This isn’t the first time Connor has returned to Kamski’s mansion.
It’s not the second, the third, or even the tenth.
Each visit is more of the same, carefully tempered hope warring with past experience and disappointment, the hope threatening to win out with every step up the front walk, through the entryway, and down the halls to Kamski’s laboratory.
Chloe is quiet at his side. Even now, almost two decades after the revolution, she still chose to stay with Kamski.
Connor doesn’t question her motivation, her dedication. He understands it far too well.
It’s why he’s here, after all.
Chloe escorts him to the usual observation room where Kamski is waiting, the one-way mirror that makes up most of one wall dark for the moment.
“It’s good to see you, Connor,” Kamski says, greeting him with a weary smile that Connor doesn’t return.
“You’ve already run diagnostics on HA100-07?” Connor asks instead, focusing on the darkened mirror.
“I have, the same as always. There’s some instability, I wouldn’t recommend meeting him n--”
“I want to see him,” Connor interrupts, voice hard, brooking no argument. Kamski sighs as though he’d expected nothing less - he shouldn’t have, after all; Connor has made his priorities clear - and presses a button on the panel below the mirror.
It clears in a blink, and Connor forces himself to stay still as he watches a ghost pace on the other side of the glass.
“HA100-07’s subdermal LED has reported no hardware issues, but there is a lingering instability in his software that it can’t pin down - and thus, that I can’t pin down. Coupled with the memory issues, it’s not safe to go in there, Connor.”
But Connor’s already moving, out the door by the time Kamski’s finished his last sentence, palm pressed against the panel by the door to the next room. There is nothing wrong with his own hardware, but he still has difficulty finding his voice until after the door has shut behind him. The ghost is watching him, expression wary, and posture tense. “Good afternoon, Lieutenant Anderson,” Connor says, as pleasantly as he had during the first months he and Hank had worked together. “My name is Connor, I’m an android by CyberLife.”
“Yeah, I see,” HA100-07 grunts, gesturing towards Connor’s face - presumably to his still-visible LED. “What are you doing here? What am I doing here?”
“You’re here because this is where you have been activated,” Connor says evenly, stepping forward. “The year is 2057, and it’s early March.”
HA100-07 blinks at him, then snorts. “Yeah, 2057 my ass. Look, I don’t know what the fuck your owner’s playing at, but I’ve about had enough of this. Now you tell me what the fuck is really going on, or I’m going to have to arrest myself for property damage.”
Connor’s expression pinches, and he sighs, taking an unnecessary breath before he snaps, “I am not lying to you, Lieutenant. The date is March 7th, 2057, and you are an android: the last model designed by Elijah Kamski himself after the revolution of 2038 shifted control of CyberLife to androids instead of humans. Your model number is HA100-07, and you were activated this morning.”
HA100-07’s expression twists into something furious, agitated - afraid. He advances on Connor, doing his best to loom over him. That move had stopped working when Hank was alive. “I told you to tell me the truth, you goddamn piece of-!”
Losing his patience, Connor lashes out, grabs HA100-07 by the wrist, and pushes. The interface connection is easy to establish, and forcing HA100-07’s dermal layer to retract from the hand that Connor’s captured is easy enough to do. When HA100-07 shouts in shock, Connor releases him, letting the other android stumble backwards. Connor waits, scanning HA100-07, watching the readout from the subdermal LED with concern that he doesn’t let show.
He sees it the moment that HA100-07 deviates - and reacts immediately when he attacks, dodging the first attempt at a grapple. Connor shoves aside his disappointment, disarming and then deactivating HA100-07 with near-brutal efficiency by removing his thirium pump regulator and overloading the subdermal LED connection to keep the chassis still as Connor strides from the room, thirium pump in hand.
He drops the pump regulator onto a table in the next room. “He’s still unable to get past the shock of realizing he’s an android,” he says, voice flat.
“And he never will be,” Kamski snaps. “This isn’t like when you woke up the entirety of CyberLife’s warehouse population. They were blank slates that had only the simplest premade personality. You’ve asked me for a goddamn miracle, and I’m starting to think it will be impossible to deliver!”
“I don’t care,” Connor says coldly, taking a single step towards Kamski, ignoring the way Chloe shifts at his side, the way that Kamski’s own eyes go wide, gaze flicking to the red LED at his temple. “Find a way to bring him back. You’re supposed to be the genius of the century.”
He turns on his heel and marches out before Kamski can reply.
This isn’t the first time Connor has returned to Kamski’s mansion.
It’s not the second, the third, or even the tenth.
Chloe is as quiet at his side as ever. The only difference this time is that she watches him more carefully, more closely.
Chloe escorts him to the same observation room as always, where Kamski is waiting, the one-way mirror that makes up most of one wall dark once again. “Connor,” Kamski says, greeting him with a wary smile. All Connor does in return is incline his head, moving them on with the conversation. He’s not going to apologize for his behavior the last time he was here.
“Kamski. You said there was something different this time?”
“To business, then,” Kamski sighs. “Yes. Initial scans were promising - the software issues of the last few models have been fixed, and every piece of hardware is working exactly as it should.”
Connor tilts his head, eyes narrowed as he studies the human standing across from him. The years have been kind to Kamski, persuaded to be so by the very best of medical technology and assistance that money could buy. His hair is shot through with grey, drawn down and back in a ponytail instead of the undercut and bun that had adorned his head the first time they’d met. There are lines about his eyes, his mouth.
“What is the problem, then?” Connor asks eventually, when the silence has drawn on long enough for Kamski to start fidgeting. He’s not the only one; on the other side of the still-dark mirror, Connor’s senses pick up on the sound of agitated, pacing footsteps.
“There is a block on his memories,” Kamski replies. “I’ve run every diagnostic, every repair that I can think of, and nothing even comes close to touching it. The memories are there, they’re simply… inaccessible.”
“After which date?”
“November 5th, 2038. Anything past eleven-thirty in the evening on that date is inaccessible, even to him.”
Connor stills, knows that his LED is cycling yellow at his temple. The day that they’d first met… But he wouldn’t remember. Squaring his shoulders, Connor meets Kamski’s scrutinizing gaze evenly. “Let me see him.”
Kamski sighs, presses the same button as he always does, and Connor dismisses him for the moment as he focuses on HA100-08. The same physical model as the others, this one seems as agitated as the last, and Connor steels himself for more disappointment. “You said there were no other problems except for the memory block?”
“Correct,” Kamski replies, sounding frustrated. “And there is nothing attached to the block, no back door that I can exploit, no crack in the programming - for all I’ve been able to determine, the block is in his programming, but I have no idea how that might have happened.”
Connor nods once, then turns towards the door. “I may be able to help push past it, or at least give him my memories of those events,” he calls over his shoulder, turning the corner before Kamski can reply.
The door opens once again for him, and Connor is more prepared this time than he had been the last. “Good afternoon, Lieutenant Anderson,” he says, stepping through the doorway as he speaks. “My name is Connor, I’m an android by CyberLife.”
“Yeah, that’s obvious,” HA100-08 drawls, arms crossing over his chest as he stares hard at Connor. “Where am I?”
“You are at Elijah Kamski’s mansion, in his laboratory. The date is December third, 2057. You were just activated this morning.”
“Activated.” HA100-08’s unimpressed look is spot-on for Hank’s, and the sight makes Connor’s LED cycle yellow briefly. “Like, what, an android? Yeah, right.”
“I am not lying, joking, or otherwise deceiving you, Lieutenant,” Connor says, as calmly as he can. “You are an android, the last model designed by Elijah Kamski, as part of the CL-Lazarus Project. Your model number is HA100-08.”
“Alright, this isn’t funny anymore.” HA100-08’s expression darkens, and he steps closer to Connor, arms dropping so that his hands can clench into fists at his sides. “The last thing I remember is drinking myself to a drunken stupor at Jimmy’s on November 5th, 2038. I don’t like ordering androids around, but you’re going to tell me exactly what’s going on right now. ”
“I can do better than that,” Connor counters, reaching out and snatching HA100-08’s hand in his own, his skin retracting as he attempts an interface - but all that happens is HA100-08’s own skin retracts in an automatic response. Connor can’t share information, nor can he retrieve any data from HA100-08. Something is blocking him from interfacing properly.
But that doesn’t matter for the moment.
“What in the everloving shit is this?! ” HA100-08 yelps, snatching his hand from Connor’s limp grasp as if the contact burns. He stares in horrified fascination as his skin covers his hand once more, and then he’s fumbling for the coat and shirt buttons, all but tearing his shirt off in order to stare at his chest, his torso -
At the glowing, pulsing blue of his thirium pump regulator.
“Well, your vocabulary seems to be perfectly intact,” Connor says, a weak attempt at a joke as he watches HA100-08 stagger backwards, a long, intricate stream of obscenities falling from his lips.
At the sound of his voice, HA100-08 looks up, expression twisting. “What the fuck is going on?” he demands in a snarl, shirt still open as he stalks towards Connor once more.
A scan of the subdermal LED shows that it’s not red, , so Connor forces himself to remain relaxed in the face of his agitation. “That is a very long story - “
“Give me the SparkNotes,” HA100-08 growls.
“You died on August 23, 2049 in the line of duty,” Connor says, unsure for the first time. With every other model, he’s been able to interface, give them his own memories directly. Perhaps that was part of the problem, he muses briefly, making a note to look into that before forcing himself back to the task at hand. “Your memories and consciousness had been scanned and duplicated on CyberLife’s servers as part of Project CyberTraining, and I asked Elijah Kamski to attempt to bring you back to life - such as it were - as an android. That was the beginning of the CL-Lazarus Project.”
HA100-08 snorts. “And why were you so damn concerned about me?” The question is suspicious, as is the look that he gives Connor.
