A week of doing nothing while the rest of the precinct struggled to move forward left Connor feeling useless and morose. Having returned to the brownstone after spending the first day of his mandatory suspension at Hank's house Connor remained in his bedroom on the second floor away from any and all potential clients for the remaining six days. Listening to Lucas speaking to clients downstairs, leaving the brownstone for a few hours and then returning had become the usual sporadic ambience that Connor had become accustomed to throughout his self imposed isolation. In Connor's guilt riddled mind being alone, being away from anyone who could possibly be hurt, and being away from the people he cared about was the best thing he could do for all of society.

Staring blankly at the ceiling overhead Connor spoke only to Evelyn inside his mind as told her what had happened, how he felt and how he believed he wasn't worthy of being trusted by anyone. Even when Evelyn told Connor that he no reason to feel guilty, and was essentially parroting Hank's words about how he couldn't compare himself to Markus, and that he had acted only to save a life and not out of malicious intent, Connor just couldn't bring himself to accept it as the truth.

'Please feel better soon, Connor.' Evelyn's soft voice was echoing in Connor's mind as she tried to comfort him from afar. The long distance relationship was really being tested at the moment as the deviant detective struggled with his own misplaced guilt and anger. 'The hardest part of being a detective is having to choose to pull the trigger or not. I've made that choice and I couldn't sleep or eat for almost a month.'

'...Can I ask what led you to that decision?' Laying on his back in his bed with his hands neatly folded over his chest Connor closed his eyes and tried to block out the world as he sought isolation within himself. 'I know you well enough to know that you'd never reach such a conclusion so readily.'

'And I hope I never have to do so again. The first and, hopefully, only time I've ever had to pull the trigger was when a man high on meth pointed his gun at his own child and threatened to kill the child if the police didn't back off. I had to save that child and so I chose to pull the trigger before the man did. The suspect went down, the little boy was safe and I have to live the rest of my life with that knowledge inside my head.'

'A man held his own child as a hostage?'

'Yeah. It was the hardest call I've ever had to handle and a big part of the reason I wanted to work as a detective and get off of patrol.' Pausing for a moment Evelyn needed to collect her emotions to stay strong for Connor. 'You saved another detective's life. It doesn't matter that the detective you saved was, or maybe still even is, a bigot. He was being assaulted and almost murdered in cold blood. You did the right thing.'

'I didn't necessarily have to kill the deviant though.' Closing his eyes a little tighter to keep his tears from rolling down his face as he mourned for the lost deviant Connor replayed the incident over and over again in his mind as he tried to preconstruct an alternative decisions he could've made. 'I could've wounded her to disarm her or even stunned her-'

'If that was really the case then you would've done it.' Heading Connor off before he tore himself down any further Evelyn refused to let Connor label himself a ruthless killer. 'If you were able to take down that Chance creep - the man who nearly killed your own brother, and did it without killing him in the process, then I know that you had no other choice but to kill the deviant to save your detective.'

There was no disputing that fact. Connor wanted to kill Chance out of rage and vengeance but he didn't do it. He didn't kill Chance despite him killing hundreds of innocent deviants out of illegal monetary greed. However, he did kill Pamela in order to protect Gavin. Whether or not that made him a traitor to his own people are a failed guardian was something that Connor would have to figure out on his own.

'...I hope you're right about that, Evelyn.'

'I am. I also love you, Connor, and I couldn't love anyone even a fraction as cruel as you're making yourself out to be.'

'I love you, too.'

'Now all you need to do is learn to love yourself and everything will be just fine.'

'You make it sound so easy.'

'It sounds easy but it's not. Just learn to let go of your guilt and learn how to forgive yourself. Please feel better and get some rest, you sound exhausted.'

'I haven't been able to sleep without suffering from nightmares. I've been putting off sleep for the past four nights now.'

'Nightmares can't hurt you, they can only scare you. That's what my grandma told me when I was a little girl.'

'I never had a childhood and I have no idea what it's like to be a child.'

'Well, just imagine yourself as you are now but shorter!' Teasing Connor a little Evelyn tried to get him to cheer up from afar. 'Being a child and being an adult really isn't all that different since we never stop learning, growing and developing as people. We're all just really tall kids trying to navigate a scary world together.'

