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AU idea I've been toying with writing, kinda blurry on the details. Might take me a while to type it all out since I'm kind of preoccupied atm

NurseConnor gets hired by Hank because he needs extra help taking care of Cole.
Being Lieutenant and on the homicide division leaves him with unpredictable hours, and he feels bad having to call his neighbors at 2 or 4 in the morning if he gets called in, especially with Coles unpredictable condition and with the type of care he requires.
Cole is epileptic, has been since he was a baby, and Hank's ex-wife is less than helpful when it comes to helping her husband and caring for her son. Hank just wants someone to be with Cole when he can't, in case there's an emergency.
For the most part, Cole's seizures are pretty minor, usually lasting around 30 seconds to a minute long, but he has been known to stop breathing for some of them. That's rare for Cole, but... The idea of Hank risking his sons life, even for a few hours like that, is gut wrenching
Hank needs someone that can come by at any hour in the day, someone he can trust to take care of Cole, trained and capable of handling his son's seizures in a comprehensive manner. Also because he won't feel bad about calling someone in that he's hired expressly for this purpose.
(Can't decide if I want Connor to be an android post or pre revolution, or go full HumanAU with this. Could take interesting paths either way, I've been undecided over this most of all).
Regardless of Connor's android/human status, his hours with Cole consist of accompanying the 8 year old to school, being at the Anderson household on nights where Hank is on call, and occasionally being called in on nights that HANK gets surprise call-ins for a homicide
Hank is gruff towards Connor at first, justifiably untrustworthy and fretful over Cole's well-being. He hovers, doubts Connor's ability to take care of his son and meet his needs. And Cole is still young and hasn't totally understood/takes seriously how to manage it himself, yet.
Then Cole has a Big One, and that all changes.

It happens seemingly without warning, and out in broad daylight, because of course it does. One minute Hank is standing at the corner of the sidewalk watching Cole run to him after school, and the next he's collapsed to the ground
Hank knows in half a second that Cole's having a tonic-clonic, can see it in the way his son's body spasms,so unlike his more benign seizures that might consist of a single arm or leg twitch, or a slight jerking in his face. This is his WHOLE BODY, clenching and snapped tight.
In a handful of steps he's there, crouching at his son's side, hand automatically reaching for the rescue dose of midazolam he always keeps in his jacket, his large hands fumbling for the small capped syringe filled with pink liquid. His hand digs into the fabric.

...Nothing
Horror fills him with terrible clarity as he sees in his minds eye the syringe on the kitchen counter, kept at its usual spot in the house. Hank even REMEMBERS looking at it in passing and thinking to himself to make sure he grabbed it before he left.
The lieutenant wants to sink in the ground, scream, cry, something, but all he feels is the dread that he is ABSOLUTELY HELPLESS to do ANYTHING to h-

Connor skids onto the sidewalk at Cole's side, and all the jarred part of Hank's mind can focus on is how the pants probably tore
"You're okay, you're okay," Connor says to Cole as he seizes uncontrollably, voice low and soothing, a stark contrast to the glint in his eyes and the sure movements of his hands as he turns Cole onto his side. His son's nurse glances to his watch, and Hank knows he's timing it.
Desperation fills Hank as he tells the nurse, his words flooding over themselves, "Connor I don't--I don't have the-"

Connor doesn't even glance at Hank as he pulls the small syringe of midazolam from his pocket, and pries it to the corner of Cole's mouth, holding it steady.
"Grabbed it from the kitchen this morning," the brunette admits, a hint of apology daring to enter his voice. "I know you usually carry it on you but with school..."

He doesn't finish the thought, one hand holding Cole's head back to push the med to the inside of his cheek
Hank chooses not to answer, but feels a mounting wave of relief towards this awkward, wonderful man.

Cole doesn't need to swallow the med- the minute amount of liquid will absorb into his mouth and should do the trick.

God this one's lasting forever
"How long?" Hank chokes frantic. It's been so long since Cole last had one this bad. Usually they end in a handful of seconds but-

Connor doesn't need to clarify what Hank means. "About a minute," he says, voice soft, and Hank FEELS the concern beat out in a wave from the nurse.
Connor leans down closer to Cole, and for a moment Hank wonders what he's doing, but the nurse's pensiveness turns to alarm as he suddenly moves, adjusting Cole's prone body and tilting the his chin up in a move Hank recognizes will open his airways.

"He's stopped breathing."
Hank aches and tries to remember what to do in case they need to do CPR, can't even remember when he last took a course-

"He has a pulse, I'm going to start rescue breaths," Connor interrupts, a finger feeling Cole's pulse, a glance to his wrist. "We're at two minutes, now."
Hank watches like he's staring through a glass wall as Connor presses his mouth over Cole's with his nose pinched. He sees the steady rise and fall of his son's chest to know that Connor is doing it correctly, despite the horrible jerking of the seizure.
Connor gives a total 8 breaths to Cole, Hank somehow managing to keep count and watch Connor's watch as time ticks by. He hears sirens and knows a concerned bystander has dialed 911

And there's Connor, assessing, focused, clinical but concerned for his patient.

It grounds Hank.
At long goddamn last, Connor pauses the rescue breaths, listening and feeling a rush of air from Cole not given by his nurse. He stops seizing, his limbs starting to curl towards himself, a subconscious part of him recognizing that he's hurt.

He breathes.

Hank wants to weep.
Cole blinks weary eyes, and Hank knows his son is going to be out of it for the rest of the day, that he'll have a killer headache to boot.

Connor is already speaking soft words to the boy, letting him know that he had a seizure, that he's all right now,and where does he hurt?
"My head," Cole mumbles, hardly able to keep those beautiful blue eyes open. "Hurts," he says, unable to expand on more than that.

Hank can't stop himself as he moves forward to gently embrace his son, feels his arms shake. Cole manages to hug him back, the gesture weakened.
"I love you, Cole," Hank says into his son's head, the brown hair scuffed as Hank kisses it. "Love you so much, baby. You okay?"

Small arms squeeze him back as much as they can, "Love you too, dad. I'm okay. Did I scare you?" Hank fights a sob, and his son amends. "I'm sorry."
"S'ok baby, not your fault." Hank forces his lungs to inhale deep. "I'm gonna let Connor look over you now, ok? Make sure you're not hurt." Hank gives his son one more squeeze before backing up so his nurse has room.

Connor gives him a soft smile, a gentle touch on his shoulder.
From his large black messenger bag, Connor pulls out the tools he needs. A child size blood pressure cuff, a Stethoscope, a thermometer, and a pulse oximeter. He measures Cole's vitals while Hank does damage control for the bystanders, but doesn't leave his boy's side.
Cole's vitals are fine, and he's scratched up from the fall, but he didn't hit his head anywhere bad, just has a headache from such a strong seizure. Connor pulls ibuprofen from his bag and a small water bottle; Cole takes it, rubs absently at his arms and his head.
Hank reassures people who approach to ask if there's anything they can do, full of goodwill but able to offer very little help. Hank recognizes a few of the parents and thanks them for their worry, but that it's under control now. Connor ignores them, all attention on Cole.
The paramedics that arrive know Hank and Cole by name, relieved that Cole is all right when Connor fills them in, relaying the details with words Hank can't properly recognize in his current state of mind. All he knows and sees is his son sitting up, looking around, still alive.
"Dad?" Cole asks, voice small. Hank rubs his son's back. "Can we go home?"

"Yeah, bud."

Without needing to be prompted, Connor goes to pick up his and Cole's stuff, slinging them over his shoulder. The nurse takes one look at both Andersons and makes a split second decision.
"I'll drive," he says.

Hank knows it's not technically allowed by Connor's agency, but he nods wearily and doesn't protest as he hands over the car keys.

He sits in the back with Cole, an arm over his son's small frame as he leans into Hank's shoulder. Hank counts Coles breaths
Hank immediately takes Cole to bed when they get home, Connor lingering behind and watching as the lieutenant tucks his son in and kisses him on the forehead, the boy already asleep.

He sits at Cole's side, the tight fist of anxiety refusing to loosen in his chest.
"Lieutenant," Connor says from the door, voice even and smooth. "Go take a shower."

Hank shakes his head resolutely, "No, I- I gotta stay with him, make sure he's all right." He can't imagine leaving now, not after that shitshow his son went through.
"Lieutenant," Connor repeats, and it's somehow even gentler. He enters the room and approaches the bed slowly. "You need to relax, at least. A shower might help with that."

Hank's breathing harshens, and the ball lodged in his throat chokes him. He knows he's going to cry, "I-"
"*Hank*" Connor says, emphasis on his name, and startling Hank from his thoughts. The nurse places a rock-steady hand on Hank's shoulder, gives it a single reassuring squeeze. He leans in close over him. "This is why I'm here, right? I've got him. Go shower."
Still, he hesitates. Connor gives Hank another reassuring squeeze of his hand, feels the man's chest to his back,then the soft lilt of his voice.

"You're my patient as much as he is." A soft breath and a tickle of air against Hank's ear. "Please."
Hank resigns, and nods. He rises from the bed, and looks at Connor just in time to see him give a gentle half-smile his way. The nurse takes Hank's place at the foot of the bed, every part of him tuned in to his sleeping son. He nods towards the door. "Go on, we'll be fine."
Hank somehow believes him.

He's immensely grateful for being pushed once he steps into the hot and burning spray of the shower. The tension in his body and soul releases, muscles and the tightness in his chest loosening as he lets himself process.
He feels remarkably better by the time he finishes, and puts on a comfortable pair of shorts and a t shirt as he exits the bathroom.

Instinctively, he goes to Cole's bedroom, cracking the door open so he can peer in.
Connor sits in the same spot, clipboard in hand as he charts the days events and actions taken. Loyal as a labrador, he glances to Cole every couple of seconds, assessing and thoughtful, and smirks when Sumo releases a heavy snore from his spot on the floor.
He looks up when the door creaks from Hank peeking in, and in one smooth movement he slides his materials away and rises, approaching the door. Hank steps back as Connor joins him in the hallway while he appraises Hank with approval. Both move towards the living room.
"Better?" Connor asks, his tone knowing.

"Much," Hank admits a bit sheepishly, feeling a little bit of pride when his answer causes the younger man to smile softly. Hank nods to Cole's room. "He okay?"

"He's fine," Connor soothes, taking a spot at the kitchen table.
Hank impulsively goes to make a pot of coffee for them both, and draws a hand down his face. Connor asks, soft and caring, "You okay?"

Hank wants to laugh or cry at that, but does neither, his back to Connor as he says, "Can't remember when he had one as bad as that."
"It's scary," Connor says simply, but understanding.

Hank releases a shuddering breath. "Terrifying. Every one of them. But that one, god."

Connor is quiet for another few moments, then returns to his key point. "You didn't answer my question, Lieutenant."

Observant lil shit.
Hank turns, leaning against the counter, and smiles half-heartedly with tears in his eyes. "I'll be okay, Connor..thank you." The coffee beeps, and Hank pours them both a cup, black for Hank, creamer for Connor just how he likes. He slides it to Connor and joins him at the table.
Connor gives him a half smile of his own and switches cups, claiming the black one, which is how Hank remembers that he actually likes his coffee with creamer, and CONNOR likes his coffee black. "I'll believe it when I see it," Connor teases gently, concern reflecting in his eyes
Hank thinks belatedly that maybe he's Not Just Allright Yet, and accepts Connor's teasing with his own tired smile. He sips from the cup, letting himself relax and take comfort in the silence between the two. It stretches on without weight, and Hank is the one to speak first.
"Hey, thank you, by the way."

Connor looks up at him, expression somewhat clueless.

"For.. Today. I can't believe I forgot the - mida whatever it's called. Cole-" he breathes, "We would have been in a rough spot without you. You did real good today."
A small hint of color flourishes over Connor's cheeks, and a small twitch at the corner of his mouth tilts up at the praise, showing he's pleased. He ducks his head to look at his coffee, and he says in a soft murmur, "That means a lot, coming from you, Lieutenant. Thank you."
"I know I've been a bit of a grouch-" Connor raises his eyebrows--"a LOT of grouch," Hank amends. "But I'll loosen up a bit, I promise."

Connor considers Hank, watching the man thoughtfully. He voices after a second, "I appreciate the gesture, Lieutenant, but you don't have to."
Hank waits, and Connor expands, "Cole is your kid. You're allowed to be defensive and worry over him, especially when someone's going to be taking care of him. To be honest I'd be concerned if you DIDN'T act like that." Connor smiles forgivingly. "I assure you I take no offense.
"And I'm.. honored by what you say."

Grace. That's the word that falls onto Hank's mind as he stares at Connor. He doesn't deserve something like that from Connor, yet he offers it freely nonetheless.

Hank relaxes a little more, "You're somethin' else," he says, "y'know that?"
Connor smiles oh so gently towards the lieutenant. "I try," he murmurs, his face and expression grateful. He tips the mug back to drink the rest of his coffee and goes towards the sink with the intention of cleaning it.

"Oh, I've got it," Hank says, standing up to take the mug.
He's too late, of course. Connor's already crossed the kitchen to the sink and turned on the water. "It's fine, Lieutenant," he says, and something Hank can't quite define twists hard in his gut at his title, like he wants something else but isn't quite sure as to what.
"You don't have to do the dishes," Hank mutters, thankful anyway as he stands at Connor's side and hands him his own mug.

Connor's smile is warm and gentle and Hank feels so undeserving of it. "I'm selfish," Connor says. Hank wants to call him out for lying, but the man goes on-
"I like helping out with little stuff like this. It makes me feel good." He eyes Hank from the corner of his eyes; Hank prays to god that Connor can't tell he's still reeling from that 'selfish' comment. "Consider it a trade-off, clean dishes in exchange for the coffee."
"I guess I can accept that," Hank relents, and watches as Connor places the dishes on the drying rack, then turns to Hank with an air of expectation. "Well," he says, "there anything more I can do for you?"

Whatever was between them lifts with that question. Boundaries redrawn.
Hank takes a step back, "No," he says, mouth numb like it's full of cotton. "I, um, we should be good the rest of the night."

Connor's smile is encouraging, impossibly warm, "Well, call if you need me before tomorrow." That heavy unnameable tension returns; Connor looks away.
Hank isn't sure what he needs to say, but an instinct in his gut tells him he should. His mind spins and-

He inevitably fails, like he always does.

"I'll see you tomorrow?" Connor asks. Hank thinks he sounds disappointed, but for the life of him Hank can't fathom as to why.
"Yeah," Hank agrees, backing away a step and looking to his own covered feet. "We'll see ya tomorrow at school."

Something undefinable passes over Connor's face, but he moves away before Hank can focus on or try to name it. He brushes softly by Hank, bends down to grab his bag.
Hank follows the nurse mutely as Connor makes his way to the door, both hesitating as they stand in the threshold of the living room. Hank shifts his weight to one side, leaning on the couch, watching Connor as he makes a half-turn to stare at the Lieutenant. "Hank.." he starts.
At his name, Hank snaps to attention, the cord of tension between them tight to his chest. "Y-yeah?" he asks, staring.

Connor's eyelashes flutter as he glances down to Hank's feet, then return to his eyes. A terrible aching goes through Hank at the sudden tenderness in the look.
Connor's smile only reaches halfway to his eyes, hand on the doorknob. "..Take care, Lieutenant," is all he says.

Hank slightly sucks in his cheeks, bites down the sides of them. "..Yeah. You too." For some reason now, Hank is the one feeling disappointed. He looks at his feet.
He doesn't see Connor's face, but he hears the soft sigh, and the lingering farewell. "..Goodnight, Lieutenant. I'll see you in the morning."

Hank does see Connor's feet shuffle forward, the closed door following behind him, and Hank can't help but feel like a coward.

-----
And it does change after that.

Hank finds that he feels relief when he knows Connor is there, that someone as dutiful and comprehensive as him is looking after his son. He begins to have Connor over more, feels safe enough for him to be in charge of Cole while Hank is gone.
He goes grocery shopping for that week's meals without having to worry about looking over his shoulder to make sure his son hasn't collapsed while he was distracted for 2 seconds. And he likes the little updates and pictures Connor texts to him so he knows they're doing good.
And Connor is meticulous when it comes to Cole's care, recording every event to the minute and sending Hank mini reports on the amount of seizure activity Cole had that day, how intense, and if any rescue meds were given. The organization is a nice alternative for Hank, who's
typical style of organization includes messily scrawled post-its scattered from hell to breakfast, not dated, and usually end up in the trash.

Hank finds himself calling Connor in more, not because he has to go out or anything, but because he - COLE enjoys his company so much.
And if Hank enjoys the conversation Connor brings, or the way the man smiles, or looks when the sun hits his hair at the perfect angle to light it on fire, then, fghehghgheabcckk that's Hank's own business to keep to himself nothing to do with feelings or anything.
They go on walks with Cole and Sumo together when the weather is nice, Hank alternating holding the leash with Cole while Connor keeps his black bag of tricks firmly across his chest. They walk leisurely, enjoying the cool autumn air and the frosty crunch of leaves underfoot.
"It's good for us to get some air, and good exercise for Sumo," Hank says, a tad defensive when Connor questions him one day about the sudden increase in walks. "And if something happens with Cole, I don't know if Sumo might run off or not. It's nice to have someone there."
That last part at the very least was true, but he kept to himself the thoughts about how Connor's typically dark brown eyes turned a glowing amber in the autumn sunlight, and how the lilting sound of his voice caused Hank's chest to clench painfully every time he spoke.
The strangest part is that Hank didn't realize what was going on himself until MONTHS after Connor started taking care of Cole.

It finally falls into place one cold December on a Saturday Hank is SUPPOSED to have off. But murder doesn't always coincide with office hours.
He hits the Call button next to Connor's name in his phone, and waits. The RN picks up after the second ring, voice composed and polite. "Good morning, Lieutenant," he greets. "What can I do for you?"

Hank ignores the swooping feeling in his stomach. Chalks it up to some kind
of bug he caught that just won't go away. The fact it occurs every time he talks to Connor is absolutely irrelevant.

"I'm sorry it's so short notice," he says, apologetic. "I just got called in to work today - there isn't a chance you could come in, is there?"

Connor hardly
takes more than a second to reply. "Yeah, no problem! I'll see you in a few."

Hank thanks him profusely before hanging up, internally reminds himself to get the overworked nurse a giftcard to Starbucks or something as a thank-you, and goes to finish readying himself for work.
The doorbell rings about 20 minutes later. Hank's thrown on yesterday's clothes, hoping vaguely that he doesn't smell too bad. He hurries to answer what can only be Connor, judging by the uncaring 'boof' Sumo makes when it's someone he's familiar with.
He opens the door, a blast of biting December air hitting him as he squints against the bright winter sunlight. His eyes focus on what does turn out to be Connor-

and honest to god everything in him practically STUTTERS at what he sees.

The nurse is in his usual get-up of nice
jeans that are easy to move around in, his heavy winter jacket, with undoubtedly a casual but appropriate button-down shirt, a beanie over his head and-

glasses. Goddamn *glasses*. Black frames that align perfectly with his perfect face and draw attention to his brown eyes.
For 3 or 4 mortifying seconds, Hank forgets how to talk.

Connor picks up on his train of thought, smiling offhandedly and ducking his head in embarrassment. "Didn't have the patience to put in my contacts," he says. "I don't usually wear them to work if I can avoid it, but-"
"Hey, 's fine by me!" Hank says, maybe a little too loudly as he steps aside so Connor can enter the house. Hank closes the door for him, watches as Connor holds up said glasses from his face to squint at them angrily, the lens all fogged up from suddenly entering a warmer room.
Hank wants to compliment Connor on them, but the nurse is straight-to-business as usual to promptly asks about Cole, how he's doing today and if there's anything he needs to know. The Lieutenant fills him in, responses a bit slow since he can't seem to keep his eyes off Connor's.
"Any idea how long you'll be gone?" Connor asks, tone open and curious as he toes off his snow-covered boots.

"Shouldn't be too long," Hank amends. "Hopefully just a few hours. Does that work okay?"

Connor smiles like there's some kind of secret only he knows, and gives Hank
a look that sends that clenching feeling right back to him. "That'll be just fine, Lieutenant. I'll text you updates while you're gone."

Hank smiles somewhat awkwardly, corner of his lips twitching. "Appreciate it. And, hey, if it's any consolation, you uh-" and then it happens
while the words spill out of his mouth, the realization, which only causes what he's saying to come out stinted and awkward.

He has a crush on Connor.

"Ya look pretty - pretty nice, good. You look good in them." He pauses. "The glasses. I mean. They look good. On you."
Connor stares up at him, doe-brown eyes something along the lines of startled. Hank expects the RN to start asking him questions and assessing if he's had some kind of stroke. And then Hank watches with his own eyes as a myriad of emotions pass through Connor too quick to read.
And at the end of all that, Connor returns Hank's stammering compliment with a blush as bright as a poinsettia. It's the most Hank has ever seen Connor's perfectly professional mask of composure slip; it sets off a chain reaction Hank never would have dared to let himself want.
Hope. Goddamn hope.

Because Connor gawks at Hank, blushing and tongue-tied for the first time in probably ever, and only manages to squeak out, "Thank you, Hank? I um, thanks. I appreciate it. I don't usually wear them."

Hank manages to make an utter fool out of himself even
more by boldy saying, "Well you should."

And it comes out WAY SMOOTHER than he thought saying something like that would, and Hank lets himself skip denial of the crush and go straight to acceptance.

Because when Connor hears that, he blinks in shock and ducks his head away
to hide his face, biting his lower lip in an effort to hide his pleased grin from Hank.

Such a simple reaction, but it only serves to amplify Hank's feelings for Connor tenfold.

OH yeah he's crushing HARD.

Hank clears his throat before shuffling past him, suddenly making an
intentional move so their arms will brush against each other as he passes. Connor looks away shyly, and Hank hurriedly puts his own boots on, ignoring the shaking in his hands. "Well, I'll, uh, I'll see you guys later then. And uhm, I'll let you know when i have a better idea of
when I'll be back."

Connor stands in the same stance, fiddling with his nails as he shrugs off his winter jacket and hat, that stray strand of hair falling over its usual place above his left eye. "Okay," he says softly, looking but also not looking at Hank at the same time.
Hank is hit with the sudden and powerful urge to brush that strand of hair back over his ear, to let his hand trail down the side of Connor's face so he can hold it in one hand, so he can tip Connor's face up, wide brown eyes gazing at him so he can lean in and brush his lips-
"Okay!" he says, face now burning to match Connor's. "I'll see you later, then. Be good, Cole!" He throws his coat on and rushes out the door, closing it firmly behind him as he walks to the car.

He drives in a daze to the homicide location, mind fuzzy as he goes over what just
happened at his home. Flirting. That was flirting, right? Had to be. What else COULD IT be?

And was Connor flirting back?

God Hank's too old for this fluffy uncertain shit. He should just talk to Connor, be an adult and-and-
And risk losing it all.

Because what if Connor doesn't feel the same way, and Hank's interpretations were way off the map? What if Connor is disgusted- what with Hank being so old, and it would be crossing so many carefully professionally placed boundaries between them and- but
wouldn't it just be the GREATEST, though, if he felt the same way? If Hank's confession caused his smile to light up his face, glasses slightly skewed one direction as he would haltingly admit to liking Hank back.

Maybe they would hug after that, or kiss. Go to dinner. Sit on
the couch and talk, a glass of wine in their hands. Maybe Hank would lean forward, initiate something further, and god maybe Connor would respond back, leaning into him with a hand trailing down Hank's chest-

The Lieutenant nearly crashes into the police car ahead of him as he
pulls onto the side of the street at the crime scene, breathing harshly as he shakes himself back to reality.

Yeah there were a lot of what-ifs there.

He can't focus on what's going on with him and Connor right now. It really isn't even anything. Just the pinings of an old
man for a pretty little thing like Connor.

And god how old WAS Connor? Hank had never explicitly asked. Kid was at least graduated from college but how LONG graduated? How big of an age difference divided them?

God maybe Connor was closer in age to Cole than to Hank.
The thought caused a curl of nausea to wrap itself in Hank's gut, and he drummed his hands along the steering wheel, absentmindedly reaching for his things as he started to exit his car.

He could think about this later. Had to be present in the moment. Think about Connor LATER-
Hank walked maybe 10 paces before realizing that his jacket was somehow both inside out AND upside down.

The Lieutenant sighed, face burning as he righted the piece of clothing so it settled properly over his shoulders in the freezing winter air.

It was gonna be a long shift.
And that's all for tonight my lovelies! I'll update tomorrow if I can; next few days gonna be busy

YALL PRETTY THIRSTY FOR SOME HANKCON, HUH?

A thank you to everyone who liked/commented on this thread so far! You all really made my day and it helped me to write more. Thank you!
Your comments all give me LIFE so here's some more, will update today as able to. Got plans in the works for this AU so settle down and pop the popcorn I hope it's a fun ride for you guys 🍿 🎢 🍹 ☺
----
For the most part, Hank does what he can to keep his feelings from getting
In the way of his professional role with Connor. He reminds himself of this constantly, tries to imagine how it might feel for Connor to put up with some gross Dad trying to hit on him. And of course such thoughts make him wonder about how many patients or gross family members
Have already TRIED to make a pass at him. I mean, Connor was already so damn brautiful, so soft and warm and caring, Hank imagines it would be impossible for anyone to NOT flirt with him.

Hank agonizes over the thought Connor might be disgusted by him, and his anxiety fabricates
Scenes of Connor going home to his family or roomates as he complains about this pervy dad he has to put up with nearly every day.

The fears are miraculously short, and only due to the fact that Hank catches Connor looking at him. He always reveals himself by the way he quickly
Glances away, face beginning to burn that now familiar pink. Hank finds himself feeling prideful of evoking such a reaction from the handsome nurse, and muses to himself about what else he could do that might make Connor blush.

He only let's himself entertain such thoughts for a
Short amount of time, always grounded in reality by some kind of reminder that he and Connor's relationship is strictly professional, nothing more. This usually manifests as Cole having a seizure, or something ridiculously small like Connor asking Hank to sign his time sheet.
Weeks pass by like this with Hank uncertain where he stands with Connor. He would be convinced this were all in his head if it weren't for the touches that linger just a second too long or the way he spies Connor staring at him practically *demurely*

Hank let's himself wonder.
The obstacle that truly gives him pause is that he's paying for Connor to be here, and with the boundaries to consider, he frets that Connor might lose his job. The thought of not being able to see Connor causes Hank's chest to ache terribly, in addition to the fear of losing the
Best nurse Cole has had in years.

So Hank stays quiet, holds dear every lingering touch and glance, and every catch of breath he releases when Connor looks even good just standing there drawing up Cole's antiseizure medications for the week.

Hank waits and pines.. And he wants.
It's roughly the middle of January when Hank gets a call as he walks through the door after a long shift at the precinct. Cole screams his name hello from the kitchen table where he sits with Connor, interrupted from their homework as Hank scuffles in from the cold. He shrugs off
his jacket, tosses them an offhanded smile as Cole comes barreling into him. "Hey boys," he rumbles, "busy at that homework, or messing around?" He scuffles Cole's hair, then reaches down to throw the 8 year old over his shoulder, sending the boy into peals of joyous laughter.
From the kitchen table, Connor sits surrounded by loose papers and an open textbook. Steam curls from two mugs topped with whip cream, undoubtedly holding hot cocoa, and the leftover decorations from Christmas make everything look like a picturesque Hallmark card. Connor smiles.
"We're working - biology homework," Connor explains, affection in his eyes as he watches the warm exchange between father and son. Cole is still draped over Hank's back, and the lieutenant lowers him over his shoulder even further so that Cole dangles, held by just his ankles.
"Eyy, biology homework with your very own nurse to help with all the hard questions," Hank says loudly over the sound of Cole's laughter. He bounces his son up and down; the boy giggles, and Hank sees Connor's head duck so he can huff out his own breath of laughter, cheeks pink.
Hank isn't sure what he did to set off Connor blushing like that and avoiding his gaze, but he knows he wants to do it more as he jostles Cole. He lowers him slowly until the boy's hands are against the floor so he can flop safely onto the floor, still laughing uncontrollably.
"I wouldn't be much help with the bio homework," Hank says, smiling at Connor, his heart feeling lighter than it has in a while. "All I can remember is that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell."

Connor makes a weird face, expression pinching at one side. "This sounds
like a millennial joke," he says, clearly confused, while all Hank can focus on is that cute face the nurse just made. He groans at what Connor says, throwing his head back as he meanders over to the kitchen to join him at the table.

"God I really am old," he sighs, at the very
least attempting to understand Cole's homework as he leans over it to look over the assignment.

Connor huffs out a breath of air, soft and subdued, then stands in one smooth motion from the table. Hank feels a sharp pang of disappointment; Connor is obviously in a rush to leave
today. This is his workplace after all, he has a home to return to, his own responsibilities to fulfill-

"You want any hot chocolate?" Connor asks, grinding all of Hank's woe-is-me thoughts to a halt. The nurse's eyes are neutrally curious as he looks at Hank over one shoulder,
but they soften and warm as they settle on Hank, who gawks at him for at least 5 whole seconds.

Hank just fell in love with him a little more.

He clears his throat, managing to keep his dignity intact as he nods, one hand idly scratching at the surface of the kitchen table.
"Yeah, please," he says, his own face burning bright now, and he returns to looking over Cole's homework, afraid of seeing Connor, afraid of Connor seeing *him*.

Connor is just placing the steaming mug of hot chocolate on the table when Hank's phone goes off. Hank groans before
he even checks the caller ID. "If they call me in, I'm going to say no. Not after just getting off...Oh. Stern Home and Health." From the corner of his gaze, Hank sees Connor's whole body tense for one quick second before it passes, as fast and as subtle as one of Cole's siezures
Hank isn't sure what exactly to make of that, but he doesn't let himself dwell on it for long as he accepts the call, holds the phone up to his ear. "Hank Anderson speaking," he says, and sees how Connor watches him, the poor nurse trying to be subtle as he beckons Cole over to
keep working on his homework.

A fitting voice that can only be described as stern speaks smoothly over the phone. "Mr. Anderson, this is Amanda Stern of Stern Home and Health. How are you doing tonight?"

"Fine, fine," he says, a feeling like dread clawing its way up his throat
Connor's tense expression does nothing to ease Hank's fear, and he asks, "What can I do for ya tonight?"

The woman on the other line jumps right into it. "I'd like to talk about Connor, if you have a minute. Is now a good time?"

Hank frowns, confused by the question. "Connor?"
Connor's head snaps up, not even pretending to look like he isn't listening in now. Hank glances at him, waves him off with one hand in an attempt to ease both of their fears.

It doesn't work, but it was an honorable effort, at least.

"Connor is great, best nurse Cole has ever
had. Is there a problem?" The nurse in question preens a little at that, smirking and ducking his head, pleased.

Amanda's tone is clipped, "Yes we're aware of your glowing praise for Connor, but there is, unfortunately, an issue. We've noticed that you've been scheduling him for
a lot more hours as of late. Is everything all right with Cole?"

"Yeah," Hank agrees, unsure of how to proceed. "I've just needed more help with Cole, that's all. It's hard, yknow, being a single dad and all." He holds back the fact that Hank is crushing hard on his son's nurse;
that isn't exactly information that Amanda needs to be keyed in to.

"Well I'm sorry to hear that, but unfortunately I must remind you that Connor does have other patients he needs to tend to, and all the hours you're scheduling him for is putting him into overtime."
Hank rubs his hand over his eyes, "Well, can't you just have someone fill in for him, then? For those other clients, I mean. This is my son we're talking about, I'm not going to sacrifice his best nurse, not with how well he's doing."

The other line is quiet for three horrible
seconds, and Hank feels like his spine is about to snap from the pressure. Then Amanda's voice comes out the other end, soft but no less threatening. "Only if you pull back some of his hours, Anderson. You're on thin ice. Need I remind you that we hold the full right to withdraw
services at any time for any reason."

Hank clenches his hands, rage boiling in his gut. He wants to snap, wants to roar and curse every obscenity he knows at this woman, but he stops when he turns half a pivot and sees Connor. He looks at him with those large, vulnerable brown
eyes, and knows at once he could never do anything to compromise losing them.

All the fight leaves his body; he releases it with a hiss into the phone. "..Understood. There anything else?"

"...No. Goodnight, Mr. Anderson -oh, and tell Connor to be careful."

She hangs up.
Hank fights every temptation in his body not to yeet his phone with the force of a thousand suns out the window as hard as he can. Instead, he lowers his arm, releasing an angry breath of air. He hasn't even realized that he stood up during the phone call, and looks to Connor.
The nurse is hesitant, hand on the table clenched as he looks at Hank, pensive. "Not good news?" he asks, and he hears the unspoken question in his voice.

"I'm giving you too much hours," Hank mutters, glaring at his phone as he collapses at the table. He presses a his hand to
his head in an effort to staunch the sudden headache. He hears Connor shuffle for a quick moment, followed by the sound of pills in a bottle. The lieutenant cracks open one eye just in time to see two tablets of tylenol on the table and Connor shoving the bottle back into his bag
"Water?" the nurse asks gently, already standing to retrieve a cup. Hank nods mutely, and something in him breaks when Connor offers the glass. Their fingertips barely brush, but Hank lets them touch for a whole 2 seconds before he slowly takes it, giving Connor a thankful smile.
"I love you," ... is what Hank WANTS to say. Instead all that occurs is a gargle from his throat and a gruff, "Thanks," before he swallows the pills and water. Connor rejoins him, cup of cocoa in hand, and Hank wants to sigh in relief knowing Connor isn't going to leave just yet.
"So," Connor sighs, voice resigned. Hank sees him slightly scratch at the ceramic with his blunt nails, "that was Amanda, I'm guessing?"

Hank sucks in one cheek to bite down on it, and he nods. "Yeah, sounds like I've been giving you too much hours so you're going into overtime
He gives Connor a sincere look, regretful, "I don't mean to get you in trouble with your boss or anything. She won't-" Hank feels a flare of panic, "you don't think she'll pull you from here, will she? I mean it didn't sound like it over the phone, but-"

Connor shakes his head
"It's not like Amanda to do that if she told you she wasn't going to pull me." Connor smiles reassuringly at Hank, and he shifts his weight in his chair; when Connor's foot brushes Hank's under the table, he doesn't move. "You don't have to worry about it though, Hank. Cole will
be okay."

"It's not-" Hank starts, an energy causing his body to thrum with mounting tension.

He wants to tell Connor it's not just Cole he's worried about, but also himself. Worried about what he'll turn into if Connor isn't there, what will happen to him if Connor's small
bits of kindness are removed from his life.

Because Connor is incredibly kind, empathetic in a way that's more than human, almost, for the slightest of things. Random, seemingly meaningless acts like cleaning the dishes, helping Cole with his homework, offering Hank an encourag
ing word after Cole has had a particularly rough day, or sneaking treats to Sumo when Hank doesn't think the nurse is looking because he knows that Connor loves to spoil that dog rotten.

The little smirk when Connor does something kind, that faraway look in his eyes, like he's
totally unaware that he did it in the first place.

Hank can't imagine what it would be like if Connor's presence was suddenly stripped from his life, doesn't want to, and can't do that to Cole, either. His son is doing so good right now, and it's so helpful to have a steady
presence like Connor around the house.

But Hank can't say this - *doesn't* know how to say any of this, so he lets his words choke in his throat and die, ending on a slight cough as he reaches for the piping hot cup of cocoa.

Connor mistakes Hank's intentions, thinking he's
concerned about Cole explicitly, and reaches a hand across the table to gently rest on top of Hank's, the fingertips just touching Hank's knuckles. "I'm not going anywhere, Hank," he says, reassuring. Hank wonders what it would be like to hear his name come from Connor's lips as
more than just a hesitant whisper or a murmur.