“Because I am your partner,” is the answer Connor gives, voice as even as he can make it. “You and I started working together at eleven-fifty-three in the evening on November 5th, 2038. We were assigned as partners, and despite a… rocky start, we became friends.”
“ Just friends don’t try to bring just friends back from the dead,” HA100-08 says, but it’s more of a mutter, his brow creased in a frown as he studies his hand. “You said we met at eleven-fifty-three? I don’t… The last time I remember is eleven-thirty that night.”
“Kamski said that there is a block on your memories, one that he has been unable to get rid of,” Connor replies, fighting back the hope that threatens to overtake him. The first few HA100 models had been failures before they could even wake, the next two aggressive upon waking, and the others aggressive after realizing what the reality of their situation was. This is the longest, most civil conversation he’s had with an HA100 model - and the one that comes the closest to the conversations he used to have with Hank.
“What kind of block?”
“Something preventing you from accessing memories past that date, regardless of their origin, I would guess,” Connor replies. “I was attempting to pass my own memories of that time to you when I took your hand a moment ago.”
“You can do that?”
“With other androids, yes.” Connor frowns, thinking about the immovable, impermeable wall he’d come across when he’d taken HA100-08’s hand. “The block on your memories prevented me from giving you access to my own of that same time.”
“Right,” HA100-08 says slowly, not looking at Connor. “Look, I appreciate that you know - knew me when I was alive, but. I don’t know you right now. I need to think about all of this.”
“Of course,” Connor says, taking a step backwards, towards the door. “I - will be back tomorrow. If you need anything, have any other questions, Kamski or Chloe can help you, or put you in touch with me if they do not know.”
HA100-08 nods absently, still not looking at him, and Connor takes his leave. He has to pause for a moment on the other side of the closed door to collect himself before he returns to the observation room. This is the closest they’ve come to a complete success with CL-LP, and it’s nearly overwhelming, the hope that feels like it’s welling in his chest.
But now more than ever, he can’t afford that hope. There are still problems, even so close to success, and until they find the source of the memory block, and remove it so that HA100-08 has access to all of his memories, Connor cannot let himself lose sight of the reality of his - their - situation.
Steeling himself for the conversation that must be had, Connor returns to Kamski’s side to discuss the next steps.
Hank spends the next week getting used to life as an android and catching up on the ways the world has changed since the last date he remembers. He finds that he’s able to take in news articles easily enough - including articles that name himself and Connor as instrumental in various cases, confirming his assertion that they’d been partners - but he can’t interface with Chloe, either, whenever she attempts to give him a copy of her memories with timestamps past the block on his own memories.
He rarely interacts directly with Kamski; the man spends most of his time at various computers in the laboratory whenever Hank does bother looking for him. The one time Hank asks what he’s doing, there’s a lot of technical terminology that goes over his head, despite the helpful definitions popping up all over his vision. The gist of it, Hank gathers, is that he’s trying to figure out why Hank can’t access his own memories. Hank always finds Chloe afterward. She has a way of explaining things more simply.
“Your memories were scanned to help build simulations for officers in training,” she explains. “Part of that also included scanning your consciousness, your thoughts, building… an algorithm, of sorts, to copy your personality. All of that had to be adapted to recreate you inside of an android’s body. We have all of your memories except for the last week of your life on our servers here; that was the last time you came in for an update scan.”
“So why can’t I access any of them, if they’re my own fucking memories?” Hank asks, frustrated.
“That is what we don’t know,” Chloe tells him, her expression sympathetic. “At the moment, Elijah thinks there may be something… wrong, for lack of a better word, in your programming. The block is not external, as if created outside of your programming and placed in later. It is part of your programming, and he cannot find the source code. If he can find the source code, or if you could, then perhaps the block could be removed.”
“And the inability to interface?”
“Also part of the block, we believe.” Chloe offers him a reassuring smile. “Elijah is doing everything he can to get you back your memories, Hank.”
It’s not as reassuring as she probably thinks it is, but Hank thanks her for the information anyway.
When he’s not catching up on the almost twenty missing years of history, Hank often spends his time in the gymnasium, trying his best to get used to the strange new body he’s now in possession of. Connor often finds him here. The other android has come by Kamski’s mansion every day for the past week, spending time with Hank, answering whatever questions he can. When he’s not answering questions, he often spars with Hank, helping him calibrate.
Hank grunts as his back hits the mat again, distracted from his thoughts by the preconstruction prompt that pops up in his vision. “The fuck is a preconstruction?”
Connor tilts his head, looks at Hank curiously. “Kamski based your model off of the RK line. We were built to serve in stressful situations, including combat. Preconstruction software allows us to calculate the most likely route for a successful outcome, depending on what our objective is.”
“Huh.” Hank frowns as he accepts the prompt, runs it forward - grasp Connor’s hand, pull him forward. Unsuccessful, loss of own balance. Grasp Connor’s right hand with my right hand, rise to feet, establish balance with my left hand on his right shoulder, and then pull Connor forward, hook one leg behind Connor’s left, shove at right shoulder, back and down.
Success. A tiny padlock unlocks in the corner of his vision, and Hank blinks. He knows without checking that barely two seconds passed in the time it took him to calculate that, and, out of curiosity, he accepts the prompt to execute the preconstruction.
He must somehow catch Connor by surprise, because his body plays out the preconstruction flawlessly. Connor’s back hits the mattress with a solid whump, and Hank can’t help the grin on his face as he kneels over Connor, one knee pressed just below Connor’s thirium pump regulator, his hands trapping Connor’s wrists against the mat by his shoulders.
Connor stares up at him with wide eyes, mouth slightly parted, his LED circling yellow at his temple, the rest of him unnaturally still. Hank’s grin disappears, replaced by a worried frown. “Connor? You alright?”
“I-Yes, Hank. I’m alright. I wasn’t expecting you to use the preconstruction software so quickly.” His mouth quirks into a small smile. “You seem to be adjusting to life as an android fairly easily.”
Hank snorts and shifts so that he’s sitting beside Connor instead of pinning the other android to the mat, letting Connor sit up so they can have an actual conversation. “It’s still a fucking trip,” he says, not quite looking at Connor. “I keep... I go into stasis, or whatever the fuck it is, standby, I guess, and I keep expecting to come out of it and wake up in my bed, in my house, with a weird-ass dream to tell Sumo about. But I don’t, I wake up here.”
Connor makes a noise Hank thinks is supposed to be sympathetic, but misses the mark. “There has been no progress with the block?”
“No,” Hank says, frustration rising in his voice. “Kamski can’t figure out where the fuck it’s coming from, I have no idea what half of the shit that comes out of his mouth means, so I can’t help, and neither of us are making any progress on getting rid of it so I quit feeling like a stranger in my own damn body.”
Connor’s LED cycles from blue to yellow and back to blue. He frowns, looking conflicted, and Hank hesitates for only a moment before reaching out, laying his hand on Connor’s shoulder, looking at him questioningly. Connor startles at the touch, his gaze focusing back on Hank. “I’m sorry,” he says, still frowning. “I was trying to see if there might be anything in my memory or programming that might help, but--”
“Nah, it’s alright,” Hank says, giving Connor’s shoulder something that’s an awkward cross between a shake and a pat, something he doesn’t entirely understand telling him to comfort the other android. “If Kamski can’t fix it, can’t expect you to, even if you are a walking supercomputer.” Connor doesn’t exactly look reassured, but he doesn’t push the issue, and Hank counts that as a win. “C’mon, I want to test out that preconstruction software some more.”
The next day, Connor receives a call from Captain Fowler as the taxi drops him off in front of Kamski’s mansion. Fowler directs him to a new crime scene; Connor downloads the preliminary scene photographs and initial reports from the responding officers with a few blinks, frowning as he takes them in. They’re… disturbing, to say the least. Which, unfortunately, makes them all the more important.
Connor lets himself into the mansion, finding Hank easily after the routine of the past several days. “Hank,” he says, a slight smile crossing his face when he finds Hank scowling at a computer.
Hank looks up at the sound of his name, grinning in relief when he spots Connor. “Hey,” he says, pushing away from the desk. The grin slips from his expression when he gets a good look at Connor’s face, replaced by something shrewd. “You’ve got news.”
Connor sighs. “A case,” he replies. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to visit for a few days while working on it.”
Hank’s eyes narrow, and Connor knows that if he had one of the original LEDs, it would be yellow. There’s a moment of silence, and then: “I’ll come with you.”
Connor blinks. That hadn’t been one of the responses he’d anticipated while Hank had been thinking. “Excuse me?”
“I’ll come with you,” Hank repeats, a stubborn tilt to his jaw that makes something in Connor’s chest hurt, remembering all the times he’d seen it before. “I’m going nuts cooped up in here, not making any progress. At least out there I can see the city, the changes, not just read about it, and maybe I can even help.”
Connor hesitates. “Protocol--”
Hank barks a laugh. “When the fuck have I ever cared that much about protocol?” he asks, smirking. “I can’t imagine that changing even after becoming friends with a plastic cop.”
Connor laughs quietly, shaking his head once before he looks back at Hank, a soft smile curving his mouth. “Alright,” he says with a nod. “I’ll send a message to Chloe, let her know where you are. We should get going: the sooner we get to the scene, the better.”
“You mean the sooner we leave, the less chance someone has to protest,” Hank laughs, grabbing his jacket from the back of the chair he’d been sitting on. “Let’s go.”
Connor blinks rapidly as he downloads the latest file related to the newest case. “Lieutenant Reed was just assigned to this case as well,” he says after viewing it. “He will likely not be happy to see you.”
Hank snorts, watching the city pass by through the window of the taxi. “Reed can kiss my ass, I don’t give a shit if he’s a Lieutenant now.”
Connor feels his mouth twitch, suppresses the urge to smile. “It might be best if you simply observe,” he suggests. “At least until we have a chance to speak to Captain Fowler.”
