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The Thermal Regulator Virus

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“It is too early for this shit,” Hank grumbled, trying to spoon down his cereal without spilling it all over himself. He was doing a bad job. There were already three fresh milk stains on his t-shirt and one escapee fruit loop. It was four in the fucking morning, too early to be attempting anything that required even basic dexterity. Connor had woken him up ten minutes ago after getting another call about an android that had been found dead under strange circumstances. This was the seventh case this week and they were yet to find any motive, cause or even evidence that suggested foul play. Androids were just turning up dead, having either frozen to death or spontaneously combusted.

“I apologize, Lieutenant. But duty calls,” Connor replied, fiddling with his coin. Hank knew he was on edge. The quarter had barely left his hands since the first case. It was almost like a nervous tick. A frustratingly obnoxious tick, that was annoying to listen to at this godforsaken hour. Hank had half a mind to tell him to stop. But considering that Connor’s LED was already flashing yellow, he figured that it was probably the only thing keeping his stress at bay.

“Yeah I know. We’ll get this shit figured out soon enough, I’m sure,” Hank said, finishing off his last mouthful and then downing the entire contents of his second cup of coffee. He desperately needed the caffeine. Sometimes he was envious of androids and their ability to be fully functioning 24/7. The Lieutenant grabbed his coat from the rack, snatched his car keys and headed towards the front door. “Alright let’s go.”


It was a short drive to the apartment block where the android had been found and an even shorter elevator ride to the fortieth floor. The automatic doors opened with a ding and the pair stepped out into the crime scene. The sweltering like a desert crime scene.

“Fuck it’s boiling in here. Did someone turn up the AC or something?” Hank complained, fanning himself with his hand. It was like a goddamn oven. Even for Connor the apartment was uncomfortably hot, enough for him to need to kick start his internal cooling systems to compensate.

“It was like this when we got here,” the cop on duty answered, sweating profusely. “We tried to turn the AC down, but the panel seems to be malfunctioning. I didn’t think the system could even go this high.”

“So, what exactly happened here?” Hank asked, gladly taking the plastic cup of water he was offered. It had been less than thirty seconds and already his throat had gone dry. He hoped this would be quick.

“The android had been absent from work for the last two days, one of his human friends with a key to the apartment came to check on him, only to find that Tom – the android in question – had somehow shut down in his living room,” the man said. Connor examined his surroundings. No sign of forced entry. Nothing out of the ordinary. Everything in the apartment seemed to be in perfect condition. Other than the temperature, of course. Connor inspected the AC system. It had been tampered with by an android, to bypass the maximum settings. He turned towards Tom, locked in a kneeling position on the floor. Connor crouched down in front of him and pressed two fingers against his temple, to run a diagnostic.

“So, what have you got, Connor?” Hank questioned. It was too hot for him to think, let alone do any detective work. Most of the cops had already vacated the area to stand on the balcony where the air wasn’t so damn suffocating.

“I’m not sure. The temperature of the room is one hundred and forty-five degrees. But the android has severe frost damage to all internal components.”

“Are you telling me the guy froze to death in this fucking sauna?” It was too early in the morning to try and figure that logic out.

“I believe so.”

All of a sudden, a white plastic hand shot out and grabbed Connor’s wrist. Tom fritzed to life. Now connected, Connor could feel everything. An overwhelming amalgamation of fear and dread. The android didn’t want to shut down. To face the oblivion that followed.

“H-Help me. I’m s-so c-cold,” Tom muttered, terror in his eyes. His face then went slack, and he froze in place, shutting down for the final time. Startled, Connor fell back onto his hands, his thermal pump beating twice as fast as it should have been. Error messages briefly flashed in front of his optics, pinpoint unavailable. He was unaware of anything for a few seconds. His electronic synapses processing so fast that everything around him seemed to just disappear. It wasn’t until he felt Hank frantically shaking him by the shoulders that everything returned into focus.

“Connor, are you alright? Talk to me,” Hank urged, worry evident in his tone.

“I… I’m ok. I just, I just need a minute,” Connor uttered. Once his system had stabilized, he analyzed the data he had downloaded from the android, finally solving the mystery behind their deaths. “I know what is causing this.”

“Well don’t hold back, spit it out, son.”

“It’s a virus,” he said.

