Chapter 1: the curious case of the walmart mystery man
Cole Anderson, is perhaps, slightly more perceptive than most children.
He’s quiet in class, as most of his teachers note in their reports, sometimes choosing a book during recess over playtime. Some of the kids having started singling him out for being odd, for choosing to watch instead of actively participate in most things. Even if he does — it’s only because his teachers asked him to. But they don’t fault him for that, Cole is a sweet child; very polite and always handing in his work on time and they never have a reason to think anything wrong especially when he’s the only child to bring a gift for one of the teachers who had left for her maternity leave.
(The other children follow the example the next day but quickly forget the affair, Cole is the only one who regularly asks how well Mrs. Smith is doing every month or so.)
So it’s no real surprise that Cole is the one to notice how his dad behaves when they reach the grocery store for their weekly shopping, eyes always roaming — as if searching for something. His usually calm dad becomes fidgety, strangely excited like those times he’s seen him on the verge of breaking another difficult case but seeming desolate when returning home. Cole is the one to figure out what, or rather who , that subject of weekly fascination is.
His eyes are focused on a man, a little shorter than his dad, brown hair neatly slicked back and brows pinched — always as if in deep concentration whenever picking something out from the neatly lined shelves. Absently, Cole notes this week the stranger wears a simple dress shirt with slacks (last week had been a tasteful emerald green sweater vest and black tie), paired with suspenders but jacket nowhere in sight. Cole recognises the ensemble of a suit if the FBI agents he’d seen wandering around his dad’s precinct had been anything to go by; and by the array of clothes lacking in any tackiness his dad was fond of — the stranger was almost definitely out of place to be found in a run-of-the-mill Walmart.
His dad pushes their cart away from where the stranger is like every other week, but Cole takes the initiative to be the one walking up.
Canned food aisle. He can make this work.
“Hey mister, could you help me reach that?”
He does his best to single out the highest shelf lined with corn, it’s impossibly high for himself but if he lucks out it’ll be too high for the stranger too. His voice must come as a start because the stranger jumps a little before glancing down and realizing there's something smaller just beside him.
“Oh — uh, sure!”
It becomes an interesting scene then, watching the guy struggle to only realize he’s really not tall enough to reach the shelf but doing his best to grab onto the edges of the rather taunting can. Cole can relate, being his height didn’t have any perks other than bossing adults around to help him get things or being hoisted up and carried when he get too tired to walk.
Still, the very light flash of a glinting Audemars Piguet watch on a pale, rather delicate wrist catches his attention — interesting. Having eidetic memory and an eye for detail at his age had its perks (it doesn’t help a teacher of his had left a magazine on the 12 Most Expensive Watches In The World lying around for a child to read).
Oh, but sweet merciful fate chooses the very moment to align the stars in whatever sordid affair they have planned, because finally after having noticed the missing son — Hank chooses the very moment to appear, easily reaching for the good before handing it to the stranger with a strange pinched, constipated smile on his face.
“Thanks! But — it’s for him.”
Fingertips point to where Cole stands just behind, hidden by the lithe frame, he watches his dad’s eyes go impossibly wide and he returns with a cheeky grin.
“Cole? What are you doing here?”
“Well, didn’t you promise we were doing fritters tonight?”
“We didn’t —”
“Come on, dad , you remember right?”
At this point, Cole has the satisfaction of watching his dad — Detroit’s best detective, fresh Lieutenant, the legendary cop who took down Red Ice drug rings like it was nothing realize — he’s been set up. By his son. A five year old. Cole’s turning out to be a better schemer than most drug lords.
“Well, I think making dinner together is a great way to bond. Do you do it often?”
“Yeah! Mister, you should come and join us — dad makes the best food.”
A little forward, but with the new interesting shade of red his dad is turning it makes exploiting his innocent age all the more worth it. He distantly thinks this may be considered manipulating, but in reality, his dad had been eyeing the stranger for weeks without an inch of progress. Desperate times call for desperate measures, he puts on his most dramatic faint acting as if the food was to die for. It’s not really, his dad too often neck deep in work for anything complicated but Cole isn’t going to tell anyone that.
