A warm and sunny day greeted Detroit with a much appreciated wash of amber rays keeping the brisk autumnal air at bay for a while longer. The city was still teetering on the edge of a double-edged sword of uncertainty and change as the mayoral campaign prepared for a second debate with the two candidates at the beginning of October just one week away. Tense and mistrustful of everyone and everything happening around them, all of Detroit was unnervingly quiet as people; humans and deviants alike, stayed away from large public gatherings, kept from other people, and put on metaphorical blinders to avoid witnessing any potential controversy.
The close call at the asylum the previous night had resulted in Connor needing to have his Thirium pump activity monitored closely and having extended time off to heal. Sleeping well throughout the night, morning and now into afternoon, Connor was unaware of Lucas scanning over his system and monitoring his vital signs every hour on the hour. It didn't take long for Hank to hang around the recovering deviant as well after he woke up.
"How's he doing?" Whispering as to not disturb Connor's rest Hank watched as Lucas checked the monitor recording Connor's vitals and asked for an update from the attentive deviant brother. "If he needs his heart checked out don't hesitate to tell me."
"His vital signs are strong and his Thirium pump is showing no sign of distress."
"Buuut?" Sensing that Lucas was holding something back Hank watched as Lucas's brow knit with confusion then smoothed as he finished his overall assessment of Connor's condition. "What's wrong?"
"But, his thermal regulator is still struggling to moderate his core temperature as consistently as necessary."
"What does that mean?"
"It means his thermal regulator is functioning at approximately seventy-two percent capacity." Putting the monitor aside Lucas pulled back the quilt from Connor's bare chest and torso and promptly placed his now exposed right palm over Connor's lower abdomen to run a more thorough diagnostic on the vital biocomponent. "It's still functioning well enough that he can live a normal life, but he'll be more prone to atmospheric temperature changes unless it's repaired or replaced."
"Replaced?" That very idea made Hank's skin crawl. "Isn't that like an organ transplant for androids?"
"Correct. As I said, the thermal regulator is still functional but is merely weakened."
"Damn. Poor kid needs to catch a break." Rubbing his right palm over his bearded chin Hank sighed and forced himself to ask another important question about Connor's condition. "If he does end up needing a replacement how would we go about that?"
"...We wouldn't." Pausing for a moment Lucas pulled back his hand and replaced the quilt over Connor's chest and abdomen. "Connor's a prototype. He was designed by CyberLife to be disposable and replaceable. They never created any replacement biocomponents that are compatible with his design."
That answer wasn't one Hank was expecting to hear. "Fuck me."
"I'll request that compatible parts for Connor go into manufacturing by contacting Digital Sentience." Remaining as calm as ever Lucas leaned back and sat down on the edge of the second bed to give his big brother some space. "It will take some time but there will be replacement parts for Connor and myself put into stock throughout the city."
"Good. That'll let me sleep a little easier tonight." Feeling his phone buzz in his right jean pocket Hank saw a text message waiting for him and let out a small sigh of relief. Sending a reply message Hank slipped the phone back into his pocket and trusted Lucas to keep tabs on Connor until Connor finally woke up. "I need to go pick up a few things downtown and then I'm coming right back. Need any Thirium or anything?"
"It'd be wise to bring extra Thirium back home to ensure Connor is able to fully recover. He's undoubtedly going to use a majority of his Thirium as his self healing program focuses on repairing any and all damage his Thirium pump had endured."
"Right. I'll let Sumo out before I go so you don't have to worry about him having an accident or begging for some chow."
"I can handle Sumo just fine. Hopefully Connor will awaken soon enough to take Sumo for a walk before it gets too late in the day."
"Maybe. If he doesn't wake up on his own in say... two hours, go ahead and wake him up yourself." Sounding a tad enigmatic Hank stepped back through the bedroom doorway and seemed to be thinking about something else as he spoke with Lucas. "I don't want him to sleep the entire day away."
Curious about Hank's behavior but more focused on Connor's overall recovery Lucas didn't keep Hank any longer and resumed checking on Connor's condition. The way Connor had slept for almost fourteen consecutive hours was a little worrying but not uncommon when someone was recovering from severe physical trauma to their bodies.
"I do hope you'll wake up without need me to prompt it, brother. You've been through enough and deserve to sleep without any form of intervention."