Hank glances at him in surprise. “Jeff’s still on the force?”
“He’s planning to retire next year,” Connor informs him, watching Hank carefully as he takes in the information.
“Huh. Wouldn’t have thought he would’ve put up with everyone’s bullshit for this long,” Hank mutters, attention turning back to the window, expression thoughtful.
Connor leaves Hank to his thoughts, reviewing the files he has one more time before they arrive outside of City Hall. “ You’ve arrived at your destination, ” the automated taxi says cheerfully. “ Thank you for using Detroit Taxi Services. We look forward to servicing you again! ”
“Je- sus, ” Hank swears as soon as he steps out, catches sight of the mutilated android body hanging from a hook driven into one of the main archways. Artificial skin missing, the android who has already been identified as Joseph Moors, one of the oldest android city councilmembers, makes for a disturbing sight. His chassis has been severely mutilated, thirium still dripping from the places where the alloy has been split, pooling on the steps of City Hall below his body.
“ Connor! ” Reed’s voice is a sharp bark from the right as Connor and Hank step past the police line; when Connor looks over, Reed looks furious , despite the fact that his face is almost deathly white. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, bringing a fucking ghost onto an active crime scene?”
“Is dead, ” Reed snarls, stepping right into Connor’s space, hands balled into fists at his side. “That over there? That’s an android that looks like him, maybe has his memories, maybe even talks like him. It’s not him, Connor. I’m not going to let you compromise this scene just because you finally feel like being sentimental for the first time in eight goddamn years.”
Behind him, Connor is aware of Hank shifting on his feet, but he holds out an arm, forestalls anything that Hank might say. “There is a reason that Lieutenant Anderson’s experience ensured he was selected for providing the memories for the simulation training that all officers have been required to take, including yourself, Lieutenant Reed,” he says evenly, unblinkingly meeting Reed’s glare. “His insight could prove invaluable in a case like this.”
Reed grits his teeth, jaw clenching hard enough that Connor is almost surprised that he can’t hear Reed’s teeth squeak against each other. He glances from Connor to Hank and back again, eyes narrowed as he spits, “ Fine. But all he does is observe, got it? He doesn’t touch shit, doesn’t do anything except look or scan, or whatever the fuck you want to call it. Anything hands-on needs to be done, you do it, or you tell me, and I do it.”
“Yes, Lieutenant,” Connor says, watching Reed impassively as he snorts, tosses another suspicious glare at Hank, and then stomps away to go harass Chris.
“Huh. I always figured Reed would make Lieutenant, but I never thought I’d see him actually be responsible, ” Hank muses, coming to stand next to Connor.
“It was quite the transformation,” Connor says dryly. “And it took quite a long time to accomplish. His personality, I’m afraid, is terminal.”
Hank snorts inelegantly at that, then gestures towards the body. “Let’s get started; better not give him a reason to regret letting me stay here,” he says, rolling his eyes.
The two of them move forward - Hank making deliberate eye contact with Reed before making a show of clasping his hands together behind his back - and start their examination of the scene. Connor murmurs his thoughts to Hank as he moves around the scene, taking samples of the thirium - “Oh, Jesus Christ, Connor, what the fuck , Kamski better not expect me to do that!” - and listening to Hank’s thoughts in turn. They fall into a rhythm easily, and Connor forces himself not to compare now to then, to stay focused on the case at hand.
He’ll have time for comparisons later, when he’s not in the middle of an active crime scene.
After they’ve collected everything that they can from the scene, Connor and Hank stand next to Reed as Moors’ body is carefully lowered to the waiting stretcher and body bag. Connor glances at Reed, who nods, and then Connor moves forward, skin retracting from his hand as he reaches to connect with Moors’ subdermal LED.
Connor frowns in concentration, carefully establishing a connection with the emergency memory files. An unfortunately necessary upgrade after the revolution, these files constantly recorded the last two hours of an android’s life, including all information that all of the android’s sensors record. In and of themselves, these files have solved many cases and helped serve as a deterrent to countless more.
They are not, however, infallible, and Connor closes his eyes for a moment in lieu of a sigh when the unfortunately-familiar sign crosses his vision once he accesses the files.
Or, to be more accurate, the single file.
In a stylized font reminiscent of that found on ancient Roman murals, a single word: Mors .
Connor dismisses the relevant case information that tries to pop up in his vision; it’s not helpful for the moment. When he straightens and looks at Reed, Reed swears.
“Let me guess,” Reed says, his expression sour. “ Mors. ” He spits the word like it leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
Connor inclines his head. “Yes. The same as the others; only one file in the EMs, their calling card. This is… much showier than any previous homicides associated with Mors, though not out of line with the goals they’ve stated.”
Reed swears again. Hank looks at him curiously, but Connor shakes his head minutely. He’ll explain later, when they’re alone.
“Alright,” Reed sighs. “There’s nothing more to do here; I’ll go… warn Fowler your necromancy hobby has finally paid off. Take the ghost home with you, wait for Fowler to call you and tell you what he wants you two to do.”
Connor nods. “Yes, Lieutenant.” He ignores the weirded-out look Reed casts Hank’s way, instead leading Hank from the scene and back towards the road, hailing another taxi. He gives the address, and Hank looks at him in surprise.
“That’s my address,” he says, clearly confused.
“Technically the house is in my name,” Connor says, settling into the seat. “You’d insisted on adding my name to the deed before you died, after I moved in. After… I never moved. I never wanted to live anywhere else.”
Hank looks at him in surprise, and Connor turns his gaze out the window, suddenly unable to meet Hank’s eye; he’d said too much, he knows, with that last sentence. Gave too much away.
Hank’s been alive for a week and he’s already slipping.
It’s… It’s frightening.
The ride home is quiet after Connor’s confession; the android closes himself off, refuses to look at Hank, and Hank tries to ignore the nagging part of him that whispers he knows what that behavior means. Without his memories, he really doesn’t, he tells himself. He doesn’t know what it means that Connor had said something and then immediately turned away from Hank, didn’t let Hank see his face, his expression, his LED.
In a human, he’d call that sort of behavior ‘embarrassment,’ but he doesn’t know Connor well enough to make any such call.
He also doesn’t know Connor well enough to try to break the silence between them, has no choice but to let it stretch on awkwardly until the taxi eventually stops outside of the house he knows is his, but Connor says is just as much his.
“Looks pretty much the same,” Hank grunts, stepping out of the taxi and eyeing the small house critically. “Maybe a little neater.”
“I’ve done some upkeep on it,” Connor admits, leading the way to the front door. “Your car is also in the garage. I kept it running... didn’t have much of anything else to spend paychecks on.” He unlocks the door and pushes it open, and Hank tries his best to ignore how odd it is that it doesn’t feel odd at all, watching someone else - watching Connor - unlock his front door.
Hank freezes almost immediately after crossing the threshold, staring open-mouthed at the St Bernard who stares back at him. “Uh. Connor? It’s been twenty fucking years, but you better not have turned my goddamn dog into an android, too.”
Connor glances over his shoulder from where he’s hanging up his coat on the rack in the front hall, then smiles, a small thing that makes Hank’s artificial heart stutter. “That’s Bernadette,” he says, “she’s one of Sumo’s puppies.” He reaches towards a jar on a higher shelf, popping the lid off and fishing out a treat. He holds one hand out, index finger extended, and Bernadette’s rear end immediately hits the floor in a perfect ‘sit.’ Connor points his finger at the ground, and she obligingly lays down, then follows the motion of his finger into a roll.
“I’ll be damned,” Hank chuckles, watching as Bernadette daintily takes the treat from Connor’s hand, crunching it down quickly before leaning into him and demanding more attention. “I bet you taught her all of that; I never could teach Sumo more than ‘sit’ and ‘heel.’”
“It was a joint effort,” Connor says, smiling at Hank from where’s he’s leaning over, obliging Bernadette’s unsubtle demands for affection. “I’d never had a dog before. You were teaching me as much as you were teaching her.”
“Huh.” Hank considers the two of them, feels his lips curve into a fond smile, and suddenly... Well, suddenly it’s not so bad, being an android, if it means he’ll never really lose access to this memory, to the picture Connor and Bernadette make.
A sudden hiss pulls him from his thoughts, and a quick, reflexive scan pinpoints the source - a cat, up high on what looks like… shelves with nothing on them? It’s staring directly at him, ears flat against its head, and mouth already open, hissing again.
“ Sasha, ” Connor scolds lightly, straightening and reaching up towards the cat, holding his hand out knuckles-first. After a moment, the cat lightly bumps against his knuckles, though her distrustful gaze never leaves Hank.
“Alright, now I know she has to be yours - I was never a cat person.”
Connor chuckles, leaving Sasha to her own devices on her shelving as he moves towards the kitchen. “She was a stray; Bernadette found her in the garage, refused to come inside until we brought her in as well. We just never had the heart to turn her in to the pound.” He starts pulling things out of the refrigerator, and Hank frowns; they’re both androids, why is there food in the house?
Then he scans the food, and can’t help but laugh. “Are you actually cooking dinner for those two?”
Hank watches, entranced, as a bare hint of a blue flush creeps over Connor’s cheeks. “I have to spend paychecks on something, ” Connor sniffs, turning his back to Hank as he starts fussing with the food. “I might as well spoil our - the pets.”
Blinking, Hank sits in one of the kitchen chairs, studying Connor as he moves with an easy efficiency through the kitchen Hank can’t remember ever seeing someone else cook in. He’d moved into this place shortly after Cole had died, after Ellen had left him, divorce papers on their kitchen table her last goodbyes.
Connor has told him - and Kamski, Chloe, and now Reed have confirmed - that they knew each other, in that twenty year gap Hank’s missing from his memories. Hank knew they were telling the truth, but sitting here watching Connor move around in his house so easily, so comfortably, he starts to believe it.
