Lieutenant Hank Anderson drove through the snowy back roads in the dark of the night with his deviant android partner, Connor, at his side as his lone passenger. The two had been called out to investigate a possible homicide with another deviant android involved, but upon arriving at the scene the seasoned detective and highly attuned deviant detective were able to confirm that the murder was in fact a tragic suicide, and the victim's android had tried to save them; hence why the deviant in question was covered in human blood.
A snowstorm had followed the detectives as they left the city and made the investigation somewhat difficult, but the duo was convinced the deviant android was entirely innocent. Fortunately with the success of the revolution as led by Marcus the android would not be held accountable for the death and subsequently destroyed. Hank and Connor made sure of that before leaving the scene to head back to Detroit.
"Of course we're the ones who get sent out in the middle of nowhere during a damn blizzard." Hank grumbled as he struggled to see through the building snow and darkness on the desolate dirt roads as he drove back to the city. "I hate winter."
"We were assigned all cases regarding deviants. I doubt that it was anything personal, Lieutenant."
"Yeah, yeah. But that doesn't mean I have to like it." Hank sighed angrily as he tried to navigate the dark roads through the storm. "I need a drink..."
"Perhaps, you should-"
A sudden impact at the passenger side of the vehicle and deafening crunch of metal with the echo of breaking glass ended the conversation abruptly. The car rapidly rolled four times before coming to a stop upside down in the dark ditch just off the edge of the snowy, icy road. The second vehicle swerved after striking Hank's car and smashed into a tree at the opposite side of the road coming to a forceful stop. The sound of the second vehicle's horn blaring loudly resonated through the isolated area, though no one else could hear it.
Hank's eyes closed as a throbbing pain in his head stole his vision and he knew nothing more of the world around him as passed out over the steering wheel.
A cold breeze rushed through Hank's messy gray hair as he steadily regained consciousness. An icy pressure on the back of his head roused him from his stated of unconsciousness and a single bright light beaming from the ditch blinded him as he gradually opened his eyes.
"...What the hell?"
Feeling dazed Hank grimaced as he lifted his head to look around, and found himself laying flat on his back and staring up at the stars of the night sky overhead. Sitting up Hank saw that he was laying in the middle of the road several feet away from his wrecked car, but he had no memory of getting out of the smashed vehicle or walking away. The single remaining headlight of his car illuminated the icy road making it sparkle brightly all around him while a bright orange fire burned from its upturned undercarriage creating a black smoke that vanished into the black night sky.
"What happened?" Hank grumbled to himself as he stared at the bright blaze consuming what was left of his car. It was then he realized he was alone on the road. "Where the fuck is Connor?"
Turning his head Hank spotted the truck that had hit his car, then veered off smashing into the tree a few yards away. The engine was still on as were the headlights, but the front of the truck was completely smashed in and the windshield and the side windows were completely shattered. Shards of glass littered the ground all around the truck courtesy of the numerous broken windows. The smell of leaking gasoline filled the air as did smoke pouring out from under the hood of the demolished truck.
Mercifully the loud horn had stopped blaring as the smashed front end of the truck finally took its toll on the device. The subsequent silence that followed was only randomly interrupted by the gentle crackling of the flames, or the harsh snowy wind blowing through the surrounding trees.
"Asshole..." Hank swore as he slowly got up to his feet, his legs trembling and his already hands numb from the cold. His head was swimming with a monstrous headache but Hank managed to push aside the discomfort and focus on the task at hand of checking on the driver.
Making his way over to the truck Hank pulled on the door handle on the driver's side only to find that the door was jammed shut. Peering through the broken window of the truck Hank looked inside at the single passenger who was seemingly unconscious over the steering wheel, and now fully deflated airbag.
"Hey, asshole!" Hank shouted at the driver trying to provoke a response. "What the hell's your problem?"
Hank sighed as he reached his hand inside the cab of the truck through the window and pressed his fingers against the side of the driver's neck. No pulse. The man's skin was already deathly cold and pale, and he had been dead since the truck collided with the tree. The unmistakable stench of alcohol filled the truck and stung at Hank's eyes as he fought to ignore the incredible pain of his headache. Looking down at the floor of the cab Hank could see a faint puddle and bits of shattered glass from a broken bottle of whiskey.
"Drunk." Hank examined the scene even closer before stepping back and noticed that the driver failed to put on his seatbelt as well. "And stupid. Lethal combination."
Turning away from the truck Hank wandered back over to his own burning car in search of his phone and in search of Connor. He hadn't seen the deviant android when he awoke on the road which made Hank uneasy. Despite his annoyance at Connor for always following him around Hank secretly appreciated having a partner who watched his back so closely.
"Connor, where are you?" Hank called out as he examined the wreckage of his car. The heat from the fire kept him from getting too close to the vehicle as it burned itself into a smoldering hunk of useless metal in the ditch. Kneeling down he looked through the cracked windshield to the interior of the vehicle but didn't see any sign of Connor inside, or of his phone. "Where did he go?"
Hank stood upright slowly and walked around to the passenger side of the car where the truck had impacted to examine the scene more closely. The passenger side door had been completely removed by someone, or something, very strong. The door itself was tossed casually into the ditch beside the car. There was also a puddle of blue fluid on the road next to the vehicle that trailed over to where Hank had been laying, then backtracked past the car and down the road from whence they came.
"Connor? You better be okay..." Hank called out as he sought his deviant android partner. The blue fluid was unmistakably Thirium, Connor's 'blue blood'; which meant Connor was injured. Walking down the road a few feet Hank continued to call out for his missing partner but received no answer every time. "Connor? Where did you-"
A flashing red dot just a few feet further down the road caught Hank's eye. Hank immediately recognized the red dot as an android's L.E.D. blinking in the darkness of the night.
"Connor?!" Hank tried to rush toward the light but the throbbing of his headache suddenly stole his energy causing him to stop and press his hand to his aching head until the intense pain lessened. Hobbling over to the red light Hank looked down at the expressionless face of Connor laying on his back in the middle of the road, seemingly unconscious. "Connor?" Hank knelt beside the deviant android and put his hand on Conner's chest. "Wake up. What are you doing out in the middle of the fuckin' road?"
The deviant android didn't response to the question. His systems were failing due to Thirium loss and his remaining power was too low to function properly to any verbal commands.
"How did-" Hank felt a cold, wet fluid on his hand as it rested over Connor's chest. Looking down at his palm Hank saw the distinct color of blue blood staining his skin. "Shit!"
Moving quickly Hank pulled open Connor's gray suit jacket and found the source of the bleeding. A large sheet of twisted metal had penetrated Connor's right side and the lower portion of his chest. By some miracle the metal hadn't completely destroyed the android's vital biocomponents, but the damage was still critical.
"No... not again." Hank felt his stomach knot at the hauntingly reminiscent scene that was unfolding all around him. The icy cold wind made his stomach tighten further as the horrible memories came flooding back to him. "Not this fuckin' nightmare again."
Three years prior Hank had lost his young son, Cole, in a car accident. Cole needed emergency surgery but no doctor was available to perform the operation. Cole died from his injuries and Hank was unable to do anything to save him. On that night Hank's life changed for the worst and sent the detecting spiraling into a deep, dark depression that stunk of booze.
"Connor?" Hank shook the deviant android lightly to try to get a response without jostling the metal debris lodged in Connor's side. Connor's artificial breaths were extremely light and strained as his system tried to compensate for the damage to his internal biocomponents. "Please answer me."
"...Lieu...tenant..." Connor weakly replied as his sensors had indicated that someone was nearby. The L.E.D. flashed red rapidly as his program cycled through its processes to analyze his current status and run a self-diagnostic.
"It's going to be okay, Connor." Hank insisted as he carefully put his hands under Connor's shoulders and lifted the deviant android up into a sitting position on the cold road. Grabbing onto Connor's left arm Hank wrapped the limp, cold limb around his shoulders before he reached his other arm around Connor's lower back to grab onto the deviant's belt. Hefting the semi-conscious deviant up to his feet Hank supported as much of Connor's weight as he could and started walking down the road with his damaged partner leaning heavily on his side. "We're going to get back to the city and you'll get fixed up in no time."
Trudging slowly down the road back in the opposite direction from where Hank had found Connor, back toward the city still miles away, the detective walked slowly with Connor as the determined detective powered through his headache and kept his focus on finding his way back through the snow and darkness.
"Are you still with me, Connor?" Hank asked lowly but firmly as he huffed his tired breaths that escaped in small clouds before him. "Talk to me, kid."
"...What should I... say?"
"Just... Just answer something for me. What were you doing way down the road?"
"...I was..." Connor seemed to be having difficulty finding his words. Whether that was a result of his damaged biocomponents or a missing fragment from his memory, neither could say. "I... I can't..."