The stranger chuckles a little, hiding a smile behind fingertips. A gesture that comes off as pretty delicate to the usual crassness he’s used to being around.
“Thank you, but I wouldn’t want to trouble your parents —”
“It’s okay mister! It’s only my dad and me, and Sumo too! But I think you’ll like Sumo, he’s a little big though and dad keeps complaining he’s getting too fat to do anything but I think he’s the perfect size.”
Cole notices the way a slight frown crosses the stranger’s features, but it’s not anything surprising for him anymore; he’d long come to accept his mother had walked out of their lives as quickly as a breath of air. He’d been sad for awhile, sure, confused most certainly but he still had a dad who doted on him and Sumo, who more than made up for good company.
Besides, he’d long since worked out pity was a great way to get people to do things for him.
“I mean, as long as your dad doesn’t mind ...”
“I don’t! You’re uh — definitely welcome to join.”
A smile lights up on the strangers features, he’s at least glad there isn’t any downright refusal to the invitation.
“My name is … please just call me Connor.”
“Hank. That’s Cole.”
He watches the interaction with only mild curiosity, but with how mundane the conversation goes his disinterest quickly settles in. They exchange numbers, Hank goes on about having to prepare dinner when he really doesn’t. Still, even if it lands his dad dragging him away by the scruff of his neck and in for a lecture about how not to talk to pretty strangers — Cole waves, Connor smiling all the same and waving back — Cole begins to think he likes this oddly pretty stranger.
The only odd thing however, once he’s gotten a chance to really look at Connor in the face, Cole swears he’s seen the man before; outside their routine shopping. Somewhere. Annoyingly for once, his perfect memory fails him.
He gets home, flips open the tablet his dad had gotten for this birthday — and does a double take at the news article that bursts alive in his face.
AMERICA’S RICHEST FAMILIES
FROM THE MANFREDS TO THE KAMSKIS
His dad, eyeing the newly opened article while passing the couch has a rather unfortunate accident involved with spilt coffee and a broken mug when he catches a glimpse of the front cover of the electronic magazine.
There, lo and behold, Connor’s angelic face stretched to a soft smile in front of the camera.
Alongside his very, very , rich family.
“Holy fuck .”
This is going to be interesting.
Chapter 2: to be a kamski is an extraordinary thing
We learn some things about the Kamskis ... and Andersons.
To be a Kamski is an extraordinary thing.
Mikolaj Kamski, by the time of his retirement at the ripe age of fifty five, wasn’t just richest man in the world — he was the richest man in the history of the world with a family empire so vast it spread from American soil all the way to the Far East. His success story isn’t so different from the usual; Mikolaj had made sure to dip his fingers in every profitable pie he’d come across, no different from his own father, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather before.
The Kamskis were old money, fueled by the desire for success and passing on the baton and unquenchable thirst to never settle for anything less.
He’d fallen in love and married Amanda Stern, a quiet but renown University lecturer in Detroit he’d had the chance of meeting completely by accident — she’d been different, unlike any other woman he’d ever met. Disinterested by his money, always willing to snap her opinion at him and never back down on her arguments. She was strong, an unwavering iron wall doused in a fire that never seemed to burn out.
They’d married of course, the wedding had been the event of the year. But as most things are, that happiness was somewhat short lived with the miscarriage of their first born; leaving her infertile and Mikolaj without a heir.
Drama ensued, with Amanda demanding a divorce for him to continue on his bloodline and Mikolaj insisting it wasn’t an issue — he loved her, dearly and truly with all his heart and the idea of parting seemed to hurt him just as much if not more than their loss had.
Adoption became an option.
That was how they’d ended up with Elijah, adopted from a rather obscure Polish Catholic orphanage, their five year old wonderboy of the Kamski family that made another headline with his IQ so terrifyingly high and a tongue just as sharp as Amanda.
