Tapping sounds filled the quiet room--the only source of noise as Connor scrolled through the DPD’s recent cases. It wasn't that they got any less now that everything was said and done. He never realized that with free will came its own share of troubles and issues.
Then, the typing stopped and Connor glanced up briefly.
Elijah was frowning at the monitor in front of him, a strange expression on his face. It wasn't one that Connor had ever seen before, and he set the tablet down, facial recognition software racing to categorize each new facial tic and muscle movement. The best returned result seemed to be discomfort.
No wonder he had never seen that expression before. By his own admission, Elijah Kamski didn't do discomfort.
“Is something wrong?” the RK800 finally asked.
“Hm?” Elijah looked up, then offered a small smile--one that was decidedly not genuine. “I'm fine. Just a headache, most likely because I've been sitting in front of this project the entire day.”
And yet with that being said, the inventor immediately went back to whatever he was working on. Connor frowned. The man was silently stubborn to a fault. He stood, making his way to the computer chair, the DPD-issued tablet now abandoned on the coffee table. “Shouldn't you stop then?” he asked, half curious and half reproachful.
Hank called it his “mother hen tone”. Connor personally didn't see it.
“There's just a little left.” The pale blue eyes never left the screen as Elijah gave his flippant answer.
Connor examined him carefully. He did look focused, and Elijah wasn't one to mince his words. If something was wrong, it would come out eventually, and he never lied (didn't see the point in it) about progress on his new projects. Perhaps it would be alright to just let this go. He made a quick mental reminder to ask Chloe if they had any headache medicine in stock.
He both doubted it and was sure of it--it really was hard to tell. The former CEO’s lodgings was somehow both extravagant and minimalistic, barely lived in. Despite the time he had spent here, the villa was…well. Entirely too big for him to have explored completely, and he felt like it would be too childish to ask Elijah to satisfy his curiosities.
So, he supposed he would just have to take the expression for what it was at face value--a reaction to the headache. Maybe Chloe would be able to help. Despite the nature of Connor's current relationship with her owner, technically she would know him better than anybody else, right?
“I can practically see your systems working themselves into overdrive.”
Connor blinked. Elijah had turned in his chair to face him, lips curled up in his usual amused smirk, all semblance of the earlier pain gone. Maybe it really wasn't a cause for concern, then. “That's not possible,” he replied on autopilot. “My systems are built to withstand--”
“It's a figure of speech,” Elijah interrupted lightly, tugging on the android’s wrist in an unexpected motion that caused Connor to fall into his lap, long legs tangling together as the RK800 struggled for a moment to regain balance.
Confused chocolate browns met icy blues. “Elijah, what are you doing?” While he was well used to the inventor’s quirks and eccentricities, the man never ceased to peak his intrigue.
He supposed it ran the other way as well, judging by the way the other male’s gaze lit up slightly with smug amusement.
“I wasn't lying when I said there was only a little left. I just sent the rest to the programming team at CyberLife. They aren't as competent as me”--Connor fought the urge to smile fondly at the casual self compliment--“but I’ve given them enough so that they know what they're doing.” Elijah's eyes never left his as he shifted so that they were both more comfortable. “I'm done for the day.”
The tone in his voice was suggestive at the very least, the soft baritone lowering into something almost husky. The lilt was still there, always present, and Connor felt the familiar rush of thirium to his cheeks and ears. His hand, with the arm wound around Elijah’s neck in his earlier attempt to regain balance, tightened slightly on the man’s shoulder as the former CEO leaned in closer.
And, just like that, all thoughts and questions about the strange frown from earlier were effectively pushed to the back of his mind.
Next, it was a sniffle.
Again, nothing notable--a routine meeting with CyberLife so that the former CEO, now consultant, could be caught up on any future endeavours the restructured company was trying to make.
Markus usually sat in on these meetings, but Simon had finally convinced the overworked deviant leader to take a day off.
And so, Connor was there in his place, still dressed in his DPD uniform. He could tell it made some of the executives uncomfortable, but he had long since learned to overlook that. His purpose wasn’t to settle their fears by changing himself.