"It's okay." Hank stated in a calm voice as he began to slow down his pace from sheer exhaustion. "Don't worry about it."
"...Cold." Connor managed to utter as his systems continued to flash warnings across his visual processors.
"Okay, I'll get you somewhere warm. Just hold on for me."
From down the road in the direction that the two were currently walking the dual glow of approaching headlights illuminated the duo in a white light. Hank grimaced from the intensity of the sudden brightness and put his hand up to shield his eyes from the painfully bright light as another vehicle drove down the road toward the two injured men.
"Looks like we may have found a ride, Connor." Hank stated in a low voice only to be met with silence and increasing weight as Connor fell into another state of unconsciousness against Hank's shoulder. "Connor? Are you awake?"
Hank stopped walking and waited for the oncoming vehicle to reach them where they stood. At least he hoped they'd reach him and not turn off onto some unseen side road in the distance.
"Hang on Connor, try to stay with me, son."
The approaching vehicle was an old red pick-up truck being driven by a young teenage boy. Stopping at the side of the road the driver rolled down his window and looked at Hank and Connor with wide eyed worry. "Whoa! What happened you, two?" The young man asked with sincere concern in voice. "How bad are you hurt?"
"Car accident. We need a lift."
"Yeah, yeah. Hop in!" The driver opened his door and leapt down with the intent of helping Hank carry Connor over to the other side of the cab. "Here, let me help you."
"Sure, watch his side." Hank cautioned as he let the kind teenager help him carry Connor to safety. "What's your name, son?"
"Adam. Adam Chapman." The young man replied calmly. "My mom and I live just down the road, he can rest there."
"Thanks, but I need to get him back into the city for repair." Hank claimed as he climbed inside the cab of the truck sitting in the middle of the bench seat. Reaching out his hand he took hold of Connor's arm and helped Adam to guide the deviant android inside to sit next to him. "He's too banged up to wait."
"Sorry, but the roads leading into the city are all blocked by snow and downed trees."
"Ah, shit!" Hank swore as he realized that he and Connor were stranded in the middle of seeming nowhere. "I should've figured as much."
"Don't worry." Adam insisted as he carefully lifted Connor's legs up into the truck before shutting the door of the cab. "My mom can help him. She's saved dozens of androids before."
"Your... mom?" Hank questioned as Adam ran around the front of the truck to get back into the driver's side of the cab.
"Yeah. She's helped a lot of deviants who ran away from their abusive owners for months before the revolution. She can help him, too."
The kindness and generosity in Adam's words touched Hank in a way that he thought was a long dead. Someone was actually taking the time to help someone else in their time of need, and there were no strings attached; nothing to be gained or a debt to be paid. It was all coming from the good of Adam's heart.
"You're welcome." Adam carefully backed up the truck on the road to turn around and drive home with his two new passengers in tow.
Hank pressed his hand down on Connor's shoulder to hold the unconscious deviant as steady as possible, while also trying to keep his own mind from drifting. From the level of pain he was experiencing in his head and the definitive blackout he had endured Hank was certain he had been concussed during the accident and wanted to remain as alert as possible.
"What're you doing out here anyway, Adam?" Talking was the best way to keep conscious and monitor the severity of his own injuries. "It's dangerous."
"We lost power about an hour ago." Adam explained calmly as he drove down the road at a steady clip. "I went to see if I could find the damage so I could report it, but I can't get down the road far enough to find the source. I wanted to go check the other side and that's when I found you two."
"Pretty big risk driving out here all alone in a storm."
"Yeah, well, it paid off, didn't it?"
"Yeah. I guess it did." Hank watched as Connor's head began to bow down as the deviant's power level continued to drop to a dangerously low level.
"Can I ask what you two doing out here?" Adam wisely questioned as he slowly drove down the icy road back to his home. "What happened?"
"We work with the Detroit Police Department." Hank replied honestly as he tightened his grip on Connor's shoulder. "We were on our way back from the scene of a- coming back from a case," Hank corrected himself as he didn't want to accidentally put any macabre thoughts in Adam's head. "and we were hit by a drunk driver."
"The other driver... are they okay?"
"He's gone. Looks like his neck was broken during the crash, died instantly."
"Are you hurt?"
"A little banged up, but believe me, I've been through worse."
"And him?" Adam looked over at Connor briefly before returning his gaze to the road before him.
Hank almost laughed at the question. "He's seen some shit, too."
"I didn't know androids worked with the police."
"Well, normally the androids at the department handle things at the receptionist desk and weed out junk complaints from the real deal, Connor was the first android to actually work on cases in the field. He's my partner."
Adam smiled a little at the comment. "Wow, that's pretty cool."
"Yeah." Hank agreed as he looked over at Connor's face. He couldn't directly see the L.E.D. blinking in Connor's temple but the red glow being cast on the side of the cab told Hank that his partner's condition wasn't improving. "How much farther?"
"We're there." Adam stated as he pulled the truck up the long icy driveway toward a snow covered greenhouse behind a large, beautiful homestead. Turning off the engine Adam threw open his door and jogged over to the opposite side of the cab to help with Connor. As he pulled open the door he took one look at the wounded android and stepped back in fear.
"What's wrong, Adam?" Hank watched the young man's reaction warily.
"There's... a lot of blood."
"A lot of-" Hank leaned over Connor and peeled back the jacket to reexamine the wound. While Connor had already lost a considerable amount of Thirium long before Adam had found the duo walking down the road, the amount of fresh Thirium that was quickly soaking into Connor's shirt was absolutely alarming. "Damn it, all that moving must've dislodged the metal."
"Don't worry." Adam came to his senses and grabbed onto Connor's arm without touching the metal in the process. As he placed the android's arm around his shoulders he looked to Hank as he spoke. "We can still help him."
"Then let's not wait." Hank urged as he dropped out of the truck onto the snow and grabbed Connor's other arm. The abrupt motion made Hank's head ache with a searing pain but he pushed it aside in favor of helping his partner. "Let's get to it."
"Mom!" Adam shouted as he helped Hank carry Connor to the front door of the house. Pushing the door open with force Adam guided the two detectives inside and stood just inside the door out of the cold. "Mom! We need help!"
"Adam?!" A woman's voice responded from the kitchen at the far end of the house. Rushing through the house the woman, of whom had to be Adam's mother, spotted her son holding up a bloodied android as well as a pretty banged up looking human right beside him. "My goodness, what happened?!"
"Car accident, ma'am." Hank replied as the woman put her hand beneath Connor's chin and gently lifted his head to get a better look at his face in the dim lighting of the foyer, and noted his red tinted L.E.D. blinking slowly. "Your son saved us."
She turned to look at Hank and visibly winced at the smear of blood on Hank's forehead just below his hairline. "You're both in rough shape, but he's in critical condition."
"Can you help him?"
"Yes." The woman confirmed as she took Connor's arm from around Hank's shoulder and motioned for Adam to help her carry the wounded android into the adjacent room. "We still have some spare parts and blue blood that can help him."
Hank watched as the two worked together to carry Connor into the next room, a laundry room, and lay him down on his back very lightly on a bench jutting out from the far wall. Adam grabbed a clean towel from a large stack that had been folded and left on top of the dryer, and placed it under Connor's head like a pillow to help him feel more comfortable.
With a mother's care the woman peeled back the fabric of Connor's blood soaked gray jacket and stared down at the entry point of the jagged chunk of metal in his side and chest. Thirium stained the entire right side of Connor's body around the wound, and stretched out over his chest. The already weak breaths that Connor managed to take seemed so pitiful and waning as he fought to perform even the most basic of physical motions.
As the dedicated woman loosened Connor's tie and unbutton his stained white dress shirt beneath she glanced up at Hank with unparalleled kindness in her dark brown eyes. "I didn't get your name."
"Hank. I'm Lt. Hank Anderson, Detroit Police Department." He put his hand to his head as he spoke. It seemed even the simple acting of talking was enough to cause his head to throb with pain. "And that's Connor. He's my partner."
"Nice to meet you, Hank." She glanced down at Connor's face for a moment before returning to Hank. "I'm Rose. And you've already met my son, Adam."
"Mom," Adam was beginning to sound worried again as he stared at the painful wound in Connor's side. "he's lost a lot of Thirium."
Rose nodded in agreement. "Bring three units of blue blood from the storage closet. I need to see which of his biocomponents were damaged."
Hank held his breath as Rose opened Connor's shirt to fully expose the wound beneath, and both humans felt a chill run up their spines. The metal had pierced Connor's side at a frightening angle and had torn into his body coming to a rest near the center of his torso. The artificial skin that once covered his side had receded from his side and alongside where his lower ribcage would be if he were human. The lack of skin was about one inch in diameter around the wound leaving only the exposed plastimetal frame behind. Thirium leaked from the frame all around the injury at an alarming rate and Connor seemed to be having increased difficulty breathing. With each forced breath his damaged chest and abdomen would rise and fall rapidly as he struggled to breathe.
