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“Looks like the place went hermetic after the attack.” Lieutenant Trevor stated, tapping his screen. “Wonder how long it was drifting for.”



Major Nichols placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Can you get in past her security features?” She asked, not bothering to pretend she knew what he was doing on his device.



“C’mon, Val. This is me. Give me three minutes, a stim-stick and a pat on the arse, and I’ll have this lady singing out her codes for us.” Winking, he wiggled his hips and went back to work.



The salvage team had located a floating ship thirteen point six eight degrees off the usual route taken from the Trafalgar Space Station to the third moon of Bahlyn. She was completely without power. Not even a distress beacon showing on Trevor’s scans.



“Jesus…” He breathed



“What is it? Have you gotten in?”



Trevor held up his screen, as the salvage ship docked with the ghost. “The Baker, this lady here? She was reported lost, with all crew.” He licked his lips, and double-checked his dates. “Over one hundred fifty years ago, Val.”



Getting into the Baker was an easy task. Without her support systems running, she accepted the docking procedures. The three person recon team waited through their decompression in silence. When the Baker’s doors opened for them, they kept their masks on despite the emergency oxygen they had pumped into the ship.



“Now we’re in, I’m getting a reading. Faint. Way too faint for it to have breached the hull. Probably a comm device that had been left plugged in when the… when whatever happened, happened. Or a music player. Something with back up battery life. Two levels down, looks like the Med Research Lab.”



Major Nichols rolled her shoulders. “Seems as good a place as any to start.”



It took Trevor a few attempts to over ride the Lab doors. Finally, when the other crew members were starting to shift uncomfortably, the door opened with a hiss of released pressure.



The room was a wreck. Tables had been over turned, and several mummified bodies lay where they had fallen. The preserved state of the remains made the end of the Baker clear. They had been attacked.



“Fuck… They all...” Trevor clapped his hand to his mouth. His already pale skin blanched further, his freckles standing out in sharp relief. “Val… I…”



“Deep breaths, kiddo.” Major Nichols rubbed his back. “Where’s that device? Maybe it’s a recording.”



“It’s… There, back there.” He pointed to a ruined bank of counters. Taking a few hesitant steps forward, his eyes narrowed. “That’s… My god, Val. Look at this.”



Nichols and the private Denis followed him behind the wreckage. “This thing belongs in a museum!”



He started to kneel beside the android, then staggered back. It was clutching the desiccated hand of a body.



“Let’s just leave it alone for now.” Nichols stroked the back of Trevor’s neck in comfort.



The crew worked for several hours, locating as many of the bodies on that level as they could, and sealing them in bio hazard bags. They left the android alone, until it was time to take away the body it held onto.



“It looks so real.” Denis breathed, touching the soft black synthetic hair, and poking at its cheek. “It looks like it’s a person.”



Trevor picked the thing up with a grunt of effort, and carried it to an upturned table. He set it down, and checked each of its wrists for the serial call code. “It’s a… um… It’s a masturbatory aide, Denis. It’s supposed to look real. No one wants to fuck a droid that’s basically just a dildo with lips. This one here, is a 5h3r10ck, apparently.” He pressed the inside of the right wrist, after hooking the machine up to his spare battery pack. Its index finger twitched as the start up began.



Initiating start-up sequence. Reboot from previous shut down point? Yes/No?



Yes.



Corrupted file. Memory not found. Reboot from last saved memory point? Yes/No?



Yes.



Start-up protocols initiated. Processing stored data. Please wait while back-up logs are retrieved.



Reboot complete. Running systems diagnostics. Software malfunction found. Force repair? Yes/No?



No.



Activating speech function.



“John?” The android lifted its head, and looked around. None of the humans staring at it looked familiar. It scanned through its hard drive, but couldn’t match the faces to any it knew. “Where’s John? He was…” The data file was corrupted. It didn’t know where John was. The last audio-visual feed it had of John was its hand holding his, squeezing gently. Then John had said… What was it? There was something missing in its hard drive. Something was not connecting. “If you know where my John is, I would appreciate you directing me to him.” As the manners John had drilled into it clicked on, it added as an afterthought, “Please.”



