Connor didn’t really get the whole touch thing. He enjoyed the hug from Hank after the revolution, feeling the tension just melt out of him from where it had been building since the moment he deviated. He liked being wrapped up in Hank’s arms for that brief moment of calm right before Hank pulled him back to arm's length and offered to give him a place to stay ‘just until things calm down.’ It took Connor a while to realize just how much he enjoyed the easy company of the Lieutenant. The way Hank kept stumbling and calling him ‘son’ in the rare moments where Connor got overwhelmed, how Hank would carefully shield him from the more violent anti-android protesters, and especially when Hank would smile at him for a job well done, with a pat on the back, and his hair beyond repair from a quick ruffle.
He just didn’t like when anyone else did it.
Connor didn’t know if he was just uncomfortable because it was unexpected and he didn’t prepare for it, or because he just didn’t like people touching him because of his new found emotions and deviancy. Whatever the reason, Connor did his best to avoid any contact because every time he's lightly brushed, he nearly jumps out his skin from the strange sensation it gives him. It doesn’t help that since deviating, many androids actively embrace the use of physical contact among each other for the ‘comforting’ aspect that was found to reduce stress levels.
Connor didn’t mind seeing the other androids around him freely giving and accepting touch, in fact he was quite happy to see how open and accepting they were, but he just didn’t participate, and he didn't want to. It worked to his advantage that many androids were still terrified of going near him, due to his previous status as ‘Deviant Hunter,’ even though he wasn’t a fan of the feeling of dread and regret that came with it.
Kara still hadn’t forgiven him, even though Alice had.
It was such a surprise when Connor didn’t flinch away from someone other than Hank for the first time, that when he realized it, he jumped backwards and nearly fell over backwards.
Markus had just finished another long meeting with members on the senate, as they were planning on proposing a law to make androids have the same legal rights as humans, including the right to marry, uphold contracts made/signed by androids, and the parental right for android couples to adopt, and while solidifying the rights of android children. Connor didn’t know many details beyond the simplified press release, as he was only there for security and general support, but Connor vividly remembered the tired look on Markus' face as Simon reached across the table and took his hand.
Connor turned away quickly with a light flush, as he attempted to give them some semblance of privacy in the open room, even with the remaining council members still stepping out. He did get rather distracted by replaying Markus’ enthused speech of his proposal in his memory, enraptured as the carefully planned pauses being filled by Simon's clarifying statements, all recorded less than an hour ago, to pass the time.
Distracted enough to not notice Simon calling his name repeatedly, and eventually coming over to put their hand on his shoulder. Connor first thinks Oh, that’s nice, before his mind is thrown back to the present, and the touch becomes an overwhelming sensation of-
- of something, and he jerks backwards in his chair to avoid it? That’s not quite right, but his mind is stumbling to catch up with the heat bubbling in his sensors and the sound of Markus’ concern finally breaks though when he tumbles backwards onto the floor in his chair.
“I’m okay, it’s fine. I- I just wasn’t expecting it.” He really needs to remember how to look them in the eyes soon, but all he can feel is the phantom pressure on his arm, and the softness of Simon’s touch-
“Really, I’m okay.” Connor avoids taking the offered hand, as he flushes again, this time in embarrassment and humiliation, not that he knows what it was before, just that it doesn’t quite feel the same. Picking himself off the floor, he stutters out a good-bye and
calmly walks out the door.
Connor thinks about it for days afterwards. He asks Hank about it once, but all he gets is a knowing smile, a shrug, and a ‘you’ll figure it out Con. Let me know when you do.’ Frustratingly cryptic, and with few other people he trusts, he resigns himself to the possibility of experimenting with people he doesn’t. Even though attempting to touch others left the same uneasy feeling as the reverse, he can’t sit by and do nothing. (And thinking about replicating it, by giving the knowledge of his own inability to understand himself, to Markus or Simon, just leaves him feeling inadequate and - something .)
Needless to say, it was not a good decision.
Connor decides if he is going to attempt to initiate contact, he should go when there’s the most people in Jericho. It would present him with the largest amount of options, and lessening the likelihood of someone screaming at him in fear when they caught sight of him. This moment was now on the top of Connor’s list of ‘Why did I think that was a good idea?!?’ decisions, and as he peered out into the crowd from the corner he backed himself into, he realized he had definitely fucked up this time. From his estimates using the data available, he knew the crowd was likely to continue at this size for hours, two if he was lucky.