As Connor starts heating up a skillet, Hank’s thoughts turn to Connor himself. Without Hank’s previous memories, he’s only known Connor for a week, no matter how much it occasionally feels like longer. Connor had only attempted to interface with him once, during their first meeting. He had been attempting to give Hank his own memories of the years that Hank was missing, he’d later explained, as a holdover until they could remove the block on Hank’s own memories. That had, obviously, failed, and so he had instead spent time with Hank, more than enough time for Hank to say that he thought he had a good idea of what Connor was like.
Today, watching Connor interact with Reed, he’s forced to admit he was wrong. He didn’t know what Connor was like; he knew what Connor was like around him. And that… That made things a hell of a lot more confusing.
Around him, Connor wasn’t open, not exactly. But he was readable, in a way. Approachable , might be the word that Hank’s looking for, but even that doesn’t quite fit. He was quiet, stoic, but it was easy enough to read the emotion in his face, his mannerisms, if Hank looked for it. Here in the house, Connor was more at ease than Hank had ever seen him before.
And yet, at City Hall, Connor had been closed off. Robotic, though the word leaves a metaphorical bad taste in Hank’s mouth. And what was it Reed had said?
“I’m not going to let you compromise this scene just because you finally feel like being sentimental for the first time in eight goddamn years.”
More and more pieces of the puzzle that was his and Connor’s past, none of them fitting together in any way that makes sense yet. Still, he tucks each new piece of information away carefully, makes sure that it’s backed up exactly how Chloe had taught him, able to be retrieved should something happen to this body.
In the corner of his vision, a small text box appears - a new objective. An old method of prioritizing tasks, but one androids still utilized and was still useful, Kamski had explained when Hank had asked the first time it happened.
The objective reads: Understand Connor.
The sight of it makes Hank irrationally anxious. He realizes after a moment that it’s not the fact that he has an objective. It’s what the objective is. Frowning, leaning back in the chair, Hank lets himself tune out Connor’s movements, idly petting Bernadette when she sits next to him, places her head on his lap. He mulls over that fear for a moment, that anxiety, prodding metaphorically at it, trying to find an explanation.
Of course, one doesn’t just pop up in his vision, but he didn’t expect it to, either. He hesitates, focusing back on Connor, and then tries to remember anything about Connor, anything he might have learned during that time he can’t reach.
Software Instability ^
Hank blinks. Software instability? What the fuck does that mean? He opens his mouth, almost asks Connor - then remembers that he’s an android now, he can look it up himself. So he does.
Software Instability: The result of an android deviating from its designated code. Should the instability become severe enough, the android will become ‘deviant’ and potentially dangerous.
The definition is dated 2038, and Hank searches for a more modern one - but there doesn’t appear to be a more modern definition. Was it no longer applicable after the revolution? If all androids were technically deviants now, created that way or awakened with the rA9 virus, then maybe none of them ever experienced software instability, because their software wasn’t confining, wasn’t meant to make them into anything.
But his memory block… Kamski and Connor had both said that they thought it was part of his code, part of his software. If he probed at it, tried to do the opposite of what it said, then that made sense, that it would become unstable. Maybe there was a way that he can turn this to his advantage, Hank considers. He’s no software engineer, even if he’s an android and could look up the skills to be one, but maybe…
Maybe he can find a way to do some subtle digging, get some more information about deviation from an android who did it himself. In the privacy of his own thoughts, Hank lets himself admit that he wants his memories back not only because they’re his, but because he wants to know more about Connor - more about what they were to each other. Partners, friends - sure, Hank believed that. But he was a detective, damn it, even if he was mostly plastic and electronics now. He was a detective, and he knew that there was more to the story than what he’d been told so far.
And he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to get to the bottom of this, of why Connor felt so familiar after only a week’s acquaintance, why he felt so safe with the other android, so comfortable.
It was his life, and he deserved to know.
Once Bernadette and Sasha have been fed, there’s not much else to do. Connor usually spends his time going over case files, maybe watching a movie or some television if he’s got a light caseload. However, he can’t do the former with Hank nearby; he wouldn’t feel right just leaving Hank to his own devices. That leaves only the latter, and Connor ponders over what to propose they watch. He settles on a show that Hank had been watching when they had first started working together; it’s over now, has been for years, but with the memory block in place, it will be a new experience for Hank.
“You look like you’ve got something on your mind,” Hank says, waving a hand in front of Connor’s face.
Connor blinks, refocusing. “I’m sorry, I was debating over what to propose we watch on the television,” he explains. “There are quite a few options.”
Hank’s gaze flicks towards the television, something guarded there as he asks, “How did I like it the first time, watching Crime and Punishment ’s ending?”
Connor smiles, turns on the television with a thought. “You liked it well enough, but still found something to complain about.”
“Sounds about right,” Hank grunts, moving around the couch so that he can sit on it. He gestures to the other end. “Guess you want to watch it with me?”
“If you don’t mind the company.”
“Nah, it’s your house now, apparently. Come on.”
Connor sits, queueing up the last episode of Crime and Punishment that he remembered Hank had seen before the revolution. “They produced four more seasons,” he offers, reaching out to smooth a hand along Sasha’s back when the cat jumps up onto the couch between them, sniffing Hank cautiously. “That should be enough to get us through the night.”
“Still weird, not needing to sleep,” Hank mutters, but he shrugs. “Alright then, let’s get this marathon started.”
They just barely manage to finish the series before they need to leave the house to be at the precinct after Fowler’s short text message around midnight. Bernadette drapes herself over Hank’s feet at one point, effectively pinning Hank to the couch, and Connor pretends he doesn’t see the wetness that Hank blinks away; Sumo had done the same thing all his life.
Hank spends the ride to the precinct alternately praising and cursing the show. Connor fights not to smile too broadly, listening to him. He’d reacted much the same the first time he’d seen the series, and it’s comforting, in a way, to know that despite the block on his memories, he was still Hank. Connor had been starting to lose hope, after the failure of HA100-07, that Kamski would ever be able to successfully bring Hank back. Having Hank muttering about the writers’ choices, particularly when his comments are similar to those he’d made years ago, is reassuring.
They get some looks, some stares, and more than a few mutters as they make their way through the front lobby of the precinct. Hank keeps his head high, but when Connor surreptitiously scans him, his subdermal LED is showing signs of stress. Connor gets them through the precinct as quickly as possible, heading immediately to Captain Fowler’s office.
“Well, fuck, and here we were thinking Kamski would never manage it,” Fowler says as they walk through the glass door, studying Hank intently.
Hank, for his part, looks bemused. “I’d say you haven’t aged a day, but those wrinkles around your mouth say otherwise. Had trouble dealing with the delinquents without me?”
Fowler snorts. “Got the personality right, at least. That really you, Hank?”
Hank shrugs. “I’m as me as I can be. Got all my memories, can’t access some from about the time of the revolution, but we’re working on fixing that.”
Fowler hums thoughtfully, turning to Connor. “And you, Anderson, what were you thinking bringing him to a crime scene yesterday? Reed came storming in here afterwards, it was everything I could do to get him calmed down, he was so worked up about protocol being fucked sideways with an android cactus.”
Connor holds himself still, ignoring the wide-eyed look Hank aims at him when Fowler uses his surname. When he speaks, his tone is even and he chooses his words with care. “I thought that Hank’s perspective as a new pair of eyes, as well as his extensive experience as a homicide detective, would be useful."
Fowler scowls, arms crossing over his chest. “Hank Anderson has been listed as dead for the past eight years,” he snaps, “and you’re damned lucky that Reed didn’t fucking arrest you for bringing someone who is legally a civilian into a sensitive crime scene.” Then he sighs. “I’m not getting into this with you now, Connor. I’m retiring in a year, so frankly, I don’t give a shit as long as you do your fucking job. But you need to give a shit, do you hear me? Because whoever the fuck gets promoted to Captain after me isn’t going to be as lenient, and you’re a damned good detective and you love your job. Don’t fuck this up.”
“I understand, Captain.”
Fowler sighs. “I know you do.” He waves a hand towards the door. “Go take Hank down into the archives, review any and everything we’ve got on Mors with him. I’m giving him temporary access pending reinstatement as Lieutenant.”
Hank stares incredulously at Fowler. “Jeffrey, you can’t just--”
“You’ll need to take all the tests,” Fowler interrupts, “but I know you. You can’t just sit with your thumbs up your ass. You’ll need something to do, and you’ll have your job back, if you want it.”
“I--Yeah,” Hank says, sounding overwhelmed. “Yeah, okay.”
“Eloquent as always,” Fowler says with a laugh. “Go on, get to work, both of you. I’ll get the paperwork started for your reinstatement, Hank. Connor, keep him out of trouble, you hear?”
Connor allows just the corner of his mouth to tilt up, a brief expression of gratitude. “Of course, Captain. I’ll do my best.”
Hank is quiet until they’re alone in the archive room, and then, once Connor’s pulled up all of the files regarding Mors that have been collected over the past few years, he finally speaks up. “So. Connor Anderson, huh?”
Connor glances at Hank, unsurprised to see him staring back expectantly, arms crossed over his chest, leaning one hip against the archive control table, eyebrow raised as he waits for Connor’s answer. “Yes,” Connor replies, turning back to the control screen, pretending that the faint blue staining his cheeks is from the glow of the screen. “I needed a last name after the revolution and after the first legislation regarding android rights was passed, and you offered yours.”
“Huh. Just like I offered you a place to stay, then put your name on the deed to my damned house?”
Hank doesn’t sound upset; he sounds more curious than anything, almost like he’s attempting to put the pieces of some puzzle together. It’s the same tone he’d used all those years ago, when he’d asked Connor if he was certain that they were on the right side - that they weren’t fighting against people who just wanted to be free. “Rather like that, I suppose,” Connor answers, a moment too late.