Sitting still on the edge of his bed Lucas began cybernetically began checking in with the news reports around the city and was pleased to see that the arrest of Stanley Fordon was the main focus. Fordon was going to be charged with very serious crimes that guaranteed him a life sentence without a possibility of parole. Aside from his unlawful abduction of and torturing of Connor in the asylum, Fordon was being with charged with numerous counts of cyber terrorism, identity theft, falsifying records, assault, manslaughter, third degree murder, fraud and any other charge deemed necessary to keep him behind bars for the rest of his miserable life for crimes against deviantkind.
"Good news. Fordon will be prosecuted without needing you to take the stand. It's truly over."
Connor remained asleep and didn't show any sign of waking up any time soon.
"It may not seem like it, but Pamela will receive justice at long last. I know that in time all of the deviants that Fordon had experimented on will receive justice as well. Try not to worry."
The rest of the news was revolving around the weather, the mayoral campaign and some highlights of Kamski's past interviews when he was still in charge of CyberLife well over a decade beforehand. There was nothing else of interest, not that Detroit could think about anything but the mayoral debate anyway, and in time the city would have to accept that their new mayor was either going to be a deviant with a formidable history of defiance and change, or a human who thought of himself as being superior to the rest of the world and had a history of arrogance, mystery and controversy.
Word of the arrest of Stanley Fordon and of what he had been doing at the asylum reached New Jericho Tower before the news reached the media itself. The idea that he and the other leaders had sent deviants of questionable integrity and mental health to that very asylum worried Markus. The very possibility that people he had tried to help were hurt because of one vicious technician made the deviant leader feel incredibly sick to his stomach. Pacing about his private quarters of the tower Markus looked through the massive window in his room and watching the dark water in the harbor lapping against the sandy shores of the private isle Markus wondered if he had unintentionally done more harm than good by pushing his ill people away.
As someone who wanted to take on the additional responsibility of watching over and guiding the entire city, Markus knew that he'd need to watch his every step and be mindful of every little decision he had ever made and could ever possibly make. Every choice that came his way was going to be monitored under a microscope and analyzed by the city with a harsh and relentless judgment.
Stopping his anxious pacing Markus stood before the window and peered through his reflection over the surface of the shiny glass and watched the waves in the harbor going about its natural rhythm as it lapped against the sandy shore encircling the isle. It was soothing to focus on the waves and nothing else. Even hearing the door to his private quarters 'hiss' open didn't pull Markus's attention from the harbor.
"How many of our people are blaming me for what happened at the asylum?" Without needing to look at the second reflection on the window Markus knew it was North who had come into his quarters to speak with him. "I know it's happening, so don't try to sugarcoat it."
"Quite few of our people are pissed off because of what happened at the asylum, but surprisingly no one is blaming you, me Simon or Josh." Joining Markus by the window North leaned her head against his right shoulder and sighed as she too looked at the harbor below. "They're mad at the asylum for failing to properly staff the place and for not have adequate security set up to keep people like Fordon from experimenting on our people."
"They aren't looking at me to take responsibility?"
"Not this time." Sounding as surprised as Markus the fiery deviant was impressively calm in the face of potential chaos. "They know that you aren't in charge of the asylum."
"That's a relief. Even so, we still need to find a way to force the asylum to step up and claim responsibility for what had happened out there. Until the police finish their investigation we can't get involved."
"You can't just sit back and do nothing, either."
"I know. That's why I'm going to reach out and make contact with someone who could prove to be an invaluable ally if he so chooses to accept my offer."
"Are you talking about Connor?"
"Yes." Wrapping his right arm around North's shoulders Markus pulled her up closer against his side and felt a sense of warm peace wash over his entire being as they stood together before the window. "He was willing to vouch for me and my campaign at the risk of being investigated by his own precinct. I imagine he'd be willing to meet with us and discuss the city's future as his insights as a detective are invaluable."
"Wait, 'us'?" North picked up on the plural connotation in Markus's comment and it made her cinnamon brown eyes light up for a moment. "You want me to act like a buffer between you and Connor?"
"More like... act as additional moral support so he knows my invitation to meet with him stems from a purely professional manner and not from me trying to dredge up the past or accidentally reopen old wounds. What do you think?"