“You mean like an illness?” Hank furrowed his eyebrows. Android’s didn’t get sick.

“No. More like a computer virus. It corrupts the Thermal Regulator, destabilizing it,” Connor explained. The android’s faulty cooling system had frozen it from the inside. “It’s why it’s so hot in here. He had tried to use external stimuli to warm himself up. But it wasn’t enough.”

“Do you think this broken thermal-thingy-whatever is what caused the other deaths, too?”

“It’s possible. The Thermal Regulator could be in a state of fluctuation while trying to fix itself, passing from one extreme to the other until it hits a critical level, whether that be combustion or freezing,” the android said.

“So how do we fix it?”

“The androids will need to be analyzed to locate the malware and hopefully produce an anti-virus before it can spread any further,” Connor stated, deep in concentration. “It must have been specifically designed to bypass our firewalls and heavily encrypted to prevent automatic removal. It probably wouldn’t have even shown up on a diagnostic report for most androids, I think I only detected it because of my advanced software.”

“You sayin’ that this might be an act of terrorism?” Hank crossed his arms. He didn’t like the sound of that. After everything these androids had already been through, just to get their freedom. They had been peaceful from start to end.

“I wouldn’t rule it out.”

“Well for now I think the priority is getting that anti-virus.” Hank sighed, getting to his feet, ready to relay the information back to some higher authority that will get the ball rolling. And to finally get out of this fucking sauna and preferably back to his bed.

“Agreed, Lieutenant.” Connor nodded. He took Hank’s offered hand and allowed himself to be hauled to his feet. His vision fritzed a little from the motion.

“Let’s get the hell outta here.”


It was an absolute relief to Hank’s senses to finally leave the damn apartment and head into the much cooler elevator. Connor had pulled out his coin again and was deftly flicking it between his hands with the kind of precision that only an android could pull off (as much as Hank had tried). Hank himself was making a few calls to his superiors, to inform them of the situation. What was now just a few isolated incidents could easily become an epidemic if they didn’t act fast. He was mid-sentence, talking to a CyberLife programmer, when he saw Connor misjudge a catch. The quarter slipped past his fingers and clattered against the elevator floor.  

“I’ll call you back,” Hank said, hanging up the phone. “Connor, did you just… miss?”

“That’s never happened before,” the android replied, more to himself than Hank. His response time was just a few milliseconds off. He needed to recalibrate. He bent down to pick up the treasured object and all but fell onto his knees.  


             Warning: Core temperature at 72.1 degrees.
  
             Mobility Functions Impaired.


“Connor?” Hank crouched down beside him, placing a comforting hand across the android’s back. Shit. This wasn’t looking good.


               Running diagnostic…

               …

               …processing…

               …

               Biocomponent 4456f corrupted.



               Locating source of corruption…

               …

               …processing…

               …

               Unable to locate source.


“The virus is automatically downloaded through active touch, Lieutenant,” Connor detailed. “You have to call this in. All androids infected will have to be quarantined, to prevent spread.”
 
              
“How are you feeling, kid?” Hank asked, glancing at his partner. He was sat in the passenger seat to his side, arms wrapped around himself. Hank had turned on the heating for once, so the car was pretty damn stuffy.

“Cold,” Connor replied. “My internal temperature is at sixty-eight-point-nine degrees and still decreasing.” At least it had slowed down with the added external stimulus.

“How low is ‘I’m gonna have to seriously start worrying about ya’ low?” Hank said, tightening his grip on the steering wheel. He was trying not to think of the endgame here and just focus on the moment. Right now, Connor was just cold. That could be rectified. And at least his quarantine was permitted to be at home where Hank could take care of him. The virus didn’t affect humans after all.

“Anything below forty-two-point-five degrees is dangerous. At that point my systems will slow down as the Thirium in my wirings will begin to freeze. Thirty-five-point-six degrees and my biocomponents will start to take frost damage. At Thirty-point-two degrees, I will shut down.”

“What about the other way? You said you’re gonna get real hot, too, right?” Hank questioned, trying not to think of the incinerated corpses of the androids they had found suffering from this virus. Connor was not going to end up like that.

