Gavin wasn't stupid.
He acted it, sure. Cocksure and mouthy, always giving it out, and giving back as good as he got. Regardless of if it was a civilian, peer, or superior officer. As was the case now.
He was also not big. Decently athletic, but he wasn't tall or broad. He topped out at a reasonable 5'9, he didn't have a complex about his height, he was just an asshole. The only reason he was thinking about it was because Hank was a big guy. An angry big guy who was only being held back because Fowler and Chris had seen it coming. Wouldn't be the first time Gavin had taken a punch for some crass comment, but it might be the first time he'd provoked a colleague into doing so. He also doubted it would be just a punch, Anderson looked livid.
Gavin didn't even really remember what he said, just that one minute he was standing mouthing off in front of his desk, complaining about the smell of liquor, and the next he had leapt back out of instinct, as Fowler and Chris moved together. Fowler looked almost as mad as Hank, but Chris just looked as bewildered as Gavin felt.
"Go home Hank." Fowler ordered in a low growl, always keeping it quiet for his favourites. Gavin would have been yelled at. "You're still drunk."
Anderson hadn't even sobered up yet. Maybe Gavin hadn't actually said anything too bad (but maybe he had, he was known for it), the guy just overreacted. His building guilt halted for the moment. He was an ass, but usually he didn't mean to be that much of an ass. Usually. Not normally among colleagues, these people were meant to have his back afterall, provoking them would be counterproductive. Or maybe that's why he did it in the first place? Yeah, thank god he fired his therapist, she'd have been thrilled about that one.
"You little shit." Anderson growled, and Gavin smirked tightly, refusing to show even the slightest fear. The man's voice was so deep and rumbly, it was a natural reaction.
"Home." Fowler ordered and Anderson pulled away, turning and marching away, angry cursing in his wake. Gavin stood up straighter, no longer braced for a fight, but preparing to face his boss. Fowler turned around and looked at him, right in the eyes. A moment of silence, and he just shook his head before walking past his office. Chris took over as the main point of Gavin's attention.
"What did you say dude?" Chris asked, still sounding shocked. The man was too nice to sound accusing, and Gavin felt like a dick.
"I actually don't remember, maybe about the liquor smell I think." Gavin shrugged, well aware of everyone's judging eyes. He refused to react though. They all thought it, just nobody said it. It was approaching four years since the accident, and only around three weeks since Connor left with Markus to New York. The android had promised to be back, once he helped Jericho get the new legislation in place. Gavin almost wished he'd hurry the fuck up, the tin can was the only one Hank would listen to. The old man had been doing well in regards to his drinking, and his lateness for months until RoboCop left.
"Man, I don't wanna be you when Hank sobers up." Chris said, almost sympathetically. Gavin shrugged.
"Sober up when?" He said before quickly leaving. He didn't even want to see Chris's disappointment. God, he missed Tina. His only potentially real friend was away on her honeymoon, alright for some. She would be back next week, but that felt like a long time away right now.
The rest of his shift passed by without incident, just a few angry mumblings, shoulder-checkings from some of Hank-and-Connor fans, and Fowler's disappointed gaze. Nothing new.
At least until a solid grip yanked on the back of his collar as he was unlocking his car door. Ah shit. He was forcefully spun, and he pushed out with his right arm, the one closest to his attacker as he was twisted round. His arm barely made any progress in pushing off the assailant, just collided with a broad chest. Hank.
Both Anderson's hands had hold of his lapels now and Gavin mourned the stupidity of underground parking. His hands latched onto the larger man's wrists, ready to try and prevent any further movement, either to his throat or if they were pulled back for a blow. He couldn't help it if the adrenaline made his knees tremble as he was pushed back into his car door.
"Not so mouthy now huh?" Anderson said bitterly, a hint of vindictive triumph. It sounded just like his dad's voice, reminding him of being in his room, rapidly shoving clothes in a bag as his old man watched and spat out insults. Gavin met Anderson's fierce gaze and sneered.
