There was something wrong with Dorian. John had always known about the Dorian models and their issues, but he’d gotten used to having Dorian around. He’d grown accustomed to seeing Dorian’s dorky, cheerful face day in, day out, and to the idea he’d be stuck with the bot for years yet.
John might have shoved his previous assigned synth out of a speeding car, but Dorian was different. Dorian was his partner. And John had never hung a partner out to dry.
It was for this reason that John dumped his case on Valerie and dragged Dorian to the bot doc right away.
“I’ve not gone rogue.” Dorian’s voice was laced with exasperation. “And it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”
“I’m afraid I have to agree with Dorian,” Rudy said. “I can find nothing wrong in my diagnostics, and he’s operating well within intended parameters.” Rudy disconnected Dorian and patted him on the shoulder. “You’re good to go.”
“Thank you,” Dorian said.
“Then how do you explain this?” John brandished the bouquet like another might a key piece of evidence. To John, it was a key piece of evidence.
“They’re flowers,” Rudy said slowly.
“Hyacinths,” Dorian added helpfully. In an aside to Rudy, he continued, “His favorites.”
“And last night,” John said in accusing tones, “he bought me dinner.”
Dorian and Rudy stared politely, waiting for him to go on.
“Of his own free will!” John pressed. “No trickery involved!”
“That’s what people do when they want to be nice to each other.”
Ignoring Dorian, John continued, “He hasn’t insulted me in over a week. It’s unnatural.”
Dorian made a strangled sound for some reason, but John already knew he was malfunctioning.
“You have to fix this.” He jabbed Rudy in the chest. “What if we go after bad guys like this and he decides to give them roses? He’ll get himself shot - or worse, laughed at.”
“The only one we’re laughing at is you,” Dorian said lowly. John began to have hope that it was all some temporary glitch, and Dorian was getting better, but - “And you’re not a bad guy, John. I rather like you.”
“See! You see what I’m dealing with here!”
Dorian and Rudy stared at each other again. Dorian sighed.
“Have you tried telling him - ?” Rudy asked.
“We’ve already had the feelings talk,” Dorian said.
“There will be no more talk of feelings!”
“Though I’m beginning to wonder if the problem is John doesn’t realize he, too, is a real boy after all.”
“Look - ” Rudy glanced from one to the other. “This isn’t really my area of expertise. If you needed further modifications - ”
Dorian scratched his cheek, almost like he was embarrassed. “I’ve already taken care of that angle.”
“ - or if you needed discreet repairs in the wake of a related accident, I’m your guy. But I do not,” Doc waved his arms, “do relationships. There is a reason I live in my lab and rarely ever leave. Though I would,” he added, face gone briefly hopeful, “be up for further undercover work.”
John and Dorian shook their heads at each other. Dorian looked a little sympathetic to Rudy’s plight, but seriously, no one was ever letting him out of the lab again.
Rudy clapped his hands roughly together. “The fact stands: I cannot help you, gentlemen.”
“Fine,” John bit out. “Fine. I’ll figure it out on my own.”
“I really wish you would,” Dorian said.
John’s second plan of attack was to take it to the captain. She was a discreet, savvy lady. She’d know what to do and keep any possibility of Dorian going rogue under wraps.
John remained sure she was their best bet for help - right up until she laughed him out of the office.
Dorian helpfully escorted him out, John too busy spluttering in astonishment and indignation to really respond.
“It’s okay,” Dorian said. “Why don’t we go out for some nice vanilla shakes and calm down?”
“Calm down? Calm down! This is all going to end in calamity, and I’m the only one who cares!”
“I care, John,” Dorian reassured him.
Suddenly guilty, because of course whatever was wrong was affecting Dorian more than his partner, John stopped struggling and let Dorian lead him away. After a moment, he found some words, inadequate as they were: “I know, buddy. I know. And we’ll fix this, I promise you.
“You know,” Valerie said, plucking a flower from the vase on John’s desk. “I think there have only been five recorded instances of a Dorian model falling in love.”
“Eighty-seven internationally,” her synth corrected.
She sent it a withering look. To John, she said, “You should count yourself lucky.”
“What’s love got to do with anything?” John asked, paying only partial attention and not bothering to look up from his report. If he got this in in the next ten minutes, he could probably sneak Dorian out to one of the black market bot techs he kept on his rolls as a CI. John was going to get Dorian help if he had to turn over every rock and flush out every illegally operating scumbag to do it. “Hey, you don’t think it could be a virus, do you?”
“You’re hopeless,” Valerie said.
Dorian put his foot down at black market dealing and refused to even get out of the car. “You don’t know where those tools have been,” he said flatly.
“Damnit, man, do you want to get better or not?”
“There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“That’s not what all the flowers say.”
“They’re not a cry for help.” Dorian rubbed a hand against his face. “They’re - okay, they’re a cry for attention, sure, but not in a ‘please fix me’ way.”
John stared at Dorian. “Right. Well, you’ve got my attention.”
“I just - I just wanted - ” Dorian sighed. “I was hoping to go for subtle, or something like it, but subtle won’t sink in through that thick skull of yours.”
John simultaneously bristled at the insult and relaxed at the goodnatured needling, a possible sign that Dorian, accepting help or no, was on the road to recovery. This lasted as long as it took Dorian to lean across the gear shaft. Every nerve in John’s body went taut as Dorian grabbed the lapels of his jacket.
“Just so that we are clear,” Dorian said, inching incrementally closer, “and there are no further misunderstandings: I’m going to kiss you now. Because of feelings.”
John gaped. Dorian closed the gap.
After a moment - a long, electric moment in which John’s hands somehow made their way into Dorian’s shirt - John pulled back. “Wait. Wait. So all of this - it was to say you like me? You like me?”
“Well.” Dorian nibbled John’s jaw. “I don’t know if I’d go that far.”
“You like me.” John knew his voice was entirely too smug for a detective first class who’d failed to notice he was dating his partner and had probably made a fool of himself in front of half the precinct, but -
“Yeah, yeah,” Dorian allowed. “I even bought you dinner.”
“Wait,” John said. “With Rudy, you said - modifications?”
Dorian grinned. “Take me home, and I’ll show you.”
There was something wrong with Dorian. John was acerbic, abrasive, and tended to dislike the majority of synths, even if Dorian himself got a pass. John forgot anniversaries, had no idea what to do with flowers, and wouldn’t recognize a pass until the other person pushed their tongue down his throat. He made a hell of a police partner, but romantic - ? He’d been told he excelled in other areas even by his exes. It made no logical sense for Dorian to fall for him.
Letting Dorian shove his hands down his pants, John would have it no other way.