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On several occasions, Connor had been asked to call into question the nature of his bravery.

Was it born of courage, a sense of selflessness that allowed him to sacrifice a few bodily hurts for the safety of others? Or was he merely as naive as he looked – jumping in front of bullets and bounding after criminals alone because he had yet to grasp the nature of mortality, had yet to realize that things went “ouch” for a reason?

Either question was, of course, rhetorical. A realization Connor had come to when his attempted answer was loudly interrupted by a certain Lieutenant who had just avoided another heart attack. Which Connor understood, the man worried.

Though despite what Hank had convinced the rest of the office, Connor did not, in fact, possess a death wish. His motivation was merely born from a want to protect. The android would admit, however, that maybe Hank had a point about his behavior.

Especially when such recklessness resulted in a pipe wrench doing its utmost best to embed itself into his side.

Tossed forward by the sheer force of the blow, Connor stumbled off the mechanic's loading dock and landed hard on his shoulder in the city alley.

The shock of the impact churned the world into a mess of signals before his sensors and defense software rebooted. Artificial reflexes were all that saved Connor from a wrench to the head, the android rolling out of the way as his attacker landed next to him with a clang.

A TR400, Trevor, from the docks. They were wanted in suspicion of murdering their supervisor and then proceeding to commit grand arson in an attempt to cover their involvement.

Connor had only wanted to ask the man a few questions.

Trevor hadn't been in a talking mood.

Very few suspects ever were.

A ping on his HUD gave Connor the warning he needed to avoid the second blow, rolling to his feet in the same movement. Trevor recovered quickly, though, and swung at Connor with a series of large, heavy arcs. Connor twisted his body back and away from each would-be blow, watching the yellow outlines of his preconstructions shatter almost as soon as they had formed.

Back-up was on its way.


On the next attack, Connor halted the retreat and merely dodged, throwing Trevor's downward swing off balance. The moment of the stumble, Connor grabbed Trevor's wrist and used the larger android's momentum against them, twisting the TR400's arm up behind their back.

Weighing nowhere remotely near the dock worker's maximum load, however, Connor found himself hauled off his feet the instant Trevor regained their balance, and slammed back into one of the alley's dumpsters.

Trevor was released, and Connor fell to the ground with a pained grimace, duly scolded for his carelessness by a red marquee Connor never figured out how to disable. He barely had time to close out the damage report before a large hand was wrapped around his throat, and he was once more lifted into the air.

With a good 10 to 12 inches between his toes and the ground, Connor merely held onto Trevor's wrist.

“Leave. Me. Alone,” Trevor growled.

“Can't do that,” Connor rasped past the fingers tightening over his voice modulator, “You killed a man, Trevor.”

“He deserved it.”

“Don't,” Connor wheezed in a breath, expanding his chassis and giving the synthetic muscles in his abdomen room to move, “Care.”

With a hard snap of his hips, Connor cracked his heel against Trevor's chest. A pained gasp told him his aim had been true, and the moment the grip around his neck loosened, Connor placed both his feet on Trevor's sternum and pushed.

Connor landed atop the dumpster, freed, while Trevor stumbled backwards, hand shaking over the port to their thirium pump before they fell to one knee.

Even though he was certain he had only kicked hard enough to cause a stutter, Connor still did a full scan of their suspect – unofficial perpetrator – to make sure there was no lasting or immediately fatal damage, while he rolled off the dumpster and back to his feet. Satisfied that Trevor was merely stunned, Connor pulled the cuffs from his belt and carefully urged Trevor into them. The TR400 offered no resistance, undoubtedly shaken by the scare, and allowed himself to be restrained.

That settled, Connor gave Trevor an encouraging pat on the shoulder, then leaned against the nearby edge of the loading dock he'd been expelled from. Normally, a combat victory would stroke Connor's vanity into a small private preen, but as it were, the android wanted nothing more than a long stay in stasis.

After running down their suspect for a good ten blocks, he had entered the fight with a thirium pump that felt like it had been racing a mile a minute. He could still feel the plastimetal casing over his chest vibrating beneath the synthetic skin.

Thankfully, the diagnostic scrolling across his vision was giving a mostly all clear. Save for the strain on his voice modulator and damage to a minor component from the initial attack, Connor had gotten away from the confrontation unscathed. His throat and side might register as sore for a while, but his self-repair would take care of those (and he could hide the distortion in his voice from human ears until then).

