The intensely warm summer day had put the entire city on a very narrow edge. Tempers were rising as high as the thermometer as July transitioned into August and summer reached its scorching peak. A majority of the complaints recorded throughout the city were due to people losing their patience and starting fist fights in public from the smothering heat ebbing away at a person's temper until they finally exploded. Throughout the warm morning and well into the hot afternoon local patrol had brought in person after sweaty person in handcuffs to literally cool off in the holding cells while an incident report was filled out detailing the latest case of unprovoked assault.
Sitting quietly at his desk with his coin dancing over the back of his right knuckles Connor stared at his terminal screen as he waited for any case revolving around deviants to come in that required his immediate attention. With Hank sitting across from him at his own desk with a small fan pointed at his face, his blue and orange striped shirt unbuttoned and a ice cold bottle of water in his left hand, Connor noted that the senior detective was struggling against the heat like the rest of the city.
Choosing to remain silent because of his own heavy emotions causing mental conflict with his actions and beliefs Connor didn't make any comment on the way Hank was clearly showing signs of heat induced stress. All of the humans in the bullpen were feeling the intense heat even with the precinct's air conditioning working at maximum capacity, but the deviants were able to withstand the extreme temperature a little easier than their human colleagues.
While the coin danced its silent dance on the back of Connor's hand Hank sipped at his water and honed in on the quarter on the back of Connor's hand with annoyance. "Kid, STOP with the coin."
"...Sorry." Ceasing the rhythmic tic Connor stopped the quarter on the back of his right hand and slipped it into his blazer's right pocket. "I didn't mean to disturb you."
"It's not disturbing, it's annoying!" Snapping at the needless apology Hank put his water aside and shook his head. "You don't need that damn coin anymore."
Not responding to the comment or reminding Hank that he used his coin to recalibrate his physical reflexes, senses and reduce his stress level, Connor fell back into silence and folded his hands together atop his lap out of Hank's sight.
"Did you drink that Thirium before you left the house?" The sight of his dwindling cool water in the high heat reminded Hank that Connor, and all deviants in general, need to keep their Thirium reserve up in the extreme weather to ensure they maintained a healthy core temperature. Failure to do so would result in system failure. "I know you saw the bottle on the kitchen table when you let Sumo outside."
"...No." Having purposely ignored the Thirium since his overall mental state made it difficult for him to drink Thirium without it upsetting his stomach. "I did not."
"Why the hell not?"
"...I don't know." Sinking down in his chair Connor just added the decision to his seemingly eternal list of mistakes. "I'm sorry."
"Don't do that."
Unsure of what Hank was referring to Connor gave his partner a lost glance from where he sat. "...Do what?"
"Sit there and act like a kicked puppy! It's just a damn coin and damn Thirium."
"...I'm sorry." Being snarked at wasn't something Connor had forgotten about, but he was now far more aware of how much a gruff tone of voice could hurt when already feeling down. "I'm not actively trying to annoy you."
"For fuck sake, you're not-" A message appeared on Hank's terminal screen from Captain Fowler reminding him that he was expected to participate in the mandatory one o'clock meeting that day. Replying to the message quickly Hank grumbled again as he rose from his desk. "This day just keeps getting better and better. Fuckin' meetings are a waste of time."
Looking away from Hank for a moment Connor tried to hold as still as possible as if he could disappear just by being entirely motionless.
Rising from his desk Hank finished off his water, tossed the empty plastic bottle into the small recycling bin tucked under his desk and proceeded to walk over to the conference room down the hallway across from the interview rooms. Being joined by Captain Fowler and Ben shortly thereafter Hank complained about the heat and all but begged Captain Fowler to let him clock-out early the moment the meeting was over.
Letting out a small breath Connor looked at his terminal screen again and saw the same blankness as before. Without anything to work on and no reason to linger about the bullpen Connor decided to take his afternoon break and leave the precinct behind for a few minutes. Standing up from his desk Connor walked past Gavin's vacant desk and saw Tina sitting at her own across from it with the undeniable signs of fatigue, stress and worry marring her usually cheery face.
Tina had been spending every second of her free time taking care of Gavin and visiting him at the hospital. It was clear that such stressful responsibilities on top of her recent promotion were proving to be too much to handle, and yet she wasn't uttering a single complaint about it.
Unable to look Tina in the eye or even be near Gavin's vacant desk, Connor made his way through the front doors of the precinct and set about the burning city on foot as he tried to get away from everyone that he was affecting in a negative way for one reason or another. The compulsion to be alone and get away from the people he cared about to ensure he didn't do anything affect them was beginning to have an effect on his own mind.
Residing to himself in the chilled depths of the relatively empty mansion Markus cybernetically checked over the news regarding the now former mayor, his illegal connections throughout the city and the people who were a part of his now broken inner circle to ensure he didn't encounter them during his bid for mayor. Seeing no familiar names that he knew personally within the mayor's circle was reassuring, but knowing that a man as corrupt as the mayor would have many enemies lurking in the shadows didn't give Markus any reason to let his guard down just yet. Any mistakes or oversight could prove permanently detrimental to his own future.
Sitting in the middle of the sitting room Markus had his mismatched eyes closed as he focused on the news revolving around the mayor, around the deviant rights and laws being enacted and of the popular opinion of his people from New Jericho. Even with the support of his friends, family and allies giving him their approval to run for mayor Markus couldn't help but feel as if there was someone or something still holding him back.
Sensing someone joining him inside the mansion Markus never opened his eyes as he greeted his welcomed visitor strolling into the sitting room. "Hi, North."
"Hey." Joining Markus in the sitting room North sat on the sofa beside him and wrapped her right hand over Markus's left hand. "You've been spending more time here than at the tower. What gives?"
"I find the seclusion of the mansion to be perfect for thinking and soul searching." Looking at North beside him Markus's green and blue eyes lit up when he looked at her lovely face. Feeling far more secure whenever she was around Markus gave her an adoring glance. "Did I miss anything important?"
"Eddie and George were released from the asylum this morning." Her voice was heavy with sorrow as she spoke. "They stopped by the tower to say 'goodbye' before going elsewhere."
Knowing that the two deviants were released was unexpected. The duo were violent and eager to cause trouble. "They're leaving the city?"
"Yes. According to Josh they both feel like they were labeled as 'freaks' or 'pariahs' and don't want to be stared at or watched for the rest of their lives."
"That wasn't the intention when we sent them to the asylum."
"I know that and you know that, but they can't see it that way when they're being side-eyed by everyone they walk past. Frankly, I don't blame them for wanting to get some distance from the tower and the people who sent them away."