'I can't imagine being a child in the world as it is.' The way the world was still trying to tear itself apart and refuse to change made Connor hesitant to see the next day or even the next hour. 'It seems cruel to bring children into the mess that we, as the ones who are in charge of society, have failed to properly maintain.'

'If the human race stopped having kids because the world is screwed up then humans would've gone extinct well over a billion years ago.'

Connor had no logical response to that comment. It was too sound.

'This may seem out of nowhere, especially while having this discussion, but I need to know since we're getting serious about each other.' Wanting to form a true relationship based on trust, love and commitment Evelyn asked him a very important question that would need to be answered sooner or later. 'Connor, do you want to have children?'

'As an android I cannot physically create children of a biological nature, and deviants cannot legally adopt children as of the moment.' The answer seemed as honest and straight forward as he could get. 'Essentially, children are not possible for me.'

'That didn't answer my question.' Pushing a little harder without getting aggressive Evelyn directed his attention back to what was really important. 'Do you want to have children?'

'I... I do not know.' Hearing the pain in the question Evelyn had asked Connor dared to ask for elaboration. 'Are you asking me that question because you do want children some day?'

'Yes, but no. I can't biologically have children either.' The sadness was thick in Evelyn's tone as she opened up to Connor and confided in him a personal obstacle she someday hoped to overcome. 'I told you when I was a little girl I had a scare with brain cancer and managed to beat it, get sick a second time in high school and beat it again. But so much chemotherapy destroyed my fertility and made it virtually impossible for me to have children of my own. So I can't have them but I'm very certain that I do want them. And if we're not on the same page about something so important...'

'O-Oh... I see now.' Contemplating the idea of a future with Evelyn and of possibly having a family together wasn't something Connor had even considered before. Being inhuman and unable to reproduce biologically had made the notion illogical to think about. 'I... I haven't had much experience with children and I never once thought about adoption.'

'It's not something you need to worry about or answer now, but I just want you to know that I do want to have a family some day. And...' Hesitating because of the potential relationship ending notion of what was at stake Evelyn made her future desires known. 'I don't expect you to do something or take on a responsibility that you don't want in your life. It's selfish to expect you to take on something that only I want.'

'I understand. I will think about what I want and let you know soon. I will admit that the idea of having a family does seem like a comforting future goal.' The memory of finding the abandoned baby girl on Hank's doorstep came forward and he made sure Evelyn knew of it. 'A few months back Lucas and I came across a newborn baby girl left at Hank's home as a safe delivery site. In the few hours we took care of her I did find the experience unexpectedly enjoyable and educational.'

'Yeah? Do you think you'd be okay with taking care of a baby for three years and then raising a decent person for the remaining fifteen years?'

'...It's possible. Yes.'

'Okay, like I said don't answer right now if you're not sure. Besides, you're going through enough right now and I don't want you to feel like you're under pressure. We both have a lot to deal with, and you're overwhelmed enough as it is.'

'It's all right. I'm glad we can communicate with one another and be honest.'

'Is there anything that you want for certain in your future?'

'I know for sure that I do want a family. Having Lucas as my brother and Hank as my self appointed guardian is nice, but it could be better. And... Maybe a dog.'

Laughing at the incredibly sweet answer Evelyn couldn't help but want the same. 'You know something? I think our plans for the future line up perfectly! Until I can make it down to Detroit to stay we'll just keep planning for the future and move on from our pasts, okay?'

'Yes, okay.'

'I'll finally sever the ties keeping me in Chicago and stop blaming myself for what happened to my ex-fiancé and my sister.'

'And I'll... I'll work on forgiving myself for taking down a deviant to save another life.'

'And why are we doing this?'

Knowing what Evelyn was trying to do Connor didn't attempt to sidestep the question. '...Because what happened isn't our faults.'

'Just remember that, Connor. You're not a killer if you saved a life. I love you!'

'I love you, too, Evelyn. I really do.'

'Feel better. The moment I can come and see you again I will.'

'I'm looking forward to it. Thank you for being here for me when I needed someone to talk to and confide in.'

'Always. I'll see you soon.'

'See you soon. Goodbye.' Ending the cybernetic call Connor rolled from his back and onto his left side so he could face the blank wall of the bedroom and pull his quilt up and over his head to hide away from the world. Letting his heavy tears roll freely down his cheeks Connor didn't deny his emotions and reflected on what had happened the week prior. "I want to forgive myself, but I can't do it. Not yet."

