes and uses the hand on Connor’s cheek to pull him forward. They kiss again, but this time it’s deeper, messier. Connor tilts his head, opens his mouth, and follows Hank’s lead.
It’s good. It’s so very, incredibly good. Connor has a mind that’s built to contain more thoughts than can possibly be counted, and right now all he can focus on is the wet warmth of Hank’s mouth, the catch of his lips.
Connor hadn’t known kissing felt like this. If he had, he would have jumped Hank weeks ago now. It’s amazing humans get anything else done, he thinks, if they could be doing this all the time instead.
He sinks lower, slips his hands under Hank’s shirt, hitching it up so it’s caught around Connor’s wrists. His skin feels very warm, almost hot, and Connor is pleased at the fact that it is entirely his fault.
Hank’s breath is on his mouth whenever they pull away for a second, and Connor can feel the heave of his chest beneath his hands. Good, he thinks again, sharp, crisp, and incredibly hungry. Very good.
On a whim, he nicks Hank’s bottom lip with his teeth. Hank’s whole body tightens beneath his hands, and a sound very much like a groan tumbles from his mouth to Connor’s. The erection between Connor’s thighs twitches.
“Yes?” Connor asks, pulling back.
Hank frowns at him, panting. His skin is adorably blotchy. “Don’t fish for compliments. Bad manners.”
Connor strokes his thumb against the soft curve of Hank’s belly. “I’m merely making sure I’m doing this right.”
“There’s no wrong way to do this, Connor,” Hank reminds him, hands coming down to catch around his wrists, holding Connor’s palms flat to his stomach. “As long as we’re enjoying ourselves, it’s right.”
Hank rolls his eyes and lifts his hips, shifting Connor on his lap. The tight bulge in his pants rubs against him, incredibly obvious. “You’re a smart guy. I’m sure you can figure it out.”
Connor can, but he had wanted Hank to say it. He goes to lean down and join their mouths again, but one of Hank’s hands catches the back of his neck, holding him so that Hank can catch his gaze.
“And what about you? I know you said you could, but are you…”
Hank’s concern for him is appreciated but misplaced. Connor slips his hands from beneath Hank’s shirt and takes Hank’s free wrist, guiding it down until his palm presses against the front of Connor’s pants.
Hank’s eyes are wide and very dark. “Oh,” he says, a little weakly.
Connor smiles, rolls his hips, pressing against Hank’s touch. It’s unfamiliar and clumsy, but there’s a spark of relief-tension-heat in his circuits and it feels good.
“I’ve increased my sensitivity to compensate for the fact this is not my initial purpose,” he says. “I was unaware that contact could feel this… overwhelming.”
Hank presses again Connor’s erection, curling his fingers, feeling the shape of it through Connor’s tight pants. “I wasn't even sure if you had a dick,” he says.
“Would it have bothered you if I didn’t?”
“No,” Hank answers honestly. “Whatever you do or don’t have is fine with me. But it does make it… easier to know I’m not taking advantage.”
He doesn’t look convinced though. Connor suspects that it will be the work of more than one night to convince Hank that he doesn’t need to hold back, that Connor not only welcomes his advances but encourages them.
He has an idea of how he might start, however.
Connor moves, lifting himself off of Hank’s lap and climbing unsteadily to his feet. A flash of alarm crosses Hank’s face, but Connor just tucks his fingers underneath the hem of Hank’s old shirt and pulls, giving him no chance to resist.
It comes up and off easily, even without Hank’s help.
“Whoa, hold on a second, you don’t have to -.”
“Please be quiet,” Connor says idly, dropping the shirt and leaning forward to run his hands over the wealth of Hank’s now naked skin. “I would like just a second to process this, please.”
The top of Hank’s chest is taken up by an intricate tattoo; a portrait of some kind framed in flowers and wings. It is a beautiful piece of artwork, and Connor’s fingers trail over the lines, committing each and every piece of it to memory.
“I didn’t know about this,” he says.
Hank snorts. His hands are fisted atop his thighs and he looks like he wants to touch Connor dearly and is barely holding himself back. Connor wishes he wouldn’t.
“Why would you? Not even an android can know something they haven’t seen, unless you lot have x-ray vision and you never thought to mention.”
“As far as I’m aware, even CyberLife haven’t quite gotten that far,” Connor says. “Although it would prove incredibly useful in the field.” He skates his hands down, along the grey hair of Hank’s hairy chest and closer to his waist. “And perhaps in other areas too.”
Connor looks up and meets Hank’s gaze. He smiles and then, in one smooth move, sinks to his knees, fingertips catching in the elastic of Hank’s shorts.
The sound Hank makes is one Connor stores away instantly, looks forward to replaying it over and over in the privacy of his head. “Something wrong, Lieutenant?”
Hank’s hands come up, catching in Connor’s hair. “Please don’t call me that when you’re on your knees in front of me,” Hank says, or perhaps more accurately wheezes. “You don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with, Connor.”
“Trust me, I’m not,” Connor says, almost dryly. His thumbs stroke up and down the silky cloth of Hank’s pants. “Now, Hank; I would very much like to try going down on you, if that’s agreeable?”