"What can we do?"
"Nothing." North knew that Eddie and George were going to leave and that they had no right to tell them to stay where they didn't feel welcome. "It's their choice and they've made up their minds. All we can do is move on with our lives and let them live their own."
"Yeah, you're right." Leaning back against the small sofa Markus gave North a somber stare as he thought about other deviants who were better off away from the tower. "Just like what I can do with Connor. Let him live his life and not interfere is the best thing I can possibly do for him."
"He still hasn't spoken to you since you apologized?"
"No, not yet." Markus had told North about confronting Connor at the brownstone and letting him know how he felt, and told her that he didn't want anything to do with him. It had been over a week and there was no response from Connor regarding any sign of forgiveness or allying to help with the mayoral candidacy. "He doesn't have to speak to me if he doesn't want to. He doesn't owe me or anyone else anything."
"Maybe." A little skeptical North expressed her doubts regarding the situation as a greater whole. There was far more at stake than just Markus and Connor having a tumultuous relationship. "Since our people know about the serial killings at the hands of a deviant I get the feeling you should speak to him again."
Such a suggestion made Markus's brow furrowed with confusion. "How so?"
"We know that the deviant was killed in the act of trying to kill another human. There's only a handful of deviants active on the police force and we know that Connor is connected to the police force. I think you should try to bridge the gap between him and us by letting him know that the deviants know about a deviant attacking humans, and that no one would blame the police for taking down such a dangerous deviant."
"No one?" Questioning the idea of the entire deviant community not demonizing one of their own people being killed by the police, justified or not, Markus remained righteously skeptical. "I'm pretty sure there'd be at least one deviant who would see any of our people getting killed as a malicious assault by the police."
"Okay, so maybe not 'no one', but we know that what happened had to happen. Not to mention the fact that the deviant's death could have protected the rest of the community from such a dangerous virus from spreading further."
"That's something we need to consider and remember." The idea of a plague sweeping over the deviant community was something that Markus would love to forget and never have to handle. "The death of one deviant could've spared the lives of countless humans and deviants. Such a sacrifice should've never had been made, but in the end it was for the best."
"Just remember that when you run for mayor deviants will jump at everything you say or do and hold it under a magnifying glass. A comment like that could come back to bite you in ass."
"I won't forget. I'll do whatever it takes to become a strong, just and reliable mayor for all of Detroit."
"Also remember that when you announce your plans to run for mayor you'll undoubtedly be met with resistance."
"I'm ready for that. I'm ready to step up and become more than just a figurehead or a name in the history books. I want to be someone who can make a difference to the city without having to rely on protests and Revolutions."
"Then I think you're running for mayor for all of the right reasons."
"I hope you're right." Tightening his hand around North's hand Markus held on to her comforting grip and began cybernetically processing everything required to make his run for mayor at the beginning of September only one month away. "I just want to help our people and not cause any strife between our people and the humans for a second time."
"As long as you remain unbiased and fair then you'll do just fine." Giving Markus a soft kiss on his left cheek North showed him nothing but compassion and understanding as she supported his decision. "I have faith in you."
-CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS... OK]
-CHECKING BIOSENSORS... OK]
-CHECKING AI ENGINE... OK]
-MEMORY STATUS... OK]
[...Thirium Volume - 62%]
[...Thirium Pressure - 110/80]
[...Thirium Pump Rate - 113 B.P.M.]
[...Ventilation Rate - 14 V.P.M.]
[...Core Temperature - 102.4 Degrees Fahrenheit]
[...Core Temperature reaching critical level]
[...Take immediate cooling measures]
[...Enter emergency stasis mode - Activate: Y/N?]
[...Emergency stasis mode - Postponed]
-SYSTEM READY... OK]
Walking the stifling streets of Detroit without an endgame or purpose in mind Connor felt his core temperature rising and actively dismissed his system warning him of his rising temperature every passing minute. Removing his gray blazer to carry over his left arm Connor continued to walk through the intense summer heat as he let his mind wander as much as his feet. Too much had happened in such a small amount of time for Connor to focus on, sort through and come to terms with. Being smothered by the heat and a total lack of patience from the surrounding city that he was attempting to protect only made his thoughts and emotions all the more turbulent.
Being asked for forgiveness by Markus was something Connor couldn't bring himself to do, and whether that was out of spite or righteous reasoning he couldn't determine. Having to chase down Pamela and permanently subdue her in order to save Gavin's life was a horrible burden that Connor just couldn't seem to escape. Residing at Hank's house to be around more human emotions to gain a strong sense of experience and perspective made him feel like he was now intruding on Hank's personal space. Being snapped at by Hank back in the precinct just made his emotions and sense of doubt even worse.
Everything was just too tense and confusing at the moment.
As if on autopilot Connor had walked the formidable distance from the precinct and to St. Mercy Hospital without noticing until he had stepped through the sliding glass doors of the entrance. Being met with a rush of wonderfully cool air, a cacophony of muttering voices, a noxious aroma of astringent, antiseptic and bleach, and the overall emotional tension of people in the waiting room, made Connor snap to attention and out of his dark thoughts.
Gaining his bearings and recognizing where he had gone Connor had to resist the urge to turn around and run. He didn't want to be anywhere near Gavin in that moment, but he knew running off and trying to deny what had happened would only make things worse for himself, and even Gavin, in the long run.
Taking in a calming breath Connor approached the receptionist desk and asked where Gavin was located and if he was open for visitors. With a visitor's badge now clipped to his white dress shirt Connor entered the elevator alongside two nurses and reached the fourth floor where Gavin's private room was located. The small 'ding' from the elevator reaching its destination and the doors parting almost made Connor jump as he remained edgy and guarded at all times.
Stepping out onto the fourth floor while the two nurses remained in the elevator to continue on their way up Connor walked down the quiet corridor and managed to locate the private room where Gavin was resting. As he neared the room Connor found himself becoming increasingly nervous and stood back across from the door as if waiting for an invitation to enter the space.
"Are you here to visit your friend?"
Actually jumping at the familiar voice Connor looked to his right and saw Elizabeth standing beside him with a kind smile on her face. Her deep brown eyes were full of light and her entirely demeanor seemed warm and motherly. "...Y-Yes." Replying honestly Connor tried to sound as confident as possible. "I am here to see Detective Reed."
"Right now Dr. Wilson is checking on him, but he should be finished in a moment." Seeing that Connor was tense and very on edge Elizabeth put her right hand gently to Connor's left arm in a comforting manner. As her palm came into contact with his bicep under the long white sleeve Elizabeth noticed that the deviant had been subjected to the extreme summer heat for far too long. "Oh, Connor. You're burning up!"