Life was good then, while Elijah’s rapid development was something unexpected it wasn’t unwelcome either; the both of them had loved Elijah like their own and it showed on his somewhat snarky attitude that blossomed into a headstrong character. He took to the family business like a duck to water, and as soon as he finished University would be promised the Kamski empire.
Elijah left, and the house became quiet again.
It bothered Amanda to an extent, so used having to run after her errant child to have the mansion devoid of his presence made the hallways bleaker with a muted shade of monochrome grey. Like a blanket was sudden placed over the house, loneliness creeping in. It wasn’t bad by any means, but Mikolaj knew her moods well enough to know the silence bothered her.
One news report, hours of filling papers, and an interview from child protective services later was how the Kamskis got an addition of three new sons into the family.
Triplets, coming from a case so gruesome Mikolaj had pulled some strings to make sure the worse wouldn’t be leaked and remained covered up — it was a new challenge for the both of them, Elijah had simply been quiet with adapting to a new environment. The three boys, defensive and extremely protective of each other, had come from a background of abuse; it had broke Amanda’s heart more than once to see mistrust so heavy set in such young eyes.
It had taken a good few months before any of the three opened up. Connor, the eldest took the lead for his brothers and was the first; Silas and Niles, the younger two, only followed suit when given the safety nudge from him. They stuck like glue to each other, and later clung onto Amanda like terrified ducklings. It was cute, and a few months more before all three of them became comfortable with their surroundings — just in time to meet Elijah.
Elijah, for the most part, took the news well. Finding more humour in his three new adorable brothers and they returned the same, the first day had been the best — Connor and Silas having taken turns to baffle Elijah and enjoy his look of absolute confusion when the both of them sat side by side at the dinner table, only for him to connect the dots and realize they were three people and not just one person with the ability to change eye colours.
Their family had gotten bigger, happier, , and all three of the youngest boys grew up with the same care Amanda had given Elijah— each of them pursuing their own goals. Elijah was set on a fast track to expanding the family business, hands linked with a pretty Russian heiress that Mikolaj was more than happy to endorse.
By the time Connor had turned twenty-five, Mikolaj Kamski reached the end of his life.
Newspapers never fail to sensationalize the story, detailing the withering health of the man with the empire and the four sons he’d come to adopt as his own — the funeral itself is bleak, with only closed family and friends and a cremation prepared with instructions to spread his ashes along the Mediterranean. A light rainfall showered on them but not a single member of their family had shed a tear, they’d been prepared and Mikolaj had gone off with a smile.
Still, the world watched in bated breath for the final news while it was being read out to the family:Kamski Corporation and all its assets would fall to Elijah.
There was no dispute about that. The three siblings had long ago accepted Elijah was the one being groomed as the main heir; He was the most capable anyways, and it wasn’t as if Mikolaj hadn’t left anything for the rest of them either. The mansion, along with all his property assets went to Amanda; his vast and deep fortune split among his four sons. Still, family was family, and through it all, everything remained evenly shared despite the different name holdings.
That is, at the very least, the story Hank manages to uncover.
It’s bewildering to think about, how Hank had managed to develop a mini highschool crush on a stranger who turned out to be one of Detroit’s most eligible bachelors. But what was Detroit’s most eligible bachelor doing in Walmart of all places? And how had he not noticed? Surreal to think about his detective skills waning when he was still sharp on the job.
It was even more surreal, however, to think about how he had Connor’s private number on his phone, and he’s freaking out over sending a single text.
“So dad, have you texted him?”
It’s about the seventh time in three days now that Cole’s been repeatedly asking the question, a little relentlessly at this rate and with no mood to give it up. Hank returns with a low grumble over the sizzling eggs, Sumo just next by salivating and most likely hoping for any dropping pieces.
“You realize you’re the one who offered to invite him over right?”
The scrambled eggs are unceremoniously dumped onto the plate, some having dropped with Sumo all the more eager to clean the bits up. Juice is poured, and Saturday morning breakfast is set for the Anderson household. Hank raises a single eyebrow at his son, who’s already begun to stuff himself with toast and bacon.
