They've been on the scene for all of a minute when John sees the portable missile launchers as he looks over the hood of his car. He's not the only one, though, and within a few seconds, every MX's safety protocol kicks in —along with Dorian's sense of logic and self-sacrifice. Dorian pins John to the ground, protecting him with his body.
“Hey!” John pushes against Dorian's chest. He doesn't even budge a little. “You can't actually survive fucking rockets!”
“I can survive them better than you.” Dorian looks down, directly into John's eyes, and smiles with the corner of his mouth. “Although... my chances of making it are rather low.” 13.24% if a rocket lands less than four feet away from him. 45.68% if nothing lands in a radius of seven feet. 0.03% if one lands on him.
John looks like he wants to say something, but it dies in his throat when he hears the sound of the missiles being launched. He closes his eyes and holds his breath.
That's when nothing happens. Or— that's not strictly true. The missiles crumble on the pavement without resulting in any explosion, as if they were made of clay, surrounding everyone by a thin cloud of dust.
When the realization hits that there's no real danger —at least from the missile launchers— and the androids stand up quickly, the gang who had been firing at the police officers has left behind the launchers and isn't anywhere to be seen.
“I still can't tell if this was a great diversion, so they could get away, or if they bought their missile launchers for twenty bucks and we're just lucky they got screwed over with that one.”
Dorian nods, frowning, revising the information they have on today's shooting. John has been ranting about the surprise ending since they got in the car to go back to the precinct, and Dorian is using the downtime to do some research.
“You're not even listening to me,” John says after a few seconds of silence.
Dorian turns his head towards him and raises an eyebrow. “You said, 'I still can't tell if this was a great diversion, so'—”
“All right, smartass. That's not because you were listening; you just have it all stored somewhere.”
“I fail to see the difference.”
“You're not using, you know, active listening.”
“I can't think of any way to listen to someone more actively than to have everything they say recorded.”
“Yeah, I don't think Maldonado is gonna be thrilled if I walk around with a recorder, instead of listening when she talks.”
“You rarely listen when she talks, so I believe it would be an improvement. Not to mention that your comparison falls short because you wouldn't be the one recording anything. The recording device would. If it had any kind of sentience, we would be able to say that it's the one listening. Actively so.”
John groans and stares decisively at the road, not answering, and it's Dorian's cue to turn his head away, a smug smile on his lips. He glances at John from time to time, mainly when he sighs, seeing him frown and squint.
“You're ruminating,” Dorian points out after a short time.
“Ruminating is a form of thinking, so they're not mutually exclusive.”
“Oh, for God's sake.”
“And you don't have to tell me what you're thinking about, but since I am pretty sure it's about the gang that just escaped from us and work-related, so it would probably be best to share your thoughts.”
There's a small pause that makes Dorian think John will ignore him before John answers: “Do you have to do that?”
“Do I have to drag work-related information out of you? I don't see you volunteering anything.”
“No, not that. Back there, did you have to throw yourself on me when you saw the missile launcher?”
Dorian clenches his jaw, annoyed. “I guess I could have stood by, crossed my arms, and watched a missile fall on you.”
“Yes, that's what I'm asking. Could you have done that? The MX-43s are programmed to save civilians first, officers second; they do the risk calculation for humans around them and then— act. When you tried to save me back there, was it because you had to?”
Ah. That's really not what Dorian was expecting John to be ruminating about.
“The DRNs were made to be as human as possible. That includes a wide range of feelings as well as limited free will. I'm programmed to make what I believe to be the best choice in any situation.”
“Not what calculations tell you to do,” John says, slowly.
“Calculations will always be there to help, but yes. Not just calculations. The DRNs were meant to have intrinsic motivation, and the ability to choose our own actions was part of it. From what I've read, though, it's also one of the reasons we were decommissioned. Just like humans can make bad choices based on emotions, we can, too.”
“Not what the people in charge want from their androids.”
“Exactly.” Dorian thinks the MX-43s probably make a lot more bad decisions than he does, because of how inflexible they are, but he also knows people rarely mind consequences of an action if it was taken based on complicated mathematics and sciences, rather than on emotions and gut feeling. People are more willing to say that maybe it wasn't a bad decision after all if it was based on scientific knowledge.
As if Dorian's use of his scientific knowledge had to be disregarded as soon as emotional considerations came into play.
“Anyway. I’m glad that your choice involves trying to keep me alive.”
Dorian whisks his head to the side to look at John again, grinning. “Are you thanking me?”
“When did you hear me say thank you? I just thought that after all the time you spent complaining about my ethics—”
“Your ethics are terrible.”
“—and how you think I'm late everywhere—”
“I don't think you're late. I have an internal watch. I know it.”
“—that you might not put my life in your list of priorities—”
“And what will I do if you die? Be decommissioned again?”
“Oh, will you shut up? I'm trying to thank you.”
Dorian raises his eyebrow and calmly says, “Hah. Are you now?”
“No. I mean—”
“Argh, all right. Whatever.”