"I think if you can agree to get Connor to sit down and speak with you about anything that has to do with your campaign and the future, then it's worth offering my opinion on the matter."
"You're right about that. I can only hope that Connor doesn't want to keep as far away from me as possible and doesn't regret standing up for me."
"I'm sure if he did regret standing up for you then he would've said or done something to recant his statement. My guess is he just wants to live his own life without worrying about politics."
"Can't say that I blame him for that." Gazing at the huge and ever changing world through the window Markus sighed and wondered if he had made a mistake by staying in Detroit. He had stayed because of Carl and because of New Jericho, but now he wondered if running for mayor was just knee-jerk reaction to trying to protect his people as an excuse to stay in the city instead of moving on to bigger and better things. "I hate politics as much as anyone else, yet I'm the one running for mayor."
"When you win you can make the changes the city needs and then retire early undefeated. How about that?"
Smirking at the notion Markus tightened his arm around North and held her close. "Or... we can just go on a nice long vacation. Just the two of us."
"I like the way you think." Standing up on her tiptoes North gave Markus a kiss on his lips and grinned. "You're going to be a great mayor."
From within the guestroom of the warm and inviting home Lucas heard the Oldsmobile pull into the driveway beside the house and knew that Hank had returned home after running his errands. Standing up from the bed Lucas made his way toward the front door in the livingroom to assist Hank with taking care of his most recent purchases. Opening the door for Hank's convenience Lucas noticed that Hank had more grocery bags than usual and made a move to help him carry the numerous parcels inside the kitchen to be put away properly. The large amounts of food, Thirium, two curiously gift wrapped large rectangular envelopes and a bag full of items that no male would ever need rose many red flags in Lucas's mind.
Carrying the bags into the kitchen Lucas eyed each purchase curiously but didn't say a word. He had no right to question Hank about his purchases or why he had made such purchases. Placing the bags down on the kitchen table and countertops Lucas merely updated Hank on Connor's condition to try to distract his own curious thoughts for a moment.
"Connor is still sleeping well and shows no sign of distress." Pulling a large bottle of Thirium-based wine from the first bag Lucas eyed it for only a moment before placing it down on the counter by the sink. "I know you don't want him to sleep through the entire day but it'd be best to let him keep resting."
"Trust me, Lucas." Separating one of the bags of groceries from the others Hank began putting all of the unexpected items into the one bag to be stored in the hallway closet for the time being. "He'll want to be awake pretty soon."
Unpacking more groceries Lucas discovered that Hank had bought two impressive sized steaks, two Thirium-based steaks and a large Thirium-based cake as well. Such purchases were very costly and wouldn't just be an impulse-buy. "May I ask why your purchased groceries are rather... extravagant?"
"For the same reason Connor won't want to sleep the day away." Carrying the bag of odd items down the hallway Hank put it inside the small storage space to ensure it didn't get in the way and would be ready for when it was actually needed. "It's a special occasion tonight."
"How so?" Unpacking a bag of charcoal, lighter fluid and decorative banner next Lucas was truly confused by everything happen. "Are we going to have an end of summer barbecue?"
A coy smirk appeared on Hank's face as he took the banner from Lucas's hand and carried the two gift wrapped items into the livingroom. "Something like that."
"Even as a detective I cannot understand what you're hint-" Pausing mid sentence Lucas heard a large vehicle pulling up in front of the neighboring house, the house that Connor and Evelyn had purchased, and opened the backdoor to peer over the fence. A rented moving van was parked in the driveway beside Connor's house and backed up toward the garage. A smaller red car was parked right beside it. "There is an autonomous moving van and unknown red vehicle parked in Connor's driveway."
"Great timing!" Hank smiled proudly as he finished hanging up the banner in the livingroom across the mantle and walked toward the front door again. "I haven't lost my touch when it comes to getting everything organized."
"Hank, what is going on?" Following the senior detective into the livingroom Lucas eyed the decorative banner and then watched as Hank opened the front door and raised his left hand to wave at someone approaching the house. As Hank stepped to the side Lucas's green eyes went wide with surprise when he spotted Evelyn herself jogging up the front walk to finally finish moving into Detroit and beginning her new life with Connor. "Evelyn? You're here early."