He hides his glowing blush on his face by drinking more cocoa, but allows the indulgence of turning his hand up so he can hold Connor's hand on the table and give it a reassuring squeeze. "Thank you, Connor. Means a lot to - to us."
Connor glances at their enjoined hands, palms kissing, and ducks his head. His smaller, softer hand slides against Hank as he withdraws, leaving a terrible ache in his wake. Hank's hand already misses its weight, but he can't be selfish enough to grab Connor's hand a second time.
"Anytime, Hank," the nurse says, and he hears nothing but warmth from him. "And I'm sorry about Amanda, I hope she didn't cause you too much trouble."

"It's worth it if it means you get to stay here," Hank says, and the teenage-crush part of his mind frets if that's something he
can even say to Connor.

But the man is unbelievably forgiving, and his look is enough to warm Hank down to his bones. "That means a lot coming from you, Hank. Thank you."

Silence falls between them; Hank heaves a sigh, then turns to Connor with levity that's only slightly
forced. "So! I actually was gonna offer, before Amanda called, but, you want Friday off?"

Connor quirks his eyebrows with interest, and a lingering smirk betrays his amusement. "And you're sure it's not because of Amanda?"

Hank throws back his head and laughs. "I swear," he
says. "Cole's mom is coming in this weekend for his birthday so we're gonna have a little family night together."

Hank falls for Connor a little bit more when he sees a twitch in Connor's eyebrows to reveal a tick of confusion. His son's nurse glances to Cole, and he dares to
ask, "I thought ..." He frowns. "Cole's birthday is in September."

Hank can't deny that he's pleased Connor remembered, and he shrugs offhandedly. "Yeah but his mom missed his birthday this year, so she's coming in this weekend for it."

Understanding passes over Connor, and he
looks Cole's way with a suddenly tender grin. "Well that'll be fun. He misses his mom."

Hank's heart twists. "He does," he says, quieter. "But I'm glad he has someone like you here to watch over him."

Connor's eyes crinkle with mirth, "Thanks. I know I'm not -technically-
allowed to have favorites, but between you and me, Cole is-"

Connor cuts off mid-sentence, eyes trailing over Hank's shoulder, tracking. Hank recognizes that look immediately, alarm coursing through him in a blazing inferno as he spins in his chair to look to the living room,
which he hasn't noticed until now has gone suspiciously, ominously silent.

Cole is sitting on the couch, staring, not moving, and by all means just doing what a normal kid would do and watch TV. But there's something unnatural about the way he sits, arms just a little too tight
and eyes a tad too unfocused. In his hands, he holds tight to a stuffed fish Hank doesn't recognize.

"Cole?" Hank asks, in the same exact moment that Connor is already on his feet and starting towards his son and saying something entirely different.

"Cole, hey buddy," Connor
says as he slides down to the floor on his knees. Somehow between the kitchen and the living room he had grabbed his nurse's bag, one hand reaching in to grab something while keeping his eyes fast on Cole. Hank rises from his own chair and goes to approach his son and his nurse,
sensing the change of atmosphere in the house.

"Remember that thing we talked about?" Connor asks, and withdraws a pulse oximeter that he attaches to one of Cole's fingers, then gently maneuvers the boy down onto his side, facing the nurse. "About the fish?" he presses.
Hank is so lost it's gonna take more than Google Maps to get him back on track with this conversation. Fear wants him to ask what Connor is talking about, but fear also makes him hold his tongue, not wanting to interrupt whatever system his son and Connor have with each other.
"Yeah," Cole says finally, brow beginning to furrow into a frown. The boy seems to think something over, then says, "Rainbows. The rainbow fish?"

"Rainbow trout," Connor corrects, tone pleasant as he looks at the pulse oximeter's reading, and with that same mild voice, directs
to Hank, "He's hallucinating, he's about to have a seizure."
lf,
Hank stutters before he can stop himself, "Oh shit - *what*?!" Immediately in Hardcore Concerned Dad Mode, he hurries down to Connor's side, patting the pocket in his shirt to verify the emergency midazolam is
actually there this time. "How did - how do you know?"

Connor's hands move in his bags, and he pulls out a small compoundable face mask, in case rescue breaths are needed. "I started noticing that before Cole has his big seizures, he has a tendency to stare off into -- oh!"
And that's the moment when Cole falls into another one. His whole body spasms with one powerful movement, Hank starting forward at once at Connor's side as he holds Cole's head up as well as he can so that Hank can give the medication. Hank manages to pry his son's teeth open
so he can get the tip of the syringe in and expel the liquid. All the while, he's aware of Connor whispering to Cole repeatedly in a soothing tone, "You're okay, it's alright. Hang in there, Cole, keep breathing. Atta boy-" a habit Hank recognizes that Connor picked up from him.
This one, at least, is blessedly short compared to how the others can get. It only lasts for about 30 seconds, ending when Cole's whole body seems to sink into the couch, deflating like a popped balloon. Hank allows himself to breathe, clasping his son's hands tightly as he frets
over him. "Hey there, buddy," he says, scooting forward. Connor shifts away, making room for him so Hank can be there at his son's side. His large hand cups the back of Cole's head; he brushes away a teary eye from his son's bright baby blues. "Doing okay?"

Cole looks at his dad
plainly exhausted, and manages to nod, his hands still clutching the stuffed yellow, blue, and orange fish in his hands. "Yeah, 'm okay," he murmurs.

"You did great, Cole," Connor says, soft voice matching Hank's. "Just like we practiced, right? We'll just have to hammer out
some of the details later."

Cole nods, and reaches out a fist to Connor, who fist-bumps him in turn, making a locking motion with an accompanying explosion sound as he grins at the kid. "You get some rest, don't worry about your homework, okay?"
"But Mrs. Fern is gonna get me in trouble if I don't-"

"You won't get in trouble. I've got your back, little dude," Connor says easily, voice lighthearted as if Cole didn't just have a grand mal. Hank is struck by how easily it can be to get desensitized to all this. "You just
focus on getting some sleep, okay?"

Cole clearly doesn't have enough fight left in him to argue the point, so he nods sleepily. Connor reaches over the back of the couch to draw a blanket over the boy, who within moments is asleep and snoring.

As Connor stands up with his bag
Hank moves forward to kiss his son on the head, murmuring, "Love you, Cole," and goes to join Connor as the nurse walks back to the kitchen, digging as quietly as he can for what has to be his clipboard of recorded seizures for the day.

"Heck, it was going so good, too," Connor
grips under his breath, and fills in Hank, "He only had 5 *all day long*, and they were just *little* ones, where it's just his arm or his leg, y'know?" He huffs a breath, as if irritated for the universe to do this to his patient. "Just sucks for the kiddo."

Hank is impossibly
in awe and grateful to this caring man, his chest swelling with unspoken emotion as he glances to his sleeping son, comfortable, safe, and looked-after on the couch, then to Connor scribbling quickly along the notes in his clipboard. Hank steels himself, and clears his throat.
"Connor."

"Hm?" he asks, glancing up quickly so he has a split second warning before Hank is closing the distance between them, wrapping his arms around Connor in a full-embrace of a hug.

Hank feels Connor's breath catch beneath his arms, his ribcage rising with the movement.
"Lieutenant Anderson?" he both feels and hears Connor murmur, soft and somehow timid. The nurse manages to wriggle an arm out so he can let the clipboard rest on the table, but Connor sounds no less confused as he prompts, "Is everything okay?"

"Thank you," Hank says, his own
voice muffled from him pressing his lips into the collar of Connor's shirt, "for being there, for looking after my kid. Wouldn't know what to do without you, seriously."

Connor's breath is disbelieving, and a hungry part deep in Hank growls in satisfaction when he reaches both
arms up to hold onto Hank in turn. "I don't totally believe that," he nurse says, polite as ever. And Hank wants to protest, but Connor continues, "You love your son and you'd do anything to take care of him. You're doing just fine, Lieutenant."

The use of his title warms Hank.
Hank could just stand there and relax in Connor's arms for the rest of time, but societal convention prompts him to step away, and lets his arms fall back empty to his side. "Heh, thanks, kid. Same to you."

Connor looks only slightly miffed at that, but equally playful as he
one side of his face curls up in a devilish grin, "I assure you, Lieutenant." He draws one hand up over his ear, and bites his lower lip and somehow manages to make the movements appear casual, "I am far from being a child."

Hank has to admit he got him there, practically walked
into that one, and he chuckles, and waves a hand at Connor as if that would distract from his red face. "Yeah, yeah. You twenty year olds are all the same."

Connor almost does sound offended now as he frowns, and says point-blankly. "I'm 32, Lieutenant."

Hank grasps that info
like it's a lifeline and tucks it away for later to be used when he can do mental math in a safe place where no one can see his awkward blushing. "Oh," is all he says instead, despite the storm going on in his head, then adds thoughtfully, "You look younger, is all I mean."
Connor's smile softens at the edges, but Hank can see the knowing glint in his eye. "I get that a lot," he amends, sparing Hank another moment of embarrassment, and this time actually does start to leave the house. "Friday off, then?" he asks.

Hank nods, and follows him to the
door. "Yeah, take a load off. I am on call this weekend though, but if you want to take the weekend, it's not an issue. Don't want you to get in trouble with the head honcho or anything."

Halfway out the door, Connor's hand brushes in passing against Hank's own, stilling him.
"Call if you need me," he says, sincere and genuine in a way that is so, so Connor.

Hank watches after him, and wonders if he *should* get checked out, because him forgetting how to talk or breathe really shouldn't be a daily occurrence, he would think. "Thanks," he manages.
"Anytime." Connor blinks, smiles, then turns to start off into the cold winter night. "Good night, Lieutenant!"

Hank closes the door quick, attempting not to slam it, and locks the door with trembling fingers, realizing just now how hard his heart is pounding. He spins, presses
his back to the door, and sighs long and hard. He's not entirely sure what to name whatever he's feeling.

"Daaaadd, is Connor gonna be your booooyfriend?" Cole chimes from the couch, already awake and recovered from his seizure as he peers over the cushions.

Hank groans.

----
That's it for me tonight my dears! I've got less of a busy day than I thought tomorrow, so I'll work on this as I can. Your guys' support means so much to me, I love seeing those notifications that someone liked or commented on my work. You guys keep me going. Love you all!!!
Good morning y'all! I'm about to head into work in a few minutes but I figure I can sneak a couple of updates in for you to get the day going. You all have been so encouraging - seeing such kind responses truly fills me with joy. I love you all

Lets jump right into it, shall we?
--
In the following days leading up to Friday, Hank manages to keep his squirrely, smart-alecky son to hush about Hank feeling anything but stern professionalism to Nurse Connor. This includes many head noogies, but his son is eventually placated when Hank offers ice cream for
the rest of the week after dinner.

Hank knows he's growing more and more tense as the day nears, the worst part of it being that all he can do is wait out the inevitable storm that is his ex-wife.

Cole is endlessly excited, which helps with things. Hank likes seeing him happy
It's more than what Susan deserves considering how little time she seems to want to spend with her son, but it makes Cole happy, and Hank wouldn't dare rob that from his son.

Connor, intuitive as ever, catches on to Hank's building tension with relative ease. And he dares to ask
The question that was probably burning in his mind one early morning after Hank returned from a night shift.

"How do you feel about Cole's mom visiting this weekend?" he asks.

Hank knows Connor well enough by now to pick up what Connor is trying to do, just from the tone of his
Nurse Voice. The care and concern, polite curiosity he can easily back out of if Hank were to get offended, and an empathetic lilt that could convince even the gruffest of patients that Connor truly wants to know the answer through no selfish benefit of his own.

It's something
Hank recognizes from when he sees the DPD therapist after those really rough cases, the kinds that rattle you to your core after you or someone else goes through a traumatic experience.

And even though Hank recognizes what Connor's doing, he still knows in his very soul that
Connor truly does care.

And hey there's nothing wrong with him falling for the nurse-patient game. Because damn it all sometimes Hank wants to feel like there is someone on the outside that cares. His own ex-wife doesn't give two shits about what goes on his son's life and it's
just *so validating* to talk to someone who GETS it, who understands what Cole is going through because he's THERE and because unlike his ex-wife, he's invested in what happens to his son. And sometimes if Hank squints, so everything around reality is a little blurry, he can
pretend for a little while, pretend that Connor is here not just because he *has* to be here for work, but because he *wants* to be. That he wants to spend time with Cole not just as his nurse but as, something else. That he doesn't see Hank just as a patient's parent, but as --
"Sorry, Lieutenant Anderson, I didn't mean to offend you or anything - I just thought - you just seem really tense and, I mean I hope it's not anything *I* did but uhm-"

Connor's suddenly nervous rambling is what jars Hank from his thoughts, turning way too romantic for his own
good. He turns to interrupt the nurse, brows raised high above his head as he waves a hand quickly to halt the man's anxiety quickly going off the rails. "Con, it's fine, god, no, it's not that!" Hank hurries to the RN, who's wide brown eyes stare, expression startled. Hank
slides Connor's cup of coffee (black, the way he likes it) over to him, while Hank takes a seat to an adjacent chair close to him so their knees are almost touching. Hank feels brave (or maybe exhausted) enough to even place a large and heavy hand on Connor's mid-thigh, hoping
the gesture comes off as friendly and reassuring, and not old-man-pervy.

Connor hasn't moved towards his mug of daily caffeine, his coffee-brown eyes remaining fast on Hank as the Lieutenant attempts to explain himself, and he runs his other hand down his face. "You just got my
wheels turning, thinking about my ex like that. Didn't mean to scare ya."

The nurse offers a flicker of a smile, but there's still something turbulent going through his eyes. Hank feels a pit form in his stomach, and he squeezes the man's leg comfortingly. "It's fine, really.
I don't mind talking about her. You're okay."

Connor blinks hard, swallows, and there's a flash of his tongue as he wets his lips, plays with his hands in his lap. "It's not that, I - sorry, okay. Yeah. Uhm. It's fine. Just - I've been worried, that's all, about you. And Cole.
Since I've never met your ex-wife before. Just not sure where she stands in regards to you both."

His words are stunted, unsure. Hank's been on the force long enough to tell when someone is lying (and god if Connor isn't the worst liar he's ever seen-) there's something the RN
is at least hiding from him. He can read that much, at least.

Curiosity and confusion burns in him. Did he make some kind of misstep? Where in the past 30 seconds did Hank say something that would set Connor off like that?

Hank decides to let it pass, tells himself that it's
fine, that if Connor really thinks it's important, he'll tell him. He trusts him.

The Lieutenant leans back in his chair with a resigned sigh, and reaches one hand for his coffee while his other slides from Connor's thigh. "My ex-wife," he sighs, almost grumbles, and casts a
look to Cole, who's sitting in the living room, oblivious to the conversation going on between the two adults while he watches morning cartoons and munches on breakfast cereal. There's no telling that he's NOT listening, though, so Hank lowers his voice, just a tad, "We've always
had problems, really, even before Cole. But then after he was born, and we got the diagnosis.." He shrugs one shoulder, "It was inevitable things would end between us. She just can't handle the idea of having a kid that doesn't fit the mold in every way, y'know? So I've been left
to pick up her slack." He looks to Cole on the couch, content, happy, and even with everything that goes on, still healthy and *alive*.

"That sounds *exhausting*" Connor empathizes, voice softened. "Considering the kind of hours you put in too, it's hard to believe you're even
standing here." Connor gives a little chuff of laughter to help lighten some of the tension that comes with dredging up unpleasant memories. "I'd probably just collapse on the spot if I tried to do everything you do."

Hearing someone say that feels good, so good that tears claw
at the corner of Hank's eyes, but he forcefully brushes them away with a single hand. "It is," he admits, and decides to meet Connor's gaze even with his eyes red-rimmed from the tears. "But it's worth it to have that little guy in my life, y'know? Even when it's hard, and
stressful and the most terrifying thing in the world, I know I'd do it all over again just for him." Hank sniffs, internally mortified to realize that yes, he IS going to cry in front of his son's nurse, but decides to hell with it anyway as he blazes on. "I just wish Susan could
see that. Pisses me off the way she brushes him off like she does. His damn birthday was in *September*, and she couldn't find time at all until *January?* It's bull." Hank wipes his nose with his sleeve. Connor hasn't touched his coffee. "She's got the world's greatest kid who
thinks the world of her right now, and she doesn't realize how good she's got it." Hank shakes his head. "Kids don't love that unconditionally forever, and it scares the shit out of me to know she's going to end up hurting him one day because of it. But it's not like anything I
say or do matters, not to her."

Hank huffs out a wet and shuddering breath, and takes a generous gulp of his hazlenut-flavored coffee. All the while, Connor watches him, mouth curled into a half-smile. He seems to consider something for a moment, and then shuffles forward so he
can lean forward into Hank's space. Their knees actually do brush each other this time, but all Hank can focus on is the depths of those gold-flecked eyes. "You're an amazing person, Hank Anderson," says Connor, Hank only distantly aware of Connor's hand now touching his thigh in
turn. "And an even greater father. Cole is so incredibly lucky to have a dad like you. If some of the other parents I've seen and worked with gave even half an ounce of how much you care and love for your son, I wouldn't even need to be here." Connor looks somber for a moment,
but he lets himself continue, "Cole knows you love him. I see it in the way you two are with each other, and it's your ex-wife's loss that she's missing out on getting to know such a great kid." Connor shakes his head, the very idea seeming to disappoint him. "It's her choice to
be absent from his life, if that's what she wants. But some day when she realizes the mistake she's made, she's going to find out it's too late, because Cole was able to see who really loved and cared for him growing up." Connor holds Hank's gaze, looking up from beneath thick
eyelashes, "And he's going to be okay without her, Hank, because he was raised by you."

Hank's heart is pounding way too fast, way too hard, and he's pretty sure he's signed his death warrant as Connor gives his own leg a reassuring squeeze and a trademark half-smile. "Cole is
going to be just fine, Hank. Trust me."

And that's the final damn straw that breaks that fucking camel's back. Hank's composure crumples, and he doesn't let himself hesitate as he surges toward Connor. One hand grabs the nurse's head to bring him in while the other wraps around
his back, pulling him right in. All sense of dignity lost, Hank holds Connor as close as he can, something about the hug familiar and comforting in a way that is otherworldly. And after one terrified moment of Hank wondering if this is okay, Connor's seems to make a decision as
He encloses his arms around Hank's middle, completing the embrace as the nurse locks his arms. Sobs wrench from Hank, face red and burning from his tears as he holds Connor close and tight. "Thank you," he whimpers, so very unaware how much he needed to hear that. "You have no
Idea how much it means to hear that. Thank you, Connor, god, thank you."

Connor's arms tighten, and Hank feels the other man press his face into Hank's shoulders, either frowning or speaking something into the fabric of his shirt.

The embrace lasts for just a few more tender
seconds, then Connor loosens his grip on Hank, and they part. Hank's arms fall down limp, suddenly exhausted from the emotional toil of breaking down in front of the person he's probably closest to in all the world. He sniffs without a shred of dignity left and wipes his nose one
more time along his sleeve, sniffling and ridding the tears lining his face. He sees a wet spot on Connor's shoulder from Hank's tears and snot, and chuckles wetly. He apologizes thickly, "Sorry, Con. Didn't mean ta- I mean... Guess I'm pretty pathetic, huh?"

Connor's eyes, just
as warm as they always are, soften even more, and he actually reaches up to wipe at his own eyes with the edges of his sleeve where some tears have formed, but does it far prettier than Hank ever could. "You're not pathetic, Hank, not at all." The look Connor gives the man warms
him down to his core. Hank chuckles a little, feeling some of the weight over him lighten with every moment spent with the pretty nurse. "You're a real godsend, Connor, you know that?" he asks.

Connor only offers that half-smile in return, and finally reaches for his mug of
coffee as he leans back, and it's only because Hank is looking at his feet does he see how Connor's pale and slender toes brush against his own sock-covered ones.

"I'm only human, Hank," Connor says, quiet and sincere.

Hank blinks a frown, the corners of his mouth tugging down,
but he says, "I don't think so," and he lifts his head to meet Connor's curious eyes of brown. "Think it takes something more than human for someone to put up with me." His lips start to turn up into a warmer and teasing smile.

"What, like a robot?"

"Mm, or an android."
Connor snorts at that, his head ducking down as if that would allow him to escape Hank's teasing. "I'm not an android, or a robot, I promise."

"You sure?" Hank mocks playfully, keying the nurse up with a grin. "Because I have *NEVER* seen you eat or go to the bathroom, EVER."
All sense of solemnity that was established between the two from the conversation has now dissipated into thin air while Connor laughs softly but breathlessly as he drinks from his mug, as if to prove a point. "What about coffee?" he asks.

"Clearly, an android that runs on
coffee, nice try, android man," Hank says effortlessly, a shit-eating grin on his face.

"Fine, ya got me," Connor says with a teasing roll of his eyes, smirk playing at the edges of his lips. "Too bad for you I burned the receipt, good luck returning me."

Hank's heart pounds,
and he gives an uncaring shrug of one shoulder, "Ah well, I wouldn't want to return you anyway."

The teasing -wait oh shit oh god were they actually FLIRTING???- causes Hank to laugh, the sound clear and open as he reveals teeth almost nearly white pearl teeth. Connor leans back
in his chair far enough that the front legs lift half an inch or so off the ground, the movement causing his foot to brush again against Hank's. Unfortunately for the Lieutenant, he can't tell if the movement was intentional or not. Still, he looks nervously at Connor, his smile
shy and somewhat uncertain as his foot moves lightly under Connor's so their toes brush against each other.

Hank sees the moment that Connor freezes, and when the nurse locks eyes with Hank, there's alarm, trepidation, maybe some fear, and perhaps...hope?

Hank is unable to work
out any kind of sentence, because as soon as he opens his mouth, he feels Connor's foot make a certain if not hesitant touch back, his big toe moving up and down along the side of Hank's foot.

Any and all words that were about to come from Hank falter, die on his tongue, gaze
entrapped by Connor. Unfortunately the nurse's face is still warm, blushing from their little therapy session, so Hank can't determine if the redness is from the crying or from the *definitely initiated physical contact*.

"I'll see you guys tomorrow for school, then?" Connor
says a bit too loudly, voice higher-pitched than usual.

Cole looks up to chirp excitedly at Connor, "Tomorrow is Friday, Connor. Mom's taking me out of school for the day!"

The nurse's mask of professionalism falls back into place as he smiles like he and Hank weren't just
absolutely flirting with each other less than 10 seconds ago, "That sounds awesome, little dude. Betcha you'll have a fun time, huh?"

Connor voices his assent, while all Hank can focus on is Connor's handsome profile, the way he smiles, that tempting lock of hair that refuses
to stay in place with the rest of the hairs along Connor's scalp (thank god for that hair).

Connor clears his throat, and looks at Hank as he stands to his feet. Hank immediately misses the slight feeling of Connor's foot to his. "I guess, I'll, uh. See you boys on Monday, then.
Let you get ahead of the long weekend."

Hank blinks quickly as he tries to jump back to the usual script they go by. "Yeah, yeah, should be good." He hesitates. "You'll uh, if I still need you though, in case with Cole-?"

"You have my number," Connor says with a gentle smile,
one that immediately soothes all worries in Hank about their interaction together. "And Lieutenant Anderson?" Hank looks up. Connor shifts his weight, darts his gaze to his feet, then back to the man sitting at the kitchen table. He hesitates, then finds the courage to say,
"Thank you, for being so vulnerable with me, willing to talk about your ex, and your son. I'm sure it's not something that's easy to talk about."

Damn therapeutic communication. Hank withholds a laugh, settling for a simple and lazy closed smile. "Thank you for listening."
"Anytime," Connor says, and Hank believes him. After a beat or two between them of silence and hesitation, Connor is the one that finally says, "I better get going, then. See you on Monday?" He preemptively reaches for his bag, looking to Hank politely as he rearranges some items
Hank smiles slowly. "Monday is perfect."

It's almost tradition now, but Hank follows Connor through the living room to the front door, where he watches the RN brave himself with his snow gear and protection. "See you Monday, then!" he calls.

"Take care driving home. Roads are
a bitch this early in the morning." Hank tries not to worry about the traffic or the roads this time of year.

"I will, Lieutenant," Connor calls over his shoulder to his care. "Call me if you need me."

"Will do."

"Good luck with your ex!"

Hank scoffs, "Yeah, see you at the
funeral."

Connor laughs, morning sunlight hitting amber bits of hair. Hank pretends to squint against the sun and holds up a hand in farewell. "See ya Monday!"

--

Contrary to what Hank believes in this moment, he ends up seeing Connor before Monday.

He's incredibly grateful.
DID NOT INTEND FOR THIS SCENE TO GO THE DIRECTION IT DID OR THAT LONG BUT THAT JUST HOW IT BE WHEN WRITING

i'm gonna sleep now, will update tomorrow for you and the rest of my long weekend, lovely readers <3 your words of encouragement continue to inspire - thank you for reading
*sips coffee* Aahhhhh

Let's jump right in, shall we? :) And good morning!

--

The smell of popcorn overwhelm's Hanks nose as he stands in line at the movie theater, Cole at his side, grinning from ear to ear as he chats excitedly to his father, brown hair flying as he looks
about, tugging on Hank's hand back and forth. "Dad, do you think there's gonna be killer robots in this one?"

"Not sure, bug," Hank says, stepping up to buy tickets to the movie. "Might be a bit redundant if they did that, remember the sequel?"

"But they were SOO COOL!" Cole
gushes, beaming. "Maybe in this one they can be DINOSAUR killer robots."

Hank chuckles, "Y'know, when I was a kid, there weren't even any robots in it at ALL, it was just dinosaus."

Cole blows a raspberry, frowning in disapproval, "Pbbblltt, stupid, why wouldn't there be any
robots in Jurassic World 6?"

Hank laughs, but doesn't answer, and instead lets his arm swing in time with his son's, the kid buzzing with restless energy. They leave the line for the tickets and Hank nudges his son's shoulder with one arm, "Popcorn and a soda?" he asks.

"Cherry
lime coke!" Cole decides, his favorite drink to get at the movies. "Do you think mom will want some?"

Hank holds back a grimace at the mention of his ex-wife, his smile stiff. "Dunno, bud, but we can wait for her to get out of the bathroom before we-" Hank stops, held in place
when he sees a familiar figure standing in the middle of the lobby.

He's facing away from Hank and standing a bit stiffly, arms held behind his back with hands cradled together. But there's no mistaking that color of hair or profile, and Hank starts towards the nurse with a grin
as he calls out warmly, "Hey, Connor!"

He must not hear him, because he doesn't turn towards Hank until the lieutenant is only a few paces away, brows quirked over a neutral expression.

Hank falters then, recognizing something is off. This doesn't make sense. The person before
him is the spitting image of Connor, but there's just something...wrong about him?

For one, he's nearly eye-to-eye with the Lieutenant, which is strange in and of itself, since Hank *knows* that Connor is shorter than him. A quick glance to the man's feet tells Hank he doesn't
have any kind of high-heeled shoes on, so that's out. And the whole persona of this person is just, so obviously *not Connor.* Stiff and reserved, cool and indifferent as opposed to Connor's never-ending stream of warmth and affection to everyone around him.

Not-Connor regards
Hank with barely a flicker of interest in his unforgiving steel blue eyes (god, SO not Connor) behind his black-framed glasses, squareish and rectangular whereas Connor's are larger and more rounded at the corners. "Apologies, sir. You're confusing me with someone else. We do not
know each other."

"Yeah no shit we don't," Hank says, taking a couple of steps back, somewhat shaken by the exchange. They look *so alike!* "You're definitely not him. You don't by any chance happen to be-"

"Oy, Anderson! What the *fuck* are you doing talking to my boyfriend?"
A simultaneous feeling of annoyance and dread causes Hank's mouth to twist, any happiness at the thought of seeing Connor spoiled by the newest addition. Not-Connor turns his head, showing off more of his neck, shortened by the black turtleneck he has on as he addresse the
newcomer, "Manners, Gavin," he chides coolly, though Hank picks up a note of warmth in his voice.

Detective Gavin Reed just scoffs at the scolding, arms full with a large popcorn and soda. "I do whatever the hell I want," he snaps without any real bite in his words. Scornful
eyes of Hazel look up and down Hank, as if assessing a threat rather than a superior from work.

"Just saying hi, ya jerk," Hank returns with as much venom as he can using toned-down insults. His 8 year old son *is* present after all, though he wishes he could use more choice
words towards the insubordinate detective. "Thought he was someone else."

Gavin sneers, and promptly reminds the Lieutenant of an angry, cornered cat hissing over a mouse it caught. "God, you mean his dopey brother? You gotta be kidding me how do *you* know *him*? Isn't he a bit
young for you, you per-vahh?!"

Reed is blessedly interrupted by Not-Connor grabbing his ear and pulling him back towards him. Lucky for the detective he did because Hank was gettin' reeall close to swinging. "That was rude, Gavin," the taller version of Connor says sternly
thumb and finger gripping Gavin's earlobe, "Apologize."

"You are SUCH AN ASSHO-"

"*Now*, Detective," Definitely-Not-In-Any-Way Connor growls, and pulls harder on Reed's ear, causing him to cry out.

"Okayokay, sorry, alright, sorry, I'll keep my yap shut, just let go of me!"
"Like that's ever gonna happen," Hank says with a laugh as Not-Connor releases the unruly detective, who scowls at his boyfriend and the lieutenant testily. Reed scoffs under his breath, mutters a "*phck*" but doesn't say anything else.

Hank turns to Not-Connor, intent on
(adding this just now, realized it might be triggering for people; idk what y'all been through but please take care of yourself and there are people here for you ❤️ content warning for mentions of absentee parenthood in the conversation ahead)
getting down to the bottom of this mystery. "Connor is your brother, then?"

Before Not-Connor can even open is mouth, a voice calls out, "Oh, Haa- hey Lieutenant Anderson!"

Relief soars through Hank, because *that* is a voice he definitely recognizes. He turns with a grin,
Hands casually in his pockets as he looks over Connor with an easy-going grin, hoping it hides the nervous jump his heart gives at the sight of the nurse.

Connor is dressed more casually than he does for work at the Andersons, wearing a pair of dark, tight fitting jeans with a
Navy colored shirt and a light gray-black flecked hoodie. Hank's heart practically stops when he sees Connor has his glasses on, and he fights to keep his own expression as neutral and platonic as possible as he greets Connor warmly, "Hey there, Con, we were just talking about ya
"Oh all good things, I hope," Connor says with a smile, his mouth turning up more as he slips into the group. Hank sees him eye his brother curiously before returning to Hank, standing close so that Hank could reach out and brush their hands together or hold them if he wanted to.
"For you? Always," Hank teases, voice light as he playfully pushes the smaller man with one shoulder. He doesn't miss the way Connor looks pleased as he laughs with Hank, nor the way his brother raises an eyebrow at the exchange, curious.

"CONNOR!" a voice screams. Cole launches
himself at the nurse, arms wrapping tight around Connor's legs, which is how Hank knows he is Well and Truly Fucked when Connor laughs. "Hey there, kiddo!" he says, hugging Cole back and rocking from the weight of the hug. "How you doing, bud?"

Cole doesn't answer, instead just
bounces up and down, looking up to his nurse with the brightest smile Hank has seen in a while. "What are you doing here?" he asks, "Dad said you wouldn't be here today."

"Well I'm not working," Connor clarifies for him, "Just turns out we all like going to the movies at the
same time. Is your mom here?"

Cole turns and points to the general directions of the bathrooms. "Right there!"

Hank sees Connor look up at Cole's pointing, and Hank follows it to see Susan striding towards them, her eyes darting between the several new additions to their party.
"Hello," she says as she addresses the group. Hank's ex-wife has long brown hair tied into a loose bun, and Hank can admit she's still attractive, even into her middle-age. If anything Hank catches himself comparing himself to her, feeling like he didn't do as well keeping up in
shape as she did or just remaining as put-together in general.

At his side, Connor shifts his weight, just enough to make some room for Susan to enter the social circle, but in doing so allows him to subtly brush his arm along Hank's. He feels a chill run down his spine, but
forces himself into a state of calm as he offers a half smile at his ex. "Susan this is Connor. Connor, Susan."

At once, Connor has his professional smile in place, and he reaches a hand out to shake Susan's. "Nice to meet you, I'm Connor, the nurse sent from Stern Home and
Health."

Susan shakes his hand, but her displeasure is clear in her eyes as she looks critically at Connor, her darkened lips slightly pursed. "I didn't know you needed a nurse to take care of Cole now, Henry," she says, casting half a glance towards Hank, eyes narrowed.
Hank bristles at the accusation, and readies himself to bite back a stinging retort, but Connor interjects before he can, "I assure you, it's not for Mr. Anderson's lack of trying, ma'am." Connor's smile has turned from open, friendly, and polite, to sickly sweet. A predator
luring in its defenseless prey, armed to kill with kindness. "You must understand, of course. With all the hours he has to put in to support himself and Cole - it sure doesn't harm to have an extra person around to help."

A myriad of emotions pass through Hank, worry, pride,
gratefulness, and a grim satisfaction when Susan lowers her brows, and her lips tighten in her smile. Clearly, she's reading the hidden lines of Connor's words without a hitch. "Well, I can't imagine it would be so hard on Henry to manage Cole's condition, considering how little
intervention he actually needs for it."

Connor's smile is empty, tilted. "Unfortunately, that is not entirely the case, as I have been working for Mr. Anderson and Cole over the past several months. Cole is a very bright kid, though. It's been great getting to know him, he's for
sure one of my most favorite patients."

"But we're best friends, too! Right, Connor?" Cole asks from where he stands at the nurse's feet, blissfully unaware of the verbal warfare happening before his very eyes. The boy grins and looks up at his mom, "We even have a secret
handshake! *And* secret snacks sometimes when Dad isn't home."

Hank raises a brow at that, and lifts a wry brow at Connor, who meets Hank's gaze to shrug with one shoulder, his half-smile secretive. Hank reminds himself to ask the RN later when his ex-wife isn't there. Probably
ice cream or something.

Susan doesn't seem as amused about it, and her eyes narrow. "Secret snack? Like what?" She turns accusatory eyes to the nurse, who smiles and gives a half-hearted shrug, his shit-eating, serene grin almost enough to make Hank burst out into laughter.
"Unfortunately, I can't tell you that, ma'am. Nurse-patient confidentiality and all that." He says it in a tone that relays he is not sorry at *all* that he's refusing to tell her.

Susan looks like she's about to bust a vein, which is when Hank decides might be his cue to step
in. "God, Susan, lighten up, will ya? They're best buds, and didn't you hear? It's a *secret*. I'm pretty sure that Connor is *sworn* to secrecy as best friends with Cole." Hank nudges Connor with his shoulder, and the nurse smiles back at him.

"Yeah, mom!" Cole chimes, still
holding fast onto Connor's arm, swinging it around as he often does with Hank with that ear-to-ear grin. "We can't tell you if it's a secret, or else it wouldn't be a secret!"

Hank's half-smile curls up his face, and when he glances to Connor, he only feels the warmth spread.
The nurse's expression is soft as he smiles down at Cole, and Hank can see the genuine care Hank knows Connor holds for his son. Someone who knows his son, is willing to put in the time and the effort to get to know him, to provide for him, make sure he's safe and healthy-
That twisting, churning feeling returns to Hank with the force of a freight train, sending Hank reeling as if falling through air. He inhales sharply at the sensation, then turns his head away quick when Connor and his brother glance at him, having heard him. Hank clears it away
with a cough - though he's sure that does nothing to hide the torrent of emotions spiraling in his chest.

"So," Connor starts, finally bringing them back from the word battle onto safer conversation territory. "What movie are you guys seeing? I didn't think you would go to a
movie theater considering Cole's-"

"He's fine!" snaps Cole's mother, enough venom in her voice to even startle Hank a bit. Connor blinks politely at her as she spits on, "He's fine, he'll be able to watch just like any other kid. There's nothing wrong with him!"