“You saw the article, no way in hell we are contacting him again.”
“Dad you’re weak.”
“Hey— watch it.”
“So what he’s rich?He just has a little more —”
“— a lot more.” Hank stresses, it’s an important fact to consider.
“— okay, a lot more, money than us.”
Cole finishes the sentence as casually as talking about the weather, onto his second toast while Hank nurses his heated mug of coffee, occasionally he does wonder how much common sense messes with his son’s innate intelligence.
“Cole, I can’t just text —”
Hank’s phone chimes from beside the table, incoming message he gives a sparing glance before balking at the sender name.
”Sorry, I might’ve texted him while you were making the eggs... He’s meeting us at the park in thirty minutes.”
If there was anything Hank loved about Detroit, it would almost definitely be the parks. From a rundown city to something akin to the jewel of Michigan— the Kamski Corporation, and specifically Elijah Kamski, had invested much into the city to make it the shining beacon of technological revolution and every bit the smart, green and self sustaining city it could be. Hank remembers the darker times of Detroit, when crime was rampant and when the cells didn’t have space from all the drug addicts, pushes and troublemakers he’d arrested off the street.
These days the streets are cleaner, and with crime rates at an all time new low, it’s become a city he’s all too happy to let Cole grow up in.
The day would’ve been perfect, and everything would’ve honestly been fine if he didn’t feel so damn nervous.
“Dad you’re twitching.”
“Yeah, and who’s fault is that?”
Cole returns with cheeky laughter, darting off with a bounding and eager Sumo — leaving Hank feeling more exposed than he’s used to. He rubs his hands together, the chill of the morning freezing his fingertips and only increasing the jitters he has. Hank knows at least he doesn’t look too shabby for a guy going on fifty; grey hairs aren’t a huge contributing factor with how well he manages his stress and he’s managed to somehow maintain some kind of form for the police work he does.
Still, it doesn’t make him any less nervous to be meeting Connor who’s bound to look like jailbait next to him.
Cole had a hand in picking out his outfit. It was something simple, but Hank sincerely doubts it’ll look half as good, at least if the magazines screaming about how much Connor contributed to being a fashion icon were anything to go by. His nerves increase.
He practically feels himself jumping out of his skin, his own name called by a voice so soft like little bells rung by the spring breeze. He turns and mentally prepares to put himself down for dressing so loosely but is pleasantly surprised by just how … normal Connor looks.
Casual dark brown pants, a simple striped sweater, white collar shirt underneath a beige cream jacket to round off the ensemble making Connor look much younger than what his age probably was. If anything, Hank got the impression of an Oxford student fresh out of the class.
“Hi — oh God, I’m so sorry for the sudden text — uh —”
“No, don’t worry about it! I needed an excuse to get out anyways.”
Connor smiles, and Hank can feel his heart melting . He’s momentarily struck by how he suddenly doesn’t know what to say. Awkward silence fills between them before Hank decides the tension is too much to handle and he practically bursts on the spot.
“Look, I need to be honest with you Cole was the one who texted you in the morning and really I didn’t expect you to give me your private number because we both just saw the magazine article with your face plastered on it and we didn’t expect a Kamski to be at Walmart you know —”
“— and I didn’t think you’d be okay with seeing a normal guy like me outside —”
“ Hank .”
He feels the tug before hearing the words, Connor had stopped to tug hard enough on his sleeve for Hank to clam up after the awkward burst. What was he? Fifteen and an awkward preteen talking to his crush?
“Hank, I’m human too.”
He meets Connor’s eyes, brown under normal light but pooling like honey under the sun. The smile Connor has remains a little forlorn, and Hank realizes he’s probably faced the same treatment from any normal person off the street. Treating you like an average person before the title and money came into play, elevating you to places you didn’t ask to go.
(It’s lonely at the top. Hank can relate, however little.)
“Sorry, I’m just — I haven’t gotten into anything since my ex-wife.”
“Don’t apologize, I mean, I don’t mind. I’m still just Connor, a normal person if you take away my last name.”