"You sound a little disappointed." Grinning as she gave Hank a hug Evelyn looked truly relieved to finally be in Detroit. The hard part was over. "Hank told me what happened to Connor last night and Connor said he was going to be okay, but I took the necessary steps to get here sooner so I can be with him after his close call."
"I'm sure he'll be happy to see you." Now understanding Hank's behavior and coy mood Lucas readily accepted a hug from Evelyn as well. The fear of direct contact from potentially abusive humans and deviants was entirely gone and now Lucas truly enjoyed the idea of being hugged. "I know I am."
"You're a charmer just like your brother." Letting up on the hug Evelyn nodded toward the hallway to ask where Connor was at the moment. "Is he still asleep?"
"Yes, but now that you're here I suspect he won't mind being awoken."
"He better not, I drove for four and half hours to get here!" Letting go of Lucas after giving him an extra tight hug Evelyn quietly made her way down the hallway and peered inside the opened door of the guestroom and smiled brightly. She could see Connor sleeping peacefully in the bed and was relieved to see him alive and well. "You two leave him to me. I'll wake him up."
Stepping into the bedroom with silent steps Evelyn closed the door behind herself and crept over to the bed where Connor was laying with Sumo curled up on his legs. Seeing the way Connor was in a deep sleep and had the Thirial activity monitor attached to his chest made Evelyn worry that he was suffering more than he wanted to admit. Having enough emergency first aid training and brushing up on android anatomy allowed her to confirm that Connor's vital signs were healthy and stable on the monitor and with that she was confident she could awaken Connor from his sleep without any problems.
Sitting down on the right side of the bed Evelyn reached up her left hand to gently comb her fingers through Connor's dark locks of hair for a moment before leaning down to give him a kiss. It took only a moment for Connor to react to the gentle touch in his hair and soft lips pressed against his own. As he opened his exhausted brown eyes for the first time in sixteen hours Connor looked up at Evelyn leaning over him causing his eyes to light up with love and recognition the moment he saw her lovely face.
"Hey." Evelyn whispered as she continued to fuss with his hair in a soothing manner. "You're awake."
"I am." Making a move to sit upright in the bed Connor felt the wires to the leads attached to his chest tug a little and remembered what he had been through the night before. The damage he had sustained had left his system so exhausted and desperate for a proper rest while his self healing program functioned at maximum capacity it had left Connor sleeping without dreaming or even a sense of passing time. "How long... Did I sleep through the entire week?"
"Nope. I just finished everything in Chicago early so I could be here with you."
Taking Evelyn's right hand in his own Connor held tight and gave her a small smile of true admiration and affection. "Thank you. I'm glad you're finally here."
"So am I. I have the moving van ready by the garage so we can move in the good stuff I got out of my apartment and then go get everything else we need to move in and be happy together in our new home together."
"You're all I need to be happy."
"You're such a sweet talker. I'm not at all surprised that Lucas can be so kind and sweet like you."
"Lucas..." Gaining his bearings Connor's memorybank only partially registered his return to the house with Hank and Lucas watching over him from the night before. "That's right. He's here as well. Hank told him what happened and Lucas came to the house to wait for our return last night."
"Everyone's out there waiting for you." As she spoke Evelyn felt Sumo's cold wet nose pressing against her left arm before he tried to climb onto Connor's lap to keep the deviant pinned down. "I take it back, everyone on two legs is out there waiting for you."
"I imagine they've been waiting long enough as well." Careful to not pull on any of the wires or disconnect the portable monitor Connor removed his quilt, picked up the monitor and slowly stood upright beside the bed. His legs were still a little shaky but he wasn't in any danger of falling. "I should put on a shirt before I rejoin everyone."
"But you look so good without one." Flashing Connor a wink Evelyn too rose from the bed and slid open the closet door at the far wall. There was a small selection of t-shirts, button down shirts and hoodies kept in the closet just in case Connor or Lucas needed some spare clothes. "Have a preference?"
"The dark blue button down. It'll be easier to manage without affecting the monitor."
Retrieving the requested shirt from the hangar in the closet Evelyn carried it over to Connor and helped him get his arms through the sleeves one at a time to avoid dropping the monitor. "How much longer do you need to wear that?"