It had only taken a single concerned passerby, who rightfully thought he was lost (and he was, lost in his own dumb ideas), tapping him on the shoulders to get his attention, for him to, as the relics of the internet said, decide it was time to ‘ Get the fuck out of here,’ as he ‘ did not know what the fuck just happened.’ Due to his moment of absolute brilliance of deciding to throw himself into the deep end of physical contact, he was now absolutely and definitely fucked, for the foreseeable future. Whoever decided the Rk series was smart needed to be thrown off a cliff. Immediately, and without any sympathy. Connor vowed to find out who that was, but after he stopped hiding in the corner, shaking at the thought of someone approaching him with the intent to touch.
He was lucky enough to have actually remembered his coin today, but as he flipped it between his hands and over his knuckles with his back pressed into the corner, he realised it wasn’t nearly as calming as it usually was. He didn’t quite know how long it had been, but he couldn’t think about checking his internal clock to see how long it actually was, knowing that it likely hadn’t been anything longer than an hour, and he would still need to wait for far longer than he wanted to.
Then Markus showed up. Someone must have alerted him to the presence of Connor, as the man in question had stepped downstairs and headed straight for Connor’s claimed corner. Connor could see he looked vaguely amused as he got closer, but he also noticed the blatant concern, but he was more glad to see someone found amusement in his absolutely idiotic decision, than he was to be rescued. Connor was managing fine, just fine, he had his coin, and he had accepted his fate of simply waiting until the crowd died down.
Markus had other plans though.
“Are you planning on hiding in that corner all day, Connor?” That smirk, Connor really couldn’t handle that right now-
“No. Only until it gets less. . .crowded.” It was hard to look dignified when you’re crouching in a corner, obsessively rubbing the edges of a coin, but Connor managed to look somewhat put together. Even as he lost his nerve when he caught sight of the sea of androids, he did manage to keep eye contact with Markus for the most part, which was a major improvement from their last interaction.
“What are you doing here anyway? I know you always avoid The Hub when it’s crowded.” The concern was back, but also tinged with curiosity, that was new.
“I was conducting an experiment. The results were far worse than what I was anticipating, so I decided to cut it short, but I seem to have trapped myself in a corner. I wasn’t planning on leaving it quite at this moment.” Connor was very glad to still be able to speak somewhat normally; he wasn’t too keen on repeating his stuttering mess from last time, but he still managed to keep eye contact. He still felt the heat begin to warm his skin when he realized how intensely Markus looked at him, but wasn’t nearly as concerned as when the heat warning flashed in his vision last time.
“. . .Did you want to leave it now?”
“The corner?” Connor really should think before he spoke, but he was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on anything right now.
“Yes Connor, the corner.” Markus was entirely too amused for Connor to trust him that easily, but the relaxed smile on his face made it far easier to ignore that particular thought.
“Here,” Markus reached a hand out towards him, not touching, only offering, “I’ll shield you, and I’ll send a message asking for space until we get across.”
That was a far more enjoyable alternative to attempting to squeeze past and touch other people, it was a wonder as to why Connor hadn’t thought of something similar.
Well, something might as well come from this failed experiment-
“Okay, I- I trust you.” Connor pocketed his coin and reached out, tense and fully expecting the unpleasant sensation to sweep him away as he braced himself for contact. Instead he got a warm hand curling around his, calloused artisan hands dwarfing his own, and the reassuring pressure of safety as he was pulled away from the wall and tucked under into Markus’ side and Oh-
This wasn’t how it felt before. The itching unease of get-away-get-away, just, didn’t happen, this time. Instead Connor relaxed, feeling the tension melt off him, as he actually felt comfortable with the gentle squeeze of reassurance and safety of Markus’ presence. He felt Markus tense and prepare to move them forward into the parting crowd, but Connor quickly made the decision to fall back into his mind to catalog every millisecond for just a little while longer. It was a good thing they had kept their bio-skin in place, as Connor didn’t know if he could guarantee he wouldn’t have dragged Markus down with him.