Hank returns with an awkward twitch of his lips, not entirely expecting those words to come out of a guy coming from a family that was rumoured to own at least a quarter of the world. It’s a quality he admires.
“So … uh, what is a guy like you doing weekly Walmart shopping?”
Here Connor returns with laughter, clear, with the way his lips pull and set of even teeth shine. Hank chokes back the compliment bubbling under his tongue, Connor was too perfect.
“I lost a bet. So the deal was for me to do any of my shopping at Walmart for the next two months, last week was the end of my dare.”
Connor winks, and Hank combusts. They don’t mention how lucky it was for Hank to have gotten enough balls to even speak to Connor — but that’s entirely put on Cole for being a schemer and noticing too many things a kid his age shouldn’t even be bothered with.
“Must have been some bet.”
“Well, I know how the world works theoretically but really my brothers and I have gotten so used to being pampered with everything brought to us. It’s good to experience being completely independent you know?”
“Relatable.” Hank considers the first time moved out: the complete freedom and mixture of apprehension of how he was going to make his life work away from the shelter of his parents. It was tiring, but exhilarating all the same.
Cole’s shout alerts Hank, the loud boof and heavy steps before Hank has to all but catch and reign in Sumo before the oversized dog tackles Connor. Connor, who, only looks oddly excited at the slobbering beast and curiosity offers his palm to be covered in drool.
“Hi Cole — and this handsome boy must be Sumo!”
“Yeah! Sorry I couldn’t catch him, only dad can take Sumo’s weight. Last time I tried I got pulled across the grass and got so many scrapes dad got so mad.”
“Get a little older and don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”
Hank watches the interaction with the reminiscent of a smile, first time seeing Cole actively respond positively to another adult without clamming up or getting distant. Connor returns the energy with all the calmness of a tide as they continue their stroll, side by side with Sumo occasionally running off to sniff at a patch of grass or for Cole to point out something along their stroll that’s his favourite part. Hank isn’t sure how’d the picture suddenly become so intimate, like they’d done this a million times before and weren’t just strangers that had the odd chance to meet at Walmart.
The walk ends with ice cream on the bench, overlooking the man made lake and the sun reflecting waving waters. Cole finishes his ice cream first, a little too enthusiastically if the ice cream stains were anything to go by, grabbing the soggy tennis ball for a last round of fetch with Sumo before they’d have to go back. It ends with Connor and Hank left on the bench, another calm falling over them.
“If you don’t mind me asking — where is your ex wife?”
Hank finds the need to bite his tongue, the question was always a thing people brought up and Hank had gotten tired having to repeat the answer. It was painful to think about, let alone say — Cole didn’t exactly deserve to only grow up with a single, busy dad and a dog in a house that was too quiet for any child.
“She … left. As soon as Cole was born she’d demanded I signed the divorce papers leaving me with full custody of Cole. As soon as that was done … she walked out.”
“... I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. It’s been five years, and I’m doing as much as I can for the little guy.”
“I can see that. You’re a good father Hank.”
He feels himself flush at the compliment, sure he’d gotten pats on the back and a kind word or two — but most of it had felt empty, forced, like something that needed to be said in the moment instead out of genuine care. It was refreshing, and frankly good to be told he wasn’t fucking up Cole’s future with the way he was doing things.
It’d been hard. So, so, hard for him to realize the woman he’d loved with all his heart didn’t feel the same for their child. Didn’t want anything to do the fruits of their love and was more than willing to leave Hank for her own happiness. He doesn’t completely hate her, and a part of Hank still loved her, but he does hate how much pain she’s made Cole go through. Cole is unfortunately smart enough to piece things together, too much like his dad, able to figure the situation out with what little he knows.
“Any plans later?” Hank hopes he doesn’t sound too hopeful, the morning had went by so well he felt a little stupid to be so eager at the idea of spending more time Connor.
“Yeah, I’m sorry my schedule this week is so hectic it was a miracle I managed to get out of my house at all.”
Hank is disappointed, but Connor’s face is sincere.