Elijah was currently up at the front, a sharp contrast to the stuffy-looking businessmen and women in their suits and neatly coiffed hair, his dark hair pulled into a ponytail instead of its usual bun. His black-framed glasses, which Connor was secretly a fan of, sat neatly on the bridge of his nose, and he sported a simple blazer over his slim-fitting black turtleneck and grey jeans. The RK800 actually enjoyed seeing his serious expression as he explained the problems in their current code, and he wondered if this was a reflection of what Elijah had been like during his time as CEO. The authoritative aura around him gave him an entirely different air.
“...and you need to make some changes to the code here, it keeps…” There was a pause, and Elijah turned away for a moment. Quiet murmurs spread through the room, the executives all exchanging confused glances as the former CEO stopped talking. Connor furrowed his brow. What was--
His enhanced auditory processors picked something up amongst the ripple of different voices.
Was that a sniffle?
Connor didn’t have to stand up in worry, because next thing he knew, Elijah was already turning back towards the confusion-filled board room and continuing his critique as if nothing had ever happened. There was no change in his expression, no indication that anything was wrong--so much so that Connor wondered briefly if his sensors had glitched and he had just imagined the quiet noise.
It was only after the meeting was over that Connor collected the documents in front of him into a folder (for delivery to Markus) and approached Elijah, who was packing up his laptop. “Elijah?”
The inventor looked up. “Hm?” Still no hint of anything being wrong. “I thought you were going home to the lieutenant’s place tonight.” There weren’t even any facial clues he could read. It didn’t seem like the pause or sniffle had happened at all, in fact.
It would never get easier to read past his facade, it seemed.
The android startled out of his thoughts, blinking to see Elijah staring at him with a bemused expression, the corner of his lips quirked up into a slightly puzzled smirk. “I’m glad you find me appealing to look at, but I’d like a response in the next year or so.”
Connor flushed, taking a step back. “Oh, I apologize.” He cleared his throat, the click of his vocal synthesizer a satisfying feeling, before he spoke again. “I was just wondering why you paused in the middle of the presentation. Is everything alright?”
“Of course,” Elijah replied. No hesitation, and again, no tells on his face. With a click, he snapped the buckle of his black leather messenger bag into place and slung the strap across one shoulder. He arched a brow when he was met with silence on Connor’s part, the android in question waiting for a more detailed explanation. “I forgot the specific bug I wanted to address for a moment,” he clarified.
Connor frowned. That didn’t seem likely. Elijah didn’t usually have any issues with that kind of thing, especially given his eidetic memory and passion for his projects (honestly, the inventor really was the type to be married to his work). But he didn’t have any other explanation, and the sniffle didn’t technically mean anything.
His conflicted expression must’ve shown on his face, because Elijah’s features softened a tiny fraction--something most people wouldn’t even notice. “You don’t need to worry about me, Connor. Go home. I’m fine.”
The RK800 hesitated, then nodded. There wasn’t much to do if Elijah refused to tell him what was wrong--if there was something wrong at all. He couldn’t deny that Hank was right--he tended to be somewhat of a worrywart when it came down to it. It seemed to come in waves with his deviancy, and it felt both refreshing and a little irritating. “Alright. If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” Elijah glanced around for a moment, as if checking for people. Connor followed his gaze, puzzled, until he felt the inventor’s long fingers firmly grasping his jaw and turning it towards him. Before the android could react, a firm kiss was pressed to his lips, the feeling of cold fingers and warm, slightly chapped lips overwhelming him for a moment. His eyes slipped shut on impulse, his own hands coming up to tangle in the crisp fabric of the blazer.
They parted with a soft sigh, noses bumping slightly before Elijah took a step back. His lips were red and a little swollen, the way that Connor now knew freshly kissed lips always were, and his dark lashes casted sharp shadows over his pale cheekbones under the artificial white light in the room. Connor, dazed, took a moment to gather his wits again. “What was that for?”