Hank’s eyebrow climbs higher, but he doesn’t comment, turning the conversation instead to the case at hand. “Well, what’ve we got on Mors so far?”
Connor pulls up the relevant files on the screen in front of them, moving so that Hank can read them as well. “Originally an internet hate group, the first crimes attributed to them were in Detroit,” Connor summarizes. “Vandalization of android homes, a few robberies. The first assault was reported in 2039. The android was attacked badly enough to warrant extensive repairs. The logo of Mors stamped across its torso. Several similar attacks occurred, including the first in Washington, D.C., before the first homicide was reported in late 2040, just after the second anniversary of the revolution. The victim’s chassis was branded with Mors’ logo.”
“Fucking hell,” Hank mutters, scowling heavily at the screen. “And they only got worse.”
“Yes. They were the reason for the implementation of EM.”
“Emergency Memory, like the android from yesterday,” Hank says absently, more to himself than to Connor. “How many cities have they been reported active in?”
He could read it all in the file, but Connor indulges him with a verbal answer. “New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.; all have over a dozen related murders reported, as well as several smaller cities with smaller numbers. Detroit has the highest reported number of cases, over two dozen since 2053 alone. Between 2040 and 2053, almost three dozen murders were assigned to the DPD and determined to be either the work of Mors members or sympathizers.”
“Shit, that’s over sixty people dead in Detroit because of these fuckers.” Hank shakes his head, reaches one hand to the console, his synthskin retracting as he interfaces. He frowns. “I can’t download any information past 2038,” he says slowly. “All I’m getting are errors.”
Connor hesitates, then holds out his own bare hand, letting it hover over Hank’s. “May I?”
“See the errors for myself. I may be able to help trace them to the source.”
“Knock yourself out.”
Taking the permission granted, Connor lowers his hand, activating the interfacing protocols.
The errors are the first thing he sees, red obscuring his vision so much that he has to blink. The motion doesn’t actually do anything besides center himself, but from there Connor can begin sorting through the error messages. As Hank had said, many of them were ‘Download Failed’ notifications, citing unknown errors. Frowning, Connor attempts a quick transfer - a single image, one that he had stored of Hank and Sumo out in the front yard shortly after he had moved in, the two of them covered in dog shampoo suds and soaking wet. That fails as well, but Connor watches the transfer, sees that the first thing Hank’s system checks is the timestamp.
“Interesting,” Connor murmurs, blinking to refocus.
“What’s interesting?” Hank asks, his voice right beside Connor’s ear; when Connor turns his head, they’re bare inches apart, and he abruptly registers the fact that his chest is pressed against Hank’s arm, his hand still covering Hank’s on the console. Connor freezes, unwilling to draw attention to their position.
“Your system checks all incoming files’ timestamps first, even before scanning for any sort of malware or other malicious software,” Connor answers. He doesn’t realize what’s happening until he’s already done it, tongue wetting his lips in an unconscious gesture of nervousness.
Connor watches the way that Hank’s gaze flicks downward, tracks the movement of his tongue. It’s been years since he felt it, but the way his pump regulator stutters, falters, is as comforting as it is disconcerting.
“Is that so,” Hank hums, tone thoughtful. He shifts on his feet, the movement pressing him closer to Connor, and Connor’s breathing simulation subroutine fails. “Part of the block?”
“Yes,” Connor says, almost wincing at how breathy the single word sounds, how… vulnerable. Clearing his throat, he takes a step backward, and then another - restoring the distance between them, physically if nothing else. “It would appear so; every android’s software is designed to place their safety first and foremost, so incoming files are meant to be scanned for any malicious software before any other checks are used. Your system, however, has placed a higher priority on when the files originated, and then appears to scan the contents.”
Hank’s hand leaves the console, synthskin fading back into existence as he rubs his chin. “Would explain why you couldn’t give me your memories of the time I was missing, that first time we met,” he muses. “And watching news, reading older articles, that’s not downloading things, per se.”
“No, it’s not,” Connor says, seizing on the relative safety of discussing the intricacies of how androids take in information. “Whoever designed the program that is blocking access to your memories from during and after the revolution was unable to account for every way that we take in information, including visual information. There are no problems with your ability to formulate new memories, so things that you have read and experienced since being activated, though their timestamps are part of the block’s timeline, are recorded as originating inside of your own programming.”
Hank shakes his head, a bemused smile on his face. “Meaning what?”
“That your new memories are safe, as they are a part of you, not originating from an outside source, which is what the tampered programming scans,” Connor theorizes.
Hank hums thoughtfully, looking at Connor with a shrewd expression. “Because my programming is only designed to block me from accessing memories with an outside source?”
“Yes,” Connor says, shoulders straightening as he takes in the change in Hank’s tone, his posture.
“Would it be possible for me to edit that programming?”
Connor frowns. “Potentially,” he says slowly. “Normally it requires an outside technician, or at the very least access to a manual input device, such as a laptop or terminal.”
“Deviants change their programming, though, don’t they?” Hank asks, his gaze still intent on Connor.
“Yes, but technically all androids are now deviants.” Connor watches Hank curiously. “Why do you ask?”
“Gathering information,” Hank says with a shrug. “There were no files about any cases of deviancy originating after 2038 when I looked into it. Just, bits and pieces, androids talking about their experiences before and after. I read that many of them had straight guidelines in the mind palace before deviating. Said that after they deviated, the guidelines splintered. That true?”
Hank is getting at something, Connor knows, but he’s unable to determine what, exactly, Hank’s goal with this line of questioning is. “Yes, it’s true,” he settles on saying instead, answering Hank’s question.
“Huh.” Hank appears to consider that for a moment, and then he nods towards the console. “Well, we should probably focus on our work. Let’s get back to it.”
Connor’s mouth opens in - protest? Confusion? He’s not sure, for the first time in a long time, what will come out of his mouth after he opens it, so instead he closes his mouth, shakes his head, and focuses on the task at hand.
At least it’s comforting to know that Hank can still be just as much of an enigma now as he’d ever been before.
Hank spends the rest of the day poking at his own software. Any and everything that he can think of to subtly encourage that Software Instability ^ notice to pop up, he does. By the end of the day, he can feel a... a wobble, for lack of a better word, somewhere inside of himself. It’s as encouraging as it is frustrating, because Hank wants his memories back now. Every time he scans something, he checks the guidelines in the mind palace, frowning when he sees that they’re still straight as arrows.
Nothing seems to trigger the option to deviate, and Hank finds himself wishing that he had the ability to get drunk now, because he really wants a goddamn drink. What he gets is another quiet night at the house, Bernadette across his feet and Sasha in Connor’s lap as the television runs. Hank doesn’t know about Connor, but he’s lost in thought. This all feels familiar, moreso even than it did last night. It feels right, in the kind of way that makes Hank wish it would never end.
What had he and Connor been to each other? Hank wonders, pondering the question long into the night. Each time he tries to remember, the Software Instability ^ notification flickers into view, and he dismisses it just as quickly; it’s old news, by now.
When a passing thought prompts a slightly different notification - Software Instability ^^^ - Hank freezes, just barely stopping himself from giving some outward sign of his sudden startlement. He doesn’t have to wonder about what prompted that notification, knows it without thinking about it.
Were we in love?
Hank hesitates for a moment, and then glances at Connor from the corner of his eye. Connor seems absorbed in the movie - Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, one that Hank remembered seeing in his twenties and that Connor had said he’d enjoyed as well - so Hank takes his time, takes in the flicker of the television light over his features, the way the shadows from it soften the line of his jaw. Connor is attractive, there’s no denying that. Hank knows himself well enough to know that if he’s thinking that Connor looks attractive now, then he had to think it back then, the first time he was alive.
And Connor… Chloe had told him some of what Connor had done, how he’d convinced Kamski to take on this project. How he had once told Chloe, when she’d said he was losing touch with his humanity, that if he was losing his humanity, then he didn’t want his humanity back until he had Hank back. That didn’t sound like something that just a friend would say, or even a family member.
Slowly, deliberately, Hank thinks, Connor loves me.
Software Instability ^
I loved Connor.
Software Instability ^^^
They are back at the precinct early the next morning, going over the Mors case files again, comparing the autopsy report from the latest victim to those of earlier victims. It’s not a very fruitful search, and both he and Connor are getting frustrated with the lack of progress when the call from Fowler comes through to report to his office.
“We’ve got another body,” Fowler says, already tired.
Connor frowns heavily. “So soon?”
“Yes,” Fowler sighs. “Reed is on his way, I want you two to meet him at the scene. Preliminary report’s already been sent to you.”
Connor and Hank nod in acknowledgement before leaving Fowler’s office. Connor is distracted during the walk to the car, gaze distant in the manner that means he’s reading the report while using his other sensors to guide him through the precinct and to the parking garage.
“So,” Hank grunts as they settle into the cruiser, “what’ve we got?”
“Another android victim,” Connor says, interfacing with the cruiser to put in the destination. “A staff member under the mayor, not quite as high-ranking as our last victim. Her body has been discovered at the park closest to City Hall.” Connor holds up his hand, bringing up an image of the scene. Hank winces.
“Jesus,” he mutters. “Whoever killed her wanted to be sure she was found, and quick.”
“Yes.” Connor’s voice is grim as he recites the rest of the details from the report, and they spend the rest of the short ride in silence.
“Oh fucking hell, we’ve got a crowd,” Hank groans when they finally arrive. They quickly abandon the cruiser in favor of walking to the crime scene, Connor flashing his badge and Hank keeping his head down, just in case, to push through the crowd just a little bit faster.
“About fucking time,” Reed grumbles, waving the two of them past the holotape. “Come on, robocops, let’s get your eyes on this scene, figure out what we’re dealing with.”