Hank sees
clarity cross over Connor's face, and with a polite tilt of his head, says, "I was never implying that there was. I just would have thought - with the sounds and any of the flashing lights in an action scene, it might trigger one of his-"

"God, you and Hank both!" she snaps.
Connor's only reveal to what he's thinking is a surprised blink of his eyes before he turns to Hank. "You also-?"

"It was her idea," he grumbles, gesturing to Susan, who's lips sneer up slightly. "Wanted to bring Cole to the movies-I didn't think it-you know we don't really-"
Connor frowns at Hank's stuttering, a trait that's unusual for him, but when Hank sees the concern, and glances to Cole with worry, Hank explains, "Cole wanted to go; I've got the midazolam if we need it."

The nurse looks mildly settled at that, some of the fear easing, and he
says, "I know you, Hank, I trust Cole will be fine. I just worry, that's all."

Hank so desperately wants to reach across the abyss of empty air so he can grab Connor's hand in thanks, craves that closeness, but he settles instead for opening and closing his hand in his pocket.
"Thanks, Con," he says, enjoying how Connor's smile brightens a little, and Hank starts to suspect it's due to the little nickname Hank gave him.

Cole ends up inviting Connor and the rest of the group along with them to the movie, since they're all conveniently going to the same
showing of the billionth Jurassic Park movie. Hank starts to protest at the idea at first, recognizing that Connor deserves time off and a break from that work mindset, but he's pleased when Connor accepts. He hardly even needs to confer with his friends, who go along with it
well enough.

Hank learns that Connor's brother's name is Niles, that he's a pharmacist, and that he and Gavin have been dating for the past three months or so. Gavin met Niles initially when he was working on a big red ice bust going on in the inner city and needed some further
information on the chemical specifications of the drug.

"Then one thing led to another and we started going out, just clicked," Gavin said, popping some of the popcorn into his mouth as the group walked down the hall to the right theater. Susan walked a bit ahead of Hank,
closely following Connor and Cole. The nurse easily falls back into his role as caretaker, despite not being on the clock, and he keeps Cole entertained and comfortable as they talk together. Hank watches as Susan diverts Cole's attention to herself, clearly trying to hold Cole's
favor so it's greater than Connor's.

The RN takes no offense, his posture relaxed as he walks alongside his younger, much taller brother as he shifts attention to him. Hank watches the two interact, and its obvious the brothers are close. Nines leans down to murmur something to
Connor, and Hank is just close enough that he can hear the slight teasing from Niles, "So, *Con*, are you coming home with us after the movie, ooor-?"

"Shut up!" Connor rebukes, voice still teasing as he lightly pushes his brother away, face inflamed that typical red when he
gets embarrassed. He glances over his shoulder at Hank, who tries to immediately look like he wasn't just listening in to the conversation and is not flustered whatsoever, nope.

The implications are exciting, though, and they send goosebumps all up along Hank's arms. The shy
glances Connor sends him don't help, either, nor do the sly glances Niles sends the both of them. And even if Hank and Connor are the flustered idiots, Niles is certainly the one who knows whats going on between them, unspoken, small, and fragile as it is.

There's a bit of
confusion and debate between seating arrangements. The obvious decision would be for Hank and Susan to sit at Cole's sides, Connor next to Hank, with Niles and Gavin next to Connor. But Cole throws a wrench in all that when he demands to sit next to Connor. And Hank doesn't voice
it, but he would rather eat his own hat than sit next to his ex-wife. So its with a bit of grudging embarrassment that he sits with Connor on his right, then Nines and Gavin on his left.

The previews start off, and Hank leans in to Connor, handing him one of the buckets of
popcorn as he says quietly, "Hey, thanks for, putting up with us again tonight. I knew tonight was supposed to be your night off from us. I'll make sure you get these hours down for your pay period."

"I never need a night off from you and Cole, Hank. I like spending time with
you two, even if it's for work." His brown eyes, turned black in the darkness of the theater, soften at the edges. "And I don't mind not getting the hours - the next couple of them are on me."

"Connor," Hank says, letting some exasperation into his voice. "You're basically doing
your job right now - least I can do is pay you for it."

"They're on me, Hank," Connor repeats, warm. "You can just make it up to me later." And with a cheeky grin, he actually *winks* Hank's way, sending the Lieutenant's heart into some kind of arrhythmia, he's sure.

"O-Okay,"
Hank relents, falling back into that stammer.

Satisfied, Connor sits back into his seat, leaning over every once in a while when Cole tries to grab and talk to him or ask for more popcorn.

And it's..nice. Hank doesn't pay much attention to the Gav and Niles, and he can almost
pretend that his ex isn't even there if he focuses hard enough. It would be so easy to pretend that it were just he, Cole, and Connor spending a night at the movies, curled up together in the dark of the theater, enjoying the sights and the sounds. Laughing at the funny parts and
inching closer to each other during the scary ones.

And yeah there's some differences with Cole's condition. It's hard for Hank to ever really sit down and enjoy something when he's always keeping one eye on his son, especially considering how fast the seizures can come and go.
It's such a comfort to have Connor there as an extra set of dutiful eyes, because then when Hank leans over halfway through the movie and asks in a soft whisper, "He still doing okay? How many?"

"Just a couple of spastic ones, Lieutenant. His arm and his leg, a few seconds long,
hasn't needed anything for it." Connor reaches across the armrest to squeeze Hank's arm lightly, and Hank grows still, mind flurry with elation when
Connor keeps it there. "He's doing really well - he'll let us know if he feels like something is off."

Hank huffs out a breath of
air, and smiles at Connor, who returns the grin. "Thanks, Con," he says, and keeps his own arm along the nurse's so the sides of their hands are touching.

The movie goes on, but after about 15 minuets since last speaking to Connor, Hank decides he can't take it anymore.

Slowly,
he brushes his pinkie up and down along Connor's.

A gesture that could easily be mistaken as accidental, if he can even sense it at all, but from the way Hank feels Connor stiffen, he knows he's registered the movement.

Hank nearly stops breathing, his whole body tense with
anticipation as he awaits Connor's response. Any kind of subtle gesture, a lean away, or a huff of air, even actual words of refusal - but Hank barely even dares to hope for what might actually happen if Connor were to feel the same way.
And then he barely perceives it, but it's there.

Connor's pinkie finger lifts up, then trails back down against Hank's, repeating the movement once or twice.

Hank's breath catches, and he tries to keep it subdued as he glances towards Connor, who still sits, staring at the
screen, and lightly biting the bottom of his lip. He must know or sense that Hank is staring at him, because Connor just barely turns his head to look at the lieutenant. His eyelashes flutter as he looks at Hank, then away, then to their hands, then back to Hank. And even in the
dark, Hank can tell that he's blushing.

Connor looks back to the screen, but all Hank can focus on is the way he flexes his hand, indecisive.

Which is when Hank moves in, and lets his pinky intertwine with his.

It's such a small, seemingless gesture. But between him and Connor
it's like climbing mount Everest.

They stay like that the rest of the film, thoughts only for each other, even with the eyes of others on them.
---
That's all for tonight, folks! A special thank-you to those who read on their Saturday, your likes were so encouraging, thank you!!
Let's get this ball Rollin, I've got a minishift at work in half an hour so might as well get a few updates in for ya on this beautiful Sunday :)
--
The movie ends far too soon if you were to ask Hank, and with the lift of the house lights, Connor draws his pinky and arm from
Hank back to his own lap. The Lieutenant casts a half-forlorn look Connor's way, who gives Hank an amused half-smile as he stands with the others.

And Connor may miss it, but Hank sees the way Susan glares at him, then turns her frosty green eyes at Hank, accusing. Hank sighs to
Himself, and knows he's gonna get an earul later when he and Susan are alone.

Its peaceful for the moment, at least, and it's only when Cole and Connor are saying goodbye to each other when Hank suddenly remembers, "oh! Con! Cole has a parent teacher conference coming up for
this quarter on Wednesday. Was thinkin' it might be helpful for you to be there since you're in him with him during the school day."

"Yeah I can do that," Connor said with a shrug. "What time?"

Susan juts herself in before Hank can answer, both looking over to her curiously as
she cuts in, "Wait, Henry! You didn't say anything about Cole having a parent-teacher conference. Why haven't I heard about this?"

Hank takes the conscious effort to restrain himself from snapping at her. The obvious answer would be "BECAUSE YOU DON'T TRY TO BE THERE." But he
thinks of Cole, and of being a good role model for him, and he thinks of the disapproval that would reflect in Connor's eyes if he made some kind of outburst like that.

So instead he inhales as quietly as possible, and exhales out, "Well, Susanna," and he takes at least the
satisfaction of seeing her right eye twitch - she hates to be called by her full name. He goes on to explain calmly, "You haven't gone to any of Cole's /other/ parent-teacher conferences, so I didn't want to trouble you further by informing you about this one." Nevermind the fact
she would know about the conference in the first place if she would put in the most /minimal/ of effort-!

Hank forces himself into calm, feels the hard pounding of his heart, and the silent and glowing approval of Connor to his left.

Susan huffs out an irritated breath, tone
hostile. "Of /course/ I want to attend, HENRY, he's my /son/."

Hank wonders idly in the back of his mind if she realizes that she's not fooling anyone, that she's doing this just because she feels threatened by Connor. But there's a hopeful sheen in Cole's eyes as he starts to
jabber on about the parent-teacher conference and how he can show /both/ his parents some of the projects he's got hanging up in the classroom, and Hank knows he could never deny his son anything. So he relays the information (to BOTH Susan and Connor), who agree to be there.
The ride home is quiet, and tense. Or at least it is between the two adults in the car. Cole keeps the atmosphere as light as it can by talking about the movie, gushing over the action scenes and relief he got to see it all and wasn't interrupted by one of his seizures.
"You'll like Mr. Peel!" Cole chirps to Susan. "He's really nice - and he's SO GOOD at drawing, Mom! And when we did our weather reports, he gave me an /A+/!"

"Mhm, that's nice, Cole," she says, her voice thick with false interest as she stares out the side window, her fingers
tapping against the armrest.

During weekends when she actually feels like being present, Susan stays with Hank and Cole. Hank always ends up volunteering to sleep on the couch when she's in town, knowing that if he would only get the martyr treatment from Susan otherwise.
It takes a little bit of effort getting Cole ready for bed as Hank tones him down from the excitement of the movie (especially considering that Susan doesn't help getting him ready - insisting that she would only get in the way of he and Hank's routine.. which is bull). But Hank
manages to get it done, even without the extra assistance, and before he knows it, he's tucking Cole into bed, all ready in a fresh pair of Cole's favorite soft pajamas (printed with a design to look like outer space), teeth brushed and flossed, and even with his hair brushed.
Tucking Cole in really is one of Hank's favorite parts of his day - it's a time where Cole is winding down from the day and usually feels the most comfortable talking to his dad about stuff. And Hank loves it, loves having little conversations with his kid about any random crap
he's got stuck in his head. Problems at school, questions about goddamn anything, ideas he has, things he wonders about - Hank loves it, and especially when Cole has questions that catch even Hank off-guard. Even after years of being on the force and holding the position of
Lieutenant, Cole never ceases to surprise him.

Tonight turns out to be no exception, but it still causes Hank's head to spin. He's just tucking Cole in, kisses him goodnight, and is reaching for the Star Wars (the remake) light when Cole asks in that hesitant tone of voice, "Hey
Dad?"

Hank recognizes the tone at once, and feels warmth bloom in his chest like a flower as he leans back a little from where he sits on the bedside to look at Cole. The boy's wide blue eyes stare up at him, vulnerable, and Hank takes extra consideration to lower and soften his
voice, coating it with open love and affection so his son feels safe. He thinks of Connor. "Yeah, little man?" he asks, gentle.

When Cole hesitates more and doesn't say it outright, Hank's concern grows, and he reaches a hand to his son's knee. He shakes it a little, playful,
runs his wide thumb over his son's kneecap in a reassuring manner. "Hey, what's eatin' ya, bud?"

"Is Connor going to go away?"

/That/ was a question Hank wasn't expecting. The Lieutenant blinks a couple of times at that, frowns, then chuffs out a breath of laughter. He can't
hide his confusion as he goes to reassure his son, "No, Connor's not going away, bud. What made you think that?"

"Mom doesn't like him," Cole says, as if that answers everything.

"Where did you hear that?" Hank asks, voice taking on a slightly sterner tone.

Cole shrugs from
beneath the heavy and safe weight of his comforter. "No one," he says. "I can just tell."

Damn sharp kids being more perceptive than Hank gives them credit for.

Hank gives Cole's leg a reassuring squeeze of his hand. "You mom doesn't seem to like Connor very much right now, but
sometimes adults have a hard time becoming friends with each other."

"Like you and Connor?" Cole asks.

Hank's smile is as warm as his heart. "Yeah, bud, like me and Connor."

Cole thinks about this. "Do you think Mom and Connor will become friends?"

Hank thinks of the devilish
and sickly sweet smile Connor gave Susan at the theater, and the sharp glare of her eyes as she fought to maintain her position of importance in Cole's life. The lieutenant can't help but hold back a burst of laughter. "Maybe not as close as me and Connor, but you never know."
Cole seems to absorb this, brown eyebrows furrowing a little in thought. He looks up at Hank, then, voice more sure of himself, "But Mom won't fire him?"

Hank shakes his head. "Not a chance, bud. Connor is /your/ nurse, right? So if you want him to stay your nurse, then he gets
to stay."

That finally seems to reassure Cole, who smiles at the realization that Connor is someone special to /him/ that can't be taken away by someone else. The bit of tension and worry that was in his son's shoulders seem to melt away a little bit, and he settles back into
his bed. "Thanks, Dad," he says.

"You're welcome. Sleep tight, Cole." Hank leans down to kiss his son on the forehead one more time, and adjusts the blankets covering him so they're just slightly higher up his neck. Cole snuggles deeper into their warmth, the most precious thing
in the whole goddamn world, and then Hank hears his son mumble something else.

"Hm?" Hank asks, "what was that, buddy?"

Cole stares up at his dad, eyes wide and totally innocent. "Do /you/ like Connor, dad?"

Hank fights not to blush under the question, and equates his son
saying such a thing to the worry he had over his mom not liking Connor.

He smiles reassuringly at Cole. "Of course I do, bud. Connor is a great nurse - he takes good care of you when I have to be at work and can't look after you myself."

Cole thinks about this, then makes a
perfectly plain observation, "Connor is here a lot, though, even when you're not at work."

Hank nods in agreement, "Yeah, that's true," he says, wondering where Cole is going with this. "We're good friends, though, aren't we? Even you and Connor." A flicker of concern makes its
way through Hank as he looks to his son. "Are you okay that he's around so much?" he clarifies.

Cole nods and smiles a bit sleepily, "Yeah, I like Connor. He plays fun games and he's always there when I have one of my seizures." Cole pauses. "And he brings good snacks."
Hank huffs out a soft breath of laughter at that, gaze softening. "Well I'm glad to hear you like having Connor around, bud. And I know Connor would say the same about you."

Cole Anderson stares at his father, eyes wide, then asks what Hank has dreaded and anticipated for years.
"Does Mom like having me around?" Cole asks in a tiny, vulnerable whisper.

Hank is aware of his heart pounding, feels his pulse throb through his neck down to his wrists and his gut. He sees red for a hot second, followed by a cold rush of emotion that empties at his feet.
"Of course she does, Cole," Hank reassures like any good father would, and he leans forward a little to give his words greater weight. "It's just harder for her to find the time from work to come down. But she loves you, and I know if she could spend more time with you she would.
"When?" Cole challenges, voice lingering on dejected. "She's never around, she never comes to /any/ of my things."

Hank tries to mend what image Cole maintains of his mother. "Hey, she's coming to your parent-teacher conference on Wednesday, right? We'll all be there."
Hank offers up a reassuring smile to his son, and pats his son's knee with a strong and gentle hand. "Your mom loves you Cole, no matter what, she does."

His son blinks, looking not totally convinced, but Hank finds he wouldn't believe himself either if he was told that. But he
doesn't want his son to lose that good image of his mother, at least not yet. She still has time to connect with him, but-

"Love you, peanut," he says, kisses his son on the forehead just /one/ more time, and begins to rise from the bed. "Get some sleep. I'll see you in the
morning."

"Okay, Dad. Goodnight."

"Night, bucko."

Hank leaves Cole's room, the door only partway closed as Hank enters the hallway. He always keeps the door open so Sumo could come in if he wants. Hank can't even recall the number of times he's entered or peeked into Cole's
room to see that spoiled St. Bernard sleeping at his son's side.

Hank chuckles and shakes his head as he enters the living room, and can't help but startle a little at what he finds there.

Susan is still awake, sitting on the main living room couch looking absolutely /pissed/.
She is the /definition/ of cold and disinterested, body language closed with her stiff back, arms crossed at her chest, and planting of her feet firm on the ground as she sits at the edge of the couch. Hank releases a noisy sigh, which finally seems to break whatever spill she
was under, keeping her at bay. She turns a critical, disapproving eye on Hank, who readies himself for the /real/ battle.

"Surprised you're still up," Hank chooses to say neutrally, not wanting to poke and prod the beast more than what may be necessary. Perhaps they can patch up
some of their relationship, at least as friends, foster open-communication between them as Cole's equal caregivers, become stronger people even a little bit of a team again-

"I want Connor gone."

Or all of Hank's carefully maintained patience can snap like a fucking twig.
--
starting to notice spelling errors so that's my signal its time for bed 🤣hello and goodnight to all my late-night readers! thanks to everyone who checked in today - i love hearing your guys' feedback & reactions - love you all and see ya tomorrow. stay cool out there!!
*staggers in* sorry for the late update i just got the new twitter layout on my laptop i'm still reeling and adjusting to this new form of reality

saw a couple of people start the fic today and like posts as they went; welcome! :) glad to see you made it here.

lets get into it
(also cw for pretty intense couples argument r/t parent absenteeism- i fly by the seat of my pants as i'm writing this so not totally sure how it'll go - but i know it's gonna be a rough conversation between hank and susan sooooo yeah lets get this goin')
--
Hank looks at Susan like she's grown a second head. "/What?" he says, voice a near growl. He tries at once to reel in his control, not wanting to let his emotions get out of hand, and a part of him hopes that Susan maybe misspoke or that he didn't understand what she meant.
Susan faces him, and doesn't flinch, her eyes hard stones of green as she glares. "Connor," she says, voice lightened a tinge. "The nurse. I want him gone."

Hank twists his mouth, raises an eyebrow, "You're kidding, right?" Susan lifts her shoulders in a shrug, indifferent. Hank
clenches his hands at his sides, glowering, and he finds himself unable to control his voice from escalating just a little bit. "Connor is the best damn nurse Cole has had in /years, Susan. Why the /hell would I get rid of him?"

She turns more over the couch, arm extending
across the back. "I'm Cole's /mother, Henry. I get a say in who's taking care of him. He's /my/ son."

Hank takes considerable relief in the fact that he is not too far from a chair where he might loose his footing, or that he's holding anything relatively breakable. Regardless,
his hands shake at his side, and he tilts his head slightly to one side. "Whe -" he inhales, then turns his head like he didn't hear her. "When...have you ever been there for him?"

"exCEUSE me?" Susan says, and she's finally prompted to stand up, to face Hank head-on, and that's
the bell in Hank's head - the ringer that lets him know they're about to get into it.

"You know how work is for me, Hank. Yeah I wish I had more time with Cole but I don't have a flexible schedule you do, and I have to put in a lot of hours to keep up paying for you and Cole to
live in this house."

"You fuckin kidding me, Susan?" Hank asks, unconsciously taking a step forward. "You don't pay a damn cent around here - and what you think getting called in at 2 am in the morning is supposed to be a 'flexible schedule?! Why the hell do you think I hired
Connor in the first place? Oh, maybe it was because I was the only goddamn adult in the house and I didn't want to leave my /8 year old epileptic son/ alone in case he had a life-threatening seizure!" Hank realizes in a distant plane of realization that he's yelling now, but it's
like he can't stop when Susan gets him like this, like there's someone else controlling his rage and fury, forcing him to speak out the enraged words. "Connor has /been there/, Susan. Longer and more impacting than you ever have." Hank takes a breath, "And Cole loves him, that
alone being reason to keep him, and /especially/ with him being so great at taking care of Cole, too." Hank huffs out a breath, crosses his arms over his chest.

Susan glares up at him critically, something in her eyes studious and thoughtful. She narrows her gaze, then twists
her lips up. "You're a real fucking piece of work, Hank Anderson. There's no one that knows Cole better than his own mother. Connor has been with Cole for what, two months? How does that compare to me who /gave birth/ to him?!"

Tension coils along every part of Hank's body, and
relays coldly, "Connor has been working with Cole since September, Susan, at the start of school. Which you would have known if you were there for Cole's birthday party, as opposed to doing a half-ass weekend with him in goddamn /January."

She throws her arms up, but spits venom
"You know it was not my fault I missed that! There was an emergency at work, I couldn't come up!"

"For /three whole months/, Susan?! Really? You're gonna go with /that?!" Hank snaps. "How stupid do you think Cole is, that he hasn't noticed these gaps you've spent without him?!"
Susan rolls her eyes, "Cole is /fine/. He's healthy, smart, sociable. He knows that I'm there, there's nothing-"

"Cole asked me tonight if you like spending time with him, Susan."

This is the first thing Hank has said that seems to strike something in her. His ex-wife startles.
Her eyes widen a fraction, considering, then she looks at Hank accusingly. "Oh, I bet you were ALL OVER THAT, weren't you? Turning him against me, saying that I don't love him because it's so hard for me to get down here-"

"No, Susan, god, what kind of person do you think I am!?
I lied to him - told him that you /do/ enjoy spending time with him - even though it's obvious to our /eight-year-old/ that the opposite is true. I mean for god's sake the last time you were here was in fuckin /July/-"

A harsh, sharp, and electric ringtone interrupts Hank's
fury. And damn his old nerves (maybe its from being so tuned in to Cole's seizures), but it actually makes him jump, the phone in his pocket incessant and loud against the other relative quiet of the house.

He sees Susan groan and close her eyes, like it might force the sound of
the phone and their argument from the tension of the room.

Hank grumbles incoherently to himself and pulls the phone out, squinting a little against the brightness of the screen to read the caller ID.

"Connor...?" he murmurs, the name enough to cause his ex's head to snap in
his direction, eyes sharp.

"You should answer it," she says, biting. Hank glares at her. She leans back, crosses her arms over her chest defensively as she cocks her hips to one side. "On speaker. We're both Cole's parents - I want to hear what his nurse has to say."

Hank turns
his lips into a sneer, but doesn't goad her on further as he accepts the call and hits the speaker button. "Hey, Con, everything okay?"

The nurse's voice comes through tinny through the speaker, holding a hint of nervous energy, "Good evening, Lieutenant. I'm sorry for calling
so late - I just wanted to make sure you and Cole were alright, you weren't answering any of my texts. And I knew you were driving home, and the snow outside, I just-" he takes a nervous breath, "You're okay though? Both of you? And your ex?"

God even with the interruption of
the argument with his wife, Hank can't help but smile even a little bit at his fretful but organized nurse. "Yeah, yeah, we all made it fine. Sorry for not texting you back - got into a bit of a conversation with my ex. Cole's doing good, he's in bed, now."

Connor is quiet for
just a second longer that may be necessary, and he says, "Everything okay, though?"

"Yeah, yeah, it's fine," Hank says absently. He considers Susan for a moment, then speaks into the receiver. "Actually, Connor, Susan was wondering-" she looks sharply to him at that. Hank
presses on, "How many seizures did Cole have tonight?"

Connor's reply is prompt, "Just 4 minor ones - he didn't lose consciousness for any of them. He didn't have a big one or anything when he got home, though?"

Hank smirks, "Yeah, alright, pretty good for him."

"Ehh, not the
worst, not the best, either. No big ones, though?"

Hank shakes his head, and says into the phone, "Nope, he's doing good."

He hears Connor's soft sigh of relief from the other side. "Okay, sounds good. You got my text though, right? Because I send you that summary every time
after a shift so you have a report of what time he last had a seizure and how bad it was, if we gave any medication, how he recovered from it - you got that?"

Hank hasn't needed to check his phone to know he got it. "Yeah, I did, Con, thanks man."

"Not a problem, Hank," the
softness of Connor's tone on the other end would be enough for Hank to swoon like a teenage girl if his volatile ex-wife wasn't present. Connor's voice asks from the other end, "I'll see you and Cole tomorrow?"

"Yeah, and thanks for tonight."

"Not a problem. Goodnight,
Lieutenant."

"Goodnight, Con."

Hank hangs up the phone, and looks to his ex-wife, challenging. "And /that's/ why we're not giving up Connor."

Susan gives out an irritated huff of air, then says a little more sternly. "I want him gone, Hank. And that's final. If you don't do
it, I will."

She decides to end the conversation there, walking past Hank on her way to his bedroom. She intentionally clips her shoulder against his, and Hank sneers at her as she goes. "Don't hold your breath."

Susan glares over her shoulder at him, and slams the door closed.
--
goin to bed now, kids! will try to update tomorrow - featuring the Parent Teacher conference, fun times ahead ;) i'll see you guys around - thank you all for reading and for liking and commenting! love hearing from you guys. night, all!
Whaddup hankconnies ya beauts, it's 9pm on a Tuesday I don't got work tomorrow til at least 10:30 so lets get right to it, shall we? 😊
--
Susan insists on staying all week until the night of the Parent-Teacher conference, and she's been an absolute thorn into Hank the whole time
She attends school with Connor and Cole, watching everything he does with a microscopic gaze while Hank is at work, complaining about every little thing that happens.

"The seizure was technically 5 seconds long but Connor wrote down /six!" she says to Hank one day after they've
dismissed the kind nurse at the end of the day.

Hank shakes his head, "Connor has never been anything but accurate when monitoring and keeping track of Cole's seizures, Susan, you're just being picky."

She scoffs, but ultimately lets the issue go.

Hank asks Connor later the
following day on a Tuesday how he puts up with her during the day. Her fretting, her criticisms, when Connor knows he's perfectly capable and qualified of taking care of Cole.

Connor just gives him that patient and wistful smile to Hank, who feels the insurmountable urge to
brush the back of his hand along Connor's forehead and curl that loose strand behind his ear - but he shakes the thought free so he can hear Connor's answer.

"It's not so bad. I deal with it. And the way I see it, she's taking an interest in Cole's life, so it can't be all that
terrible."

"Uh-huh," Hank says, wondering if nurses have to pass a particular kind of test in patience when it comes to dealing with frustrating . . . patients. He continues removing groceries from the shopping bags and handing them to Connor to place in the cupboards. It's not
something Connor is required to do - help Hank around the house or with little chores like this - but it's just another one of the kindnesses Connor offers to Hank of his own volition. And it shows how far Connor and Hank have come together just by putting groceries away. Knowing
where food goes in the fridge, what item belongs where in the pantry, how Hank and Cole prefer to have it organized - Connor's practically become part of the family at this point.

Hank notices Connor giving him an odd look, which lets the lieutenant know he's checked out again.
Hank reigns his focus back onto the conversation, and asks the question that was bothering him in the back of his mind. "And what about Cole? How is he doing with Susan there?"

And it's only from Hank knowing Connor so well at this point that he can recognizes how /that/ strikes
something in the RN. His arm hesitates for one quick moment as he's putting away a new can of ground coffee, and when he goes back into motion his smile has tensed up slightly and his voice has softened just a tick. Hank wonders if Connor is going to tell him what's actually
going on, or if he's going to try to just put a positive spin on it like he usually does.

"Having Susan there does stress him out," Connor says a bit more quietly, as if the woman were capable of hearing him over the sound of the shower. Hank stills, everything in him stopping
to pay full attention to what Connor is saying, and a swell of appreciation goes through him to know Connor is willing to relay what's really doing on during the school day.

After a moment, Connor continues, "She pushes him too hard - it stresses him out. Not just with school
and doing well in class, but also physically." Connor glances a little nervously toward the hallway, and steps a bit closer to Hank, who's clenched his fist along the top of the counter. "You know how he is after he has one of his seizures - knocks him right out, sometimes. It's
hard for him to stay awake let alone do schoolwork and keep up with the other kids." Hank nods, following along.

"Yeah, the teacher from the therapy room will let him crash there for a nap if he needs it, right?"

Connor dips his head in affirmation. "Mrs. Carroll," he fills in
with a gentle smile.

"She's a sweetheart."

"She /is/," Connor says with a smile, instantly warming Hank with the gentleness that reflects in his amber eyes. The nurse's eyes crinkle at the edges, and he goes on, "But with Sus-" Connor pauses, frowning, and corrects himself,
"Ms. Benton pushes him. She doesn't let him nap during the day if he has a Bad One, and gets frustrated at him when he has a harder time keeping up with the other kids his age. Which doesn't help with his seizure activity during the rest of the day, either."

Hank grunts softly
as he takes this in, frustration curling in his gut. "I've noticed Cole has been more tired when he gets home from school the past couple of days."

When Connor doesn't say anything for a couple of more moments, Hank looks to him in concern. He sees the echoed frustration coupled
with anxiety over Connor's face as he flexes his hands nervously at his side, not looking at Hank. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you yesterday," he admits with a murmur. "I should have - if I did then maybe she would have been better today but-"

"Hey, hey," Hank interrupts, stepping
closer to Connor and reaching a hand to his own. He grasps Connor's smaller and softer hand, his large fingers curling around the slim ones. The movement turns Connor in place, both of them nearly chest-to-chest. Hank runs a thumb comfortingly over Connor's hand, and he gentles
his voice like Connor does when Hank is panicking. "You did just fine, Con. There's nothing you can do to dissuade that woman. You did what you thought was best, okay?"

Connor doesn't seem convinced, refuses to look up at Hank. He still looks torn, eyebrows pinched at the middle
as he bites his bottom lip. Hank's heart twists somewhere inside of him, and against his better judgment, he decides to keep going.

Lifting his other hand up, he goes to cup the side of Connor's face. The man's breath hitches underneath him, eyelashes fluttering at the contact
as he goes utterly still beneath Hank's touch. When Hank feels a drop of wetness touch his thumb, he automatically brushes it away upon the realization Connor had been on the verge of crying.

Hank's blue eyes manage to widen, and he can't stop the tenderness of his voice, nor
the breathlessness of it as he says, "God you really - you really feel guilty about this, don't you?"

"Fuck, yeah, sorry," Connor says, sniffing. He reaches an arm up to wipe at his nose, and Hank would chuckle at the sound of Connor swearing if it weren't under such emotional
circumstances. "I'm like a leaking faucet, though, everything makes me cry - I don't mean - it's not professional."

"Hey," Hank says, and his cupped hand seems to pull Connor even closer, almost gravitational, like Connor is a wayward asteroid and Hank the sun. If they collide
one would surely absorb the other.

And the way Connor finally tilts his head so he can match Hank's gaze with his own -winter blue with warm summer brown- it even causes Hank to lose his breath for a second.

The hand holding Connors tugs him even closer - and their chests
finally /do/ touch, though they're barely even brushing. Hank exhales softly, his breath shuddering. With his left hand along Connor's face, he turns his palm so he can lightly stroke down to Connor's chin. "You're doing just fine, Con. I don't mind if you gotta cry."

Connor's
expression twists - likely involuntary, and he nearly tries to duck his head away from Hank's gaze if the larger man's heavy palm weren't keeping him in place. Hank can feel the nurse's face warming, turning red beneath his touch, but it's not from any kind of embarrassment.
Connor's breath hitches again, and he releases the quietest sob Hank has ever heard - soft and shaking and so so vulnerable. The Lieutenant's heart aches at once, his chest gaping with some kind of emptiness.

And maybe its his Dad Sense, or maybe it's just because of the close
bond he feels with his son's caretaker, his protector, that he finds himself pulling Connor into a full bear hug. His heavy and strong arms wrap firmly around Connor's slighter frame, and the movement closes any distance between them.

The embrace breaks -or perhaps it releases-
whatever Connor was holding, because it's only in Hank's arms that the sobs come on more stronger, though still subdued. "I'm sorry, Hank, I'm- I don't mean to be-" his voice catches.

Hank feels something deep inside him - even farther away than his heart - some kind of emotion
that aches to protect and hold Connor, to offer him security and care.

He thinks it feels a lot like love.

"Ya ain't got nothin to apologize for, kid," Hank mumbles into the nurse's hair, lips brushing against the strands. A part of Hank's mind can only focus on how soft it
feels against his mouth. "You're doin' alright, okay? Better than alright. I'd let you know otherwise."

Connor is stiff under Hank's arms, but he starts to relax further into Hank's arms the longer he's held. "..Thank you, Hank," he hears the nurse mumble into his shirt. He
nestles a little closer. "I...really needed to hear that."

Hank chuckles, lets one hand drift to hold the back of Connor's head - an echo of their last embrace in this very kitchen. "Hey, anytime, Con."

And god, this younger man in his arms is so soft and warm, so solid beneath
him, he feels as if he could stay here forever, just holding Connor. He thinks this is what it means to feel content.

But the moment does end -

It ends with the sound of of small sock-covered feet running down the hallway, accompanied by the sound of a lumbering Sumo after him.
"Da-ad!" Cole calls, and peeks around the hallway into the kitchen, where Hank and Connor have jumped apart like polarized magnets.

If Cole notices or realized that they were just embraced in each other's arms, he doesn't comment or bother to care. Instead he looks at the two of
them, familiar blue eyes wide, and he says, "Sumo ate one of my socks again and threw it up in my room."

Connor laughs, throws his head back in his typical carefree manner. He leans back into the counter, eyes shining as they regard Hank. "That sounds like a Dad problem to me,"
he says, teasing.

"God, damn nurses," Hank groans, but looks at Cole with warmth regardless. "Can you be in charge of getting the cleaning supplies from the closet, bud?" he asks.

Cole's nose wrinkles. "I don't have to clean it up though, do I?"

"No, but you have to help."
Cole looks a little plussed by this, but he goes compliantly enough to where the basket of cleaning items are.

Hank takes the free moment from any prying eyes to look at Connor. The nurse, perhaps sensing his gaze, looks up, and beneath the return of his casual and warm persona,
Hank can see the vulnerability there. The hesitancy.

He aches to soothe it, and he reaches out maybe impulsively to first lace his pinkie with Connor's. Then after a quiet moment, the rest of Connor's fingers intertwine with Hank's.

Hank squeezes Connor's hand - or maybe it was
the other way around.

But it sends a pulse of reassurance through Hank, and he knows it goes through Connor, too when he sees the little smile and the particular gleam in his eyes.

"Thanks, Hank," Connor murmurs.

Each word is a thousand exposed nerves in Hank's body, but it
hurts in the greatest way as he squeezes Connor's hand one more time. "I got you," he says, a vow, and maybe even something like hope when Connor gives him that soft and tender-hearted smile, reserved only for the haggard Lieutenant.

Their hands finally drop, and Hank goes after
Cole to help clean up Sumo's mess.

As he enter's Cole's room, he sees the bathroom door open slowly, revealing freshly-showered Susan, watching him with eyes dangerously narrowed.

Hank doesn't stay for whatever trouble she wants to stir up. He's got other shit to worry about.
--
The atmosphere of the car on the way to the PT conference is how it always is with Susan - tense.

Hank drums his fingers along the steering wheel, and wishes that the time would pass by sooner. Then he would be at the school where he could be with Connor and Cole and not have
to endure another terse second with his ex.

Hank can't help but clear his throat though, and start a conversation, "Nice of Cole's teacher to be so willing to meet with us earlier than the other parents are having conferences. Y'know, to fit Cole's schedule and all."

Susan hums
in a tone that tells Hank she's listening but doesn't care a shred about the conversation topic.

He continues, "Not a lot of teachers would be willing to do that, y'know? Have the conference right after school when it's still pretty busy. And with Cole being so tired by the end
of the day after his seizures-"

"So long have you been fucking the nurse?"