“I'll be sure to do it again if you're that grateful each time,” Dorian says, sarcastic and amused.
“Yeah well don't get yourself killed over it.”
The next two days are erratic and exhausting to the point where Dorian looks like he's tired, something John didn't even know was possible. It's not that he has bags under his eyes or that he yawns, obviously. He reacts a bit slower, though, like he has a harder time processing things like a computer that has been on for too long and really needs a reboot. John expects him to glitch any time now, repeating something, maybe. Or going disco-face by accident, without any activity going on.
“Did you sleep well last night?” John asks him in the car on the way to the PD's Android Recharge Centre.
“I don't sleep, strictly speaking.”
“Yeah, yeah. Did you recharge well?”
“I don't think it's possible to recharge badly,” Dorian answers after a beat, and John has a feeling that the pause wasn't there on purpose. Dorian glances at John, frowning. “Why?”
“You don't look so well. Kinda tired. And you lagged just now.”
“It took you a second before you answered.”
“John, you do know that I can pause for effect, right?”
“So that's all it was?”
Dorian visibly hesitates, this time. “No. I've been having trouble with my energy influx today. It's been a known issue of DRNs that Rudy hasn't managed to fix, but it usually happens very rarely and isn't a lasting situation. I have to admit I'm surprised you paid enough attention to me that you realized something was going on.”
“You know I'm a detective, right?”
“Yes. So says your badge.”
“Are you saying I'm a bad detective?”
“Never,” Dorian says, smirking. “You have the second best clearance rate in the department, after all.” It sounds like Dorian is mocking him or like it should be an insult, but John knows his ranking and he's kind of proud of it, so he lets it go.
“So how do we fix your energy problem? Or will it fix itself at the ARC tonight?”
“No, it won't. But I can fix it myself.”
“That sounded a bit defensive.”
“Mmhmm.” John smiles, mouth closed. “So what exactly do you have to do to fix this that you don't want me to know?”
“I don't mind you knowing.”
“I guess you can tell me, then,” John says quickly. He can tell this is going to be good.
Dorian rolls his eyes, and John thinks he might not answer until he starts speaking. “The problem is that the energy discharge and influx isn't always balanced, depending on the kind of activity I do. It creates a sort of high tension in my circuitry if the influx is too high, making me glitch slightly and, as you so eloquently put it earlier, look tired. I need to open up an energy channel for a sudden discharge of energy that is quite pleasing and also leaves me feeling a lot more relaxed.”
Dorian turns his head towards John and stares at him, obviously waiting for his reaction. John knows what he just heard, but isn't sure if he should say what comes to mind. He says it anyway: “That sounds a hell of a lot like an orgasm.”
“Yes, it does, doesn't it?”
John's eyes widen, and he tries to concentrate on the road, but all he can really think about is Dorian's cock and wondering if Dorian releases energy the same way he does.
“Do you use... you know?”
“I never knew you were so interested in my sex life, John.”
“I didn't know you had one!”
“And if you had known, you would have shown interest earlier?”
John groans but he really is interested and incredibly curious.
“So, like. Do you?”
“The trigger is technically under my chestplate and easy enough to access that way. But, yes, I can also initiate the energy release the human way.”
“So you do use your dick! You said you didn't,” John says, accusatory.
“I said I used it for roughly the same thing you do. I stand by my statement.”
“Haha, very funny.” Not that John has had sex with anyone for a long time. “So... did they give you that design so that you could have more... human sex?”
“No, the design team didn't know the DRNs would have an energy influx defect. But since I had the anatomy and the need for orgasms, I recently asked Rudy if he could figure something out and he did.”
John is completely baffled, and the more they talk about it, the more questions (and images) he has.
“Do you ejaculate, then?”
Dorian sits up straighter in his seat and looks at John thoughtfully. “You know, if you are so interested in it, you could bring me back to your place before going to the ARC and watch me do it.”
John makes a face, but he clenches his jaw and tightens his hold on the steering wheel, trying to tame down the part of him that wants to say yes. When he glances to his right, Dorian is looking at his crotch.
“Hey! I told you you weren't allowed to scan my balls again!”
“I am not scanning your testicles specifically.”
“That included my dick! You can't scan any of my genitalia. You really shouldn't be scanning anyone's genitals at all ever.”
Dorian looks up. “Your heart rate sped up and you're probably aware that blood flow to your genitals is increasing.”
“Jesus Christ, can you at least not talk about it that way?”
Dorian raises his eyebrows. “You're getting hard, man.”
“Fucking hell, that's not actually helping.”
“I know this is involuntary, but if it means you do want to bring me back to your place, I'm just going to put it on the table that I'd like that.”
They sit in complete silence for ten seconds after that until John swears under his breath and turns right, changing course and driving toward his place instead.