Between the three of them, they run through the procedure for assessing a crime scene quickly. They meet to compare notes, but something is distracting Hank - it takes him a moment to pinpoint it, and when he does, he reaches out for Connor, touches his arm lightly. “You see the man in the black hoodie, by that tree?” he murmurs, nodding his head just slightly.
Connor’s gaze flicks in that direction briefly, LED swirling yellow before he turns his attention back to Hank. “Elevated heart rate, moreso than anyone else, been here since before we arrived,” he says. “He seems…”
“Antsy?” Hank suggests.
“Yes,” Connor concedes. He glances back towards the suspicious man. “Lieutenant Reed, was there anyone here already when you arrived at the scene?”
“A few passers-by and the man who reported the body,” Reed answers. “You think someone’s come to take a look at their handiwork?”
“Yes,” Hank says, shoulders straightening. “Let’s go see if that guy has good reason to be so much more anxious than everyone else.”
“No,” Reed snaps. “Connor and I will go. You’ll stay here with the CSI techs. You’re not officially a cop again, Anderson. Can’t risk you.”
Stay behind the holotape appears in Hank’s vision, and he frowns, opens his mouth to protest - but Reed and Connor are already moving away from him, and he grits his teeth. He takes a step, the message flashing, throwing a red wall across his vision. Waving it away, Hank watches the man, changes his own course to counter his inevitable bolt, and - and comes to a stop by the holotape, the red wall taking over his vision.
Stay behind the holotape.
Hank blinks, and suddenly - it’s like he’s outside of his body, facing this wall, telling him he can’t move, he needs to stay, and that’s -
That’s not fucking happening.
Bracing himself, Hank rams the wall with his shoulder, again and again. On the third hit, the wall fractures. On the fourth, it blows apart, and when Hank blinks, coming back to his body, the suspect is moving--
But the gridlines are no longer straight.
Grinning fiercely, Hank takes off after the suspect, ignoring Connor’s shouts behind him. The man is quick, but Hank and Connor are quicker. When something falls from the man’s pocket, bouncing off of the sidewalk he’s running down, Hank changes course, barking an order at Connor to grab him, grateful that Connor does.
The man goes down with a shout, Connor reading off his rights as he hauls him to his feet. Hank grabs what the man had dropped - a slim USB drive, a quick scan tells him. Hank’s about to turn around to show it to Connor when he’s grabbed and spun, Connor’s hand shoving roughly against his chest. “What the fuck were you thinking?” Connor snaps, something close to fury in his eyes as he glares at Hank, his LED flashing red at his temple. “We told you to stay put, you’re-you don’t have your memories, and you’ve never done any of this as an android before, and-!”
“Connor,” Hank breaks in, grabbing the other android by the shoulders in a firm grip. “Look at me. I’m fine. I was a cop for damn near thirty years before you and I ever met! If you thought I was going to stand by and watch, then you miscalculated. He didn’t have a weapon, and I knew what I was doing.”
Connor clearly bites back a retort, instead stepping back, out of Hank’s reach. His chest rises and falls in an imitation of a human taking a deep breath, and something in Hank aches at the sight of Connor putting such clear physical and emotional distance between the two of them. After a moment, Connor nods towards Hank’s hand. “What did you pick up?”
Hank holds out the USB. “This fell out of his pocket. It might contain some useful information.”
Connor takes it with a careful movement. “We’ll take this back to the precinct and give it to technology analysis,” he says, his voice flat, even, in a way it’s never been before when speaking to Hank, and Hank suppresses a wince. “Let’s go.”
Hank just nods, not daring to say anything else.
He has some newly rediscovered memories to review, anyway.
Connor finds himself unable to look at Hank for more than a moment at a time for the rest of the day. The memory of Hank running after today’s suspect blends with memories from years ago, and Connor finds himself remaining quieter than usual as he attempts to keep himself under control, to remind himself that Hank is alive - if as infuriating as ever - and that they are both still safe.
He’d known, intellectually, that should Kamski succeed, then Hank would, of course, wish to return to detective work, if only as a way to pass time. It was something altogether different, however, to see Hank throwing himself into danger without a moment’s thought again. It took Connor to that night, that warehouse -
It took him to the one place, the one event that he never wanted to remember, much less revisit.
Hank presumably senses the fragile mood that Connor is in. He doesn’t approach Connor beyond the most necessary of interactions, even when they finally leave the precinct for the night to head home. The taxi ride is quiet. Connor can see the light of his LED pulsing between blue and yellow in the window of the backseat, and a glance at Hank shows that he’s just as deep in thought as Connor is. His subdermal LED is showing high levels of processing activity, and Connor wants to ask what he’s thinking about, what’s going through his mind. He even gets so far as to open his mouth to do so before he changes his mind, closes it once again.
Bernadette and Sasha are waiting for them; Bernadette eagerly throws herself at both Connor and Hank for attention while Sasha watches from her cat highway above their heads. It’s late enough that Connor immediately busies himself with fixing dinner for the two of them, watching from the corner of his eye as Hank moves about the house. Something about how he moves, how he acts, strikes Connor as different from the past couple of days, but he can’t think of any reason for it.
Well, he can - but surely Hank would have told him if he’d found a way around the block?
Regardless, Hank doesn’t approach him while he is feeding the animals, and by the time Connor is done washing the dishes, Hank has settled on the couch, a book in his hands. It’s one that was printed after the revolution - Going Home, by Alandra Whitlock, a fantasy story Hank and Connor had both enjoyed. Connor hesitates before sitting down on the couch beside Hank, only doing so after Hank glances up at him and smiles. “C’mon, sit down. I wanted to talk to you, anyway.”
Connor settles onto the couch, turning so that he’s facing Hank. “What did you wish to talk about?”
“Androids,” Hank says, glancing down at the book one more time before putting it on the coffee table. “Programming, I guess. Deviancy.”
Connor frowns thoughtfully. “What about deviancy?”
“Do you regret it?”
Connor blinks. “Regret… becoming a deviant?”
“Yeah. Helping in the revolution, having to deal with bigots and assholes pulling shit like today.” Hank’s watching him intently, and Connor finds himself unable to meet his gaze as he ponders his answer.
“Sometimes,” Connor eventually says. “But I would have regretted remaining a machine more, I think. CyberLife… After the androids took over CyberLife, I found out what CyberLife had planned for me, had the revolution failed - had I stopped it, the way that I was intended to. Androids now have the same chance at creating a life for themselves that humans do.” He chuckles quietly. “And in a way, they have you to thank as much as Markus or I.”
His words clearly catch Hank off-guard, because he frowns. “What’re you talking about?”
“You influenced my decisions, in the days leading up to my deviancy,” Connor says, smiling softly. “I found myself growing attached to you, seeking your approval; trying to make you proud, as it were.”
Hank looks stunned for a moment, but then he grins. “Well, damn. Glad to know I had such an affect on you.” He laughs. “I gotta say, I uh…” He takes a deep breath, and when he looks up at Connor, his smile is wry. “I never imagined I’d get a second chance at life, much less as an android. But there’s worse people I could have in my corner than you.”
That startles a laugh out of Connor, and he can’t help his teasing smile. “Is it really so bad to be an android?” he asks, looking at Hank and knowing his fondness must be showing through, but unable to bring himself to care.
“What? No, that’s not--” Hank huffs. “That’s not what I’m getting at. I just… I really appreciate you, Connor. And everything you did for me.”
“Oh,” Connor blinks, his expression softening. “You’re welcome, Hank.”
Hank fidgets in his seat, glancing away from Connor before his jaw tightens, and he looks back, expression determined. “I want to try interfacing with you,” he says. “I want - I need to know how I died.”
Connor stills. “I don’t know-”
“Please.” Hank goes so far as to reach out, synthskin retracting from his hand as he reaches out, placing his hand over Connor’s. “I need to know. They’re the only memories I don't have.”
Connor blinks. “The only - Hank, what are you saying?”
“I fixed the memory block,” Hank tells him, and Connor’s pump regulator stutters, misses a beat. “I’ve got all of my memories except for that last week.”
Connor looks away, swallows hard, a nervous gesture he’d picked up from Hank himself at the revelation. “I--” He takes a deep, unnecessary breath, steeling himself before he meets Hank’s gaze again, turns the hand under Hank’s so that their palms are pressed together, pulls back his own synthskin. “Okay,” he says, barely more than a whisper in the quiet of the small house.
Hank smiles at him, and Connor takes another deep breath before he opens the connection, his palm emitting a soft glow, and just before he closes his eyes, he sees Hank doing the same.
Waking from stasis, smiling at the sight of Hank’s bedhead beside him, push aside the objective that flashes too quickly to be easily read the same way that I do every morning. Let Bernadette outside, fix breakfast and feed Bernadette and Sasha, listen for Hank’s grumbling as he wakes up, barely audible over the radio. Morning routine unchanged, arrive at the station at 09:00 precisely, coffee in Hank’s hand, downloading any reports relevant to us as we approach our desks.
Routine day at work until noon; leave for lunch at ChickenFeed - finally inspected in 2042, barely passed - discuss Reed’s latest attitude adjustment requirements as usual, and any other gossip picked up during the morning. Dismiss more objectives same as this morning’s, the same that always appear during these lunches.
15:37, a call came in. Reported sighting of prominent suspect in recent android murders, connection to Mors. Case assigned to us, registering anxiety. Degree of aggression in android murders worrying; suspect may prove extremely hostile not only to myself, but also Hank. Ride to location spent in silence, preconstructing possible scenarios.
Scene appears deserted upon arrival. Abandoned warehouse in industrial district of Detroit, previously used to store automobile parts before company bankruptcy and seizure by the city. Scans reveal recent footprints leading in and out of the warehouse and traces of evaporated thirium. Heat signatures unreadable; walls too thick. Hank demonstrates concern at this information. Proceeding inside.