"God!" Hank exclaims, nearly swerves into oncoming traffic from the shock at the question. He looks at Susan, flabbergasted, and shrugs a few cars off that honk at him from behind. He ignores them, and
stares at Susan. "The hell would you say something like that, Sue?" he asks, sharp and defensive and gruff. An afterthought, he glares at her, "And not that it's any of your /fuckin/ business, but we're NOT fucking. God, fucking-"

"I find that hard to believe," she says sharply.
Direct, to the point, and absolutely incapable of listening to another person. Hank glares at Susan with nothing short of absolute disgust. "We /haven't/ he emphasizes. "God you're seriously taking it to a whole new petty level, aren't you? Just couldn't stand the chance that-"
"I've seen the way you two look at each other," she snips, her mouth turned up distastefully, eyes filled with a sharp desire to simply /hurt/. "The little touches - god at least tell me you aren't doing it while you're watching Cole."

Hank makes a kind of hapless gesture with
his hands. "Am I talking to a brick wall here? We're not fucking, Susan, god!"

"So you don't deny-"

"You're looking into things just trying to stir up trouble because you don't like Connor! Would you leave the damn kid alone, god!" Hank runs a hand through his hair, heart
pumping, kept going fast from his rage.

"God, Henry, isn't he like half your age? You really are a sick-"

"Will you shut up?!" he returns, hands shaking. "It's nothing like that."

She watches him suspiciously, her eyes narrowed, "I'm not stupid, Henry. I can tell you think you
(cw for some underlying homophobia/manipulation from susan, your local garbage trash human being, should just be for the next few posts in this scene)

"I can tell you think you have feelings for him, Henry. But you don't. And neither does /he./ He just wants a sugar daddy to
take care of him, and you want someone to take care /of./"

Something unpleasant curls in Hank's gut from the way Susan said it. "You don't know him - you don't know us at all," he grits out, his fury now so deep that he couldn't strain to reach a yelling voice even if he wanted.
"Well I don't approve of it going on, not around Cole, Hank Anderson," Susan says, voice curt. Hank does his best to focus, but all he can see in his mind's eye is Connor looking up at him with those huge doe eyes, face flushed a delicious pink and Hank's name on his tongue.
Hank forces his mind to focus on the present, despite the allure thoughts of Connor are. "You're not even listening, Susan. It's not like that between us."

Susan scoffs, disbelieving. "Uh huh, yeah. let's just hurry up and get this over with. I have things I need to do back at
the house before I head on home."

Hank gives her a sidelong glance, but doesn't say anything. He could easily ask her about anything she might have noticed Cole needed extra of, or suggest some things she could do to help clean the house - after all it IS HER KID.

But Hank does
voice any of this whatsoever. He remains quiet and single and without another word until the school appears ahead of them.

And at the front, there's Connor and Cole, waiting for Hank and Susan side by side with winning smiles on both their faces.

Hank parks the car, eager to be
reunited with his family as he heads their way, ensuring he has one of his trademark lazy, devil-may-care grin sidling its way up his face. "Heya boys," he drawls, delighting in how Connor seems to bunch in on himself and the nonprofessional greeting.

"Hi Dad!" Cole chips, eyes
twinkling with excitement as he run to Hank, managing to nab one of his arms as he pulls his father into the school. "C'mon come on c'mooonn!!!! You gotta see everything I've done this year so far, and the work and my art and-"

"I look forward to seeing it," Hank says with a
chuckle, then turns to Connor, the nurse having gone immediately to Hank's side once they set off into the school. Cole tugs them along as Hank asks for updates. "How many seizures today? How bad? What meds got used?" The usual.

Connor informs Hank of everything flawlessly.
(oo im fightin sleep hard, lads. gonna trot off to bed now. will try to get to it tomorrow am if i'm able to. :)

thank you all for your never-ending support! nothing makes my day more than hearing what you guys think of the fic so far

love you all and seeya tomorrow! gnight! :)
(sips coffee) aahhhh~

well i woke up an hour before my alarm at 7:30. now it's 8 and i dont have to go into work for a while. lets get some frickin writing done, yeah?

also good morning to everyone :) hope you have a good start to your day!

---
"Knock on wood, but Cole hasn't had any Bad Ones today, just the spastic seizures."

"Not a lot, though?" Hank asks, glancing at Connor with raised brows.

Connor makes a face and does a so-so hand gesture, "About 8, but that's pretty normal for days like this."

Hank nods
his assent as they walk together, quietly chatting about Cole's progress with his seizures.

"Ever since they lowered his depakote last month it really seems like they've been less frequent," Connor says.

"They have," Hank says in agreement. He hears the firm click of Susan's
heels behind him to know she's following them into the building. Connor goes to hold open the door for them while Susan asks curiously. "Depakote?"

"It's a medication used to help control Cole's seizures," Connor informs neutrally as he maintains his voice at a helpful and
informative tone. Susan brushes past him, and merely lets out a wordless grunt of acknowledgement as she passes in front of Connor and Hank.

"Has he been on that long?" she asks.

The two men glance at each other, Hank entering the school before Connor.

The nurse turns out to
be the brave one as he says, "Uh, I believe Cole has been taking it since he was very young, when his seizures first started to occur."

To her credit, Susan does a very fine job of brushing away the bit of awkwardness from that statement. "Oh, didn't recognize the name," she
says vaguely.

Hank and Connor glance at each other, the nurse's eyebrows raised while Hank rolls his eyes.

With Cole eagerly bounding ahead to where his classroom is, and Susan trotting smartly after him, a temptation rises like the tide for Hank to stretch across the distance
between him and Connor and grab his hand.

He glances at the RN while he walks, who's just as attentive as he catches Hank's stare, a bit of a crooked smile twitching at the corner of his lips.

In a move that's just as quick as it is subtle, Connor manages to close the socially-
acceptable pace of distance between them to something much more intimate. They're not directly touching, per se, but if Connor's hand just happens to brush Hank's while they walk down the hall, and Connor's fingers just subtley curl against Hank's...well that's just a coincidence
The pair walk almost hand-in-hand to Cole's room, where Hank immediately sees the young and handsome Mr. Peel. The blonde, cleanly dressed man is at his desk, grading papers, but he looks up when he hears the whole Anderson troop + Susan enter.

He smiles warmly, greeting them
with a welcome tone and gleam in his blue eyes. "Hello, Cole! Good to see you Mr. and Mrs. Anderson." He shakes Susan's hand first, or at the very least doesn't get much choice since she goes up to him first while Hank and Connor mosey on behind.

"It's Ms. Benton, actually," she
corrects. And it's a small enough correction, but Hank can detect the edge in her voice, the glint in her eye that reveals she's offended.

Simon gracefully dips his head, "Apologies. Ms. Benton, then." He moves on to shake Hank's hand, who gives him a firm handshake and a half-
smile. "Good to see you, Mr. Anderson."

"Mr. Peel," Hank says.

"And good to see you too, Connor," the teacher greets, nodding to the nurse in acknowledgement.

Connor smiles in return, "You too, Simon."

"Thank you for meeting us right after school like this, instead of in one
the other blocks reserve for these," Hank says first.

"Oh absolutely!" Mr. Peel says with a compassionate smile. "Anything I can do to help make things easier at school for you and for Cole - please don't hesitate to let me know."

"Well we appreciate it," Hank returns.

"Let's
get right into it then, shall we?" Mr. Peel asks. He gestures to a table off to the side of his desk, the surface shaped like a kind of bulky C with one chair in the center of the curve and two chairs along the outside curve. "Please, have a seat."

Hank and Susan automatically
go to take chairs on the outside of the table while Mr. Peel takes the interior one. Hank glances at Connor before he sits, about to offer his own chair, but Connor interrupts him before he can say anything by urging Cole to bring over two chairs for them.

Connor places his own
chair next to Hank, while Mr. Peel begins talking. "So let me first just say how-"

And Hank tries to focus, he really does. But he's honestly 1000% distracted by the way Cole holds up his chair, and hesitates, glancing between both ends of his table. Hank is squat in the middle
between Connor and Susan, and he reads the conflict plain as day in his son's eyes. The boy looks in consideration at his mother, then seems to decide something as he moves his small chair over to where Connor is.

Hank gently bites the inside of his mouth, unable to stop himself
as he glances towards Connor.

The nurse, perceptive as ever, looks back at him, recognizing the small and seemingly insignificant choice made by Hank's son. They don't comment on it, but Connor offers a sort of melancholic smile before turning to Cole and saying something softly
to him that Hank isn't able to hear. All he sees is Cole shake his head with a smile, and whisper something back, which causes Connor to smile.

Hank looks away, warm, and forces himself to focus on the conference.

"Cole really is a bright kid, he's really flourishing in the
classroom. Great to get along with, he's doing really well socially with the other kids, even with his seizures."

This isn't exactly news to Hank. If there was some kind of issue, he knows Connor would have told him. He knows Cole has friends, that during recess Connor will
stand off to the side and watch with a sharp eye while Cole plays and tousles with his friends. And Connor isn't one to really admit it, but Hank has heard from Cole how he and the other kids can get Connor to play games with them.

(Whatever, Hank knows it makes Connor's day
when the kids ask if he'll play with them. Usually some form of tag)

"What about schoolwork?" Susan asks promptly. "How are his grades doing?"

Mr. Peel shifts a little in his seat, smile turning consolidating, "Cole is a little behind the rest of his peers, but he's made great
improvement this year since he started, and with some extra tutoring he'd be more than willing to continue to the next grade as we keep going through the year." Simon looks on openly, "And of course there's no problem with where he is, considering his condition, it's expected he
might have some trouble keeping up with the other kids."

Hank nods, and smiles, "Well I'm glad to hear he's still doing well, though. Any classes in particular we should be keeping an eye on?"

Mr. Peel hums thoughtfully, and bends over his papers gathered on the table to look
at Cole's report. "Hm, I'd probably say social studies, and as always, keep an eye on math. English is good - he's carrying a B there, very good. He's doing exceedingly well in science, an A."

Hank casts a cursory glance toward Connor, who's lips tick up in a pleased smirk. He
returns Hank's gaze with a knowing gleam in his eye, to which Hank returns with a soft chuckle before turning back to Cole. "Well it sounds like you're doing pretty good, buddy. We'll just have to focus on those other subjects."

Cole looks pleased, and smiles at the compliment,
only slightly embarrassed as he looks away, hands fiddling over themselves.

"Wait, I don't understand, why is a B- average good?" Susan interrupts, frowning. "I mean, if he's having a hard enough time with third grade, how is he ever going to be ready for the fourth?"

Mr. Peel
frowns, clearly bothered by what Susan implies. "Well with his seizures, surely you've-" He tilts his head, perturbed. "It's harder for him to recover sometimes, and it puts him a little behind his classmates. But, really, he's a very bright boy, eager to learn and a great
student to teach. I'm sure with some extra help he'll be able to keep up as the year progresses, even into fourth grade."

"Well isn't that your /job/?" Susan asks with a suddenly stern frown. "He should be getting straight A's, anything less than that is unacceptable for my son.
I mean he /has a nurse/." A pulse of fear flares through Hank just in time for his ex to swivel her head towards Connor, voice accusatory, "Why is our son failing in his grades if you're there all the time to help him?"

Connor dips his head, but before he can get a word in to
defend himself, Hank's sense of loyalty and protection rears its head and snarls at his ex. "Leave him alone, Susan. Connor isn't hired as our son's tutor, he's his /nurse/. He's hired to help manage Cole's seizures and to keep him safe when they happen, not to help him get a B
in math. That's /our/ jobs." Or at least Hank knows its /his/ job, since he can can't even count on one hand when Susan helped Cole with schoolwork.

Susan gives Hank a frosty look, and Mr. Peel steps in to defend the nurse as well.

"And actually, Ms. Benton, Cole's grades have
improved since Connor began attending with him. Particularly his science grade."

"I like science," Cole chirps at Connor's side. "I liked the part of class where we studied the water cycle, because of the song!"

"It was one I taught him from when I was a kid," Connor admits
from the side, and Hank's smile softens further.

Mr. Peel continues, polite but open, "And please, Connor, if there's anything you'd like to add, feel free to speak up. You spend more time with Cole during the school day than I do. Is there anything you've noticed?"

Hank has
spent a considerable amount of time in his career studying and interpreting human interactions, especially helpful when trying to interrogate someone who's being particularly resistant.

So he recognizes when Mr. Peel is able to smoothly shift the conversation from attacking
Connor back to focusing on Cole.

The RN in question bows his head slightly. "There's not much I can think of that I can comment on further, but Simon, er, Mr. Peel has been excellent in helping normalize Cole's condition to the other kids and helping to include him in classroom
activities. And especially embracing the new methods we're teaching Cole in how to recognize when he's about to have a seizure and helping him be safe."

"The fish!" Cole chirps up, beaming.

Hank snickers a little at that, while Mr. Peel nods, his grin matching Connor's as they
echo, "The fish."

Susan interrupts, "I'm sorry, what's the fish?" she asks, curt.

"Cole experiences visual hallucinations before having a seizure - typically before one of his tonic-clonic ones."

She frowns. "And those are the...?"

"They're typically known as grand mal
seizures," Connor informs, ever patient with Hank's ex-wife. "Cole tends to see a flickers of different colors before he's about to go into one."

"And they look like fish!" Cole juts in, excited to be part of the conversation.

"It's worked out really well," Simon says with a
polite glance to Susan, who continues to look peeved the longer the conference goes on. "It's been a huge help having Connor here as well. Before the teaching staff had no idea what to do, but Connor's put in a whole safety plan for Cole if he has one while Connor isn't there to
help - when to call emergency services and the like. And with Cole being able to let us know if he's going to have a seizure, it ensures we can further help get him to a safe place. And hopefully before the seizure happens."

Hank can't help it. His chest constricts with a deep
feeling he lacks the vocabulary to describe. Thankfulness? Intimacy? He isn't sure but it's warm.

Connor has done so much for Cole, risen above and beyond the call of duty, but he knows Connor would claim otherwise and that it's all part of the job. Hank doesn't think so,
believes that there isn't another soul alive who cares as much as Connor does. He and Cole are so incredibly lucky to have him in their lives.

"He's a huge help at home, too," Hank says, tossing the increasingly-blushing Connor a tender but teasing smile. "And I'm glad to hear
more positive feedback about how well he's doing. Sounds like we hired the right kind of guy."

Susan huffs out a breath of air, continuing to be displeased no matter what. "Well, all that regardless, Cole's grades are very important. I can't tolerate my son doing poorly in his
classes just because he's a little tired and needs a nap. He can keep up with the other kids, but he's so used to being coddled."

God, just- Hank closes his eyes, has to count to ten, and by then Simon has already attempted to cool Susan down by telling her about how Cole's
grades are certainly important, but not nearly as important as his safety in the school. Hank starts to tune out some of what he hears.

But Hank is used to watching people, studying their mannerisms and making assessments to their thoughts based on that.

So seeing his son,
only just previously beaming and sitting up after being praised by his father, suddenly curl up like a wilting flower under a dry summer son is nearly enough to cause Hank to want to flip the very table he sits at.

How - DARE - his - GaOD. HoW?!!?!

The conference starts to wrap
up after this. Mr. Peel thanks the parents and Connor for their time, bids Cole farewell, and the promise that he'll see the nurse and the student tomorrow in class.

"Don't forget to do the assigned chapters for tonight, Cole!"

"I won't," Cole says, though not as smiley as he
was at the start of the conference.

Something in Hank curdles with discontented fury.

The walk down the hallway is a bit quieter, made tense by Susan's refusal to speak to either men or Connor as she starts smartly away from them.

"Hey, listen," Hank says, voice softened as he
walks at Connor's side. "I'm sorry about what Sue said back there. I know you help out with Cole's schoolwork when you can, even though you don't have to, but I know that's not your job or anything. You know I know that, right?"

Hank perceives gentle understanding pass over
Connor's expression like a ripple over a still pond. Somewhere up ahead, Cole runs out the front door to where he knows the car is parked, Susan right on his heels. "Of course, Hank," Connor says, His brown eyes are soft like spring earth, and warm like a log burning in a fire.
"I know what you mean, and I enjoy helping Cole. And with the kind of hours you're working-"

A thud, muffled, and far, far ahead of them. "HENRY!"

Susan. A scream Hank easily recognizes with a tone that is all-too familiar. Urgent and panicked.

Cole.

"Fuck!" Hank yells, worry
causing the adrenaline to spike in his body as he takes off to where Cole last was ahead of them.

Connor, sharp as a knife and quick as a whip, is already on Hank's heels and passing him to the door. The nurse's hands are already going for the rescue med he keeps at the ready
for situations just like this.

When Hank gets to where Cole is, Connor is already there at his son's side on his knees, tilting Cole's head back and giving rescue breaths. Meanwhile, Susan stands off to the side, tears streaming down her cheeks as she breathes harshly, clearly
at a loss on what to do.

Hank gets to Cole's side, skidding onto the pavement and surely scraping his own knees as he leans over Cole, asking Connor, "You need me to take over?" referring to the rescue breaths.

"Not yet," Connor says, taking another breath for air, reassessing
Cole's status as he leans back, keeping a finger at where Cole's carotid artery is in his neck. Feeling for a pulse to ensure he doesn't have to initiate CPR. "I've only given three," he says, in-between breaths. Cole's body continues to spasm, his eyes rolled to the back of his
head, body contracted to one side.

Hank follows what Connor is saying at once, "I've got more of the midazolam."

"Give it a few," Connor says, and Hank nods, understanding. Wait for the dose Connor gave to kick in, and if that doesn't work, /then/ give the following one.
Behind Connor, he can hear Susan sobbing.

But thank /god/ it doesn't come to that. After Connor finishes giving Cole another round of rescue breaths, the boy's seizing stops, and he grows still.

Hank only lets himself breathe when he sees the independent rise and fall of Cole's
chest. "Oh thank god," he sighs, leaning back on his knees.

"Cole!" Susan cries. With the seizure over, she hurries to her son's side, hands frantically going to Cole's head, feeling his hair, touching his face all while she weeps and pushes Connor out of her way. "Oh honey I
was so worried! You scared me, sweetie!"

Cole is having a hard time coming out of this one. Hank knows the kids is gonna crash the second he's in the car, let alone go the whole 10 minute car ride home.

The kid blinks wearily at his mother, and tears begin to trail down his
face as he looks between her and Hank. "Dad?" He asks, "Where's Connor?"

"He's here, bug," Hank says softly, going forward a little to brush his thumb over Cole's head. "You're okay, you had a seizure as we were leaving your parent-teacher conference."

Cole's face twists,
expression watery as he looks between his parents, and asks in the most helpless and pathetic whimper, "I want Connor, Mommy. Daddy? I want Connor."

Conflicting emotions Hank can't describe tear at his heart, and he looks over to the RN, who's started to dig in his black bag of
supplies, initially content to know Cole's parents were at his side.

But at Cole's request, Connor drops everything, turning immediately to Cole and leaving his bag off his shoulder.

Cole's mother releases his hand, as if burned while she backs away, leaving Connor with enough
room to get over at Cole's side, his own expression melting with warmth and comfort as he leans over his patient. "Hey little dude," he says, voice softened in that way he only does for Cole. "I'm here, I got cha. What's going on?"

"'m scared," Cole whimpers, his face red, and
tears trail down his cheeks while he tries to put on a brave face.

"Yeah I bet you are," Connor agrees softly, and brushes his hand along Cole's deep brown hair in a comforting gesture. "Those seizures can get pretty scary. But you did real good - we gave you some medicine to
help bring you out of it, and now you're doing okay, alright?"

Cole nods weakly, and his expression morphs painfully.

"Hey, baby," Hank croons, and lifts his son's hand to place a kiss to the dirty knuckles. "We're both taking care of you, okay? Nothing to worry about with us
here."

Cole seems to take this seriously, because he nods and sounds far more collected than he was. "I didn't even see any fish for this one," he says pathetically. "What if I can never tell how they're, then how can I-"

"Hey now, hey now," Connor interrupts Hank's son's
anxiety. "You can't control that -sometimes it happens. You can't blame yourself, okay? You're doing great."

Hank has tears in his eyes when he smiles, but he can't help it, not when Con is being so tender and soft and good to his epileptic son.

God.

Hank really /is/ in deep.
CURSE MY MORTAL BODY'S NEED FOR SLEEP AND FINANCES, I HAVE WORK HECKIN EARLY TOMORROW.

I'm gonna tuck in, lads. A HUGE thank you to everyone who chimed in tonight! Watching you guys like each post as I was updating was quite the motivator-like a race! love you all, cya tomorrow!
*flips a table, does a double backflip over my recliner and takes a big ol slurp of my mango peach smoothie*

LETS JUMP RIGHT IN, EH????? been mind-plotting all day!!!!
------

Connor parts from the Andersons after all are satisfied that Cole is doing just fine after his seizure.
The boy is tired and a bit lethargic, but he's responsive and his neurological status is at its baseline, so Connor hefts his son up into his arms so he's leaning on one shoulder, already asleep.

"We'll see you tomorrow for school, Con?" Hank asks as the nurse accompanies them
to their car.

"Of course," Connor says with a slight bow of his head. "But if you decide not to go, just let me know and I'll come over to your place instead."

"What for?" Susan asks crisply, causing both men to look in her direction. She can be so quiet sometimes that it's
almost as if she weren't there until she decides to say something. Or maybe it's just Hank's wishful thinking that she weren't there.

"When Cole has really bad days that really tucker him out, we let him stay at home," Hank says, voice instinctively softened with his son asleep
in his arms. He adjusts the weight of the 8 year old a bit, hefting him up a little higher. "Usually Connor or one of the parents is able to stop by and pick up any schoolwork he missed from that day. Simon's, er, Mr. Peel has been great about it."

Susan lets out a disbelieving
huff. "See, Hank, this is why Cole is struggling in school, because you won't push him and you let him get away with whatever he wants."

"God, Susan, does it ever end with you?" Hank spits, unable to keep the venom back, not after Cole just had a Bad One. "It's not like Cole
chooses when he has seizures. Just look how he is right now, you think he'd be okay to go to school in this kind of state? Show a bit of sympathy to your son once in a while."

Hank is burning with a kind of anger he can only describe as bubbling like a kettle full of water, and
he turns to the open door of his car so he can slide Cole into the backseat.

"You don't get to say that to me, Henry Anderson. /No one/ cares more for Cole and his health more than I do!" Susan insists, harshly whispering along with Hank. "He's my /son/. I'm his /mother/!"
Hank nearly slams the door shut, but resolves himself in time to close it normally. But the molecule of self-control he has left isn't enough to keep him from spinning toward Susan, blue eyes like cuts of ice as he glares at her with ill-concealed hate. "Then FUCKIN act like it."
Her mouth gapes open at him in shock, but Hank doesn't give her a chance to reply. He brushes her off entirely, instead turning to Connor. At first glance the nurse looks like he's totally unaffected by the argument between the two parents, if not for the telling expression that
clearly says 'YIKES' across it as clear as day.

"Connor," Hank says, letting the name fall out on a sharp exhale. "Thank you for everything tonight, really. You did great, and thanks for meeting with us for Cole's conference."

The RN's neutral expression softens in the form of
his trademarked crooked smile, hitting Hank /again/ with the overwhelming urge and desire to lean forward and kiss the corner of it.

But he reminds himself who's here, who's watching, and he holds himself at bay.

Instead he returns the smile, mirroring Connor's as the nurse
replies softly, "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"See you tomorrow."

(**)

The car ride back home is tense, the empty space filled with the sound of Hank and Susan bickering, arguing over Cole's health and who knows best for him, nevermind the fact that Susan has never cared BEFORE
Connor ever showed up, but, whatever.

Cole has recovered by the next morning, his awake and usual bouncing self as Hank readies him for school while Susan sleeps in.

They meet Connor at the school where Hank drops Cole off, and promises to see him when he gets off work. The kid
eagerly rushes off toward the building to meet up with his friends, leaving a lingering Hank passing off report to Connor.

"He got his morning meds, nothing during the night, uhh, be sure to stay on top of his med times."

"I've got it, Hank," Connor says. He's dressed in his
school-appropriate attire of dark gray slacks and a soft cotton button-down shirt, the sleeves pulled up to the elbow. Over one shoulder, he has his black messenger bag filled with papers, supplies, and god knows what else.
That little tuft of hair still falls over his left eye, and he has his glasses on.

Hank smirks, and huffs out a breath of air, "Yeah, I know you do."

Connor's reply is a genuine smile, and damn him to hell, Hank lets himself be indulgent just this once...
He reaches up with his right hand to brush that loose strand away, fingertips lightly touching the skin of Connor's forehead, then up along his head to behind his ear.

At the touch, Connor freezes, but the smile on his face starts to twitch at the edges as Hank's fingers linger
along the edge of Connor's jaw.

Hank sees, feels, and hears as Connor's breath catches, his chest stopping from the sharp movement of the inhale, a little gasp from his lips and a slight upward tilt of his head. He's like a deer in the headlights with those doe-brown eyes,
somehow unable or unwilling to remove his stare or face from Hank's gentle touch. "Ha-Hank," he stammers, voice softer than a murmur. "I- w- we-"

"I'll see you tonight," Hank says softly, and it feels like a promise.

Connor nods against Hank's hand, the movements slight. Hank
and his pounding heart preen with pleasure as he watches the warm blush spread from Connor's throat up to his face where his pupils have blown wide.

"See you tonight," the nurse replies, voice a soft gasp.

Hank breaks the spell as he smoothly drops his hand, then turns and goes
back to his car.

He doesn't look back until he's started driving away, but he sees in the rear view mirror how Connor has both hands pressed to his burning cheeks, and is smiling.

---

Work that day goes by impossibly slowly, Hank's thoughts consumed of nothing but Connor.
His smile, the shade of his eyes, his caring nature, the way he gives everything and more to Hank and his son.

The soft and tender moments he and Connor share - the movie theater, subtle touches on walks or around the house, the sound of Hank's name on his lips, the little
kindnesses he doesn't need to give but does anyway-

Hank bites his bottom lip at his desk, and types faster into his worktop computer.

He's going to ask Connor out to dinner tonight.

Then he's going to confess.

Going to tell him how he thinks Connor hung the very moon and the
stars for him, that Hank can't imagine another day going by and not being allowed to hold Connor's hand, or embrace him out in public, or kiss him when they're alone.

Hank's heart swells the more he thinks about it, while a pit grows just as quickly at the 'what-if's' spinning
Through his mind.

What if Connor rejects him? What if he refuses? What if Hank was misinterpreting Connor's reactions and what if he-

He sees Connor's blush from this afternoon, the smile he tried to hide and the feeling of blood rushing up to his face to pool beneath Hank's
very fingertips.

The lieutenant feels a surge of light-headedness on the verge of passing out, so he forces himself back into the moment, blinking hard and focusing on the screen ahead of him.

"The hell're you smiling about, Anderson?" sneers a voice from the other side of the
bullpen. "Ya get laid last night or somethin?"

"Fuck you, Reed!" Hank calls out, and types faster in the summary of yesterday's interrogation.

But even with Gavin's heckling, Hank can't keep the smile from off his face, nor the anticipatory blush rising up on his cheeks.

--
"Honey, I'm ho-ome~!" Hank calls as he opens the door.

"DA-AD!" Cole screams from the kitchen, and breaks off into a run, barreling into his father. Hank releases a deep laugh, moving quick enough to sweep his son off his feet, hands gripping Cole's ankles as he swings the kid
upside down.

Connor chimes from the kitchen warmly, "Welcome home, Hank," he calls, a slight tremor in his voice only Hank can pick up. The lieutenant makes his way to the kitchen, still holding Cole up by his ankles as is their daily ritual. "You have a good day?" Connor asks.
"It was fine," Hank says, eyeing the mess on the table. "Better now that I'm home with my boys, though." Connor flushes at that, but nevertheless looks pleased by the claiming statement. Hank grins in return, and takes a look at what Connor and Cole were working on before Hank's
return. Papers and bits of homework strewn about, as well as crumbs from what appear to be-

"Chips?" he asks, looking at Connor with a raised brow.

The nurse smiles in a kind of secret way, as if embarrassed. "Secret snack," he informs with a subdued grin. He gives a little
shrug, but answers Hank's unasked question as he explains, "They're ones I bring from home, but Cole and I share them sometimes as a snack."

Hank looks on with a sudden twang of guilt. "You know you don't have to share your snack with him, right? There's plenty of food here for
you both."

Connor ducks his head, smiling, looks only slightly abashed as he admits, "I don't mind. I enjoy sharing with him."

Hank's heart is flooded with that by-now familiar warmth, his smile to Connor so tender. "You're sweet, Con," he says, "that's kind of you."

The nurse
turns that lovely shade of blushing red again, and takes another chip from the can without commenting further.

Cole's shirt falls down to cover his face, and he wriggles in his father's grasp before Hank finally swings the boy to and fro before tossing him safely to the couch.
The boy squeals joyfully, laying on the couch and giving himself time to recalibrate after being thrown about like sack of flour.

Meanwhile, Hank shrugs off his winter jacket to hang it on the coat rack. "How'd it go today?" he calls to Connor.

"Fine, no big ones since I last
texted you," Connor says helpfully, never one to miss any details. "We were working on our timetables when you walked in the door."

"Aahhh sounds good, practicing math, get that grade up," Hank says, voice warm and optimistic towards Cole. He reaches to his son, ruffling his
hair. Hank looks around at Connor as the nurse rises from the table, the light from above casting a halo about his head. The lieutenant recognizes Connor's usual habit of going for his bag when he's at the end of his shift with them, and that's when Hank moves in.

He takes in a
great breath, measures the pounding of his heart, and asks in a forced casual tone. "So, uh, what should we have for dinner tonight, Cole?"

"SPAGHETTI!" screams the boy from the couch, shooting up to beam at his father.

Hm, not a bad idea. Hank lumbers to the kitchen, gently
brushing along Connor to get some of what he needs from the pantry and cupboards. "Great idea, kiddo! You wanna help?"

"Yeah!"

"Go wash your hands, then."

Cole zooms to the bathroom. Brought on by the excitement, Sumo lumbers after him, leaving Connor and Hank alone in the
kitchen.

Connor is quiet, placing his things away into his black bag with his back turned to Hank.

It's a goddamn perfect opportunity for Hank, and he catches himself looking Connor up and down, admiring his lean but muscular frame, the curve of his....back. His long legs. Of
course Hank can't fully appreciate Connor's build underneath the folds of his clothes, but he imagines what his legs look like, toned and soft to the touch. Or how his arms would look stretched out above Hank's bed, chest exposed, pale pink n-

Hank's eyes slowly ravishing Connor
from the feet up finally catch on to the nurse looking over his shoulder with a knowing smirk as he slightly cocks his hips to one side. Brown eyes turned bright amber in the light of the kitchen, filled with mirth. And then the devil opens his mouth and speaks.

"Something catch
your eye, Lieutenant?"

Hanks wandering gaze snaps, frozen as he feels his face burn at being caught /ogling/ the nurse.

His mind struggles to catch up so he can say something smooth in turn, something that might catch the nurse off guard or sweep him off his feet.

Because this
is flirting, right? Connor /has/ to be flirting back at him.

God it's been so long since Hank has done this.

"Depends," Hank drawls. He leans back against the counter a little, putting his weight down on his elbows so his hips are jut slightly forward. Connor makes a slight
turn in place, eyes slowly drifting down Hank's figure, considering, before caressing their way back up - the look in his eyes absolutely /sinful/.

"Depends on what?" Connor asks in that smooth voice of his.

Hank bites the corner of his bottom lip, chest tight before he pushes
himself from the counter to saunter towards Connor. He takes pride in seeing how the RN shifts slightly under his approach, body seemingly ablaze with nervous anticipatory energy as Hank nears.

Connor's eyes begin to hood, looking up and down quick until they rest at Hank's face
The Lieutenant allows a slow grin to curl up his face, but it's shy, even as he drawls and curls a finger in that rebellious strand of hair at Connor's forehead. "Depends," he says, reveling in Connor's lust-blown pupils, "if you're willing to have dinner with us tonight."
Connor blinks fast, mouth slightly parted as he breathes, seemingly struggling to come to an answer as he gazes up at Hank. "Dinner?" he asks.

Hank chuckles, tugs playfully at the strand again. "Yeah. Dinner. You like spaghetti? I make a killer garlic toast."

Connor tilts his
head, "Isn't it just. . . garlic on toast?"

"With butter." Hank scoffs, playfully mocking. He flicks his fingers at Connor's forehead, causing the man's head to wrinkle at the sensation. Hank laughs. "Amateur."

Cole allows a dash of a smile up one side of his face, but it turns
sad, and makes a slight step back. "Unfortunately, I have to run into the office and turn in my time sheets. And it's sibling night."

"Sibling night?" Hank echoes.

Connor smiles, bashful. "Ehhh, my brother and I watch movies together and order dinner out. Catch up, hang out. If
I miss it, he'll kill me."

Hank tilts his head a bit to one side, his own smile soft. And somehow without realizing it, his hands have settled onto Connor's slim hips. "You two are really close, huh?" Hank asks, his own voice warm.

"He's my best friend," Connor admits, but he's
I MEAN CONNOR, OMG, I HAD A SECOND CHANCE TO FIX IT

AND THEN I DIDN'T
not embarrassed by it, and Hank knows its genuine when Connor casts a hopeful glance to him. "So tonight I can't. But. . . another night?"

Hope soars in Hank's chest, weighted but light as a feather as he offers a hopeful half-smile, and nods. "Yeah, absolutely. Another night."
Internally, he frets about if it'll actually happen, or if Connor is just letting him down gently. Maybe he's just trying to be polite. I mean, you just had to /look/ at Connor to know that such a beautiful person wouldn't want to go out with a haggard, old-

"Tomorrow?" Connor's
voice asks, and at once returning that flare of hope to Hank's chest. God, he's gonna have whiplash from the emotions this conversation is putting him through.

The Lieutenant fervently tries to think of what his plans are for tomorrow. And of course there's absolutely nothing.
"Uh- yeah absolutely! Tomorrow. I'll get Susan to watch Cole for the evening. Have some mother-son time before she heads back home."

Connor lifts his eyebrows, "Oh! Well Hank I don't mind if we bring Cole along. It would be nice to get to hang out with out guys out of work, and
I know how hard it is for you to get someone to watch Cole, especially on nights where you're-"

"Connor, /Connor/, Hank says, holding up a placating hand and bracing it against Connor's chest, grounding him. The younger man looks up with raised brows, and Hank smiles with as
much reassurance as he can. "I'm not asking you to dinner for a night out with the family. I'm - asking you out with me." He tugs slightly at Connor's waist, beckoning the nurse closer. One of Hank's hands slides up along Connor's ribcage, and he delights in the man's gasp from
beneath his palm. He dares to lean forward and murmur in Connor's ear, "Cole will be fine. It won't be a problem getting Susan to watch him."

"It won't?" Connor asks, mouth gaping in a gasp when Hank's lips brush against the soft skin of his earlobe.

"Mm-mm," Hank denies, and
his voice rumbles as he pulls Connor's hips close to his. "Not when I guilt trip her into it."

"You sound pretty sure of yourself," Connor chooses to comment, and his arms go up around Hank's neck, hanging loosely.

"Oh, baby," Hank starts, but it comes out as more of a growl as
the hands at Connor's waist somehow find their way migrating towards his aaaa a- his lower back.

Connor makes the most /delicious/ sound, some kind of merging between a gasp and a whine. At Hank's neck, Connor's fingers twist and curl at his nape, tangling in the silver strands
of hair. "Hhn-Hank," he gasps, mouth falling partway open.

Hank continues on in a deep and low voice, relishing in the slight shudders of Connor's body when he does. "Baby you have no /idea/ how confident in my abilities I am."

