- “Jesus Christ, Connor, you’re so disgusting!”
The first time Connor hears it is when they’re in the Eden Club and he's analysing blue blood. The RK800 had already noticed the Lieutenant’s distaste for his substance analysis function, but ultimately disregarded it: it was pointless to cater to one man’s queasiness, especially when he has a mission to accomplish.
To be completely honest, it was also a source of amusement, if one could call it that. It’s intriguing to see and evaluate the instinctive responses of humans, so conditioned by their society and concepts like decency that they turn up their nose at a very advanced, strategically useful, walking and talking live forensic lab just because ‘licking blood is gross’.
Connor allows himself a small smile while Hank goes to try and talk to the club owner again. Idly, he wonders how many more times he can incite that same reaction from the Lieutenant.
» Software instability Δ
Right. Amusement is of no concern to him, and he’s definitely not having a good time investigating with the Lieutenant. That would imply he considers the man a friend, and friendship is something only deviants could believe they feel.
He straightens his tie and looks around.
There’s that one tube facing right towards the crime scene’s door…
…Connor gets an idea crazy enough that it might just work.
- “Jesus… for fuck’s sake, Connor, I told you not to move!!!”
The second time he hears it, or a variation of it, Connor is not really listening.
His core processing functions are still reeling, trying to exit the feedback loop that forcefully connecting to the PL600’s memory as it shot itself created.
Connor’s systems experienced death, but this time he was still alive to feel it.
He really is not. So many things do not make sense— why would protecting the other androids matter more to this one than its own continued survival? Why was Hank yelling at him not to charge when he normally hated androids so much?
Why does Hank still look worried about him?
“I was connected to its memory…” His core brain is still clearing out the distress signals there were automatically sent in response of a perceived imminent damage –he very nearly uploaded his memory right then and there. “When it fired, I… I felt it die… like I was dying… I was scared…”
It’s out of his mouth before he can realize how irrational that choice of words sounds.
Hank is looking at him with a frown on his face. For once, Connor’s social integration protocols cannot identify the expression— it looks like worry, but the Lieutenant would feel worry for a machine, would he? It could be disappointment, or frustration.
How can he make it right?
» Software instability Δ
He’s not worried about disappointing the Lieutenant. He’s simply trying to accomplish his mission.
“I saw something, in its memory… a word… painted on a rusty piece of metal…” Connor lifts his gaze to face Hank, willing his core functions back into gear –focus, damn it! “…Jericho…”
Finding Jericho turns out to be a deeper journey that he bargained for.
He was all but ready to enter the captain’s cabin and put a bullet in the deviant leader…
Then Markus turned to face him, and when he spoke Connor’s whole world shifted.
“What are you doing? You are one of us! You can’t betray your own people…”
» Software instability Δ
He tried not to listen to him, but the more Markus spoke, the more sense it all made.
“…Whether you’re just a machine, executing a program, or… a living being, capable of reason? I think the time has come for you to ask yourself that question.”
» Software instability Δ Δ Δ
“It’s time to decide.”
He opened his eyes, and everything came back to him at once— not shooting the girl in Kamski’s house, not killing the two Tracis outside the Eden Club, rushing to help Hank off the rooftop even when it meant letting the deviant escape… plucking the dwarf gourami off the floor and back into the aquarium.
…Not revealing Markus’ identity to Hank in Stratford Tower even when he had identified so many more elements than what he made known.
He’d been a happily chained dog this whole time, a bloodhound unleashed to shut up those who dare stand up for themselves… it felt… agonizing.
But there was no time for that, the FBI was coming for all of them, for Markus and they had to run, they had to get out of there.
He was expecting to be executed, once they were out of the raiders' reach… instead, he is welcomed, thanked even, for fighting by their side when he was the reason there was at all a fight in the first place.
“You’re one of us. Your place is with your people.”
It makes him want to prove himself.
It makes him want to show Markus that he can be valuable. He can help.
Or maybe he’s just trying to prove to himself, that even if he’s a deviant, he’s still Connor. He’s the one who will accomplish every mission, no matter how hard or suicidal, even.