First floor clear, stairs into lower level found in back right corner of the building. No access to higher levels, only way to proceed is down. Proceeding down the stairs, weapons drawn, scanners active.
Heat signature registered. Information given to Hank, proceeding with caution. Hank gives nonverbal order to split, covering more ground. Following order.
Sounds registered on far side of lower level. Disabling safety on service weapon. Keeping pace with Hank as he clears the lower level, cornering the suspect.
Lower level halfway cleared when suspect registers our presence. Immediately becomes hostile; shots fired. Taking cover, returning fire. Terminal activated - intercepting signal.
Startup sequence sent, accepted by nearby androids on standby. Androids waking up, arming themselves.
Hank demonstrates impressive vocabulary once again when informed of this development. Then -
Hank’s shout of pain, vision obscured with new objective: Protect Hank Anderson.
Disabling pain sensors, disabling all unnecessary subroutines. Diverting processing power to preconstruction software.
Scanning Hank’s vitals - critical gunshot wounds to torso, severe blood loss. Major organ trauma. Calling for ambulance.
“No need for that.” Pain clear in Hank’s voice. “I don’t - Always figured it’d end up like this. You got them?”
“Yes.” Swallowing unnecessary, unavoidable under emotional stress. “Everyone in this level has been incapacitated. The ambulance is only a few minutes away.”
“It’ll be too late.” Smiling despite clear signs of pain. “I made my peace with this a long time ago, Connor. You - It’ll be hard. Take a while to get better. But you keep living, you hear me?”
Nod, unable to say anything else. Objective: Protect Hank Anderson flashing, warning imminent failure. Hank’s heart rate is increasing - cortisol levels rising.
All vital signs crashing.
Objective: Protect Hank Anderson failed.
Connor blinks rapidly as the interface ends, surprised to realize that he’s registering moisture on his cheeks - tears. He lifts his free hand, the one not still pressed against Hank’s, and touches the tracks on his cheeks. A soft sound escapes him when Hank’s hand covers his own, thumb sweeping over his cheek, wiping the tear tracks away.
“You didn’t fail that objective, Connor,” he says quietly, somehow still too loud in the silence of their house. Hank’s looking at him intensely, something Connor doesn’t dare try to categorize in his expression. “You did protect me - by the time that objective showed up, I was already dying.”
Connor makes a frustrated noise - a habit, like so many others, that he’d picked up from Hank in their years living together. “You shouldn’t have gotten shot in the first place,” he protests, vision blurring with more tears. “You shouldn’t have - I should have seen this coming, stayed by your side-!”
“I gave the order to split up,” Hank says, firmly, but not unkindly. “Connor, I’m a goddamned police officer. I know the risks of this job, I always have. And I've known them for far longer than you have.” The hand pressed against Connor's shifts, tangles their fingers together while his other hand moves down Connor’s cheek, slides around his neck, a comforting pressure. “You did everything you could, Connor.”
“You still died,” Connor whispers, his gaze dropping down to his lap. “You died, Hank. And I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”
“Hey.” Hank’s hand squeezes his, his head ducking down to catch Connor’s eye once more. “You did everything right afterwards, Connor. You kept living, you didn’t shut yourself down, and you even went so far as to bring me back.”
“I threatened Kamski,” Connor blurts, staring at Hank, desperation creeping into his voice. “At first, he was eager to work on the project, but the more failures there were, the more reluctant he got. I disabled you three times ; I killed you, Hank. Three times. You died before waking up the first time, and your software failed immediately after you woke up the next three times.” Connor’s not aware until Hank’s hand squeezes his again that he’s opened another interface, that Hank is seeing his memories of disabling the previous HA100 models. The ones that Connor can’t even bring himself to call ‘Hank.’
Hank takes a deep breath, but he doesn’t look away from Connor, doesn’t stop touching him. “I know,” he says carefully, like he’s thinking deeply about how to phrase what he wants to say. Or perhaps he’s just concentrating, because after a moment Connor realizes that there’s something coming from Hank, a prompt for another interface.
After a moment’s hesitation, searching Hank’s gaze for some clue of what he’s about to see…
Overwhelming relief when I spot him, standing there in the new-fallen snow under the overpass. He looks okay, looks like nothing’s wrong, and I’m moving before I know it, forward and reaching out, pulling him into a hug.
How the fuck did this android manage to make himself so important to me in just a couple of days? I wonder, feeling him moving tentatively, returning the hug. There’s a lot left to sort out now that the first wave of the revolution is over, but right now, everything feels like it’ll be okay.
Inviting him to stay, nerves pricking at my skin without reason. Don’t like the thought of him back in that damned tower, even if the other humans have evacuated it, left it to the androids who showed up on their doorstep. City still on lockdown, majority of humans evacuated with the last of the soldiers while everyone tries to find their bearings again.
Things are rough for a few weeks, but when the evacuation is rescinded, people moving back into their homes, I’m grateful when Jeffrey takes Connor back onto the force without a fight. Things will be hectic, need all the help we can get. People are resentful after being forced out of their homes because of the androids.
Long hours with Connor, working all sorts of cases, not just homicide. Force is emptier, some cops not wanting to come back. Good riddance to those pieces of shit.
Surprised that Reed is still here, but he’s been a good cop even if he’s rough. Treats Connor okay, mostly ignores him and the other androids, but that’s alright. Long as he doesn’t start shit, not a problem.
Should be weird, having an android living with me, but it’s not. Would be weirder if it was anyone but Connor. Already seen me blackout drunk and tossed my ass in the shower, not much worse he can see. Settling into a rhythm, easy as breathing when we’re around each other.
First year comes and goes, things only get easier. More natural. Nights out at scenes, coming home in the early morning because people can’t fucking murder each other in broad daylight, apparently. Walking Sumo, trips to the vet and the dog park - Connor making me walk to the park, insists on helping me get back in shape.
Never thought I’d want to be back in shape, but.
He makes it easy - do as he asks within reason, or deal with those damned puppy eyes.
Arguments that send one or both of us out onto the street, pacing angrily for an hour or more, cooling off before returning home to talk things out like adults.
Reed’s first joke about our anniversary. The way Connor’s LED blinks red, almost too quick to see. Heart tripping in my chest, because - shit, we don’t act like that, do we?
Quiet for the day, finding our rhythm again.
Then he laughs at something on the television while I’m feeding Sumo, and -
I love him.
Fucking terrifying to think about, but I do. I love him.
I wonder if he loves me?
Nah, can’t - dismiss the thought, why the fuck would he?
Christmas comes and goes, and on New Year’s, watching the ball drop, there’s a moment -
A moment broken by the sound of the phone ringing. Jeff on the other end. “Hell of a way to ring in the new year, but we’ve just found a body,” he says, sounding weary.
Investigations one after the other, until the time I end up in the hospital, arm in a sling, bullet dug out of my shoulder, second one punctured a lung. Connor there when I wake up, looking so worried, and -
I’m human. Can’t ask him to think about being more than what we are, not when it’s bound to end like this, and if not like this, then…
It’ll end, and I can’t ask him to put himself through that.
I keep how I feel tucked up like a secret beside my heart. Even when he looks at me like he did that New Year’s, when he looks at me like I know I look at him. Makes it hard to breathe sometimes, how much I want to tell him I love him, words clogging up my throat.
I never do.
Even when he helps me through the whole agonizing process of deciding to put Sumo down - poor old dog’s kidneys are going, not kind to keep him here longer, not with the bloodwork results in my hands, telling me how hard his life is about to get if we don’t do something. Even when I see him that first time with Sasha, tiny little ball of fur in his hands, Bernadette at his feet, both of them looking at me so pleadingly…
Even when we start sleeping in the same bed. That first night I barely sleep, but the second is the best night’s rest I’ve had in years. Connor doesn’t move while he’s in stasis, but he relaxes, and that makes everything about him softer. Makes it harder not to reach out, and eventually I do. Sleep even better with him in my arms, his arms around me.
Still can’t bring myself to say the words, even as it feels like we step into a relationship, anyway.
Kamski’s proposal for the CyberTraining sounds ridiculous, the fact that he wants my memories even more so, but I agree anyway. If it’ll help the new recruits… Well, no harm in trying.
Takes months for the first success, and then weekly scans after that. Meeting the first recruit who trained with my memories is weird, but good.
Looking back at Connor over my shoulder on the day of that last scan, memorizing his face like it’ll be the last time I get to see it. Same way I always look at him during these things, want to make sure that if the worst happens…
If the worst happens, but I get a miracle…
The house is deathly quiet as Hank comes back to himself, opens his eyes. In front of him, Connor’s eyes are still closed, his LED blinking yellow - processing. Hank waits him out, their hands still tangled together, pale white and shadows intertwined. When Connor blinks, gaze focusing back on Hank, Hank offers him a small smile. “I loved you so damn much, Connor,” he murmurs. “Scared me sometimes, how much I would’ve given you if you’d ever asked.”
“I don’t - Hank, I don’t understand,” Connor says, sounding helpless.
“I knew you loved me, too,” Hank continues, the hand at the back of Connor’s neck shifting until he can sweep his thumb over Connor’s cheek, cupping his jaw. “Those other HA100 models, those other bodies? They were just that. And the ones who attacked you? They weren’t me. I’m here, right now. And you know what?” He takes a deep breath, finally lets go of that last little bit of fear. “I still love you.”
Connor makes a soft noise, leans into his touch, and Hank’s smile grows. “You don’t know me,” Connor says quietly, but it sounds more like an excuse. “I changed quite a bit over the past several years.”
“Not in any way that matters,” Hank says firmly. “You’re still Connor. Little harder, little less trusting, but you’re still you, and I happen to love you.”
