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Chapter 4: Of Ailing Androids and Helpful Partners
The clock seemed to tick by slowly, each passing minute dragging on longer than the last. Normally the construct of time was irrelevant to Connor as his actions were often calculated enough to be completed down to a fraction of a second but for some reason it seemed that every time he glanced at the clock, the hands had barely moved. He really just wanted to go back home with Hank and finish his recharge plus his thirium levels were really starting to go haywire and he found himself sniffling nearly every minute or so.
“Hehh..”,he paused, head tilted back just enough to give any passerby a quick glimpse of the very inner rims of his ever reddening nostrils complete with the faintest of blue tints thanks to the thirium,”O-Ohh..?”. His hand lowered as the itch died down, leaving him both relieved and frustrated at the same time. Sneezing was tedious and the handkerchief Hank had given him earlier was rather used at this point but in the same breathe the itch remained regardless of how mild or not it was.
He just needed to focus on work and nothing else. Those were his orders, plain and simple. Even if the itch was getting worse again and maybe if he just rubbed his nose real quick..?
“Hh’GStCHh! Heh’TSChhh!”,he snapped forward, spraying his desk and computer screen in flecks of glistening blue fluid,”Hihh..Hh’GSTChh!”.
Hank, having been stealing glances every now and then from over his screen, grimaced noticeably but offered a half hearted,“Gesundheit!”.
“Th-Thagksstschh! ‘GsTChh! H-Hehhh’TSCHH!”,each sneeze sent a fine mist of blue drifting down onto his desk and anything unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire. He let an exasperated sigh escape his parted lips, thirium dribbling over them and collecting at the bottom of his chin. His hand swiped at the liquid, watching passively as some of it absorbed into the cuff of his suit, temporarily staining the fabric blue.
Another lazy blessing was offered from Hank as well as one or two more from various officers around the room. His sneezes were starting to garner attention, mainly from curious or otherwise baffled onlookers that were equally unaware that androids could sneeze.
“Hank, I hate tdo bother you but you wouldn’t happen tdo have tissues over there, would you? Mby nose seems tdo insist on continuing to run and it’s proving problematic..and messy.”,he murmured softly.
The grizzled man leaned back in his chair, giving Connor a pointed look before shaking his head,”Uh, no? But there might be some in the break room--”. He trailed off when he noticed the overly distant and glazed over look on his partner’s face, arms crossing slowly over his broad chest.
“Hh’NxTChh! ‘NxTChh!”,the robot’s hands flew up to his face quickly, managing to contain the spray this time around but at the cost of coating his hands in the colored liquid. He shakily got to his feet, hands cupped firmly over his face as he staggered towards the break room, sneezing thrice more in rapid succession as he went, the sound echoing out around him.
A few of the lingering gazes quickly shifted from the sneezing bot to Hank as if wordlessly asking what that was about.
After a few moments, Hank grunted and got to his feet, lazily shoving his hands in his pockets and making his way towards the breakroom,”Ya’ll act like you’ve never seen a sneezin’ android before..jeez.”.
He’d barely made it to the doorway when he heard Connor in the middle of another fit, gently knocking on the doorframe to avoid startling him,”Hey..you, uh, okay in here? Did you find the tissues?”.
The only response he got was another loud sneeze followed by a harsh coughing fit that seemed to leave the poor guy swaying on his feet. He clutched a mess of tissues in his hand, swiping at his nose as he looked up at Hank, a mess of blue still smeared over his upper lip and partially onto his cheek.
“Hank..I-I don’d feel good. Mby circuits feel like they’re overheating, mby chest biocomponents seem to be acting up, and I can’t stop sndeehh..sndeezing..”,his expression was one of exhaustion or at least as close to it as an artificial being can manage anyways,”I think, perhaps, I’d like to go home..”. He took a tentative step towards Hank, swaying slightly as his LED shone in a bright red hue. His vision glitched and blurred sporadically, causing him to half stumble, just barely catching himself before tumbling into the lieutenant.
“Hey, whoa there! Jesus christ in a manger, Connor!”,he instinctively reached out to catch him, remaining a bit tense just in case he really would need to catch him,”I mean, you sound pretty bad and if you’re really feeling that sick then maybe going home would be a good idea? I really don’t know anything about android anatomy but whatever this malware is, it’s doing a number on you. Should I be worried about it actually..damaging you?”.
At first it seemed that perhaps the bot hadn’t heard him but finally he gave a small nod. If he continued to cough as hard as he was, he might loosen a bicomponent! Or at least it felt like it anyways. “The coughing is the mbost damaging I think. And I might require assistance if I cough something loose..”,he looked up at him once more, swiping at his nose with a thick sniffle.
Knowing Hank’s luck, that ‘might’ was going to end up being a ‘definitely’. But he held his tongue and simply nodded for now, slowly reaching a hand out to rest it on his shoulder,”Well, let’s cross that bridge when we get there, okay? For now though, I think we better get you home before you--”.
“Hh’GStChh! ‘GSTChhh! Ngh..”,he couldn’t help but lean against him, a glitched energy alert flashing before his eyes.
ENERGY LEVELS AT 29%. PLEASE CHARGE SOON TO AVOID SHUT DOWN.
“Alright, easy does it. We’ll go slow and steady.”,the silver haired man reassured, allowing Connor to gently grasp him for support as they walked back through the precinct, weaving through the desks and avoiding the looks of the officers and bots they passed,”Almost there, you still with me?”.
Connor gave a tired half nod, focusing more on staying upright than conversation at this point. A part of him was thankful to have such a caring friend but at the same time he hated being so weak and useless. What kind of android couldn’t even complete basic database scanning? Cyberlife would have a field day dismantling him when Hank would no doubt grow too tired of tending to him to keep him around. And then he’d be replaced with an even better model capable of helping out more.
“Hank..you won’t, send mbe back tdo Cyberlife, right?”
“What? Of course not! Why would I do that?”
“Because I’mb of ndo use tdo you right ndow..”
“Well, you see, that’s the funny thing about key words. You gotta take them at face value so while you might be out of commission right now..that doesn’t mean that’ll still be true later. And even if it was true, I’m still not gonna rat you out to them so just chill, alright?”,he rolled his eyes, fishing for his car keys in his back pocket,”Look, just let me do all the worrying for right now and you focus on defragging or whatever it is you gotta do to fix this.”.
Connor looked hopeful, feeling both touched and reassured by his words, content to be fussed over if it meant not having to be sent away.
“Thank you, Hank..I appreciate and v-value.hh..Heh’TScHh!--our friendship.”
“Yeah, yeah say it don't spray it..”.
I think this is stuff you do really well, and always have enjoyed that aspect of your writing! I’m only passingly familiar with the canon, so I can’t speak to its tone or pitch, but I always feel I know precisely how developed the romantic relationship is between them within the first scene of them together in one of your fics. And I adore how you write vulnerable Ianto, and I don’t think that’s likely to change anytime soon.