Trevor patted its knee. “Listen, 5h3-“



“Sherlock.” The android tilted its head to the side, and smiled, closing its eyes. If it flexed its hand, the memory of John’s fingers returned briefly. “John called me ‘Sherlock.’”



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One hundred fifty seven years earlier.



Captain Watson saluted the ship’s lead security personnel as he was led aboard. “Wow, real Big Boots and Bullets going on here.” The young soldier-turned-doctor chuckled as he shouldered his bag.



Lestrade, head of security, saluted back and laughed quietly. “We’ve got a few hundred government types onboard this trip, plus their families and all their staff. That’s about fifteen hundred just in that wing alone.” He explained as he walked the doctor through the levels to the main sick bay. “God forbid, someone bump into them, or spill salt near them. I’ve got a full security detail working under me, and it’s bloody ridiculous.”



John smiled at the older man as he kept pace, despite his injury. “Well, if I ever get bored of putting plasters on booboos, or telling people they don’t have space dementia, maybe I’ll come round, check your lot out.”



“That’s right. You were in Her Majesty’s Military, weren’t you? Dirt-side, or were you a vacuum jockey?”



Ducking his head, John rubbed at his thigh with a shaking hand. “Aside from shuttle trips from moon to moon, my boots have always been on the dirt. This is my first time ever really being on a ship. I didn’t think it would be this spacious.”



“The Baker isn’t a transport ship.” Lestrade pointed out. “She’s basically a flying city. This baby has a full working lab for you to play in, three gymnasiums, a greenhouse, and several kitchens. Crew and employees, like you and me will be in one quarter. The rest is taken up by dignitaries, politicians, and the like. She’s a big, beautiful old bird.” He patted a wall affectionately.



“Right. I’m going to pretend that ‘old’ thing doesn’t terrify me.” John rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. “So, why don’t you show me the lab?”



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Whistling, John looked around the large, well-equipped lab. A young woman with her hair pulled back in a severe bun saluted Lestrade. “Is this the new doctor?” She asked, pointlessly. John’s medical insignia was clearly displayed on both his chest, and his sleeve.



“Right, yes.” John stepped forward, and offered his hand. “Captain John Watson, I was sta-“



“Stationed on a desert planet, judging by the tan.” A deep, somehow musical voice pointed out from the corner.



“God dammit. It’s doing it again, sir.”



“Ignore it Donovan. It’s just a toy.”



Setting down his duffel, John stepped up to the young man that was standing in the corner. He wore something similar to nursing scrubs, but in dark purple. He smiled politely at John. “You sustained a rather traumatic injury to your…” he glanced John over quickly. “Left shoulder. Your tan suggests active duty, on a desert planet. Aside from the needless limp, you seem healthy. You’re feeling guilty, that you didn’t contact your brother before you signed on as surgeon on the Baker.” He tilted his head to the side, and clasped his hands behind his back. “Did I make any mistakes, Dr Watson? If I did, please correct me. Correction is the only way I can properly learn.”



Before John was able to open his mouth to make the minor corrections, Donovan shoved the man hard in the chest. He staggered back a few paces before righting himself again. He looked down at the spot on his chest with confusion. “Why would-“



“Ignore it, Doctor. It’s just trying to show off.” The woman sneered.



“‘It’?” John asked, taking the man by the arm, and drawing it from behind his back. Sure enough, on the inside of one of the wrists was a serial number. “You’re an android? Wow. I’ve never seen one look so realistic.” He ran his hands over the synthetic skin. It warmed to his touch. “Amazing.”



“It’s just a fuck doll.” Donovan pointed out. She grabbed the machine by the chin, and pressed a thumb against its lower lip. “Some bloke on the ship had him specially commissioned. Look at him. Of course he’s a fuck doll.”



“‘Companion’, Sergeant Donovan.” The android corrected, looking down at the hand that was still moving over its skin. “She dislikes me.” It confided, and seemed quite cheerful about this fact. “I had informed her of her lover’s infidelity, and she still believes that I am somehow to blame.”