"You will, brother." Lucas had overheard the comment through the opened bedroom door as he entered the private space to check on Connor. Carrying a small glass bottle of fresh Thirium with an added flavor to make it stand out from typical Thirium Lucas sat down on the edge of the bed near Connor's back. "I presume you were speaking with Evelyn."

Without removing the quilt from over his head Connor spoke to Lucas through the thick and warm layer of fabric. "Yes, I was."

"How is she?"

"Doing well. Much better than I am, that's for certain."

"I brought you some Thirium." Lucas announced as he stepped closer to the bed. "It's supposed to taste like vanilla, I know you seem to enjoy that flavor."

"I don't need it."

"Yes you do." Putting his left hand down on Connor's right shoulder over top the quilt Lucas let his older brother know he wasn't going anywhere. "You haven't replenished your Thirium all week and I don't want to see you become stricken with a malfunction."

"Please, just let me be alone."

"I will in a moment." Setting the bottle of Thirium down on the nightstand beside the bed Lucas refused to leave the room. "I wanted to let you know what's been happening since you've tried to locked yourself away from the city and blocked all cybernetic contact with our friends and allies."

"I don't want to know what's been happening at the precinct."

"Then it's a good thing I don't work there and have nothing to say about it." Showing more resolve and personal confidence in himself Lucas wasn't going to let Connor push him away so easily. "Last week when I aided our client, Mrs. Hudson, I was able to locate Larissa. She was in fact attacked by teenagers trying to steal pain killing medication to get high, and as a result Larissa was beaten and left in an alleyway. I was able to locate her, take her to the Zeta Facility for treatment and then reunite her with Mrs. Hudson."

"Sounds like you were a better detective that day than I was."

Ignoring the self deprecating remark Lucas continued to update his older brother on everything happening. "I've also located two runaway 'YK-500' units who didn't want to live with humans anymore, one amnesiac deviant who was suffering from memory impairment and we had two deviants come our way seeking help in proving that their human landlord was wrongfully and illegally trying to evict them from their apartment. I was able to assist them all and in turn spread positive news of our assistance throughout the entire deviant community."

"It also sounds like you're a better-"

"Brother, stop." Giving Connor's shoulder a light shake Lucas managed to politely 'shush' Connor before he could destroy his own mental strength. "You also need to know that during the week you were gone from the precinct Hank had continued to look into what caused Pamela to act as she did and determine if she was in fact the serial killer. She was, Connor." Lowering his voice sympathetically Lucas told Connor the truth. "Pamela killed eight humans and was about to kill a ninth when you stopped her."

Silent for a moment Connor tried to use the knowledge that Pamela was in fact a serial killer as a means of consoling his aching heart. "...Has Hank figured out her motivation?"

"Yes. Pamela had continued to monitor communication throughout the city to ensure she could protect our people by relaying information to the precinct and potentially prevent chaos. Four days before the first murder took place the founder of the hate group, Roger Jefferson, had set up a strange virus on their site that would affect the logistics software of any deviant or android who investigated the group. As it turns out Jefferson is the one who turned Pamela into a serial killer and poetically became her first victim."

"...She was affected by a virus?"

"Correct."

"Has..." Pausing for a moment Connor had to push himself to ask the questions. "Has anyone else been infected?"

"No." Lucas confirmed as he pulled back his hand while Connor rolled from his side onto his back, and pulled the quilt away from his face. "Joel performed Pamela's apportionment and discovered the virus. He also subsequently created and released a patch into the citywide cybernetic relays to ensure we all become immune to any such virus."

"Pamela attacked and murdered the members of the online hate group because of a virus that the group itself created. She must've targeted the group because of the viral infection and was unaware of what was happening." Sitting upright in the bed Connor gave Lucas a truly hurt look. "The body of the eighth victim was told to the police through an anonymous tip. Pamela must've had some form of memory of the murder and called in the tip herself, but didn't even know what she had done."

"Also correct. Joel checked her memories and noted that she would experience bouts of drone behavior enabled by the virus." Having been caught up to date by Hank as a means of placating Connor's conscience Lucas knew everything that had been uncovered. "She didn't know that she was killing humans or having the drone episodes as the virus altered her chronometer and memorybank to ensure she wouldn't fully remember what was happening. Joel confirmed that she had in fact called in the tip but her system refused to inform her of such a call."