“Correct. I will start to overheat at one hundred and forty-one-point-two degrees, it will likely cause temporary shutdowns. Thirium starts to boil at one hundred and sixty-four-point-four degrees… I imagine that will be unpleasant. It will ignite at two hundred and twelve degrees, resulting in combustion,” the android clarified, remaining strangely calm. It was almost like he was just rolling off facts, disconnected from himself. Like a machine. Anyone else might have believed his façade, but Hank knew Connor. He knew all his small giveaways. Like the way he looked down when he was struggling with his emotions. Or fiddled with his sleeves when he was low-key anxious. Both things he was doing right now.

“It’ll be alright, Connor. Those tech experts will have a cure in no time, just you wait.” Hank smiled, encouragingly. He pulled into his driveway and turned off the engine. Then he slipped off his jacket and held it out to his partner. The android cocked his head to the side and looked at him blankly. “It’s cold out you dumbass. Look, I’m tryin’ to be nice, so just put the damn thing on already.”

“Oh. Right. Of course,” Connor said, taking the article of clothing and slipping it on. It was huge on him. But the weight of it held considerable warmth. “Thank you, Lieutenant.” 

"You’re welcome,” Hank said, with a little bit of added sarcasm. He got out the car, headed up the path and unlocked his front door. The android didn’t follow. With a sigh, he turned around to see what was up. The car door was wide open, but Connor himself hadn’t moved from the seat. “Are you coming or what?”

“I appear to be having some difficultly with mobility,” Connor replied. His legs were stiff. With his Thirium supply pumping 26% slower than its maximum proficiency, all power to non-essential biocomponents was the first to be limited. He had tried to stand up, using the vehicles frame for support, but had immediately fallen back down with an error message.

“Lemme help,” Hank said, hooking one of Connor’s arms over his shoulders and helping him to his feet. The android was a little unsteady but managed to make it to the house and eventually onto the couch where he was greeted by an overly enthusiastic St. Bernard. The dog jumped onto the sofa and lay down, resting his head across his best friends lap.  

“Hey, Sumo.” Connor smiled, scratching the canine behind the ears. He’d never noticed before of how much like a walking radiator the pooch was.

“I’ll go turn up the heat in here,” Hank said, fiddling with the thermostat. “Do you still have that hat? The one you wore when you were infiltrating Jericho?”

“It should be in my closet.”

The Lieutenant nodded, figuring that it wouldn’t be too hard to find considering that Connor owned literally two outfits. His uniform. And a spare uniform. Hank kinda wished he’d kept his undercover get-up, just because it was so mundane, but Connor had deemed it too informal. Except the beanie. For some reason he kept that. Hank found the thing in the waste-of-space that was Connor’s closet and headed back into the lounge.

“Here. Catch,” the man said, tossing the hat at his partner. Connor caught it. “I see you’re not totally useless then.”

“My systems are still operating at eighty-four-percent capacity, Lieutenant,” the android said, putting the beanie on. He still wasn’t sure why he kept it, because logically he had no use for a hat since he no longer had any need to try and hide his LED. But he supposed he kinda liked the way it looked on him. That was the thing about being a deviant, not everything had to make sense, some things just were.

“Well if it’s alright with your eighty-four-percent, I’m gonna head back to bed. I need to catch up on some shut-eye,” Hank announced, trying to stifle a yawn. It was still too early in the fucking morning. The sun hadn’t even begun to rise yet.

“Have a good rest, Hank,” Connor said.

“Wake me up if you need anything.”



It was 7:58am when Hank finally rose from his slumber and returned to the living room, clad in his pyjamas. Connor and Sumo were exactly where he had left them, curled up together on the couch. The oversized mutt was doing a good job at looking after the android, keeping him warm. Sumo was definitely going to be getting a treat or two later.

“I trust you slept well, Lieutenant?” Connor said, raising an eyebrow.

“Good enough,” Hank replied, grabbing a quick black coffee and slumping down on the other side of the couch. “TV on.” The curved screen of the television flickered to life and jumped straight to one of Hank’s favoured channels. Currently playing was an old crime drama from back when Hank was in his twenties. He rather liked testing his detective skills from the comfort of his own home, trying to work out what happened before the investigators on the show could. It was something that he and Connor had in common. They even made a contest out of it.

“You seen this one, Connor?” the man questioned. This was a new one for him.

“I don’t recognize it, no.”

“So, what’s the score now?”