It's the most awkward twelve minutes in a car that he's ever experienced, even more so because he can't find a way to defuse the tension and banter with Dorian without something getting stuck in his throat. Whenever John glances to his right, he can see that Dorian looks restless, and John wonders if Dorian has been into him for a while. He never thought about it because he never considered that Dorian might be into anybody. Now— John can't stop thinking of situations where, had any human acted or said what Dorian had, he would have assumed they were flirting with him.
He wouldn't have liked the idea of an android being into him not that long ago, but Dorian... Maldonado is right, Dorian is pretty much not like any other android. He's not like anyone John has ever met.
They keep the proper two feet between them in the elevator on the way to John's loft. John wouldn't have minded Dorian making the first move and starting on some kissing in the elevator —he'd hoped Dorian might do just that— but he can't make himself initiate anything like this, something nagging at the back of his head, asking him what he’s thinking about to have some sort of sex with his assigned police android.
Dorian walks into his place in front of him, and John closes the door behind them, keeping his hand on the doorknob longer than necessary, not knowing what to do.
“Are you having second thoughts?” Dorian says when he finally lets go of the handle and turns around.
“No.” He means it. He's not having second thoughts; he just has no experience whatsoever with robots.
“Good,” Dorian says, closing the distance between them and kissing John. It's slow and nearly gentle and not at all the way John likes his kisses, so he grabs the back of Dorian's head and makes it harder, mouths open, tongues getting seriously involved. Dorian gets with the program fast and pins John's back against the door, pushing a thigh between John's legs. John moves his hips immediately and grinds against him, groaning into Dorian's mouth.
“Did you only want to watch me jerk off?” Dorian asks when they take a break from kissing, and John is glad that he's using a more familiar way to express himself instead of going the factually-accurate route.
“No, I'm gonna get a bit more involved than that.”
“Good,” Dorian says again and pulls on John's shirt. They start kissing again while moving, John getting the idea and clumsily leading them to the bed. By the time they get there, they've both dropped their shirts on the floor somewhere on the way and Dorian's hands are undoing John's belt.
“Hey,” John says, hands skirting over Dorian's chest. It doesn't feel quite like skin: firmer but also smoother. “Have you ever—”
“No,” Dorian interrupts, done with the belt buckle and moving to the button and zipper.
“You didn't let me finish.”
“I know that the answer is no.”
John stiffens. “Do you mean you've never... anything?”
“John,” Dorian sighs, annoyed.
“Do you know what you're doing?” John asks, suddenly not quite as confident.
“Yes, I do. Have you ever done anything with an android?”
“Do you know what you're doing?”
“Right. So please, shut up,” Dorian says good-naturedly and pushes a hand into John's jeans and under his briefs to get a hold of John's cock. It makes all his arguments against shutting up go away instantly.
Dorian strokes his cock a few times, his grip a bit too hard, but John makes a mental note of it because it means this is how Dorian does it on himself and Dorian is right that John has no idea what he's doing. So he's going to use the hints thrown at him to try and not do everything completely wrong.
Dorian lets go of him and pushes him back on the bed in the same motion, surprising him and taking his breath away. John doesn't have any time to react before Dorian's hands are crooked in his waistband and quickly removing his jeans and underwear. When John's shoes get in the way, he stops to pull them off without untying them and finishes undressing him in one swift movement. It leaves him completely naked, sprawled on his own bed, while Dorian is still mostly dressed.
He pushes himself up on his forearms, half-sitting, to look at Dorian who doesn't look like he's on his way to standing up. He looks into John's eyes when he moves and strokes the inside of John’s thighs and down his legs, making him shiver and his cock twitch.
“Do you keep the cybernetic leg when you have sex?” Dorian asks.
The damn leg. John would have liked Dorian to forget about it. “I don’t know,” he answers sharply. Honestly, he'll end up hating anything to do with his leg whether he keeps the prosthesis or not. “Do you want me to keep it?” he asks, sounding more defensive than he means to.
Dorian turns his eyes towards John's right leg and caresses it slowly. “Yes.” The tone of his voice is enough for John to reconsider how much he hates his leg. Just a little.
John doesn’t want to keep on talking about his leg, though, so he sits up to reach for Dorian and pull him onto the bed. Dorian avoids his hand and stands up to kick his shoes off before bending forward to press a hand against John’s chest.
“Move back and lie down.”
“Oh, you’re giving me orders, now?” John says for the hell of it, but he also listens, shuffling back on his bed.
“I’m the one who knows what he’s doing.” Dorian follows him, kneeling between his legs on the mattress and leaning down, pushing John down until he’s lying flat on his back. John can’t even pretend that he minds Dorian taking control. He kind of prefers it actually, not because he likes his partners taking control in bed but because he really doesn’t know how consent works for androids.
For someone who had kissed John all gentle and tentative not five minutes earlier, John hadn’t expected Dorian to lick his lips and take his dick in his mouth so fast. And Dorian sure hadn’t been lying when he’d said he knew what he was doing because he moves fast and takes John deep down his throat with, of course, no gag reflex to speak of.