“A small thank you.” The elusive inventor just smirked slyly, not elaborating any further as he adjusted the strap, now askew, on his shoulder. “Have a good night, Connor. Give the lieutenant my regards.”
And with that, he left the room, leaving the RK800 standing there, still a little dumbfounded. What was he thanking him for?
A burst of affection, unbidden, rose in Connor’s chest as he considered the possibilities. For worrying, maybe?
The android pressed the back of his hand against his lips, eyes closing as he relived the warmth of the short moment, the shadow of a burning sensation left behind from the point of contact.
And the sniffle was forgotten, easily filed away.
There was a short silence as the two males stood in complete stillness, the tension between them a stalemate.
“What?” Elijah finally asked rather unceremoniously, the end of his sentence punctuated by a sneeze. His normally velvet-smooth voice was now hoarse and scratchy, and his hair looked strangely unkempt compared to usual.
“Your nose is red.” Connor frowned, taking a step forward. The former CEO took a step back. It was probably the first time that something like this had happened--the android being the one advancing instead of the other way around. “And you just sneezed.”
“Allergies,” Elijah countered easily--and it would’ve been a believable lie, except for the fact that Connor was an android and therefore could easily detect the rise in the man’s basal body temperature, as well as his congested sinuses. “To androids who don’t seem to know their place.”
Connor ignored the grumpy jab in favour of pressing two fingers to Elijah’s forehead, the inventor immediately pushing his hand away. “You’re almost at 104 degrees Fahrenheit,” the RK800 informed him, expression growing alarmed. “Elijah--”
“I don’t get sick,” the other male insisted with as much dignity as a seriously feverish person could possibly muster. Connor resisted the urge to melt a little as Elijah had to sniffle again. It was a strange sort of physical vulnerability he had never seen from him--and as bad as he felt for not catching this earlier (the symptoms were quite obvious, now that he thought about it. He had just been...distracted with other matters). He watched as the former CEO neatly pressed a tissue to his nose. “Getting sick is for people who aren’t as busy and can afford to lie around to recover. Also, I need to have a word with CyberLife. I can’t believe they programmed you with the Fahrenheit temperature scale instead of Celsius.”
Connor wanted to throw his hands up in exasperation. Just a little. But to be fair, Elijah was being more irritable than usual--he had lost the smugness, and was edging into full on contempt. He looked around the entrance of the villa, where he was currently standing. Elijah blocked most of his view, but nevertheless, as far as he could tell, there was no familiar blonde hair and navy blue dress in sight. “Why isn’t Chloe--”
“She’s on standby mode,” Elijah interrupted. “Because she knows I’m not sick.”
“You put her on standby,” Connor pointed out, and Elijah seemed to have suddenly developed into someone hard of hearing, because he ignored his point in favour of examining the light reflecting from the sun off the sleek black door frame. “Elijah, you need to take care of yourself.”
“No, I don’t.” Elijah’s eyes narrowed stubbornly, his stance growing tense and cold. “Because I’m not sick.”
The beautifully ironic thing about being in a relationship with a larger-than-life figure was the fact that honestly, Connor really did sometimes forget that Elijah was still human. Physically vulnerable, with a very much mortal body that was susceptible to illness, death, injury--and yes, that included the common flu and/or cold. It meant that these rare moments of vulnerability that only Connor got to witness were few and far in between, but he appreciated them when they came. This, though…
“Seriously, Connor. You worry too much.” Elijah’s statement would have been much more convincing if not for the fact that he had to stop to sneeze twice. The motion was almost endearing, except his entire frame was wracked with barely contained shivers. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m busy, and you did show up uninvited.”
“You were scheduled for a meeting today with Markus for a routine check up.” Connor frowned. “I was worried when you didn’t show up at all. We all were.” He must really be out of it. Elijah was always good at remembering small details, and he wouldn’t have forgotten something so mundane and routine in his schedule--despite not always adhering to said schedule. However, to have completely forgotten about it in his argument…it only reinforced what Connor was sure to be a pretty high fever that came along as a side effect to his cold.