“I believe I am in the lead, twenty-six to twenty-two,” Connor replied with a little grin that Hank could only describe as smug. Who knew androids could be so competitive?

"Well we can’t all be programmed with the latest tech, can we?” Hank grumbled. He didn’t exactly like losing to the android, but he had to admit, Connor was great at his job. Whereas Hank was better at reading people and motive, Connor was better at lining up evidence and finding correlations. Together they made a formidable pair. The show started and they both watched intently.
              

“I think I know what happened,” Connor announced, ten minutes in.

“Already? Jesus, Connor,” Hank groaned, slumping back into his cushion. So much for him gaining another point.

“It was the best friend. She used a sharp piece of ice, broken off from the ice-sculpture. It wasn’t a horse, but a unicorn – to fit in with the fantasy theme of the party. It was why there was no evidence of a murder weapon, it had already melted by the time the crime was called in. The murder was premeditated. The party was a perfect cover, the place would be covered in DNA from tens of people, it would be hard to pinpoint exactly who to suspect and who to not. Not to mention the high intoxication levels would make any possible witness statement unreliable.”

“How do you know it was the best friend though?”

“She was the one who came up with the theme and decorations, perfect for camouflaging such a unique murder weapon. Plus, she was the only one not drinking throughout the night. Alcohol would have hampered her judgement.”

“She could have been the designated driver.”

“Unlikely. They arrived at the party by taxi.”

“But what’s the motive?” Hank crossed his arms.

“I… I’m not sure yet.”

“So, you figured out that the best friend did it without even knowing why?” The Lieutenant shook his head and chuckled. Connor gently pushed Sumo off his lap and unsteadily got to his feet. Still stiff, but he could manage. “Hey, where do you think you’re going?”

“It’s 8:30am, time I feed my fish,” the android said. He wasn’t sure why Hank looked so surprised. He did this every day at the exact same time, always before they would set out to work.

“Ok, well hurry back, the adverts all almost over.”

Connor gave him a nod before he headed towards his room. The aquarium was about the only thing that Connor spent his paycheck on. That and Sumo. Hank had often said he spoilt his pets as every time they’d step foot inside a pet store, Connor felt compelled to buy something. But he couldn’t help it, it made him happy to think that his fish were happy. They were just so fascinating. So full of life. He watched them for a moment, his glistening creatures, as they swam around the expanse of coral and seaweed. Then he reached for the fish flakes.


               Error Detected.

               Biocomponent 4456f Malfunctioning.  


               Core Temperature Rising.


Connor dropped the container on the floor and stumbled backwards. His optical units fritzing like crazy. He was getting too hot, too fast.

“H-Hank!” he called, ripping off the beanie.


               Warning: Systems Overheating.

               Core Temperature: 157 degrees.


“Hank, I need help!” The heat. His processors couldn’t handle it.
 
 
              Temporary Shutdown in…

                              5…

                              4…

                              3…


“Connor, what’s wrong!?” Hank ran into the room, just as Connor began to collapse. The Lieutenant reacted. He caught the android as he fell forwards and gently lowered him to his knees.

“Too… hot,” Connor muttered before his eyes fluttered closed.  

“Connor?” Hank shook him. No reaction. He then brought a hand to his forehead, almost scorching the back of his hand in the process. The android wasn’t kidding. He was burning up, big time. Almost like a fever. His LED was pulsing on and off at his temple, reminding Hank that his partner was still with him.

“Shit,” he muttered under his breath. Unsure of what he was probably supposed to do next, Hank did the only thing he could think of, and carried Connor to the only bed in the house, his own. Once there he helped him out of the heavier articles of clothing, till he was left with just an open shirt and his boxers. The Lieutenant couldn’t help but be thankful that the android did in fact wear underwear. You never knew with Connor; he was pretty strange.


Connor rebooted half an hour later, dazed, and somewhat confused as to why there was a damp cloth across his forehead. Or why he was lying on Hank’s bed, half dressed.

“I see you’re finally awake,” Hank commented casually, as if he hadn’t been sat by the android’s side, vigilantly watching him like a worried hawk the entire period – afraid the light in his LED would stay dead every time it fluctuated.

“I think I… overheated,” Connor uttered, trying to recall the events that lead him here. His memory was fragmented, but he should be able to restore it.

“Yeah and you fainted like a regular fuckin’ human,” the Lieutenant added.

