After all, Hank would attest, sometimes people just didn’t want to make too much fuss about the whole thing.
Connor turned, catching sight of Hank,
“Sure,” Hank said.
“Dad!” Cole exclaimed, jumping down from his chair. “We made pancakes!”
“Smells great, bug,” Hank said, tousling Cole’s hair.
“We’re almost finished,” Connor said. “Why don’t you have a seat?”
“Positive,” Connor said. “Cole and I have it all under control.”
“Connor, I think that one’s burning.”
Connor’s LED flickered red briefly as he spun and removed the pan from heat.
Connor placed a pitcher of orange juice on the table. “Only the best for our birthday
Hank huffed softly. He’d forgotten it was his birthday. “You didn’t have to go to the trouble,” Hank said.
“We wanted to,” Connor said. “Eat up. We have plans for you, Mr Anderson.”
“Plans, huh?” Hank asked as he took a seat. He and Cole
“Oh yes,” Connor said.
“Big plans!” Cole added around a mouthful of pancakes.
“And I’m guessing they’re a surprise?”
“Yep!” Cole affirmed, punctuating the air with his fork.
“I can help you, baby,” Hank said, trying to
“No, I’ve got it,” Connor said. “Go get ready. You might find your second surprise in the closet.”
Hank lifted a brow, now mildly curious, even though he still felt a certain resolution against the whole birthday fuss. “Another kiss first?”
Hank smiled, dipping his head until his lips met Connor’s.
“I’m gonna hold you to that,”
Connor laughed before turning toward the sink. “I’d expect nothing less, Lieutenant.”
On top of Hank’s dresser was a primly wrapped box with Connor’s handwriting
“To Hank,” the card read. “This reminded me of you: vibrant and wonderful. Happy birthday.”
Hank dressed quickly and slipped into the shirt last, buttoning it up to the middle of his chest. It was slightly more snug than Hank usually wore his shirts, but the buttons met without resistance or gaping, so he let it be.
“You sure it’s not too tight?” Hank asked, rubbing a hand across his stomach.
“Not at all,” Connor said. “You tend to wear your shirts oversized. It’s nice to see you in clothes that fit.”
“If you say so,” Hank said, turning
Connor smiled, releasing Hank so he could circle around to face him. “Are you ready to go?”
“Do I get to know where?”
Connor smiled. “When we get there.”
Hank chuckled. “Fine, fine. I’m all yours.”
Connor finally turned into the
“The aquarium?” Hank asked.
“There’s rain in the forecast for this morning,” Connor replied.
Hank smiled, pulling Connor close to his side. “Hey bug, wait up!”
Cole paused near the entrance, already examining everything he could see with wide eyes.
Hank had forgotten how much he liked the aquarium. He hadn’t been in years - not since Cole was very young. Maybe even before he and Jen had split up. Hank loved seeing Cole dart around, wide eyes glued to
“Dad, look at the seahorses!!”
“Oh hey, yeah! Look at that big one.”
They spent a few hours in the aquarium, then strolled around the conservatory and nature center attached to the facility. Hank felt so pleasantly relaxed, happy to be spending time with his family. Connor kept his hand
“Connor, I think it’s time for stage three,” Cole said eventually, winking conspiratorially at the android.
"You two are a real menace sometimes, you know that?" Hank asked.
Hank huffed out a laugh, twisting his hand around in Cole's grip until he could tickle his son's belly. "Oh yeah, smart guy?"
Cole laughed and squirmed away, circling until he could hide on the
"Lead the way, bug," Hank said, squeezing Connor's hand gently.
Cole took them back to the car, Connor again slipping into the driver's seat to take them to their next destination. It wasn't terribly long before Connor was pulling into the lot at
Before Hank could take much else in, there was a deep bark and Hank was accosted by a familiar, furry blur running up and nosing at his hands. "Hey Sumo," Hank said automatically, stooping slightly to give his dog a good scratch behind the ears. He glanced up,
"Thank you for your assistance, gentlemen," Connor said. "We appreciate it."
"Thanks Nines," Hank said, still petting Sumo's furry head. "He got you in on this too?"
Nines almost smiled. Almost. "Only for this one small favor."
"Thanks Reed," Hank said dryly, rolling his eyes.