"I'm okay." Lightly brushing Elizabeth's hand from his arm Connor took a single step back as he didn't want to do anything that would cause Elizabeth any problems like he had done to his other colleagues. Even being near someone seemed like too much of a risk in Connor's mind. "I was just out in the sun for too long, that's all."
"You feel like you're running a fever."
"Androids overheating can be compared to a human running a fever."
"And your light..." Elizabeth noticed that Connor's L.E.D. was still dark and was worried about what that could possibly mean. "Why isn't it glowing?"
"I simply chose to not have it repaired." Tracing his right fingertips over the dull L.E.D. in his right temple Connor's eyes shot over to the door of Gavin's room as the door slid open with an audible 'hiss' as Dr. Wilson stepped out of the room. Peering through the door before it slid shut behind the kind doctor Connor saw that Gavin was sitting upright in his bed with a small hand grip in his right palm to strength his hand as it healed. Abby was beside the bed and running her fingers through Gavin's hair as they both spoke and smiled at one another. "...It's not serious."
"Connor, I may not be your mother but I can tell when someone isn't feeling well." Breaking through Connor's thoughts Elizabeth stared at the deviant as Connor resumed eye contact with her. She could see he was in pain and needed help. "Please talk to me."
"I... I can't." As much as he wanted to yell about all of the things he was thinking and feeling Connor couldn't bear the idea of dragging another person into his mess. It wasn't fair to Elizabeth or anyone else. "It's too complicated to explain."
"That doesn't mean you shouldn't try."
The offer was very tempting. Seconds before Connor could finally relent and accept Elizabeth's graciousness Dr. Wilson approached him and gave the deviant detective a terse glance.
"Detective Wolf, it's nice to see you again." Reintroducing himself Dr. Wilson offered Connor his right hand to shake respectfully. "I take it you're here to see Detective Reed?"
"Y-Yes, I am." Sounding almost nervous Connor shook the skilled doctor's hand and forced himself to maintain eye contact. "If I'm intruding I'll leave."
"There's no intrusion. Detective Reed is doing well and is ready for visitors at any time." Picking up on the same distress that Elizabeth had noted the ever attentive and helpful doctor looked Connor over after he too felt the heat radiating from his person. "You however seem to be feeling rather rundown."
"Oh?" Attempting and failing to feign ignorance Connor indulged Dr. Wilson's observation. "How so?"
"Well, I know that deviants can't sweat, so for you to be exhibiting such heat off your body is very alarming. Being outside in this weather is very dangerous to everyone and you need to keep out of the sun."
"I'm fine now that I'm indoors." The red warnings in Connor's visual processors begged to differ no matter how many times he stubbornly dismissed the negative numbers. "I will cool off quickly."
"How long have you been inside the hospital?"
"Six minutes, twenty-four seconds."
Not convinced that Connor wasn't in any danger, but not wanting to push the deviant unnecessarily since he wasn't a licensed technician, Dr. Wilson decided to give Connor the benefit of the doubt. "All right. Then remaining in an air conditioned building for another hour or so should bring your core temperature back down to a normal degree, right?"
"And android physiology and core temperatures are meant to mirror a human, right?"
"What's your current core temperature?"
Hesitating for a moment Connor answered honestly as his tense shoulders slumped slightly. "One-hundred and two point seven."
"Too high. Do me a favor and remain inside the cool hospital until your temperature is at least back down to one-hundred degrees even, okay?"
"Okay, I can do that."
"Thank you. Now, if you wish to see Detective Reed head on inside and stay for as long as he allows it. He cannot be stressed while recovering."
"...Oh." The troubled relationship between Gavin and himself made Connor immediately feel like a fool for attempting to stop by the hospital to see the injured detective. The last thing Connor wanted to do was stress Gavin out just by being present. "Perhaps it'd be best if I didn't visit with him after all. We... do not get along."
"But you saved his life."
"I... I don't think it matters." Looking away from Dr. Wilson and to the floor at his feet Connor refuted the otherwise positive comment. "Gavin dislikes me. It was a mistake for me to come here."
Elizabeth knew Connor was about to retreat and swiftly took hold of his left hand with her right hand. "Take it from someone who regrets not visiting someone they really care about while they were in the hospital, don't leave. Don't turn your back because of fear. It'll haunt you the rest of your life."
Closing his eyes Connor felt Elizabeth's pain through her words and couldn't bring himself to take his hand away from hers. Letting out a small sigh Connor nodded as he opened his eyes. "...Okay."
Dr. Wilson could tell that there was some history between Elizabeth and Connor and decided to let Elizabeth take the lead in coaxing Connor into entering the room to visit with Gavin for a few minutes. "When you're done you should go down to the doctor's lounge to relax for a while before leaving."
"I'll consider it."
Staring at the closed door Connor waited for Dr. Wilson to take his leave to resume his rounds before stepping forward. Letting his hand slip away from Elizabeth's hand as she took his blazer from his left arm Connor waved his now free hand over the control panel on the door to register as a visitor inside the room. Passing through the door as it slid open with the familiar 'hiss' Connor stood just inside the doorway and looked over at Gavin as he sat upright in the bed in relatively good spirits with Abby still beside him.
"...Hello, Detective Reed."
"If it isn't the 'Tinman' in the fake flesh." Smirking a little as his right hand continued to flex around the hand grip in his palm Gavin's glassy gray-hazel eyes made it clear he was on fairly strong painkillers as he recovered. "How's it goin'?"
"I... Everything is going well."
"Good, good..." Looking over at Abby beside him Gavin gave her a massive and dorky smile as he asked her a question next. "How about you? How's it goin', beautiful?"
"I'm just fine, handsome."
"Yeah you are. You're real fine..."
"Cool it, lover-boy." Running her left fingers through Gavin's hair again Abby tried to get him to settle back down against his pillow to keep resting. "You're still recovering from emergency heart surgery and can't even walk yet."
"When I'm done with you I promise you won't be able to wa-"
"I said 'cool it'." Abby moved her hand from Gavin's hair and over his mouth to 'shush' him for a moment. "You're tripping hard on the 'good stuff' and I don't want you to say things in front of someone who can record and play back everything you're saying and doing while drugged out of your mind." Keeping her hand in place Abby looked over at Connor and offered him a kind smile before her instincts as a technician kicked in. "I'd ask you the same, but I can see from here that you're not exactly optimal right now."
"No." There was no point in trying to deny that he wasn't fairing well mentally, emotionally or physically. Wringing his hands together nervously before himself Connor resisted the urge to run out of the room and retrieve the coin in his blazer's right pocket to fidget with. "I am not optimal at the moment."