"A total of forty-eight hours, so only thirty-two additional hours before I can have it removed." With the shirt on over his arms Connor awkwardly but effectively buttoned his shirt with just his right hand while his left hand held the monitor at his side. "It's merely a precautionary measure due to the nature of my previous injury."
"Hank told me what happened." Taking hold of Connor's right hand in her own again Evelyn gave him a sorrowful stare as she looked him in the eyes. "I can't believe someone so horrible really walks this planet."
"He's been locked away and he'll pay for his crimes." Having heard Lucas's voice even while he slept Connor knew of what happened to Fordon after he had been rescued from the asylum. "It's over. Everyone will receive their justice."
"You're right. We need to focus on the good things and stop obsessing over the bad things."
"And we'll do it together." Still holding onto Evelyn's hand Connor made his way toward the bedroom door to finally reunite with his father and brother after sleeping for so long. "I'm incredibly happy that you're here with me."
"And I'm here to stay." Accompanying Connor down the hallway and into the livingroom, Sumo trailing after the loving couple with his tail wagging the whole time, Evelyn suddenly stepped in front of Connor and gave him another kiss. "And... Happy birthday!"
Pondering the simple comment as Evelyn broke the kiss Connor gave her entirely confused glance. "Happy... birthday?" Glancing past Evelyn's shoulder Connor noticed that there were two wrapped envelopes sitting on the coffee table in the livingroom, there was a 'Happy Birthday' banner hanging on the mantle, and that Hank was busying himself in the kitchen with what looked like an elaborate meal. "What's going on?"
"Well, Hank and I were talking and we decided that you and Lucas needed to have a proper birthday to celebrate your new lives as deviants, and we decided that since you're twins you get the fun of having double the celebration on one day." Pulling Connor toward the kitchen Evelyn never lost her smile. "We were hoping to have everything ready to go on the 15th, since you know..."
"August 15th was the official date of my total activation." Connor acknowledged the important date with a subtle grin. "You and Hank were secretly planning a birthday celebration for Lucas and myself?"
"It's not as easy as it sounds, but, yes." Evelyn continued to smile as she stood inside the kitchen with Connor. "It's not the biggest of parties but it's still all for you two. You're brothers with a great father, and even though your family is small it doesn't mean you don't have the right to celebrate big days like this."
"Hopefully our family won't be as small for too much longer..."
That wish didn't elude Hank's attention and prompted the senior detective to turn away from the four steaks that he was seasoning to peer at Connor over his left shoulder. Not saying a word about it Hank watched the way Connor's brown eyes lit up as he spoke and never let Evelyn's hand go. Deep down inside Hank knew that Connor was truly in love and found someone who loved him just as much.
"Glad you're on your feet again, son." Giving Connor a comforting voice to hear Hank didn't dare to say or do anything to bring down the mood. "Perfect time, too. We're going to have a mini celebration, have some good food and just spend the rest of the day relaxing."
"Sounds good to me. Right now I don't want to be anywhere else or with anyone else."
The backdoor opened from the outside as Lucas appeared and spoke to Hank for a moment. "I was able to light the grill and stoke to coals into maintaining a consistent heat of four-hundred and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit."
"Perfect!" Hank praised the younger of the two deviants as he resumed seasoning the steaks before bringing them out back to be grilled. "Thanks for your help, son."
"You're welcome." Looking to Connor for his personal reassurance Lucas asked his brother about his condition. "How do you feel, Connor?"
"I am well." Giving his little brother a respectful nod Connor confirmed that he was recovering from his injuries albeit slowly. "I feel weak and my Thirium will need to be replenished soon, but I'm not in any danger."
"That's good to hear."
Returning his focus to Evelyn standing before him Connor asked her a simple question. "When you said you took care of things in Chicago sooner than planned, what did that entail?"
"I packed up the essentials, asked my landlord to distribute what I didn't take to the neighbors or to charity, and asked for Captain Warren to confirm my first day with the Eastern Precinct as previously planned so we can spend a few more days together before I need to get to work." Wrapping her arms around Connor's shoulders Evelyn locked her blue eyes with his brown eyes and gave him an adoring look. "My car is parked on the other side of the moving van and I have no plans on driving away any time soon. I'm here to stay!"
Eager to show Evelyn to her new house Connor had an exciting idea pop into his head. "Shall I show you to your new home before dinner?"