Rose gently pressed the fingertips of her two forefingers of her left hand to the red colored L.E.D. in Connor's right temple before pressing her right hand down on his rapidly rising and falling stomach near the wound. In response the artificial skin that covered his abdomen receded further giving Rose access to the now exposed panel beneath.
"You really do know a lot about androids, don't you?" Hank asked with admiration in his voice as he watched Rose work with an expert precision behind each movement she made.
Rose smiled a little at the comment as she pressed down on the exposed plastimetal panel and slid it to the left to open the abdominal compartment of Connor's torso. "Unfortunately, yes. Many androids who found their way here were very badly damaged. I did my best to help repair them and in time I've learned a few tricks here and there."
"What can you tell me about Connor's condition?"
"It's bad." Rose confirmed as she stared at the pool of lost Thirium that had collected in Connor's torso. His weak breaths made the sight of his exposed abdomen all the more brutal to witness. Several tubes and lines that circulated the blue blood to Connor's biocomponents had been damaged by the jagged metal which caused the initial leak, but the most severe damage was to single biocomponent in the center of Connor's abdomen. "But the damage is not catastrophic." Rose turned to look at Hank over her shoulder with a determined gaze. "His thermal regulator has been damaged and he'll overheat soon."
"Can it be repaired?"
"Yes, I mean, possibly. But I've never seen biocomponents like his." Rose turned over the lapel of Connor's gray jacket and noted his model number. "RK-800. I've never encountered one before."
Hank smiled a little at the observation. "He was the most advanced prototype ever created by CyberLife before they went under. He's unique."
"That makes sense." Rose gently put her fingers inside the opened compartment and applied light pressure to the leaking tubes to stem the bleeding. Connor's body twitched slightly from the agonizing contact and he let out a low groan of pain. The response of course meant that Connor's systems were still functioning, though at an uncomfortably low level. "Hopefully we have a compatible part to replace the regulator, otherwise..."
"Yeah. I know." Hank understood the severity of the situation but he didn't want to acknowledge it all the same. "I get it."
Adam returned to the laundry room with three bags of the requested blue blood in his arms as well as some kind of plastic box full of supplies. "I just checked the rest the biocomponents, we're low but I don't think it'll be too bad."
"Good. See if you can find a thermal regulator for any 800 model." Rose took the blood and kit from Adam and nodded at Hank. "You won't find a perfect match, so just do your best."
Rose handed the bags of blood to Hank before sitting the box, an android medical kit, down on the bench next to Connor's legs. Opening the lid to gather the necessary items she needed Rose paid little attention to Hank craning his neck to see what was inside the kit itself.
What looked like several rolls of water resistant adhesive lined the case, as well as bags of small flexible tubes, tiny metal pins, small metal clamps, a sharp utility knife, some kind of small suction pump and a soldering iron were contained inside. But stranger still were the rolls of what looked like white gauze that any human would use to dress their own wounds.
"I'm going to stop the bleeding." Rose explained as she set about using the clamps to pinch off the ends of the damaged tubes and compromised lines. Again Connor twitched and groaned, but he remained in place on the bench and didn't try to resist Rose's assistance. "It'll be a little messy, but it won't be nearly as bad as it looks."
"It's okay." The senior detective nodded slightly as he crossed his arms over his chest and continued to watch from the doorway with an uneasy pit forming in his stomach. "I trust you to do what's best for him."
Adam pushed past Hank in the doorway with two biocomponents contained inside protective plastic bags in his hands. "These two are both model number 800, I wasn't sure which one would be the better fit."
"Bring them here." The kind woman instructed her son as she used the utility knife to cut through the damaged tubing then replaced it with the new tubing within the kit. "We'll take a closer look in a moment."
Adam listened to his mother's instructions and hovered over Connor suspiciously as he eyed the large piece of jagged metal still embedded in his side. "How're we going to remove that?"
"Very carefully." Rose stated as she found the point of contact between the debris and the regulator. "You pull and I'll guide it out so it doesn't inflict anymore damage on the way out."
"Yeah, okay." Adam took hold of the metal with both of his hands and held his breath. Applying a firm but careful grip Adam planted his feet and began pulling on the metal at a steady pace. "...Go."
As the process began Connor's body began to rock and threatened to slip off the edge of the bench as Adam pulled despite using controlled strength. Unable to keep himself steady Connor was defenseless and let out a gasping breath of pain and confusion once the ordeal began. Rose looked to Hank who immediately approached the bench and put his hands on Connor's shoulder and his hip to hold the android in place while Adam pulled on the metal debris.
"Easy, we got you." Hank soothed as he kept his partner as still as possible on the bench. "It's going to be over soon."
The three humans worked together seamlessly, albeit awkwardly, to remove the metal without causing further harm to Connor in the process.
"Got it!" Adam hefted the Thirium drenched metal into his arms and backed out of the laundry room. "I'll toss this in the shed."
Connor's red L.E.D. flashed frantically as his system struggled to process the event that had transpired, but then slowed down a more manageable rate as his system began to stabilize. The deviant android took in a single deep breath before resuming a more standard breathing pattern. The worst of the situation was seemingly over, and now he could breathe without hindrance.
Rose grabbed the small suction pump from the kit and used it to drain the excess Thirium out of the exposed cavity before continuing the repairs to Connor's damaged Thirium lines and biocomponent.
"That's a lot of blood." Hank noted with a sickening knot tightening in his stomach. Despite his many years on the force the sight of blood coming from someone he cared about; human or android, it never got any easier to witness.
"Yes. He's lost at least three pints of Thirium already."
"Is... How much before it's fatal? Do you know?"
"Five. Androids contain the same amount of blood as a human. We can replenish what he's lost, but even then it'll take his system hours to recover fully."
"Just..." Hank was torn about what he should be doing, compared to what he actually could do for the injured deviant. "Please, keep doing what you're doing."
Hank backed away from the bench and closed his eyes as the headache he had been hiding began to gnaw at his fortitude mercilessly. He wasn't sure how long he was standing there watching Rose repair and replace the damaged tubes in Connor's torso, but it felt like an eternity. It was eerily reminiscent of the night Cole died. Hank spent painfully slow hours waiting, hoping, praying for some kind of miracle to save his son. But it was too late.
And Cole was lost.
Adam returned to the room and discreetly slipped by Hank as to not disturb the exhausted detective as he resumed aiding his mother in repairing the damage to Connor's regulator. "Which one?"
"Let's try the first one." Rose to her son, and her voice caused Hank's eyes to snap open as he watched the next procedure intently.
The bleeding had been stopped save for the Thirium continuing to leak from the damage regulator, but that soon would too stop.
Rose took the first regulator from its packaging and compared it to the damaged one still inside Connor's torso. She compared the size and the connections before trying use it to replace the original, then checked the second regulator just to make certain.
"Something wrong?" Hank could see the worry in Rose's eyes as she paused her actions despite her previously confident motions.
"Neither of these regulators are compatible. One is too small to function without burning out within a few hours, and the other doesn't have the proper connections to attach securely."
"So what do we do?"
"I can try to solder the damage to his current regulator and hope his recovery processors can finish what I start."
"And if you can't?"
"Then he'll need a total replacement and I don't know where to find a compatible regulator for his model. Without one he'll shutdown in less than six hours."
Hank sighed and squared his jaw as he tried to make the correct decision on Connor's behalf. Risk using an incompatible part that will burn out but possibly bide enough time to get Connor back to the city, or risk keeping the original regulator in place while his processor attempts to repair the damage itself? Neither option seemed to be favorable, but in that moment Hank didn't have the right to be stubborn.
"See what you can do with the damaged regulator first." Hank finally decided as he stared at Connor's contrastingly peaceful face in comparison to the carnage that was his opened abdomen and damaged chest. "If all else fails we'll try to replace it with the second one later on."
"Okay." Rose agreed as she set about preparing the soldering iron and a delicate amount of solder to seal the damage to the regulator without burning the delicate biocomponent during the process. "Adam, get some cool water in a spray bottle ready for me."
Hank had been a bit of a talented mechanic for most of his life and knew that it took great skill, patience and practice to master the art of welding. Soldering was just as laborious of a task, but he trusted Rose enough to let her do everything she could to save Connor's life.
As Rose set about soldering the visible damage to Connor's regulator the deviant android began to flinch slightly and resumed groaning in pain as he became more aware of his surroundings. His hands tightened into fists at his side as he fought to endure the pain without lashing out the person trying to help him. His L.E.D. began flashing red frantically again as if in horrible distress, but he didn't say a word or try to protest.
"Hold on, Connor." Hank encouraged as he watched the smoke rise from the fresh solder being applied to the biocomponent. Adam had returned with the spray bottle and began to rhythmically spray water over the repaired metal as to keep it from overheating while being soldered, and to wash off the remaining Thirium that coated Connor's internal systems. "It's for the best, son."