"You could join us, if you like," Connor offered politely. Hank didn't even have time to object before Nines was
"We are on our lunch break," Nines said. "We should be getting back."
"Someone's gotta hold down the fort while you two are out here playin' hooky," Gavin added.
"I don't believe previously scheduled time off counts as 'hooky', Detective Reed,
Gavin rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Nines, lets bounce. I wanna get tacos on our way back."
"I'm right behind you, Detective." Nines turned toward Connor with a knowing look. "Have a good
"Bye Nines!" Cole called.
Connor hefted the basket in his arms as the other detectives left, then turned toward the park. "Let's go find a good spot. You want to find one for us, Cole?"
"Yeah! C'mon Sumo, let's go!"
"Breakfast... aquarium... picnic in the park," Hank said. "You sure did pack in the plans today, huh?"
Connor turned his head far enough to smile at Hank.
"You deserve to be fussed over, Hank."
Hank huffed out a breath, bringing
Connor shook his head, withdrawing his hand with a playful smirk on his lips. "I'm afraid I can't do that, Hank. The day has only just begun."
“I found the best spot!” Cole cried from a few dozen yards away. He waved his arms over his head and began spinning in place, Sumo running circles around him as he did so. After a moment, he collapsed to the ground, giggling and trying to
It was a light affair—
“You wanna try, Connor?” Hank asked, laughing after Cole hit him in the nose for the third time in a row.
“I cannot eat it,” Connor said.
“So don’t swallow it, silly,” Cole said.
Cole grabbed a grape and tossed it in an arc toward Connor, who caught it effortlessly. This, of course, led to Cole getting very adventurous with it, throwing raspberries at Connor from several feet
Eventually Cole grew bored and took Sumo for a run down the path by the river. Hank laid down with his head on Connor’s lap, Connor’s hands scratching through his hair, and dozed off in the warm sunshine.
“‘M nappin’,” Hank protested sleepily. “For a bony little android, you’re pretty fuckin’ comfy.”
“Would you like me to send your comments to Cyberlife?” Connor teased.
Hank blinked his
Connor smiled, helping Hank sit up. He stretched, cursing his age as he stretched, trying to ease the tension out of his back.
Cole tossed Connor a thumbs up in acknowledgment and started heading back toward them, Sumo at his side. Connor quickly finished packing up what was left of their picnic and they headed back to their car.
“We are,” he said, flicking on his blinker. “We’re just making a quick stop first.”
Hank lifted his brow as Central Station came into view. “At work? Con, it’s our goddamn day off.”
“I know,” Connor said. “Captain Fowler requested
Hank scoffed. “Bastard knows it’s my birthday.”
“I promise we won’t stay long,” Connor said.
Hank glances in the rearview mirror. “We got Sumo with us anyway. It’s as good an excuse as any.”
“Are we gonna see Nines again?” Cole asked, excitement tinging his voice
Cole pumped his fist in the air excitedly. “Nines is the best!” he declared. “Besides you, Connor,” Cole amended quickly.
“And what’s your old man?” Hank chuckles, catching Cole’s
Cole wrinkles his nose. “No, Dad. You’re the best, too. You an’ Connor are tied for best dad, and Nines is the best uncle.
Hank burst out laughing. “Don’t let your uncle Gavin hear that, bug. Or actually, do. I want to see his face.”
Hank tapped his index finger gently against Connor’s LED. “Not nothin’.”
Connor looked away, staring at something near Hank’s shoe. “He— he’s never called me his dad before,” Connor said softly.
“Oh,” Hank said. He hadn’t even thought twice
Connor shook his head. “No, I— I...”
“What’s the matter, honey?” Hank asked, catching Connor’s chin in a gently cupped hand so he could meet Connor’s
“I didn’t know he thought of me that way,” Connor said finally. “I didn’t know he—“
“Of course he does, Con,” Hank said softly. He smiled gently, stroking his thumb against Connor’s cheek. “Sweetheart, you have slotted yourself into our lives in every conceivable way.
Connor huffed a noise that wasn’t quite a laugh. “I suppose I’m being silly.”
“You make it sound like you have,” Connor muttered.
Hank laughed, pulling back and gripping Connor by the
Connor’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“What can I say? The kid thinks you’re the best,” Hank chuckled.