No matter how much the inventor wanted to deny it.
“I was busy. The collaboration project with CyberLife’s current humanization team is running behind, and I need to pick up some of their slack.” Elijah paused to sneer at what Connor was sure he viewed as “incompetency”, then continued. “Either way, that’s why I was home. You can inform Markus that I’ll work on his scheduled maintenance tomorrow.”
Another sneeze. Connor gave him a reproachful look. He didn’t understand where this defensiveness was coming from. Elijah just stared back coldly.
Finally, the android sighed, conceding for now. “Okay. I’ll let him know.”
“Mm.” Elijah gave a curt nod, then closed the door again without so much as a goodbye.
From behind the now shut door, Connor could just barely make out a muffled complaint about the RK800’s use of 104 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 40 degrees Celsius--followed by two more sneezes and a coughing fit.
Despite the worry coursing through him, he had to actively resist the uncharacteristic urge to roll his eyes.
“He’s sick and acting like a child.”
Hank looked up from his computer terminal and the second cup of coffee he had been nursing in his hands. “Huh?”
Connor shook his head, only half paying attention to his own incoming rant. He rarely had these outbursts, even when he broke out of CyberLife’s programming, but whenever he did, he was so invested in getting the words out that he didn’t process them properly half the time. “Elijah. He didn’t show up to Jericho yet again, and he’s still insisting he doesn’t get sick.”
Hank arched both brows, actually looking surprised. “Kamski’s sick?”
Connor gave him an incredulous look, mirroring the surprise on the lieutenant’s face. “Yes. He’s human.”
It actually seemed to take a second to process, and to be honest, the RK800 understood the feeling. Hank sat in silence for a moment before speaking again. “And he’s insisting he’s not?”
“Yes.” The RK800 sighed fretfully, his ever-present quarter rolling across his knuckles in a practiced motion. “I’m worried about his condition, but he insists on not being ill.”
Hank muttered something along the lines of “how a thirty year old billionaire genius can act like a goddamn bratty ten year old when sick”.
Connor pretended that he didn’t hear him.
It was very difficult, he would admit, to refute Hank’s claim right now.
“It must be obvious, though.” Somewhere along their conversation, Nines had walked up to them. The RK900 was sporting the DPD uniform, grey eyes scrutinizing as usual as he joined his predecessor. “Did you run a scan on him?”
“I did.” Connor sighed. “That’s the thing--he still refuses to admit that he might need help.”
“Maybe that’s it,” Nines offered blandly, as if the solution was the easiest thing in the world.
Another moment of stagnant silence. Finally, Connor looked at him in question. Hank had just shaken his head, assuming it was one of those weird android-only things, and went back to his work. They were actually pretty busy. The RK800 felt a stab of guilt for bringing his personal problems to work, but he was at his wit’s end.
“He refuses to admit it because he doesn’t want to be coddled.” Nines shrugged and leaned against Connor’s desk. He had certainly picked up on casual human mannerisms quickly compared to the RK800, but it was likely from working with Gavin Reed. “Detective Reed, whenever he gets drunk, sometimes complains about his cousin being ‘one stubborn son of a bitch’.” His voice altered slightly to mimic the detective’s, and Connor had to smile. That seemed just like Gavin to do. He still wasn’t exactly fond of Connor (and vice versa, their personalities just clashed), but they had built a cautious respect of sorts over the past few weeks, especially after Nines was assigned as his partner. Maybe working with the RK900 was doing him some good. Either that, or Nines was just intimidating him into silence. “Apparently he does not like letting people see his vulnerabilities.”
Connor frowned contemplatively. “No, I knew that. But I didn’t...why would that extend to him being sick?”
Nines just shrugged again, crossing his arms, stoic as ever. “I...do not know. That is likely something you will have to ask him directly.”
“I see.” Connor sunk deep into thought. “Thank you, Nines.”
A small smile, just barely touching the corners of the other android’s lips. “Of course.”