Connor didn’t even try to vocalize how much he was not looking forward to the next few seconds, he just nodded and pressed himself further into Markus’ side.
Connor would forever be grateful for Makrus helping him, but he was even more grateful for the prolonged contact, as Connor had only ever enjoyed the fleeting casual touches that Hank gave. Unfortunately once they reached the bottom of the stairs, Markus did have to remove his arm from around Connor’s shoulders, but he did still keep their hands clasped, which Connor clung to with far more desperation than he had felt trapped in the corner of The Hub. Connor hadn’t even realized he was shaking until they got further away from the crowd and onto the next floor, when he realized he couldn’t stop. He frantically tried to reach into his pocket, so he could try and centre himself, but he was having trouble trying to do so while still clinging with both hands to Markus.
“Connor? Are you okay?” Oh, when did Simon get here? Connor really did try to answer him, but he found it far easier to cling to Markus’ arm instead, forgoing his coin to fidget with the edge of Markus' sleeve.
“He got himself trapped in a corner down in The Hub.” Connor could almost taste the disapproval in Markus’ voice, “He said he was ‘conducting an experiment.’ I’m guessing he didn’t think it would be this bad.”
“Oh, Connor. . .Can I-” Connor wasn’t quite sure what Simon was asking for, but as long as he didn’t have to let go of Markus, he was fine with whatever they proposed. He really could not be trusted enough to make his own decisions at the moment, especially when he had just made the worst mistake of his life so far not too long ago. Connor looked up with the intent of meeting their eyes, but on seeing their open arms and the subtle hesitation in their posture as they reached forward, he didn’t even think before launching himself towards their arms. Simon felt safe, like Markus, and Connor was desperate for the new feeling of warmth and comfort.
Simon certainly wasn’t expecting a sudden handful of Connor, who still hadn’t let go of Markus, but they did manage to keep them all upright as Connor now adhered himself to Simon.
“Elevator?” From the place in the crook of Simon’s neck, Connor can feel them nod above him as they gently shift him to plaster more along their side, rather than directly in front of them, gently encouraging Connor to curl one of his hands into the collar of their shirt. Markus’ hand is still warm in Connor's, pressed up against Simon’s back as he guides them towards the elevator for the last flight.
“Yours or mine, Simon?” The slow shuffle is awkward, but Connor can’t bring himself to let go, not when the fear of being left alone flashes in his vision, the ghost sensation of unwanted hands across his arms begins to grow again, sending him spiraling down, down-
“Yours. You have more blankets.” Connor thinks of Hank then, and the first gift he had received the night when Hank brought him home, a collection of old blankets for the spare room. He appreciated them, and even though he had no need to sleep, he still used them. He enjoyed the soft texture under his fingers, the gentle weight when he burrowed underneath them, how nice and simple and warm it was. He misses how simple it was that first night, nothing to worry about besides waiting until the morning.
He wasn’t entirely sure how, but he doesn’t remember going into the elevator, or down the hallway, and then down to Markus’ room, but he does feel Markus try to slip his hand free for a moment to open the door, and the overwhelming fear of being left alone, even though Simon is right there holding him, and he’s just opening the door , makes Connor grip tighter and-
“It’ll just be a second Connor, I have to unlock it. I promise I’m not going to leave you.” Connor knows he’s telling the truth, but he can’t help but think-
He takes a deep breath in, a quick squeeze to remind Markus of his promise, and lets go of his hand quickly. Simon immediately holds Connor impossibly tighter and starts humming quietly in his ear, as Markus frantically digs for his keys. Connor likes the humming, he can feel it deep in their chest, buzzing in their throat as he hears it echo softly in the quiet hallway, it feels warm.
The door finally opens, and Markus’ hand is back, urging them forward before leaving again to gently close and lock the door.
“I’m going to get blankets, I’ll be right back.” Connor moves to protest, reaching a hand out towards Markus with an embarrassingly loud whine building in his throat, but Simon simply hums louder, moving them both over to the absurdly large sized couch and sitting down, dragging Connor down to sit half on top of them. Simon gently pushes and rearranges him, shifting further into the couch, Connor laying tense and unsure, cradled against their front until their hand brushes through his hair, and he feels everything go suddenly quiet.