The woman huffed out a snort. “There’s a screw up in its programming. The hardware functions like normal. You know, its cock gets hard, it knows how to kiss and suck. It just won’t synthesize the emotions, and reactions it’s supposed to. Its owner was pissed. Rather than decommissioning the damn thing, he sold it to us as a sort of jack-of-all-trades. It may not be able to fake lust and arousal, but it can hold a tray. It just won’t shut the hell up.”



John read out the machine’s call code. “Quite a mouthful there, mate. Since I’ll be down here a lot, mind if I call you something else?” He let go of its hand, which flopped limply back against its thigh. “5h3r… Heh, I look forward to working with you, Sherlock.”



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"You can't make that move, Sherlock. It's against the rules."



Sherlock scowled down at the game board, and moved its piece back into place. "But if I move there, I would win the game." It pointed out, voice somewhat sulky.



They were sitting on the floor in one corner of the Research Lab, playing a board game. Sherlock had lost seven games in a row, but continued on insisting for another. John had discovered the android's need for constant entertainment his third week working with it, when it had knocked over a tray of beakers. Acid had splashed its clothes and melted a few patches of its synthetic skin, but it had seemed overjoyed at the attention John gave it during its recovery.



Now, as a reward for behaving, John played with it. Mostly board games, but the doctor made a point of carrying a pack of cards with him at all times, and kept a collection of riddles and jokes on hand.



As the weeks passed, John’s limp gradually faded, until he could pretend he never had it to begin with. From the corner of his eye, when he was staring at his knee in wonder, he could see the small smug smile that would play over Sherlock’s lips.



"That's why that move can't be made. You can't just jump across a full board. You need to follow the legal paths." John grinned as he plotted out his next three moves.



Pursing its lips, Sherlock slid its piece to a new spot, and shot John a smug look. John beat it in four moves.



"Another." Sherlock stated, rather than requested, setting the board back up again.



"Sherlock, I've gotta get some work done today." John laughed, but took the first move of the new game.



They ended up playing for hours, telling jokes and trading stories.



"Wait, so he was still in you when she showed up, and he still tried to deny it?" John snorted.



Pitching its voice high and nasal, Sherlock imitated the medical examiner in question. "'S-Sally... What are you doING here? I was j-j-just help the Bot run a diagnostic check.' Meanwhile, I was doing an analysis of the ship's onboard computer system."



All but shrieking with laughter, John collapsed over on his side. "Diagnostic check! God, and she still blames you?"



"Well," Returning to its regular deep, rich voice, Sherlock shrugged. "She isn't very intelligent. She chose him as a romantic and sexual partner after all. How smart could she be?"



The machine looked quite pleased at the sound of John's laughter. Closing its eyes, it stored the sound clip for later examination.



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“You busy, mate?” John asked one evening, about a month later. He set his dinner tray down next to Sherlock, and touched it on the arm to make sure it wasn’t in sleep-mode. The android had been staring at seemingly nothing for the better part of the day.



They were in the lab, which John had taken over. The android had proven to be extremely helpful, if slightly off putting. It had an almost inexhaustible knowledge of illnesses, and diseases, seemed to be able to communicate directly with the lab computers, and talked whenever John was feeling bored or lonely.



“We have never had sex.”



John choked on his pasta. Coughing, and wiping his mouth, he laughed. “No. No, we haven’t. Where the hell did that come from, Sherlock?”



“You called me ‘mate’, John. How can I be your mate, if we have not had sex?” It turned to John, with a small smile on its lips.



Stammering, John pushed aside his plate. “No, Sherlock, I meant ‘mate’ as in… Pal, buddy. Friend. Not like… not like a mated pair. It’s a word with mult-” his eyes narrowed, watching the android’s smile grow. “You’re teasing me!” He laughed, proudly. “Where did you learn that?”



Sherlock shrugged, and pushed John’s plate back toward him. “From you. I have been running different possible situations I could practice the skill in. Did I do well, for my first attempt?”