"Want to talk about it?"
"No. I came here to check on Gavin since I'm the only one who hasn't visited him yet." The numerous flowers, balloons and even a cat plushie with cards signed by worried colleagues and friends filled the room and lined the two walls on either side of the bed. "I needed to come here and I needed to see how he's doing with my own eyes."
"Well, he's doing very well. The damage to his heart has been perfectly mended and thanks to the advances in modern medicine the surgically broken ribs have already healed courtesy of a brand new osteographer that was curiously donated less than twenty-four hours after Gavin was admitted." Giving Connor a smug grin Abby watched as Gavin slowly fell asleep under her hand as the pain medication kept him docile and happy. "Turns out Gavin's family isn't as bad as he likes to believe."
"...That's good." Connor's scanner could detect that all of Gavin's ribs had been properly realigned and secured with the osteographer that prompted the broken bones to knit quickly and protect Gavin's still beating heart. His scanner could also detect healthy renal activity indicating that Gavin's kidneys had healed as well. "What of the dialysis?"
"He's been off dialysis for a full day and he's had no problems with handling any of the lovely medication keeping him so content." Abby was trying to joke but she was just as exhausted as Tina and needed to get some sleep. "And then his kneecaps will be surgically replaced with plastimetal prosthetics to save him years of agony from his knees developing early onset arthritis. Can't wait for him to be 'part android' so I have another reason to tell him what to do."
"Does he... He was attacked from behind and rendered unconscious." Struggling to find his words Connor again dismissed the warnings in his visual processors and was glad his L.E.D. was not functioning since the color would betray his true feelings and overall physical condition. "Did he suffer a concussion?"
"No. No skull fracture, no concussion and no memory impairment."
"So he does remember that he was attacked by a deviant?"
"Connor, he remembers you saving his life." Picking up on Connor's nervousness Abby tried her best to help him come to terms with his misplaced guilt. "That's what's important."
"I had to kill a deviant in order to save him." Tightening his hands into fists at his sides Connor felt his anger rising to the surface and making his already high core temperature rise even higher. "Her death is important, too."
[...Core Temperature reaching critical level]
[...Core Temperature - 102.9 Degrees Fahrenheit]
[...Take immediate cooling measures]
[...Enter emergency stasis mode - Activate: Y/N?]
[...Emergency stasis mode - Postponed]
Dismissing the warning again Connor knew he was running out of time before he'd have to retreat and leave the room. "No one should have to choose between two lives like that. I'm not... I don't have that kind of power!"
"It's not about power it's about logic." Returning her hand to Gavin's hair as he fell asleep and settled into a deep breathing pattern Abby gave Connor her full attention. "As an E.M.S. and as a technician I've had to make horrible decisions based on pure logic that I'm not proud of. I've let people die before, too."
Letting his fists relax a little Connor gave Abby a silent stare of deep contemplation.
"Back in Chicago I had to help with an explosion at a hotel in the middle of the city back in 2034. The bomb hurt thousands of people and hundreds of them died." As she spoke Abby gave Gavin a momentary glance to ensure he was still sleeping and hadn't been disturbed by the conversation happening around him. "There were so many people hurt and dying that every medic at the scene had to pick and choose patients based on their odds of survival because our supplies were being used up so quickly. Having to step past people who were on death's door and not giving them any form of comfort in their final moments because someone else had a better chance of surviving is something I've had to spend over a hundred hours at therapy in order to get over."
"Human lives." Shaking his head a little Connor's fists tightened once more. "You had to sacrifice human lives."
"And deviants. I've had to deal with multiple deviant patients at once and some of them suffer such significant damage that it'd take me hours to save one life while two, three, four other lives are lost waiting for me to get to them. I've had to let deviants die in order to save other lives, just as you had done."
Hearing he truly wasn't alone and that someone else did understand his pain only eased Connor's guilt by the slightest margin.
"I'm not saying you can just snap out of what you're feeling or even forget about it, but you can learn to live with it."
"Talk to someone. Don't hold all your emotions and thoughts inside, Connor. Let them out and don't be ashamed of what you had done." Giving Gavin another glance of adoration and relief Abby made it clear that her gratitude was well known. "You may not feel like it right now, and you may never feel like it for the rest of your life, but you are a hero. You saved Gavin's life and you stopped a serial killer in the act."
"...That's a gross oversimplification of what I went through."
"Which is why you need to talk to someone. But first," without taking her hand from Gavin's hair Abby eyed the deviant hovering close to the door as if ready to bolt at any moment. "go get some rest. I don't need to see your L.E.D. to know that you're running on low power, low Thirium and are overheating."
Without agreeing to follow her directions Connor just sighed and looked over at Gavin for a moment, studied the muted cardiac monitor still recording his vital signs and then looked back at Gavin's expressionless, sleeping face. "When Gavin awakens please let him know I stopped by to check on him. I doubt he'll remember my visit due to the high dosage of morphine currently coursing through his veins."
"I will. Take care of yourself, Connor."
"Please do the same."
Passing back through the door and into the corridor Connor felt his legs shake as his mind raced with a mixture of conflicting emotions. While he was relieved to know Gavin was stable Connor still felt like he had crossed a line by shooting Pamela in order to save him. Having so many people telling Connor he had done nothing wrong while also feeling as he had done something irredeemable made his heart twist around as if it were about to snap in half.
"Connor?" Elizabeth had been waiting for him to leave the room and still had his blazer in her arms. "Are you okay?"
"I... I'm not sure." Blindly and clumsily Connor reached out toward his blazer but his left hand was shaking so badly that even if he had looked at where he was reaching he still wouldn't have been able to hold onto the garment without dropping it. "I... I need to leave."
"You should sit down for a moment." Returning her hands to Connor's left shoulder and left bicep Elizabeth tried to hold the trembling deviant steady as his legs continued to shake. "You look exhausted."
"I feel... I-I feel..."
[...Core Temperature reaching critical level]
[...Core Temperature - 103.1 Degrees Fahrenheit]
[...Take immediate cooling measures]
[...Emergency stasis mode - Activated]
Trailing off as his core temperature reached its critical degree and his system automatically entered emergency stasis mode Connor's body went limp and his vision went black. Collapsing to his knees and falling backward Connor was unaware of Elizabeth managing to support his head as he passed out and fell to the floor in a graceless heap.
"Connor?" Patting Connor's left cheek twice Elizabeth tried to rouse the deviant while supporting his head from the ground with her right palm. "Connor, can you hear me?"