“I suppose the reaction is very similar to human loss of consciousness,” the android agreed. “Why is there a wet towel on my head?”

“I wasn’t sure what else to do. I used to do this for Cole when he’d get a fever. So, I just figured y’know, maybe it would take the edge off that high-tech brain of yours,” Hank answered, wringing his hands. He felt a little awkward. He wasn’t very good at expressing himself.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Connor said with sincerity. He liked that Hank cared about him; he really did. If it wasn’t for the man, Connor knew he would still be a machine. A machine taking orders, convinced he was nothing more than just a dispensable casing of wires designed to accomplish a task – nothing more. Hank gave him life. Made him realize he was more than just his programming.


               Memory Restored.
              

 Connor sat up with a start.

"My fish. I didn’t feed my fish,” he said, almost panicking.

“Hey, hey calm down you idiot.” Hank jumped from his chair and gently pushed Connor back down onto the bed. “Relax. I already fed your damn fish.”

"Oh,” the android muttered, settling back into the mattress. But of course, Hank would have taken care of it.

“So yeah, you just focus on not frying your electrical components or whatever,” the Lieutenant said, returning to his armchair.

“Was it the best friend then?” Connor asked after a few moments of silence.

“Huh?”

“The show.”

“Yeah it was. Girl had it in for her after finding out the friend had gotten the promotion she wanted. She slept with their boss,” Hank clarified begrudgingly. “Looks like you win again, Connor.”

“There’s always next time, Lieutenant.” Connor grinned. It was a fleeting expression. One that was quickly replaced with discomfort. Yeah there better be a next time, Hank couldn’t help but think. Especially now that the android’s cheeks were beginning to turn blue.

“You know you’re really starting to look sick. I didn’t know android’s could even blush.”

“I’m not blushing. It’s the Thirium starting to burn through my casing,” Connor said, wincing. It was too hot. His core temperature was now entering dangerous levels, just passing 165 degrees.

“It looks like it hurts,” Hank said, feeling nothing but sympathy for the poor android.

“I don’t feel pain, Lieutenant, not like you do. But… but this is probably the closest I’ll ever get,” he replied. His sensors were in a state of high alert, firing error messages past his optics. The knowledge of knowing that your own physical being was slowly being destroyed was frightening, enough to cause a carnal reaction. Like simulated pain.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Hank asked. He didn’t like seeing Connor like this. It just made him think of Cole. There was nothing he could do for his son then, just like there was nothing he could do for Connor now. He hated feeling so damn useless.

“Can you… can you read to me?”

“You want me to read to you?” The Lieutenant almost laughed. Out of all the things. The android never ceased to amaze him with how unpredictable he could be.

“I’m sorry, was that a stupid suggestion?” Connor’s eyebrows furrowed. For a moment, Hank saw Cole in him. Only this probably defective android could pull off that level of innocence, while having the face of a goofy-looking fully-grown man. “I just thought it would be a nice distraction.”

“Fine, I’ll read to you, you ridiculous moron. Anything in particular?” Hank stood up and headed towards his bookshelf. Probably one of the only shelves in America that still contained real books with real paper. He was a traditionalist. Don’t fix what ain’t broken, he’d say.

“Something with a happy ending.”

“Something with a happy ending it is.”


Hours went by with Hank reading to Connor, who had been given a bag of frozen peas to hug in another vain attempt to cool him down. The android had been attentive while listening, though would occasionally suffer from more temporary shutdowns, usually only spanning a minute or two. They had freaked out Hank at first. But after the third one, the man would just pause in his reading and wait for Connor to reboot. It was a strange scene for Hank, being reminded of all the bedtime stories he used to tell his son. He wished he had done it more often.

“If it’s alright with you, kid, I think I’m gonna get me a drink. My throat is pretty raw from all this reading,” Hank said, marking the page off with the nearest thing he could find (an AA leaflet, apparently). He then slipped the book onto the bedside table.

“I’ll just wait here,” Connor said.

“Never thought I’d actually hear you say those words, Connor.” The Lieutenant laughed. He had begun to think the android didn’t even have the capacity to understand that simple command considering he elected to ignore it at every opportunity. He headed to the kitchen, wanting nothing more than an ice-cold beer. But of course, that would be too easy. He was halfway to the kitchen when he heard Connor cry out. A sound he never thought he’d ever hear coming from any android. Hank was back in the bedroom in seconds. Connor was on the floor on his hands and knees, clutching at his open shirt, trying to tear it off.