“Guys, what’s wrong?” Cole called from near the entrance to
“Nothin’, bug, we’re coming!” Hank called back. He squeezed Conor’s shoulders. “You good, hon?”
Connor nodded. “Yes. Thank you.” He leaned in to press a kiss to the corner of Hank’s mouth. “You’re so good to me, Hank.”
“Only ‘cuz you’re good for /me/,” Hank said.
“The hell’s all this?” Hank asked gruffly.
“Just a little appreciation for our favorite lieutenant,” Ben chuckled, approaching to
Hank shook his head, quietly accepting the warm wishes from Ben, Chris, and a few other detectives. Chen approached with a stack of paper plates and grinned at him. “I heard it was all the
“That’s a dirty lie, Chen, I thought you were a better cop than that,” Captain Fowler said, stepping down from his office to enter the bullpen. Chen rolled her eyes, helping Officer Person cut the cake. “Happy birthday, Hank.”
“What the fuck, Jeff?”
Hank glanced down to where Cole stood at his side. “Cole, you remember Captain Fowler, right?”
“You’re gettin’ big, Cole,” Jeffrey said, kneeling down to look Cole in the eye. “What grade are you in now?”
“Sure,” Hank said. “Bug, if you ask politely, Tina here will get you a piece of cake.”
“I could thank you now,” Hank said, teasing.
“Fraternization rules still apply if it’s your off day,” Gavin called loudly, entering the bullpen
Hank rolled his eyes. “I don’t need one of my detectives reading me the fraternization rules.”
“Then stop flirting with one of your detectives in front of my fuckin’ desk.”
Nines slapped the back of Gavin’s head.
“No,” Gavin groused, rubbing the back of his head.
Connor pushed himself off of Nines desk and pressed a kiss to Hank’s whiskery jaw. “We wouldn’t want to impede on your
“Yeah he’s plenty good at not doing his paperwork without the distractions,” Hank added. He turned, seeing his son approaching with his cake balanced precariously in one hand. “Hey Cole, come sit down with that, bud.” He pulled the empty chair facing
“Of course,” Nines said, turning his attention to Cole. “Where did you find it?”
They headed home, and Hank felt a little bit of relief wash over him at the familiar sight. It always felt good to go
“Connor, is it presents time?” Cole asked as he followed Connor up to walk to the front door.
“Is your dad ready to open presents?”
“Dad?” Cole asked, turning pleading eyes up at Hank. “Are you gonna open your presents?”
“We should do
“Oh shit, forgot she was coming tonight,” Hank said. “What time?”
“She said she’d come after work,” Connor said. ”I would guess we have about half an hour.”
“Guess I’ll open presents, then, bug.”
“Yes!” Cole exclaimed. As
“Would you like a beer, Hank?” Connor asked.
“Sure,” Hank said, settling down on the sofa. Connor retrieved a cold drink from the fridge before returning to
Cole returned quickly with a brightly wrapped box, placing it in Hank’s lap before plopping himself down to sit on the floor in front of Hank. “Open it, Dad!”
“He was very specific in what he wanted to get you,” Connor said, smiling softly.
“You said seeing
Hank laughed harder at that, pulling Cole in for a hug and kissing the top of his head. “I love them, bug,” Hank said. “They’ll always make me smile.”
The doorbell rang, signaling that Jen was here to pick up Cole. He ran to open it, returning momentarily with his mother in tow.
“Hey Jen,” Hank greeted, at the same time Connor stood and said, “Hello Jen.”
“Con and Cole kept me plenty spoiled,” Hank chuckled.
“Was he grumpy about the attention?” Jen asked, sliding her gaze to Connor as she grinned
“He was reluctant at first, but he has not outright objected to anything I’ve proposed today.” Connor replied.
Hank scoffed. “Sweetheart, when have I ever been able to tell you no?”
Jen smiled. “He’s good for you then.”
“We’re going to my mom’s for dinner,” Jen said. “What about you?”
“Stay in, watch a movie maybe,” Hank said.
Jen laughed suddenly. “It’s cute you think that Connor doesn’t have every minute of the rest of your evening
Connor’s smile widened and he offered no response. Jen tipped her head back in silent amusement and hip-checked Connor gently. “Get it, you funky little robot.”