"What did you want me to say? Hello Hank, nice to see you here in the dim garage." Gavin gave a useless tug on one of Hank's arms, and yeah he wasn't going anywhere until Hank let him. Fucking massive fucker.
"How about an apology smartass? One of these days Fowler ain't gonna step in and you'll get the smack in the teeth you deserve." Hank leant his weight in a little, and Gavin bit back his grunt as his chest bore the weight of a man half a foot taller than him and at least eighty pounds heavier. Maybe ninety. Anderson had a gut, but he sure wasn't slacking in the muscle department.
"He's not here now." Gavin said, carefully making his voice even. Hank's eyes narrowed, his lip curling. Gavin shrunk back a little as Hank leaned down to further meet his eyes.
"It's like you're begging to be hit? What, nobody disciplined you as a child?" Hank snarled, "need someone to do it for you now?"
Gavin stiffened up, and his shaking wasn't just adrenaline (and nerves), now it was rage too. Presumptuous prick, what the fuck did he know? He might have become the plastic's surrogate dad, but he sure wasn't his. He pushed viciously at Hank's chest, making no progress, but he did it once more for good measure.
"Get the fuck off me." Gavin growled. His aggression was obvious, spitting like a cornered cat. "Get OFF."
Hank didn't release him, his own twisted snarl didn't disappear, but he also didn't move. Didn't shake or hit Gavin, just held firmly. Gavin shook under his hands, unsure of what to do now. His dad would have knocked him down by now, anyone else would have either done the same or backed off. Everyone always turned away when shouted, alarmed, and most people didn't pursue further conflict. Being held under a stern gaze was actually more terrifying. He didn't know what was coming.
"Huh." Hank said at last, like he'd just discovered something and Gavin just felt angrier. He tried to loosen Hank's grip and pull away. This time Hank let him and he skirted away, quickly moving around to the front of the car. That bit of distance was all his pride would allow, putting the car between them would just show Hank how much more of a coward he was.
"Huh what? Asshole."
Hank rolled his eyes.
"Nothing prick, go home. You ever say one bad thing to me or Connor again, I'll make you regret it." Hank promised grimly, stepping back. Once he was out of sight, Gavin fled to the safety of his car interior. Fuck, he just wanted to go home.
Of course, he and his big mouth.
This time they were alone when he said it, just away from the crime scene, having been forced to park further away due to traffic. Just a stupid quip about perfect plastic sons, and he said it more to himself, musing aloud about how his dad would have loved one. Anderson, hearing the jibe about Connor, and storming ahead, only caught part of what he said. And interpreted it his own way. So he turned and punched Gavin.
And Gavin went down like a sack of bricks, caught off guard. He didn't have a chance to get up as Hank was down after him, one large hand bunching up in his shirt, and the other coming down in another punch. Gavin was able to get his hands up to minimise the damage of the third and following blows, bring one leg up to try and put distance between his and Hank's body's. His other leg was straddled and trapped so it was difficult, and Hank's greater weight just made it painful.
"I warned yo-"
"-ing you crazy bast-"
The blow slipped through and hit him square on the nose, the skin splitting open. Just like the original wound that caused his nose scar. His head hit the sidewalk with the force of the blow and he cried out, desperately trying to push at Hank's arms now. God it hurts. Hank was bigger than his dad had been, and whilst Gavin was bigger than his teen self, he didn't feel it.
"Stop." He pleaded, voice weaker than he'd hoped but the furious giant wasn't listening, using the grip in Gavin's shirt to hoist him up a few inches before slamming back down. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
After a few moments of desperately parrying blows and renewed attempts at shoving and bucking Hank off, he gave up. He just went completely limp besides his arms which just went to protect his head, not grabbing or pushing, just wrapped around his own head. The complete change seemed to surprise Hank enough he stopped hitting for now. Instead he could actually feel the trembling now. Gavin didn't try and squirm away even though Hank had stopped.
"I'm sorry." Came his repeated, broken whisper. Gavin didn't even actually say anything about Connor or Hank beyond "plastic son", but he just needed Hank to back off, and the apology might work.