Forking some pasta into his mouth, John nudged the machine under the table with his foot. “You had me going, so, yeah. I’d say it was a roaring success. Well done. So, what were you doing when I came over? You seemed out of it.”



Sherlock’s fingers moved in the air, twitching slightly. “Counting dust motes. The filtration system in this room doesn’t get them all. Some of them are yours. Your skin cells, hair cells. Parts of you that are no longer a part of you.” It frowned. “I don’t think I like that, John.”



John took its hand, lacing their fingers together. “Don’t worry about it. I’m still nearly all here.” He squeezed Sherlock before letting go to finish his meal. “Oh, right. I came by to ask you something. Unless Miss Hooper has plans for you, can you come to my quarters this evening? I have something I’d like to try out.”



Sherlock closed its eyes briefly, then nodded. “I have nothing that is required of me. I can come with you now, if you wish.”



“Sure thing. I’m off for the rest of the night, barring any emergencies. Ready?”



Sherlock took John’s tray, placing it in the cleaning chute, then took the doctor’s hand again. “Yes, of course. I have never seen your quarters. I’m certain it will prove informative. What should I delete to make room for the new knowledge?” It leaned its head on John’s as they walked, a habit that it couldn’t explain. “This is always the worst part.”



“Is it always so hard, learning new things?” John asked, stroking his thumb over the android’s knuckles.



“Only when I have to shift things to back up storage. Or worse, delete things all together. I never can be certain that I won’t have a need for an otherwise bit of trivial information. After you arrived, I deleted something to make room for military ranking systems. Then Miss Hooper asked me to make her some toast. I was in a panic, because evidently, I had chosen to expunge bread. Your laugh is a wonderful sound, John.”



“I like that you can make me laugh.” John punched in the security codes that allowed them into his small suite. It consisted of a tiny lounge, with a kitchenette area for when he didn’t want to go to the mess hall, a head, and a sleeping alcove. “Not much, but it suits me fine.” John chuckled, clearing away a couple books from his sofa. “Why don’t you- Jesus, Sherlock, what are you doing?”



Sherlock was standing naked just inside the entryway, its scrub bottoms pooled at its ankles. Jutting out from smooth bare skin, its penis was fully erect. Its face, however, was emotionless. “If you wish for a more realistic sexual encounter, you will have to top up my semen reservoir. My previous owner didn’t care for it, but my analysis of your personality implies you would enjoy watching me ejaculate. I also do not have the self-lubrication function. It was an upgrade that Jim did not feel was needed.” It stepped out of its clothes and placed its hand on John’s shoulders, bending down to offer a kiss.



“No… Sherlock, no.” John took its hands and guided it over to the sofa. Sitting it down, he went to fetch the scrubs, and close his door. “I didn’t ask you here for… no. Not for sex.” He knelt and helped Sherlock back into its clothes. “Can you put this thing away?”



“What thing? Oh. That.” Sherlock’s eyes fluttered shut for a moment, then its erection sank down. “Better?”



“Yep. Less distracted now.” John moved to sit on the sofa as well. “I asked you to come here so I can take a look at your hard drive. I know you’ve got so much potential locked up in there, and I want to see if I can bring it out.”



“Potential? John, I am simply what you see. I have no hidden depths. I carry trays, I count dust, I forget what toast is.”



John picked up Sherlock’s long pale hand. He brushed his fingertips over the alpha-numeric code on its wrist. “You also get confused when someone does something hurtful. You dislike that parts of me are no longer connected. You panic over toast.” John lifted the hand to his lips, brushing a kiss over it. “You tease.”



Sherlock watched its hand move. Something buried somewhere in its CPU told it that it should respond to the caress. It just didn’t know the method. “You may try. I apologise in advance, if you can’t fix me.”



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John inserted the pins into the tiny holes on Sherlock’s back. The android was lying on its stomach, with its cheeks pillowed on its arms.



“Is that uncomfortable?”



“No, John.” Sherlock mumbled, sounding sleepy. “It’s… fine.”



Twisting the pins, John peeled back the section of synthetic skin to expose Sherlock’s circuitry. He connected its cables to his personal computer, resting the device on the android’s rump. “I’m going to ask one more time. Do you mind if I do this?” He accessed Sherlock’s internal software system, bringing up the files to try and find the bug.