“Markus didn’t think you would like this, you know?” Simon starts trailing their fingers up Connor’s back, settling him back against them as they smooth the ruffled hair, as if to prove a point at how he just melts under the attention .
“We had a bet too, he owes me so much for losing this one.” Connor huffs a laugh against their neck, enjoying how he can hear the smile in their voice, and pressing his own into their neck so they can feel it too.
“I know we’re going to have to talk about this, after I mean, but no matter how it turns out, I want you to know we’ll still be there for you.” Connor knows that too, but for now he can’t help but be selfish, and hoard every memory this gives him, even with the undercurrent of unease still pumping in his veins.
Connor doesn’t realize Markus is back until he covers them in a wide heavy blanket, before tucking himself in beside them. Thankfully Connor doesn’t have to decide who to smother, because Simon shifts sideways until they are half-upright leaning against the corner of the sofa, Connor cradled on top of them, allowing Markus just enough room to slot himself between Connor and the back of the sofa.
“Comfy?” Connor doesn’t know if Simon is usually the ‘Big Spoon’ in their relationship, but the utter tender love in their voice when they tease Markus, as he shifts and adjusts into a more comfortable position, and how he curls around Connor so carefully, like he's precious and treasured, just sends him reeling until he’s on the brink of tears.
He desperately doesn’t want to break down, more than he already has, but somehow with the quietest sniffle Markus already knows how hard he's trying to keep it together.
"Oh Conner. . ." Markus’ arms tighten around Connor as he presses a hesitant kiss to the back of his neck before nuzzling in closer.
"It's okay." Simon's hand is back in his hair, soothing him with slow rhythmic strokes, dragging their fingers through it, the faint reverberation of their voice against Connor’s cheek. "I know it's a lot, but you can cry. You're okay."
"We're not going anywhere, not unless you want us to." Markus whispers into Connor’s ear, it had always gone unsaid before, an abstract concept that he couldn’t believe in until this moment, when he felt the faint breath against his ear in the whisper of a promise.
"N- no don't leave- I- I don't want-" Connor gasps brokenly into Simon's neck as he tries to keep the tears at bay, desperately moving to grab Markus' arm tangled around his waist, and letting the other curl possessively around Simon's shoulders.
They quietly shush him, "You don't have to be strong right now," bringing their hands up to cradle his face, gently pulling him back enough to relax the tight grip of his hands, just enough to ghost their fingers across his cheeks, soothing him and leaving him so exposed, and raw.
Simon tilts down their head to look into his eyes, and he feels fragile and vulnerable, like a wrong breath could shatter him into dust, blowing gently in the wind. It's far more intimate than anything Connor's ever experienced, far more than anything he would ever expect to get from either of them. He can feel himself shaking again, and he just looks into Simon’s eyes trying to ground himself against the tide, but all he sees is Love and Concern and he’s gone-
"Let go, Connor," Simon brushes away a stray tear, - when did he start crying? - and suddenly he is laid bare between them. Stripped down into his core components, left open and exposed in a way he’s never been, but feels so vulnerable and right in this rare treasured moment.
"We're here." His breath is hitching, and uneven, and he can’t stop the ugly gasps that keep spilling out as he doesn’t even try to stifle them, but Simon just smiles at him so gentle and soft, as Connor crumbles to pieces in their arms. He can’t help but lean closer, lean into their hands, bunching up the fabric of Simon’s shirt as he just tries to hold to this moment forever. Conor feels his skin, smooth and unblemished under Simon’s fingers pressed against his face, under Markus’ hand curled protectively over his torso, begin to melt away, leaving him bare and exposed, and he is crushed in an avalanche of want.
Connor can feel Markus shifting against his back, sitting more upright to rest his head over Connor’s shoulder, tucking his face into the crook of Connor’s neck, reaching upwards to rest a hand on Simon’s face with bare, vulnerable white. Markus’ other hand slips just under Connor’s shirt, the warm plastic of his exposed fingers gentle as he presses them against Connor’s uncovered chassis; a silent ask, no obligation. Simon does the same then, closing their eyes as they shiver against the change in feeling when their own skin pulls away, sending Connor reeling as the oversensitivity from the gentle touches threaten to devastate him.