Apparently not that easily, the man's grip in his shirt hadn't lessened.
"For calling him your plastic son?" Gavin tried, his arms still hiding his bloody face. Hank's heavy sigh did not sound good. His two strong hands took a hold of Gavin's wrists and pried them down away from his face. Gavin sniffled and cursed. Blood leaked down the side of his face, water leaking from his eyes.
"No, for calling him a replacement." Hank growled darkly, and his eyes widened as Gavin shook his head frantically.
"I didn't. I didn't, -"
Hank tightened his grip on Gavin's wrists.
"I didn't," Gavin cried out, "I said my dad would have loved a replacement plastic son."
Gavin shied away, turning his face away from Hank as much as possible. Eyes clenched shut.
His wrists were released and the weight over his lower body lifted. Gavin opened his eyes and looked, the lieutenant hadn't gone far, just shifted to kneeling next to Gavin rather than over him. Gavin closed his eyes again, shaking on the concrete. God he felt tired, everywhere ached.
"I'm so fucking sorry kid." A choked growl interrupted his thoughts, and he cracked one eye to see Hank looking mournfully down at him, a sheen to his dull eyes.
"Yeah, they're always sorry." Gavin said bitterly, rolling to his side and starting to stand up. He staggered but was able to get to his feet, not looking forward to driving with his growing headache. Fucking hot head.
Anderson got to his feet too, and Gavin stepped back. Anderson was looking shamefacedly at the ground.
"I actually am sorry. I thought you were calling Connor a replacement for Cole." Hank said quietly, seriously. Gavin closed his eyes, he couldn't exactly say he expected any different. Of course it was expected of him, he had crossed boundaries before. Trust him to get his ass beat on the one occasion he was actually being mean to himself. Gavin spat, scrubbing his sleeve across his face.
"Yeah." He replied shortly, "everyone expects the worst."
"You don't give them much to go off." Hank replied. "I really am sorry Reed. Let me buy you a drink. Patch you up."
Reed sighed. Sucker for punishment, honestly. Maybe there was something to his dad calling him a pervert.
"Fine. Patch me up, but you're gonna have to drive." Reed said with a heavy sigh. Anderson nodded and led the way to his car, glancing back at him every so often. It was pissing him off but God forbid he draw the giant's ire again. Getting in the car was tense, forced back into proximity, but this time within a confined space. Gavin turned towards the window as much as possible and leaned on the cool glass, relief filling him as his warm, puffy skin was soothed by the slight chill. The drone of the engine hummed along and Anderson didn't say a word the whole journey. Gavin was too tense to sleep, too nervous, but damn if his body wasn't trying to drift off.
Hank pulled up outside of his own home, not the precinct. Which? Fair, showing up there would have meant a flood of questions. At least here there would be some peace. No witnesses, but peace. Gavin groaned as he exited the car and followed Hank up to the porch and through the front door. Only to hurriedly launch himself back out of it as a large white and brown dog bounded towards them. Damn that thing was massive! Hank watched him go puzzled, petting his dog. Well he was puzzled until Gavin took another step back as the Saint Bernard went to greet the guest too.
"He's friendly." Hank said softly, now holding the dog's thick collar. Gavin muttered a curse. How many times was he going to be embarrassed today?
"I'm a… I like cats." Gavin eventually said but he stepped forward, and held his hand out to the large dog. A slimy tongue swept across his knuckles immediately and he felt himself relax a little. Hank slowly released the dog's collar and Gavin pet the dog on the head as it stepped towards him.
"He's called Sumo. Come to the kitchen, get you patched up."
So that's what he did. He let Hank swab his face with anti-bacterial wipes to disinfect the wounds he'd caused, and a numbing cream to help with the swelling and pain. He wasn't thrilled about letting Hank touch him again. Gavin began to stand once Hank was done, excited to leave after the whole ordeal. But Hank held his hand out, approaching the fridge and taking out two bottles of beer.