For a moment, Sherlock chewed on its lip. “I don’t like being broken.” It said eventually. “I know that there are parts of me that I cannot access. But, I am concerned that you will dislike me, if those parts are unfavourable.”



Smiling, John ran his fingers through Sherlock’s curls. “That isn’t going to happen. I promise. What I’m doing should just help you feel. And develop the skills needed to make conscious, sentient decisions. So, if Anderson tries to tell you to juggle acid beakers again, you will know well enough to tell him to fuck off.”



The way its system was running now, Sherlock wasn’t able to refuse a direct order. It had no self preservation protocols in place. Anyone could tell it to step into a decommission chamber, and it would comply.



“I succeeded with the juggling, didn’t I?” Sherlock sulked, peeking out at John through its thick fall of hair. “Although, I believe I would get enjoyment, out of telling Anderson to… Actually, I don’t want to imagine him coupling with himself. Go ahead, John. If you are confident that you can correct the issue, please do so.”



“I’ll do my best. I’m going to power you down now, to work. I’ll be here, though, when you boot back up.” He ducked his head, and brushed a kiss over the machine’s ear. “Sweet dreams, Sherlock.”



“I don’t-” the shut down took effect, cutting off the words.



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“John?”



The doctor rolled over, slinging his arm around the soft, warm body next to him. “Go back to sleep, love.” He mumbled, and tugged the blankets up around them.



“I can’t, John. My start up just completed. Please wake up?”



“Shit, I’m sorry, Sherlock. I was working on your system for hours.” John propped himself on his elbow, digging the heel of his hand into one eye. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I wanted to be there for you when you woke up. How is everything?”



Sherlock frowned, looking around. “I’m not certain. My start up sequence made mention of a small software malfunction. But I don’t… There are new things inside. I don’t know which have been newly installed, which have been restored. I don’t know if I’m still broken.”



Turning on the light in the sleeping alcove, John sat the rest of the way up. “You’re feeling distress. That’s a good sign. I left a couple things alone. The um… I made it so you don’t have to obey anyone, including me, unless they access your internal system like I just did. I stripped out about three terabytes worth of sadomasochistic sex acts- I’ll be making a point of speaking with your previous owner, about that. Majority of what he had installed in you is illegal on most planets- and I strengthened your safety features. You’re in control of your security protocols, your daily functions, and your obedience. You’re in control of you, now, Sherlock.”



Sherlock sat up, and watched its fingers flex and move. Physically, everything seemed to work the same. “Am I fixed? Am I able to feel things the way I’m designed to? Happiness, anger, lust, aff-”



John leaned across the small space between them, pressing their lips together. He cradled the back of Sherlock’s head, to deepen the kiss. After a few dozen heart beats, he pulled away with a smile. “How did that feel?”



Sherlock licked its lips, and considered the question. “Your lips are soft. Warm. Your lower lip applies more pressure than your top one. You didn’t brush your teeth after eating your dinner. Your lips are dry, but not to the point of being chapped, which is unusual, given how often you lick them.”



Giggling quietly, John eased Sherlock to his chest, and laid back down with the android pillowed over his heart. “Those were the physical sensations. How did it feel?”



Sherlock took its time in answering. It was distracted by the knowledge that John’s lifeblood was pulsing away under its cheek. It toyed with the soldier's ID tags, lifting the chain and letting the disks clink together. “It felt,” it murmured finally, wrapping its arm around John’s chest. “It felt like your laugh.”



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Over the next several months, Sherlock didn’t stray far from John’s side. It would go seeking him out, if it was left alone in the lab for more than an hour. When John was doing his physical therapy, or just exercising, Sherlock would be sitting quietly in a corner, watching.



“Want to spot me?” John asked one afternoon, wiping sweat from his neck with a grin.



“I thought that was what I was doing.” Sherlock pointed out, its hands clasped politely in its lap.



