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Rainbow Fish Socks

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Deciding Connor should move in with him was one of the easiest decisions Hank had ever made. Sure, they hadn’t known each other for that long and sure, most of that time was spent not liking the android very much; but after taking the kid in his arms and feeling him practically melt in his embrace, Hank knew he was royally fucked.

“You can crash on the couch for now,” Hank said as he guided Connor into the house. Sumo’s head perked up as the door opened, padding over to greet them, tongue lolling out of his mouth.

“That would be adequate.” Connor said, dropping to his knees to pet the hound. His hand paused momentarily on top of the dogs head, and Hank thought he caught the glimpse of a frown. “He’s so soft…” Connor mused, more to himself than Hank. Hank opened his mouth to question the statement - then he remembered. Connor was deviant now. He was likely to be much more attuned to things that CyberLife previously deemed “unimportant”. Connor wanted to feel Sumo’s fur, and now he was for the very first time.

“Once the evacuation is lifted it shouldn’t take me too long to find my own apartment,” Connor continued, stroking along the length of Sumo’s back slowly, as if marvelling in the feeling.

Hank’s stomach dropped. Of course, he should have known Connor probably wouldn’t want to stay with him forever - he was his own person now, he was free. He had his own life. He wouldn’t want to spend it with Hank. Hank hadn’t even realised he was getting his hopes up.

“You don’t-“ he began, but he cut himself off. Connor looked up at him inquisitively. Hank just sighed and shook his head.

“Never mind.” He mumbled, turning away and scratching the back of his head. Connor turned his attention back to Sumo.

“So do you…” Hank made a broad gesture with his hands. “Have any belongings? A change of clothes?”

Connor frowned, shaking his head. “I don’t have anything of my own, and I don’t need a change of clothes.”

Of course he didn’t. Hank ignored the unpleasant feeling in his gut - Connor really had nothing. “Don’t you at least have a spare suit? I mean, what happens if that one gets all ripped up and bloody?” He asked. Connor looked down as if looking for any said damage.

“CyberLife would issue me a new one…” Connor got to his feet, brushing the dog hair off his jeans. He frowned. “I don’t suppose they would now…”

His LED flashed yellow for a split second. Connor looked so lost, it stirred something dormant, deep inside Hank. Something he hadn’t felt since Cole…

Hank sighed heavily. He lay a hand on Connor’s shoulder and the android turned to face him.

“Once the shops are open again we’ll get you some of your own clothes, in the mean time I might have some old things you could have…”

Connor furrowed his brows, looking down at himself. (God, the kid was so damn expressive now. It almost gave Hank whiplash.) “There’s nothing wrong with my clothing at the moment.”

“Your jacket has ‘CyberLife’ stamped all over it.” Hank pointed out. “You’re a free man now, do you really want to keep wearing that?”

“I suppose not…” Connor mumbled. “But Lieutenant, I don’t want to impose-“

“Hank.” Hank corrected him. “It’s Hank when we’re at home. Got it?”

Connor nodded.

“And you’re not imposing. I’ve put on a lot of weight in recent years - I have a lot of shit I never got around to throwing out. You’ll be doing me a favour.”

Connor nodded again, fiddling with his fingers. Hank knew if he had his coin he would be flipping it up in the air. He made a mental note to find him a new one.

He made his way into the bedroom with Connor in tow. The wardrobe doors opened with a creak and Hank immediately started rummaging towards the back, to the clothes he hadn’t worn in years, not since Cole had died…

“Here,” he said gruffly, pulling out an old T-shirt with a crab motif he had forgotten he’d ever owned. He thrust it into the androids chest and continued rummaging, searching for a jacket or something to keep the kid warm. He didn’t care if androids felt the cold or not - it was 30 degrees outside and there was no way Hank was letting Connor walk around with any artificial flesh showing.

Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Connor inspecting something on the floor. Hank followed the androids gaze - it was his old DPD hoodie, lying in a heap on the grubby carpet. He winced, if he knew Connor was to be standing in his bedroom in all his awkward neatness, he would have cleaned up a little.

“Yeah… sorry about the mess.” He said awkwardly, turning back to the closet. “I wasn’t expecting company.”

“It doesn’t bother me.” Connor said idly. Hank snorted. He should have thought so - the kid puts dead body gunk in his mouth on the daily.

Connor bent to pick up the hoodie, turning it over in his hands.

“You want it?” Hank asked, watching Connor run his fingers down the soft material of the sleeves. “It might need washing, I’m not sure how long thats been there.”

Connor looked up at him with eager eyes. “Can I?”

“Sure thing,” Hank couldn’t help the small smile that spread across his lips. Connor, getting excited over Hanks dirty old hoodie?

Connor’s lips twitted up into the same tiny little smile he had given Hank back at the Chicken Feed.

“Thank you,” said Connor.

It took a full week for any shops to open again. Detroit was still pretty much a ghost town, but a few stores signs shone though the winter fog.

Hank pulled into a deserted Target parking lot. He turned to Connor who was sat in the passenger seat, still sporting Hanks old hoodie, and a borrowed scarf and jacket, which Hank had all but forced onto the android. Looking at Connor wearing such little clothing in what was shaping up to be a blizzard made Hank feel cold.