"And... when I ordered her to stop?"

"There is no memory of her seeing or acknowledging your orders. She was truly beyond reason due to the virus corrupting her logistics functions and turning her into a mindless drone."

"Which means she wasn't actually dangerous, she was malfunctioning." Falling back against his pillow Connor pressed both of his palms over his face with self disgust and loathing. The guilt he felt began to overwhelm his mind and cause his stress levels to rise quickly. "I shot and killed a deviant who could've been saved if I had just known!"

"Connor, no!" Grabbing on to Connor's wrists with both hands Lucas pulled Connor's hands away from his face. "There is no possible way that you could've known that Pamela had been infected, and there was no way you would've been able to get Pamela away from Detective Reed before she caused further harm to his body or even killed him."

Breaking down and crying at what he had done Connor didn't even try to resist when Lucas wrapped both arms around his chest and pulled him up and into a supportive hug. Unaware of Lucas cybernetically requesting Hank's help at the brownstone Connor just wept as his stress level skyrocketed up to a nearly lethal level.

Burying his face against Lucas's right shoulder Connor felt as if his heart was going to snap in half after realizing the full gravity of what he had done.

"You didn't do anything wrong." Holding Connor in a tight hug Lucas was not only supporting his older brother but restraining him to keep Connor from trying to harm himself or self destruct. "Anyone else would've done the same thing, and she didn't suffer. She's freed of the virus and of the guilt she would've undoubtedly felt once she was told of what she had been doing against her will. If Pamela hadn't been shutdown she would've spent the rest of her existence labeled as a serial killer."

Lifting his eyes for a moment Connor thought about how horrible he felt and knew that if Pamela, who was entirely harmless and hadn't done anything wrong throughout her entire existence, would've felt even worse. If he was so distraught that he was ready to potentially harm himself then he knew she would've found a way to self destruct after learning the horrible truth.

"It may seem cruel or even selfish to think of it as you sparing her pain and incrimination, but it's true. You showed her mercy that no court system would understand and the humans still walking the streets would simply refuse to understand."

Returning his eyes to his little brother's shoulders Connor managed to calm down and his stress level dropped down only a few numbers leaving him in a critical level as opposed to a fatal level. It wasn't much of an improvement, but it was an improvement all the same.

"I also have news on Detective Reed's condition." Feeling Connor tense up under his arms Lucas held Connor a little tighter and hoped that Hank would be able to stop by the brownstone as soon as possible. "He awoke two days ago and is showing full cognitive responses and strong physical reflexes in his hands and his legs. While he'll remain on dialysis for another week due to both of his kidneys being damaged, he was extubated last night and is breathing on his own."

Staying quiet Connor wondered if Gavin knew who had attacked him or knew who had saved him. Being abducted, assaulted and almost murdered by a deviant, then rescued by a deviant that he himself had threatened with death twice before, would surely be an incredible shock.

"Abby and Detective Chen are staying with him in alternating shifts. I was told by Abby that Gavin will begin very simple physical therapy on his hands to prevent early onset arthritis, and after he's regained some strength he'll undergo corrective surgery on his knees to keep the damage from causing any physical limitations."

"...And his heart?"

"The damaged artery isn't showing any sign of weakness or infection. You kept him from bleeding to death."

Letting out a deep sigh of heated breath that came from his system stressing out Connor felt only slightly better. The knowledge that he managed to keep Gavin alive was a mild comfort in his sea of inner torment.

"Due to the severity of Detective Reed's injuries he's going to remain in the hospital for an additional two weeks, return home for one week of bed-rest and return to the hospital to undergo corrective surgery on his knees if the medical staff determine that his heart is strong enough to tolerate the surgery."

"He'll need to endure months of physical therapy before he'll even be permitted to return to the precinct to work desk duty. He won't be able to pay his bills or make monthly rent. He's going to-"

"He's going to be supported by his friends." Preventing Connor from focusing solely on the negative aspect Lucas gave him some positive details. "Apparently Abby is going to let him stay in her house so she can help take care of him."

"...Her knowledge as a former E.M.S. could prove invaluable during his recovery."

"And I know that Detective Chen will be assisting his recovery as well. Detective Reed will not be alone and he is still alive because of your actions."