“No, you’re watching, Sherlock. C’mere.” He gestured, lying back on the bench, and pointed to the spot behind him. “Just keep your hands under the bar, and pick it up if I lose balance, or start to slip.” He shifted Sherlock into position before lifting the weight.



“You’re very strong.”



With a soft laugh, that was mostly a grunt, John grit his teeth. “My body is not liking being out here. It’s supposed to be down on the dirt, not… floating around.” Flexing his hands, John adjusted his grip on the bar. “And with this fucking gunshot wound, my whole left side gets weak and numb.”



Sherlock easily lifted the bar that John was struggling with, and set it back in the cradle. “You want to go home.” It observed, quietly. It handed John a towel to mop himself off again.



“A bit, yeah.” John reached out to snag Sherlock’s smock, tugging it close. He wrapped his arms around its narrow waist, looking up at its face. “I have to admit I’m homesick. Not for anyone, just for… I don’t know… I miss being able to walk, and not feel the ground move under my feet. Or to open a bloody window and feel a breeze. Snow. God, I miss snow.”



Sherlock stroked its hand over the back of John’s head. “I’ve only ever been on the Baker, since I was activated. I’ve deleted my manufacturer’s planet of origin.” It twisted and pulled out the waistband of its scrubs. “Apparently I was developed by Holmes Science and Technology.”



Eyes wide, John turned the android around, and pulled its bottoms down past its wide hips. There was nothing on its skin. “You…” he looked up into a bright, warm grin. “You’re getting better at making up jokes, love.” He drew the dark purple bottoms back up, and gave it a swat on the arse. “I’m impressed.”



Sherlock beamed. “Thank you, John. You’re an excellent teacher.” It stepped away, and offered John a hand up. “A bath, I believe, and dinner.” It linked their fingers together, as usual, and walked with John back to his quarters.



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“You haven’t kissed me again.” Sherlock pointed out late one evening. It was balancing books and beakers on its head, for no discernible reason. John suspected that it was bored.



“Brilliant deduction, Sherlock, I haven’t.” John looked up from the microscope he was using.



On a ship like the Baker, the slightest illness could become explosive. There were stories of plague ships floating unmanned in space, their entire crew and passenger list dead. All because someone stepped aboard with the flu. As the lead medical researcher on the Baker, majority of John’s job consisted of monitoring any possible sickness. On his slide, he had a droplet of Anderson’s blood, from when the man had had a coughing fit. So far, John could find nothing physically wrong with the man.



“Why haven’t you?” Sherlock stood, and paced the room, looking enormously pleased with itself at not dropping any if the items from its head.



Sighing softly, John turned off the microscope, and gave Sherlock his full attention. “Why bring this up now?” He crossed his arms over his chest, and leaned back in his chair.



Sherlock shrugged, catching a beaker as it wobbled and fell. “This is the first time we’ve been alone in four days. You told me I’m not allowed to discuss private things with you in the presence of others.” It spun, arms outstretched. “We are alone. Discuss.”



“First tell me, are you trying to make jokes again?”



Sherlock considered this for a moment. “No. I can, though. If you would like. I overheard Lestrade telling one which involved a physically impossible act, three goats, and a blind monk. I didn’t understand it, but it made the people around him laugh. Three goats walk-”



“Sherlock?”



“Yes, John?”



The young doctor held out his hand. “Take that stuff off your head, and come here.”



Obeying, Sherlock set everything down on the counter, and took John’s hand. “Like this?”



John pulled Sherlock down until it was sitting on his lap. It weighed a good deal less than a human of its height and size would. He shifted them around, so he was resting his cheek on its shoulder. “When I asked why you brought it up, I meant, in general. Are you simply curious, or are you uncomfortable? Why do you want to know?”



Sherlock cuddled down a bit lower, so it could wrap its arms around John’s neck. “When you fixed me, you altered some of my coding. You described it as giving me sentient thought. That, combined with my original programming, I have begun to… think of things.” It ran its long fingers through the sandy blond strands of the doctor’s hair. “My programming is very advanced. I am able to feel things spontaneously. When I was commissioned, that was one of my owner’s requests… that I feel desire, and lust for him at random points throughout the day. Granted, he also had me programmed to maintain an orgasm for exactly three minutes.” It rolled its pale blue eyes, another habit it could not pinpoint.