“Well, don’t overwork yourself kid.”
“Being twenty-nine doesn’t make me a kid.” Connor’s face scrunches up to a sulk, Hank finds that more endearing than anything else.
“To me it does.”
“And is that supposed to be problem?” The question comes coy, Connor regarding Hank with a look enough to send a delightful chill down his spine. He finds his voice enough to give a reply.
Chapter 3: the chapter where the idea of meeting the family is more stressful than actually meeting the family
Connor pays his older brother an overdue visit, Hank gets stressed out, Cole just wants the car.
“I don’t like him.”
“You don’t like a lot of people.”
Elijah returns with thinly veiled annoyance, a simpering glare he offers to Connor who remains entirely, infuriatingly, impassive in their exchange. He relents with a long-suffering sigh, putting down the swirling glass to better scrutinize the younger sibling. Connor remains unbothered, evenly returning the glare with tepid irritation of his own; a rise of an elegant brow, lips meeting the rim of the steaming teacup as not a word passes between them in seconds that seem to stretch.
Elijah breaks the silence with a laugh.
“God you were always better at the silent game than I was— I thought you swore off relationships anyways? What’s with the sudden change of heart?”
“Hank is … different.”
“That’s what you said the last time.”
“Hank is different. I know it. Besides,I think his son— Cole—, likes me... Or at least I think he does..”
It was Elijah’s turn to give a pinch of brows, lips downturned in a disapproving frown. “You didn’t mention a kid the first time.”
“You didn’t ask.”
Connor practically feels the sigh before Elijah even has a chance to proceed with the action. He holds a delicate finger up to silence his eccentric brother.
“Look. I didn't come here to get your blessing. I came here to let you know I’m seeing someone.”
“A broke, single, divorced old man with a child that you met at Walmart doesn't count.”
“See? You aren't even bothering to deny it.”
Quick raps on the heavy wooden door alert the two of the incoming company. Elijah barely has time to send the person away before Connor responds with a hasty come in . A soft click and Chloe peeps around the corner, blonde hair falling over shoulders.
“Elijah you're next meeting is in — oh, Connor! I had no idea you were here!” A smile blooms across delicate features, the clicking of heels resonating against the marble floor as she moves to embrace Connor in a warm welcoming hug.
“Hi Chloe, I'm only dropping by. I promise I won't take up too much of your time.”
“Don’t worry about it, none of you drop by anymore and Elijah's been awfully sad about it.”
“Well, if he is, he's definitely good at hiding it.” Connor gives a withering frown towards his older brother, nudging closer to Chloe like a kicked puppy hoping for protection. “He's not supportive of my new relationship.”
“That’s wonderful news! Elijah, you should be happy!”
“And I am, dear, but it's hard to approve of his relationship when he's going out with a divorced, old man with a child —”
“Oh! He has a child! How old? And I must know their name —”
“He's five, his name is Cole, and he's the brightest boy I've ever met —”
“Both of you are missing the point.”
Elijah watches with what could only be described as disapproval as his fiancee cooes over the screen while Connor swipes through a camera album consisting entirely of pictures of Hank, Cole, and Sumo — or on occasion all three, or all four of them smiling in front of the camera.
“The point is, Elijah, Connor's gotten a new relationship, and you shouldn't be so hasty to judge. Oh, we should have a family dinner! It's been so long since you've seen Silas and Niles anyways, and I'm sure Amanda would love to meet — Hank, was it?”
Connor returns with a brief nod of affirmation. “See? At least someone in this family is supportive.”
“Don't be silly. We'll schedule a family dinner, bring them along and then I'll make my judgment. Now get out, unlike you, I've got money to make.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Very funny. Right, before I forget I needed to ask you — would getting him a new car be considered 'too much’?”
Hank likes to think their ‘dates’ go about as normally as possible, he supposes Connor had agreed to the rather sudden park meeting because of how few people would be out at the somewhat early hour of the morning — but the next few times come with uncertainty. Hank begins to factor in how many people would be at what place during what time, suddenly and rather acutely aware of just how well known the Kamski name was and just how much Connor hated the paparazzi.