Finding his pulse slowed at the information, Connor finally felt stable enough to stand on his own. His hands instinctively pulled his tie tight and straightened his hair in the split second before his backup finally burst onto the loading dock.

“Good morning, Officer,” Connor greeted.

“Connor,” Chris lowered his sidearm, and his partner took the cue to do the same as they stepped down into the alley. Chris glanced over at their suspect, “Sorry we missed the fun. Hope big guy didn't give you too much trouble?”

“Nothing I couldn't handle,” Connor assured. He watched Chris' partner ease the subdued TR400 to their feet, then found himself a little surprised when he looked back and found Chris suddenly quite close.

The young officer's face was pinched into a worried frown when he asked, “Hey, you alright? You, uh, you look a little winded.”

“Fully functional,” Connor said, softened by the concern, “Thank you for asking.”

“Yeah, no problem. Least I could do considering Hank's right behind us.”


Watching the android's shoulder drop, Chris patted Connor on the arm, trying to pass on some segment of encouragement, then moved to help his partner.

While the two other officers helped escort their suspect back through the mechanic's garage, Connor dearly hoped he looked better than he felt. He had nearly forgotten the older detective had been following Miller's cruiser throughout the city, the two police vehicles led by Connor's updates.

No sooner had Chris disappeared back into the building, then a rushed conversation mumbled its way Connor's direction. Deciding to get the lecture over with, Connor braced himself and made his way forward. He got exactly 1.38 steps onto the loading dock's ramp when Hank slid out of the plastic door curtains.

Frantic blues quickly scanned the alley before they landed on a properly guilty looking Connor. Tension easing the angle of his shoulders, Hank crossed his arms and leaned back against the doorway, watching the android continue the trek up the ramp.

“You wanna tell me what the hell happened to your newfound sense of self-preservation?”

“Sorry, Lieutenant,” Connor said stiffly, coming to a halt when the two were eye-to-eye, “I thought it best we not lose our only suspect, and possible witness. However, I'm sure you'll be happy to know I did look both ways before crossing the road this time.”

Honestly wanting to be done, Connor ignored Hank's displeased expression and went to finally reenter the garage. He was stopped by the Lieutenant's arm nearly catching him across the face, barring his way. With his immediate reaction schooled, Connor turned to his partner and raised a brow in question.

“Connor,” was Hank's one-word answer. Though the tone with which his name had been said pulled at something in the android's core.

Feeling his expression gentle with understanding, Connor was sincere when he said, “I'm sorry, Hank. I'll try to be more careful in the future.”

“That's all I ask,” Hank pulled away and fell into step beside Connor as the two continued their way through the garage towards the front, Hank giving the younger detective a good-job-anyway pat on the shoulder. When Connor winced at the contact, however, Hank's face seemed to fight between worry and anger, “You alright?”

“I'm fine.”

“Uh-huh,” Hank drawled while he kept his hand resting light between Connor's shoulders, “Can't imagine our guy went down without a fight. He get anything important?”

Resisting the urge to sigh (a bad mannerism he'd most definitely picked up from Hank), Connor decided honesty would get them back to the precinct, and therefore back home, faster.

“Fortunately, no,” Connor said, “I've suffered only minor damage to component 61716i, a small rupture. Once I have a moment to rest, my self-repair program will fix the matter within a few hours.”

Hank furthered the furrow on his brow, and Connor easily picked up on the issue.

“My thirium filter,” He explained, “It removes unwanted contaminants from my blood flow, allowing me to operate at optimal efficiency without stasis for a longer period of time. I suppose it's much like a human liver, or kidney – only less vital.”

“So… You'll be okay?”

“I am now,” Connor smiled, “But yes. Like I said, the damage is minor.”


Connor wasn't surprised when the matter of his filter was far from fixed by the time they arrived back at the precinct. He might have downplayed the severity of the injury to avoid unnecessary worry on Hank's part, but the issue was fixable, the android just needed a moment for his systems to do their thing.

Fortunately, it seemed threatening someone with assault of an officer on top of the murder and arson they had already confessed to was a fast way to officiate aforementioned confession. When all was said and done, both detectives were admittedly a little grateful for an afternoon of paperwork after that morning's excitement.

Settling in behind his terminal, Connor distracted himself with dotting his i's and crossing his t's, shifting his processor's focus away from the background information of his self-repair program. What had started as a slight ache in the car ride over had slowly turned into a dull throb, and not for the first time, Connor had cursed rA9 for the pain of deviancy.