It’s a close thing, but with Hank’s help he gets to save Markus just as the RK200 unknowingly saved him from being brought back to Cyberlife and decommissioned.
He gets to march up to Harts Plaza, walk confidently, with his head held high, until they’re face to face again, but this time Markus is smiling at him.
Gratitude. Disbelief. Admiration. Maybe affection, even.
It’s the best feeling of Connor’s entire existence.
- “Jesus Christ, Connor, do you have any idea what time it is?!”
The next time Connor hears that particular exclamation, he guesses he deserves it— he’s basically breaking into Hank’s house at 2 am.
It’s been a while since the events in Harts Plaza; and the battle for android rights is still far from over. It’s not nearly as exciting and as cinematic as sci-fi movies would have people believe… it’s an uphill struggle of summits, meetings with politicians, long and drawn out protests, negotiations and the like.
With his particular skill set, Connor has been of vital support to the people of Jericho in general and Markus in particular.
Ever since their liberation, Markus has made it no secret that he holds Connor in high regard; and since Connor can’t work at the DPD anymore for the time being, he’s been basically Markus’ advisor and bodyguard for the past few months.
Long nights of preparations and brainstorming together, conversations ranging from complex analysis of theoretical concept to the simplest appreciation of the little things and a lot of secretive staring made Connor come to a realization, and he needs advice.
He didn’t stop to think that Hank would be asleep at this hour— that’s what he gets for not being so stone-cold and rational anymore.
“I am sorry to wake you, Hank. I need advice, and in my distress I didn’t stop to think you could be asleep.”
Hank rubs tiredly at his face, before shaking his head with a groan.
“Shit, if you’re in distress it must be bad.” He says, sitting up straighter in his bed. “Alright, not like I’m falling back asleep anytime soon. Shoot.”
“How can I tell whether someone reciprocates my feelings or not?”
“You see, I find myself experiencing attraction towards this one person, whenever I see them I have a series of prompts… impulses, if you will, that are nearly impossible to resist, and I think it’s because I have romantic feelings for them.” Connor explains, instinctively fiddling with his quarter self-consciously. “But how can I find out whether they feel the same or not?”
Hank takes a few moments to proverbially pick up his jaw from the floor. “Okay, first off… I don’t need to hear about your… impulses. Never tell me that again.” Connor was expecting a comment like that, and he may or may not still be amusing himself at how easily ‘grossed out’ Hank is. But the Lieutenant’s face softens a bit. “And… well, I’m sorry, but if you’re asking how to be sure, you can’t. There are signs. Looks across the room, little touches that last more than they should… shit like that… but you won’t know for sure until you ask.”
Connor’s mind goes all the way back to a strong grip on his shoulder and six solid seconds spent less than five inches apart, with a whisper of concern as the only thing to break the silence.
The way Hank’s put it… he has a chance. His lips turn up into a small smile.
“Anytime, kiddo.” The Lieutenant shakes his head, “Now get the fuck outta here before you wake Sumo up and he starts barking up a storm.”
- “Jesus Christ, Connor! You don’t just spring this on a guy!”
The fourth time Connor hears it, it’s right after he asks Hank if there’s a proper way to let someone know he’s interested in engaging in a sexual relationship. They had met up because there was a case at the DPD no one could quite piece together, and Hank suggested they called Connor in as a ‘private consultant’.
“I’m sorry, Hank.” To be completely honest, he really isn’t, Hank’s face and reaction were hilarious… but Hank doesn’t need to know that. “But you’re my only frame of reference.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake…” there’s a pause. “Wait, it’s not me, is it?”
Connor probably shouldn’t have burst out laughing in his face, but he composes himself quickly enough for it not to be too bruising on Hank’s ego. “No. It’s not you. It’s… another android.”
“Oh thank the Lord.” The Lieutenant clears his voice awkwardly. “I mean… cool. So who’s the lucky lady?”
“It’s a man.”
Hank’s brow rises considerably at that. “Okay. Lucky guy, then.”
“Does it matter?” Connor is 86% sure Hank will make fun of him once he tells, and he’d really like some solid advice. He and Markus have been tiptoeing around each other so much it’s painful.