It was late into the afternoon when a hand was slammed down on his desk. Connor looked up, greeted by the face of a grumpy-looking Gavin. The scarred man was scratching a hand across his scruff uncomfortably, eyes darting everywhere but Connor.
“Can I help you?” the RK800 finally asked politely after a moment of complete silence.
“Miso.” And with that cryptic response, Gavin was gone, storming off. Connor could barely make out the redness at the tips of his ears, staring after the detective, bewildered at the seemingly random word.
"Thank you, Detective Reed," Connor called out across the emptying precinct.
"Whatever," came the grumpy response, followed by a yelp as Nines no doubt unceremoniously kicked his shin under their shared desks.
“I’m not sick,” Elijah insisted as Chloe showed Connor in a few days later.
“Of course not,” Connor replied, priding himself in how smooth the response came out. Upon careful inspection, the inventor looked even worse for the wear. A sneeze escaped as his long fingers tightly gripped the edges of his robe, which was haphazardly thrown on over a graphic tee and sweatpants. His dark hair was down, pushed to one side to frame his face. He looked so human, and it was a ridiculous thing to note, because he was human. But the descriptor just never seemed to fit Elijah until now--with the red nose and the barely stifled sneezes and the way he stood, vulnerable in thin comfort clothing and bare feet. “I just came to see you.”
“Did you, now?” Elijah considered him for a moment, eyes narrowing, before he gave a short nod to Chloe. “Thank you for showing him in. You can go.”
The demure blonde nodded with a soft smile. “Yes, Elijah.”
Connor settled in, stripping off his coat that he technically didn’t really need (but Hank insisted that he wear) to protect himself from the cool evening air. He watched from his periphery as Elijah settled back onto the couch, evidently trying to assume his regular, almost regal, poise--but instead having to hunch over as more coughs overtook him.
He also registered the heap of blankets that Elijah was making no move to use now right next to him, but he made no comment.
“I brought soup.” Connor lifted the two soup containers casually. He had debated just bringing one, given that even with his new taste upgrade, he shouldn’t consume too much of either liquids or solids, but ultimately decided that just presenting one container might be too suspicious. “Hank suggested that I try this recipe out.”
It was a lie, of course, but it came out seamless enough that Elijah shouldn’t suspect anything. Normally, the man could read anyone--human or android--like a book, but he was sick. His observational skills definitely seemed to be weakened in his current state. In truth, after Gavin’s tip, Connor had spent the past few days looking for the best kind of miso soup that their immediate Detroit area had to offer. He knew of the human convention to cook chicken soup for sick patients, so he had been mildly surprised at Gavin’s recommendation of miso as Elijah’s supposed favourite. After some research though, it made sense. The fermented soy in miso had a myriad of health benefits, including digestive enzymes, probiotics to boost the immune system, and phytonutrients to act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Not to mention the aromatic ginger and green onion, as well as the added cayenne (optional, of course) to warm up the body and help sweat out the pathogen.
After a harried search through his database and deeming the portions of soup to be much too small, much more suited as an appetizer of sorts, at local restaurants, Connor finally put on an apron and made his own instead.
It had felt oddly domestic.
Yes, he had cooked before. It was nothing new, but he felt a new sort of fluttering nervousness about whether or not Elijah would like what he came up with. Connor knew that the multi-billionaire had presumably ate at some pretty swanky restaurants in his twenties, and he wondered if this would come off as a disappointment. He shook the thought away as quickly as it came, though. After all, this wasn’t an attempt to have Elijah compliment his cooking. It was to get him better in whatever way the RK800 could.
Elijah frowned, standing to peer over Connor’s shoulder as the android set about opening the containers and laying out utensils. “You made me soup.”
“I made myself soup,” Connor corrected.
“I’m not an idiot, Connor.” Elijah rolled his eyes, the sarcasm in his voice cut by the hoarseness of it. “You made me soup because you think I’m sick. I’m not.”
Connor turned around to face him. Their faces were inches away from each other’s, and Connor shoved down the urge to glance down at Elijah’s lips, or at the strangely appealing flush in his cheeks from his fever. “Then don’t have any. I’m not going to force-feed you, Elijah.” He kept his voice firm, composed--his words measured.