Connor seemed to hear and understand Hank's voice as his L.E.D. began to slow down its rapid cycle and resumed flashing at a slower pace, but it remained red in color.
Rose retracted her hands from Connor's torso with a weary sigh as she set the soldering iron back down in the kit. She pressed her hands down on the edge of the opened compartment and the panel slid shut as easily as it had opened. Mirroring her movements from before Rose placed her fingers against Connor's temple and pressed her hand down on his stomach, the artificial skin regenerating over his plastimetal frame within seconds of her manually activating the program.
"That should hold for now." Rose told Hank in a calm tone of voice. Reaching into the kit one last time she took a roll of what appeared to be normal gauze and began wrapping it around Connor's torso with Adam gently putting his hand under Connor's back and shoulders to lift the deviant android upright, while Rose dressed the wound. "He needs to enter rest mode for a few hours to enable his self-healing program at full power."
"Great, that's great." Hank tried to sound as enthused as he sincerely felt, but his headache stole away whatever energy he felt when he spoke.
"Adam, help me carry him up into the guest bedroom." Rose asked as she tied off the gauze and replaced what was left of the roll back into the kit. "Be very careful not to bend his abdomen too much until he has the chance to recover a little more."
"Please," Hank volunteered, tucking the bags of blue blood deeply into his coat pocket, as he returned to the bench and wrapped his hand around Conner's upper arm. "let me do this. You've already done so much."
Adam nodded in approval as he moved aside to let Hank pull Connor up from the bench and onto his feet. Grabbing onto Connor's other arm Adam led the two detectives from the laundry room and toward the ascending staircase just outside the door. "This way."
Rose followed close by as the two men hefted the wounded deviant android slowly, carefully up the staircase with cumbersome but determined steps.
Ascending the narrow staircase had proven itself a chore, especially with Hank's headache providing some resistance to his movements. Fortunately Adam was proving himself to be quite physically fit and strong in spite of young age. Reaching the top of the staircase Adam pushed open the door directly in front of him and stepped inside slowly. Rose joined the two men inside the room and pulled back the top cover over the soft twin bed to allow Adam and Hank to lay Connor down comfortably under the quilt.
The guestroom itself was modest but very welcoming. The soft bed had an old quilt draped over top with a thick, fluffy pillow. A small table beside the bed held a lamp and in the corner of the room was an old wooden writing desk with a wood chair tucked underneath it. There was a large window overlooking the property and if the curtains weren't already drawn then the sight of the cold winter night outside would've been spectacular.
"I got him." Hank stated as he took all of Connor's weight against his shoulder and guided the deviant android down until he was sitting on the edge of the bed. "Good thing he's lighter than he looks."
Rose took the opportunity to slip off Connor's Thirium soaked and torn gray jacket and his equally stained white shirt from his shoulders and arms and draped the Thirium stained clothes over the foot of the bed. Putting her hand beneath Connor's head Rose guided him down against the pillow while Hank removed Connor's shoes and lifted his legs up onto the bed with little difficulty on his part.
"There." Rose pulled her hand away from Connor's hair and eyed Hank with a stern focus. Connor's L.E.D. was still red despite the treatment he had received, but that was to be expected in light of the serious damage he had sustained. "Now that he's been taken care of it's your turn."
"Me?" Hank tried to feign innocence but the pain in his eyes from his intense headache gave away his little 'secret'. "I'm okay."
"That cut on your forehead says otherwise." Rose argued as she crossed her arms defiantly and spoke to Hank with the 'mom' voice. "There's a first aid kit downstairs. I'll patch you up and Adam can stay with Connor for a few minutes."
In an attempt to stall his leave of the room Hank reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the three pouches of Thirium and held them out for Rose. "After this."
"Okay." Rose gave Hank a faint grin as she took the bags of blue blood from his hands. Normally she didn't approve of stubbornness, but there was something about the way Hank was protectively hovering over the android that she found endearing. Setting two of the bags down on the small table beside the bed Rose prepared the third pouch for immediate administration. "As soon as he's been given his blood you're coming downstairs with me."
Adam quickly stepped out the room and disappeared from sight as Rose opened the pouch of blue blood and sat on the edge of the bed next to Connor's side. Gently Rose replaced her hand beneath his head and tried to lift the android up, but Connor was so deep in his rest mode that his entire body was limp and too heavy for her to move with one hand.
"Here." Hank approached the head of the bed and put his hand under Connor's head where her hand had just been. "What do you need me to do?"
"Lift his head up slightly and open his mouth. I need to get the Thirium down his throat to replenish what he's lost."
"He still has to drink it?" Hank looked visibly ill at the mental image that appeared in his head, but he did as Rose instructed. "...Gross. That shit always creeps me out."
Rose couldn't hide her amusement as she pressed the end of the pouch to Connor's lips. Patiently Rose waited for Connor to respond but he failed to even faintly acknowledge the Thirium being offered. Pouring a small amount of Thirium into Connor's mouth Rose watched for any sign of awareness, but Connor failed to react.
"He's too weak to swallow." She lamented as she pulled the Thirium pouch away and looked at Hank sadly. "I guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way."
Adam returned to the room and watched the scene unfolding with quiet intrigue as he stared at the wounded android with sincere worry in his eyes. He had a gray t-shirt neatly folded in his hands and seemed to have something on his mind, but kept it to himself for a moment.
"Adam?" Rose looked to her son with motherly concern. She knew that while Adam's mind had changed regarding deviants he still wasn't entirely comfortable with providing first aid to androids. "What's going on?"
"I brought this for Connor." Adam handed his mom the t-shirt. "I figured he could use it since his own shirt is all torn up."
Hank gave Adam a gracious smile as he clapped the young man on his shoulder. "Thanks, son. I'm sure once Connor wakes up he'll be able to say thank you, too."
Rose took the t-shirt from her son as she gave him a beaming grin of pride and easily slipped the clean garment over the android's head, and tucked his arms through the sleeves. As she pulled the hem of the shirt down to cover Connor's abdomen she noticed the deviant android wincing slightly as her hand brushed past his injury.
"His external sensors are still active, but he can't respond just yet." Rose pulled the quilt up over Connor's abdomen as a kind gesture. Pressing her fingertips to Connor's still red L.E.D. and her opposite hand to the bend in his left arm laying limp on the bed at his side Rose watched as the artificial skin receded creating a circle about inch in diameter and exposed the white plastimetal frame beneath. Just as before she pressed her fingers down on a panel at the point of contact in Connor's arm where it bends and slid open a panel that gave her access to large line equivalent to an artery. "This should take about fifteen minutes to complete."
"You mean you can hook him up with the blue blood like an I.V.? Why not just do that in the first place?" Hank asked as he gently laid Connor's head back down against the pillow.
"It's not as effective when the Thirium is administered through a line. If it's ingested then his system will immediately detect the added Thirium and recalibrate his system accordingly. When it's administered through a line, especially when functioning on low-power, his system won't recognize the increased Thirium volume until it's circulated through his biocomponents for at least three cycles."
"How long is a cycle?" Hank inquired as watched Rose clip the plastic tubing attached to the pouch to the port on the line in Connor's arm.
"It depends." Squeezing the pouch twice the blue blood began running down the tube and into Connor's arm just like any I.V. would do for a human. "When an android of a more advanced model, like Connor, is running at full power one cycle is about ten minutes. When he's at low-power one cycle takes about thirty minutes."
Rose lifted the pouch upward and Adam took it from her hand. Attaching the pouch to a small nail jutting out from the wall above the bed, where an old shelf once hung, the Thirium drained from the pouch with the assistance of gravity and without any further hindrance.
"Now," Rose stood up from the bed and took hold of Hank's arm. "your turn."
Adam spoke up before Hank the chance to protest. "I'll stay with him." Pulling the chair tucked away under the nearby desk to the end of the bed Adam sat down and watched over Connor carefully. "I'll let you know if wakes up."
"Come on, Hank." Rose insisted again as she began dragging him toward the opened door. "You need to let me take care of that cut before it gets infected."
"I appreciate your concern," Hank remarked sincerely as he begrudgingly allowed Rose to guide him back downstairs and into the kitchen. "but a little cut isn't exactly life or death."
"You're right." Rose agreed as she led him to the kitchen table and all but pushed him down into a chair to sit. She grabbed onto the collar of Hank's coat and pulled it down causing Hank to pull his arms free of the sleeves in the process. "But a head injury could be." Rose spotted a deep cut on Hank's upper arm as well now that the coat had been removed. "Not to mention a possible infection."
"You hit your head." Rose stated confidently as she walked over to the freezer door and opened it quickly. Tossing a bag of frozen peas at Hank the detective caught it in mid air with one hand and gratefully pressed it to his forehead. "I can see it in your eyes."
