Ch. XI

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The air was thick with the smoke of cigars and alcohol of all kinds, voices buzzing along to the rhythm of groovy jazz music. Connor couldn't quite understand why you felt at ease in such a place, but then again, humans in general were rather enigmatic.

"A gin fizz for me." You smiled at the bartender, sliding a 5 dollar bill across the perfectly polished table.

"And for the young man?" He nodded at Connor.

"I don't drink, thanks."

The bartender's eyes flashed with amusement and a tinge of mockery before he nodded and got to work. Connor could make no sense of his reaction.

"Do you think he was insulted because I refused to order a beverage?" The Android asked as soon as the man was out of earshot.

You frowned to yourself. The male ego would certainly be something fairly difficult to explain to a machine, but then again, you could try.

"Some men like to think that...drinking makes them tougher. In a way. I don't know, doesn't make much sense to me either." You shrugged your shoulders, mentally cringing at your poor choice of words. Under the hat you had once again borrowed from Kamski's office, you noticed the android's led blink yellow.

"Alcohol tolerance depends heavily on genetics, body size, diet, and activity of alcohol dehydrogenases." He answered, eyes focused on the bartender. "But not on 'toughness' or anything of the sort."

"Tell that to these guys." You chuckled and gestured widely to the entire bar.

Connor opened his mouth, sucking a big portion of air into his lungs.

"No, no, I- I'm kidding! Don't do that." You immediately added, a moment before certain disaster would have taken place. "You'll start a bar fight or something."

Connor's brows furrowed in confusion, but he complied and stayed silent.

"Your drink." The bartender interrupted, sliding the glass over to you. Not waiting any further, you took a sip, letting the burningly hot, slightly fruity liquid wash down your throat. It left your tongue tingling and mind spinning-a feeling you hadn't exactly missed, but enjoyed regardlessly.

Your gaze traveled back to Connor, who was watching the dance floor with an indecipherable expression, LED under his hat blinking yellow, red for a second, then yellow again.

"Something wrong?" You spoke up, taking another sip of your gin.

"No, assistant. Can I...ask you a personal question?"

Always so formal. You smiled to yourself at the machine's behavior, then nodded. "I'm all ears."

"While I was waiting for you, at your house, I saw a picture of you, someone I presume to be your brother, and..." The Android stopped his sentence, realizing that his behavior may have come off as intrusive, maybe even borderline stalker-esque. He shouldn't have asked.

"And Elijah Kamski. Yeah, you got that right, it was him."

A breath of relief Connor hadn't even noticed he was holding in escaped his lungs.

"So you were childhood friends?"

"Hah, no." You shook your head, stifling your amused laughter at barely the thought of it. "Well, he is Brennan's best friend, but as for me and Kamski...Childhood 'friends' is a terrible way to describe our relationship. 'Acquaintances' is more fitting if y'ask me."

"Explain."

"Well, first of all, the age gap. I was ten in that picture, while Brennan and Elijah were both fifteen. Elijah didn't really care much about me-I was just that little girl that followed her old brother around everywhere he went, or the girl that kept the score between the two of them when they played football. You get the idea."

Connor nodded.

You traced your fingertips over the edge of the glass, then grasped it firmly and brought it up to your lips, taking another sip.

"Alright, my turn to ask questions. You were staring at the dance floor and your LED blinked red for a second. Why?"

Some of Connor's blue blood gathered in his cheeks, pricking hotly under his skin. Out of instinct, the Android wanted to cover up his face, however refrained from doing so, hoping that the dim light would provide enough cover for his unexpected reaction.

"I analyzed all the couples I could identify on the dance floor in an attempt to be able to recreate their movements. However it appears that I have encountered an error while doing so."

"Really? But why?"

"My database doesn't allow me to imitate actions that could not potentially turn out useful when it battle, or when preparing for it."

You did remember Elijah saying about implementing something of that sort to prevent overwriting the memory drive with useless information. At that time, you considered it to be genius, but now, now it was sad to know that even if Connor would have wanted to, it was practically prohibited for him to become...human. Well, unless...

"You'll just have to learn it the human way, then."

The Android frowned, head tilted perplexedly. "What would that imply?"

"I can teach you some basic stuff if you want. But it's gonna take practice for you to master it."

What was there to lose?

"I could try." Connor concluded, glancing at you for approval. You closed your eyes, grabbed a firm hold of your drink and tossed it all down your throat in one swift motion. In case things turned out awkwardly, a bit of liquid courage could go a long way.

"Come on then." You set the glass down and stepped away from the bar, gesturing for Connor to follow you.

He trotted behind you almost like a lost puppy, brusquely stopping when you did so too. You had chosen a more private spot, at the side of the dance floor, away from the tumult happening in the middle of it.

"Give me your right hand." You instructed. Connor reluctantly extended it between the two of you as you intertwined your fingers with his, then guided it to the small of your back. "Keep it like this, on my back. If you move your hand up too high, then it's just going to look awkward. And if you let it hang too low, well...then you're a pervert." You chuckled in amusement at his flabbergasted expression. You could feel him subtly fiddle with the material of your dress in...restlessness? Anxiety, maybe?

"I understand."

"Good." A soft, groovy tune started playing in the background as you clasped your right hand in his left and rested the other on his shoulder. "Usually the male is supposed to lead, but you don't know the steps yet, so...follow my lead."

You made a slow step to your left, which Connor followed with ease. He was able to fully anticipate your every move after a minute or so of dancing, although his shoulders were still as tense as ever underneath your palm. You brushed your thumb over the material of his suit.

"You're doing great, Connor. Relax."

He swallowed a mouthful of synthetic saliva, LED spreading yellow light over the inside of the borrowed hat. His Thirium pump felt unbearably hot, on the verge of combustion, rhythmical beats now accelerated and chaotic.

The next step he took was rather miscalculated, since the tip of his shoe was millimeters away from colliding with your foot.

He was anything but relaxed.

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