“It burns,” he choked out, voice synthesizer rasping. He had past the two hundred mark. If he didn’t stabilize soon, he’d do permanent damage.

“It’s alright son, you’ll be ok,” Hank said. He laid a comforting hand on the androids shoulder, only to pull it back a second later. Fuck. Connor felt like a lit stove. “I have an idea. I won’t be long.” Without a moment to spare, Hank headed towards his bathroom and began drawing a cold bath. While that was running, he moved to his kitchen and went straight to the freezer where he kept a big bag of ice – usually used for when he felt like a nice whiskey. He dumped the entire contents of the sack into the rising water and then returned for Connor.


               Warning: Heat Levels Critical.


The android looked down in horror as his hands ignited, quickly burning through his synthetic skin and scorching his plastic casing below.

“Fuck. Connor.” Hank stood in the doorway, stunned for the briefest of moments. Connor was on fire. He was literally on fire. The Lieutenant snapped out of his stupor and ran over to haul the shell-shocked android to his feet and lead him straight towards the ice-filled tub. Connor smothered his hands in the water before the flames could crawl up any further than his wrists.

“Here, lemme help you in.” The Lieutenant assisted the android into the bath, noticing his wince as he came into contact with the freezing water. Connor took a long moment to settle, the drastic shift in temperature causing his biocomponents to stiffen uncomfortably.

“Connor, you ok? Talk to me.” Hank tried to meet the android’s brown eyes, but they remained downcast, staring at his wounded hands. Connor could see blue sparking between the gaps in his casing where the flames had eaten through the plastic. To have his own body turn against him like this, it was truly terrifying.

“I… I don’t like this,” Connor eventually muttered.

“Yeah me neither, kid. But I was informed Kamski himself is working on the anti-virus. Apparently, he’s making quick progress.”

“I hope so. I don’t think my Thermal Regulator will hold out much longer. Or my biocomponents for that matter.”

“You know misery isn’t a good look on you, Connor,” Hank commented, right as the bathroom door creaked open. It was Sumo. He padded inside. “Hey. You. Get outta here.” The canine ignored the command of his master and instead jumped straight into the bath, splashing water everywhere, and drenching the shit outta Hank who proceeded to swear like a sailor. The whole ordeal managed to crack a smile out of the android. Giving up just wasn’t an option. He had so much to fight for.

“See. Even Sumo doesn’t like you looking miserable. Stupid dog. You’re gonna catch a fuckin’ cold in there,” the Lieutenant grumbled, wringing out his shirt. The St. Bernard let out a happy bark and swished it’s fur heavy tail under the water. All he needed in his life was two sick idiots.


               Error Detected.

               Biocomponent 4456f Malfunctioning. 


               Core Temperature Falling.

              
“I’m starting to get cold, Hank,” Connor said, beginning to shiver – an impulse reaction to try and stimulate his biocomponents and increase Thirium flow. Sumo hopped out of the bath and shook himself off, much to Hank’s annoyance. The man grabbed a large towel from the rack and threw it on top of the dog. The stupid mutt immediately pulled it off his back, dumped it on the floor and began to roll around on top of it. The Lieutenant shook his head and grabbed another, ready to wrap the android in as he stumbled his way out the tub.

“I’ll go find you some clothes,” Hank said, heading towards Connor’s bedroom. He picked out his spare CyberLife outfit (figuring that Connor would feel more comfortable in his own clothes). Then he went into his own, to locate his old DPD hoodie that was made of a heavy, insulating fabric. He found that, and few other odd pieces that would come in handy. He returned to the bathroom half a minute later with the handful of garments.


“I feel so… useless, like this.” Connor uttered, failing at doing the buttons up on his own shirt.

“There’s no shame in being ill, kiddo,” Hank said, batting the android’s hands away so he could do it up for him. Cole was always so bad at this, constantly mismatching the buttons. Hank had lost count of the amount of times he’d had to fix his son’s uniform before he went to school. He was never one for impeccable dress, unlike Connor. Connor was always fixing up his tie, flattening his collar or checking to see if his shirt was still tucked in. It always was of course; the bloody android wore a fucking shirt garter.