"It's that obvious, huh? Guess it must be pretty bad."
"Could always be worse." She reminded him kindly as she pulled the human first aid kit from the top of the freezer and joined Hank at the kitchen table. Sitting beside the detective Rose opened the kit and began rummaging through the supplies inside just as she had done when she was tending to Connor's injuries in the laundry room. "Let me see."
Hank dropped the frozen peas from his forehead and placed it on the back of his head instead. He sat upright as he turned to face Rose in a cooperative manner as he finally allowed her to help him. Despite his gruff exterior Hank's heart of gold was made evident in his tone of voice and the gentle way he looked at the incredibly kind woman who gave him and Connor shelter for the night.
"So, are you going to tell me why you and your partner were out in the middle of a blizzard?" Rose asked as she brushed back Hank's gray locks from his face with one hand, and dipped a cottonball in some rubbing alcohol and dabbed at the cut on Hank's forehead with the other. "Or do you want me to guess?"
"We were-" Hank winced as the cold alcohol came into contact with the cut and sent a jolt of pain through his skin. "We were checking out the scene of a possible homicide. On our way back to the city we were hit by a drunk driver. Your son found us, and saved us."
"Unfortunately we do see some reckless drivers out here pretty often. Guess they think no one else will be on a back road or something."
"Well, this guy was wrong."
"And I take it the other driver didn't make it?"
"No." Hank confirmed with a low tone. "He didn't make it. He died on impact."
"How did you get out of your car?" Rose asked curiously as she noted the lack of blood, bruising and dirt on Hank's hands. "It doesn't look like you were in an as severe of an accident as you said."
"Honestly, I can't tell you." Hank sighed as Rose placed a patch of gauze against the cut and used medical adhesive to hold it in place. "One minute I was driving, the next I was laying in the middle of the road. Must've stumbled out of the car in a daze before passing out again."
"Look at me." Rose instructed as she studied Hank's pupils. She gently put her hand to his chin and lightly turned his face and watched his eyes moving as he tried to focus on her. "You might have a mild concussion."
Hank smiled as he noted the sizable bump on the back of his skull. "I agree."
Rose next to tended to the cut on Hank's arm with the same motherly care she had shown earlier. A cut that the detective hadn't even noticed he suffered until Rose began fussing with his sleeve to look at the wound.
"Didn't even feel that." Hank admitted as he took off his long sleeved shirt to expose his arm fully for Rose to clean. "The wonders of the human body, I guess."
"Probably from some glass." Rose deduced as she set about cleaning the deep, bloody laceration. "And you'll need a few stitches to properly close this."
"You're not volunteering, are you?"
"Only if you trust me." She gave Hank a confident grin as she arched a brow as if challenging the detective's endurance.
"Why not? You saved Connor, and he's a fu-" Hank caught himself before he cursed so as to not offend his gracious host. "Connor's more complicated than a simple cut to the arm. So, I think a needle and some thread should be no problem."
Rose nodded as she took a small suturing kit contained inside the first aid kit and sterilized the needle. Wiping down Hank's arm in alcohol the meticulous woman prepared to place the first stitch with a controlled, precise motion. "Before we do this would you like a drink?"
"Normally I'd say yes, but after tonight... That's the last thing I want to do."
Hank held his breath as the needle pierced through his skin and Rose set about stitching the wound closed. "Tell me about yourself, Rose." He insisted as he made polite conversation, and tried to distract himself from the burning pain in his arm. "This house seems pretty big for just you and Adam. Can I ask about your-"
"My husband passed away two years ago." Rose stated sadly without taking her eyes from her work. "Complications from pneumonia after he began treatment for lung cancer."
"I'm so sorry. I lost my mother to cancer."
"It was a little difficult at first but we managed. And as we continued on with our lives with the family greenhouse we found ourselves providing shelter to deviants fleeing abusive owners and seeking freedom. It was like a reminder that just as quickly as life ends, new life always finds a way to begin."
"And that's how you learned so much about androids and their inner-workings, right? Why did you keep touching the L.E.D. in Connor's head?"
"When an android is too low on power to respond to basic functions manual intervention is necessary. By pressing down lightly against the L.E.D. and pressing against the damaged area on an android's person it's possible to remove the artificial skin so repairs can be done."
"I didn't know that. Hell, I had no idea that androids even had a type of a manual override. I've had to repair Connor before and I just figured he was the one retracting his skin as he gave me instructions." Hank's brow furrowed as another question popped into his head. "What about the gauze? Why'd you wrap him up? It's not like he can get an infection or something."
"It's not traditional gauze that you or I would use on our own wounds, it's a special type that has the same components used in creating artificial skin. By wrapping up an injury in this gauze it tricks the androids sensors into thinking that artificial skin is in place and their program will focus on running the healing program for more serious damage rather than keeping the artificial skin active. It'll also keep foreign matter from getting inside the exposed frame or Thirium lines."
"Is that a problem?"
"It can be. Like us, android skin keeps their internal biocomponents from getting damaged or dirty. It's a primary function, yet elective, as an android can disable their skin at any time. But..."
"But if the android can't respond and remove their skin to treat the damage then the repair program can't function properly."
"Right. And if foreign matter gets into the their biocomponents it can cause complications such overheating or ventilation failure."
"Turns out deviants are just as fragile as humans." Hank laughed a little at the ironic comparison. "Guess I'm finally starting to catch on."
Rose didn't say anything. She was too focused on her work, too worried about Hank and about Connor to really say anything else.
"You took a big risk helping so many deviants." He pressed in a kind but firm manner. "If you had been caught you would've been charged with aiding a felon and sent to prison."
"It was worth it." She replied with the utmost confidence in her voice. "To help so many people who just needed the chance to have a life of their own... It really helped me to cope with losing my husband."
"It took some time but Adam saw deviants in the same way that they saw themselves. Alive. And now he's much more involved in helping deviants and all androids in general achieve equal rights."
"You must be proud."
"I am." Rose smiled a little as she rhythmically placed the stitches in Hank's arm. "What about you? Do you have a family?"
"I... I have Connor." Hank stated in a somber tone as he suddenly looked away from Rose. "My wife... she died. Six years ago. I'm a widower."
Rose could see that Hank was holding something back, something painful. She didn't want to open old scars, but she knew all too well how much grief can damage a person if they hold it inside. "Kids?"
Hank sighed a little as he thought about Cole but didn't answer.
"I'm sorry." Tying off the silk thread she finished placing the final stitch and snipped off the remaining thread. "I didn't mean to drudge up the past."
"You didn't." Hank confirmed as he watched Rose finish placing the final stitch and tie off the silk thread. "I've been living in the past for over three years now. I've only recently begun to move on with my life."
"I'm not sure when the roads will be cleared, so you're going to be staying here for the night." Rose admitted as she lightly wrapped Hank's arm in gauze. "We lost power about four hours ago and have been using the emergency generator ever since. I can't get a signal on my phone to check for an update."
"It's alright. I'll check the roads in the morning." Hank pulled his shirt back down over his arm before he grabbed his coat.
"I'm alright." Hank moved the frozen bag of peas from the back of his head and onto his arm over the fresh stitches.
"I'll make you something to eat." Rose volunteered as she stood up from the table and walked to the counter.
"No, please. You've done enough."
"I don't mind. It's not often we have company since Markus led the revolution, and I love to cook. Why don't you go check in on Connor?"
"Yeah, good idea." As Hank stood up his head began to swim and he stumbled forward slightly. He caught himself with one hand against the table's surface before he fell over. "Ow, damn..."
Rose noticed that Hank was suffering from a dizzy spell and was at his side in a flash. "Come on. I'll help you upstairs."
"I'll be fine."
"I'm sure you will be, but right now you need some help."
Hank wanted to protest out of a deep-seeded stubbornness, but his head was aching too much to try and argue. Relenting out of sheer pain Hank let Rose put her hand to his lower back as she helped guide the concussed senior detective toward the staircase and guided him back into the guestroom at the top of the stairs where Connor was resting.
Adam was sitting in the chair watching over the deviant android silently when Rose and Hank returned to the room. "The first Thirium pouch is almost gone." The attentive young man noted as the blue blood entered Connor's body. "And he hasn't woken up yet."
Without a word Rose set about replacing the empty pouch with a new pouch while Adam vacated his chair and left it for Hank to sit in.
"Should I do anything else, mom?"
"No, Adam." Rose checked the line in Connor's arm for a moment before she approached her son. Putting her hand to the side of his face she coaxed him into bending down a little so she could kiss his forehead. "It's late, get some sleep. I'll wake you in the morning."
"Okay, mom. Uh, goodnight, sir."
"Goodnight Adam, and, call me Hank."
"Right. Hank." Adam departed the room quietly and headed down the hallway into his own bedroom for the rest of the night.