"Elizabeth?" Dr. Wilson had witnessed Connor's collapse from down the corridor and returned to the deviant's side quickly. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure, he just passed out."
"All right." Nodding at the closed door to Gavin's room Dr. Wilson remained calm and took charge of Connor's condition. "Dr. Grayson is one of the best technician's in the city and she's right there. We'll get Connor taken care of."
After two grueling hours the monotonous, boring and uninformative meeting finally drew to a close and Hank was free to return to the bullpen to go about his own business. Trudging out of the conference room and rubbing his right palm over the back of his tired and stiff neck Hank made his way over to his desk and froze for a moment when he didn't see Connor still sitting behind his own desk. Normally Connor would remain in the bullpen to await Hank's return after a meeting so they could go on break together. Sitting down in his chair Hank pulled his phone from his right jean pocket and checked over the screen to see if there was an unread message waiting for him.
The lack of communication and no sight of the deviant was a little disconcerting. Deep down in his gut Hank knew something was happening right now, he just didn't know what or where.
"Where did that kid go?"
"If you're talking about Connor," Tina had overheard the question and took a moment sip at her coffee, tea wasn't cutting it these days, and gave Hank a pitifully tired stare. "he went on break while you were in the meeting."
"Yup." Popping the 'p' as she spoke Tina turned her attention back to her report on her terminal screen to ensure there were no typos or overlooked details she needed to add. "At least he was alone when he left."
"When did he take off?"
"Not long after your meeting started."
"That was over two hours ago. He's been gone that long?"
"Yeah... I guess he has." Having lost track of time Tina hadn't thought anything about Connor being gone for so long. "Shit. Wonder where he is?"
"Knowing him he found a kitten stuck in a tree and went to save it. Or he-" A message appeared on Hank's phone and the worried detective let out a small sigh as he read the new text. "Never mind."
"Is that him?"
"Uh... No." The message was sent from Abby, not Connor, although the message revolved around Connor. "Oh, fuck!"
"What?" Turning away from her report again Tina gave Hank her full attention while Captain Fowler lingered in the bullpen after hearing Hank's reaction to the message. "Is something wrong?"
"I knew he was going to push himself too hard." Sensing Captain Fowler watching him Hank turned to his commanding officer seeking his approval to go and take care of Connor as the seasoned Captain stood just to his right side. "Connor collapsed after visiting Gavin in the hospital. Apparently his Thirium got too low and the heat made his thermal..." Re-reading the message Hank made sure he mentioned the correct biocomponent. "Thermal regulator go into overdrive."
"And what does that mean?" Not an expert on androids himself Captain Fowler wasn't quite sure what Hank was talking about. "Is he hurt?"
"He's unconscious. He basically collapsed from a high fever or a heat stroke." Slipping his phone back into his pocket Hank sighed and pulled his car keys from his left jean pocket and gave Captain Fowler an almost threatening glare. "I'm going to go check on him. You wasted two of my hours in that damn meeting so I'm wasting your time with checking on my partner."
"I wasn't going to try to stop you." Captain Fowler just waved Hank off as he continued on his way to his private office. "Just be sure to clock-out to keep the higher-ups happy while they're still searching the building for anything worth a pointless write-up."
"I'm fuckin' salary, it doesn't matter if I clock-out or not." Being as cooperative as he could while in a foul mood Hank clocked-out on his terminal and made his way to the front doors to drive out to the hospital. Stopping beside Tina's desk for a moment and looked at the newest detective before continuing any further. "Have anything you want me to drop off at the hospital, Tina?"
"Nah, I'm good. I've been going over to Gavin's place to take care of his cat, and I've slowly been filling it up with stuffed animals just to mess with him."
Shaking his head Hank passed by the desks and continued on his way toward the front doors. "Nice to see you haven't lost your demented sense of humor."
-CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS... OK]
-CHECKING BIOSENSORS... OK]
-CHECKING AI ENGINE... OK]
-MEMORY STATUS... OK]
[...Thirium Volume - 94%]
[...Thirium Pressure - 120/80]
[...Thirium Pump Rate - 58 B.P.M.]
[...Ventilation Rate - 12 V.P.M.]
[...Core Temperature - 99.7 Degrees Fahrenheit]
-SYSTEM READY... OK]
Aware of a cold sensation against his forehead and against the back of his neck, a soft rhythmic 'beeping' to his left, an even softer pressure supporting his body as he laid on his back and of a small point of pressure against the bend of his left arm, Connor kept his eyes closed as he recounted his last memories and gained his bearings. Sensing someone hovering close by Connor ran a quick scan and recognized Abby's presence without needing to look at her. Not moving or showing any sign of regained consciousness even as he felt the cold metal bell of a stethoscope pressing down against his bare chest - the buttons on the white dress shirt having been opened to press the wireless leads of the neighboring cardiac monitor to his chest, Connor decided it'd be best to feign unconsciousness to avoid inconveniencing other people even further.
While Abby ran a quick examination on his person Connor was aware of two other people entering the room and quickly confirmed that the two new guests were Dr. Wilson and Elizabeth. Unsure as to why he was receiving so much attention Connor decided that once he had the chance he'd leave the hospital and go back to the precinct to work as if nothing had happened.
"Normal vital signs." Abby announced as she pulled the bell from Connor's chest. Handing the medical instrument back over to Dr. Wilson to take for himself Abby proceeded to lift up the cool washcloth over Connor's forehead and press the back of her left hand to Connor's much cooler forehead to confirm his healthier temperature. "Core temperature is much more stable." Replacing the washcloth Abby sighed and promptly extracted the external Thirium line running into Connor's left arm, then replaced the panel over his forearm and reactivated the artificial skin. "And his Thirium volume is back up to where it should be."
Dr. Wilson checked over Connor for himself as he was determined to learn as much about android vital signs as he could in order to keep his deviant staff healthy and protected at all times. "What was the cause of his collapse?"
"Initially I thought it was his Thirium volume being too low, hence the I.V., but his increased core temperature proved to be the cause of his collapse." Pressing her palms down against Connor's lower abdomen Abby applied pressure to Connor's thermal regulator and managed to get Connor to twitch in pain and finally open his eyes. "Turns out the extreme heat affected his thermal regulator forcing it into overdrive. The recent damage that the regulator suffered has effectively exasperated the reaction."
Lifting his head up a little Connor looked down at Abby as she pulled her hands back. "...I'm functioning well enough to resume work."
"You collapse in the middle of a hospital from extreme overheating, low Thirium and a malfunctioning thermal regulator, and you want to go back to work and not ask about your condition?"