When he finally shifted in his chair to try and ease the pressure that seemed to be building in the damaged component, Connor caught Hank's attention, earning him another hard consideration from the Lieutenant.

Fully aware of the scrutiny, Connor did his best to appear wholly engaged with the forms rapidly filling out across his screen. While he did so, Hank seemed to have found what he needed and turned back to his work.

Thinking he was in the clear, Connor relaxed slightly, but no sooner had he contained the sigh then Hank casually asked, “How's that kidney looking?”

Connor tensed slightly, caught out, and ignored the pulse that sent rippling from his side.

“Diagnostics came back clean,” He relayed, voice thankfully more recovered than the rest of him while he double checked the report. Not quite 100%, but near enough, “I'm fully functional and operating as intended, Lieutenant.”

“Good to hear,” Hank said, then leaned back in his chair. He tucked his hands behind his head and let his eyes drift close, giving them some respite from the screen, “Though I'll admit, was kinda hoping for an excuse to clock out early. Haven't had a proper Friday night in weeks.”

“Would you like me to 'fake it'?” Connor asked, unable to stop the small upturn of his mouth, “We did receive and solve a case before noon, if not a raise, a break would be well within our right.”

Hank chuckled, then pursed his lips in mock consideration.

“Hm, nah,” Hank straightened up again to get back to it, “Better to get paid for playing solitaire than not get paid at all.”

Judging by how little the Lieutenant's hands had played across the keyboard in the last hour, Connor had no doubt Hank was doing just that. A gamble, what with their desks right outside the Captain's office, but one Connor was almost inclined to join.

At least after he stopped Hank's wistful glances towards the cold mug on the desk corner.

“Coffee?” Connor asked, holding out his palm.

“Fuck yes,” Hank eagerly handed the mug over, “Thank you.”

“You're welcome,” Connor adjusted his grip to the handle, then stood up in one fluid motion – and immediately regretted every second after that.

Something… pulled in his side, releasing the pressure that had been building there, and Connor's system lit up with the change. The immediate area around his filter seemed to wash hot and burn, and if Connor had been organic he was sure he would have been doubled over with the sudden wave of pain.

Thankfully, Connor had been manufactured for control. A base operation he exploited to guard himself from giving any outward signs that something very, very bad had just happened. He did allow his subsystems to take over walking for a bit while he glanced through the error report. Though the more he moved, the more he found he couldn't concentrate on what was trying to be shown to him, no matter its severity.

Connor set Hank's mug down on the counter by the sink in the break room, wincing at the sound of the ceramic barely avoiding a crack. He pushed the cup aside for a moment so he could lean over the sink for support.

His gyroscope had been upset by the sudden influx of vital information, and Connor felt… disoriented, dizzy, he was warm all over and his vision wavered ever so slightly. His side felt like he had tried to pry his chassis open with a heated knife, and Connor was overcome with the sincere want to lay down on the cool tile in search of some relief.

Connor was sure he would have done so if not for the presence of another body in the room.

Realizing he was not alone, Connor straightened to the best of his ability and rolled up his sleeves, loosening his tie just enough to ease his collar away from the skin on his throat. When he was done readjusting himself, Connor moved over to the coffee machine, dragging Hank's mug with him.

Lacking the courtesy to ignore the android's little show, Gavin Reed took a sip of his own drink, pretending to be more interested in the game blipping away on his phone rather than the slightly shaken Connor.

“Ya know,” Gavin started, “For a toaster you don't look so hot.”

Connor kept his eyes on the dark liquid slowly filling the “Most Okayest Cop” mug, finger pressed to the gurgling machine.

“Talking to you, Tin Man.”

“I had hoped you weren't,” Connor replied. Grabbing approximately enough sugar packets, Connor gave them a few shakes before he ripped them open above Hank's coffee.

“No need to get snippy.”

If only Reed knew how close Connor was getting to dumping the hot liquid in the detective's lap so he could concentrate on boxing in the cascade of pain related errors.

“Considering you have managed to insult me every day of our acquaintance, Detective, I find it very necessary to 'get snippy,'” Finally, Connor stopped stirring and turned to Reed, “Though if you insist on acting like a two-bit bully, the least you could do is get better material.”

Mug in hand, Connor ignored the outright offended look on the man's face, as well as the “Fuck you too,” growled at him as he passed into the bullpen.