"That sounds wonderful." Giving Connor another kiss Evelyn accepted the offer. "Show me our new home!"
Hank could only smirk as the two lovebirds passed through the kitchen, the livingroom and out the front door to go visit their new home together for the very first time. The memories of buying his own house and carrying Barbara over the threshold were some of his fondest, and the memory of bringing Cole home for the very first time after his first son was born was entirely unforgettable.
Lucas noticed the smirk on Hank's face and needed to ask him about it. "You're in a very good mood in light of everything that happened. May I ask how?"
"Easy. I have my family with me." Hank replied without missing a beat as he carried his plate of prepared steaks toward the backdoor. "I have both of my boys home safe and sound, and I know in time I'll have a daughter-in-law to call my own."
"You truly feel as if Connor and Evelyn belong together, too?" Opening the backdoor on Hank's behalf Lucas joined Hank on the small back brick patio area and began preconstructing the blueprints for a deck to be built on the property. "It's a relief to know I'm not the only one."
"Love is a fickle thing. You can feel it for a fleeting moment, for eternity or not at all." Glancing over the fence dividing his property from Connor and Evelyn's property Hank saw through the side window of the second house showing the still empty livingroom that Connor and Evelyn were truly happy together, and shared another kiss before checking out the other rooms on the second floor. "The fact that Connor and Evelyn found each other after everything that happened in their very unusual lives says a lot about people finding their soulmate."
"...Soulmate." The concept was unusual for an android to consider. Whether or not deviants had hearts and souls was still up for debate and everything was still just a theory. "Interesting."
"Could you do me a favor?"
"Of course. What is it?"
"Take that bag from the closet and take it over to Connor and Evelyn's house. Also make sure Connor isn't going to try to move around any furniture or something heavy with that damn monitor still attached to his chest."
"That's a wise precaution." Lucas knew his big brother could be headstrong and stubborn, and he wouldn't be surprised if Connor tried to do something he wasn't ready to do. "I'll only be a moment."
Waiting to have a minute alone in the backyard Hank let out a small sigh as he fought to keep his conflicted emotions in check. He was relieved that Connor survived and was able to move around without any complications, but felt a little useless since Connor had Lucas and Evelyn to look after him as well. The idea that the two deviants he took in as his sons not needing him to be their father anymore was a bittersweet one. It was natural for all children to grow up, no matter who they were or how they became a part of a family, but Hank just wasn't ready to see the two deviants who helped him find a reason to keep living already living on their own terms and not needing his guidance any longer.
The pride he felt toward Connor and Lucas was undeniable, yet he couldn't help but regret that he encouraged them so much to live their own lives so soon. He missed being a father and having a family to come home to after working all day long. Knowing that Connor and Evelyn were going to be next door and that Lucas would be staying in the brownstone suddenly gave Hank a nasty case of empty-nest syndrome.
It was even harder considering the fact that Hank hadn't missed Connor calling him 'dad' the night before when he found Connor in the asylum. He didn't think anything of it at the time since Connor was terrified and he just reacted as he would with anyone else who needed his help. Hank's paternal instincts guided his every step without him ever stopping to question his behavior. It seemed normal for Hank to be seen and addressed as a father in Connor's life.
"Fuck. Hard to be the rock for those kids to lean on when I'm breaking down over Connor just moving next door."
The tour of the house was everything Evelyn could've hoped for and she couldn't stop smiling or holding Connor's hand. Standing together in the second bedroom nearest the master bedroom the two began imagining how it'd look if it had a crib, a changing table, a rocking chair and some little toys and blankets strewn all about. They knew that they wanted that bedroom to be the baby's room and could only hope and wait for Zhorra to give her blessing for them to adopt her baby after it was born. As much as they wanted to go ahead and buy everything that a baby would need they also wanted to stay grounded and not get their hopes up too high.
Doing their best to remain optimistic but not to a heartbreaking extent Connor and Evelyn walked about the rest of the house and heard Lucas knocking on the front door to announce his presence. Allowing Lucas inside to join them Connor offered to show Lucas about the place as well after he handed off the bag to Evelyn to take.
"Oh, I'm going to make sure Hank knows he's the best." Seeing everything he bought just for her to ensure she was comfortable and taken care of while adapting to a new city made Evelyn grin. She then proceeded to put everything away in the ground floor bathroom. "He's truly the wisest man in all of Detroit."