"Sit." Hank said, opening a bottle and handing it to Gavin. He then sat and opened his own bottle.
Gavin sat and contemplated the bottle. It was just a standard lager he guessed, he didn't really drink anything but vodka, maybe wine sometimes. Usually on a date. He took a sip and almost grimaced. Ew.
"What Anderson?" He asked sullenly. He just wanted to go home, take a shower, and go to bed.
"My actions were not forgivable, kid. I want you to know that I reacted badly because I do think of Connor as my son." Hank started, and Gavin nodded, taking another small sip. "Father's should love and protect their children, but I was wrong. Even if you had said it, I shouldn't have done what I did."
Love and protect. Gavin blinked and picked at the bottle label.
"Alright. Papa wolf, I get it. No mean words about Connor." Gavin said at last, not really sure what else to say and Hank sighed.
"Maybe that first punch." The lieutenant quipped dryly and Gavin winced. Yeah, that one really hurt.
"Yeah, maybe. I deserved it." Gavin said. "I always do."
Now why the fuck did he say that second part out loud. Get a load of that self pity, he thought with disgust. He took a longer swallow from the bottle, not even seeing Hank's dismayed and remorseful look.
"No Gavin. You were an ass, so was I. We both damn well know assault is illegal." Hank replied. "And nobody deserves to believe they can be replaced."
So Hank had connected the dots about what he said then. Fantastic. He hadn't made the youngest lieutenant for nothing, but Gavin had hoped the old drunk wasn't as sharp.
"He didn't replace me. He probably wouldn't want to risk another one like me." Gavin replied breezily. Hank's muted grunt let him know the man was displeased.
"Yeah well, asshole you may be, but it's his loss." The larger man said, he sounded a touch uncomfortable. Good, he should be. Gavin couldn't care less if Anderson felt like squirming.
"Nah, his other kids filled that void." Gavin dismissed. He wasn't really sure why he kept talking. It felt… good… to say it. Sort of. Like a pressure on his chest was slowly lifting.
"No. It was his loss Reed. He fucked up."
"I'm fucked up."
"No arguments there, but, and I hate to say it, I think it might not be your fault." Hank replied, his large hand resting on the table, palm down, but edging closer. What? Was he gonna pat him on the shoulder and tell him it'd be okay? There, there.
"Not what my ex said." Gavin argued. Hank huffed.
"Yeah well there's a reason she's an ex right?" Hank muttered, taking a long sip from his bottle.
"He's." Gavin corrected automatically. Then frowning intensely. The only coworker who knew his dating history was Tina.
But Anderson didn't even stall, to his credit.
"He's an ex then."
Such easy acceptance, it drew him up short. He blinked once, twice, and moisture flooded his lash line. Huh. That would have caused a war with his dad, one that meant waking up on a hospital bed. But Hank just… adapted to it. Like it was normal. It was normal, but.
But people don't just accept Gavin. Even those who didn't have a problem with other gay people had sneered at him. Called him a bitch or a brat, laughed at his attitude and what they thought it meant. Creepy motherfuckers. His breath shuddered as he realised a tear had slipped free.
"Shit." Hank muttered. "Last thing I expected today was Gavin Reed crying in my kitchen."
"You're an asshole." Gavin said, scrubbing his sore face with both hands. "Fuck you."
"Yeah, yeah tough guy. Look, go crash on the couch or I can drive you home kid." Hank said, downing the last of his beer. Gavin slid his still over half full one towards the man who took it.
"What? Beer is not fancy enough?"
"Like vodka." Gavin said simply, and Hank gave him an appraising look, before taking a drink out of the abandoned bottle.
"Thought you were gonna say you were COCK-tail man." Hank joked and Gavin felt his stomach drop. Here came the jokes. But no, that was funny, it didn't sound mean.
"I like them." Gavin shrugged and Hank chuckled.
"Couch or home?" Hank asked.
It was a lumpy couch. Sumo insisted on sharing, leaning on Gavin. It was the best night's sleep he'd had in years.