Connor's han-

"EEWWW, ARE YOU GUYS GONNA KISS??"
The pair leap away from each other like polarizing magnets, matching faces of red with stiff and bent shoulders. Connor stares at Hank, absolutely mortified while the lieutenant attempts to do some damage control. "No, buddy, Connor and I weren't going to-"

The boy somehow
manages to look equal parts thrilled and disgusted at the idea of his father and nurse sharing -physical intimacy- with each other, as Connor might put it.

"Are you guys boyfriends?" he asks with an innocent tilt of his head. "That's what boyfriends do, right?"

Hank waves his
hands appealingly to his son. "No, buddy, that's not exactly where we-"

"But if you guys are boyfriends does that mean you're gonna get /married/?" he asks, the disgust definitely leaning in favor of thrill as whatever idea lodged in the young boy's mind starts to take flight.
Somewhere behind him, Hank hears Connor choke at the implication of marriage.

"Not really, Cole. It just means that-"

"Because I don't think I would mind if you got married," Cole says, bold and true. "Then Connor would get to stay here /all/ the time." He paused, seemed to
think on this, then added. "And you guys are always happy around each other. I think that's good."

Hank raises an eyebrow, and glances over to Connor, who somehow manages to look pale and flushed red at the same time. His hands fiddle nervously at his sides, while Cole looks to
his father expectantly, as if the last 30 seconds of that conversation didn't happen. He's /totally unfazed/ of the idea of Hank and Connor being in a relationship together. "Spaghetti tonight, Dad?" he asks, going over to the stove to look at the ingredients.

Hank looks to Con,
who returns his stare with a well-placed raised eyebrow of his own.

Hank holds a hand up to his face in a mimicry of holding a phone to his ear. "Call you later?" he mouths toward Connor.

Connor nods, affirming what Hank asked as he holds up his own hand in an old replicated
gesture to holding a phone in one hand.

"Well see you later, Connor," Hank says, positively lust-addled, watching the nurse go. "Good luck with your boss!"

"'Preciate it. Bye, Cole!"

"Bye Connor!"

Hank watches the door closed, then turns to his son with a warm and genuine
smile. "Now. You ready to make the world famous Anderson spaghetti?!"

Cole cheers, and Hank smiles wider.

---

that's all i've got for now lads, I'm pooped.

HUGE THANK YOU to those who liked/comment as they read. you are all valid, bless you.

will update tomorrow as I can 🧡
Good evening, everyone! Shorter update tonight for *reasons.* Reasons being that I got pulled into TJ CAH for 3 hours #noregrets it was so fun, nice to take a mini writing break and get to play with everyone!

*happy breath* let's get on to the heartbreak then shall we? :)
======
Hank is positively abuzz with a sort of restless anxiety the following day. He completes and follows through all his tasks with half a mind present, finding that he's only able to focus on the evening ahead, especially since he's on fucking cloud 9.

Connor /agreed to go
out with him./ To DINNER. On a DATE.

Hank can't remember the last time he'd actually been on a date. Must have been a short while after his divorce with Susan. Just a lackluster rebound with a cute and fiery redhead with a cold name that later turned out to be a lesbian (though
no feelings were harmed in the exchange. It wasn't a good fit for either of them, ended amicably enough).

But this is /Connor/. Handsome, smart, capable, beautiful, soft, gentle, compassionate, /perfect/ Connor. And God Hank didn't know what the nurse saw in him but damn him if
he was going to mess this up. Hank knew he was head-over-heels for the younger man. The feelings he held for Connor were a fiery inferno compared to any relationship he'd carried in the past, the pressure for him to do well almost enough to make him crack.

But Hank was motivated
to do this right by Connor. To show him how deeply Hank- how truly and intensely the old lieutenant felt for him.

Loved.

Hank loved Connor.

The thought and self-acceptance of his feelings caused the lieutenant's old heart to skip a bit in excitement, and standing in front of
the coffeemaker at the precinct, he actually let out a delighted little giggle. Butterflies flapped about his stomach, and he bit his lip in excitement as he went over his plan again for the evening.

Treat Connor to dinner, spend delicious time together growing even closer,
officially ask Connor out, and if Connor was interested...continue the evening at home.

*If Connor was interested* because Hank sure knew that *he* was interested. Of course last night's exchange taken into consideration, there was little that could be said to Hank to convince
him that Connor /wasn't/ interested in turn. Oh Hank would give just about anything to see that sly smirk along Connor's mouth again, the teasing tilt of his hips. And the picture of Connor splayed out on his bed covers, pale and lithe body writhing beneath Hank's hands, watching
him come undone from Hank's touch-

The Lieutenant nearly spilled the coffee pot as he poured the dark and steaming liquid into the cheap paper cup, mouth dry and heart hammering hard against his sternum. /Fuck/ he had to pay more attention if he was going to be thinking those
kind of thoughts when out in the real world.

He wondered if Connor had similar thoughts.

Hank shook that kind of thought from his head. If he allowed himself to linger on that, he would /definitely/ never get to work, at least not seriously.

Back at his desk, Hank pulled out
his phone to text Connor, unable to keep the smile from his lips as he sent the message.

H: you excited for tonight?

C: Very much so, Lieutenant :) And yourself?

H: cant wait to show you a good time honey

There's a bit of a delay in the conversation after that text, and Hank
wonders if he's maybe stepped too far, or perhaps Connor is simply away from his phone, but then the app pings him, and his hands scrabble for the device.

C: Can't wait for you to show me a good time. 💙Did everything get sorted out with Cole?

H: yep susans got him all through
the night. he'll be fine, and she has my number if she needs anything

C: And the likelihood of her needing something?

H: significant, but she has all the tools she needs to take care of Cole. she knows what to do if he has a seizure

C: Was Cole looking forward to spending the
night with his mom?

H: a bit, yeah. Maybe not as much as he used to, but..

C: She knows she can call me in if she needs me, right?

H: oh ho, trying to get out of dinner are you? ;) and yes, she does, even though you're not supposed to be working tonight with us

C: *depends*,
Lieutenant, on where you're planning on taking us tonight.

H: Oh ive got plans baby. you can be sure of that

Hank's heart goes hard and fast even more in his chest, but he forces his breathing to ease as he stares at the spinning dots on the screen, letting him know that Connor
is typing something on the other sides.

And then-

C: I'm looking forward to seeing what you can dish out 😉

Hank's heart flutters, or maybe that's his fingers. Either way he's absolutely terrified of how Connor is going to react to tonight, despite all the build-up he's placed
H: so you enjoying your day off?

C: Absolutely 😊 treating myself to a nice relaxing bath for our date-dinner tonight. Where are we going, by the way? I need to know what I should wear.

"Nothing," is what Hank wants to say, but he holds his tongue to that, and instead types:
H: The Jericho. And you know you could wear anything and it would look good on you.
---
(gotta end it tonight for now lads. didnt get a lot of sleep last night, its Been A Day and I have work tomorrow am. next couple of days likely gonna be busy but i'll keep the updates comin)😊
(likely to be a short update tonight - been writing all day for that Animal Shelter AU but i'll keep it up for a few hours here. good to see everyone tonight! :D)
---
Less than half a minute passes, and instead of a returning text from Connor, Hank nearly jumps out of his skin
when his phone buzzes, the caller ID showing Connor's very name.

"What?" Hank asks with a snicker, drawing the phone up to his ear and lowering his voice to a whisper, but he can't keep the smile from his voice.

"The Jericho, Hank? Are you sure?" Connor's voice asks from the
other side, uncertain.

Hank breathes out hard, a smile at the edge of his voice. "Of course I'm sure, Connor. Told you I was going to show you a good time, right?"

"I mean /yes/, Hank, but THE JERICHO?" Connor's voice fell softly on Hank's ears, "I mean you don't have to do all
this for me."

"Of course I do, Con," Hank murmurs. He holds the phone a little closer. "This is gonna be our first /real/ adult dinner out, hm? Gotta do it right. Wine and dine ya and all that."

Connor giggles from the other side -giggles!- and returns softly, "You're sweet,
Hank."

"Anything for you, Connor," Hank murmurs into the receiving end of his phone.

The two are quiet for a couple of moments, simply relishing in each other's presence, and Hank asks, "So, what are you doing right now, then?"

Connor hums, sending a pleasant trill down Hank's
spine. "Oh, not much. Just getting ready for tonight."

"Getting ready, huh?" Hank says, softening his voice further. "That sounds exciting."

Connor scoffs from the other end of the phone, but he laughs, and Hank hears the sound of rippling water.

Realization falls on the
Lieutenant, and he whispers hard, "Jesu- Connor! Are you still in the bath?"

Connor's only response is his smug laughter, and the beckoning sound of moving water. Hank sees in his mind's eye a pale hand lazily drifting over the bubbly surface of a tub, the smooth arm leading up
to a toned and slick torso. Connor's sweet smile from his pink lips, his hair darkened by the water, falling about his face-

Hank blinks hard to reorient himself, registers how hard his face is blushing, and processes dumbly that this is probably Not The Best place to be
thinking of such thoughts.

"..You okay there, Hank?" Connor's voice finally chimes through, voice dropping a little with concern.

"Yeah, fuck, I'm fine," he replies, and pulls a hand down his face, trying to breathe normally. "Just struggling to get over the image in my head
of you in the bathroom. Fuck."

Connor laughs again, amused and probably prideful at being able to fluster the Lieutenant so easily. "Well I'm charmed," he purrs. "Just at the thought of lil 'ol me got you all up in cahoots?"

"That makes absolutely no sense whatever you just
said but the answer is /yes/," Hank grumbles, and wishes distantly that he were at home alone right now where he could /really/ tell Connor the effect he's having on him and what he would like to do in return.

Connor laughs again, but this time it's softer, and filled with the
kind of quiet that lets Hank know that he has something on his mind he wants to say.

"I'm really looking forward to tonight," Connor says at last. His voice is just a brush of sound against Hank's ear, but it still causes the hairs along the Lieutenant's arms to stand up. "It's
been a while since I went out with anyone as nice or as sweet as you, Hank Anderson."

Hank's face positively /burns/ to the point Hank is convinced someone must have rubbed raw jalepenos on him because there is NO other explanation for this sensation. The Lieutenant runs his
hand over his mouth, fighting a smile behind his cupped palm. "Yeah, I- I'm really looking forward to going out with you tonight, too, Connor Arkait."

Connor laughs breathlessly, and Hank grins, biting his lower lip. "I'll see you tonight? Pick you up at 7?" Hank asks into the
phone, absolutely unable and unwilling to admit how truly excited he is for time with Connor.

"Mhm, sounds good, Lieutenant." Hank fights a shudder at the use of his title. Connor's voice lowers. "I"ll see you tonight."

-Click-
(Unfortunately that's all I have for now, lovelies! 😭busy saturday for me but hopefully I'll get more time to work on this tomorrow for ya. a huge thank you to the followers that continue to share their likes and comments, and a thank you to all the lurkers out there as well! :)
*claps hands* Y'ALL READY FOR THIS, BABES?????
--
If Hank was merely distracted /before/ the phone call with Connor, he's basically on another planet at this point.

Hank catches himself writing words he didn't mean to on his reports - thankfully he's able to catch and correct
them before he sends them off to his superiors, but he just can't keep his mind off the idea of Connor.

Connor in his bath, cleaning himself before their date tonight. Connor dressing himself in something nice for Hank. God what would he /wear?/ A suit, something button-down?
Something made of silk?

Hank nearly loses it, draws his hands down his face. Sliding his hands down Connor's side, feeling the softness of the fabric beneath his hands - the tone of the muscle beneath.

He can't stop himself - he texts Connor again.

H: Can't stop thinking about
you getting ready for our date tonight, babe.

Hank waits for 10 agonizing seconds, then when his phone buzzes, he nearly falls out of his chair. He swears his heart skips a beat when he sees the bubble holding Connor's reply.

C: you're insatiable, lieutenant. we haven't even
gone on our first /real/ date yet. you cant wait for 3 more hours? ;)

Hank's reply is immediate.

H: Fuck no
H: ...
H: But I will

He can almost hear the sound of Connor's laugh in his head when he gets his response.

C: Hang in there, handsome. It'll be 7 before you know it :)
Hank takes solace in texting Connor off and on for the duration of his shift. And God it keeps him going more than he ever thought it would, texting someone like this again. Reminds him of writing notes during class as a kid. He relishes the fluttering feeling in his chest, the
rush of exhilaration when he sees that Connor has texted him back.

Hank never thought he would get the opportunity to have something like this with someone ever again. Doesn't know what he did to be as lucky as having someone like Connor in his life as a friend, let alone
interested in him romantically. He knows he doesn't deserve it, but damn if it doesn't feel amazing to have for now, in this moment.

But in the end it is just a moment.

And that moment ends.

Because at 4:13 pm, Fowler calls at him from the doorway of his glass office.
"Anderson!" his boss bellows, "We got a homicide! 18th and 6th - residential. Neighbor called in an overheard argument then heard a gunshot - officers found a body at the site. Need you to go check it out."

Fuck. NO.

"Aw c'mon Jeffrey! Don't do this to me tonight!" Hank groans.
He spins in his chair, leaning back as far as it will go. He looks at his superior officer in exasperation. "It's almost 5! Let the night shift take care of it I've got plans tonight!"

"It's not even half an hour from 5, you're Lieutenant, I need you to go out there and do your
damn job without bellyaching to me about it!"

Hank's anger, frustration, and disbelief curdles into a dangerous combination of fury. "You gotta be fuckin kidding me, Jeff. I've been looking forward to tonight for a long time and I'm not gonna let you fuckin ruin this for me
on a technicality over shift change!"

"What happened Anderson? You finally gonna fuck that twink nurse?" Reed sneers from across the pen, sipping coffee at his own desk.

"Shut the fuck up, Reed!" Hank and Fowler snarl at the younger detective, who holds up his hands, smug, and
takes another sip.

Fowler directs his attention to Reed. "Besides Reed, you're going with him."

Gavin twists his mouth as if having just tasted something gross, and glowers into his coffee. "Phck," Hank hears him mutter. The younger detective glares over at Hank, who gives him
a hapless gesture that says /What am I supposed to do about it?/

"Whats sa matter, Reed?" Hank sneers. "Not gonna get to fuck your twink pharmacist boyfriend?"

"Fck you too, Anderson!"

"Both of you shut the hell up, get to that site and do you god. damn. jobs! Or turn in your
badges. Now get outta my sight."

Fowler turns in place, the door to his office slamming shut.

Reed angrily throws his cup into the waste basket nearby, while Hank leans as far back as his chair will go, pressing the palms of his hands against his eyes. "Fuuuuuccckk," he groans.
"Well I hope you're happy, Anderson!" Gavin snarls. "Now neither of us gets to go home tonight."

Hank growls, "You know there's nothing we can say against Fowler when he gets like that. You think I wanted to stay longer in this shithole than we needed to?"

Gavin groans, leans
back in his chair, mirroring Hank's very posture. "God, Niles is gonna be so pissed when I tell him sushi night is off."

That's fucking adorable, but Hank knows Reed would kill him if he said anything like that. And judging from the twisted frown along Gavin's face, he can tell
the younger man is pretty upset about his evening plans being ruined. He sighs, and decides to be the better man as he stands up. He approaches Reed's desk, and sits himself on the edge of it. Crosses his arms over his chest.

Gavin, frowning at his desktop, glances up at Hank.
Hank huffs out a quiet breath. "You really like this Niles guy, huh?"

The corner of Reed's mouth twitches, expression indecipherable, but he mutters, "Yeah, dammit. I love him." He looks almost /dreamy/ at the mention of his boyfriend, and when Hank raises an eyebrow, Reed pales
and stares up at Hank, plainly terrified. "Shit. Don't tell him I said that. I haven'- I mean WE haven't -"

Hank chuckles, smirks at one end of his mouth. "I hear ya, Gav. I won't mention it."

The younger detective relaxes, and rubs his hand over one side of his face again,
lingers on his face to scratch at the stubble along his chin. He stares at Hank for a considerable moment, looks like he's about to say something, then sighs. "Fuck, we better get a move on, right?"

"Yeah," Hank grumbles. A buzz of his phone reminds him of what he still needs to
do. He reaches for his pocket, expression darkening. "Gotta cancel my reservation and let my date know I'm not gonna be able to make it tonight. Fuck."

Reed stands up, and mid-gathering his things, pauses to stare at Hank. "Whoa, shit, you really have a date tonight? Damn." He
considers something for a moment, then smirks, "What you finally made that visit to the Senior Center, found the right one for you?"

"Shut up-" Hank shoves the detective with a hand, finally finds his phone in his pocket and unlocks the screen.

Gavin laughs, "Probably went
there because they can't see or hear how horrible you are, right? Clever, Anderson. Didn't think you would be one to play it that way."

"Suck an egg, Reed."

"God is it the fckin 1800s? Pretty sure that's the last time something like that was actually said."

Hank chooses to
ignore the detective, waves him away off-handedly, and turns his back so he can focus on his phone to stare at the text Connor sent him.

C: hey. sorry, something came up. not gonna be able to go out tonight.

Hank's mouth turns into a disappointed frown. God, so much for his
luck. Guess it ran out for both of them.

H: that's alright. Was just gonna text you. Got called in for a homicide across town. Wasn't gonna be able to make it anyway.

Hank waits for a second, thoughtful, then types-

H: Everything okay?

A couple of minutes pass then before he
gets a reply from Connor. And by then he's already in his car, about to drive to the scene of the crime with Reed.

C: yeah. just something i gotta deal with

Hank frowns, shifts his jaw and stares at his screen. In the passenger seat, Reed buckles in and complains about Hank
taking too long. Hank ignores him.

H: all right. Anything I can do to help?

Connor's response is pretty immediate.

C: no

Hank wants to chalk it up to him being a detective for so long, wanting to look into things far more than they need to, but he can't help it when his
Detective-Sense goes off.

Something is wrong with Connor. And Hank can't exactly put his finger on it, but it's like the nurse is being intentionally vague, or, defensive. Like he has something he doesn't want to talk about.

Which just isn't LIKE Connor.

Hank presses his lips
together, a ball of anxiety beginning to spin in his stomach. He isn't totally sure what to say, but he tries to piece together what support he can.

Hank wants to be respectful of Connor's privacy. Con is an adult. If there's something he wants or thinks Hank should know, he'll
tell him. Hank trusts Connor.

So he sucks on the inside of his cheeks, and attempts to write in what support he can.

H: Okay.. let me know if there's anything I can do to help

Connor doesn't reply.

God when has Connor /ever/ been quiet about /anything/?

Hank frets the whole
drive over. His knuckles go white from playing with, tapping and squeezing the steering wheel, his mind distracted as he breaks a little too harshly when following a car too closely. Reed cusses him out, but Hank doesn't have the energy to tell him off, far too preoccupied with
worrying over Connor to focus on a petty squabble with Reed.

Maybe it's Connor's brother. A family emergency?

"Hey, Reed," Hank says, interrupting whatever tirade the detective has gone off on. "Everything okay with Niles?"

"You think I'm gonna tell you that you SICK MOTHERF-"
"Not like that!" Hank growls, feels the sudden urge to clap his palm along the back of Gavin's head like he's some unruly school child. "I mean like, in normal life. No family emergencies or anything?"

Gavin frowns. He may be an idiot but he's not stupid. He is a detective after
all, and he would recognize the oddity of Hank being so specific. "..No?" he says, already reaching for his phone to surely text his boyfriend to ensure it's the truth. "Why do you ask?"

"It's just - Connor's acting weird," Hank says, letting out a shaky sigh. "He doesn't sound
like himself. Won't tell me what's going on. I'm worried."

Gavin absorbs this. When Hank glances at him, he sees Gavin's thumbs moving along his own screen, texting Niles. "So you guys are like, actually dating?"

Hank releases some of his frustration by this whole thing. "We're
/trying/ to, if people would stop getting murdered right before shift change." Hank sighs, taps his fingers along the steering wheel. He bites on the corner of his lips, and admits a bit quieter, "We were gonna go on our first real date tonight - just the two of us. Even got a
reservation at The Jericho."

Reed startles from across the car. "SHIT The Jericho? You guys really are serious."

All the aching pain of knowing he and Connor won't get to spend the evening together falls on Hank in one swoop. The pain is only amplified by the fact it feels like
Connor is distancing himself for some reason.

Hank should respect Connor's privacy, and he does-

But he's worried. Just wants to make sure it's nothing with his brother. Just wants to make sure he's okay-

Because if it's not his brother or something else-

Gavin's phone chimes
alerting him that he got a message. Hank turns the car, just a few blocks away from their destination. When Gavin is quiet for an impossibly long 10 seconds, Hank presses. "Well? What'd he say?"

The detective blinks, and shakes his head, waving at Hank off-handedly. "Oh! Uh-
nothing. Niles says there's nothing he can think of it might be."

More anxiety floods Hank's chest, and he bites his lip, chews at it absently until it bleeds. He tastes the copper on his tongue, curses the return of an old habit he thought he'd kick.

"I'm sure it's fine, Hank.
Gavin tries to reassure. "You're just letting your anxiety get to it. He's probably just tired or got into an argument with a friend. Nothing that you have to worry yourself over."

"If it's bothering Connor, it's bothering me," Hank grumbles, and pulls up to the side of the road
where the other police cars are lined in front of an apartment building. "Just - scared of losing him, I guess."

"You won't lose him, Hank," Gavin murmurs. "Connor's an adult- a big boy. He's not going anywhere."

Hank sighs, tilts his head back against the seat of his car.
"..Thanks, Gav. Appreciate it."

"Anything for you../Dad/."

This time Hank does actually cuff him across the head.

--

The uncertainty and fear in Hank only continues to grow as the evening draws on. He focuses on the crime scene as well he can. Asking questions, gathering
details so he can try to draw the big picture of what happened.

When he gets back to the precinct at 6:30 to fill out his report of what happened, Connor still hasn't texted him back.

Hank bites the inside of his lip, and decides to reach out first.

H: sorry that tonight
didn't work out, babe. i'll be sure to make it up to you later, though. promise you that.

Hank doesn't expect for Connor to reply, or at least not immediately, so he lets himself get distracted by writing up his report. Whatever Connor has going on is something Hank won't be
able to fix in one night over one comforting text. But Connor will tell him when the time is right.

But even when Hank is leaving the precinct at 7, worn and exhausted, Connor still hasn't texted him back. The only indication Hank has that he's even there is the little check
next to the message that lets him know Connor has read it.

He reaches out again.

H: Hey i know our original plan didn't really fall through but do you still think we could meet up tonight? no expectations or anything. just hang out be in the same place together. hope everything
is going better for ya

Hank sends the text tentatively, and turns his phone up all the way so that he'll hear it on the way home if he gets a text or -god willing- even a call from Connor. Some kind of signal that Connor is there.

The Lieutenant returns to his home, phone quiet
No messages or calls.

Sumo trots up to him in greeting, nuzzles his nose into Hank's palm and gives a quiet 'boof' hello.

Hank rubs his hand up and along the dog's head, something once strong as a wall beginning to crumble like clay under rainwater.

He kneels on the ground,
buries his face into the ruff of Sumo's neck, and can't help but feel as if he's just lost something terribly important.
--
Anxiety permanently settled into his gut gives Hank a restless sleep that night, and he rises far before his alarm at 7 in the morning before the sun has
even fully risen over the horizon.

His phone tells him that Connor saw his messages, but has yet to make any sort of reply.

Hank buries himself in distractions. He showers, cleans himself up better than he has in a long time for an early morning. Makes breakfast for himself. An
actual effort of an omelet with fresh fruit, sizzling bacon, and piping hot coffee.

He only has all the ingredients in the first place because he wanted some good food to be there for Connor, in case he ended up spending the night last night after their date.

But nope. Hank
spent another night alone.. Again.

Doubt is just starting to churn in his mind -god what if he really /is/ this undesirable to everyone around him?- his cell phone rings promptly at 8 am.

Hank dives for his phone across the kitchen table, fingers shaking as he doesn't even
bother to read the Caller ID before answering. "Yes? Hello, Hank Anderson. This is Hank Anderson. Good morning."

It takes him a moment to recognize the clipped voice from the other line. "Yes, good morning, Mr. Anderson. His is Amanda at Stern Home and Health. How are you doing
this morning?"

Dread and fear courses through Hank. He sits at a chair at the table, unable to stand as his knees just about give up. Fuck, shit, he should have called. Should have insisted and seeing him last night - god what the hell is-

"Is it Connor? What's going on? Is he
okay?"

Amanda is quiet for a couple of moments on the other side, as if she were collecting herself. But her reply comes out smooth and collected as ever. "Connor is fine, Mr. Anderson. I'm just calling to make you aware that he won't be able to make any of his scheduled shifts
with you this week for the time being, and to notify you that we're sending in an alternative while he's away, so Cole will still have care provided for him this week."

Hank's mouth is dry. He licks his lips, swallows, struggles to piece together what she's saying into a larger
picture like he would at work. Get it together, Anderson, you're a goddamn police lieutenant, a detective - figure it out.

"He's okay? He's not sick or hurt or anything? Is it someone in his family. It's just-" even now Hank tries to protect the nurse. "he was scheduled to come
in last night. And he said something came up."

"Unfortunately with the nature of the job, our nurses cannot always predict when something or someone is going to call them away."

Hank grasps for any kind of information. "So it was another patient he had to go see?" That didn't
make sense. Connor wouldn't let something like that affect him talking to Hank - would it? Must be something really big if that's what was happening. But why would-

"That's not something I am at liberty to discuss with you, Mr. Anderson," Amanda says in her controlled voice.
"But I would ask for this week that you refrain from contacting Connor until he's able to return."

Hank's mouth is dry again. He finds himself nodding, and asks, "He's all right though? He's okay."

Amanda's voice cools even further. "Connor is perfectly fine, Mr. Anderson."
Another moment of terse quiet passes, and she says, subdued, "The nurse I'm sending over for this week is a young woman named Kara. She has your address, Cole's history, and she's had experiences taking care of patients with seizures before. She has a great reputation with our
pediatric patients an their parents. She'll be over at the usual times Connor has been over." Hank's head swims with all this information. Amanda waits for him to respond, and when he finds that he can't, she presses. "Will that be suitable, Mr. Anderson?"

He blinks, shakes his
head, and rests his head in the palm of his hand against the kitchen table as he struggles to process. "Uh, yeah. Yeah. Um. Okay. That's. Yeah that's fine. He-" There's a warmth building behind his eyes, a ball lodged in his throat. "You- He'll be back though, next week, right?"
God Amanda's periods of quiet before saying anything are the most terrifying thing on the planet. "..I'll call in and check in with you in a week, Mr. Anderson."

Hank isn't even able to say get in a clarifying question, or even a goodbye, when Amanda hangs up. His screen goes
back to the home screen.

Hank gapes at his phone, and his arms move mechanically as he lets the device drop onto the table.

He's just as confused now as he was five minutes ago before the conversation even started, and even more helpless. Because even now Amanda hasn't given
him a straight answer.

And even though she said that Connor is alright, that it's nothing he needs to worry or concern himself with- there's just something inside Hank that tells him it's WRONG. Something is WRONG right now and there's nothing he can do to stop it.

And there's
that feeling in his chest and his throat and behind his eyes still. A wet, burning feeling that comes in the form of hot tears spilling down his cheeks, of a withheld sob released from his lungs. The Lieutenant holds a shaking hand up to his forehead, fingers shielding his eyes
as he begins to weep.

Over everything, there's the persistent feeling of loss.

--
*finger guns* WASNT THAT FUN BOYS AND GIRLS?

im so sorry to do that to you guys -lead you on about the date then swipe it from under your feet; i did do an evil cackle a couple of times while writing those cute scenes beforehand. muahaha -gotta break ya before i can build ya up
short update before my work day! couldn't bear to keep you guys hanging for a whole day i love you all too much - will hopefully get a big chunk of writing in today especially after work :)

Onward!

--

After an indiscernible amount of time, Hank is able to get himself together.
He manages to get his feet from under him, and he get dressed for the day. Calls in out of work from Fowler so he can take the day with Cole. His boss is gruff about it at first, but he relents when Hank says its something to do with Cole.

"Everything okay, Hank?" Fowler asks
over the phone. His voice is still rough, but its edged with a layer of concern. Everyone in the precinct knows about Hank and the Cole's health issues.

Hank would appreciate Fowler's concern in any normal circumstances, and he still does. But not right now.

"Yeah, yeah," Hank
mumbles, feeling impossibly tired. "Just..need to take the day with him, is all. I'll be back tomorrow morning for sure."

"..Alright. Well you take care of yourself, Hank."

There should be absolutely /no reason for it/, but Hank wants to cry again when he hears that. He sniffs
and tries to keep the crack from his voice when he croaks, "Yeah, thanks Jeff. I will."

Fowler hangs up, leaving Hank to collapse his head right back on the table, suddenly exhausted all over again.

God, how is he gonna explain this to Cole?

Susan drops Cole off less than an
hour later. Gives a short report to Hank how the night went while she's still in her car and doesn't even come in the house to see Cole off, claiming she has a meeting she has to go to in the city.

"He did really great, no problems at all! See you later, buddy!"

Cole waves
somewhat half-hearted to his mother, then sprints back inside to see Sumo.

After that Susan doesn't linger, hardly giving Hank a farewell before she's speeding off to god-knows where. Doesn't comment on Hank's haggard appearance or bother to ask how his own night went.

Good.
Hank didn't think he was at an emotional point anywhere where he was ready to talk to his ex. Especially with the conversation he was about to have with his son.

Cole was sitting on the couch, already curled up on one side against the armrest, a book lazily open in front of him.
Cole gets like this after sleepovers, be it with friends or with Susan. Always tired the next day, not up for doing much.

Sumo was draped over the kid, head resting on Cole's legs. His tail wagged when Hank gave the dog a look, then got the idea as Hank takes a spot on the couch
*divebombs in through the window*

HI IT'S 10PM I'M TIRED ITS NOT GONNA BE A GREAT WEEK FOR WRITING BUT WE'RE GONNA GET SOME DONE ANYWAY CUZ THIS STORY NEEDS TO GET OUT OF MY HEAD

--

"You doin' okay, bud?" Hank asks, draping his arm over the back of the couch. His hand dangles
in a way that he can brush his fingers along the hair of Cole's head.

The boy nods, then rolls himself so he's on his back looking at his dad. "'M okay."

"Ya have a fun time at mom's?"

Cole shrugged with one shoulder, somewhat indifferent. "Yeah. It was fine."

The tone was
enough to cause Hank's expression to turn down. He could guess where this was going. "Do anything fun?"

Cole frowns, squirms deeper down into the cushions. "Took me on errands downtown then we watched TV while Mom did work."

God would it be asking his wife too much if she spent
so much as 10% minimum effort with who she claimed was /her/ son?

Hank sighed. "Well it's nice to have you home. Missed you, bug." With his hand, he grabbed his son's knee playfully, pulling it side to side. He smiled lopsidedly at him. "No fish?"

Cole mirrored Hank's smile to
him, shakes his head. "No." He says, wiping at his eyes. "No fish."

"Good night though?" Hank clarifies.

"Just tired, dad," Cole mumbles.

Hank wants to pull back and let his son sleep, but they have to have this conversation. He'd push it off if he could, but in his experience
it's better to do this kind of stuff now rather than later.

"Hey, Cole, I need to talk to you about something."

Cole is old enough to recognize the seriousness in Hank's voice, and he sits up a little to look his father more squarely in the eye. "What, dad?"

"It's about Connor
He-uh- he won't be able to be coming in this week. Something kind of came up, so we're going to have a different nurse with us this week to keep an eye on you."

Cole frowns, and pushes himself up so he can sit up straighter against the armrest of the couch. "Okay..Is Connor all
right? Will he be coming back?"

Hank gives as comforting of a smile as he can, "He's fine, buddy. I'm not sure when he's going to be coming back, though. His office wouldn't tell me."

Cole looks conflicted for a few moments, and absorbs this, but he puts on a brave face and
nods. "Okay.. Thanks for telling me."

Hank watches him, not totally convinced. "You okay?"

Cole nods again, a bit slowly. "Yeah, just. Okay."

And that's that.

The new nurse, Kara, young and just as bright as Amanda described, arrives the next day the same time Connor usually
does. Sumo barks loudly when he realizes it isn't Connor at the door like it usually is, but Kara's sweet nature extends to dogs, too, and she pets Sumo with only a mild sense of apprehension.

The dog adjusts easily enough, and Kara does get along fine with Cole. The boy a bit
withdrawn at first, but he warms up to Kara easily enough.

It's not enough to hide the fact that Hank still sees the sheen of sadness that passes over Cole's eyes. Caused by little things Kara does that reveals how different her and Connor is. Different way of getting Cole ready
in the morning, of giving report to Hank by the end of the schoolday-

And it's harder for Hank. He doesn't feel as open towards her, despite Kara's warmth and open friendliness.

At the end of the day, he just misses Connor.

Misses the lingering touches and glances, the small
kindnesses he would offer without being beckoned to like doing small chores around the house. Helping Cole with his homework, feeding Sumo, doing some of the dishes. Meticulously keeping track of every one of Cole's seizures.

At night, Cole curls up to bed with that stuffed fish
in his arms, snuggling the orange and blue stuffed toy close.

Hank, at one point, asks Cole about it one of the following mornings. "Where did you get that fish, bud?" he asks, serving his son a fresh plate of fruit and fried eggs before school.

Cole looks up from the table.
The orange, white, and blue stuffed fish sits next to his plate. The boy looks at it, resignedly hurt, and says, "Connor got it for me. Because of the fish.

Hank closes his eyes, and turns away. "Well, that's good," he says, strained, and cracks another egg into the sizzling pan
(i gotta go to sleep lads i'm gonna pass out - sorry the updates haven't been as long as they usually have. i'm getting a lot more hours with work and it's kind of a hectic week because my roommate is leaving for college on thursday. thank you all for your continuing support 🧡☺️
*dances on scene*

got some time before i have to start dinner y'all hungry tonight for some fresh angst?

--

Hank forces his attention to focus on the sizzling of the pan over the stove top as he seasons the eggs, and he tries to cut the emotion right out of his chest when he
thinks of the beautiful nurse that is now absent from their lives.

Cole is quiet as he waits for his breakfast, and doesn't press Hank for anything more until Hank is sliding a plate of piping hot eggs, buttered toast with jelly and greasy slices of bacon his way. Hank sits at
his spot at the table, feeling merciful as he hands begging Sumo a half-slice of bacon. The dog munches it up greedily, tail wagging in contentment before settling with his head on Hank's lap, absolutely shameless for more.

Cole waits for the opportune moment when Hank has a
forkful of food in his mouth to say, quiet and hurt, "Connor isn't going to come back, is he?"

Hank nearly chokes on his food from how quick panic and dread flushes through him. How is he supposed to talk to his son about this when he himself is so uncertain? Connor basically
disappeared from their life in the span of a couple short hours without so much of a trace left of him or a goodbye.

Hank swallows his food, coughing, and drinks some of his steaming coffee to wash it down. It gives him a short amount of time to gather his thoughts, figure out
what exactly he wants to say.

He clears his throat, looks honestly at his son, "I'm not really sure, bug. It hasn't even been a week yet."

Cole nods, looking into his lap and away from his untouched food. The redness building in his face is the half second of warning Hank has
before his son's expression crumples, and he lets out the softest, tiniest sob.

An aching so strong its like a freight train hitting him square in the chest explodes in Hank. He hurries to his son's side, kneeling on the floor as he places a hand on his son's knee while the
other goes to cup the side of his face. Cole weeps pathetically, small shoulders hunched forward; Hank tries to amend as well as he can with soft and comforting words, "Hey, buddy. Cole, hey little man, what's going on?"

Cole just cries harder, the mirroring blue of his eyes a
stark contrast to the redness surrounding them. Hank runs his thumb along his son's cheek and the bone of his knee, hushing softly and crooning for Cole to talk to him. "What's wrong, baby?" he asks. God, his son's whole head fits right into the side of his palm. He's so small.
Cole sniffles, a watery snot beginning to drip from his nose, tears already trailing wet lines down his cheeks. "It's - It's my fault Connor's - Connor's gone," he hiccups, breath catching from his sobs as he tries to catch his breath and talk at the same time.