The tour of the house was quick but informative and Lucas sensed that part of the reason Connor and Evelyn wanted such a big space to live revolved around wanting to have more people enter their lives and join the family. "Your house is truly exquisite. Strong foundation, spacious without being expansive and it's right next door to Hank."
"You're welcome here anytime you wish to visit, brother." Connor wanted his and Evelyn's home to be as open and welcoming as Hank's home had been. "We'll be sure you and Hank have your own keys to the house to ensure you can always come here."
"Thank you, Connor. I appreciate that."
Evelyn finished unpacking the bag in the bathroom and rejoined Connor and Lucas in the livingroom. "Let's get the van unpacked so it can return to the rental place and then we can go back and help Hank with dinner. We can find places for everything to go in the morning."
"Agreed." Connor was excited to furnish a house with Evelyn and wanted to make the house feel truly like it belonged to him and the woman he loved. "It isn't right to leave Hank alone for so long while he's cooking dinner for the family."
The impending loss of summer prompted everyone to enjoy their dinner outside in the backyard and around the bonfire pit with lawn chairs and card tables to in place of the kitchen table and wooden chairs. The grilled steaks were absolutely perfect, Sumo agreed as well when Evelyn gave him a small piece of her steak to snack on, and the warm evening made the entire meal worth the wait. While Connor and Lucas were able to sway Hank and Evelyn away from singing 'Happy Birthday' to them as they blew out the two candles on the cake (one for each of them) and then tried the new Thirium-based desert after they had their Thirium-based steaks. Unused to having so much Thirium to eat the two deviants had to pace themselves to ensure they didn't push their Thirium reserves to their limits and prompt an emergency expulsion by mistake.
Enjoying the sunset a while longer the four detectives all shared stories of their past cases of the most intrigue; Hank of course won when he mentioned an urban legend about a killer fish stalking the streets, but as per usual the truth behind the urban legend was far from as interesting at the myth. A drunk man in a fish mascot costume tackling people in the dark was hardly anything new to see or experience in Detroit.
"I know you two are new to birthdays and holidays in general," Hank mentioned as the group gathered their items to return to the house as the sun finished setting in the horizon. "but you need to learn to take part in these celebrations from time to time."
Carrying the card tables and chairs through the backdoor the group listened to Hank's words of wisdom as the eventful day came to an end. The younger three detectives knew that Hank was speaking from life experiences and invaluable knowledge he had gained from his impressive career as a detective.
"Don't feel like you need to go all out and have huge parties or something every time, but be sure to recognize key events and dates that are important in your lives. Got it?"
"Yes." Connor confirmed he heard the advice and he handed off the extra chairs and tables to Lucas to carry into the garage. He didn't want to stress out his body while he still had the attached monitor recording his vital signs. "We understand."
"Good. And now..." Motioning to the livingroom Hank invited everyone to join him in the comforting space for one last surprise. "You boys get to open your gift."
"Gift?" The notion of birthday presents was incredibly unusual to the two deviants. In their minds being given gifts for reaching a one year anniversary of not getting themselves killed seemed fairly vain and bizarre. Lucas was especially confused of being given something just for being alive. "What kind of gift?"
"Open 'em up and find out." Holding up the two wrapped envelopes Hank handed them over to Connor and Lucas to take as he and Evelyn stood back to watch them see what they had been given. The envelopes were large and sealed with official government recognition, and being wrapped up in dark blue decorative paper seemed contradictory. "Now, before you see what they are I just want you to know that if I crossed a line or did something you don't like, just tell me. I can handle it. Be honest."
Giving each other perplexed glances for a moment Connor and Lucas accepted the gifts from Hank and removed the paper carefully. Recognizing the importance of the government postage on the envelopes caused the two deviants to pause momentarily before opening up the envelopes to view the contents sealed within. Moving carefully the two deviants made sure to not damage any of the contents within and unfolded all of the paper documents to read over.
In a matter of seconds both deviants were stunned into absolute silence as their eyes widened with shock. The monitor recording Connor's vital signs spiked with that emotional shock as his heart skipped a beat and began beating faster than usual. Such a reaction caught both Hank and Evelyn's attention but neither human said a word and just waited for Connor and Lucas to verbally respond.