Hank flushed lightly, catching on a little slower than Jen had.
“Don’t be such a big prude, Hank,” Jen admonished, still looking amused as hell. “Connor here has a big evening planned for you, and I, for one, think that-“
“Fantastic, kiddo!” Jen said, switching gears effortlessly as Hank heaved a sigh of relief. “Say goodnight to your dad and Connor, and you and I will head for Gramma’s house.”
“Love you too, bug,” Hank said. “Thanks for the presents
Cole leaned in close to Hank’s ear. “I’ve got more ideas for Connor’s birthday, too.”
“Perfect,” Hank said, patting Cole on the back as he climbed off the sofa.
“Good night, Jen,” Connor said, waving slightly, at the same time Hank said, “You’re a menace, Jennifer Reed.”
“Hank, that’s impolite,” Connor admonished.
“No, he’s right,” Jen laughed. “Spank him
Hank was still red for a good few minutes after the door closed behind them.
Connor made his way toward the sofa and perched on Hank’s knee, sliding his hands up Hank’s chest to settle on his shoulders. “Are you hungry? Or do you want desert first?”
Connor’s lips curled up and Hank found the motion
“Only when it’s by you, baby,” Hank said.
Connor laughed, shifting a little in Hank’s lap, bringing their hips closer together. “Good, because I’m quite enjoying spoiling you.”
Hank tipped his
“Another present?” Hank asked, furrowing his brow.
Connor nodded once. “Open it. I’ll join you in a moment.”
Hank stood, obediently heading for his bedroom to wait for Connor.
A tiny part of Hank’s brain told him he didn’t
He opened the box.
Inside, between delicate layers of white tissue paper, was a silk robe and a matching pair of panties
He hesitated, unsure if he was meant to put it on. He knew they were his size. This was a gift from /Connor/ after all, and if
Swallowing his self-doubt, Hank decided to try on his new gift. He stripped out of his clothes, fumbling them into the laundry basket in the closet, and slipped into the panties. He felt as
Hank looked in the mirror, surveying himself. The way the robe pulled around his broad shoulders, parting across the chest to reveal curly, graying
He didn’t feel like he should be wearing a getup like this. He was too big, too brusque, too old to wear something so clearly intended for some pretty thing.
He loved seeing Connor in pretty things like these. Liked when Connor so obviously enjoyed
So he tried to see himself how Connor saw him. How Connor might have imagined him looking when he’d bought this gift for Hank. Tried to imagine the look on Connor’s face
Hank’s chest puffed up a little, liking the idea of turning Connor on with such little effort. Even if Hank didn’t care much for his physique, he liked the way Connor touched him. Like he was the
He still felt a little awkward. But the robe was nice. Made Hank feel nice.
Which was almost certainly Connor’s intention all along, the sneaky little bastard.
Hank sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for Connor to join him.
“You found your gift.”
“You look perfect,” Connor said, moving closer, his gaze never leaving Hank.
“Mm,” Connor hummed, finally stepping close enough to reach out and touch. Hank expected him to run his hand along the soft fabric, but instead Connor buried his fingers in Hank’s chest hair. “I have excellent taste.”
“Do you like it?”
“I feel a little silly. But if you like me in this kinda thing, then I’ll take it.”
Connor tipped his head. “If you are
“No, I-“ Hank sighed. “It’s real nice, honey. I know you mean well.”
“I want you to feel beautiful, my love,” Connor said, nuzzling his nose against the side of Hank’s neck, trailing up until his lips pressed against the shell of
Hank pressed his forehead against Connor’s temple.
Connor turned his head just far enough to kiss the underside of Hank’s jaw. “It is. I knew it would be perfect for you. And now we can match.”
Connor smiled slyly, sliding his hand back up toward Hank’s chest, purposefully rubbing across a nipple over the silky fabric of the robe. “I believe you mentioned there was something else you wanted to unwrap?”
Hank growled, surging forward to finally kiss Connor.
“Baby,” Hank breathed, stroking a thumb over the spot where Connor’s navel would be. “So beautiful.”
“Yeah?” Hank rumbled, toying with the lace where it met the waistband of Connor’s pants. “You gonna make me feel good, sweetheart?”
Connor smiled. “I am.”