Hank shakes his
head resolutely, damning the stars and the heavens for these circumstances that would make his son cry and feel like this. "No, baby, no. It's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong."

"But I DID!" Cole wails, wiping an arm across his face and nose, smearing more snot over
his bright red face. He tries to catch his breath, small lungs gasping desperately for air. "Connor's work thought he wasn't doing a good enough job, so they fired him! If I would have stopped having my seizures, then Connor wouldn't have gotten in trouble and he- he'd still be-"
"That's not true, Cole," Hank tries to soothe. "Nothing Connor would have done could stop your seizures - he was just here to help for when they /did/ happen. His work didn't expect him to stop you from having them. Sometimes," he shrugs a little helplessly, and realizes in the
back of his mind that his throat is beginning to lodge up, too. "Sometimes things just happen that are out of our control, like Connor being assigned somewhere else. But that's okay. Things change sometimes, and we just have to move on."

Cole doesn't answer, only breaks down
into more sobs, and leans towards his father.

Hank doesn't hesitate as he opens his arms, letting his son sidle forward so he can curl up on Hank's lap. His small frame trembles beneath him, and Hank tightens his arms even more, wishing that he could just hug his son's troubles
away.

"I miss him," Connor whimpers.

That's when Hank knows he's crying too, feels the heat in his face and the burn of tears from his eyes. "Me too, bud." His hand goes to cup Cole's head, and he kisses his son's temple. "Me too."

--

Another week passes.

Hank isn't fool
enough to hope or believe that Connor is coming back.

Cole does all right, but Hank sees the lingering and lost sheen in his eyes. He later places a name to what he's looking at. Grief. His son is /grieving/ for the loss of Connor in their lives.

He sees his son hold the
stuffed fish close during the night when he sleeps, and sometimes Hank can hear the quiet crying on nights where he /really/ misses Connor.

Susan is more present than usual, which is simultaneously both helpful and off-putting. Helpful because there's another person there to
help take care of Cole; off-putting because Susan is basically useless. She only puts in half the effort, if even that. Gives only half her attention to Cole, always occupied and trying to get him to do things that /she/ wants to do rather than take the time to learn what /he/
likes.

For the first time, Cole is far more reserved in his mother's presence. He responds less enthusiastically when she tries to interact with him, and often replies to her more flatly or with at the very least a tone of indifference. There's a lot of "okays," "sures" and
"nahs" and "i dunnos."

This is automatically noticed by Hank, who is used to Cole's bright and boundless energy. To see his son so disinterested shakes him. He chalks it up to his son being upset about Connor not being present, or perhaps the boy is starting to realize what game
Susan is playing.

Hank and her argue about it. Susan accuses him of pitting her own son against her, while Hank deflects by pointing out how little time she's spent or shown she cares about Cole, so what should she expect?

Round and round they go, never getting anywhere except
impossibly angry and frustrated at the other while Cole sleeps restlessly in the next room.

And the entire time, Hank's aching for Connor persists.

The nurse is a consistent thought in his head. Hoping he's okay, that he's eating enough at whatever assignment he's surely
working. If he's moved on from Hank -that- fast, if what they had really mattered to him. Because if it didn't why hasn't he called or texted?

Did they even really have anything? They hadn't even gone on an actual date, yet. Perhaps it simply wasn't real, whatever it was they
had. Just pretend. Something fun to do while Connor was working with them.

Hank feels like a fool.

But it doesn't make the pain go away.

Hank gets a call while he's standing in the kitchen, washing dishes from earlier that morning from Stern Home and Health. From the other
line, Amanda's crisp and professional voice asks if it would be possible for Hank and Susan to swing by so they can have a follow-up about how Kara's doing in the home.

"Well, sure," Hank says, a bit confused by the request. "We can't just do it over the phone, though? That's
how we did it with Connor."

The sound of /his/ name causes Susan's head to snap up from the living room where she's sitting on the sofa. Hank looks over his shoulder at her, frowning as Amanda amends:

"Well, yes. That's how we did it with Connor, since it was just you
responsible for Cole's care. But since Kara was specifically recommended and requested by Susan, we just think it would be best for you both to be present."

Hank's hands, currently washing a plate, freeze.

"...Mr. Anderson?" she prompts.

"..I just wasn't aware Susan had made
that request, is all," he says, voice lower.

Amanda is quiet from the other end. "That's odd," she finally says. "I thought she would have told you."

Hank slowly places the plate and sponge back in the sink, forgotten as he keeps his voice low. "Is that really why Connor isn't
here anymore?"

"No, Mr. Anderson," Amanda says, voice turning more curt. "That is /not/ the only reason."

Suspicion flares deep in him, a glow turning to a burning inferno. His lips begin to turn into a snarl, "The ONLY-?"

"Mr. Anderson-"

Hank's hands squeeze his phone.
He turns in place now, staring at Susan, who watches at full attention, brows raised and expression undefinable.

Hank matches her gaze, something in him shifting into steel as he speaks into the phone. "Susan is the one who asked to have Connor removed, isn't she?"

To her own
credit, Susan's expression doesn't so much as flinch. It's as if her whole body is held frozen in time, and Hank narrows his eyes dangerously as he waits for Amanda's reply over the phone.

Amanda inhales softly from the other end, and sighs. "Susan has partial custody over Cole,
Mr. Anderson. She has just as much right-"

"I FUCKING KNEW IT!" Hank explodes, breaking from Susan's unflinching stare to yell into the phone. He turns his body, anger curdling like a restless wave in his gut, foaming and pulling like the tide.

"Mr. Anderson-"

"The fuck didn't
you tell me Susan had been talking to you?!" Hank pivots in place. One hand finds its way to his hip as he glowers at the floor, his back now to the living room where Susan is.

"Mr. Anderson. It is more than the issue of Susan being uncomfortable with Connor present-"

"THAT'S
the bullshit she fed you?! You have any idea how much she actually-?!"

"MR. ANDERSON, we know about your affair with Connor!"

The raised voice of Amanda over the phone startles the jaded Lieutenant. He stops, not having noticed he had begun to pace the kitchen. His mind hears
the words but struggles to play catch-up. "...Affair?" he echoes.

A sigh from Amanda. "Susan made us aware of your..personal relationship with Connor."

Hank shakes his head, knot forming in his stomach. "What god-damn personal relationship?"

"Susan informed us you were
engaging in a..romantic pursuit with Connor."

Hank wants to throw his phone against the wall, watch it shatter into a million useless shiny pieces, but he needs to see this conversation through. His hand tightens, and he grits out, "We didn't DO anything, though." Desperation
fills him as he suddenly grasps at straws. "None of it was Connor's fault, it was all initiated by me! He shouldn't be getting the flack for something I started!"

"Mr. Anderson," Amanda's voice gentles in the slightest way. "There's no need to lie on is defense. Connor admit
everything to us."

Everything in Hank stops. His mouth turns dry. He grips the phone hard. "Everything?" he repeats, questioning. "What-" he pinches the bridge of his nose, mind swirling. "Whaddya mean 'everything'?"

"The feelings he has for you. That he let emotions get in the
way of what his true goal is supposed to be - caring for your son."

The world around Hank spins, goes blurry at the edges. His fingers grasp at the counter top, and he wishes he had a chair behind him he could maybe collapse onto. "He-" his words are breathless, a whisper in his
throat. "He said that?"

Amanda huffs. "Indeed. He confessed to what was going on between the two of you in exchange that we wouldn't withdraw care totally from you due to lack of professionalism or that he wouldn't lose his job for dishonesty."

Hank claps his free hand over his
mouth, speechless. He closes his eyes.

Even to the end, Connor was protecting him. His son.

Damn idiot.

Hank swallows, aligns himself. "Connor is a consenting adult," he finally manages. "As am I - I fail to understand how a personal relationship between is is unprofessional."
From the other end, Hank can picture the sarcastic lift of Amanda's brow, the slight purse of her lips of disapproval, all from the tone of her voice. "Really, Mr. Anderson. Obviously if you and Connor were to continue a personal relationship, it would get in the way of Cole
receiving the proper care. Don't you agree?"

"No!" Hank snaps. "I don't! If we were able to maintain a healthy relationship while still caring for my son before all this happened, why wouldn't we be able to /continue/ doing just that?!"

"What if you and Connor were to break up,
Lieutenant Anderson? How awkward that would be between you - how heartbreaking it would be for Cole to see two of the most important people in his life fight? Or how it would hurt for him to stop seeing Connor because you two got in a lover's quarrel? Please, sir, think of your
son."

Hank's last bit of control, patience, and understanding snaps in half. Disappears like dust in the wind. Evaporating water on hot concrete.

"How fucking dare you," he breathes.

"Please, Lieutenant Anderson, there is no need-"

"How DARE you tell me that I'm not thinking
of my son - the only thing I've fucking cared and thought about for the past 8 years!"

Amanda's bit of control sounds like it's beginning to slip. "Lt. Anderson, please, I didn't mean to imply-"

"Yeah, I don't want to hear it," Hank interrupts, "I just want you to get Connor
assigned back to my son. Damn it to hell whatever my ex wants."

"Henry!" he hears her admonish from the living room. "You are NO about to undermine me!"

Hank gives her the finger over his shoulder, waits for Amanda's response.

She's quiet. For an uncomfortably long time. She
huffs out a breath. "Unfortunately it is out of my hand. What I'm relaying to you is simply policy. I was already breaking the rules by allowing Connor to continue working with our business in the first place and keeping your family as a client."

Hank's gut drops. He's so close.
So damn close to getting him back. "Please," he croaks, the fight leaving him in the wake of his anger. "You gotta- please I just - I need him back. COLE needs him back. Kara is fine, she's great. But Con-" his own breath hitches. "He's family, Amanda. You gotta get him back."
Her voice has quieted to match his hopeless one, but it does nothing to soothe Hank as she says, "It really is out of my hands, Lt. Anderson. I don't have the authority under our CEO Kamski to make that kind of decision. If he doesn't allow it to happen, it won't happen."

Hank
groans weakly. "Isn't there anything I can do?"

Amanda waits for a few terse moments while Hank clings to hope. "The most you can do is just to endure, Hank. But I've been instructed that if I hear of Connor and you meeting up again, that I'm to fire him for lack of
professionalism on both of your accounts. Just stay away from him for now. Maybe things will change later."

Later is impossible, Hank aches to say. Later is far too... late. He can't take this waiting anymore, and neither can Cole. They miss him so much - can hardly go on.
"Mr. Anderson?" Amanda prompts.

Hank turns, looks out into the living room where Cole sits on the couch, watching his father with wide blue eyes. Curious and confused and desperately hopeful.

Dread fills Hank from his toes to his throat.

Cole needs medical care.

Hank closes
his eyes, and turns away from his son. He bows his head, and his hands curl into fists.

"I'll try," he grumbles.

"You /will/."

Neither speak for 5 whole seconds. When Hank doesn't reply further, Amanda prompts, "Is there anything else I can do for you, Lt. Anderson?"
He shakes his head.

"No."

"You have a good evening then, sir. I'll check in how Kara is doing at the end of next week."

Amanda hangs up while Hank's thumb still hovers over the 'end call' button.

Hank feels Cole's eyes on him, the damn hope in the boy's voice piercing him.
"Connor isn't coming back?" he asks.

Hank lets his head drop, and he shakes his head. "No, Cole," he mumbles. "..He's not."

--

That's all for tonight! Thank you for reading!

Can't update tomorrow night because I have an evening shift - might be able to do some in the morning
HALF AN HOUR TO FORTY FIVE MINUTES, BABES, LETS GET SOME WRITING OUT! I WANNA GET TO THE GOOD PART -SO! BAD! but first - ANGST!

cw for couples arguing- might get ugly considering garbage human susan is here but warning regardless

--

"Well that's good, then," Susan says from
the living room, her words slicing through Hank's chest like a knife. "It wasn't professional what he was doing."

Quiet. Then Cole's soft voice, "What - what was Connor doing wrong?"

Hank turns, forcing a soft but strained smile towards his son, and speaks before Susan can get
a single word in. "Nothing, buddy. Hey, do you wanna maybe go play in the backyard for a little bit with Sumo? We'll keep an eye on you from here, Dad's just gotta talk with your mom."

Cole's eyes widen in that comedic way only kids can when they read between the lines of things
their parents say. A code, of some sort. This one being, /Son, your parents are about to have a bit of a fight. You should go outside./

"Okay!" he says quickly, hurrying to the door. "C'mon Sumo!"

The beast lumbers after him, wanting to play. And it's only when the back door of
the kitchen closes and Hank and Susan are alone when the sparks begin to fly.

"Well?" Susan asks crisply, always one to want to get the first word in. She crosses the living room, going to stand at one end of the kitchen with her hands placed at her hips. A kind of body language
that says 'yeah, I know what I did, and I don't care.' "What do you have to say, Henry?"

Hank knows this fight has to happen. That something like this can't just be brushed off, not when it comes to Cole's well-being. Every cell, ever fiber in him wants to yell and throw things
and call Susan every bad thing he can think of.

But he makes himself hold back. He leans back against the counter with his arms crossed defensively -protectively- over him. He gives himself 10 seconds to go to his happy place, align himself to a mindset where he'll be able to
have this fight like an adult.

Because maybe it was unprofessional of Connor to have feelings for Hank, and perhaps it was wrong of Hank to encourage them.

But they NEVER did anything that would compromise Cole's safety or well-being when doing it.

And GOD they didn't even DO
anything beyond kind of holding hands every once in a while. This wasn't fuckin' church camp, they weren't 16 years old, they were goddamn ADULTS-!

Hank steadies himself, makes himself breathe in, and out, lets himself reorient to his happy places.

A dark movie theater where a
finger lightly touches and twines with his. A school hallway and a hand itching to tangle with his own. Black frame glasses surrounding amber eyes. The park near his house where his -entire- family would walk together.

Hank wants more of those moments.

He doesn't think that's
wrong or selfish.

He knows Connor wants him to be better, not just for himself, but for Cole.

"...Hank?" Susan's voice sounds a bit confused, like she expected Hank to jump right out and start screaming and raging like a poked bear.

Hank breathes out slowly, and finds the
thought of Connor and his son bringing him to equilibrium.

"..Susan," he says, voice a deadly and solemn calm. "You have to realize that what you've done was absolutely out of line, and WRONG."

Disdain immediately twists over her face. "I did NO SUCH-"

Hank's voice sharpens.
"Please wait for me to finish."

This somehow works. It usually doesn't. Hank chalks it up to Susan being surprised by Hank's quiet demeanor, when all they're usually used to is snapping and biting at each other like feral dogs.

He breathes harder. "Yes, Connor and I were
developing feelings for each other. But no where, not EVER, did we let that get in the way of Cole's care. That was always the number one priority. So the fact you tried to claim otherwise is absolute-" Venom wants to drip from his tongue. He thinks of Connor. "Just utter crap."
Susan opens her mouth to get her own point in, but the spark has turned into a smoldering flame as Hank continues, "I'm not done. You knew Connor was the absolute best nurse we've ever had for Cole. He was capable, attentive, meticulous when it came to our son's seizures. And you
only had to watch the two of them for five damn seconds to realize that Cole was absolutely taken with Connor. They were fuckin' /best friends/ had their own secret handshake and everything. Connor bought him that stupid fish that Cole loves so much, and you just-" Emotion chokes
Hank's words, cutting him off as he looks away, has to shake his head, just disgusted at what Susan has done. Part of him realizes he's starting to get off the rails a little, so he pulls his tongue and thinks of his son's smile, and of the little freckles that dot Connor's face.
"You went over my head with Cole's care, for one, which is bad enough since I'm his primary caregiver and spend the most time with him; so I should be the one to decide if a nurse that /I've hired/ is good enough to take care of our son." He closes his eyes. "I respect the fact
that Cole is your son, too. But you absolutely had no reason to fire Connor when our relationship wasn't doing anything to affect the well-being of our son. And if anything, Connor was /good/ for Cole. And you took that away because, what, you were /jealous/ of Connor? For doing
what you should have been doing for 8 goddamn years?"

Hank's voice shakes with upset, but he blinks hard, thinks of the softness of Connor's hair, the lilt of his voice and the gentle corner of his smile.

He breathes again, and finds he's balanced enough to look up to meet
Susan's eyes. She stares at him, eyes wide and disbelieving as she's takes all this in. Any wavering uncertainty left evaporates into thin air as Hank makes his decision.

"You've never been there for Cole, not the way you should. And that's your own decision to make, but you
have to deal with the consequences." Hank breathes. "I'm going to fight for Cole and get full custody. I'm done with this. You can still see him, if that's what you want - but I'm going to take full responsibility on him. I can't rely on you and you've already taken steps to ruin
one of the best things Cole ever had going for him. If you're not going to be there for Cole you shouldn't get to make decisions about how I manage his healthcare. I'm letting you know now so you can get a lawyer and get ready -because I want us to do this as quickly as possible.
Hank lets his face twist into a displeased frown. "Not that I think you even deserve that much."

Susan is absolutely struck by Hank's admission, and a flurry of emotions pass over her face faster than Hank can even interpret. She looks like a stunned fish as she gapes at him.
Hank doesn't need to wait long for her to reply, because Susan always insists on having the last word, and there's no way she's letting something like this go - this blatant confrontation by Hank over Cole.

Even with everything and how often she avoids Cole, she just can't seem
to let go of him, even when what she's doing doesn't help him.

"You have no right to say that to me, Hank Anderson!" she snaps, her sharp and loud tone an immediate contrast to Hank's collected and calm demeanor. Hank narrows his eyes at her, keeps his arms over his chest.
But Hank keeps his cool, and doesn't reply. Instead waits for Susan to finish.

"I have been there for Cole as much as I can!" she goes on, eyes flashing, pride insulted.

Hank's hands clench against his arms, rage causing him to shake.

"I support you two and the way you live
just as much as you do!" Susan spits. "Court order and everything-! You leech off of my hard work while you just lay around, fucking the slutty nurse-"

Hank's vision goes red, the blood rushing and pounding in his ears causing whatever she's saying to fade away as if underwater.
Fuck this.

Fuck her.

GOD, fuck EVERYTHING about this conversation.

"Get out," Hank grinds from his teeth, holding on to the last thread of control, her insult of Connor the straw about to break the camel's back.

Susan tilts her head, pupils just pinpoints in her green eyes.
"/What/?" she says, voice a sneer.

Hank's shaking worsens, and he hopes she can't see it. He knows she would only interpret it as weakness.

"Get. Out," he growls, and manages to keep his voice low. "You don't get to stand in my house, that /I/ pay for, with /my/ money, from
/my/ job-" he hesitates, but goes for it, "all that I use to take care of /my/ son, and complain because your pay gets deducted because you refused to send financial support 5 years ago."

Susan looks somewhat jarred by Hank's claim, his calm only sparking her on further as she
pathetically attempts to excuse her past actions. "If the insurance is paying for most of what he needs, then there's no need for me to send you checks every month-"

"Cole needs to eat, Susanne," Hank bites out, a bit of venom dripping from his voice while he shakes like a leaf.
"And you /know/ insurance doesn't cover everything Cole needs. It's a goddamn miracle we were able to get a nurse to cover for him at all. Maybe if you saw Cole more often I could let it go by, or if you just admit that you don't want to spend time with him so we could all just
move on." He shakes his head, glares at her bitterly as years of resentment and hurt on Cole's behalf raises it's head. "You've been playing with Cole's emotions, taking advantage of his love for you as his mother while he still has it, and pushing him to the side when he tries
to reach out and connect with you. And I'm done with it. I'm not going to let you hurt him anymore." He sighs. "If he wants to see you still, then fine. But it's not going to be on your terms anymore. If you can't make him a priority in your life now, and you haven't tried to,
then it's not going to happen. And if you start to make an effort later - fine, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I'm done. And firing Connor behind my back is the final straw."

Susan glares, heated.

Hank clenches his fists again. "And I won't stand by when you
insult Connor. That man is a goddamn angel, and you'd have to be the biggest idiot in the world not to see it." He lets the insult hang between them, and gestures with a wave of his hand to the door behind her. "You're free to come back when you feel like being decent to the
people I care about."

Susan's face turns a deep red. Her face pinches with anger, eyes bulging as she prepares to let one loose, "You son of a - motherFU-"

"GoodBYE, Susan."

All of Hank's points are immediately proven true when Susan, in her fit of rage, doesn't hesitate as
she turns and stomps off in a huff without even bothering to ask or attempt to say goodbye to Cole.

The front door slams. Hank remains standing where he is. And he stays there until he hears the shuddering roar of her car engine and the crunch of wheels against the pavement.
It's only until he truly knows that she's gone does he let himself move, but he doesn't even make it to the table. Hank just collapses against the counter, his knees buckling beneath him as he lowers himself shakily to the ground. His back presses to the wood, and he breathes
shakily as he cups his hands over his face, feeling a frustrated sob build up from his chest. God he's doing a lot of crying recently.

He inhales long and hard, exhales it in equal measure.

Cole's laughter. Connor's snarky lip. His black-frame glasses. Eyes the color of oak.
Hank is only on the ground for about a minute, but it's enough for him to recover, so he heaves himself up and starts for the door to the back.

The outside is cold and crisp for a late January day. The snow on the ground is old, and has hardened from age to form a crispy outside
layer that cracks like ice when walked on.

Sumo is bounding through the snow, barking and eating the fluff, no doubt trying to find some thrown tennis ball.

Hank panics for a quick second when he realizes he doesn't know where Cole is. But the panic eases when he sees Cole
sitting on the ground against the house, right beneath the kitchen window.

The boy has his knees pulled up to his chest, nose red from the cold, face slightly warm and pink. There's a wetness on his son's face that Hank suspects isn't from the snow.

Well, fuck.

Hank frowns,
approaches Cole so he can sit on the ground with him. Hank stretches his legs out, the cold of the snow biting into his legs. "Hey bud," he says, voice not failing to lack affection. "What's going on?"

Cole is quiet for a moment, and he plays with the snow beneath his exposed
hands. Then he asks, "What does it mean if you get.. full custody?"

Fuuuuuccckkk

Hank sighs quietly. "How much did you hear?"

Cole makes a face, and shrugs, which Hank takes to mean as 'all of it.'

Goooooddddd fucking dammiiiiiittttt

"It means your mom wouldn't be able to
choose how I take care of you while she isn't here," Hank says, hoping the way he's explaining is easy enough for Cole to understand. "So she wouldn't be able to decide what nurse is here with us.

Cole frowns, and taps his hands lightly at the ground. "So mom got rid of Connor?"
"Yeah, bucko. I'm sorry."

Cole sighs, much like his father, and nods, but doesn't say anything more.

Hank tilts his head to look at Cole a little more clearly. "You alright?"

It takes a second, but Cole does not. "..Yeah," he answers. "Just - I miss him."

"I know, bud," Hank
rumbles, and he shifts a little closer so he can wrap his arm over his son's shoulders, pulling him to his side. "I miss him, too."

They don't say anything more for a little while longer. And that's when Hank decides: Well, he's already had ONE difficult conversation, why not
keep going?

"Hey, Cole?" he asks, squeezing his son's shoulders lightly to get his attention.

Cole hums. "Yeah, Dad?"

"Do you..like seeing your mom? When she comes to visit?"

Cole shrugs. "Sometimes. She doesn't have a lot of fun here, though. And she doesn't like to play.
Not like Connor does."

Hank takes this in, and places his words carefully. "Would you want to see her more? Have her come spend times with you on weekends, maybe?"

Cole doesn't look committed either way as he does his newly trademarked shrug. Must have picked that up from
Hank or Connor. "I dunno."

Hank lets it be for now. "Well, think about it, and let me know, okay?"

Cole nods.

Another minute passes. Sumo runs over to them, and drops a sopping wet tennis ball at their feet, the snow clumping from the slobber. The ball hits Hank's leg, and he
picks it up, twisting his expression a little in disgust before he tosses it back into the yard. Sumo turns with a bark, slipping on the porch a little as he bolts for the ball.

Hank chews another question around in his head. Decides he might as well go full send on it if he's
already gone this far in the Serious Discussion pit.

"Hey, Cole?"

There's a note of vulnerability, and Cole is perceptive. He must hear it in his father's voice, because he wriggles a bit under Hank's arm so he can tilt his head up and look at him. "Yeah, Dad?" he asks softly.
Hank's face has colored pink from the cold, and now from embarrassment as he clears his throat. "How -um- how would you feel if Connor were able to spend more time here? Not just as your nurse, but as a friend?"

Cole's eyes flicker a little with some teasing mirth. "You DO need
more friends, dad."

He chuckles, ruffles his son's hair. "And you're a brat. But really, though. Would you be okay with it?"

"You mean if Connor was your /boy/friend?" Cole says, blue eyes glittering playfully.

Yeah he's a detective's son, all right. "Yeah," Hank admits,
despite the burning of his face. "If Connor was my boyfriend. Would you be okay with that?"

"Lamp, dad."

"What?"

"It means 'yes', dad." Cole rolls his eyes a little, and Hank feels /very/ Out of the Times from his son.

But he still feels a spark of hope. "You'd really be okay
with it, bud?"

"Of /course/, Dad," Cole says, and he smiles, if a bit sadly. "But you kind of have to get Connor back here first before you can do that. Kind of missing a step."

Hank rubs his palm over Cole's face. "Oh ha-ha, thank you Captain Obvious." He leans down to plant a
kiss to Cole's head. The boy laughs, but leans into the affectionate gesture. "Love you, Cole."

"Love you too, dad."

--

"So, do we have a case?"

Hank's lawyer, Markus, looks up from his green and blue heterochromic eyes, hands in place over the papers scattered neatly over
his desk. On some of his legal notepads, Hank can see little scribbles, doodles of random objects. Eyes, flowers, faces, half-drawn hands.

Markus has been employed by Hank ever since his divorce with Susan, and Hank knows he has a bit of an artistic streak. It's cute, those
little doodles. While it's easy to dehumanize lawyers as bloodthirsty leeches, Hank takes joy in seeing those doodles. It's cute.

And the image of Markus painting or making small sketches on the corner of his notepads is an absolutely hilarious contrast to the sharp and vicious
lawyer he is in court.

Markus hums, and taps the end of his pencil to the paper. "We should," he says. "It's apparent from your years of caring for Cole single-handedly that Susan has contributed little to Cole's care. The trouble with some judges is that they have a tendency to
favor the mother as a sole caregiver, even in situations where the mother has little to do with actual care to her children. Even more so with kids with special needs like Cole has."

Hank squirms in his seat, anxious. "You think there's a chance, though?"

"There's always a
chance, Hank," Markus soothes. He leans back.

"Even with what was going on with Connor?" he clarifies. "Because I know there's not a single chance in hell Susan isn't going to use that against me."

"Seeing as it didn't have an affect on Cole's well-being related to his seizures
it shouldn't be an issue."

Hank hopes desperately that's the case. But he nods, and tries to breathe.

Markus looks at his notes, studious, and a frown crinkles his brow as something seems to occur to him. "You said the nurse -Connor, was it?- works for Stern Home and Health?"
Hank nods. "Yeah, that's right."

His lawyer hums, "Might make a call to them, see if they have any records or reports done by Connor that refer to Susan."

Markus goes quiet, the only sound the tap-tap-tapping of the butt-end of his pencil. Hank takes in the quiet moment to look
around the lawyers office. News clippings framed at one end of the room from cases Markus had won. A copy of his diploma behind his desk. Long vertical windows that nearly reach the ground and ceiling, filtering in white winter light.

Hank is about to dismiss himself, feeling
the conversation has reached its conclusion, but stops at Markus' voice. "His name was Connor, you said? The nurse?"

The Lieutenant pauses at the question. "Yea-ah..? Why?"

"No reason," Markus hums quietly. "Just a hunch, but.. who knows. Sometimes the unexpected happens."
--
That's all for tonight, folks! Glad I was able to get some writing in after my late night shift - but its my Friday and I had one of those high caffeine gas station mochas on my way home so it carried me all the way to 2:30 am!

Will update tomorrow because it's my DAY OFF OMG
Hi everyone! :) Big scene coming up - one i've planned since the beginning and i'm so excited to finally write it out

content warning coming up for descriptions of a lot of seizure activity, same level of intensity/descriptions as previous ones. will tag the posts they occur in
--
A couple of days pass since Hank met up with Markus, and the school week comes to a close. Hank finds that his restlessness continues to flux during the day, fingers itching to reach for that call button, or to text the person he really wants to spend time with, but Markus'
warning rings in his ears.

"It would be best if you continue to avoid contact with Connor for the time being," the younger man had said. "If the other side were to get wind of it, they would definitely use it against you. It would look far better if you can show the judge that
you two were able to avoid each other during this waiting period."

Hank agrees with Markus, to a degree. Yes, it makes SENSE and it'll make him look better to a judge considering giving Hank full custody of his son, but it sometimes doesn't feel worth it compared to the aching
he feels in his chest at the thought of Connor not being with him.

Sometimes during the night Hank finds himself scrolling through their old text messages. For the most part it's very professional (okay considering it's Connor the whole THING is professional), but Hank delights
in the little smiley emojis sent by the nurse, or little blue hearts, even stethoscope emojis with a tiny nurse next to them.

God he's just the cutest.

He finds encouraging texts sent from Connor amid reports during the day of Cole's seizure status. Words telling Hank he's
doing great, the texts always flanked by Hank's returning replies that Connor is doing such a good job with Cole, that Hank can't imagine how he ever managed to take care of his son without Connor.

But, there's still the doubt that permeates into every facet of Hank's mind.
Like, if all this is going on, why hasn't Connor tried to reach out to him?

The obvious answer is that the RN just isn't aware that Hank has kicked out Susan and is pursuing full-custody for Cole. But he figures Connor might have learned something through Amanda or even Kara.
That doesn't even stick though, Hank decides at the thought of the sweet nurse. Kara is too kind to gossip about anyone.

Hank scrolls through pictures in the dead of night sent by Connor. Little selfies of him and Cole during the school day. Cole grinning ear to ear and Con with
that soft half-smile.

Hank feels a tugging in his gut, and he pines.

And he wonders if Connor is up thinking of him, too.

---Here we go, kids :)---

The only issue Hank has with Kara is that she isn't able to accommodate Hank's schedule as well as Connor could. Hank doesn't
hold it against her. Far from it, he gets what it's like to have a kid and make them your priority. Kara has a family, a sweet husband, and a beautiful daughter (Hank only knows because they've both gushed over their kids to each other showing pictures), but one of Kara's rules
she doesn't break is that when she goes home at the end of the day, she doesn't return until morning and after her daughter has been dropped off from school.

Hank can respect that, admires her for it, even. She has her own family she needs to spend time with. He could never
fault her when he would do the exact same thing in her situation.

Unfortunately, that leaves Hank to fend for himself when it comes to taking care of Cole during the night.

It's Friday night when it happens.

Cole is tucked away in bed, and Hank is up watching the late night
news. Some guy in a nicely dressed suit (who smiles way too wide than should be physically possible) gleefully announces the weather should be warming up next week. That's when Hank hears the sound that sends chills up and down his spine, even after all these years.
/cw for seizure descriptions - will tag as necessary for this scene/

The sound of Cole in his room, groaning, caught in the middle of a tonic-clonic.

Hank moves faster than should be physically possible for him at this age, hand automatically grabbing the rescue med on the
coffee table at his feet as he runs to Cole's room.

Hank doesn't even turn on the overhead light as he rushes to Cole's bedside, too afraid of overstimulating his son and instead goes to turn on the Star Wars lamp at his son's nightstand.
/cw/

Cole spasms hard in bed, limbs jerking uncontrollably as Hank hurries to push his son's head back so he can administer the rescue med between Cole's clenched teeth. Hank's heart beats frantically against his chest, panic thick in his throat and gut. Murmurs spill from his
mouth, reassurances to Cole as his hands tremble with the med administration. A bit of the pink liquid slips from the corner of Cole's mouth. Hank thumbs it away, praying to anyone who's listening that it'll be enough to stop what Cole is going through.

"Please, please, c'mon
son, you're okay, you're doing okay," Hank whispers, voice wet.

In the back of his head, he hears Connor's voice, reminding and encouraging him patiently. "You're doing great, Hank. Don't forget to time it."

Hank looks quick at his watch on his left hand, which he has braced on
Cole's chest, instinctively measuring and feeling for any rise and fall to make sure Cole is breathing. The watch was a gift from Connor, from the early days when Connor first started working for them after he realized Hank didn't have a watch to time Cole's seizures.

"You don't
time Cole's seizures?!" Connor had asked, eyes wide as he gaped at Hank from the back of the Oldsmobile, Cole absently looking out the window as they drove home from school that October day.

Hank had shrugged from his spot in the drivers seat. "Well, no. Never really got to it,
I guess."

Hank recalls how flabbergasted Connor looked at that, like someone had slapped him in the face, or Hank had told him he and Cole were actually part of a cheese-worshiping cult or some weird shit like that.

Connor didn't judge or shame Hank for not having a watch, but
a couple days later, the RN had given Hank the silver metal band, the watch non-digital.

Hank gaped at the watch, about to refuse, but Connor insisted, "It's just from Walmart. Nothing big. But - you should have a watch to keep time of Cole's seizures, in case I'm not there."
Connor's insistence was firm, and Hank found he could bend a little on this, and had taken the silver band.

It hadn't left his wrist since.

Hank held back a choked up sob, and resolved that next if he ever saw Connor again, he would thank him.

The Lieutenant consciously looked
At his watch to make note of the time, and waited, praying, begging for Cole to come out of it.

After about another minutecof agonized waiting, he does. The tremors cease, and Hank remembers to breathe.

"Hey bug," he murmurs, leaning forward to brush strands of Cole's hair from
his forehead. The boy blinks at his father blearily, eyes focused by distant.

"Dad?" he whimpers, sluggish.

"You just had a seizure, bud. It's okay. You're okay. Gave you some medicine. How you feeling?"

Cole sighs, looking impossibly worn out. "I'm tired," he whimpers. "Head
hurts."

Hank nods, runs his palm over Cole's head again. "Okay, let me go get you some medicine, okay? Help your head."

Cole nods weakly, and goes to curl up on his side, already on the edge of falling asleep after such a bad one.

Hank watches Cole for a couple of moments,
wanting to ensure his son's safety. When Cole doesn't move -just hangs on the edge of sleep- Hank goes to the kitchen, hurrying to get the child ibuprofen.

He's halfway down the hall, two small tablets in one hand and a cold glass of water in the other, when he hears another
building moan from down the hall in Cole's bedroom.

...SHIT.

--

By 1:30 in the morning of that very night, Cole has had 3 tonic-clonics since his first one at 10:30, each one lasting just less than 3 minutes. With the tonic-clonics have been his spastic seizures, coming in
much more frequently at about 5 an hour.

Poor Cole is hardly getting any sleep at all, and Hank is exhausted. He has work tomorrow, but he knows its not going to happen now, not after being up like this.

Work is the last thing Hank cares about now, because he's fckin terrified.
It's so late, and he's so tired - he doesn't want to fall asleep, can't leave his son's side. What if he has another one and needs medicine? Or has to be turned on his side because it's another big one?

Hank is shaken, and he's bone-tired, and as his thumb hovers over the call
button, he knows he's desperate.

Above all he's just scared.

He sits at the side of Cole's bed, leaning over and holding his head up with one hand propped on his knee. He holds the phone to his ear, and listens.

Not surprisingly, the phone rings several times, but Hank holds
on, and hope builds quick in his chest when a voice answers from the other end, somewhat groggy yet curt. "Lieutenant Anderson. It really isn't professional to be calling me at this hour when I'm not even-"

"Connor," Hank chokes, and the word itself causes him to break. Just the
sound of his voice is enough to bring the man to his knees. Hank's face is red, and he struggles to control his composure as he says, "I know, I'm sorry - I don't mean to - It's just-" He hiccups.