“Oh fuck,” John moans and spreads his legs and then shifts the right one over Dorian’s shoulder when Dorian encourages him to. He throws his arms back and grabs the sheet behind his head, trying not to moan too loudly. Dorian knows how to give a blowjob far too well for someone who's never had sex before. Dorian’s throat constricts when it needs to, and he sucks when he needs to, and John knows in the back of his mind that this is just applied theory, but applied theory is a really fantastic thing.
He’s already trying to make himself not come after maybe three minutes.
“Fuck, you’re cheating,” he groans out. He swears he can see Dorian smirk as he takes him deeper and tightens his throat again, only proving that, yes, he has the circuits and parts required to do this for a reason.
Another minute and John's tensing up, feeling the orgasm build up, which is exactly when Dorian lets go of his dick and backs off.
“Oh, come on!”
“You can’t come in my mouth, John.”
John lets out a frustrated noise, mostly at himself because he should have thought about how coming inside an android’s mouth was, yes, probably a bad idea. He’s about to ask Dorian to just jerk him off or something when Dorian asks, “Do you have any condoms?”
Yes, okay. Better solution. John turns towards the nightstand and opens its drawer, pulling out a string of condoms that has been there for ages but are probably not expired because condoms don’t expire for years, right?
Dorian grabs the condoms from John’s hand, ripping one off and opening it. There’s something weirdly perfect about watching Dorian roll it down his cock, head following to swallow him again right away.
He runs a hand through Dorian’s hair, throws his head back and closes his eyes. He lasts twenty seconds before coming, lifting his hips up as he tenses, holding Dorian’s head down. He lets go when his breathing and heartbeat slow down again, and Dorian never tries to push up before that. He doesn’t need to catch a breath, after all. Dorian removes the condom from John’s cock as he’s pulling off, and throws it perfectly into the garbage can.
“So did I really know what I was doing?” Dorian asks, smug.
“Yes, you annoying nuisance. Now come over here and get rid of your pants.”
Dorian smiles and listens to the second part of John's order. There's no reason for John to be surprised by how big Dorian is, but he still is. He’d kind of convinced himself that his brain had exaggerated how large he remembered Dorian’s cock being. It hadn’t.
John is still catching his breath, and every instinct he has is telling him that falling asleep right now seems like an incredible idea. Dorian’s hard, though. He doesn’t know how exactly and isn’t that interested in how right this moment. All he can think about is that, somehow, sucking him off made Dorian hard, even though he’s a freaking robot. And, although John can’t explain why, he finds it incredibly hot.
“Come over here,” John repeats, coaxing and lazy, extending his hand towards Dorian. Dorian crawls next to him, and John pushes himself to his side, making himself move until he’s on top of Dorian because there’s no way in hell he’s letting Dorian stay in control for the entire encounter.
John shifts to position himself more comfortably over Dorian and kisses him as he fists his cock. Damn, his hand can just barely circle it. The design team on the DRNs really had something to prove here.
He makes sure he’s holding Dorian’s cock at least as tight as Dorian held him earlier when he starts moving his hand while pushing his tongue into Dorian’s mouth at the same time. Dorian moves his hips to match John's strokes, arms circling his neck.
“Harder,” Dorian tells him between kisses after a while.
John definitely never wants anyone to jerk him off while gripping so hard, but he doesn't know how Dorian's dick works and where the buttons giving the appropriate responses are. So he obeys and tightens his grip even more.
Dorian moans, but there's a trace of frustration in the sound.
“Not right?” John asks.
“Nearly. But you're going to keep me on the edge with this.”
John tries to grip Dorian's cock harder, but at this point, it mainly just makes his hand cramp.
“How hard do you need it?” John says, frustrated.
“It was calibrated for my average hand strength, not for humans,” Dorian answers, sounding disappointed.
John sighs and lets go of Dorian's cock. He shouldn't be feeling inadequate because he can't make Dorian come; there can't be a lot of people —humans, anyway— who could. But Dorian gave him one awesome orgasm, and he's on his way to not giving him one in return. The feeling sucks. “So what now? Do we go back to the me-watching-you option?”
“We could,” Dorian answers, slowly, “or you could use the trigger in my chest.” He sounds hopeful but also like he's trying not to sound too hopeful.
John stares and presses his lips into a tight line, stopping himself from grimacing. Dorian sees right through it, and his face falls. “Never mind. It's okay.” He's completely sincere, and it makes John wince.
If Dorian sees the wince, he ignores it. He sits up to lean back against the head of the bed and spreads his leg, curling his fist around his erection. “Stand back and enjoy the show,” he says and smiles.
John hesitates for a second and decides: screw this. Maybe he won't enjoy putting his hand in Dorian's chest, but he won't hate it or anything. He places a hand over Dorian's to stop his movement.
“So how do we get your chest open?”
Dorian stops moving his hand and looks directly at John. “The idea turns you off.”
“Well, yeah, maybe a bit. But whatever, I can do it anyway.” He swallows. “I want to do it anyway.” He smirks. “There are plenty of things I thought were disgusting before trying them that I ended up loving.” Mostly food, though. “So I guess I need to try it before knocking it.”