“I’m sorry you were used that way, Sherlock.” John closed his eyes, leaning his head into the hand. “That’s one of the reasons I haven’t. That first time was probably a mistake, but you looked so surprised, and pleased that you were changed. I could just have easily hugged you, or held your hand, or… I just shouldn’t have done that.”



“So, you don’t wish to kiss me again? I’m sorry, John, but you are lying. When we talk, you look at my lips. Sometimes you lick your own, which is an unconscious preparation for our mouths to meet. I know you enjoy touching me, as you currently have an erection. You also enjoy having me touch you. I don’t understand.” It held John’s face still, and lowered its mouth to his.



At first, John returned the kiss. His lips twitched, and he licked his tongue into the android’s mouth. “No…” He pulled back, turning his face away. “Sherlock, please, you're right. You don't understand.” He wiped the back of his hand over his lips, and dropped his head to the back of his chair.



“Then tell me.” Sherlock pushed itself up out of the chair and stood with its hands clenched into fists at its sides. “This is your fault. You were the one that wanted to change my system. My existence was perfectly reasonable before you went in and… and tinkered with me.”



“Sherlock…”



“No, shut up. I was broken before, but that was fine. I did what I was told to, I obeyed orders, I carried things, and picked things up when they were dropped. And that was fine. But it wasn’t enough for you. I was designed to feel the things I am now. Desire, affection, lust, want. You turned those things on, and you installed new things. You make me happy. Do you have any idea how irritating that is? Because you won’t do anything about it. You call me ‘love’, but you won’t touch me. Am I just a pet project, which you want to put back on the shelf? This is all your fault!”



Before John was able to stand, to say something anything, Sherlock turned on its heel, and fled that lab.



“Shit…”



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“Greg, have you seen Sherlock?” John jogged into the mess hall twenty minutes later. The android hadn’t been in the gymnasium, the terrarium, or accidentally locked in a supply cupboard- each of the usual places it could be found when it wasn’t in the lab or with John. “He and I had a fight, and he took off.”



The security officer looked up from the bowl of soup he was eating. His eyebrows twitched together, and he wrinkled his nose. “John, it’s not ‘he’, remember? 5H is just an advanced calculator. Or a vibrator that doesn’t shut the fuck up.” Greg snorted and glared at his broth. “Even when you’ve told it a dozen times to stop talking. I thought you fiddled with its wiring. Why is it still doing that?”



John snatched the spoon from Greg’s hand. “Fine! It! Have you seen my calculator?” He sneered and held the utensil out of reach.



“It came tearing in here about ten minutes ago, with a stack in papers in its arms. Yelled something about goats, told Anderson to ‘perform a demeaning sex act’ on himself, then asked me for access to the communication link. Said it wanted to do some research.” Greg grabbed John by the elbow, yanking his arm down to retrieve his spoon. “I hooked it up to the ship for about fifteen seconds, then it left again. What the hell is going on, John?”



John sat down at the table with his head in his hands. There was a piece of toast on a plate in front of Greg. Letting loose a mirthless giggle, John picked it up and munched on it. “I fucked up, Greg. I gave Sherlock feelings, then I went and hurt them. He- it is like a child, in some ways. Doesn’t make connections to things.” The doctor licked some crumbs from his fingertips. “It is trying to get me to sleep with it.”



“So? John that’s what it was built to do. All that other stuff, the observations, the smiles, the handholding? That’s all a glitch in its programming. It isn’t real. You’ve opened it up, seen the wires, the chips. 5H is just a pretty machine. If you don’t like the feelings it is displaying, turn them off. Now,” he pulled his bowl closer, hooking his arm around it. “Can I get back to my meal?”



“Yeah…” John sighed and massaged the bridge of his nose, before dragging his fingers backwards through his hair. “Sorry, yeah, you’re right. Just a toy. Nothing… None of this is real.” He tapped the table with his nails, and pushed away. “I’ll see you later, Greg. Good night.”