"I'm stable." Making a move to sit upright Connor was quickly stopped by Abby pressing her left palm against his right shoulder to hold him down. "If I were in any danger you would've had me taken to the Zeta Facility for further treatment."
"The only reason I didn't do that is because Dr. Wilson has been steadily building up a deviant wing for emergency situations like this. You need a few more tests so I can figure out why your thermal regulator failed to compensate for the extreme heat today."
"I foolishly didn't replenish my Thirium volume. There is no need for additional tests." Laying back down Connor stared up at the blank ceiling overhead as Abby readjusted the washcloth over his forehead. "You should be spending time with Gavin. He needs more help than I do."
The way Connor was so quick to try to leave the hospital and go about his business made Abby worry for his mental health even more. "Gavin is sleeping and has the entire hospital monitoring him. Why don't you lay down and rest until Hank gets-"
"Hank?" The idea of Hank learning that he had screwed up yet again made Connor's Thirium pump race so quickly that the adjusted cardiac monitor recording his vitals spiked and betrayed his inner emotions. "You told Hank about this?"
"I... let him know you're okay and just had an issue with your thermal regulator." Recognizing the signs of intense stress in Connor's reactions Abby began to wonder if Connor and Hank were fighting about something. "Is there something wrong with Hank knowing about this?"
"He doesn't need to know. I'm not..." Trying to deflect her worries Connor gave the lamest excuse that came to mind. "He merely has more important matters to tend to at the moment."
From the doorway of the quiet exam room that Connor had been resting within a gruff voice responded to the very notion with a near scoff behind his words. "Not true, kid. You're way more important than any damn meeting or report."
Letting out a small sigh Connor turned away from Hank and closed his eyes again as if by not looking at Hank it'd make the Lieutenant leave the room.
"Thanks for helping him out." Doing his best to sound calm and less annoyed by the heat Hank thanked both Abby and Dr. Wilson as they stepped out of the exam room. Entering the room himself Hank could see Elizabeth lurking nearby and didn't have the heart to ask her to leave. "I'll take him back to the house so he can rest in private."
"All right." Agreeing to let Hank take over Abby decided to focus on Gavin again instead of Connor. "Make sure he continues to rest and stay out of the heat. I want him to make an appointment to get his thermal regulator checked out, too."
Waiting for the room to clear out Hank stood beside the exam table and watched as Connor tried to act like he wasn't on the verge of getting up and sprinting out of the room. Hearing the way Connor sounded almost frightened about learning Abby had contacted him made Hank feel like he was playing the role of the 'bad cop' without a 'good cop' to trade places with.
"How do you feel, son?" Noticing the way Connor had a cardiac monitor recording his vitals and seeing that Connor's long white sleeve had been rolled up past the elbow told him that the deviant had also had an I.V. not too long ago. Making a move to place his left hand on Connor's right shoulder Hank froze when Connor visibly flinched away from his palm. "You look like-" Lowering his hand to his side Hank gave Connor a little space. "Sorry. If you're not feeling well you won't want anyone to touching ya'."
Elizabeth saw the way Connor flinched as well and recognized the signs of trauma responses from abuse. "Connor? What's wrong?"
Staying still and keeping his eyes closed Connor replied in a low voice. "...I'm wrong."
"Ah, son..." As much as he wanted to give Connor's shoulder a supporting shake Hank didn't want to potentially send Connor over the edge by touching him. "It's okay to have bad days. We all have them every once in a while."
"Not like this." Unable to look at Hank as he spoke in a whisper Connor's stubborn resolve began to slowly break down. "I keep making mistakes and I keep getting in other people's way. I'm sorry for ruining your meeting and causing you to leave the precinct."
"Connor, I'm not-"
Stepping up Elizabeth decided to interject as an indifferent third party. "Connor, no one is being hurt right now. The only person who is hurt is you." Lightly Elizabeth placed her hands on Connor's left arm and slowly tightened her grip so he didn't feel alone and didn't feel threatened. "We just want to help you feel better and no is blaming you for what's been happening."
Taking in a deep breath Connor pressed his right hand over his still closed eyes as if he needed more support to keep himself from breaking down into tears.
"She's right." Agreeing entirely with Elizabeth and trusting her to help Connor feel more secure Hank took another step back to give Connor some more space as he processed everything that was going on. "Just rest for a while longer then I'll take you back home to sleep when you're ready to go. I'll go check on Gavin and warn him about the 'plushie-ambush' Tina set up in his apartment."
Staying beside Connor as the deviant struggled to remain emotionally composed Elizabeth spoke to him in a soft and understanding tone. "You've been through a lot in a very short amount of time. You need to stop trying to push yourself to be somewhere you're not ready to be yet."
"I need to protect my people." Without moving his hand Connor managed to tell Elizabeth, an unbiased third party in the situation, what he was thinking and why he was forcing himself to keep moving forward instead of taking the time to reside in the present and rest. "I need to make sure the deviants are safe and I need to stop making mistakes!"
"You're not the only person who's working to protect deviants and you're not the only person to make a mistake." Moving her left hand to Connor's hair Elizabeth rested her palm atop the dark locks for a moment before she began to gently comb her fingers through his hair in a comforting manner. "I'm not sure what happened between you and Lieutenant Anderson, but I-"
"I keep disappointing him." The confession sounded as pathetic as Connor currently looked and felt. "I keep making errors, mistakes I should be able to avoid entirely, and I know he's aggravated with me needing to be helped so often. I don't want to keep disappointing him."
"Oh, honey..." Elizabeth's maternal instincts were still strong despite everything she had gone through and lost. Now understanding that Connor and Hank didn't have a fight or a falling-out she wanted to do her best to help Connor realize that he wasn't disappointing anyone but himself because he expected far too much from himself. "You're under too much pressure and you're expecting perfection when that's not possible. You're stressed out and need to learn to let other people help you without feeling like you're somehow a burden or helpless. I had to learn that for myself once upon a time..."
"I've been making mistakes for twelve consecutive days. It started when I shot a malfunctioning deviant and killed her." Tears escaped his eyes and began rolling down his face in two heavy streams. "I was put on leave for a week and during that week I've failed to step up to handle any private cases or assist Lucas in what should be a partnership in our work. I've failed him as a brother. As for Hank, he's been trying to fix me in the past five days but I am simply too far broken to be fixed. It's a waste of his time and energy."
"You're NOT broken, Connor." Using the same terse tone as Hank did whenever Connor or Lucas needed some parental guidance Elizabeth refused to let Connor see himself in such a negative way. "You're just exhausted. Please get some rest and stop trying to hide away from the world because you made a tough choice. I know a thing or two about making tough choices, and I know how much they can hurt. You need a friend to rely on to help you see that the world will keep on spinning even after you think you did something so horrible that it somehow stopped."