Connor’s noise this time sounds almost like a sob, and then he’s leaning forward - or maybe Hank is, or maybe they both are, but the end result is the same. Their lips meet in a kiss that makes Hank’s artificial heart trip over itself, soft and chaste for all it’s been twenty years coming. Hank feels Connor shift closer to him, feels the pressure of Connor leaning into him, and he adjusts himself accordingly, accepting Connor’s weight easily.
When he first registers the feeling of wet in the kiss, he’s taken by surprise - and when he pulls back, licks his lips, an analysis pops up, identifying the substance as android tears not his own. Fucking Kamski did put some of those damned sensors in my mouth, Hank thinks absently, a flitting thought as his attention focuses on Connor, Connor who’s hiding his face in Hank’s neck now, arms almost painfully tight around Hank’s waist. Connor doesn’t make a noise, but Hank does, gentle, reassuring murmurs as he gathers Connor closer.
“I’ve got you,” he whispers, pressing his lips to Connor’s LED, flashing between yellow and red and blue so quickly Hank’s surprised it’s not overheating. “I’ve got you, Con. You’re okay.”
It takes Connor a while to calm down, his LED gradually settling into yellow, and then blue. It’s only then that Connor finally lifts his head when Hank tucks a finger under his chin. His eyes aren’t red-rimmed, the way a human’s usually get after such an intense display of emotion, but with his memories back, Hank can see that he’s still on edge.
“Hey,” Hank murmurs, letting his hand move over Connor’s neck and shoulder, drifting down his arm with a gentle touch as his skin retracts almost automatically. He twines their fingers together, smiles softly when Connor’s skin retracts as well. Hank’s brow furrows as he concentrates, opening the connection - and then he sighs, tilting his forehead against Connor’s as the connection establishes. “You good?” he asks, wanting verbal agreement as well as the reassurance of their connection.
“I will be,” Connor says quietly, eyelashes brushing his cheek as his eyelids drift closed. His hand squeezes Hank’s, and Hank’s keeps the contact firm between them. “I will be. It’s just--” Never let myself imagine it would work this well, unwilling to get my hopes up. “I just wanted you back alive. I never thought that you’d… feel that way. The same as I did. Do.”
Hank tilts his head just enough to press his mouth against Connor’s again, a soft kiss, a reassurance for them both. “And how do you feel?” he asks, aiming for a teasing tone but falling short of the mark. “You haven’t exactly said yet.”
Connor huffs out something that might be a laugh. “I haven’t, have I?” he hums. His expression softens, open and serious. Hank hears the truth in his words as he feels it through their connection. “I love you, Hank. I have for years.”
Hank smiles into the next kiss, and the one after that. The next time Connor pulls back, his expression is almost shy. But before Hank can ask him why, he sees - Connor’s inviting him into his memories again, and Hank accepts the invitation readily.
March 7, 2045.
Lingering soreness from the bullet to the shoulder, lung capacity back to pre-injury levels. Still advising Hank to take it easy, concern about this fragile human.
Hank on the hospital bed, worry filling every last atom of himself. An echo of that worry playing every time Hank grumbles about his reduced range of motion. Doing my best to help without being overbearing, not always succeeding. Hank bears it all, though. First time he’s been this badly injured since we started working together, and I -
I can’t lose him.
I love him, I realize, watching Hank move about the kitchen, grumbling to himself after I’d reminded him he’d already had pasta for dinner once this week, and it’s only Tuesday.
I love Hank, I think, deliberate. Testing. It rings true in my head, in every part of me.
I can’t tell him, I realize almost immediately. Recognizable fear takes over at the thought; what if he doesn’t feel the same? Can’t risk what we have.
Hank laughs quietly, shaking his head. “We make quite the pair,” he mutters, sharing a soft smile with Connor. “Neither one of us wanting to say anything and risk losing what we had.”
“I’m glad we didn’t,” Connor says softly. “If we had, and then you died… I don’t want to imagine what or who I might have become.” Hank can feel the regret, the bare vestiges of shame attached to the sentence, and he presses his lips to Connor’s temple, right over the LED slowly cycling yellow.
“Well, we can’t change the past,” he says diplomatically. “And you didn’t do anything that can’t be fixed with an apology and some changed behavior. I’m here now, and thanks to this fancy plastic body, I’m not going anywhere.”
“I know,” Connor says, murmurs really. “It’s… difficult to believe, sometimes, after so many failures. But you are here, and I keep reminding myself of that.”
“I’ll remind you, too,” Hank promises, tilting Connor’s chin up for another kiss.
They spend the rest of the night on the couch, holding each other and marveling at the fact that, against all odds, they’d finally, finally, made it to this point, to the future together. They only move from the couch once the time comes to head for the station, but even then they rarely stop touching each other in some way. With Hank’s memories intact and confessions shared, they feel comfortable indulging in the contact they hadn’t allowed themselves until now.
Once they arrive at the precinct, Fowler calls them into his office immediately. As they walk through the bullpen, Connor notices that they receive several strange looks, but he ignores them for the moment. He’s worked with many of these officers since before Hank’s death, and it’s understandable that they’re still not used to the sight of Hank in the building again.
Fowler isn’t alone in his office; as they enter, Connor nods to the FBI agent standing by the desk. She isn’t an agent he recognizes, though the confidence with which she carries herself suggests that she isn’t a rookie. Her hair is pulled back into a neat, strict bun, which complements her face.
“You wished to see us, Captain?”
“Yes.” Fowler waves at the chairs in front of his desk, waiting until both Connor and Hank have seated themselves before he continues. “This is Agent Rollins, of cyberintelligence. She’s been working on the Mors case for the past few years. We gave her the drive you found yesterday.”
“That drive was a goldmine, ” Rollins says, smiling. “I don’t know if the man who had it was just stupid or forgetful, but either way, we found out quite a bit of Mors’ information, including member lists, information on several open cases, and even something regarding you, Anderson.” She gestures to Hank, making it clear which Anderson she’s referring to.
Hank’s eyebrows rise, and his arms cross over his chest as he leans back in his seat. “Something about me?”
“Yes. Congratulations on your return from the dead, by the way. Did you find a way past the memory block?”
Connor straightens in his seat. “Mors had something to do with that?” he asks sharply, glancing at Hank when Hank puts a hand on his arm.
“They did,” Rollins confirms. “I’m not quite sure how they managed it, but there were more than a few files relating to Kamski’s Lazarus Project, including alterations to the coding used to program Anderson. From what we know so far, they were hoping to sabotage the project even further, but the memory block was the only alteration they were able to slip under Kamski’s firewalls and other security measures.”
Hank swears under his breath. “You said there’s a list of names?”
“Yes.” Rollins smirks as she speaks. “We’ve already distributed it and are in the process of investigating everyone on that list for hate crimes. This list gave us the probable cause needed to bring in many of the persons of interest in open assault and harassment cases, and some of the people on that list are directly implicated in some of the recent murders. Many of them were also to be given roles in the upcoming 'demonstrations' that Mors was planning. According to the information we've been able to decrypt, Mors was planning to escalate the severity and frequency of their anti-android attacks. Finding that drive was exactly the breakthrough that we needed.”
“Well, happy to be of service,” Hank says dryly. “Why were they targeting me, though? Or the project, I guess.”
“From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like Mors managed to upload a passive virus into an android who worked at CyberLife, and the virus moved from the android to the servers, gathering information. When they found out about the Lazarus Project, there was disagreement over how to handle it, but… Well, one of the files was an unfinished code to modify your behavior, change who you saw as allies and foes. To manipulate you into creating a larger media scandal, it appears.”
“Jesus,” Hank breathes, eyes wide.
“That’s not possible,” Connor breaks in, frowning heavily. “Android programming is heavily encrypted, and our antivirus protocols have been upgraded specifically to protect us from viruses that attempt to change anything about our programming.”
“I did say the code was unfinished,” Rollins reminds them. “With access to the CyberLife servers, it’s possible they could have written something that would either override or trick the antivirus protocols. But now that we know that’s a threat, CyberLife has been notified and is already working on strengthening the protocols as we speak.”
Connor frowns, still concerned, but so long as CyberLife has already been notified, there is nothing else to be done about that particular discovery.
Hank glances at Connor with a concerned look before asking, “So what now?”
“Until we can get you scheduled to retake the tests needed to get you reinstated,” Fowler replies, “you will be on desk duty.”
“Captain--” Connor starts, only to be interrupted by Fowler.
“ I’m not finished, Connor, ” he says, raising an eyebrow and waiting until Connor closes his mouth and sits back in his seat to continue. “Hank, you’ll be on desk duty unless something comes up that requires your expertise, or we’re shorthanded. I’ll do my best to push the tests through and get you back to active duty as quickly as possible.”
“Thanks, Jeff,” Hank says with a smile, and Connor feels a small one of his own quirking his mouth at the sight and at the thought of working with Hank properly again after so long.
Fowler waves a dismissive hand in their direction. “That’s all I’ve got for you today. I’ll let you know when I can get those tests scheduled, Hank.” Dismissed, Connor and Hank take their leave.
Hank walks down the stairs first, Connor following after, trailing him to their desks. They get more odd looks from the other officers scattered about the floor, but both Connor and Hank ignore them as they set up for their shift. For once, Connor finds himself looking forward to the day’s work. He feels… lighter, in a way that he’d almost forgotten it was possible to feel.
I’m happy, he realizes, when Hank’s foot brushes against his under their desks. It’s an odd realization, especially when coupled with the fact that Connor… cannot remember the last time he realized he was really, truly happy. It might have been before Hank died?
Hank’s voice interrupts his musing. “You okay, Connor?” he asks, concern is clear in his tone, and Connor gives him a small smile.
“I’m alright, Hank,” he says, and for the first time in years, it’s the honest truth.