Leaning away from Lucas slowly Connor straightened up his posture and used his right thumb to remove the frustrated tears hanging heavily under his eyes. As he took in a deep breath and steadied his emotions Connor looked his little brother in the eyes and nodded. "Despite all of this I still feel as though I didn't do enough that night. I should've been able to save them both."

"If that were true then you would've already done so."

Every time Connor tried to tear himself down Lucas or Evelyn would stop him. Every time he tried to doubt himself Lucas or Evelyn will give him a renewed sense of hope. Every time he tried to shut himself away from the world to linger in darkness his friends and family would bring him back into the light.

Lightly pushing Lucas's arms back Connor shifted his weight to hang his legs over the edge of his bed and steady himself. "You may be right about that."

"I'm certain I am."

"I need to go for a walk and clear my mind." Standing up slowly Connor swayed on his feet and stumbled forward a little before Lucas shot to his feet and grabbed onto Connor's right arm to steady him. Regaining his balance Connor brushed Lucas's hand from his arm and forced himself to stand upright. "I'm okay. I can walk."

"I don't think you should be alone as of the moment."

"I assure you that I will not self destruct. I just need to be alone to think for a while."

"Will you at least drink the Thirium I brought you? I can detect that your volume is down to seventy-seven percent."

"I will return to drink the Thirium after my walk. I give you my word."

Reluctant to let his brother go but willing to trust him all the same Lucas agreed to the simple request and backed off. "Very well. I'll remain here in the event another client comes by seeking assistance."

Giving Lucas a subtle nod Connor walked out of his bedroom, down the staircase and across the study to reach the front door. Electing to not wear his trench coat or fedora since the summer weather was so hot Connor opened the door and stepped out into the muggy air while Lucas followed after him to ensure he didn't stagger or fall as he walked as he endured his low Thirium volume.

Holding the offered Thirium in his right hand Lucas eyed the blue tinted liquid and placed the bottle down on the coffee table in the middle of the study to await Connor upon his return.

"I'm not sure what you're looking for, brother."

Peering out the front window as Connor began walking down the sidewalk and toward the city Lucas cybernetically let Hank know of what had happened and what Connor was doing.

"But I do hope that you find it."


Needing to get away from himself and his thoughts for a while Connor sighed openly and strolled down the sidewalk and toward the river to find a sense of peace with what had happened during the previous week's confrontation. Hearing the comforting words from his lover and the reassuring words from his little brother helped keep Connor's stress level from spiking to a lethal level a second time even as he remained doubtful of his own decisions. With his head hung low and his feet essentially scuffing the sidewalk as he trudged forward the depressed deviant ignored the laughing voices of the people scattered around the small park and proceeded to find his perch at the barricade overlooking the Detroit River running along Riverside Park.

Leaning his forearms against the cool metal support of the protective barricade Connor glanced down at the cold river below and scanned the body of water to watch several indigenous fish swimming about without a care in the world. Something about the sight of nature going about its business was calming and helped Connor to stop obsessively thinking about everything in his life.

Feeling someone watching him from a moderate distance Connor looked up at the person watching him and quickly looked away from them as if ashamed to be seen. "...Hello, Zhorra."

"Hey, Connor." Approaching the deviant with a smile on her face and her green eyes focused on his every movement, Zhorra stood beside Connor as she wore denim shorts, thick soled purple tennis shoes and a baggy, loose white blouse to stave off the summer heat. The blouse helped hide her figure and make her look far less 'enticing' compared to what she normally wore. "It's been a while."

"Yes, it has." Acknowledging her greeting Connor's tone was low and full of remorse. "I have no reason to dislike your presence but your arrival is unexpected."

"Well, I was in the city after dealing with a rather unpleasant human contact and decided to stroll around the city before heading back to the camp."

"'Unpleasant human contact'?" Raising his eyes from the river Connor looked at Zhorra and noticed that her long blonde hair was running down her back and parted in such a way that it was keeping her left eye covered. "Do I want to know what 'unpleasant' entails?"

Discreetly Zhorra brushed the hair from her eye and revealed the nasty blue bruise that was just beginning to heal over her eye. "The fucker didn't like it when I didn't sleep with him until after he gave me information that I could corroborate."

"He assaulted you?" Suddenly eager to resume his role as a detective Connor gave his friend an enraged stare. "Did he escalate to rape?"