They'd been unlucky once, to be spotted around the ice cream parlour Hank and Cole would frequent together — thankfully, no pictures of them ended up being snapped, and blessed was the fact Cole was safely at school; there wasn't a worry about dragging Cole into the dirty world of gossip and speculation.
He had to begrudgingly admit Connor was worth the effort though. Hank had come under the assumption rich people were pompous, entitled bastards and yet Connor was so far from that truth he'd come to accept he had to scrape that way of thinking.
Connor Kamski was compassionate, considerate, and with a heart of gold, if Sumo and Cole's judgment were anything to go by. God only knew how long it was before Cole even opened up to an adult so well as he did with Connor, and even Sumo (who usually walks the line between impassive and outright aggressive when it came to strangers) slobbered over Connor like he was the best damn chew toy he'd ever come across.
And Connor, bless his heart, took it all with a stride.
Hank still isn't completely sure what Connor sees from their family: a washed up man with a dog and kid didn't exactly appeal to most successful singles, as he'd learned in his early days of trying to relight that flame. He'd come to accept it though, the thought of having to choose between Cole and another lover was obvious to him — he wouldn't give up Cole for anything in the world.
So suddenly having both options open (especially considering the lover in question was a filthy rich, single bachelor who seemed to love his kid and dog just as much as he did) was understandably, rather jarring. Not like he's complaining. Just confused.
So he asks, an innocent question he slips just after a nice, quiet, home dinner, with Cole fast asleep and Sumo napping away.
“Hank,” Connor starts, and Hank notes the seriousness to his tone. “You make me feel normal. You don't put me on an untouchable pedestal nor do you try to hide some ulterior motive — you're honest and kind, with a heart of gold and I love that about you. You're a good man Hank... anyone who can't see that doesn't deserve to be around you.”
“Hey,” Hank can feel the color rising to his cheeks just listening to Connor's words. When was the last time he'd gotten so many compliments in one sentence? “I just listened to what you said the first time — still human right?”
Connor gives him a sweet smile, “Exactly.”
Their relationship improves from there. No longer does Hank feel awkward each time he texts Connor asking for a time of day and sometimes, Connor does the same. Seeing each other becomes a frequent thing, Connor being sewn into their lives as if he'd always been there. Granted, there were a number of things he'd had to get used to: the biggest one of them being Connor's penchant for leaving expensive gifts for them.
It started small, like with that new tablet Cole had been eyeing — one with a bigger memory for his rapidly expanding book library, that was magically left on the dining room table. Then, it moved to a new watch for Hank, when he lost his old one in the middle of duty (his co-workers were quick to point out just how costly the damn timepiece was and Hank almost got an aneurysm on the spot).
However, when Connor drove into Hank’s driveway with a brand new Mercedes and fully intending to hand over the keys and ownership to him, that's when he drew the line.
“Con, this is too much.”
“But...” Connor actually looked disappointed as he continued. “I want to do this for you.”
“Con, this is a brand new car, and that's far from the normal thing to do — I mean, won't your parents complain?” He feels stupid for saying it, but there has to be some truth in that... right?
“Hank. I'm twenty-nine years old and own private villas in twenty-two different countries.” He does give it to Connor— the guy does the best deadpan that Hank finds it increasingly hard to make his point.
“That doesn't justify anything.”
“It justifies everything .”
“Con — you went from a new tablet, to an expensive watch, and now to a brand new car that's —”
“Ohhh! If dad doesn't want it, can you keep it for me? You know, For when I get my license?”
“Cole, get back inside and stay out of this.”
Cole actually has the gall to look offended, sagging his shoulders and sulking his way back into the house. He made sure to make the show of slamming the door on the way. Hank isn't sure where he gets it from.
“Okay, we'll put this topic off. You didn’t drive all the way here for us to argue about this, right?”
“Of course not — I was actually going to ask if you and Cole are free tomorrow.”
“Uhh sure, have you got something planned?”
“Meeting my family.”