‘Synthetic calibration incomplete.’
“You really need to do something about that, John.” Her smile was a bit sad, and her eyes filled with something too close to pity for his liking.
“It hasn’t been acting up in a long time,” John grouched as he rubbed the upper thigh of his prosthetic leg in annoyance. He was still getting a feel for his new place and trying to figure out the new identity he was well on his way to forging. He was too caught up in hacking the government’s databases and registering his primary school to have time to stop by the supermarket and get some olive oil.
Or so he told himself. Because it had nothing to do with how the smell reminded him of-
Nothing. Nothing at all.
Sam looked at him again, from where she was sitting on the dining table across from him. The last decade had been kind to her: she was still beautiful, in a matured, elderly kind of way. He wondered if he’d have aged well, too. He’d never know now.
“You know,” she started, sipping at her tea. “You never got so stuck on your previous life last time. You were practically itching for something new by the time you got everything settled. What’s different with this one?”
“My losing a leg, maybe?” He raised his eyebrows at her and she rolled her eyes. The familiarity was good, although it felt a little too rehearsed to be real.
“Oh, you know it could grow back if you let it. You only kept the synthetic to keep appearances.”
“Yeah, but that would take a long time. I don’t feel like being incapacitated for so long.”
“Well, you can do it in your own time, of course. You’ve got a lot of that.”
Her words hung in the air between them, heavy with all the things they weren’t saying.
The years had been kind to her, but she was getting old. She was going to go in a few decades, she was going to leave him, and John… John liked to pretend it didn’t bother him as much as it did.
She would go and the last person who knew about him, about who and what he really was, would be gone.
True, he’d killed most of those privy to the research at Olduvai himself, but they were necessary casualties in order to erase all proof of the incident. Sam was…
“You keep dodging the question.”
Sam was too damn smart for her own good.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I might be getting old, but I'm nowhere near senile yet.
“Don't be ridiculous, you’re not old.”
“Oh, John,” she said in that patronizing voice she’d adopted ever since she kept on aging and he didn’t. “If you don’t want to talk about it, you can just say so.”
“There’s nothing to talk about!”
And there was definitely nothing to think about. Nothing to lose sleep over, nothing to regret and nothing to keep his mind occupied with questions and ‘what if’s.
There was nothing wrong.
‘Nothing’, of course, didn’t explain the circles under his eyes or the fact he couldn’t bear to look into a mirror, or that he was avoiding any kind of olives or-
Nothing. Nothing was wrong.
“You know how I’m always the one who’s gonna be left behind in the end?” he conceded, finally, but he couldn’t bear to meet her eyes as he said it. He didn’t want the thoughts of ‘even you will go’ that he hated himself for having, to be too obvious to her. “I guess I got a taste of what it is to leave someone behind, this time along.”
It wasn’t only that, either. He’d liked his job as a detective, had worked hard and actually helped people. And the entire mess with Anna and Insyndicate had left him messed up and so close to broken and-
And Dorian had been there and helped him up and put him back together. And he’d had to leave him behind, to abandon him completely.
He’d timed it carefully, wouldn’t do to be found out because of his too observing partner. He’d paid some faceless company to stage the raid while Dorian was out for his yearly maintenance and been officially pronounced MIA before the android was even completely rebooted yet. It had been… unfair.
It wasn’t his first time at this, goddamn it, he knew what he was doing and he-
He just wished he hadn’t let things between Dorian and himself evolve so much.
Would Dorian blame himself for this?
“You only did what you had to,” Sam offered sympathetically.
He wanted to argue, to start listing all the things he could’ve done differently, because Dorian…
Dorian wouldn’t age. He wouldn’t contract a disease; he wouldn’t go after less than a century. He could’ve been the one who would stay, if John would’ve just let him.
The urge to do it had been so strong, he’d found himself terrified by it.
Dorian loved the human in him. What would happen when he found out he was something else entirely?
Then again… was that train of thought even fair, considering what his partner really was?
He didn’t know, nor did he care. He couldn’t. It didn’t matter anymore, Dorian was back at the LAPD, probably working with someone else, and even if he missed John... Well, John Kennex was dead.
End of story.
“Yeah. I did.”
The sound of his doorbell served as a good enough excuse to end the conversation and as he headed towards the door he released a vicious stream of curses directed at his leg. Maybe she was right. Maybe he should just suffer through it and let it grow out. He was almost certain it would be possible with how his body regenerated.
He pulled the door open without even thinking, just as a sudden throb of pain almost made him double over, and he grabbed the synthetic as the detached female voice sounded instead of a welcome to his guest with its infuriating ‘Synthetic failed. Calibration required.’
He remained for a second like that, two hands grasping at the leg, bent at the waist and his eyes screwed shut, until he composed himself and was just about to throw some empty apology, when-
“Forgot the olive oil?”