“Oh, fuck. You’re going to be the absolute death of me.”
Connor takes that as a compliment, and hopefully an agreement. He curls his fingers, slipping under the waistband of both Hank’s shorts and boxers and tugs them down. Hank left his hips to help and they slither down his thighs, bearing another tattoo on the left. For a second, Connor considers leaving them tangled around Hank’s ankles to inspect, but his patience is stretching tight enough that he’s not sure it’ll bear the weight of another distraction.
Besides, there will be plenty of time for thorough exploration later. And Connor intends to explore very thoroughly.
He tosses the rumpled clothing to the side, slips his hands along the inside of Hank’s thighs, and leans forward.
Connor’s experiences with nudity thus far have been largely clinical; dead bodies naked and decayed on cold morgue slabs or in bloody crime scenes. He’s not completely new to the sight of bare flesh, but it turns out context is important in these things, and quite suddenly he’s feeling rather overwhelmed.
Hank is thicker than he was prepared for, and just big enough to be considered challenging if not uncomfortable. If Connor were human, he suspects he might be intimidated by the size of the task ahead. He is not. All he feels is a rush he has no words to explain, and a growing arousal that is more painful than he’d suspected it would be.
“What?” Hank snaps, clearly conscious of Connor’s staring. One of the hands in his hair tugs lightly.
“I’m just observing,” Connor says. He skims his hands up higher, curling his fingers along the ink on Hank’s thigh. “Anticipating, maybe.”
“Anticipating? Jesus, Connor, it’s just a dick, and if you’re gonna keep making this weird, I’m going to put it away.”
“I would rather you didn’t,” Connor says. “It would make this next part rather difficult.”
“Well, considering you show no intention of getting to the next part, maybe I’ll just - Jesus fuck.”
Connor had intended to take this slower, but there’s some satisfaction to be had in pulling such a loud yelp from him. Hank’s dick is warm and a little wet from precome and it slides easily between Connor’s lips. The weight of it gives him a pleasant shock, and he’s surprised by how much he enjoys it.
He pulls off for just long enough to lick his lips, artificial thirium-based spit as slippery as the real thing, and goes back down again. Hank’s hands in his hair convulse, and the groan he lets out trembles through his body to all the points where the two of them are touching.
There’s more he should be doing, he thinks, then mouthing wetly, but he’s not quite sure what.
One of Hank’s hands slips to the back of his neck, not pushing but guiding. “Move,” he says. “There’s a rhythm to this.”
Connor follows his lead, swallowing down and pulling back up. Hank’s panting is very loud, and the sweat on his thighs is making it difficult for Connor to get a good grip. On a hunch, he lifts one, slinging it over his shoulder and holding it there, immediately rewarded with a better angle.
Hank’s hands slip from him as he leans back, clutching at the sheets. “Oh, shit.”
Connor takes that as permission to keep going, and this time when he swallows Hank down he goes as far as he can, feels the head of his dick bumping down the back of his throat. Although Connor does not need to breathe, the intrusion feels foreign, and is enough to ping a system alarm.
He barely notices it, nothing more than a faint flashing in the corner of his sightline. Hank’s cursing loudly, and the weight of his leg over Connor’s shoulder feels far better than he thinks it probably should. Hank’s other thigh is trembling beneath his hand, and Connor can’t help but dig his nails into the soft flesh, right where the tattoo rests, just to see what happens.
Hank’s back arches on the bed, a hand flies up to dig into the meat of Connor’s shoulder, and he comes.
Connor can almost feel his pleasure from all the places they’re connected, and the thought that he is responsible for it, the twitching of Hank’s cock as it empties between his lips, is more than enough to trigger his own orgasm.
It feels a little like getting shot, if Connor were to try and explain. A sudden, sharp punch when he didn’t expect it, an emptiness where he hadn’t realized he was full. The pleasure is new though; it’s as if all of the sparking arousal has been crushed and condensed into a single moment, and it’s so very, incredibly good that Connor is one more push away from going into temporary shut down involuntarily.
Hank is shaking a little when Connor lets his cock slip from between his lips, but when Connor climbs back onto the bed, crawling over Hank to settle back on his lap, he’s quick to reach out, hands on Connor’s waist, slipping under his shirt to smooth along his skin.
“Didn’t even get you undressed,” Hank says hoarsely. “Fuck, didn’t even unbutton your damn shirt.”
“It wasn’t precisely necessary.” Connor’s lips feel damp, and he snakes his tongue out along them. Hank watches it with avid interest, and his spent cock beneath Connor gives a valiant twitch. It is incredibly flattering.
“I still wanna see, Connor.” Hank’s hand creeps up the small of Connor’s back, large and secure. “I wanna count how many fucking freckles you actually have. It’s goddamn ridiculous.”
“Next time,” Connor says. Curious, he scratches his nails through the thatch of hair on Hank’s chest over the lines of his tattoo that have stretched with time. “Will you tell me about this?”
“Later,” Hank says, and Connor would consider it a brushoff but for the way Hank’s voice is too soft for it. “For now, it’s my turn to get you off.”
Connor smiles. “That also won’t be necessary.”