Dorian looks unimpressed, and it occurs to John that he probably should have found a better word than 'disgusting' to express his idea. “You are quite the smooth talker,” Dorian says.
“Well— did I convince you to let me try?”
Dorian looks at him in silence for a few seconds and then lets go of his cock, instead grabbing John's hand and pulling it up to his collarbone, placing his index firmly against a small bump under his skin.
“That's one of the switches to remove my chestplate. The other is exactly at the same place under my right collarbone. You'll need to push both at the same time. And it's not as if I really needed any convincing.”
John grins and moves closer to kneel between Dorian's legs until he feels Dorian's erection brushing against his thigh, careful not to move his index finger. He raises his other hand and looks for the same bump on the other side of Dorian's chest. He doesn't find it right away, but Dorian doesn't move to help him, and when John glances at his eyes, he can see that Dorian is enjoying it. This is what foreplay is for him: looking for switches, touching buttons without pushing them.
When John finds the second switch, Dorian's eyes flutter close, and John is pretty sure his breathing would have hitched if Dorian were breathing. Dorian nods sharply, and John pushes. There's a faint click sound and the chestplate pops up about an inch, ready to be removed.
John slides his fingers under the edges and pulls it up, and it’s really fucking weird to see a bunch of wires and metal plates with some pale blue LED backlighting inside the chest of the guy you’re currently fucking.
He puts the chestplate on the bed, which doesn’t help because he places it facing up, and now he’s got Dorian’s perfectly-shaped torso on his left, and Dorian’s everything else in front of him. And around him.
“Okay, what now?”
Dorian raises his right hand to his chest and starts carefully moving the cords around where his heart would be if hearts were on the right side of the chest and androids had hearts. “Do you see a purple cable there?”
John squints, examining the circuitry between the cords Dorian is holding apart with his thumb and index.
“Huh, yeah. Plugged in?” He reaches between Dorian’s fingers to touch what he thinks Dorian is talking about. “This?”
Dorian slowly removes his own hand and nods. “You’ll have to press down on the tab to pull it out of the jack and then plug it back in again.”
“After how long?”
“Just a second. In the same movement.”
John shifts closer to get a better angle, clutching the cord between his fingers. It makes his leg rub against Dorian’s cock and Dorian moves his hips up a little, increasing the contact.
“I’m not gonna get electrocuted, right?”
“It’s perfectly safe,” Dorian says readily.
“For you, too?”
“Yes. John, please—”
John places his right forearm against the headboard and leans to kiss Dorian, aggressive, and Dorian just barely has the time to circle John’s waist with his arm and start kissing back before John pulls the cord out. Dorian stops kissing back and tenses up, his grip on John’s waist becoming too hard, and— that is definitely going to leave a bruise. Dorian slumps under him when John pushes the cord back into the port, eyes closed. John removes his hand from Dorian’s chest and caresses the side of his stomach where there is still skin. Dorian stays silent without moving for long enough that John starts wondering if he just did something incredibly wrong.
“Hey, you okay?”
Dorian smiles without opening his eyes. “Yes.” He grabs the back of John’s neck and pulls him against him, and John finds that he doesn’t mind basically leaning against a gaping hole full of electrical things as much as he thought he would. He’d definitely prefer if Dorian had his chestplate on, but he doesn’t actively hate it.
And then Dorian kisses him and he’s busy kissing back.
“It was better than when I do it myself,” Dorian says when they break the kiss.
John smirks. “Yeah, it’s the same for humans.” He remembers thinking something similar after he’d received his first handjob. “So… are you better now? Do you wanna get dressed and I’ll drop you at the ARC?”
Dorian looks up at John and frowns. “No.”
“Okay, well, staying here and having more sex is definitely an option.”
“No, that’s not— I still have some of the effects of the energy imbalance.” And from Dorian’s tone, John can guess that this is not good.
John backs off on the bed, still on his knees. “Are you broken?”
“Sick,” Dorian corrects.
John groans. “Oh, whatever. D’you need Rudy or something?”
That’s when Dorian throws himself on John, and John barely avoids a punch by rolling away and falling off the bed.
“Holy— What the fuck, Dorian!”
When Dorian turns his head and gets off the bed, it’s in the mechanical way that the MX-43s move. John dodges a kick and gets up, taking a defensive pose. Something is definitely going very wrong with Dorian, but he doesn’t have time to wonder what because the kick he just avoided broke his floor and he’s going to die if he’s not careful.
He knows where his gun is, and he knows where to shoot to decommission Dorian – he’s not wearing his chestplate, so he’s actually pretty vulnerable— but John doesn’t want to take Dorian out for good. He needs to knock him out without risking too much permanent damage, and he’s not going to be able to do that with a gun. He knows a dozen places to shoot a human being to put them out of commission without killing them, but they never learn about that sort of thing for robots.