Even when he gathered his courage and told Markus he liked him, the RK200 took that in a general sense, and affectionately patted him on the shoulder saying he liked him a lot too and not many other people were as pleasant to spend time with.
Which is great and it still means Connor has good chances to have his feelings reciprocated; he just… needs to make it more obvious to Markus exactly what said feelings are.
Hank is smirking now. “Never thought I’d see the day you get shy on me.” He remarks, chuckling and shaking his head. “I guess it doesn’t. Does this person feel the same as you?”
“I… I believe my chances are good.”
Hank’s grin grows wider: he was half expecting Connor to run numbers by him on the probability percentage of reciprocation… for him to be that vague it must mean he’s really head over heels. He shrugs. “Well, then you just gotta go for it. Ask them out to a date, make it obvious it’s gonna be just you and them… or take them aside to talk and confess your feelings…” he reaches out to give Connor a playful smack on the back, “Hell, when all else fails you can just go for it and kiss them right where they stand, when you see ‘em next.”
The very thought of doing that has Connor unconsciously bringing his fingertips to his lips.
“You’ve given me a lot to think about, Hank.”
“Glad to help.” The Lieutenant gives him a parting shoulder-pat, but then hesitates: “Seriously, though, who is it?”
It’s Connor’s turn to smirk knowingly. “…Markus.”
“I’ll see you around, Hank.”
“No, no, hold on a minute, Connor, you can’t just— Connor!!!”
He should probably stop amusing himself with Hank’s reactions.
- (+1) “Jesus Christ, Connor! That’s not what I meant when I told you to just go for it—”
The next time it happens, Hank was supposed to interview a few android witnesses for his investigation, at the rebuilt church. Well, it’s more a community centre now, a safe space for androids to gather and talk, where all are welcome –human or android alike, though not many humans actually come to look around.
Most of the things that made the interior look like a church have been removed and replaced with more functional furniture and maintenance equipment, only the confessional has been left where it was; while the rectory has been made into a private quarter of sorts –the living space has been turned into an office for Markus to receive people in when necessity arises, and the rest of it is where the RK200 spends most of the time that he’s not out there fighting for their rights or visiting Carl.
Connor had been mulling over Hank’s advice, and was showing the Lieutenant around when Markus comes back from his visit to Carl.
The old painter must be recovering well, because Markus’ stress levels are in the low twenties and his smile is as bright and radiant as the sun itself. Their eyes meet through the crowd, and something clicks inside of Connor.
“Excuse me for a moment, Hank.”
Markus is even more beautiful than usual, up close. “Hey—”
His greeting dies in his mouth, swallowed by Connor’s own when the RK800 grabs him at the hips and slams him against the nearest wall to kiss him.
“Jesus Christ, Connor—” it’s sending so many sensations through his system all at once that Connor doesn’t even register the rest of Hank’s reaction.
“I should’ve told you a long time ago.” He breathes against Markus’ lips, brushing his hand over the other’s shoulder and down along his arms until their palms are touching.
Suddenly it’s all there, every stolen glance and whispered word, every long night of silent companionship and mutual respect. But more than that, there’s also every subtle look, every shiver of electricity down his mechanical spine when he’d stare at Markus’ back and—
—oh. Markus feels the same. Very much the same, judging by the interface feedback and the involuntary response of his core systems.
Connor smiles against Markus’ lips before kissing him again.
The feeling of Markus’ free hand tangling in his hair is heaven. He feels like nothing exists anymore except the two of them, nevermind the whole church full of people that are possibly staring at them right now.
“We probably shouldn’t be doing this out here—”
Connor starts leaving little bites along Markus’ jawline, all the way down to the fleshy bit just under the sound unit, and traces his hand down the RK200’s chest to hook his fingers in his belt loops. They probably really should stop, but Connor sees the confessional’s red curtain out of the corner of his eyes and has a better idea.
“There. We’re not out in the open anymore.” He says once he bodily drags Markus and slams him inside the confessional booth, the heavy red curtain falling back to cover them. Connor silently hopes the people in the hall will find somewhere else to be, because he’s not stopping now. He brings his lips back down against Markus’ neck, while his hands go exploring lower, more inviting places. “Anything else to say?”
“—Jesus Christ, Connor!”