Hank’s face falls into a confused frown, and then from that to worry. His gaze flicks down to the front of Connor’s pants where his erection is noticeably no longer present. “Oh. Uh…” He’s clearly at a loss, and more than a little disappointed. “If you didn’t like doing this -.”
Connor sighs and picks up one of Hank’s hands, bringing it down to press against his soft dick where the front of his pants is ever so slightly damp. “It’s not necessary,” Connor says, more patiently than he feels Hank deserves, “because I’ve already climaxed, Hank.”
Hank stares up at him dumbly. “Oh.”
Connor takes pity on him and leans forward, dropping Hank’s hand so he can cup his cheeks again. This time when he initiates the kiss, he’s slower, mimics how Hank had done it. They don’t clash teeth at least, which is certainly an improvement.
One of Hank’s hands comes up to brush Connor’s hair from his face. Between the pulling and the kissing, it’s messier than usual. Connor would complain, but the way Hank eyes him is worth the hassle.
When they pull back, Hank is smiling, thumb brushing behind Connor’s ear. “I take it you liked… this, then?”
“I thought you said it was bad form to fish for compliments.”
Hank lets out a bark of laughter. It thrills Connor something awful. “I’m not fishing,” he says. “Looking for reassurance, maybe. You gotta understand how surreal this feels. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t even know you could feel like this for somebody, and I sure as fuck didn’t think I’d end the day with you in my bed.”
“I didn’t know I could feel like this either,” Connor says truthfully. “Androids have always been able to form a degree of attachment, but I have never… experienced it myself. Meeting you changed my perspective a great deal, I believe.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“It depends,” Connor says, “on whether you’re comfortable committing to a relationship with a deviant android.”
Hank’s brow crinkles as he smiles. He looks amused and terribly fond. There are beautiful crow’s feet in the corners of his eyes. “Is that what we’re doing, huh?”
“I have no desire to experience this with anybody but you,” Connor says, unhesitating.
“You’re sure about that?” Hank says. “I’m a fat, grumpy, old man. You don’t have to lock yourself to the first option that comes along, you know. If you wanted to… keep this open to explore your choices, I wouldn’t -.”
Connor digs his nails into Hank’s chest sharply, making him curse and jump. “Don’t speak for me, please,” he says. “As of two months ago, I have the right to make my own choices, and I have never been more certain about anything. If you don’t feel the same, that’s different, but if your objections are purely based on your concern for me, than know that I don’t need them.”
“Okay, okay, geez,” Hank sighs, prying Connor’s hands off his chest. “Fuck, if I’d known you were this into clawing at me I’d have bought you a goddamn scratching post.”
Connor generously allows the insult to slide. With care, he maneuvers himself off Hank’s lap and onto the mattress beside him. Hank eyes him oddly, but Connor knows what he wants and is not shy about pursuing it. He pushes Hank until he takes the hint to move over onto his side, and then Connor crawls in close, turning around and pressing his back to Hank’s chest. He reaches behind himself to pluck one of Hank’s arms and drapes it carefully over his waist.
The closeness feels unbearably good. He’d suspected it would, and he’s gratified to be proven correct.
“Fuck, bossy, aren’t you?” Hank grunts, but he doesn’t pull away.
“Would you like me to move?”
“That’s not what I said, smartass. Do you even get anything out of this? You don’t sleep.”
“The closeness feels good,” Connor admits, unashamed. “And I think I may go into temporary shut down for a period. My systems could use a check-up. I am… unused to such intense sensations.”
Hank’s arm tightens warningly. “If you damaged yourself giving me a blowjob, I’m going to lock you out of the house.”
“It’s unlikely,” Connor says. “My systems could just use a rest.”
Hank snorts. “You have an orgasm and you get tired and wanna sleep; maybe you’re not all that different from a human after all.”
Connor is uncertain if that’s an insult or a compliment. “If you have finished having your crisis over our actions, I’m ready to shut down.”
Hank laughs, and the warmth of it crawls along the back of Connor’s neck. “Yeah, I’m finished for now. We probably shouldn’t sleep long, though. Sumo’s gonna break down the goddamn door if he gets hungry enough. I didn’t name him that for nothing. Also don’t wanna waste the soup you made.”
“You won’t get any sleep if you don’t stop talking,” Connor says logically. “I’ll wake you in an hour.”
Hank laughs again, but this time it sounds more strained. Worried, Connor rolls over.
Hank has his free hand over his face, hiding his eyes. He’s smiling, but without a clearer view of his expression Connor cannot tell if he’s happy or distressed. He reaches up, curling his hand around Hank’s wrist and tugs. “What’s wrong?”
“Fuck,” Hank says. “It’s just… I’m not dreaming, am I?”
Oh, Connor thinks, and his worry softens. He tugs at Hank’s wrist again, and this time Hank allows him to move it. He very carefully does not look at Hank’s face, just turns his hand over and presses a kiss in the center of his palm.
“Go to sleep, Hank. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
thank you so much for all of your kind comments and messages. it was a joy to recieve such a response to this fic, and i hope this second part is all you hoped for.
as always, find me on tumblr as glenflower.