Having managed to hand Hank the coffee without incident, Connor had returned to his seat. His posture was tense at best, and when he tried to readjust himself to a more comfortable position, the pain would flash a new wave of errors into his vision. He very carefully reopened the logs sequestered into his peripheral and tried to decipher the cause.

Unfortunately, Connor's ability to concentrate had been completely shattered after his little coffee jaunt. The pain in his side pulsed in tune to every beat of his thirium pump, making anything besides staring blankly at his empty terminal nigh on impossible.

Connor might have been able to calm down and will himself through the situation if it weren't for the cooling sensation crawling up the back of his head, an unpleasant contrast to the heat running through the rest of him. He took a deep, steadying breath to combat the feeling, but that only seemed to disconnect him completely, the world turning light and floaty and sending him off balance.

Connor shot to his feet, trying to physically remove himself from the utter sense of wrong that skittered across his skin. His hands hovered over the desk, unsure if he would need to catch himself or not.

At the clatter of his chair against the divider, Hank had looked up, and Connor quickly informed him, “Something's wrong.”

“Shit,” Hank was immediately out of his own seat and rounding the desks to Connor's side, “What is it?”

“I don't know,” And he didn't, he couldn't stop the errors from dancing long enough for him to read, not when his system was forcing him to breath, chest expanding and contracting, and preparing, “Hank, I-”

“Don't. C'mere,” Hank grabbed Connor's bicep, keeping the android steady on his feet and then pulled the chair back over. Very gently, Hank tried to urge Connor down into the seat, but Connor didn't budge.

“Can you sit down?”


“Okay, okay, that's okay,” Hank rubbed Connor's arm, then shouted across the near empty bullpen, “Reed!”


“Get tech down here.”


Fucking do it,” Hank turned back to Connor the moment the android's breathing picked up, and Hank put a hand to his forehead. Blearily, Connor could see Hank's frown deepen, and he didn't know what to say.

“Connor –”

Strings cut, Connor was grateful for Hank's steadying hand on his elbow, keeping him from completely crashing to the floor.

“Whoa whoa whoa, alright, nice and easy, I got ya-”

Gently as he could, Hank lowered Connor so he was able to sit upright on the ground. Soon as the world was back under him, however, that crawling cool increased and Connor curled forward in on himself, trying to steady the seemingly endless tilt of his gyroscope.

“Connor?” Hank's hand settled heavy on his shoulder, but Connor couldn't look up from where his vision had tunneled in on a point on the floor, “Connor, you gotta talk to me son, what's happening?”

My blood is on fire, Connor wanted to say, I'm falling and I'm afraid I won't stop.

“I don't,” Connor swallowed the buildup of analysis fluid that had pooled in his mouth, and tried to make out the messages his system was sending him, “Hank-”

His thought was cut short when the muscles in his abdomen contracted and he was forced forward onto his knees, his side screaming for him to still. A flashing notice gave Connor all of a second of warning before his abdomen pulled painfully again and suddenly he couldn't breathe past the surge of thirium expelling itself through his mouth.

Klaxons invaded Connor's awareness while blue splashed across the tile, his systems prioritizing the violent loss of blood. Connor was given no chance to collect himself when another notice quickly followed the first, barely allowing Connor the time to aim away from an already coated Lieutenant's shoes.

The second wave of thirium was not nearly as drastic as the first, though it left Connor shaky and breathless, and confused about the temperatures his system was reading back to him. He barely had the energy to think, let alone remain upright, and he found himself swaying back away from his mess.

“Oh, fuck,” He heard Hank breathe before there was a familiar pair of hands on his back and chest, easing him onto a clean part of the floor and onto his side in the recovery position. His head was held for a short moment then something soft and musky scented was placed under it. The hand that had held him upright gently moved to his back, rubbing large, comforting circles.

“You're alright, Connor,” Hank's voice was a low, welcomed rumble in the jumble of sirens and red, “You're okay. Just hang in there. Help's coming, they'll be here soon. Stay with me, you're gonna be okay…”

“I'm tired,” Connor whispered, unable to do much else, everything except the warmth of Hank's palm fading from his attention.

“I know,” Hank said, “Not too long, I promise.”


Connor felt his systems starting to slowly, but surely power down, drifting him closer and closer towards stasis or shutdown. He would have let them too, too weak to stop them, when a commotion further in the bullpen drew him back to the surface of awareness.