"He's a good kid." Hank commented as he sat down heavily in the chair and resumed his vigil over Connor.
Rose rested her hand atop Connor's chest and pressed down. From beneath her palm she could feel Connor's Thirium pump rapidly working to circulate the replenished blue blood through his body as it targeted his damaged thermal regulator to focus the healing program accordingly.
"What're you doing?" Hank asked as he watched Rose's eyes curiously. She seemed to be in a trance as she hovered over Connor and he was intrigued by her concentration.
"I'm counting his pulse."
"P-Pulse? Connor has a pulse?"
Rose smiled warmly at the sincere question. It wasn't the naivety in Hank's voice that amused her, it was the surprise. "Androids don't have the usual pulse points as a human, but they do have a palpable heartbeat."
"I knew they could breathe and I knew they had beating hearts, but it never occurred to me that they could have tangible pulses."
Connor's L.E.D. suddenly flashed from red to yellow as his head lolled slightly and his brown eyes partially opened.
"Connor, 'bout time you woke up, kid." Hank grinned as he watched Connor's systems finally come back online. At least to an extent.
"I'm here." Hank confirmed as Rose hovered protectively around the bed. "You're going to be okay."
"Where... are we?"
"Safe." Was Hank's succinct, honest reply. "How do you feel?"
Connor's dull brown eyes blinked slowly before opening again, his eyelids still only partially opened. He turned his head to look at Hank and then noticed Rose standing beside him. The off-look in Connor's eyes spoke volumes of confusion and concern.
"She's a friend. She's been helping us both." Hank confirmed as he watched Connor's eyes struggling to focus on her. "Are you in any pain?"
"...Pain." Connor swallowed once, the small amount of Thirium that Rose had tried to give him earlier finally being ingested into his system. "I... can't..."
Rose took the third bag of Thirium as she sat on the edge of the bed. Putting her hand beneath his head she coaxed him into sitting up slightly as she pressed the pouch of Thirium to his lips. "Drink this, it'll help you regain your strength."
Connor's visual processors were unable to fully focus let alone allow the android to perform a scan of his environment. Aware of the deep blue color that was distinct to Thirium and Hank's lack of objection Connor slowly began to drink the required Thirium that Rose had offered. It wasn't long until the pouch was empty as ingestion truly was more effective than a line insertion when it came to replenishing blue blood. Connor's L.E.D. flashed briefly to blue before returning to yellow as his system accepted the added Thirium and began recalibration.
"...Thank you." Connor managed to utter as Rose guided him back down against the pillow. The yellow L.E.D. transitioned back to red as a new found physical discomfort settled in Connor's abdomen causing him to wince and take in a sucking breath between his teeth.
Hank could see that he was in pain and just wanted him to admit it so he could be helped. "Come on, son. Level with us." The encouragement in Hank's voice was friendly rather than aggressive. "How do you feel?"
"I feel... damaged." Connor admitted as his right hand lifted up slowly from his side and pressed against his abdomen over the bandages where the metal debris had been lodged. "Right here."
Rose smiled as she returned her fingers the L.E.D. in Connor's temple and held them in place for a few seconds before retracting her touch.
The L.E.D. in turn shifted from red to yellow once more as the pain in Connor's abdomen began to lessen and allowed him to relax. "Thank you..." The android repeated as his renewed strength faded away and his systems returned to rest mode.
With a very soft touch Rose lifted Connor's eyelids and looked at his unfocused, hazy brown eyes before she sweetly brushed the rogue lock of his brown hair from his face. As her hand made contact with his forehead she became slightly alarmed and fully pressed her palm against his forehead for a few seconds before she pressed it against his cheek.
"Something wrong?" Hank had been watching her movements like a hawk from where he sat.
"He's running a fever."
"A fever? But he's an android, how is that possible?"
"The damage was to his thermal regulator. It's the biocomponent that keeps androids from overheating." Pulling back the quilt from Connor's chest and abdomen Rose hoped that the removed covering would help Connor to cool down. "I'm going to get some ice. Hopefully it'll keep him stable until his self-healing program can mend the damage."
"If he overheats for too long," Rose answered with a grim voice as she stepped through the opened doorway. "then it can cause permanent damage to his other biocomponents or his intracranial processor. Even a permanent shutdown."
Alone with Connor, who was looking far too human, too vulnerable for Hank's comfort, the senior detective couldn't stop himself from thinking about all the nights he stayed up with Cole whenever he was sick. Those nights seemed so long and like such nuisance to bear, but now Hank found himself pining for those hours he spent walking him all through the house, and just sitting with his son and reading him story after story after story until he at last drifted off to sleep in his arms.
"Connor, I swear you're going to be the death of me." Hank openly complained as he watched the deviant android breathing slowly as he remained in rest mode. "You're more of a handful than puppy-training Sumo."
Rose returned to the room with two bags of ice in her arms, as well as a cold, damp washcloth. "Since androids can't sweat it's important to keep him as cool as possible externally." Rose smoothed the washcloth over Connor's forehead then placed the first small bag of ice at the back of Connor's neck and the second bag of ice was placed under his shirt over top of his chest. "I'll be back to check on him in an hour. You should try to get some sleep."
"I'll be fine." Hank again insisted as he leaned back in the chair and tried to ignore his throbbing head and the numbness in his stitched up arm.
"I'll bring you something for your headache." With a gentle touch of her hand to his shoulder Rose comforted Hank as best as she could. "Try to relax."
Hank nodded a little as he closed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. His hand was still clutching at the bag of frozen peas to his forehead, but he decided that at the moment Connor needed it more. Reaching his hand over to the bed Hank placed the bag under Connor's shirt next to other bag of ice. As he placed the ice down he faintly felt Connor's 'heart' beating in his chest with the exact same pulse and rhythm of a human heart. He flinched a little before retracting his grip and placing Connor's shirt back down.
"You do have a heart after all. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this point. I did see it once before..." Running his hand over his bearded chin thoughtfully Hank spoke to the resting android as if he were in fact awake. "When we get back to the precinct I'm demanding a raise from Fowler. This is absolute bull-"
Rose gave Hank a slightly amused glance as she caught him talking to Connor, as well as himself. There was a thick blue quilt in her arms and a bottle of aspirin clutched in her hand. "I'll be downstairs if you need anything." She stated as she handed Hank the medicine and draped the blanket over his legs. Tending to Connor one last time Rose removed the now emptied second pouch of Thirium from the line in Connor's arm and manually returned the artificial skin over his arm to keep the line protected. "You two both need to rest."
"Thank you, Rose. For everything." Hank happily took two of the aspirin and patiently waited for the medication to ease his headache. "We both appreciate everything you've done for us."
"You're welcome, Hank." Rose turned out of the room and walked through the door quietly to set about the kitchen. "Rest."
While the chair wasn't the most comfortable piece of furniture that Hank had ever encountered it was certainly better than laying in the middle of an icy, dirt road in the dark of a cold night. With no memory of what happened after the accident or before waking up in the middle of the road Hank tried to theorize every possible scenario to help fill in the blanks.
But it was for not. Hank's head hurt too damn much to think.
Folding his hands together discreetly Hank leaned forward in his seat and bowed his aching head slowly. The night was proving itself too emotionally taxing for the already emotionally strained detective, and he was reaching his breaking point.
"Alright, I don't know who might be up there or what you have planned for me," Hank muttered under his breath. "but all I can say is this: you've already taken one son from me, don't you take him, too. He's all I got. He's what's keeping me here." Speaking in a very low voice as to not draw Adam or Rose's attention Hank continued pleading with whatever deity could be listening to him. "If you take him then you have to take us both, because I have nothing else in my life worth living for."
Using his thumb to wipe away a single tear Hank leaned back in his chair and proceeded to watch Connor resting in the bed in peaceful silence.
It wasn't long before Hank had drifted off into a deep sleep as his own body also needed to recover after being in the accident.
Unfortunately, the much needed sleep was accompanied by unwelcome nightmares about the night Cole had died. Nightmares that haunted Hank's sleep for years and had only recently begun to decrease after befriending Connor. Nightmares that were so vividly detailed that Hank often awoke with real tears running down his face.
Barely two hours passed when Hank was startled awake by a loud wheezing gasp as a voice called his name hoarsely. "...H-Hank?!"
"Connor!" Hank was instantly on his feet and over the bed as Connor began to hyperventilate and panic. Pressing his hands down on Connor's shoulders Hank held his partner down on the bed and watched nervously as the L.E.D. began frantically blinking in red in the deviant's right temple. "Hold on son, I got you!"
"C-Can't breathe!" Connor rasped as he fought to articulate his words. "O-Overheating!"
Hank didn't need Connor to tell him that final detail. The intense heat radiating from Connor's body was palpable under Hank's palms as he did his best to keep Connor as still as possible in the bed.