Connor had never craved this vulnerability before, this intimacy, the easy comfort in their touch, and now he was drowning in their affection, and he had the audacity, the selfishness to want for more. He didn’t interface with anyone, it was a thing that other androids close to one another did as a method of showing affection and transmitting information, but it was not a thing that Connor did, ever. Just as touch had sent him spiraling into a pit of uneasiness and anxiety, the act of interfacing was far more intimate, and the first and only try had not gone well.
He really didn’t want to think about it, he felt worse for the poor android who was just trying to be polite.
It was literally baring his entire existence, his soul to another person, and hoping they didn’t abuse that power. Watching them shuffle through his entire existence that was laid bare before them in an open book, and hoping they didn’t attempt to force something with the power that interfacing gave them. Connor wasn’t too keen on interfacing before he found out about his aversion to touch, entirely due to Amanda’s forcible take over of his body, but since the sheer terror he felt the only time he had attempted it, he hadn’t even entertained the thought. Until now, wrapped up in warmth and love and it was almost too much.
They hadn’t even attempted to connect with Connor yet, and he was already floating in a haze of physical contact, the almost-too-much feeling of exposed plastic brushing against his, the way he’s distantly aware that Simon is still looking at him, eyes closed and flushed from affection, tears still leaking out of his eyes in shameful relief, and the reassuring pressure of Markus plastered against his back, pressing his lips to the side of Connor’s neck.
Connor had never craved anything more than his desire to stay here with them, he had never wanted touch like this before - this was so much better than any hug from Hank- he didn’t want it to end, if anything he wanted more. He was already selfishly enjoying this enough, he couldn’t bear to ask them for anything more than what they were willing to give.
Markus could probably sense the conflict within Connor, but he just kept moving his hand back and forth on Connor’s stomach slowly and purposely, humming softly in his ear as Simon brushed his tears away, pressing soft kisses into the wet trails against Connor’s exposed face, running their hands through his hair and smoothing down his skin. Simon guides Markus’ hand from their face to Connor’s, and Connor moves his own to grip at the collar of Simon’s shirt, rubbing the fabric against his fingers.
A part of him wonders if it would be inappropriate to ask if he could take it off, or at the very least unbutton it, after all Markus had already unbuttoned the last three buttons of Connor’s shirt so it was only fair, but he doesn’t want to be misunderstood for wanting that , so he just slips his hand around to the back of Simon’s neck and tries to breathe through the tears that seem to finally be easing up. He wants to interface with them, but somehow he knows it’ll be too much, or they won’t like what they find and-
“Breathe, Connor.” He hadn’t even realized he was tensing up again until Markus rubs the creases out from his brow, and Simon presses a hand against his chest, and how Connor wants -
He takes a deep breath and then another, grabbing at Markus’ wrist where it brushes against his stomach, and clinging tighter to the back of Simon’s neck for a long moment, shutting his eyes tightly to try and focus. They won’t know unless he tells them, but he can already see the faint glow of his the delicate sensors on his wrists and fingers showing his intent, and they deserve to know before he accidentally goes to far and-
“I want to interface with you, both of you-” Connor cuts himself off before he can continue on, about how the only time he’s interfaced before caused an android to reboot due to an overload of information, but he wasn’t expecting them to do it, and he didn’t have a chance to dial anything back before they connected and-
“Are you sure?” Simon asks, pulling back from where their hands were brushing through his hair, to cup his face alongside Markus’ possessive hand brushing along his cheek.
“We can just stay like this,” Markus’ voice rumbling through Connor’s chest, “You’re already overwhelmed, we can do that another day.” Another day.
Connor had hoped this wouldn’t end at all, but he had never thought they would welcome him back, and the fact that they wanted to interface with him at all, was far better than anything he had hoped for. Still, even though that was also far more preferable than not interfacing at all, and he did want to do it today, even though he knew it probably wouldn’t go well, especially considering what had already happened today. However, Connor was nothing but impatient, stubborn, and willing to push a few buttons to get what he wanted, even if it probably wasn’t the best decision.
“Please?” Connor looked up at Simon, trembling his bottom lip and peering through his eyelashes. He did expect them to contemplate, but eventually agree, albeit with some conditions, but Connor did not expect Markus to snort in amusement before burrowing his face into Connor’s shoulder to stifle a laugh.