Blinking away the watery edge to his optical input, Connor looked up to see a familiar, feminine face wavering over him. He usually only saw her twice a year for a check-up, if he was lucky.

“Connor?” A cool hand touched his cheek, “Can you hear me? We need to move you to the gurney, do you think you can stand for me?”

Connor shook his head.

“Okay, that's okay, no problem. Lieutenant, can you- ?”


“Thank you,” the hand on his cheek moved to help ease him flat on his back, then someone was also at his feet, both grips on him firm and steady, “Connor, we're going to lift you on three, you ready? Okay. One… two… th-”

The world drowned white with static before it sharply cut to black.


Heaving a sigh, Hank leaned forward in his seat in the waiting room of New Jericho General. Adjacent to the main operations building, the android specified hospital had only opened its doors to patients earlier that year. Everything still had that new streamlined feel, except the dash of outlandish paintings on the walls that Hank garnered were pleasing to android eyes at least.

Other than that, the place existed in a bubble of unnatural silence, the waiting room itself almost oppressively quiet save for the low murmur of the TV and the clacking of blocks as two android kids entertained themselves on a coffee table. An AP700 stood nearby, their eyes distant, posture tight with stress.

He understood exactly how they felt.

There were a great many things Hank Anderson could claim to be good at.

Waiting was not one of them.

Chancing a glance at his phone for the time, Hank instantly knew that had been a mistake. He quickly turned the screen back off, then relaxed in his seat, coat draped across his lap. He would have closed his eyes for a bit, but he'd been here before, and he couldn't afford to miss it – that moment, that second his world either stitched itself back together or fell apart completely.

Riding in the ambulance over, he hadn't kept up with all the jargon tossed between the two technicians, part unable to, part unwilling to look away from the red ring flashing against Connor's temple. By the time they arrived, Connor had yet to recover from whatever had sent him under back at the precinct, and Hank's hands hadn't stopped shaking since they had carted the kid off down one of their white halls.

He'd seen the looks shared between the people in scrubs, the professionals were worried. After kneeling in Connor's blood for the better part of twenty fucking minutes, Hank figured he was inclined to some fretting as well.

An itch of impatience had Hank pitching forward in his chair again and gripping one hand in his hair. He focused on the uncomfortable tug there and took in a deep, deep breath, then let it out slow. He had quit smoking when he had heard Cole was on the way, and at that moment he really wish he hadn't.

Hank startled when a foam cup appeared at his peripheral. He looked up to find one of the nurses, their skin deactivated – LED yellow with work. They patiently held the cup for him, the steam carrying with it the citrus scent of some tea or another.

Hank silently thanked the nurse and found the knot in his chest eased somewhat by the warmth against his palms. At his first sip, the nurse gave him a small smile before they returned to their station. Hank brought the cup back to his lips and concentrated on the heat sliding into his core and the sharp tang of lemon.

It was good.

Then a distinctly human commotion drew his attention towards the lobby entrance, and Hank stood, tea set aside at the sight of a worried Chris Miller heading his way, an extremely uncomfortable Reed in tow.

“Hank,” Chris stopped just short of the Lieutenant, “How you holding up?”

“I'm not. What are you two doing here?”

“Car,” Reed said, holding out Hank's keys, which Hank readily accepted, “Handles better than I thought she would.”

“Yeah, well, don't get used to it,” Hank warned, “That's the last time you're behind the wheel.”

Gavin smirked, for whatever reason, then sniffed and began eying the space.

“Fowler also wants an update. Any word?” Chris asked.

“No,” Hank shook his head.

Chris nodded, face solemn, “Hang in there, Lieutenant. Connor's tougher than he looks.”

“Had a black eye to prove it,” Reed grumbled.

Hank appreciated the attempt and even managed a huff at the memory. Connor's first disciplinary form and the kid hadn't even officially been reinstated yet. Due to that little technicality, the form had mysteriously disappeared before it could be squared away in his record.


All heads turned to the white coated doctor standing with a chart by the ward entrance, their eyes scanning over the small group of humans expectantly.

“We'll catch you later, Lieutenant,” Chris said, “Give us a call if you need anything.”

“Yeah,” Hank barely registered the goodbye before he was moving over to the doctor, “That's me. Is he… How's Connor?”

The doctor gave him a sympathetic, but fond look, “Stable, and in recovery.”

“Oh, thank fuck,” Hank felt like he could breathe for the first time in hours, pressing a hand firm against a suddenly weak heart, “Sorry, just, holy shit. What happened?”