Elijah stared at him, looking both a little amused and a little irritated all at once. Then--promptly had to turn away and sneeze again.
Connor couldn’t help the bubble of laughter than escaped from his lips as he turned back to arranging the soup containers, sprinkling dried kelp and perfectly diced tofu into his pre-prepared stock.
Elijah had come to stand next to him now, and Connor caught his eyes widening slightly. “This is…”
“Miso,” Connor informed him lightly, acting for all his worth like he had no idea that this had apparently always been Elijah’s go-to as a child whenever he was ill. His heart in his throat, he finished with the ingredients and pushed a bowl towards Elijah innocently. “Would you like to try?”
There was a long pause. Connor could feel his thirium pump quickening in his chest, the quiet whirr of his regulator in his auditory processors.
Finally, Elijah relented. “I’ll try some.” The reply was simple and short, but the RK800 beamed as the inventor finally picked up the container and took a sip.
“...It’s good,” Elijah commented, expression unreadable--but there was a strange spark of something else in it, too quick to process, but it was almost warm.
Connor couldn’t help snorting a little disbelievingly. “You can’t taste anything right now, Elijah.”
“I can,” the former CEO shot back--then sighed quietly. “I’m not lying about that, you know. Miso has a fairly strong aroma. Even in my condition, I can taste it.”
“So you admit it.” Connor joined him as he went back to the couch, confused. “I don’t understand why you were hiding it for so long--especially your initial symptoms.” The headache and quiet sniffle both came back to him, instances where Elijah had successfully distracted him away from asking more intrusive questions about his condition. “You’re human. It’s only natural to get sick.”
“That’s not the issue.” Elijah sighed, as if educating a small child. Connor resisted the urge to comment on the condescension, chalking it up to his irritability from the cold. “You know how I am.” His eyes remained on the soup, the hot steam curling towards the ceiling.
Connor pulled the blanket up towards them. Elijah didn't resist, so he counted it as a victory. “You don't like others taking care of you,” he noted. “I didn't think your pride extended to this as well.”
A sharp bark of laughter, followed by a short cough. “Pride, hm? You're certainly as straightforward as always.” A pause. “You don't think this ruins the image a little? Creator of Earth's new intelligent species, knocked down by a little cold?”
There was a biting sarcasm in the words, but the RK800 considered them carefully before replying in the most honest way he could. “I like seeing this side of you, though. I'd like to think that this means you trust me.” Connor took a sip of his own soup absently, pausing as his taste receptors categorized each flavour. It was good, and the temperature was optimal. He was glad. “What do you think of the soup?” The android glanced up again, a little alarmed at the way Elijah was currently staring at him, completely silent. “...Elijah?”
After a moment, the inventor shook his head, a smirk curling on his features. It startled Connor slightly--there was almost a softness to it. No matter how many times he had seen this expression, it still warmed him to the core. “It's nothing. You just…never fail to surprise me.”
Connor tilted his head slightly, puzzled. “Is the miso soup that good? I did install a cooking program long ago, it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise.”
Elijah just smiled, and turned back to his own soup, settling contentedly into the soft blankets around his shoulders. “No, never mind.”
The android remained still for a moment before shrugging. He didn't quite understand what that was all about, but as long as Elijah was feeling better, it was fine. He shifted a little closer to him, hiding his smile with another sip when the inventor didn't move away.
The silence in the room, apart from the quiet clinking of spoons, was comfortable. The dimmed lighting (presumably to prevent Elijah's headache from getting worse) and the quiet, steady breathing only interrupted by brief sniffles and the occasional soft cough or sneeze made a gentle warmth sink deep into Connor's systems.
The steam, a hazy gentle curl, floated into the air between them.
“I wouldn't mind you getting sick more often.”
Surprised silence, then a coughing fit--followed by genuine laughter.
A soft kiss to the android’s jaw.
“...I suppose I wouldn't mind much either.”