His beanie was pulled over his hair to conceal his LED. For some reason, Connor seemed reluctant to remove it, and Hank wasn’t going to pressure him to. However, despite androids being on their way to receiving equal rights to humans, the few people that had remained in the city after the evacuation were hostile. Many decided to go out of their way to hurt - or kill - as many androids as possible before it became officially illegal. It made Hank’s blood boil - he refused to let Connor become another statistic.

“There are better stores out there,” Hank said as he climbed out of the car, “But unfortunatly, this is the only one open.”

“It’s fine.” Connor said, falling into step beside the older man. “I’m not fussed.”

They entered the store, the heating hitting them square in the face - it was very welcome. Despite the steady, monotone music trickling from the overhead speakers, it was silent. Apart from a few workers manning the tills - mostly androids, Hank noted - they seemed to be the only ones in the store.

They approached the clothing section, their footsteps echoing eerily through the empty isles.

“Here we are,” Hank said as they reached the shelves and shelves of clothes. “Knock yourself out.”

Connor frowned at the selection. “There’s… a lot.”

“I guess it’s a bit overwhelming for someone who’s never been clothes shopping before.” Hank mused. “Humans grow up with this shit.”

Connor turned to face him, confusion written all over his features. “What am I supposed to be getting?”

Hank sighed, running a hand over his face. For an advanced prototype, Connor could be pretty dim.

“Every day stuff, I guess. Shirts, pants, underwear, socks… the boring stuff.”

“And what about work?”

“There’s no dress code for us,” Hank shrugged. “It’s up to you.”

Cautiously, Connor stepped forward, eyeing the racks of clothing.

“Just pick out what you like, and we’ll go from there.” Hank suggested.

“I’m not too sure what I like yet.” Connor said truthfully.

Of course, the kid had only been truly “alive” for a couple of weeks, it was unlikely he had developed any of his own tastes yet.

“Ok…” Hank wondered how was best to approach the situation. “You like dogs, right?”

Connor nodded, “And fish,” he added, “But not quite as much as dogs.”

Hank couldn’t help but smile. “Ok, that’s a good start. We could find some dog or fish themed stuff… What about colours? Have you got any colours you particularly like?”

Connor thought it over, if Hank could see his LED, he’d be sure it would be spinning. “I like blue. And black.”

CyberLife colours, Hank thought bitterly, but didn’t comment. “Alright, so we have a colour scheme to work with.” He stepped forwards into the rows of shirts and started rummaging, picking out a few and holding them up against Connor, who just stood beside him placidly.

After about half an hour or so they had a cart full of assorted clothing items. Connor spent a while in the changing rooms and they sorted though what suited him and what didn’t. Once they were done they had a good selection of clothes and a few outfits. As they had gotten into shopping, Connor had started picking out more and more items himself, steadily learning what he liked and didn’t like. Although the cart contained a lot of dark jeans, jumpers and plain white shirts for work, Connor had picked out a few t-shirts, one with the slogan “I prefer dogs to people”, which Connor had taken an instant liking to. Hank had been pleasantly surprised to learn Connor seemed to have a thing for obnoxiously patterned socks, and he had gotten quite the selection. Spotty, stipey and themed - somehow he had managed to find rainbow fish patterned socks. He had chosen a couple of coats - a black leather jacket and a duffle for colder days along with a knit scarf. Hank had even managed to persuade him to pick out some pyjamas. ("You're not 'sleeping' or whatever you do in jeans. That's just weird.")

They rolled up to the checkout after what seemed like ages, Hank’s stomach cramping with hunger. It took the cashier a while to ring everything up, and Hank couldn’t help but notice she was looking at Connor with an uncertain expression on her face. She obviously recognised him as the infamous deviant hunter. Connor just flashed her an awkward smile.

The total came up to a little over a hundred dollars, and Hank reached into his pocket for his wallet.

“I can pay for it myself, Lieutenant.” Connor said hurriedly. “I still have some of the funds CyberLife gave me.”

“Hank.” Hank corrected him. “Just for that you’re letting me pay.”

Connor still looked slightly uncomfortable, so Hank sighed and said “Listen. Let me treat you - think of it as an apology for treating you like shit when we first met.”

“Your hostility was understandable given the circumstances-“

“Shut it, kid. I’m paying.” He said firmly, and that was final.

Once the items were all paid for, they packed the bags into the trunk of Hank’s car.

“Thank you, Lieut- Hank.” Connor said. “For the clothes. And letting me stay with you. It’s very appreciated.”

“It’s no problem, kid.” Hank said, shutting the trunk with a thud that echoed throughout the empty parking lot. “I wasn’t going to let you be homeless - I’m not that much of an asshole.”

Connor smiled sheepishly. “I wouldn’t have been homeless. I could have stayed at Jericho. But…”

He trailed off. There was something he wasn’t telling him. Hank didn’t push it, instead he pulled the android into a one armed hug. “Come on, lets go. I’m freezing my balls off. And I’m starving. Let’s see if there’s a McDonalds open around here.”

Connor frowned. “That food is extremely bad for you. A meal contains more calories-“

“Shut up and let me enjoy some of the only good things in life.” Hank snapped. He turned to get into the warmth in the car, just about catching Connor’s tiny smirk out of the corner of his eye.