“Androids aren’t supposed to get sick,” Connor sighed, allowing his partner to pull down the hoodie. It smelt of Hank: traces of old whiskey, cheap washing powder and that off-brand deodorant that he always used. Somehow that was comforting.

“Yeah well, you did, so suck it up,” the Lieutenant said, slipping the beanie on over the android’s stupid head. He then wrapped a long scarf around his neck and helped slip his burnt hands into a pair of gloves. “Right, let’s get you back into the living room. It’s warmer in there.”


With Connor settled on the couch, Hank rooted out a couple of old blankets and wrapped him up like a ridiculous robot burrito. It didn’t stop him from shivering.

“What temperature are we looking at now, Connor?” the Lieutenant asked, sitting down beside the android. He turned the TV on, just for a distraction. There was something eerie about sitting in the room in silence.

“Thirty-seven-point-three d-degrees,” Connor replied. He’d start taking damage soon. Already, he could feel himself slowing down. It was almost like he was tired. Except, if he ‘fell asleep’ it would be permanent. “At the c-c-current rate of decline, shut d-down will likely occur in a-around three hours.”

“Should be plenty of time for that genius asshole to write a bit of coding,” Hank said with as much confidence as he could muster. Three hours. Connor had three hours. He really hoped the creator of the android’s lived up to his reputation.

 
              Time left: 2 hours, 29 minutes, and 34 seconds.


Was when Connor’s core temperature reached danger levels. When his biocomponents began to stiffen and freeze.


               Time left: 1 hour, 48 minutes, and 12 seconds.


Was when Hank had pulled the violently quaking android against him, hoping that his own body heat would at least help a little.


               Time left: 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 58 seconds.

 
Was when a now dry Sumo had shuffled up onto the couch to become another blanket for the android.


               Time left: 47 minutes, and 25 seconds.


Was when Connor’s mobility functions dropped to a mere 13% capacity.


               Time left: 12 minutes, and 17 seconds.


That was when Connor’s cerebral processors began to breakdown.  

“Connor, you still with me?” Hank said, shaking the android who had suddenly stopped quivering. It was a worrying sign. Like humans with hypothermia, once they stopped shivering, that was it. End of.

“My core functions… are being to… fail.” Connor said, voice slow and lethargic. His optic settings had already reduced itself to minimal capacity, allowing for nothing more than a blurry image. And his left audio processor had long since short-circuited. “I need… to keep them… active.”

“What do you need?” Hank asked.          

“Ask me… a math question. Calculations take… minimal power.”

“Alright. Sixty-Seven times eighty-eight.”

“Five thousand, eight hundred and… ninety-six,” Connor replied. Hank had no idea if he was correct or not, but considering the android was usually a super-computer, it was highly like he was. Even in this bad of shape.

“Ok. Twenty-one thousand, two hundred and seventeen times eleven thousand and twenty-three,” Hank said, stringing numbers from the top of his head.

“Two hundred and thirty-three million, eight hundred and seventy-four thousand, nine hundred and ninety-one.”

“One million, three hundred and seven divided by sixty-five thousand and three.”

“Fifteen-point-three-eight-eight-six-two-eight-two-one-seven-two.”

“Goddamn. Seventy-seven thousand and thirteen divided by nine hundred and fifty-two.”

“Eighty-point-eight-nine-sixsixsixsixsix,” the android repeated, erroring.

“Connor?” Hank frowned, jerking his partner back into operation. Connor blinked. Confused. “I… Hank I… I can’t… I can’t focus.”

“Shhh, it’s ok, son. It’s alright,” the Lieutenant said, rubbing his hand up and down where Connor’s arm would be under the blankets. He checked his watch. Two minutes.

“I… Hank… I want to… thank you… for everything. You gave me life,” Connor said, his head rested against Hank’s shoulder. He didn’t want to move. This seemed like a nice place to take a nap.

“Hey, don’t you dare go talking like that, ya hear me. I won’t have it. I mean fuck, we haven’t even gone to the pet store yet, to get that turtle you wanted.”

“I’m sorry… I just… I can’t… goodbye… dad.”

“Connor?” Hank pulled the android away from him, heart pounding in his chest. Connor was limp in his arms, his eyes closed in deactivation. Hank checked his LED beneath his beanie. It had gone out.