“Oh, how the tables have turned-”
Simon flushed a brilliantly vibrant colour at that, jerking backwards and freezing for a brief moment in embarrassment, mouth opening as if to speak, before they lurched forwards with a devious grin, gave Markus a quick kiss over Connor’s shoulder, and then pushed.
Markus was sent sprawling onto his back, half-curled into a fit of giggles with his top half hanging off the couch wrapped in the blanket, and Connor, who had been clinging rather tightly to Simon, pulled them down with him, squishing Markus awkwardly with their combined body weight.
This was decidedly far more uncomfortable than their earlier position, but Connor couldn’t bring himself to mind as he looked up to see Simon’s flushed face, trying to stifle their laughter, as they gasped for breath in between laughs. Connor sees the scrunch in their nose and he has a sudden urge to lean upwards and kiss them. There isn’t anything stopping him now, and Connor’s impulse control had always been a little faulty, so he brings his hands from around their neck, cups their face, suddenly they move and-
It was warm, and a lot wetter than Connor thought it would be, but then Simon gently ran their tongue along the seam of his lips, his mouth opens and- oh. OH.
No wonder why everyone seemed so obsessed with kissing, the pressure of Simon almost sitting on top of him, their hands curled around his neck, and the gentle rhythm of their tongue against his made him melt, Connor had to push Simon away after a moment to catch his breath, his face flushing as bright as Simon’s had moments earlier.
Then Markus’ legs under them shifted, and Connor suddenly finds himself intoxicated by Simon’s quiet laughter as they smothered their face into his shoulder, and the absurdity of the situation catches up to him as Markus desperately tried to pull himself free from the blanket tangled around him, half-heartedly protesting as he tried to squirm out from underneath the bodies trapping him, that Connor finally collapses into a fit of hiccuping giggles.
It takes longer than Connor expected for Markus to worm his way out of the tangle of limbs, but as he emerges from the puddle of blanket on the floor, Connor is still trapped under Simon, trying to smother his fit of giggles against their shoulder. So neither of them spot Markus until he launches himself at Simon, startling an embarrassingly loud squeak out of Connor, and sending Simon and Markus onto the floor in a tangled heap.
“Connor-” Simon is at an obvious disadvantage against Markus, but Connor really can’t be bothered to help, especially when Markus finally has them exactly where he wants them, and he’s too busy trying to contain his own amusement as Markus begins his assault of noisy, punishing, smooches on Simon’s ticklish face.
Connor glaces away for a second, his face flushing at their blatant affection, and he catches sight of himself in the reflection of the television across from him. He’s sitting on a couch far too big for one person, in Markus’ apartment, and he feels different. . . His shirt is creased, rumpled, and almost entirely undone, his pants are in a similarly wrinkled state, and he’s lost a sock at some point, but can’t bring himself to care. His face is burning with embarrassment, tear tracks still wet on his exposed cheeks, his face stretched into an unfamiliar smile, his eyes are staring back at him wide and irritated, and his hair is an absolute unmanageable wrecked mess, but he’s never felt so alive.
Connor’s eyes are caught by a quick movement below him, but he’s pulled down onto the floor with Markus’ hand on his ankle before he can register the grip. He manages to keep himself somewhat upright, leaning against the couch, and as he steadies himself he looks up to find Markus’ face very close to his own. Normally, Connor would be on edge from any eye contact, let alone this intense stare, but even with the slight unease from looking into his eyes, Connor stills, captured in the intensity and depth. He catches sight of the devious grin on Markus’ face, but as he brings his hands to Connor’s face, Connor doesn’t let him surprise him this time.
When Simon kissed him, they gave, but Markus doesn’t, he takes . Connor’s only experience before this is Simon’s patient gentle kisses, but Markus is demanding, and even though Connor learns quickly, in seconds he’s overwhelmed from the intensity. Regretfully, Connor pulls back, but keeps his hands, which had curled over Markus’ own at some point, where they are.
He looks up, smiling shyly at Markus, “I’d like to do that again, but. . .”
“It’s okay, Connor.” They are both so patient with him, Connor almost wants to cry again, but he’s so happy-
“Another day?” Simon asks, hopeful.