Silence fell over the small room as Connor didn't have a response to Elizabeth's kind words. Focusing on her words while she continued to provide comfort in time of despondence Connor laid on his back and tried to come to terms with what he had done in the past and how it was affecting him now. The last thing he wanted was to continue to feel as rundown and worthless as he did in that moment throughout the unforeseeable future.
"I think Lieu- Hank, is right." Whispering to the deviant as he remained tense and stressed out to a dangerous degree Elizabeth tried her best to coax him into calming down under his own will and power. "You need to get some rest and just stop trying to push yourself to your limits." As much as Elizabeth wanted to stay beside Connor's side she knew she couldn't. She still needed to handle her other tasks throughout the hospital. "You may think you're disappointing Hank, but you're not. If he was disappointed in you then he wouldn't have come here or shown you any concern. If he were disappointed in you, even in the slightest, then he wouldn't be here right now. He's still waiting for you to feel well enough to take you back to his house so he can take care of you until you're back on your feet. That's not disappointment, that's a form of love."
Contemplating Elizabeth's reassuring words carefully Connor nearly reached out to grab Elizabeth's wrist as she pulled her hand back and gave him an unseen apologetic stare. He didn't want the direct contact to be broken.
"Feel better soon. You deserve to feel much better than you think you do, and in time you'll find out what it means to be truly happy and fulfilled."
Listening to the sound of Elizabeth's well worn shoes walking away from where he was laying and passing through the doorway Connor couldn't help but feel like he was truly alone in that moment. Even after trying to get away from people all day long Connor couldn't resist the sense of utter isolation and the pain that being alone could bring and began to regret his own desire to push people away.
Standing beside the closed door to Gavin's room with his back pressed against the nearby wall and his arms folded over his chest Hank stared at the flawless white floor beneath his feet as he let his thoughts run wild. The way Connor had been acting at the precinct, so timid and worried, made the senior detective wonder if he was failing to actually reach his partner and give him the support he needed. But when Connor actually flinched away from his touch that moment immediately brought on a sense of absolute failure to be a friend and honorary guardian. While he'd never hit Connor or get physically violent with him for any reason Hank couldn't deny that he had snapped at Connor and made him feel like his usual behavior was now somehow a problem.
Wondering if it was a mistake to bring Connor to the house instead of staying in his brownstone Hank pulled his phone out of his pocket to text Lucas and let him know that Connor going back to the brownstone. The last thing he wanted to do was make things worse for the deviant detective while he was already struggling with his self doubt.
Just as Connor had done before Hank jumped and straightened up his posture as he looked to Elizabeth now standing beside him. "Y-Yeah." Clearing his throat after being embarrassed by his reaction Hank gave Elizabeth his full attention. "Is Connor ready to go?"
"I think he needs a little time to think." Standing before the gruff but kind Lieutenant as he towered over her Elizabeth worked to overcome her residual fear of other people, particularly men, and lock eyes with the senior detective. "He's really down on himself right now. I saw the news when they were talking about a deviant being shot by police, and he said something about..." Letting the statement fade away Elizabeth shifted into a question next. "Can I ask what happened to him?"
"Well, the news was right for once. The police had to shoot a deviant in order to save another detective's life." Tucking his phone back into his pocket Hank could feel his shoulders growing tense as he told Elizabeth as much as he could without violating any privacy or protection laws. "Connor was the one who pulled the trigger, and he's been kicking himself in the ass ever since."
"Connor saved a life?"
Nodding subtly toward Gavin's closed door Hank brought Elizabeth into the loop. "Which is why Connor was here when he went down."
"I knew that Detective Reed was wounded in the line of duty, but I didn't realize- I feel so foolish!"
That extreme reaction held Hank's immediate attention. "Elizabeth? What're you talking about?"
"I... I told Connor to go in there and talk to Detective Reed when he wasn't ready." Pressing hands to her face Elizabeth let out a deep sigh that carried the faint echo of a restrained sob. "I acci-"
"No, it's not your fault. You were just trying to give him the confidence he sorely needed. If anything I'm the one at fault because I lost my cool earlier at the precinct and snapped at him just for toying with his coin."
"He uses a quarter to help his hand-eye coordination and channel his anxious energy. I knew he was quietly doing his best to keep himself from getting stressed out and I made it worse because I don't like the way he juggles that damn coin around. Such a stupid thing to get mad about."
A faint smile graced Elizabeth's lips before disappearing in a flash. "Well, maybe we should remind Connor that we too made mistakes today and help him feel less guilty about his own sense of failures."
"You know something? You're right." Agreeing to apologize to Connor for snapping at him earlier Hank hoped that by showing the deviant that he's not the only one who made mistakes that day then he'd feel a little bit better. "The poor kid needs to be reminded that he's not the only one who makes mistakes and not the only one who feels bad about them."
The rest of the uncomfortably hot day was spent at the house with Hank in the livingroom wearing his old khaki shorts, a brand new white t-shirt and sipping at an ice cold root beer to substitute an actual beer. In the corner of the livingroom Sumo was laying on the floor beside his pillow with a small fan pointed right at him as he panted from the intense heat outside. Even after having his winter fur groomed from his pelt thanks to both Connor and Lucas giving him plenty of attention Sumo was still hot in the summer time, and he would rather stay inside in the cool livingroom as much as possible. Since Hank was still hot despite not being covered in fur he could only imagine how hot Sumo felt.
Down the hallway Connor was asleep in the guest room wearing a black t-shirt and thin pair of blue plaid pajama pants to make him feel as comfortable as possible. The deviant was sleeping atop the covers on his left side with an ice pack pressed to his abdomen to ensure his thermal regulator didn't malfunction a second time. The door was wide open and Connor easily slept through the quiet ambience of the house around him.
Finishing his root beer Hank placed the empty aluminum can down on the coffee table and let out a small belch just as two soft knocks on the door disturbed the otherwise perfect silence.
"Must be Lucas."
Rising from the couch Hank opened the front door and was met with someone much shorter than Lucas standing on the front porch and it caught him off guard.
"I hope I'm not intruding." A little worried she may have crossed a personal boundary the kind woman showed Hank the gray blazer she was still holding on to long after Connor collapsed. "But Connor never took back his jacket. I was given address by Dr. Grayson."
"Oh, uh, thanks." Taking the garment from Elizabeth's hand Hank stepped aside and invited the woman inside the house. "Come on in." Tossing the blazer over the back of the couch Hank tried to make Elizabeth feel welcome. "Get out of the heat for a moment."