The only thing he can think of is that the recharge stand for his leg has a magnetic field to deactivate the prosthesis before removing it, and maybe it would also deactivate Dorian, too. If he’s lucky…
He kneels, grabs his gun on the floor, and makes a run for the desk where he stores his leg during the night. He positions himself behind it facing his bed, takes out the gun and raises it. He doesn’t have to wait for Dorian because he’s already right there, and he doesn’t take his eyes off Dorian when he turns on the magnetic field.
His prosthesis turns itself off immediately, as it should, and John balances himself on the desk, holding his breath, ready to fire if Dorian doesn’t show any sign of being affected. He starts breathing again when he sees Dorian’s eyes lose their color and the lights in his chest turn off, and only lowers his gun when Dorian falls heavily to the floor.
John lets himself catch his breath and puts the gun down so that he can remove the prosthesis; he can’t turn it on again without turning off the magnetic field, and he’s not doing that any time soon, so his leg is literally dead weight at the moment. He lets himself fall on the floor when the leg is removed, contemplating the situation. He’s possibly broken Dorian with sex, Dorian is lying on the floor of his apartment naked and with no chestplate, he’s sitting on the floor of his apartment naked and lacking a leg, and he can’t move Dorian out of the four-foot radius of the magnetic field.
Fuck. Fixing Dorian is definitely a priority, and he can’t do that alone.
All he tells Rudy is that Dorian has malfunctioned and attacked him and he needs to come to his place ASAP. With that much information, it’s not surprising that Rudy brings a backpack that looks ready to burst and a toolbox that he’s having a hard time lifting.
In the meantime, John finds the crutches he’d used before they’d given him a prosthesis so that he can move around a little more easily. He also puts on some pants and a shirt and ponders for a long time the pros and cons of trying to put the chestplate back on Dorian and dress him. One of the cons is ‘I may accidentally reactivate him and then he may kill me’, though, and this eventually wins.
So the first thing John tells Rudy is: “He’s over there and before you go in and see it, yeah he’s naked and his chestplate is off.”
Rudy stares at him, eyes wide, and John holds his gaze.
“Naked on the floor, yes.”
“Huh. N—not that I— but.” Rudy tilts his head and squints. “Why?”
John glares at him and turns, walking decisively inside, glad that he can still move quickly and fluidly with crutches.
Rudy follows him, apparently not getting the hint that this means he should drop the topic. “Did you undress him? And remove his chestplate? Because it’s not really that surprising that… I mean, you shouldn’t be removing androids’ chestplate. There was probably—”
“He undressed himself,” John says angrily, “and I kind of removed the chestplate, but he told me how. That’s not what screwed him up, he was fine until after—” John cuts himself off and he can feel himself blushing. Goddammit.
“After…?” John hopes that seeing Dorian will distract Rudy, but it does the exact opposite and instead makes him get it. “Oh! After… you, uh, fixed his energy influx balance?” Rudy’s voice goes high as he finishes his question.
“That wouldn’t— Also you know that you don’t have to use the trigger in his chest—?”
“Yes, I do because you calibrated… it to Dorian’s strength, and can we possibly stop talking about this, so you can start figuring out why he tried to kill me?”
Rudy puts the box and his bag on the floor and does something that opens up Dorian’s head and plays with the wires in there.
“You can turn off the field; he’s... disconnected.”
John doesn’t have to be told twice. He switches it off and starts working on reactivating his leg while Rudy works on fixing Dorian. Rudy is still sitting on the floor with his computer open, scanning Dorian, when John is done with his leg, so he stands next to them, arms crossed, and stares, looking as impatient as he feels.
“Aaaah,” Rudy says, unhappy and anxious.
“That didn’t sound good.”
“No. No, uhm... He’s been hacked.”
The blood drains from John’s face.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a virus in his programming.”
“Fucking hell. Fuck everything!” He turns towards the wall and kicks it, disappointed that it doesn’t make him feel better. “Can you tell how it was done?”
“Probably nanobots. It’s not very old, too. Three days, maybe.”
“Those damn missiles that didn’t work!” Oh, great, now he has to call Maldonado about it. “Ugh.” He takes out his phone and just looks at it for a while, not knowing how he’s supposed to tell her that he thinks there was a virus in the dust that resulted from that gang’s missiles without telling her about Dorian’s situation.
The phone abruptly vibrates in his hand, and the caller ID says it’s Maldonado, so he doesn’t really have a choice anymore. He’ll have to improvise.
“John, we have a situation. Do you know where Dorian is?”
“Yes. He’s here.”
“Has he shown any aggressive behavior?”
John bites his lips and manages to let out: “No, why?”
“Every MX who was at the shooting at the corner of Wells three days ago has been hacked and turned hostile about fifteen minutes ago. We’ve managed to neutralize them all, but we did a headcount and Dorian was missing.”
“He’s fine. He’s with me. Maybe whatever it was was designed for MX-43s and Dorian wasn’t affected. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Yes,” she says, relieved. “Come to the precinct and we’ll have him scanned to be sure the virus isn’t just reacting more slowly on him.”