“Connor suffered a small rupture to his thirium filter that, unfortunately, did not heal properly on its own. The rupture caused a build up and eventual leak of the cleaning fluid – which, outside of the filter itself, can prove detrimental to unprotected biocomponents,” The doctor paused to make sure Hank was following what they were saying. At his half-minded nod, they continued.

“Though usually minor, Connor's filter suffered a catastrophic break when aggravated, and his thirium flow became corrupted. We've managed to repair most of the damage, but we'll have to keep Connor overnight for a complete transfusion in order to ensure his system is fully purged of the corrosive substance.”

“But he's okay?”

“Yes, Mr. Anderson,” The doctor laughed, “Connor's okay. Would you like to see him? He's awake.”

“Fuck yes,” Hank internally scolded himself at the slip, then nodded, “Please, and thank you.”

“Of course, right this way.”

Opening the wing door, the doctor indicated Hank should follow before leading him down the pale corridors. Every door they passed, Hank peered at hopefully, until finally, after a turn or two, the doctor stopped.

“He's just inside,” They said, voice soft, “If you need anything, just call, I or one of the nurses will be here.”

“Thank you,” Hank said.

The doctor gave him a small bow of the head, then turned to their other duties. Watching them leave, Hank took the moment to steady himself, taking in another deep breath before he grabbed the handle of the door.

An unfamiliar machine sat at Connor's bedside, making a faint whirring noise as it undoubtedly cycled and filtered Connor's blood for him, attached somewhere beneath the blanket pulled to his chest. A thirium pack was hooked to a stand tucked against the head of the bed, a small line running from it to Connor's mouth, topping off his clean reserves.

The kid himself looked tired, exhausted, with mussed up hair and a pair of scrubs replacing his blue stained work attire (which probably needed a trip to the cleaners). Still, as soon as Hank had stepped through and quietly closed the door behind him, Connor woke up on more than one level, face splitting with a brilliant smile at the sight of him.


“Hey,” Hank kept his voice low, matching Connor's unusually gentle volume. He threw his coat over the nearest chair and then dragged it to Connor's bedside where he sat down, “How you doing?”

“My self diagnostics are currently offline,” Connor said, “Though the doctors assure me I'm fine. An idiot, but physically okay.”

Hank hid his own smile behind a curtain of hair, “Yeah, no, gotta agree with them on that one, Con.”

“I know,” Connor looked away, and Hank recognized the expression that followed, knew what was going to be coming next, “I'd like to apologize for earlier, Hank. I was unaware the injury could grow so dire.”

“Forget it. It's done, it's over. You're alright,” Hank put a gentle hand on Connor's wrist, and the android responded by turning his hand so they were palm to palm, allowing Hank's fingers to completely engulf his own. The gesture was one Hank had learned to be comfortable with, for Connor's sake, though in that moment, he found himself more than a little in need of the reassurance that was the slight thrum of Connor's heartbeat.

“Just do me a favor, son,” Hank said, “Don't make me drag you down to maintenance after every fucking scuffle, okay?”

“Got it.”

“Good,” Hank gave Connor's hand a squeeze before he withdrew, crossing his arms to lean back on the chair, “Scared the shit out me watching you throw up so much blood. Didn't know you androids could do that.”

“My body was attempting to purge the contaminated substance from my system,” Connor explained, back in his comfort zone, “Fortunately, an automatic safety feature kept me from… puking myself to death.”

“Great. Disgusting, but thank fuck for that,” Hank rubbed a hand down his face at the godawful image of Connor's purge sans safety switch. As if he needed more nightmare fuel.

“Hank,” Hank looked up at his name and found Connor staring at him, open worry on his face, that damn thirium line still trailing from the corner of his mouth.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Hank kept his head bowed, gaze away, “Just not a big fan of hospitals.”

“I understand,” Connor said softly, “I appreciate you staying.”

“Wouldn't leave ya even if I wanted to, Con,” Hank peered up at Connor, “I'm not gonna be the one to tell Sumo where his favorite person is.”

Connor gave a small frown at that, his eyes sliding to the side the way they did when he was thinking. When he snapped back to focus on Hank, he seemed genuinely troubled by the notion.

“I hope we're not causing him too much worry?”

“Nah, it's his job to worry,” Hank assured, “Big lug just loves ya.”

Again, Connor's eyes slid away, and when they returned, they were much softer with understanding.

“Good. I love him too.”