"Oh, thank you, but I should get going."
"No way. You came all this way just drop off Connor's blazer, so the least I can do is offer you a bottle of water or a root beer, or something."
"I don't want to-"
"You're not intruding if you're invited." The way Elizabeth hesitated reminded him of the way both Connor and Lucas were reluctant to accept any offers or go anywhere new. The common ground among the three revolved around past trauma and abusive situations. "Connor's asleep right now, so it's just me and Sumo for the moment."
"Sumo?" Entering the house Elizabeth looked around as Hank closed the front door and soon heard the 'boof' of Sumo getting her attention. Laying eyes on the massive dog thumping his tail happily on the floor made Elizabeth's dark brown eyes light up. "Oh! Sumo!"
"He's a giant oaf and completely harmless." Hank confirmed as he and Elizabeth stood behind the couch in the livingroom. "If it wasn't for Connor and Lucas spoiling him rotten he'd be all over you looking for attention."
"I keep hearing about this 'Lucas'." The patient woman noted the recurring name but never seeing a face. "And Connor says he's his brother."
"Yeeeah." Hank smirked at the idea of Elizabeth seeing that the deviant who was designed after her late son now had an identical twin brother. "Lucas is-" Another set of knocks on the door stopped Hank mid sentence and prompted him to answer the door. "Well, this is Lucas."
Opening the front door Hank let Lucas inside and watched as Elizabeth's eyes widened with surprise.
"Lucas, meet Elizabeth Wolf." Introducing the two at last Hank closed the door again and saw Lucas's blue L.E.D. flash to yellow for a beat. "Elizabeth, this the Lucas you kept hearing about."
"Hello, Mrs. Wolf." Polite as ever Lucas greeted the woman kindly. "I am Lucas Wolf."
The same face as her son, save for Lucas's green eyes and darker hair, gave Elizabeth pause. She hadn't expected to ever see her son roaming the world after his passing, let alone two of him. "...H-Hello."
"I understand that you're uncomfortable with-"
"N-No, no! I'm not uncomfortable. I'm just... surprised." Another smile appeared on her lips as she saw Lucas standing before her. She didn't want Lucas to feel like he had done something wrong just by existing. "I didn't expect to see someone who looks so much like... You look like-"
Interjecting quickly Hank motioned for Lucas to go down the hallway and check on Connor. "Connor's asleep, but if you can get him to drink some Thirium that'd be great."
"I will check on his vitals and only awaken him if a replenishment is necessary." Taking a few steps closer to the hallway Lucas gave Elizabeth a polite nod before entering the guest room and taking Hank's rather broad hint. "Excuse me."
Seeing the look of shock on Elizabeth's face Hank again offered her something to drink. "Care for a root beer now? Maybe even the legit thing?"
"I... I think I would like that root beer, please."
"Sure. Come with me into the kitchen." Pulling back a chair from under the small table Hank offered her a place to sit as he opened the refrigerator door. "We should talk for a few minutes while the boys are down the hallway."
Elizabeth couldn't help but notice the way Hank referred to Connor and Lucas in a paternal way and wondered if Connor knew how much Hank cared about him. Sitting down at the table the patient woman graciously accepted the cool can of soda while Hank provided her with a clean glass. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Joining Elizabeth at the table Hank sighed and opened his own second can of soda for the evening. "So, it might be best to start from the beginning when it comes to those two..."
Inside the cool and quiet bedroom Lucas ran a scan over Connor's vitals and determined that Connor was stable enough to keep sleeping without needing any additional Thirium. Learning of Connor's collapse and malfunctioning thermal regulator during his visit to the hospital made Lucas worry that his older brother was suffering from further errors that he was simply trying to ignore, or even deny. Checking over the current status of the afflicted biocomponent with another scan Lucas noted that the regulator was currently functioning but there was a chance that without the ice pack it wouldn't be able to adapt to the harsh summer heat whatsoever.
Sitting down on the edge of the bed Lucas watched as Connor's dull eyes opened after feeling the mattress dip down under Lucas's weight. Without a word Lucas pushed aside the ice back from Connor's abdomen and tested how well the biocomponent could function without the assistance of the cold compress.
"How do you feel, brother?"
"Like a fool."
"You're not the first deviant or android to suffer from a malfunctioning thermal regulator in extreme weather."
"I wasn't talking about that."
"Then what do you feel foolish about?"
Rolling from his side and onto his back Connor gave Lucas a slight shake of his head. "I accidentally aggravated Hank at the precinct today when I admitted that I didn't drink any Thirium this morning and when I-"
"That's not what Hank told me."
The response made Connor fall silent as he tried to understand what Lucas was referring to.
"He let me know that he had been impatient with you this morning due to the heat and he's informed me that he feels bad for doing so. He apologized for yelling at you, didn't he?"
"Yes, back in the hospital before we left. However, since I was in the wro-"
"Connor, please don't blame yourself anymore." Resting his left palm over Connor's lower abdomen Lucas didn't detect any additional malfunctions and determined that Connor was indeed entirely stable. "You have no reason to feel guilty for anything that happened. The heat is making everyone feel terrible."
"How many people have kill-"
"Stop! No one faults you for doing what you had to do in order to save Detective Reed's life." Pulling back his hand Lucas gave Connor a stern stare. "The only one who blames you for what happened is you."
"How can I not?"
"By accepting that it's impossible to save the entire world from itself. That's something you taught me when I accepted that even as the only 'RK-900' in existence and being designed to be flawless I cannot alone change the world for the better." Being the voice of reason Lucas managed to get inside Connor's head for just a moment. "Why should you be any different?"
"Because I'm the older brother." Connor finally admitted in a shameful tone. "I'm supposed to set the example and be someone you can count on. And I've failed to be a decent example for you to follow and a disappointment in Hank's eyes."
"Connor... I could never see you as anyone other than my big brother, and I'm proud to say it. Hank is proud of you, too." The way Connor's emotions were regressing was becoming rather alarming. "Where is all of this sense of doubt and fear coming from?"
"...I don't know." Turning away from Lucas to stare at the far wall Connor tried to understand where that seed of doubt had initially come from. "I really don't."
"Perhaps we should take Hank's advice and go on a vacation. A true vacation."
Unsure of how to respond to the suggestion Connor just turned onto his right side and presented his back to Lucas.
"I'll leave you alone to rest."
Rising from the bed Lucas looked at the opened door of the bedroom and decided to talk to Hank about leaving the city for a while to have a momentary change of pace. They needed a chance to relax.
"Try not to worry about anything else, brother. Hank and I will help you for as long as you need us."