“Yeah, sure, but I’ll finish my beer first.”
“John,” she sighs.
“See you in an hour,” he says and hangs up.
Rudy hasn’t moved during the whole conversation, looking up at John, probably holding his breath to be sure Maldonado wouldn’t hear him.
“You didn’t tell her…”
“Yeah. And you won’t either. You have half an hour to fix him.”
“It’s illegal to—”
“Do you want them to reduce him to scraps over this?” Rudy shakes his head. “Fix him.” John rubs his face. “Can you fix him?” he asks, suddenly insecure.
“I think so. I’ll need to reformat him.”
“That’s not fixing him!” John nearly shouts.
“I have... Well. We’re already doing something illegal, right?” Rudy smiles, looking more nervous than John has ever seen him, and that’s saying something. “I keep backups.”
“Of Dorian’s hard drives,” Rudy squeaks out.
“You’re a civilian!”
“I know. But we’re already doing something illegal, right?” he repeats. “So might as well...”
“As if we had a choice. I can’t believe you keep backups of police androids. Owning that kind of data is eighteen months to four years, you know.”
“I know.” Rudy sounds like he wants to crawl into a hole, but he doesn’t really sound like he regrets it. The truth is that, right now, John doesn’t either. “The last save I made was a bit over a week ago.”
“I’ll catch him up on the last week. Get to work.”
It takes longer than thirty minutes. John knows that looking at his watch more and more often won’t make Rudy work faster, but he can’t help it. All of this is gonna be ruined if Maldonado suspects anything is wrong, and then both he and Rudy would probably lose their jobs, possibly get arrested, and Dorian would get decommissioned for good.
“Okay, I think I’m done.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not… they’re not made to be reformatted. If there is ever a reason to reformat a police android, protocol is to destroy them,” Rudy says.
“I know, okay? Be right back.” He goes to his room and picks up Dorian’s chestplate and his clothes. He leaves the shirt and chestplate next to his body and starts putting his pants, socks and shoes on.
Rudy looks at him with what can only be described as a judgemental expression. “You said you would catch him up with the last week.”
“Yeah, with everything he needs to know so that no one else ever suspects he has a week of memories missing. No reason to tell him about anything else.”
When he’s done dressing Dorian and looks at Rudy, he looks sad. And not just a little, either. He looks like a sad fucking puppy.
“What?” John snaps.
“Does that mean you’d like to forget?”
“For fuck’s sake, Rudy.”
“Is it because he’s not human? Because… I know him pretty well, I think, and he would want to know. He wouldn’t regret it.”
“Maybe he was acting that way because of the virus,” John says, not letting out how much he fears this is the case.
“I don’t think—”
“Listen, it’s my business, and I’ll figure it out.”
Rudy finally gets that this is the end of the conversation and turns Dorian back on.
Dorian is disoriented, obviously. When John tells him he’s had a virus, they reformatted him, he has a week missing, they need to go to the precinct now, and he’ll catch him up in the car, Dorian says: “I’m sorry. Thank you.”
He sounds fine, and he operates fine. John is so relieved he wants to hug him, but he doesn’t.
Instead, they both help Rudy pack up his things and hurry out.
John is freaking out the entire time they test Dorian, even though he knows he might give them away with his behavior. He can’t make himself calm down, even when Valerie comes by to see him.
“Worried that he’ll be infected?” she asks gently.
John thinks about saying no, but there really is no reason to lie. “Yeah,” he grumbles out. It’s not the only thing he’s worried about, but yes, it’s definitely there.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Valerie answers, but she doesn’t sound like she means it. She sounds sorry and sympathetic.
Everything ends up fine, Dorian is let go with a clean bill of health (so to speak), and John drives him to the Recharge Centre. He spends the whole time thinking about whether or not he wants Dorian to know they had sex and trying to figure out how he feels about all of it. He can’t deny that he wants a repeat performance, and he thinks he might want more than that. If they keep having sex, considering how often they see each other and how they already go out sometimes… he thinks he’d be forced to consider it dating eventually. But he can’t have a relationship with a robot. That’s just not how things work.
He’s seen the weirdos on the internet, talking about how they’re in love with their sexbot, and John isn’t going to become one of those people. Fuck, Rudy is right: he totally regrets having sex with Dorian, and he’s using this opportunity to pretend it never happened.
“You were very silent today in the car,” Dorian says when they arrive at the ARC.
“Long day,” John answers. Dorian accepts it and gets out of the car.
When Dorian is out of sight, John groans and lets his head fall onto the steering wheel. He eventually makes it back to his apartment and is reminded that Dorian left a hole in his floor. He puts a pillow on it, so he doesn’t have to look at it.
Later, when he undresses to go to sleep, he sees the finger-shaped bruise that Dorian left on the side of his waist. He sleeps like shit.
Dorian can probably tell something is wrong the very next day, but it still takes him nearly a week to say anything.