Connor is quiet for a moment from the other end, "Is it Cole?"

Hank gasps,
cries softly into his hand, afraid of waking up Cole -again- when he's already having such a rough night. "He's had /three/ TC's, at least 5 spasms an hour. Can't sleep. Used the midazolam. It's not enough for us to go to the hospital, he's doing okay - but-"

His sobs cause Hank
to hiccup again. "I'm scared - I'm not going to be able to stay up to watch him. I'm so close to just passing out, I-"

Hank is so tired. He wants sleep just so so bad, that he almost misses if Connor even replies, the silence goes on for so long.

But there's something present
and grounding in Connor's voice. "I'll be over in fifteen. Don't fall asleep before then."

Connor hangs up, and Hank is alone.

--

There's a knock at the door. Hank hurries to answer it, thanks his lucky stars that Sumo didn't get up and start barking. An excited dog is the
last thing he needs right now at 2 in the fuckin morning.

Cold night air blasts through the open door, revealing Connor.

Hank is about to pass out from exhaustion, but even with his last two brain cells he can't help but think how beautiful Connor looks, even now when Hank is
at his lowest.

He has his glasses on, is wearing a pair of casual blue jeans, and is snuggled deep into a thick dark gray coat and hoodie.

Both pause upon first seeing each other for the first time in -god- weeks? Has it been a month? Feels like years.

Hank wonders how much he
looks like shit compared to Connor, who always looks like he just walked off a model shoot, even at 2 in the morning.

"Hey," Hank breathes.

With his arms crossed over his chest for warmth, Connor gives a warm half-smile, and the hard amber in his eyes softens before Hank's very
eyes.

"Hi, Hank," the nurse says, soft. Shifts his weight again and seems to shiver. "Can I come in?"

Hank blinks hard, and steps aside.

Connor brushes past him, sheds his coat and greets Sumo with a single hand along his head. Hank closes the door to keep the cold air out,
looks at Connor in time to see the RN place his coat on the coatrack, where he's always put it.

"What happened to Kara?" Connor asks conversationally, a slight edge to his voice but lacking any real conviction.

The detective part of Hank's mind recognizes that Connor knew the
nurse that was assigned to replace him. "She doesn't work nights," Hank explains. "Has a family and everything she needs to be with."

Connor nods, and turns to look at Hank. There's a stiffness to his shoulders, and his voice crisps, "So what's going on with Cole?"
Hank recognizes Nurse Connor has stepped in. He fills in the details of Cole's episodes tonight, and follows Connor down the hall to where said patient is.

Connor interrupts him every once in a while, asking if there's been a recent change in any of his meds, if anything else
has been off with Cole. If he's been sick with a cold, eating less, eating more, ANYTHING that might clue in as to why Cole is having this sudden surge of bad seizures.

Hank answers as best he can, going on 0 hours of sleep tonight and absolutely exhausted from all the stress.
It doesn't help that being around Connor again after all this time apart makes him dizzy, like he's suddenly on a high mountaintop with little access to adequate oxygen. Just being in his presence is short of intoxicating, and it takes every bit of self control he has not to just
collapse with his head on Connor's lap and /sleep/.

"I'll stay up with him," Connor says, sitting in a rocking chair at the corner of Cole's room near the door where he has perfect immediate access to him if needed. "You go get some sleep, Hank."

Hank stands in the doorway,
stares down at the nurse, rubs his eyes. "There anything I can get you, y'know? Food, something to drink?"

Connor hesitates, then says, "Coffee? If you have any?" he gives a half-smile. And /god/ it's been so long since Hank has seen it; it makes him weak in the knees to see it
after all this time.

He nods, breaks his gaze away from Connor's. "I'll get that, then."

A softer smile, an affectionate gleam. "Thanks, Hank."

Hank nods, rubs his hands over his face, and staggers his way to the kitchen.

He makes the coffee in a daze, hoping he does it right
But of course if there's one thing he's learned about nurses in all this, it's that they'll take even the shittiest coffee if it means they get a boost of caffeine to get them through rough shifts.

"Here, Con" Hank mumbles, handing Connor his black coffee cup in the dark.
It may be his muddled brain, but he thinks that maybe for just a second, Connor's fingers linger for just a couple half-seconds longer than they need to as he takes the cup from Hank.

"Thanks, Hank," Connor murmurs, sips the coffee, and makes the most delightful humming sound.
"Made it okay?" Hank asks, voice low.

"It's perfect, Hank. Thank you." Connor takes another drink, shudders from the hot burst of caffeine. The RN gives Hank a teasing little smirk, and the lieutenant just about faints at the look. "Now go get some sleep."

Hank shakes his head.
"It's okay," he says. "I can stay up with you. We can talk - don't want you to - be alone, I don't want to be-"

Emotions running high, and already on his last legs, Hank isn't able to coherently form an accurate statement of what he's trying to say. He legs his head fall back in
his hand from exhaustion, and struggles to take in a deep breath.

He manages it, but he's pulled away from his fogged mind when a hand tentatively grabs his.

Hank wants to cry, but doesn't. He closes his hand around Connor's, giving it a thankful and reassuring squeeze.
"Go get some sleep, Hank," Connor murmurs. His smaller thumb runs along the back of Hank's hand. "I'll be here in the morning when you wake up. And I'll get you if something goes on with Cole, alright? We'll talk in the morning. I promise."

Connor making a promise is enough to
seal the deal for Hank. Nurses never make promises; there's too much unpredictability with life. Or at the very least /Connor/ doesn't make any, not ever.

So Hank trusts him, and squeezes Connor's hand, makes to pull it away.

But something stops him. Connor's hand tugs his
closer to where he sits on the sofa. Hank gazes down at him, perplexed, but it's like all the energy in Hank spikes back to life when he feels warm and tender lips press against his hand, and he thinks of a citizen paying homage to a king.

"Sleep good, Hank," Connor whispers
against his skin. Hank burns, feels a tug low in his gut that he should /definitely/ not be feeling in his current physical state of exhaustion.

He feels Connor's smile against the back of his palm, and the nurse can't seem to resist as he kisses Hank's knuckles one more time,
his touch lingering. "I'll see you in the morning," Connor vows.

Hank doesn't realize until Connor lets go of his hand that he had stopped breathing, and his brain /finally/ plays catch up to let him suck in a lungful of air.

From the cutting light from the hall, he can just
barely see the smirk along Connor's face as Hank bids him goodnight.

And the smirk flickers when Hank reaches over to tuck away the loose strand along Connor's forehead. "See you in the morning," he echoes.

Hank is asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow on the couch.
GOTTA GO TA SLEEP, KIDS

hope you enjoyed the update! we got our first kiss!! there's more to come, i promise you - just taking our time getting there 😋🥰

won't have a late night update tomorrow - got a shift that goes to 2 am, but i might update during the day

happy reading!!
*staggers in* whaddup i took a half hour nap in prep for my late shift tonight - this is all i'm gonna feed ya for today before i have to go to work

but aahhh feels good to write with our boys together again ☺️ - that dry spell where they were apart was the roughest
--
Hank wakes up when daylight streams in through his front window into the living room. He blinks his eyes open wearily, and checks the time on his watch.

7:15. He groans, mumbling, and rubs a hand over his face in the hopes it'll help wake him up a little. Not bad for one of
Cole's rougher nights.

The memories of it come waning back to him. Cole's seizures, calling Connor in-

Connor-!

Hank moves quick, sitting up in the couch, his legs tangled by a blanket that he knows wasn't there when he collapsed on the couch last night.

Hank touches the
fabric, and has a pretty good idea who put the blanket here for him to keep him warm while he slept.

Moving more carefully now, Hank puts the blanket aside and makes his way quickly -but quietly- to Cole's room down the hall. He slows his steps, stopping in the doorway so he can
peer in.

Connor still sits on the sofa, as attentive now as he was at 2am. His coffee mug is on the nightstand, empty, and Sumo sleeps at his feet.

The nurse has his clipboard in his lap where he's writing some more notes on Cole's night, but he looks up at the sound of Hank.
"Good morning, Lieutenant," he says, and Hank would feel fear clench his chest at the use of his title if it weren't for the obvious warmth in Connor's voice. The nurse reaches up to rub at his eyes, and he stretches, allowing himself to release a massive yawn. "Did you sleep ok?
"Fine, fine," Hank dismisses, staring openly at Connor, like he still can't believe he's here. He releases a shuddering breath, and says it before he can stop himself. "I just - can't believe you're here, now. After all this time."

Connor tilts his head back, his smile soft.
"Do you - do you think you should leave?" Hank asks, fretful, suddenly worried that Connor will get in trouble if someone were to learn that he's here.

"It was an emergency," Connor says offhandedly. "If anyone tries to say that I shouldn't be here, I'll fight them."

Hank sighs
softly, lets his hand move on its own accord so he can brush his fingers along that stray strand of hair over Connor's forehead. The movement causes Connor's eyes to slip closed, and Hank lets his hand slow to a stop so the tips of his fingers are at Connor's chin.
He tilts Connor's chin slightly up, and the man's eyes open, the warmth there exposed and vulnerable. "I missed you," Hank rumbles.

Connor's sigh is soft and gentle. A subtle lift of his shoulders and the closing of his eyes before he opens them again and gazes up at Hank.
"I missed you too," he admits, voice small. His eyes glance toward the bed where Cole is. "/Both/ of you," he says.

Hank huffs a breath, smiling, and lets his thumb go up to wipe at the corner of Connor's mouth, feeling the softness of his lips. "I think Cole missed you the most
Connor huffs out a quiet breath of laughter from his nose, and a teasing smirk goes up his mouth. "And you, Lieutenant?"

"Missed you a damn lot, too."

Connor hums, then goes to grab Hank's hand, curling his fingers so Hank's palm rests against his face so he can turn his head
and kiss the center of Hank's palm.

Hank's breath catches. "Can I getcha more coffee?" he asks.

Connor looks at him, smiles against the rough skin of Hank's hand. "I'd like that."

Hank swallows. "Want to join me? Cole should be fine."

It doesn't take much convincing on Hank's
part. Connor smiles and nods, and goes to stand, but he doesn't let go of Hank's hand as they go down the hall to the kitchen, leaving Sumo with guard duty.

Over coffee in the warmth of the morning sun, Connor tells Hank what happened.

Talks about how the afternoon before they
were going to go on their date, that Amanda had called him in to the office, told him she knew about Connor's romantic pursuit of Hank. Said that she would have to suspend Connor for a week without pay, and then would switch him over to other clients, that if he went to Hank, she
would have no choice but to fire him.

"It was Susan," Hank chokes. His arm stretched across the table holds Connor's, and he runs his thumb over the nurse's tenderly. "She went to Amanda and got her to switch you with Kara. I didn't even know until about a week ago." Hank's brow
twitches. "Should have called you earlier. Just absolutely fuck the rules."

"We can't change that now," Connor murmurs, squeezes Hank's hand. "And I don' know about you, but I have no intention of letting you go, again." A smirk Hank can only describe as absolutely /devilish/
turns up along Connor's face. "And you still have to make good on the promise you made to me."

Hank is absolutely wrecked at the gentleness of this nurse, his kindness and warmth. Hank finds himself choking back tears as he squeezes Connor's hand in turn to say, "I'm not goin'
anywhere."

"Good," Connor says. "You've got one heck of a date to make up for, though."

Hank chuckles, and takes his turn to smile near /sinfully/ at the nurse from across the table. "Baby," he rumbles, and delights in Connor's immediate blush, "I am going to rock your world."
--
Hello TJ peeps! We're gettin pretty close to the end of this AU for now. Might get inspired every now and then to add on in the future, but for now we're getting close to wrapping up what I had in mind for this Plot. Will let you know when we're at the end :)
Connor and Hank spent the rest of that morning curled up together on the couch after a hearty breakfast made by the Lieutenant. They sat their with the intention of watching the morning news, but Hank knew it was just a ruse so he could get the cute nurse to sidle up against him.
Which is, of course, exactly what Connor did, drawn by the warmth, comfort, and security Hank's body offered. As soon as Hank sat himself on the couch, he threw his arm over the back. Body language alone an invitation to Connor, the RN didn't hesitate to nestle in to Hank's side.
With Connor drawing his legs up so his sock-covered feet rested on the coffee table and wiggling as close to Hank as he could while the Lieutenant's arm came to rest behind Connor's neck and his hand settle on the nurse's shoulder. Hank releases a content sigh in tandem with
Connor, feeling the very definition of content.

As he's positioned, Connor rests his head against Hank's chest, and he even adjusts his hips so he can drape them over Hank's legs.

Hank chuckles, looking at the nurse as well as he can with Connor's soft brown curls brushing his
jaw. "You comfortable there?"

Connor makes some kind of sound that's a mix between a hum and a sigh. "You're so /soft/," he mumbles, copper eyes already beginning to drift closed. Sometimes coffee won't even cut it when sleep is calling, especially after a night shift.
Hank is aware of his heart beating harder as Connor nuzzles his face into Hank's chest, lips brushing his (regretfully) shirt-covered pectoral. The young man even teases a soft kiss as he presses a kiss to Hank's chest. "And /warm/" he whispers before shifting so he can press his
cheek to Hank's chest. "And the sound of your heartbeat - so steady, strong. No audible detection of an arrhythmia, or a murmur. At least from what I can tell."

"Jesus," Hank breathes, face aflame.

But Connor doesn't stop talking (not that Hank wants him to), and the RN shifts
himself so more of his upper body is draped along Hank's, granting him easier access to Hank's torso. He leans down to kiss a spot just to the upper right of Hank's sternum below his clavicle. "Aortic," he says, voice low. Hank's breath catches. Connor doesn't address it, just
glides to the same spot parallel on Hank's left. "Pulmonic," he murmurs, voice reverent.

Connor keeps himself braced above Hank with his right arm, while his left hand is free to rest low at Hank's abdomen, gently caressing his stomach. Hank feels somewhat lightheaded.
Connor's mouth drifts lower, about a hand's distance from whatever the fuck 'pulmonic' is supposed to mean. All Hank knows is that he doesn't want him to stop.

"Tricuspid," the nurse says, places another kiss, and one of Hank's bulky hands goes to twist and curl in Connor's hair
"What are-" Hank gasps, brain fuzzy, and he tugs and twines his fingers through Connor's curls. "What are you - what- is-"

Connor doesn't look up, but Hank feels the nurse's smile against his shirt. "I'm educating you, Hank. It's important at your age for a man of your
demographic to be aware of how to keep a healthy heart."

"Oh fuck," Hank whispers, eyes hooded, "So those are, what, the heart chambers or something?"

Connor chuckles, looks up at Hank with mirth, "No, Hank," he says, like the Lieutenant is an idiot, but he knows its with
warmth as he says, "Heart valves, actually. There's four of them."

Hank is quick on the uptake, counting in his head. "You've only done three," he says.

Connor smiles softly. "Very good, Hank. The last one-" and Connor lowers himself back to Hank's chest, where his lips linger
below Hank's left nipple, lips slightly off to the right. "Oh Christ," Hank whimpers, nerves suddenly aching with anticipation he hadn't been aware was building.

"The mitral valve," Connor murmurs, and places his lips to Hank's body in an open kiss.

"God-" Hank finds himself
whimpering, hand clenching along Connor's head. "Please-fuck-" And he tugs slightly at the nurse's head, who cocks his head at Hank, something teasing in his eyes, pleased by the desperation in Hank's tone.

Connor gets the idea, because of course he does, and lets his lips slide
closing that inch of distance so his lips can stop right at where Hank's nipple is. He's merciful, doesn't make Hank wait as he encloses his mouth over it in a wide, open-mouthed kiss. He tongues at Hank's shirt, feeling the pebbled texture through the cloth, even sucks at it,
sending a tremor of pleasure through Hank. The Lieutenant claps a hand hard over his mouth in an attempt to muffle out his moan of pleasure, still aware of where they are.

"Christ, kid," he whimpers to Connor, who smiles, tilts his head away from Hank with a cheeky grin.
"You're a damn menace," Hank rumbles, breathless as he brushes at the loose strand over Connor's forehead.

"I always aim to please," Connor hums, grinning.

"Yeah you do," Hank says, and his hand tugs lightly at the strands near the base of Connor's neck. "You always get this
horny after working a night shift?"

Connor sticks out the tip of his tongue, just a slip of pink along his flushed lips. "Only if it means curling up with you after."

Hank laughs, lets his head rest back as he runs a hand through his own silver locks. "I think you should work
night shifts here more often."

The nurse giggles, and lets his head fall forward so he can bump it against Hank's sternum, his body wiggling close again. "I agree," he says.

Hank lets his arms go back to embracing Connor, who's entire body seems to relax when he feels Hank's
heavy limbs settle and bar him against Hank's broad chest. The nurse sighs again, and Hank knows that at least for now, their little sexy interlude is over for now. Can only put so much energy in for making out when you're bone tired.

"Get some sleep, baby," Hank murmurs.
Con hums against the older man, comfortably nestled in Hank's lap and embrace. "Okay," he gives in. He presses his head a little bit harder to Hank's sternum. "But I rocked your world too, didn't I?" he asks, still smug.

Hank chuckles, positions himself so he's lounging lower
on the couch. "Course you did, honey," he says, and places a sweet kiss to the crown of Connor's head. "Now get some shut eye."

Connor releases another deep and contented sigh, and Hank knows he's on the brink of sleep. "Okay, Lieutenant."

Even at the title, Hank's chest warms.
Connor sleeps like that in Hank's arms for the next couple of hours while Hank clicks through the TV watching whatever crap he can find on a Saturday morning.

Eventually, Cole wakes up, staggers out a little bit before 10, blinking and weary-eyed from his ordeal of a night.
"Morning there, lovebug," Hank greets softly, voice warm and affectionate, his hands rising and falling with Connor's breathing. Hank considers stirring the nurse, separating them in front of Cole, but tosses the idea pretty quick, unable to bear the idea of waking him up when
he's so tired.

Not to mention Hank is far too comfortable holding him, but, that's totally unrelated, so-

"You doing okay?" Hank asks, not addressing the fact he's holding his son's nurse in his lap like this is a normal occurrence for them. "You had a rough night last night."
"Yeah, I'm okay. Don't remember much of it." Cole has stopped at the opposite end of the couch where Hank is, staring at Connor like he's trying to put a difficult puzzle together. "Is that-" he blinks. "Is that Connor?"

"Shh," Hank says, runs his hand along the back of Connor's
head. The movement causes the nurse to stir, and he murmurs incoherently, nuzzling deeper into Hank's embrace. "He's sleeping. Came in to watch you last night so I could get some rest."

Cole hesitates, shifts a little where he stands, eyeing Connor carefully, like he's afraid
any sudden moves might startle the nurse out of existence. "I thought I was dreaming last night when I saw him," he says. "Is he.." the boy starts, makes a face like a grimace, and presses, "Is he going to stay?"

Hank's expression softens. "Yeah, bug, he's going to stay."
Cole's expression positively /lights up/, relief so evident in his features as he immediately launches himself towards the empty spot next to Connor, curling against his nurse's side.

"Careful, Cole!" Hank admonishes softly, worrying over Connor as the nurse shifts, releasing a
subconscious puff of air when the 8 year old barreled into him. It's enough to stir Connor so he blinks open his amber eyes, and he adjusts himself so he's less curled up on Hank and instead presses along his side. But he keeps a hand resting along Hank's leg at his inner thigh.
"Cole?" he mumbles, positively sleep-addled as his patient wriggles himself under Connor's right arm, knees drawn up as he snuggles close, much like how Connor was with Hank earlier. "You doin' okay?" the nurse asks, playing softly with Cole's messy bedhead.

"You're /here/" is
all Cole says, small voice choked up with emotion.

"Yeah, buddy," Connor murmurs, already back on the brink of sleep as he tilts his head, using Hank's arm as a pillow. The Lieutenant watches affectionately as the nurse keeps one arm held over Cole's shoulder, keeping him close.
"I'm here." And within moments, Connor's breathing deepens as he falls back into sleep.

"Can we watch cartoons, dad?" Cole asks.

"Sure, kiddo," Hank answers, reaching as best he can to give Cole the remote. "Knock yourself out."

His son flips through the TV stations, and Hank
pauses to take in the moment.

Cole, happy and alive and whole, curled up next to a sleeping Connor and watching TV. Connor resting in Hank's arms with his hand on Hank's leg. Nearby in the kitchen, Hank can hear Sumo shuffle towards his food dish, urged awake by Cole.
There's still things that have to be figured out, battles to fight and wars to win, but here in this moment, surrounded by his family, Hank is so damn happy.

He tilts his head to nose the side of Connor's head, lips brushing along the nurse's ear.

"I love you," he whispers
before he can stop himself.

Connor doesn't stir -Hank didn't expect him to- but it's cathartic to say, nonetheless, so he presses a tender kiss to Connor's temple, warm. And he finds he has to say it again, heart aching with affection.

"I love you."

--
More to come tomorrow, loves! Thank you all for your continued support of this thread - glad I could give you guys some entertainment and quench some of that hankcon thirst. i had a fun time reviewing heart valves :P (I didn't even plan for that scene it just happened lol)
-- G'morning, babes! Let's get some writing in before work today, shall we???-- 🥰 Hope everyone is having a peaceful sunday!

--

The weekend passes by far too quick for Hank's liking. Connor does have the weekend off, so he ends up spending most of his time at the Anderson home
It's perfect with him here, like he was never gone, but it feels so good to catch up after all this time they had apart. And nothing could be better to Hank than watching Cole happy and smiling again, playing with Connor and doing little things Hank didn't know he'd be able to
see ever again.

They make sugar cookies on Sunday night, the last night they have together before Connor has to leave to return to his work week.

"Gonna miss having you around here," Hank says softly as he helps make the different colored frostings in smaller bowls. Shamrock
green, festive red, and winter blue.

Connor laughs, and gives Hank a teasing look from the corner of his eye. "I'm not leaving for/ever/, Hank. Just during the day for work. I was actually hoping-" and he cuts off, uncertain. Hank waits for him, looks to the nurse expectantly,
and Connor glances away, blushing, "I was actually hoping you might be okay if I.. spend a few of my evenings here, after work. If that works okay with you and Cole, of course, I don't want to presume-"

Hank decides it's in his and Connor's best interest if they cut that line of
thinking off right now, so he leans forward to press a sugary kiss to the corner of Connor's mouth, the touch soft, chaste, and over before Connor has time to overthink it.

It's effective, though, because the kiss renders Connor absolutely speechless, his face aflame with red.
He gawks at Hank, mouth gaping like a fish, which only causes Hank to smile a bit more broadly. "You're always welcome in our home, Connor. You know that."

Connor blinks a few times, looking like a robot that's having trouble processing something, but he finally adjusts, tilts
his head to one side and gives Hank a coy smirk. "I think you should remind me again."

"Cheeky bastard," Hank mutters, but leans in happily, more than willing to place another kiss right at the other corner of Connor's mouth. "That good enough for you?" he asks lightly, breath a
whisper against Connor's mouth. But Hank finds his own thoughts cut off when Connor turns his head very slightly, the angle allowing him to steal a real kiss from Hank, their lips finally claiming each other's.

Hank makes a soft grunt of surprise, but hums into it, eyes slipping
closed as he brings a hand to cup the side of Connor's face, the man's cheek fitting perfectly into his palm.

"Brat," Hank mutters when they finally part a handful of moments later. Both of their faces are as red as the frosting Hank was working on, but there's a content warmth
shared between the two of them.

Connor smiles teasingly, leans in to rest his head in the crook of Hank's neck. The younger man smells like nutmeg and spice with an underlying scent of coffee. Hank feels his lips smile against his skin, then hears Connor's words murmured in his
ear. "That was our first kiss," he says, soft.

Hank starts a little at that, and can't help but think of the morning before. His face heats up a bit, "Uhm, but what about - the couch-?"

"I mean our first /real/ kiss, Hank. God," Connor chides, a hint of breathless laughter in
his voice, and keeps his head tucked into Hank's neck.

Hank can't help but feel a burst of uncertainty, and he grips Connor at the hip in a slight squeeze. "Was it, uhm, was it good enough for you?"

Connor gently presses his mouth to Hank's neck, right at his pulse where he can
feel the thrum against his lips. "It was perfect, Hank. Don't ever doubt yourself with me."

Hank warms at the praise, tilts his head so he can place a kiss on Connor's cheek. "Don't know what I ever did to deserve you," he chokes, holds Connor closer at his hips.

"You didn't
have to do /anything/, Hank. You deserve happiness."

God Connor's perfect.

They're interrupted by the timer of the stove going off, and Connor regretfully parts from Hank to pull the cookies from the oven. Hank's hands slide and tug lightly at Connor's hips, like he doesn't
want to let him go.

Connor laughs as he does, the warmth of the stove heating the kitchen more as he opens the door, sliding the oven tray over and placing it on the stove.

"Looks good," Hank hums, the sweet aroma flooding them, and he can't help but sidle over so he can press
his chest to Connor's back, his arms going to wrap around Connor's middle. Hank interlocks his hands, pulling the nurse close so they're pressed together, causing Connor to laugh softly. "You're insatiable," the nurse says, and Hank teasingly kisses Connor's neck, hoping to
distract him as he slides one hand to the hot cookie sheet, hoping to sneakily grab one.

"Hey!" Connor admonishes when he catches on to what Hank's doing, smacking his hand, but not quick enough as Hank stuffs the cookie in his mouth. "Save some for the rest of us."

"Mm," Hank
mumbles over the sweet cookie, soft and warm and just a bit hot. "Real good," he says, licking some of the sugar off his fingers.

"Don't eat them all- Hank!" Connor scolds, but it's warm and light as Hank snags another one, but this time he holds it up to Connor's lips.
The suggestion goes unspoken, and Connor opens his mouth obediently, allowing Hank to slip the cookie in.

Connor's quick though, quicker than Hank gives him credit for, and as his lips close over the cookie, he manages to fix them over Hank's fingertips as well. He shifts the
cookie to the other side of his mouth, leaving enough room for him to hollow his cheeks and suck on them so that Hank feels Connor's tongue along the underside of his fingers.

"/Jesu/- Connor, /fuck/," Hanks groans, withdrawing his fingers while Connor just grins in that
devilish way of his that drives Hank crazy.

"You asked for it," Connor says, and Hank just groans, pulling him in for another tight squeeze.

"Don't know how I'm gonna last the whole week without you."

"/Hank/," Connor laughs. "I'll be here in the evenings. You have work too,
y'know."

"Mneh," Hank rumbles. "Still feels like forever."

Connor sighs, and Hank revels in the feel of Connor's abdomen expanding and lowering with his breath. "You'll be okay, Hank."

Hank takes his turn to sigh, and he squeezes Connor again to feel the younger man's frame
against him. "Let me take you out this week, have our proper date like we intended to."

Connor huffs out a laugh. "A real one, this time?"

"Yeah, baby," Hank murmurs, and presses his nose into Connor's. "Gonna show you such a good time, do it the way I wanted to."

"I'd like
that," Connor returns, and Hank doesn't need to look at him to know he's smiling.

The two revel in their soft moment together, but then Connor shifts beneath Hank's grasp, and he lets him go. "Come on," Connor says, pressing a kiss to Hank's whiskery face. "Let's call Cole in
and get these cookies frosted."

--
The weekdays begin. Cole goes to school with Kara, and Hank and Connor go to work. Then in the evenings, when Hank and Connor are at home, Connor returns sometime around 5.

Those evenings together are some of the best Hank has ever had, making dinner and spending time with his
boys.

Of course, when Cole goes to bed, it leaves time for Hank and Connor to spend some extra time together.

This usually consists of them just lying together on the couch, talking quietly with Connor draped over Hank while he plays with Connor's hair. Just enjoying each
other's company. But sometimes talking leads to kisses, which turns into making out on the couch as quietly as possible. Hands tangled in long silver hair, gasping breaths and hushed murmurs of affection to one another.

They never go further than a stray hand or two beneath the
the other's shirt. They're afraid of Cole walking in on them, and at some point one of them will draw away, both aching with want, but held by strands of self-control.

"I want to wait," Connor says one night, straddled over Hank's thighs, feeling the mutual arousal between them.
"As long as you need, baby," Hank reassures, combing his hand through Connor's tussled hair. "You won't get any pressure for me."

Connor gives him an aching but loving look as he rocks his hips against Hanks, causing the other man to gasp and let out a subdued groan. Hank flies
his hands to Connor's hips to hold him in place, and Connor laughs. "Just until Friday," he says a little breathlessly, blushing. "I - I want it to be special."

"Being with you doing anything is special, Con." Hank trails his fingers down along Connor's jaw, smiling softly at
pleasurable shudder it elicits from the nurse. "But if that's what you want to do, baby, that's what we'll do."

Connor looks a little nervous, and bites the corner of his lips. "You don't mind?"

Hank's other hand goes down to Connor's hip where he can slip his thumb beneath his
shirt and draw circles at the skin there. "Honey," he affectionately chides, "I waited 53 years for you." He shifts his hips to adjust Connor's weight, a bit intentional in the movement so he can press his hips teasingly against Connor's, causing the man to groan through clenched
teeth. "I can wait the rest of the week."

Connor releases a shaking breath, but winds himself forward so his whole torso is pressed to Hank and his mouth is at Hank's. With a slight tilt of the nurse's head, Hank gets the picture, and closes the distance so he can claim Connor
with a kiss.

It's sweet and loving, everything Connor is, and he parts enough so his lips brush against Hank's as he says, "Thank you."

Hank sighs into him, lifts Connor's chin up with a crooked finger so he can steal another kiss. "Anything for you, sweetheart."

Connor melts.
--heads up guys i have NO IDEA how family court stuff works but i know it takes WAY MORE time and processes than this. but we're in Hankcon Land and I want things to Move Faster for ... . Reasons . . .. . sooooo that's just how it's gonna go this round kay thanks--
Hank finds himself in the courthouse that Wednesday afternoon, standing in front of the same judge who granted him and Susan joint custody of Cole all those years ago from the divorce.

"So, Mr. Anderson," the judge says, crossing his hands in front of himself. "You're applying
for full custody of your son, Cole Anderson." He looks at the papers in front of him over thin rectangular lens. "Is Cole here with us today?"

"No, Your Honor," Hank says, standing with his hands clasped in front of him. He has his best suit on, and his palms are sweaty. "Cole
is at school."

The Judge chuckles, "Very good. How is he doing?"

Hank recognizes the question, something people ask when they know your child has Something Medical going on. The Lieutenant gives a half-smile. "He's doing well, Your Honor. He has a nurse that goes to school with
school with him now. Real peace of mind for me."

"I bet, that's pretty convenient to have access to," the judge says pleasantly, then looks back to his papers. "It seems from your inspection of the home everything went fine. We have the records here from Stern Home and Health
tracking his progress, as well as his school records of attendance and grades. Not ideal attendance, but that can be overlooked due to Cole's health issues he has going on, and it even seems like his grades have gone up." The judge smiles approvingly Hank's way, & the Lieutenant
feels the need to add.

"I can't take full credit for that - our nurse really helped with Cole to get that science grade up."

Across the aisle where Susan stands, she remains silent, stoic. When Hank glances her way, she doesn't even bother to look at him.

The judge chuckles.
"Gotta take advantage of whatever help you can get. Now it seems, Lieutenant Anderson, that you have a perfectly suitable home with a reliable income and support that would provide for Cole as well as his more particular needs related to his diagnosis. Only thing now is what Ms.
Benton has pleaded for. Ms. Benton?"

The Judge turns Susan's way, who stands crisply in a pressed suit and skirt, colored a deep maroon. Her lawyer, a thin, dark-skinned man Hank knows Markus is friends with, clears his throat, and speaks on her behalf. "Ms. Benton has chosen to
accept Lieutenant Anderson's request for full custody of their child, Cole Anderson."

The courthouse floor opens up and swallows Hank whole. Or perhaps the ground flips him upside down. Either way a swoop of breath escapes Hank, and he almost loses his balance as the reality of
what was just said sinks in.

He turns disbelieving, yet ultimately grateful eyes Susan's way, horribly confused. This time she does turn, something thoughtful and subdued in her green eyes. Hank stares at her oddly, questioning, but lets himself focus on what the judge is saying
"Well, that was the easiest case I've had all day. It is then my honor and privilege to grant full custody rights of Cole Nathaniel Lucas Anderson to his father, Lieutenant Henry James Anderson."

And just like that. Cole is his.

Hank gasps softly as the reality of it all sinks
in. He turns to Markus, who grins and clasps his hand, uttering a warm 'congratulations' into his ear. But it seems far away from where Hank is, like he's listening to him talk through water, and he turns to look at where Susan is.

It doesn't look like she's going to approach
him, so Hank stumbles forward, needing to get the words out. "Susan-" he says, drawing her attention. She turns, something cold and reserved in her eyes, but it immediately softens when she looks at Hank, and all he can find in himself to say is a shaking and exhaled, "Thank you.
"You're welcome," she replies, quiet.

"Do you mind if I- I mean I'm just wondering-"

"What changed my mind?" she guesses for him.

Hank doesn't say anything, but his silence is enough as she shrugs tightly, averts her eyes to her feet as she mutters. "It was that damn nurse."
Hank blinks, "Who? Connor? What about him?"

Susan sighs. "I was at the pharmacy right before closing, you know, the one on Main Street? I was getting some pills for my migraines."

Hank doesn't know how this connects, but nods along anyway.

"It was weird I was at there at that
time, anyway. You know how I usually get my meds right after work, but anyway-" she shook herself, the story getting slightly off the rails. "No one was there when I went in. Well, I knew someone was there, behind the counter, because I could hear people. And, well-" She bites
her lip, lowers her voice, "I could hear crying."

Hank isn't sure he's crazy about where this is going.

Susan, unaware of Hank's building uncertainty, goes on, "I wasn't really sure what to do, so I just waited, and when I listened, I realized I recognized Connor's voice. But
he was the one comforting whoever was crying?"

In a very un-Susan like movement, she twists her hands together. "He sounded different, though. More, controlled, maybe? But like he didn't have any emotion. It was weird. But he was telling whoever was crying that it was going to
be okay. That things would get worked out, but-"

It comes on Hank suddenly, in a rush of memory accompanied by the smell of popcorn and the feeling of a pinkie intertwined with his own in a dark theater.

"Connor has a twin brother," he says.

Susan nods, and looks ashamed. "I
kinda figured. His brother was calling him by his name, and I just remember being pissed off and wanting my meds, but then I heard Connor - the - he said-" She bites her lip, inhales deep, and lets it out.

"He said 'I'm scared that I can't be there for Cole'."

Hank swallows,
opens and closes his hands at his sides, and aches with a familiar blooming affection for the nurse he loves so deeply, who cares in turn just as much for his son.

Susan shrugs a little with one shoulder. "I- I didn't realize he - that he cared that much for Cole. That he didn't
just see it as a job." She scratches at the back of one hand. "And it kind of clicked with everything you had said that day, too. I realized you were right about him, and I just felt.. so /damn/ guilty over what I did, what I - what I said."

"Connor's the real deal," Hank chokes
out. "He really does love Cole, you know. Would give anything for that kid."

"I believe you, now," she says, and crosses her arms a bit defensively, but keeps her eyes low as she shifts back and forth. Susan seems to consider something, and Hank wonders if she's going to say
whatever was on her mind. But Susan was never one to be quiet about what she wanted (one thing he had once loved her for), and asks with an edge of hesitation in her voice, "Was it- were you.. serious? When you said it'd still be okay if I saw Cole every once in a while?"
Hank imagines that the him from a year ago would tell her to go to hell, that there's no chance she'll ever get near his son again.

But Hank from a year ago didn't have Connor, didn't have the nurse's gentle comfort, or reassuring forgiveness, or unfathomable love. And he finds,
now, that it's easy to give his ex-wife a soft and gentle smile, one he knows he's seen on Connor many times before. "Absolutely, Susan. And if you're able to meet him on his level, I'm sure Cole would like that, too."