Adam had heard the commotion and came running into the room. He took one look at Connor and raced downstairs in search of his mother for help. "Mom! Something's wrong with Connor!"
Blue blood was beginning to leak through the gauze wrapped around Connor's torso and soak through his gray t-shirt quickly. His frantic breathing as he desperately tried to increase the power to his ventilation biocomponents and cool his overheating body only made the Thirium leak faster.
"Try to stay calm." Hank instructed in a calm voice of his own as he lifted Connor's shirt and looked down at the reopened wound and grimaced. "We'll get you taken care of! Just slow your breathing..."
Rose rushed into the room with Adam right behind her. Leaning over the bed she spotted the leaking Thirium and pressed her hand to Connor's forehead. "He's going to burn up! Adam, get the smaller thermal regulator. It won't work as a permanent replacement but it can buy him a few more hours."
"Do it!" Hank agreed as he watched the fear, actual fear, build in Connor's eyes. "Whatever it takes, do it!"
Adam disappeared in a flash as Rose set about removing the bandages from around Connor's torso to expose the wound and reopen the panel that gave access to the internal compartment in his abdomen. Thinking quickly Rose pressed her fingers to Connor's flashing L.E.D. and held them in place for almost ten seconds patiently. In that brief, yet long period of time, Connor began to still and his body fell into a manually activated stasis mode.
"We need to move fast." Rose stated as she pressed her hand to Connor's stomach and caused the artificial skin to recede from his damaged plastimetal frame and opened the panel beneath. "He doesn't have much time."
"I thought you said the replacement regulator could work for six hours?"
"That was before he began to overheat." Rose explained as Adam returned to the room with the requested regulator and repair kit in his hands. "Now the regulator has to cool him back down while also maintaining a consistent temperature."
"How long will he have until it burns out?"
"Maybe two hours." Rose's answer was bleak but far be it from Hank to damn her for her honesty. "Okay," Rose used the small clamps in the kit to isolate the lines connected to the damaged regulator before she took the replacement from Adam's hand. "this will work."
Hank watched as Rose unfastened the damaged regulator from its contacts and slipped it out of Connor's torso with a bizarrely calm demeanor. Adam took the biocomponent from her as Rose slipped in the temporary replacement with skilled, confident hands.
Connor's L.E.D. flashed between red and yellow, red and yellow, red and yellow before it finally settled on a rapidly blinking yellow in his temple.
"His system has accepted the regulator." Rose sighed with relief as she closed the panel in Connor's torso. "But we still need to find a permanent replacement part."
"I don't think we can." Hank shook his head solemnly. "When I said Connor's unique I meant it. He's the last of his model created by CyberLife. When Markus succeeded in the revolution CyberLife was forced out of business and all of their unfinished prototypes were incinerated."
"Oh my God..." Rose's eyes went wide with horror as she turned to look at Hank.
"Even if we could get back into the city the odds of finding the appropriate part is, well, nearly impossible."
Rose sat on the edge of the bed and rested her hand lightly on Connor's chest. "There has to be something we can do."
Adam spoke up nervously from the doorway where he was standing. "We can."
Hank turned to the young man with intrigue in his intense blue eyes. "What're you thinking?"
"We can repair this regulator right here, right now." Adam held the hot biocomponent in his hands carefully. "I can try to weld the metal shut and replace the wires inside."
"Adam..." Rose sounded defeated as her son tried to offer a ray of hope. "Neither of us have every tried something like that before."
"I know, but, if Connor's just going to die anyway what's the harm in at least trying?"
Hank nodded and put his hand on Adam's shoulder. "You have a point. Think you can do it?"
"I can try."
Rose looked at Adam, then to Hank as if waiting for a sign before she made her decision.
"Then, go for it." Hank finally replied with a confident tone. "At least then we can say we tried everything."
Reluctantly Rose agreed to the proposition. "Go out to the shed." She placed the kit in Adam's hands to ensure he had full access to all the spare wires and tubes they had in storage. "The welding torch should be by the tool bench."
Adam took the kit and hurried down the stairs to the backdoor with the damaged biocomponent in a tight grip.
"He can do it." Hank reassured Rose as she stared at the doorway with a blank expression. "I know you said Adam wasn't as comfortable with taking care of damaged androids as you are, but I think he's ready to turn that corner."
"I hope you're right. I don't... I can't imagine how much it'll hurt him if he can't save Connor."
"Connor's a lot stronger than he looks." Hank sat on the edge of the bed beside Rose and put his hand over top hers. Beneath his touch he could feel Rose's hand relax from a fist and smooth out over the bed. "Everything will be okay. I know it."
Rose gave Hank a heartfelt appreciative glance as she slowly retracted her hand from beneath Hank's hand. "I'm going to get more ice. The cooler he is, the better."
Hank watched as Rose left the room and sighed wearily. Turning to look at Connor over his shoulder Hank curiously pressed the back of his hand against the side of Connor's neck. "Damn, you are burning up. An android with a fever." Hank scoffed a little as he pulled his hand back. "And you have a heart beating in your chest. Anyone who still tries to say androids aren't alive are thoroughly full of shit!"
Over the next hour Rose and Hank systematically placed and replaced bags of ice and cool towels over Connor's body in an attempt to compensate for the weak regulator until a permanent replacement could be found. Connor remained lost in the throes of a stasis mode as his healing program struggled to repair the extensive damage to his biocomponents and Thirium lines, and poorly attempted to keep his internal system from overheating at the same time.
"Hang in there, kid." Hank muttered under his breath as he pressed the cold washcloth down against Connor's forehead. The frantic red blinking of Connor's L.E.D. was as unsettling as it was crimson. "Adam will be back any minute."
Rose took in a deep breath as she began pacing about the room anxiously. She had faced a countdown when came to saving android lives many times before, but for the first time she felt truly helpless. The only thing keeping Connor alive was a failing biocomponent, and the only thing that would allow Connor to survive rested solely on Adam's shoulders.
"How much longer until the regulator fails?" Hank dared to ask as he kept his hand on Connor's forehead.
"About twenty minutes." Rose estimated as she continued to pace about. "I wish I could've-"
The door suddenly burst open as Adam came running back up the staircase two steps at a time and into the guestroom with the newly repaired regulator in his hand. "I got it!"
Hank stepped back from the bed as Adam readily handed the regulator to his mom. Rose accepted the biocomponent with rejuvenated hope and gave Adam a smile. Turning the regulator over carefully in her hands Rose inspected Adam's work and found that the regulator looked nearly pristine, only a faint line on either side of the rare regulator showed that it had ever been damaged; it was like looking at a scar.
"We can't wait any longer." Rose anxiously announced as she returned to the bedside and went about opening the panel in Connor's torso.
Hank and Adam watched in silence as Rose set about clamping off the connections to the temporary regulator from the lines and removed the overworked, failing biocomponent from Connor's body. It didn't take Rose more than a minute to switch out the two regulators and unclamp the lines now feeding Thirium into the replaced vital biocomponent.
Rose put her hand to the side of Connor's face and gently turned his head so she could see his L.E.D. with her own eyes. Steadily the frantic blinking slowed into a rhythmic pulse as it cycled into yellow for a few seconds then transitioned into a calm and healthy blue.
"It worked!" Rose sighed with relief as she jumped up from the bed and wrapped her arms around Adam's neck and hugged her son tightly. "You saved him! You did good, Adam!"
Hank agreed as he patted Adam's shoulder. "Thank you! Thank you for taking that risk for us! And for him!"
"You're welcome." Adam sounded more relieved than either Hank or Rose as he happily reciprocated his mother's hug. "I'm... I'm just glad I could help!"
Once Connor had stabilized Hank was able to fall back asleep in the chair beside the deviant's bed and finally rest his aching head. Rose and Adam had returned to their own bedrooms in an attempt salvage what few hours of night were left as they all but collapsed into a deep sleep after enduring the frantic and desperate event that unexpectedly befell them.
The sound of power being restored to the house and of the generator outside automatically turning off roused Hank from his slumber. Glancing at the bed Hank saw that Connor was beginning to wake up as well, his brown eyes opening fully and his L.E.D. flashed to yellow briefly before returning to blue as his memory of the night before allowed him to gain his bearings.
"...Lieutenant." Connor attempted to sit upright in the bed but his system was still running its self-healing program, the physical damage to his torso was the last to heal as his biocomponent took priority over everything else. Laying back down Connor studied Hank's face intensely as he registered the exhaustion and worry that marred his expression. "Are you still injured?"
"Me? Just a few cuts." The detective motioned to the bandage on his forehead and to the concealed bandage around his arm. "YOU'RE the one who nearly died."
"My system indicates that biocomponent t8001 had been damaged by blunt force trauma. But it has since been... repaired." Connor was audibly confused by the entire reading as he had only fragments of memory to give him context regarding the event. "The damage should've resulted in my shutdown. How were you able to repair it?"