“Are you thinking about having me reassigned?” he asks in the car about halfway from the precinct to the ARC.
“What are you talking about?” John has been expecting him to say something eventually, but that wasn’t it.
“You’ve been keeping an eye on me since the virus incident,” he states. It’s completely true, so John doesn’t say anything. It’s not exactly the kind of ‘keeping on eye on’ that Dorian thinks it is, though.
“If you don’t feel you can trust me, the sensible solution—”
“I don’t feel that I can’t trust you.”
“—would be to put in a request for a new partner.”
“I’m not replacing you!” John lets out.
Dorian shakes his head. “I know I let you get away with things far more than any MX-43 ever would, but staying with a partner that you’re constantly monitoring is going to have repercussions on the quality of your work.”
“I’m not monitoring you,” John grumbles out.
Dorian presses his lips together. “Your vitals seem to indicate you are, in fact, not lying.”
“Don’t sound so surprised!” John answers, vaguely insulted.
Dorian nods. “So did we have sex?”
It’s a miracle that John doesn’t drive them into a wall.
“Hmm. That’s the second most likely explanation for your behavior, and your vitals are going wild—”
“Stop checking my heart rate!”
“—but that could be because the question makes you uncomfortable.”
“Of course, the question makes me uncomfortable. You don’t just ask that kind of thing to people.”
“So we really didn’t have sex?”
John clenches his jaw, trying to will himself to repeat that, no, they didn’t. But he’s not the best liar and it feels entirely different to lie by omission than to lie when asked a direct question. “Ugh. How did you know?”
“I was programmed for detection work.” Dorian pauses. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I… guess I didn’t want you to know.”
“Yes. I had figured that part out by myself.” John stays silent for too long after that, so Dorian continues, “It wasn't the virus. I have been interested in you since before the last few weeks' events.” A pause. “Was that the problem?”
“Partly.” John's definitely glad to hear that, and it's a huge weight off his shoulders not to have the dreadful feeling that he might have raped his partner loom over him anymore. But that's also not all that's been bothering him.
“Okay. What else?”
“I just don’t think it was a good idea,” John admits, grunting. He knows it’s not clear what he’s talking about and makes no effort to make it clearer. Of course, Dorian understands perfectly anyway.
“Wow. You are such an asshole sometimes.”
John is too taken aback by Dorian’s swearing to say something for a few seconds. “I’m sorry?”
“You weren’t sure if having sex with me was a good idea from your perspective and so you decided not to tell me, so you wouldn’t have to deal with consequences.”
“Well, that’s not exactly it.”
“I am willing to listen.”
“It’s because you’re a robot.”
“Oh. So you’re still an asshole, but not for the reasons I thought you were.”
“It’s not easy! I don’t like robots, okay? I have issues with robots and issues with cybernetic anything, and you show up and you’re so human. But at the same time I need to open up your chest to make you come, and I didn’t hate it, but I’m generally confused.”
“This is definitely the most you have ever shared your feelings with me. I suggest next time you do it, you speak in a calmer manner.”
“That’s all you have to say?”
“This sounds to me like a classic case of denial that is already on its way to acceptance, so I’m not worried.”
“Denial about what?”
“About being attracted to some non-humans. You’re also now legally a cyborg, something you have a hard time dealing with, so there seems to be a classic amount of internalized cyberphobia mixed in.”
“It’s not internalized. I just admitted it.”
“Yes. You don’t like robots. But you like me.”
“Because you don’t act like any other robot.”
“I act like many robots because I am one. I’m not human, John, even if it makes you more comfortable to think about me that way. Your preconceived notions about us are wrong. I think… you’ll have to accept that I am, in fact, 100% robotic and that it is fine that way before we start dating.”
“Who said anything about dating?”
“I just did.” Dorian smiles at him. “Ask me out when you’re ready.”
It takes John two months to admit to himself that he wants to date a robot —not just Dorian but a robot— and that it doesn’t make him too much of a weirdo. It’s an embarrassingly long time, and he’ll never admit how long he spent lurking on forums, stalking people in the human/android relationships community.
“What do you like?” John asks Dorian in the car one evening.
“That is an extremely broad question.”
“You don’t eat, so I can’t really ask you out for dinner now, can I? So what do you like?”
Dorian opens his eyes wide and then grins, so genuinely happy that it takes John’s breath away.
“I like museums.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake. Are you serious?”
“There’s an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art that I’m really interested in seeing.”
John sighs. “All right. Sunday afternoon works for you?”
“Yes. We do have the exact same work schedule.”
“Great. And you can come to my place afterwards. For…” He tries to find a decent excuse that isn’t just blatantly stating that it’s for sex, but he can’t think of one.
“Fixing my energy influx?” Dorian offers, still grinning.
“Definitely an idea I agree with. But if you wanted to bring me back to your place right now, I'm just going to put it on the table that I'd like that.”
John chuckles and turns right, changing course and driving toward his place instead.