"No. The sex was consensual, even if I didn't like it." Letting her hair fall back into place Zhorra gave Connor an almost proud smirk. "After he gave me the information I needed I promptly returned the favor by knocking his sorry lights out, and made sure his wife knew that he had been snooping around her office and giving away trade secrets AND sleeping around with a deviant behind her back."

"Her office?"

"Yeah, his wife was the personal assistant to our now former mayor and she helped him to try to hide his dirty little secrets. She refused to cooperate with the police and the F.B.I. because she's an anti-android bigot, so don't feel bad for her."

"I don't feel bad for her, either. But I am worried about you."

"I can take it, Connor. I was designed to handle confrontation, gain information and use undercover tactics to get that very information."

"You shouldn't be doing that to yourself just to protect our people."

"You're right, I shouldn't. But until things change..."

"Yes, I know." Bowing his head again Connor sighed and shook his head a little. "I'm sorry you had to endure that."

"I'm okay. I promise." As she spoke Zhorra looked out at the bridge connecting Detroit to Canada and lightly patted her right palm over her abdomen as if concealing a secret weapon beneath her loose blouse. It wouldn't be unusual for the deviant to have a trump card hidden up her sleeve for just about any occasion. "And thanks to those updates I can really handle myself and know how to defend myself properly to keep my body as healthy as possible."

Disagreeing with the supposed perks of the enhancements to his system Connor looked at his right palm despondently. The way he could truly feel every little thing he touched instead of just acknowledging what he was holding was nearly overwhelming to Connor whenever his emotions were already stressed. "I dislike the updates. They make everything too real."

"Reality isn't always bad."

"It isn't always good, either."

"Like living in a fantasy world that can't possibly exist is going to be any better that the life we're given."

"...I suppose that's true."

"Connor, I want you to know that I'm aware of what happened to you last week." Speaking gently Zhorra gave Connor a sympathetic ear to listen to. "I'm not judging you and I understand what went down. The fact that a patch was released for a virus that had only affected one deviant, a deviant who was shutdown two days prior to the patch's release, and the patch originated at your precinct, tells me that the deviant who was affected had a run-in with the police."

"It doesn't make it any easier to accept."

"I know. I've had to kill people in order to survive and to protect others, and it never gets any easier."

"So I've been told."

"Well, if it's any consolation I can confirm that you having Lucas to talk with is a lot more support than I was even given thanks to CyberLife betraying me. Be proud you have such a considerate little brother to remind you that you're a fair and honest deviant."

"...And my girlfriend."

"Oh?" Zhorra's green eyes lit up for a moment at the concept of Connor have a romantic interest. "Who's the lucky deviant?"

"She's someone I met in Chicago. And... she's a human."

"...Oh." Lowering her right hand to her side Zhorra's shoulders seemed to slump with mild disappointment. "Well, I'm glad you found someone special."

Connor quickly notice of Zhorra's body language and knew she felt the opposite. "You don't seem to be glad."

"I assure you that I am happy for you." Forcing an uneasy grin to her lips Zhorra gave Connor a kind voice to listen to. "I was just expecting you to fall for a local and a deviant. That's all."

"And why's that?"

"Because you're a detective who knows this city better than anyone else and you've met dozens, if not hundreds, of other deviants. The odds of you falling for a fellow deviant here in Detroit just seemed more logical than anything or anything else."

"May I ask why you were focusing on my romantic life?"

"Curiosity. You're an interesting deviant and you spend so much time around other humans, so I really shouldn't be surprised that you do fall in love with a human."

"I suppose that's logical. Are you forming comfortable relationships in the refugee camp?"

"Do you mean: 'Has anyone blamed you for almost killing you and Lucas'?"

"Not in so many words, but, yes. I am."

"No. I was forgiven by my allies just as easily and you and Lucas have forgiven me. Even Ethan knows what happened and he doesn't fault me. Maybe you should keep that in mind when it comes to your own mistakes..."

Picking up on the hint Connor knew that everything he had been told by the people trying to help him were in fact right. He needed to be able to forgive himself in order to move on with his life and stop hurting. It was wrong to expect himself to be a flawless being, and through his flaws - stubbornness, repressing his emotions, trying to hide from the world, holding grudges... He was still cared about and loved by his friends and his family.

"Thank you, Zhorra. You've told me what everyone else I care about and respect have said, and did so without being prompted. As a detective I know to look for patterns to find the truth and if I've been told the same thing by four different people then it must be the truth."