"Hank..." Breaking the tense silence first Connor read over the document easily a thousand times with his superior computing prowess as tears filled his soulful brown eyes. It wasn't a mistake and everything had been filed appropriately weeks before. "You... You adopted us?"
"It's official." The proud father figure acknowledged as he watched the deviant brothers holding the official documents in their hands while they were trying their hardest to not have strong emotional reactions. "I had to pull some strings to get the paperwork pushed through quicker than usual, but it's done. That is, if you two agree. All we need is our signatures to make you both officially my sons."
Lucas was stunned at the idea of truly belonging to a family and read his full name in near awe. "Lucas Caleb Wolf." The middle name was something completely unexpected and something Lucas had never considered filling out for himself. "Where did the name 'Caleb' come from?"
"Uh, well, Barb and I wanted more kids and we both agreed that if we had another son we'd name him 'Caleb'. That... That never happened, so I figured giving you a proper middle name would be just as good." Feeling a little sheepish Hank wondered if he should've let the two pick their own names. "Do... you like it?"
"Y-Yes. Having a name, a real full name, is..." It was a challenge to find the right words to express himself but Lucas finally knew what to say. "This is an exceptional gift! I couldn't imagine having any other middle name."
Connor also had a middle name and it was one he could only imagine the reasoning behind. "Connor Henry Wolf. You named me after yourself?"
"It's a family tradition to name the firstborn son after the paternal grandfather. Cole's middle name was 'Lucas'," giving Lucas an amused grin Hank went on with the explanation. "and he was named after my father. Since I won't be a grandfather I decided to tweak that tradition and skip a generation. You're the older brother so you get the name."
Turning to look at Evelyn as she stood back with her own tears in her blue eyes Connor couldn't help but give her a knowing glance about their plans to adopt a child of their own in the future and knew Hank would in fact have the chance to be a grandfather. Slowly turning to look back at Hank again Connor too accepted the middle name and was entirely gracious. "I'm honored to be named after you."
"Then..." Pulling a black ink pen from his back pocket Hank offered it over to the deviants to take. "All that's left is the signatures. You two first."
Without saying a word Connor and Lucas mutually had the same idea and postponed signing their names just yet. "Actually, there is one thing on this paperwork that needs to be changed."
Hank's blue eyes dulled for a moment as he waited for the shoe to drop. "What's that?"
"The surname." Connor answered in a calm and composed voice. "If we're going to be your sons then the names need to match."
Lucas agreed entirely and made a move to make the correct changes on the documents in his hands first. "The name 'Anderson' does sound better than 'Wolf', doesn't it?"
"It does." The idea of being Hank's sons and making it clear to everyone to to see and hear sounded like the icing on the metaphorical cake. "Connor Anderson and Lucas Anderson sounds more... right."
The way Hank was on the verge of crying himself solidified that Hank had in fact done the right thing by his boys. "Yeah... It does sound right."
Finally accepting the pen from Hank's hand Lucas made the appropriate changes first and proudly signed his new, full name on the signature line at the bottom of the paperwork. Handing the pen over to Connor to take the second deviant did the same and signed his new name with a genuine sense of purpose knowing that he and Lucas were officially a part of Hank's family.
"Now, it's your turn to sign." Passing the pen back over to Hank to take Connor watched as his father too signed his names on the slightly modified documents to have everything filed officially for legal reasons. It was done and now Connor and Lucas definitively had Hank as their father figure. "Are you ready... dad?"
With the same pride Hank signed both documents with his full name and promptly wrapped both arms around his sons to give them a strong hug. Returning the hug as tightly as they could Connor and Lucas held on to their father with all their strength and didn't dare to let go. Deviants finding a home was one thing, but gaining a family was something entirely special and needed to be treated as such!
Standing back and watching the wonderful moment unfold in real time Evelyn couldn't help but feel happy for the two deviants and just a touch jealous that Connor and Lucas were gifted with an actual father on their birthday. It was incredible to be a part of something so world changing and Evelyn couldn't imagine anything more appropriate to give someone on their birthday.
Holding on to the two deviants for a moment longer Hank finally found a sense of peace and that annoying empty-nest syndrome vanished knowing that his sons were home. "Welcome to the family, sons."