"I didn't. Adam did."
"...Who is Adam?"
"Another friend. The kid saved your ass so be sure to thank him when you see him."
"The damage was to my thermal regulator, not to my-"
"Never mind, Connor. It was a figure of speech."
Connor's L.E.D. flashed yellow and his eyes blinked quickly as he received a report. "Captain Fowler wants to see us at the precinct. It seems the storm has passed and all electronics as well as cybernetic functions have been restored to the area."
"So the roads are clear?"
Connor's L.E.D. turned yellow once again as the android scanned the area for an update on the current events. "Correct. Shall I summon a taxi?"
"Yeah, but do it in an hour. You look as terrible as I feel."
"Well then," Connor gave Hank a sly smirk as he thought of a witty retort. "I must look like shit."
Hank laughed lightly at the joke as he wiped his hand over his face and sighed. "Stay there, I'm going to let Rose know you're awake. She'll want to check on you before either of us leave."
"Rose? She is the lady who gave me the Thirium, correct?"
"Yup. She's the one."
"She is very kind."
"Yeah, that she is, kid." Hank agreed and he stood up slowly. His headache had mercifully abated but he was still moving cautiously just in case he did have a concussion. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Just rest."
Much to Hank's surprise Connor obeyed and remained in the bed while Hank ventured downstairs to find Rose and Adam. Rose herself was stirring a large pot of vegetable soup on the stove when Hank walked into the kitchen, while Adam was outside in the backyard chopping firewood.
"Connor's awake." Hank announced with a smile as he approached the woman who saved them both. "Figured you'd want to check in on him before we leave."
"That's good!" Rose beamed as she scooped a helping of the soup into a bowl and placed it on the table for Hank. "When the power returned I got a news report on my phone saying that the roads have been cleared and are safe for travel. It'd be for the best if you got Connor back into the city and have a technician examine his condition more thoroughly."
"I think it's safe to say that Connor would agree with you."
"Here, have a seat." Rose motioned to the bowl she had prepared for him. "I'll check in on Connor while you eat. There's fresh coffee as well."
"Thanks. Coffee sounds like the best thing in the world right now."
"Please, help yourself." As Rose passed by Hank she lightly touched his arm as sign of goodwill and trust.
Hank poured himself a cup of coffee and spotted Adam through the window. The respectable young man had not only braved a blizzard to ensure his home was safe, but he was willingly to pick and help two complete strangers in the middle of the dark storm and found a way to save Connor's life when all of their options seemed impossibly limited.
"You did good, son. I owe you one. We both owe you one."
After being checked over by Rose for any sign of complications Connor had summoned an autonomous taxi to take himself and Hank back into the city to report to Captain Fowler, and to get themselves cleaned up. While the deviant android sat on the edge of the bed he slipped on his shoes and slipped his torn gray jacket over his 'new' gray t-shirt. Adam, who was curious about Connor, knocked on the door frame to speak with the android before he and Hank left for home.
"Hello." Connor greeted the young man standing in the doorway, his L.E.D. remaining blue as he spoke. "You're Adam, yes?"
"Yeah. I just wanted to make sure you're okay before you left. You were in pretty rough shape when I found you and Hank last night."
"Yes. I am functioning at near optimal capacity." Connor's expression softened and his brows arched as he addressed the teenager with true emotion in his voice. "Lieutenant Anderson told me that you are responsible for my recovery. Thank you for your assistance."
Connor stood up from the bed and extended his hand toward Adam to shake. It was a gesture of respect that he had learned from working with Hank, though it was seldom used by the detective himself.
Adam happily shook Connor's hand and smiled gratefully. "I'm glad I could help."
The autonomous taxi arrived at the homestead and parked itself at the end of the driveway as it awaited its passengers. Hank had taken notice and was about to shout up the staircase toward Connor when Rose approached him with warm smile.
"You didn't tell me that you and Connor helped Markus with the revolution." Her smile was truly brilliant as tears formed in her eyes. "Thanks to you the demonstration freed all the androids, and three deviants I had become very close with were able to cross the border to safety. Thank you."
"Connor told you that?"
"He told me a lot about what you two went through together."
Hank hid his faint blush behind a hand to his face as he looked away from Rose and back up the staircase.
"It's okay. Connor was trying to recover the memories he lost during the accident and he found that retracing his steps back a few weeks helped."
"Was, uh, was he able to remember the accident?"
"Yes." Rose took Hank's hand in hers and held tightly. "You won't be able to remember what happened, but Connor saved your life last night."
"I don't remember anything that happened after the crash. What did he tell you?"
"After your car was struck by the other driver Connor turned his body to try to shield you from sharp debris while your car rolled into the ditch."
Hank vaguely remembered the car rolling several times before coming to a stop on its roof in the ditch. But he had no memory of what he or Connor had been doing during the accident itself.
"After the crash Connor broke off his door and freed you from the cab of the car. He couldn't carry you because of the metal in his side, but he was able to drag you away from the car once it caught fire to ensure you weren't harmed. After getting you out of harm's way he checked on the other driver and found him already dead."
In a way Hank was relieved to know that the driver had been dead long before he regained consciousness. At least then he knew that while he was laying helpless a few feet away from another person, they were already gone and that he couldn't have done anything about it.
"The accident damaged Connor's systems," Rose continued on softly. "including his ability to transmit a call to the precinct to ask for help. That's when he decided it'd be best to return to the scene of the case you two had been working on to find some help. But he collapsed when the metal in his side pierced his thermal regulator and he began losing Thirium."
"That explains why I ended up in the road and found him so far away." Hank sighed and glanced at the top of the staircase just as Connor began to slowly limp downward with Adam at his side. The sight of Connor's ruined white dress shirt draped casually over his shoulder made Connor appear all the more human, like he was simply on his way to work; not recovering from what should've been a fatal injury. "You ready to go?"
"Yes." Connor confirmed as he stopped at the base of the staircase and pressed his hand to abdomen. "I still require maintenance."
"Yeah, same here." Hank turned to Adam and extended his hand to the teenager. "Nice to meet you son. Thanks for everything, you're a good kid."
"Thanks." Adam shook Hank's hand with a firm grip. "I'm glad everything worked out okay."
"Rose." Hank wanted to do the same to her, but felt it was oddly impersonal. "Thank you for everything."
"You're welcome." Picking up on Hank's hesitation Rose made the first move and hugged the detective. He was much taller than she was but Hank was willing to bend down a little to reciprocate the affection. "Goodbye Hank, take care of yourself." As she let go of Hank she turned to Connor and gave the android a hug as well. "You too."
"I will do my best Rose." Connor replied sweetly as he happily hugged the kindhearted human who had saved his life. "I do hope we can meet again."
"As do I." Rose admitted as she let him go. "Just promise me you'll take care of each other."
Hank patted Connor's shoulder and opened the door. "Come on. We have a lot of reports at the precinct to fill out."
"Coming, Lieutenant." Connor followed close behind Hank as the two stepped outside and set foot on the freshly fallen snow that had blanketed the property during the night.
The two detectives walked slowly side by side to the awaiting taxi and climbed inside the autonomous vehicle. Connor cybernetically communicated their destination to the taxi's G.P.S. while Hank eyed Connor warily from the corner of his eye.
"You sure you're okay?" Hank asked sincerely as the taxi drove off down the road back to the city. "You were limping a little back there."
"I'm, what you would call, sore. My self-healing program is functioning at one-hundred percent power, but even so it will take some time before my system is operating at full parameters." Connor's reply was less than comforting but it was honest and accurate. With his systems functioning at a higher power Connor was able to scan Hank's vital signs and noted that he was in rough shape as well. "I see you've suffered an injury to your head. My scanners indicate mild cerebral swelling which is indicative of a concussion."
"Yeah, I figured that out for myself." Hank crossed his arms somewhat defensively over his chest. "So... you saved my life."
"You got me out the car before it caught fire, and you did so while you were injured. Thanks."
"You don't have to thank me."
"You're right, I don't. But I want to, so just shut up and let me thank you."
"Very well, Lieutenant." Connor sat in quiet contemplation for only a minute before he began speaking to Hank again. "The other driver was intoxicated. He was also not wearing his seatbelt. Do many humans drive in such a reckless manner?"
"Unfortunately, yeah. They do a lot, actually."
"Have you driven in such a state?"
"I've never driven anywhere drunk, Connor."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend-"
"Forget about it." Hank sighed and could sense that Connor was still worried about his well being. It'd take time but Hank knew he'd break his bad habits and become a better person. "Look, if I promise to not drink for a full week will that ease your mind?"
"Yes." Connor sounded unusually enthusiastic about the proposition. "I find that greatly comforting."
"Fine. One week. But if you do one more stupid thing during that week you're buying me a double shot at Jimmy's, deal?"