"So glad I could help on this miserably hot summer afternoon by happenstance." The temptation to pull her hair up was strong but wanting to keep her black eye was even stronger. "It's nice to do some good deeds just by being a friend."

"May I ask what you're going to do now?"

"I'm going to go back to the camp and let everyone know what I learned and confirm that another mole in the City Hall has been rooted out. How about you?"

"I think I'm going to return to my brownstone and I'm going to talk to the people I care about. It's interesting how well talking does help with pain."

"Yeah, I learned that from Lucy." Stepping back from the river Zhorra gave Connor another smirk before turning on her heels to return to the forest. "Hopefully you can learn something from your own mentor, too."

"I believe I already have." Reestablishing cybernetic communication Connor noted almost one-hundred messages sent to him from Hank, Lucas, Abby, Tina, Captain Fowler, Joel, Chris, Ben and even Jack that he hadn't read ever since he went into hiding. Having so many messages from so many worried people made Connor feel like he truly was cared about. "Hank is already waiting for me."


The brownstone was quiet and thankfully cool as Lucas and Hank sat in the study to wait for Connor's return. While Lucas had been able to keep tabs on Connor by staying close even when Connor went into hiding in his bedroom Hank had to wait for communication either from Lucas or Connor to come to him. Waiting wasn't Hank's strongest trait but being a detective and a father helped him to improve his sense of patience. Walking about the study Hank listened to Lucas telling him about everything Connor was going through while eyeing the modest collection of glass bottles on the shelves, and took notice of the silent guitar sitting in the corner of the study next to Lucas's saxophone.

Hank was proud of Lucas for taking the initiative as a supportive brother and was taking care of Connor, but at the same time he couldn't help but feel as Connor's partner and guardian that he should be doing more to help out. When he had to kill Syracuse to save Connor's life Hank didn't feel a single ounce of regret. The way Connor was trying to tear himself apart over Pamela made Hank feel like he cold and cruel deep down inside in comparison.

"Sounds like Connor's dealing with genuine guilt and depression." Hank noted as he stopped pacing and looked over at Lucas as the younger of the two deviants sat on the black leather sofa furthest from the bookcase and display board. "He's going to need us to-"

The front door opened as Connor returned to the brownstone at last with tears still welled up in his soulful brown eyes. Noticing Hank standing by the bookcase Connor nodded a little as he quietly closed the door behind himself. "I apologize if I made you worry."

"Kid, we're going to worry about you no matter what." Approaching Connor slowly Hank studied the deviant's demeanor closely. "How do you feel?"

"Confused. Scared. Guilty." Looking Hank in the eyes Connor sought guidance through his troubling inner conflict. "Alone."

"You're NOT alone. You're just dealing with emotions in the worst possible way."

"How's that?"

"Inexperience. You need more time to learn and develop your emotions to understand them."

"How am I supposed to do that?"

"Well, I think you'd do better if you spent more time with humans. You and Lucas are doing just fine taking care of yourselves, but you're not socializing with other people. You need to be around more people beyond just working and running errands."

"And... What do you suggest?"

"First, I want you to drink some Thirium." Hank knew Connor wasn't taking care of himself and that he needed to get his volume back up. "And then I want you to come back to the house with me and get away from work for a while longer. Lucas?" Turning to look at the second deviant Hank asked for his support in his suggestion. "Could you stop by later this evening? I don't want you guys to leave the deviants without any detectives they can trust."

"Of course. I'll leave at six o'clock and join you at the house."

"Thanks. Come on, Connor." Hank motioned to the front door for Connor to step back outside so they could leave together. "We should-"

The moment Hank was standing beside him with his left arm outstretched Connor quickly wrapped both of his arms around Hank to give him a hug.

"Whoa!" Reciprocating the hug Hank lightly patted Connor's left shoulder and just held him for a few seconds. "Easy, son. You'll be okay."

"I want to be okay." Connor confessed as he continued to hold on to Hank as if his very life depended on it. "I just don't know how!"

"Then it's a good thing that Lucas and I are going to help you find out what you need to do to be okay." Knowing that Lucas would be entirely supportive of the idea Hank trusted the younger deviant to do everything in his power to help Connor heal. "You'll be just fine. Trust your family to help you."

-next chapter-