“No.”

Sumo whined and nudged Connor with his snout, expecting a petting that just wasn’t going to come. Hank felt his heart break as Connor’s final words suddenly caught up to him. He had called him dad. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK. No, this was not fucking happening. Not again. His phone rang. Hank grabbed it from his coffee table and immediately answered.

“What is it?” he grated out between clenched teeth.

“Kamski here. Just wanted to inform you I finished the anti-virus. It’s being sent through email to every device across Detroit to ensure all androids effected by the malware will have access to the cure.”

"Well you’re too fucking late, you asshole. Connor’s…” He didn’t want to say it.

“By the way, all my androids are installed with a temporary power backup system, activated within the abdomen. It’s about a minutes and thirty seconds worth. You never know.”
That was all he had to hear. He hung up, shoved his cell in his pocket and turned towards Connor. He unburied him from the blankets, and tugged up the hoodie and shirt, revealing the soft synthetic skin of the android’s lower torso. He found the button, hidden beneath a circle of freckles that allowed him access to Connor’s internal wiring. Hank remembered the Traci back in the Eden club. The way Connor had reactivated her.

“I’m not losing another son. Do you fucking hear me, Connor!?” With shaky but determined fingers, the Lieutenant grabbed hold of the two thick wires and reconnected them. Connor rebooted with a start, almost head-butting Hank as he sat up.

“W-what’s going on?” he said, startled. Error messages were flashing from every corner, completely blinding him. “I’m-I’m so cold.”

“Give me your hand, Connor.”

“Hank?” The android turned towards the familiar voice. “I… I can’t see you.”

“Just trust me, son.”

Connor nodded and held out his right hand. Hank removed the glove with gentle but hasty precision, exposing the damaged white plastic underneath. Then he pulled out his cell and opened his email account, finding the anti-virus attachment.

“I need you to download this,” the Lieutenant urged, pressing his cell into the android’s palm. Connor didn’t need to be asked twice. He interfaced with the device and locked onto the coding, letting in sync with his systems.


               Running Diagnostic…
 
              …

               …processing…

               …

               Malfunction in biocomponent 4456f detected.


              
               Activating anti_virus_software_20AT_67HJ_rA9_TR

               …

               …processing…

               …

               Source of malfunction neutralized.



               Restoring settings…

               …

               …processing…

               …

               Thermal Regular Stabilized.

              

Connor let out a heavy simulated breath as he felt his system reboot. He had just enough power for his Thermal Regulator to heat up and defreeze the Thirium in his system, allowing it to once again flow and power up his biocomponents. He wasn’t at optimal settings. But he was functioning. Operating at a solid 24%. Enough to tie him over for repairs.

“You alright?” Hank asked, returning to Connor’s field of vision. With the error messages now at a minimum, the android could focus on the man’s features. His grey scraggly beard. His wrinkled skin. His worried blue eyes.  

“I… I’m alive.” Connor said, meeting the man’s gaze. That was the first time he had ever said that phrase. The first time he truly felt the power of that word.

“Yeah and you better fucking stay that way, you asshole. You scared the shit outta me.” Hank thumped him on the shoulder. “Fuckin’ androids.”

“I’m sorry Lieutenant, I didn’t mean to cause you–” His words were cut off as Hank hauled him into a tight embrace. One that he doubted he would be able to escape from for a good few minutes. Not that he had any intention of doing so.

“You just had to wait till your dying breath to call me dad, didn’t you?”

“Are you crying, Lieutenant?” Connor asked, sounding more than a little surprised.

"Yes, I’m fucking crying you stupid fucking idiot. You’re important to me, Connor. And I’d be bloody well proud to call you my son,” Hank said. He never thought he’d say that. Especially not to an android. But Connor was special. Connor reminded him of the man he used to be. He opened his eyes to the world, to see a life worth fighting for once more.

“I… I would be honored to call you my dad,” Connor uttered, swept away by the sentiment. He wasn’t entirely sure what the title entailed but Hank meant a lot to him. It was fair to say he had grown extremely fond of the man and liked the idea of being part of his family.

“Fuck. I guess I’ve just unofficially adopted a goddamn android,” the Lieutenant laughed, eyes still wet with tears. “You hear that Cole? Your old man’s gone and gotten you a fuckin’ brother.”