"Thank you," she says, soft. "I don't- I know I don't
deserve it. But I appreciate it."

Hank nods, and feels like the conversation is coming to a close. He shifts where he stands, and looks back up when Susan asks, "Did you - did you by any chance happen to get back in touch with Connor? I'm not trying to-" she looks unsure for a
moment, then plows on, "I just want to make sure you guys reconnected. He um- yeah."

Hank decides it can't harm for her to know now, so he nods, careful, "Yeah, he uh, we just got back in touch last week."

Evident relief passes over Susan's face, and she sighs. "Good. I'm glad.
He um- You should know, one thing he said that night I overheard him."

Pensive, Hank waits for her to continue. "What did he-" Hank clears his throat. "What about it?"

Something warm passes over Susan's face. "He kept saying 'I love him." She looks at Hank with an off-handed
smile. "And I know he wasn't talking about Cole."

Hank sucks his lips in, face starting to warm, his heart pounding. "..Oh," he says, taking this in and fighting the dopey grin trying to make its way up his face. "He -he said that?"

"Yeah, so, I'm glad you two found each other
again."

Hank breathes, sighs out, and nods, "Yeah, me too. He's a great guy."

"Yeah, you two seem to do well together."

"Yeah, we do."

Quiet befalls them again, and Hank knows this time that their conversation really is ending, because Hank makes a slight step back. "I better
be on my way, then. Gotta pick up Cole from school."

"Alright. Well, tell him I love him for me?"

"Will do."

Susan clears her throat. "And -uh- Hank?"

He looks up at her, and for the first time in a long while, sees genuine sincerity in the depths of her lovely forest-green
eyes. "I hope the best for you and Connor. Truly. I'm not sure if I'll ever see him again -but, uh, if you can? Tell him I'm sorry."

Hank offers the flicker of a smile, and nods. "Yeah, I will. And Susan?" She blinks, matches his gaze. "I- uh. Want you to know. I forgive you.
For all of this." He gestures with one hand. "You're doing the right thing here for Cole, and I can't put into words how much that means to me."

Her eyes honest-to-God flicker with tears, and she nods, biting the bottom of her lip. "Thank you, Hank. That means a lot to me."
At the end of the day, Hank isn't exactly sure how it happened. But it somehow managed to end with pretty-alright terms with his ex-wife.

And now? Hank just can't wait to get home to his family.

--

"Honey?? I'm ho-ome~!" Connor calls playfully as he steps through the doors
"Welcome home!" Hank calls, grinning at the sight of his love. Connor places his nursing bag to the side and shrugs off his coat.

"CONNOR!" Cole cries, making a beeline for the nurse as he collides with him. Connor lets out an 'oof!' of air, laughing as he goes to wrap the boy
in a hug.

"Hey buddy!" he says with the biggest smile.

"Geez, /I/ don't even get welcomed home that happily," Hank teases his son with a grin where he stands in the kitchen.

"You're not /Connor/" Cole says, this explanation seemingly enough as he tugs the nurse further into
house. "You need to see the diorama I'm making for school! It has dinosaurs in it so I'm going to make a volcano!"

Connor's voice is warm, "You bet, kiddo. Just let me say hi to your dad first."

Hank isn't turned towards Connor, but he feels his face warm as he bites his lip to
hold back his grin.

Cole voices his complaint, "You said hi to him when you came /in/ though!" Though there's no real bite to his words.

Connor laughs. "Just a second, Cole. How about you go get it ready for me to see, and I'll come after I finish talking with your father?"
The boy groans, lets go of Connor's hand to go down the hall. "Fi-ine. But you better run quick when I call!"

"You got it."

Hank turns in time to see his son run down the hall with Sumo drawn after him from the excitement in the house. Connor still has his back turned to Hank,
watching Cole go down to his room. "Seems like /he/ had a good day," Connor says with a grin, and begins to make the half-turn towards Hank, smiling. "What about you, Ha-"

It's when Connor is turning when Hank makes his move, and he swoops in to wrap the nurse up in his arms,
hand going to the side of Connor's face so he can guide their lips to each other in a burning and loving kiss.

Connor makes a surprised but pleased sound, melting into Hank's touch as he curls his arms around Hank's neck. The RN hums with pleasure, deepening the kiss and playing
with the hair at the back of Hank's neck. "Mm, welcome home to you too," Connor says breathlessly, voice on the edge of laughter. He doesn't get much chance to talk though, because Hank moves back in to kiss this beautiful, wonderful man. "What was that for?" Connor asks, smiling
"For giving me my son," Hank says in answer, pulling Connor in close at the hips. He leaves kisses at every inch of the nurse's mouth, then along his face, at his temple, down to his cheek and neck-

"For giving you your- what?" Connor echoes, blinking with confusion. "What do
you mean?"

"I had that hearing for custody of Cole with Susan today," Hank says, still kissing as much of Connor as he can.

"Oh! You didn't tell me," Connor says. There's no heat in his words. "Did it go okay?" He tilts his neck obligingly for more kisses, which Hank is quick
to attend to.

Hank smiles, moves his mouth to Connor's ear. "Full custody."

Connor gasps, tilts back to gape at Hank. "Seriously? Full custody? But-" He looks adorably confused. Hank's chest warms. "How?" is all he asks.

"Susan had a change of heart," Hank says with a shrug.
Connor makes an odd face. "That's the most un-Susan thing I've ever heard of."

Hank laughs, squeezes Connor. "Tell me about it."

"How did - what made her change her mind?"

At that question, Hank grins, lets his forehead fall forward to touch Connor's. "You did," he says.
-Aaannndd that's all for tonight, loves. I'll see you tomorrow :) i got work in the early morning and mango needs slep-

Thank you to all readers - both new and old; getting the notifs of your likes and comments truly sparks joy - wouldn't have the motivation without you all🧡🥭
"I did?" Connor echoes, his frown only deepening by the confusing statement. The nurse goes quiet, clearly trying to think of what he possibly could have done to elicit such a response from her.

He draws a blank, and Hank kisses him to bring him back. "She heard you - when you
were at the pharmacy with your brother."

"The pharmacy, with my bro- . .. ther." Connor holds the confusion, and Hank can pinpoint the exact moment clarity passes over him as his eyes widen and his brows arch high above his forehead. "Oh! Ohhh." Connor turns a delightful shade
of pink. "Oh /that/ night," he says.

Hank secures his hold of Connor. "She heard you saying how much you cared about Cole, how scared you were that you couldn't be there for him. She felt guilty."

Connor looks somewhat charmed by Hank's words. But the nurse's expression shifts
to embarrassment as Hank pulls Connor forward so he can whisper words into Connor's ears. "She heard you say something else, too."

Hank can /see/ the wheels in Connor's mind turning as he tries to piece together what Hank could possibly be talking about. He sees it dawn on him,
face paling before turning the most lovely shade of pink. "O-oh?" he says, vague, a question in his tone.

"Got something to say back to you," Hank murrs, feels the bit of fear rise up in his chest as he does. He attempts to swallow it down. He wonders if Con can hear his heart
start to beat faster.

"What - what is it?" The slight bump of Connor's adam's apple rises from swallowing. Hank thinks that if he were to feel for Connor's pulse, that his heart would be beating faster, too.

Hank's hands shake, but he steels himself and places a sure kiss to
the slight of Connor's neck. Forces himself to breathe. Touches his lips to the younger man's ear.

Reminds himself he can do this.

That it's worth it.

That it will /be okay./

"..Hank?" Connor trembles beneath Hank's hands, concerned by the prolonged quiet.

"I love you too."
He says it as surely as he possibly can, but his voice still shakes on the exhale, like it was something he had been holding in for ages. And perhaps he had - it /felt/ like ages.

Hank is so dizzy with anxiety he almost misses the uptake of Connor's gasp and the sensation of
slim and pale hands grabbing at the shirt of his back.

"Oh," Connor sighs out, weak, more emotion in that one 'oh' than Hank could ever describe. "Oh-oh, Hank-" He grasps at Hank's back, arms suddenly tightening so he can turn his face and kiss Hank's whiskery face with searing
kisses. "I love you!" he declares, immediately casting all darkness from Hank's heart.

Hank's breath catches, the declaration splitting him in two as tears spill at once down his face. He can't believe it, it doesn't seem real. How could he ever have the chance to love again,
especially from someone as amazing as Connor? It's unreal.

But he's laughing, his heart so, so light, and he doesn't fight Connor as the nurse pulls him forward for another kiss.

Connor's kisses are fervent, wanting and affirming. He says over and over again, "I love you, I
love you, I love you, oh god, Hank, I love you." As if saying it on repeat will make up for all the times they should have said it to each other.

Hank staggers at the confession, but he melts into the kiss with Connor held in his arms. "Making up for lost time?" he asks with a
slight chuckle.

"Absolutely," Connor says, not even joking as he kisses, nips, and lightly sucks along Hank's neck. He stops at what Hank thinks must be his pulse point, and very softly bites at the soft and pliant skin there.

Hank can't stop his eyelashes from fluttering, a
moan breaking from his lips. But he finds some kind of self-control, and his large hands land at Connor's hips so he can part them with a slight bit of distance. "Con-" he says, trying to get his lover's attention back. "We need to stop doing this. Gotta wait til Friday, right?"
Connor honest-to-God actually /whines/, throws his head back like a spoiled child that doesn't get what it wants. "Uuugghhhhh-" he groans. "I knoowww."

Hank laughs more openly, holds his palm to Connor's face. "You remember that /you're/ the one who wanted to wait for Friday,
right?"

"Ughh I /hate/ when past me screws me over," Connor grumbles, but there's a lightness accompanied by the wanting in his tone and voice, and Hank knows he's calmed the beast for now.

But there's nothing wrong with indulging every once in a while.

"Come here, you," he
grumbles. His hand closes around Connor's and tugs him forward to kiss him deeply one last time, only parting when one of them needs to come up for air.

"Can't wait for Friday," Connor hums, thoroughly content as he rests his forehead to Hank's, a slight smile lining his lips.
"Me, too, hun," Hank murmurs, kissing Connor's temple.

There's a slight brush of Connor's hair to Hank's face as he tilts his head, "Have we actually talked about what we want to /do/ on Friday? I mean-"

/BrrIINNG brraiinnng/

Hank and Connor part at the sound of the phone,
divided in that way only a ringing phone can, and Hank mutters, "That's me," he mumbles.

Connor says he'll go to catch up on Cole and his diorama, but Hank hardly hears, his mind and finger frozen over the phone where he can read the Caller ID.

Stern Home and Health.
Hank glances down the hall to where Connor disappeared, his finger lingering over the call.

He accepts it, holds his phone to his ear. "You've got Hank Anderson here."

"Lieutenant Anderson," comes a smooth voice; it sends a tremor along Hank's arms. Amanda. "I apologize for the
late night interruption. Is now a good time to talk?"

Hank can't help the stress that rises and crests in him. He pulls his hand down his face, "Yeah, yeah. That's- What can I do for you?"

"It's about Kara. And, well, it's about Connor."

His heart pounds. Fear clogs his throat
"What about 'em?"

A sigh from Amanda - she's not pleased about something. "Due to some. . . recent developments here at Stern Home and Health, we've chosen to reinstate Connor Arkait as your primary nurse for Cole, so he can work for you full time. He and Kara will switch
patient assignments."

At the end of the hall, Connor lingers, Cole draped over his shoulders as he looks questioningly at Hank. Concern draws his brow when he sees the mess of emotions Hank sends back.

Elation - confusion - wariness? What happened? What changed?

"What - how
did.../Why/?" After all that time stressing and worrying over Connor getting fired for working with him while they pursued a relationship - how could it just be /given/ to them like this? What-?

"I'm not at liberty to discuss the lengths to which this has become allowed," Amanda
responds curtly, though there's a lingering, dangerous undertone of her voice.

"Was it Susan?" Connor lifts his head, drawn to attention by the mention of Hank's ex. He tries to wave Connor's worry away with a hand. Susan is the only factor he can think of that might have this
effect. Perhaps as a way of wanting to pay Connor back?

"I told you, Lieutenant. I am not at liberty to discuss the circumstances of it with you." She huffs out a breath - an unusual display of emotion from someone like Amanda, and she continues. "I trust you'll make Connor
aware of this?"

Hank is still struggling to play catch-up with what he's hearing. "So wait," he says. "Connor isn't going to get fired if he's with me?"

Amanda does that huff again. "Quite the opposite, Lieutenant Anderson. If Connor is open to switching with Kara, he would
take over immediately. And considering he's worked for you in the past, there's no need for him to go through any kind of training again and you're free to set your schedule with him."

Disbelief is beginning to grow into joy, and Hank cups a hand over his mouth. "I just can't
believe it," he says.

Amanda plows on, clearly ready to be done with the conversation. "As long as your and Connor's relationship does not interfere with Cole's well-being in any way related to his diagnosis, we should have no issue."

Hank is quiet from the other end, fully
aware of Connor's gaze on him the entire time.

After a beat of silence, Amanda persists, "Will any of that be an issue for you, Lieutenant Anderson?"

"No," he gapes, words choking in his throat. "No, that's - that's more than suitable."

"I trust you'll inform Connor of the
news, then?"

She's presumptuous, but correct. Hank tries to hide any embarrassment from his tone, and levels his voice with a bit of professionalism. "Yes, I'll let him know."

"Very good." There's a pause of about 3 seconds between them, and Amanda leaves Hank with, "You two
enjoy your night, then." And hangs up before Hank can even begin to think of responding.

"Who was that?" Connor asks, shifting Cole and hiking him further up his back, the kid's arms locked around Connor's neck.

Hank lowers his phone, reeling from the call. He turns to look at
his two boys, and his heart aches with affection.

His family.

He doesn't answer Connor's question, and instead clears his throat to address Cole. "Hey, Cole."

The boy turns bright blue eyes to his dad, curious and uncharacteristically quiet in the face of the tension in the
room. He's hesitant to reply at first, "Yeah, dad?"

"How would you feel if Connor took over as your nurse again?" The nurse in question widens his eyes but doesn't say anything.

Cole's response is immediate, and a wide grin splits his face. "I'd love it!"

"Well, you're in luck
because Connor's office just called and said he can make the switch over. But only if he's interested, of course."

Connor's mouth drops, and he almost loses his grip on Cole from the shock. "Wh-What?" he asks, barely heard over Cole's excited cries of joy at the news. "Hank are
you serious?" Hope begins to cross over Connor's face, careful in its place there.

"Serious as a heart attack, Connor." Hank grins, love thrumming deep in him as he puts his phone away to approach Connor. "So, whadaya say? Willing to make the switch over, work for us full-time?"
"PLEASE, Connor? Please please please, PLEASE?!" Cole begs, grinning and pulling at Connor from behind where the kid hangs off like a monkey. "Pleeeaaassee?" he repeats again.

Connor laughs, and it's a shaky, wet thing, like hes on the verge of crying. "Well how can I say no to
that?"

Cole cheers in victory, but all Hank and Connor have is eyes for each other.

Hank knows they'll talk more about it later, try to brainstorm why Amanda would just give this gift to them.

But for now, they'll just enjoy the victory of their moment.

--
Gettin real close to The End, kids. Just a couple scenes left, last one in particular real juicy 💦will probs finish it this week. it's so hard to write during the work week, but aagghh we'll get there. for now i'm gonna sleep but will see ya tomorrow for our nightly update :)
i lied yesterday, i thought of a scene i wanted to do you're gonna have to put up with more nurse au hankcon filler angst/fluff before they get to bang, enjoy.

cw for character having an anxiety attack and talk of unwanted attention from Local Gross Gym Teacher Todd Williams
nobody gets hurt or attacked or violated or anything Todd is just a creep, as usual
--

It's Thursday.

Hank can't believe how slow the week is going. It's like one day just goes on and on like time is moving forward while he's kept in one place for hours on end. He wishes time
would move faster.

He spends the day at work as he usually does. Investigate a crime scene there, fill out paperwork here, and get jeered at by Reed during intervals in between.

All of it is business-as-usual, and he manages to keep his cool with thoughts of Connor.

It's his
and Cole's first day back together as a team, and it's like nothing changed, like there wasn't a whole month of Connor absent from their lives.

Connor sends pictures of them from school and texts Hank with constant updates on how the day is going and how Cole's seizures are
holding up.

Hank's heart warms from every picture to see his boys smiling and together again.

God, he'd do anything for them.

It's getting closer to 2, and it causes Hank's nerves to turn on edge. Because then that means there's only one hour left of school. And that means
there's only ONE HOUR LEFT before he can see Connor and Cole again.

He loves them so much it makes him want to cry sometimes.

God, if Reed ever heard him say something like that, he'd never let it down.

Hank is neck-high in paperwork when his phone rings. Still a bit keyed up,
Hank jumps in his seat, startled by the sound. He hears Gavin snicker from across the pen, but Hank ignores it as his brain finally catches on to the fact that /his phone is ringing during work./

This can only go one of two ways. It's either a scam call, or it's the school.
And if it's the school -

Cole.

Hank's heart pounding in his chest /hurts/, his fear only spikes when he sees the caller ID with Connor's warm and smiling face beaming at him.

Shit, fuck God it /has/ to be a Big One, maybe he had to call 911 god when did Con text him last-?!!?
"Connor!" Hank gasps, accepting the call, blood pounding in his ears. "What's wrong?!"

A sniffle.

A hitch in breath.

Crying. Oh god oh god-

"Hank," the voice cracks. Another sniffle, a choked voice, hurt. "Can you come pick me up?"

Wh-

"Connor?" Hank says. He hasn't even
realized he stood up when he accepted the call, and only does when he lowers himself back into his chair. A couple of people glance his way, curious but concerned. Everyone in the building knows about Cole.

Hank waves the onlookers off, and turns to speak into the phone. "What's
going on? Is it-"

"Cole's fine," Connor chokes. His voice breaks on another hitched sob. "Kara came to take over for me until school is over. Can you just - can you please-" He sobs again, but even to Hank's ears he can hear how it's muffled, like Connor has a hand pressed over
his mouth to stifle the sound. "Please just come get me."

Hank's already halfway out the precinct, jacket in arm and keys in his other hand, fumbling a little in his urgency. "Yeah - shit, okay. What's happened? You're still at the school, right?"

"I'm in Kara's car. In the
parking lot. I'll see you when you pull up." His voice has softened, lowered to a whimper.

A fear, different but no less powerful than the one he feels for Cole rattles around in Hank's heart. "Okay, I'm leaving work right now, baby. I'm coming, I'm coming Are you hurt? Are you-
fuck, Con, do you need an ambulance?"

There's a small sniffle. Hank hangs onto every sound as he clutches his cell tight.

"I need /you/, Hank," Connor whimpers. "I'm not hurt. Please, Hank. Honey, I- I'm sorry, I just-"

Hank's heart throbs, feels like someone just punched a
hole into his stomach. Honey. "Okay, okay. Just hang in there, sweetie, I'm on my way. I'm coming, okay? You're safe, though?"

"Ye-yeah."

"Alright just hang on, Con, I'm coming." Hank's started his car, has already pulled out of the driveway. His voice quakes.

"Can you stay
on the phone?" Connor asks from the other end, meek.

Hank nods, realizes Connor can't see him, and answers, "Yeah, of course, sweetie. I might not be able to really answer since I'm driving but I won't hang up."

Connor lets out a soft, "Okay," and goes back to his quiet.
Hank drives like a goddamn bat out of hell.

Doesn't bother to text Fowler he left work early today. Doesn't matter. All he can think of and fret over is Connor, waiting curled up in someone else's car, for some reason /terrified/ and incapacitated.

Hank doesn't want to press
for details. Likely won't do much good, anyway. And he doesn't want to risk causing Connor to freak out if Hank isn't right there with him.

"Can you keep talking, Hank?" Connor asks after a couple of minutes over the phone. "I just want to hear the sound of your voice."

"Yeah,
baby, sure. Anything. What do you want me to talk about?"

Connor huffs out a breath of air, like he was holding it in. "Anything, Hank."

So Hank talks.

Talks about his day, how much he loves getting the texts and updates from Connor about how he and Cole are doing. Talks about
how excited he is for Friday, how he can't wait to show Connor a good time.

"I just realized something," Hank says at one point.

Connor's voice has softened over the phone, steadied by Hank's voice. "What?" he asks, a hint of a laugh in his voice, hardly there. Hank's knot of
tension in his gut somewhat lessons.

"We haven't actually talked about where we want to go on Friday."

"Oh," Connor's voice chimes, pleasantly, finally distracted. "I, um, actually- There's an art exhibit Friday night. A friend of mine is displaying some of his work there. I
was thinking we could go to that? I just didn't know if it was something you'd be interested in or not."

Eh, it's not Hank's usual scene, but Hank could be cleaning toilets with Connor and it'd be the best thing ever if it meant spending more one on one time with him.

"Hey, I'm
up for trying new things, especially if it means I get to be with you," he reassures. Pauses for a moment, "And I'd like to meet your friend, too." That seemed like something important, right? Friends approving friend's significant others. And he wanted to meet the other people
that were important in Connor's life.

Hank can't see it but he hears the smile in Connor's voice. "Yeah, I'd like that. I think he would too." A hushed breath of laughter. "Especially since /you're/ the one that suggested it."

Hank's heart warms, and he makes a turn into the
neighborhood the school is hidden in. "Hey, Con?" he says. "I'm just turning the corner, baby. Just about there."

Connor's voice drops some of it's levity. "Okay."

The school comes into view, and Hank turns into the long parking lot. There's still some time before school gets
out for the day, so the line of cars filled with waiting parents hasn't formed yet.

"Let me know when to stop - can't tell what car you're in," Hank says.

"I see you. Here is good."

Hank hits the breaks, scanning the parked cars for Connor. He sees movement from the corner of
is eyes and averts his gaze as Connor steps from the passenger side of a red Subaru. Hank starts to get from the vehicle, but Connor is quick, hurrying over to the passenger side of Hank's care. He closes the door with shaking hands, and when he tries to buckle his seatbelt, he
falters due to the tremors in his hands.

Hank places his wide palm across Connor's shaking hands, stilling them. "Hey, hey, Con, baby. I've got it, okay? Let me do it."

He buckles Connor in for him, takes a moment to look Connor over. Nothing bleeding, nothing plainly broken,
just a litany of questions and concerns in his mind.

There's a kind of madness in Connor's eyes. A restless beast Hank recognizes only after years of being on the force and fighting with it himself. Something that can swallow anyone whole.

Anxiety attack.

And a fucking bad one
"Where to, baby?" he asks, patient. He knows Connor will tell him what's going on in his own time. Now, later, ten years from now - doesn't matter. What's important is making sure Connor knows that he's safe and that whatever set him off isn't going to hurt him.

"Home, please."
"Yeah, okay, what's your address?"

Connor's slouched down far in his chair, arms crossed over his chest unconsciously for a sense of security. He looks at Hank blankly, confused. Then he looks a tinge embarrassed, and it dawns on Hank what he really meant.

"Oh, /that/ home," he
says, forcing some of the casualness into his voice. Because now apparently /his/ home also means /Connor's/ home.

The thought, the idea of- and Connor's already just. . . /accepted/ the fact that being with Hank is home now, it just-

Oh god it makes Hank jittery with joy. He
wants so badly to laugh and cry and smile and pull Connor into a loving embrace. But he withholds himself, and steadies his breath. He doesn't know what Connor needs exactly for this. But even as he fights with his spinning emotions he can't stop the pleased grin trying to turn
up his lips.

"Is that okay?" Connor asks, hesitant from the other side of the car.

Hank's heart is about to burst, and he immediately reaches across the vehicle to latch his hand over Connor's as he begins to drive. "Baby that's /absolutely/ okay. I just - I can't believe you-"
And he's already choking up. He's just so damn happy. "I can't believe you want home to mean with-"

"Well, yeah," Connor mumbles, a little abashed. "I mean, that's where you are, that's where Cole is.." He pales slightly. "I hope that's not too forward-"

"God, I love you,
Connor," Hank says. He lifts the hand clasped over Connor's to his lips, presses a loving kiss at the knuckles while he keeps one eye on the road. "I-I think of you as family, too," he says. Kisses his hand again. "You're part of my home, Connor."

The nurse's face crumples at
that, expression broke as he curls forward, choking on another sob. He leans forward, and Hank recognizes what Connor is wanting for.

"Almost there, baby, almost home," he says.

Connor nods, and Hank can't help but feel a little bad for causing his (boyfriend? lover?..partner?)
to break down into tears after just coming down from a panic attack, even if it was from declarations of love.

Still, their hands don't part the entire way back.

"You want to talk about what happened?" Hank asks as they walk through the front door.

Sumo hurries over to greet
the two of them, huffing out a happy dog breath as he nuzzles Connor's waiting palm. The nurse immediately dips down to wrap his arms around Sumo's neck, and buries his head into the dog's scruff. He takes a moment to reply, his voice muffled by the thick fur.

"Um, in a little
bit. Need a moment."

"Sure thing, honey," Hank rumbles. He gently rests his hand at Connor's shoulder as he passes, letting him know he's there. "I'm gonna call the neighbors so they can pick up Cole. Do you want them to watch him for a little while?"

Connor shakes his head,
turns it so he can look at Hank. "No. That's okay. I'll be better by then."

"No rush, love." Hank bends to kiss the crown of Connor's head; he tilts his head up into the kiss. "Take as much time as you need. I'm here, okay?"

"Thanks, Hank," Connor murmurs, tears in his eyes.
Hank leaves Con alone to call the neighbors, asks for them to pick up Cole, that he'll be with his nurse, and that it's okay for them to just drop him off at home.

"Everything okay, Hank?" Rose asked.

"Yeah, it's fine. My uh, my partner had an emergency and needed to be picked
up from work. But he's doing fine, now. We're at home, I just can't leave him here."

"Well I hope he feels better," she says sympathetically from the other end, and Hank knows she's sincere. "But yeah, we'll pick up Cole for you."

"Thanks Rosie. You're a godsend."

She laughs,
teases Hank a bit more before they hang up.

Hank returns from his bedroom to see Connor sitting on the couch, holding a pillow tight to his chest and ramrod straight like a robot.

Hank makes sure Connor is present in the moment as he approaches, bends to kiss the back of his
love's neck. The nurse tilts his head, exposing more skin to Hank's touch. "What can I do for you, sweet?" Hank murmurs.

"I- Do you have any clothes I can change out of? Just something big, comfortable? Softer the better."

"You got it."
--
v. tired, about to pass out. will update tomorrow morning as i can - but i have a late work night tomorrow to 10:30 pm so do not expect me to update then xD

thank you all so much for continuing to read! so validating to find other people that love indulging in this fluff 🧡🥭
--
Hank pulls out the softest, warmest hoodie he has - an old navy blue DPD sweater, and a pair of old, black, baggy sweats. Neither of them will fit on Connor in the slightest, but he ensures the sweats at least have a drawstring Connor can tighten.

Connor takes the clothes
with a soft "Thank you, Hank," before going to the bathroom to change. He emerges just a minute later, his own clothes over his arm. And Hank thinks even now, when Connor is wearing what's probably some of the cheapest, oldest, un-fashionable clothes he owns, he still manages to
look like the most beautiful thing in the world.

The hoodie absolutely swallows his frame, and he has the hood up over his head like it's a protective helmet. The sweats hang off his hips, the drawstring long and low from being pulled so tight. Near Connor's feet, he's rolled up
the length of the pants so they rest at his ankles.

Hank leans against the back of the couch, heart aching at the sad, pained look in Connor's eyes. He wants to sweep his love into his arms, hold and protect him from whatever set Connor off. He wants to crush whatever made that
beautiful face twist into sadness.

He waits. "What do you need, Con?" he asks, fighting every protective instinct in him that just wants to /embrace/ him.

It's slight, but Hank sees the tremble beneath the hooded sweater. Connor's voice comes out soft in his request. "Hold me?"
"Oh thank fuck," he breathes, and it comes out as almost a whimper of relief as he grabs Connor's arm and gently but surely pulls the nurse in.

Connor immediately curls into Hank's embrace, tension melting away when Hank secures his arms around his lithe frame.

"I've got you,
Con, you're safe, okay? Nothings gonna hurt you while I'm here. You're okay, you're okay."

Connor whimpers at Hank's words, attempting to nestle even closer as he curls his arms up against Hank's chest.

Hank manages to move them to the couch, angling himself on the wide
cushions so that a part of his weight is draped over Connor's chest, pushing him into the furniture. He figures it might give him a sense of security. "This okay?" he asks, one arm beneath Connor's neck, the other free to tangle with that rogue strand of hair.

Connor nods, lets
his arms go up to wrap around Hank's neck. "It's perfect Hank," he murmurs, "Grounding, feels good."

"I thought so," he says affectionately, moves the finger playing with his hair to drift lovingly down his cheekbone to stop at the tip of his chin. "Let me know what else I can
do for you, okay?"

"Okay," Connor says, soft.

"And I'm here if you need to talk, okay? Anything." Hank softly kisses Connor's brow. "Anything, baby."

Connor nods, wriggles a bit to get comfortable under Hank, and whispers, "Okay, Hank."

They lay like that on the couch for
a handful of minutes wrapped around each other. Hank with his bulk pressed down onto Connor, the slighter man swallowed by his weight.

It's comforting for Hank as much as it is for Connor. The assurance that his love is here, that he's okay, that Hank is there to keep him safe.
They don't say anything. Not a word passes between them until it does.

(cw for mentions of past sexual trauma - not gonna go into intricate details or anything but just so you guys know)

"The, uh, the gym teacher made a pass at me."

Hank's brain is a bit fuzzy from curling up
with Connor on the couch, so it takes a moment for him to process what was just said. He repositions his head resting on Connor's chest, turns it the other way so he can look up at him. "At the school?"

Connor nods weakly, and Hank can see how close to the edge Connor is to
crying. And he's struck again by the bravery of this strong, beautiful nurse he's fallen in love with. "Yeah, the one at the school. Mr. Williams."

Hank can't recall even knowing what this asshole looks like, but anger curdles in his gut toward this man for causing Connor to
hurt like this. Hank tries to choose his words carefully, but in the end he's uncertain about everything. "What happened?"

"He tried to ask me out, er-" Connor's brow knits together. "More of a demand."

Hank clenches his hand at Connor's neck, a betrayal of his anger.

"I told
him no, obviously," Connor says. "Said I wasn't interested. Especially in him." His nose wrinkled. "He had always - uh - kind of looked at me weird. Checked me out. Always had a bad feeling about him."

Frustration and something like anxiety causes Hank to hold tighter to Connor.
"Why didn't you tell me he was giving you trouble, honey? I would have put a stop to it. Make him regret ever looking at you." He growls, nips possessively at Connor's neck.

It's enough to stir a soft and affectionate laugh from Connor, who reaches to thread his fingers through
Hank's hair. "I've handled leering men long before you came along, love."

Hank's heart swells, but he nuzzles deeper into Connor, fits his head into the crook between his head and his shoulders at his neck. "Still," he grumbled. Kisses the line of his throat. "Would have kicked
his ass for you."

"I don't doubt," Connor murmurs, draws quiet again.

Hank waits.

Connor breathes in, "I told him I had a boyfriend, that I wasn't interested, that it wasn't professional - but he just kept-" He inhales hard. Hank shifts his weight more onto Connor, like he
can protect Connor the more Hank holds his weight against him. He gives Connor time to gather his thoughts.

"He kept saying how much better he was than whatever guy I was with, said he could 'really put that ass to use'." Connor's face twists in disgust. Hank hides his anger in
//cw for unsolicited groping - brief freezing

Connor's neck. The nurse goes a bit still under Hank, and his voice quiets. "Then he grabbed my ass, tried to push me up against the wall, and I-" Connor's breath hitches, "I didn't know what to do at first. Hank I just /froze/ an-"
Hank squeezes Connor tight, heart breaking. "Honey you did nothing wrong," he tries to reassure, and his voice cracks. "I'm so sorry, sweetie, I'm so sorry."

Somewhere along the lines Connor has started crying, and he clings to Hank. "I pushed him away and got out before he
could really do anything, but I can still hear him screaming after me. Still feel- I just-" Connor chokes on another sob, buries his face against Hank's.

Hank holds tight to Connor. Tries to appease the tears by kissing his every part of his face. Brushes comforting lips to
burning tears. Hopes that the gestures of love will wash away every stain of hurt, might wipe away the bubbling rage boiling over in Hank's heart.

It doesn't work.

..But it helps.

"I'm okay," Connor says. Hank feels like he assuredly Is Not, but lets him go on. "I'm okay." And
resolves to call the school later and demand they fire the lech of a teacher. He doesn't want someone like that around his son, around the man he loves.

"So I got away after that," Connor says. "Called Kara to have her come take over for me." He wipes his nose with the sleeve of
Hank's sweater. "I'm pretty sure Cole could tell I was upset, but I managed to keep it together until Kara got there. She's such a sweetheart. Asked if I wanted her to stay with me until you got there." There's a hint of a smile at his lips, and Hank mutely resolves himself to
somehow thank Kara later for what she did for Connor, though he isn't sure how.

"I'm so sorry, Connor," Hank murmurs, weak. "So sorry this happened, sorry I couldn't be there for you - god I can't wait to kick his ass." Hank grasps at Connor desperately, rage and sorrow churning
deep in him. "Wish I could have protected you - I'm so sorry, honey, so sorry-"

Connor clings just as hard to him, and the two take comfort in each other, murmuring words of assurance that the other is all right. Connor insists there's nothing for Hank to apologize for, and it
does little to ease the ache Hank feels, but it helps. Holding Connor helps.

"You can go after him if you want," Connor says to Hank a little while later, when his tears have staved in the face of their loving embrace. "I don't want him to do anything like that to someone else,
and I don't want Cole to be near someone like that, either."

"Oh you bet I'm gonna go after him," Hank growls, marks Connor's neck with his teeth and lips. "Gonna make sure you're never gonna have to be near that bastard again."

Connor whimpers under Hank's growling, wraps his
arms at Hank's neck. "Thank you, Hank. Having you here makes it easier to get through-" Connor glances away, quiet, then says, "And thank you for picking me up. I wouldn't have been able to make it through the rest of the day after that."

"No problem, babe," Hank murmurs, kisses
Connor again. "Go to hell and back for you."

The nurse's smile is gentle, loving, and the pair find themselves content in each other's arms.

Cole arrives some time later with Kara, who takes on her role as a nurse right back to Connor, ensuring he's okay, though she knows he's
in good hands with Hank.

"Do you think you'd be able to go with school tomorrow for me?" Connor asks her quietly. "I just think I- I don't know if-"

"It's fine, Connor. I can cover tomorrow for you," she says with a gentle smile. Hank thanks her again for looking out for Con,
and he can't help but fret for her, either. "Will you be okay with the teacher, there? We don't want to put you in an unsafe situation, either, being around him-"

And Kara just looks at Hank, and smiles. "Oh, don't worry about Todd. If he tries anything I'll just beat his ass."
The idea of this little thing going up against a gym teacher probably three times her size and weight is almost funny, but there's something in Kara's smile, and Hank doesn't doubt she /would/ kick his ass.

"Guess that means we get tomorrow all to ourselves," Hank says to Connor
once Kara has left and Cole is off in his room doing homework.

Hank draws a finger gently down one side of Connor's face, who closes his eyes blissfully at the touch. "Will you be all right going out tomorrow like we planned?"

There's nothing short of adoration in Connor's eyes
and he turns his head to Hank's touch. "I'll be fine, Hank. Besides, an evening with you sounds perfect after a day like this."

Hank's smile is soft; he pulls Connor in at the waist. "Good," he says. "Been looking forward to treating you."

Connor smiles, all signs of pain gone.
not sure how but the thread got disjointed here - just noticing now so here's where it picks up at this post

@HankConFinder finished Nurse Connor AU thread! ☺️
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