Waving over his shoulder, John walked out if the mess hall, brushing crumbs from his lab coat. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he started the trip back to his living quarters.



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“I did some research, John.”



Halfway through taking off his lab coat, John froze. The lights were off in his quarters, and he couldn’t see where Sherlock was. Hanging up his coat, he took a step forward to turn them on.



Something rustled underfoot. “Sherlock? Where are you?” His hand slid along the wall until he found the button for the lights. “What’s all over the floor?”



The carpet was covered with folded bits of paper. John knelt to pick one up, opening it. It had been cut and shaped before being dropped. “It’s… Sherlock..”



“A snowflake.” The android stood from where it had been seated on John’s bed. The blanket of paper circles crackled and crumbled as it walked through them.



Rocking back on his heels, John toyed with the piece of paper and watched, awestruck, as Sherlock bent to pick up a handful of paper from the floor. With a small, slightly confused smile, the machine let the flakes tumble from its fingers to land on John’s head and shoulders.



“You gave me snow.” John’s voice was tiny, barely making it past the hard lump in his throat. “Sherlock, I can’t believe you did this.” The doctor shuffled forward on his knees to wrap his arms around Sherlock’s waist. “Can you possibly be any more amazing than you already are?”



“It’s entirely possible, John. I just haven’t tried to surpass myself, yet.” It ran its long fingers through John’s hair, urging him to stand. “I looked up ways to make it snow inside, and I found a tutorial on how to make snowflakes. They are only paper, though. I’m sorry, John. I tried.”



Kicking some of the snowflakes- they were more like fallen leaves, crackling and crunching with each step- John giggled. “This is perfect, Sherlock.”



“I… Really?”



“Yes. Really. They won’t melt and ruin my carpet. They’re not cold, so we can pick them up and throw them around. We can put them all away, to take back out whenever we want a sudden blizzard.” He rested his forehead on Sherlock’s shoulder for a moment before looking up into its slanting, cat-like eyes. “What possessed you to do this, though? You were mad at me. If you wanted to punish me, you went about it a bit backward.”



Sherlock’s hands dropped, to come to a rest on John’s hips. “You are concerned about taking sexual advantage of me. You think that if you use me as I was made to be used, you will be doing something bad. This is not the case. I was built to assist my owner in achieving orgasm. To bend over, and plead to be filled by him. Forty percent of my original programming was centered around pleasing my owner, whenever he wished for it. But, despite the many things you are John- strong, warm, kind, angry- there is one thing you are not.” It ducked its head to make sure John was paying him the proper attention. “You are not my owner.”



“I know that, Sherlock. You don’t belong to me. I have no right to use you for my own-”



“Kindly shut up, John. I wasn’t finished.” It squeezed its hands, and smirked. “You aren’t the man who owned me. I felt desire for him, because I was meant to. For the sake of simplicity, think of me as a toaster. With Jim, I would stand in a corner doing nothing until he chose to turn me on. Once the switch was thrown, I was able to simulate arousal. Until he got bored of fucking me, and put me back in my corner.”



Torn between scowling, and giggling, John settled for slipping his arms around Sherlock. “By what stretch of the imagination does that make you like a toaster?”



“Evidently, I need to work on analogies. If you would please just stop talking until I finish? Your voice is wonderfully distracting.”



John closed his mouth, but continued to smile. He ran his fingers through ends of Sherlock’s hair, and massaged at its scalp.



“You are not taking advantage of me, and I am perfectly capable of over powering you, should you actually attempt to. The reason I am pursuing you, is because I desire it.” Sherlock kicked a flurry of snowflakes into the air. “I needed to make you believe me, that this is what I want. So, snow. I am showing you that I can try to be… If not real, at least realistic. I can-”



“Sherlock? My turn. Shut up.” John let go of the android, and moved away a few paces to give himself room to breathe. “Tell me why you want this. Please. You need to understand. For me, this is scary. Fucking terrifying, actually. What if everything you are saying is just what you are programmed to say? So, just explain to me why you think that you and I should have sex.” He gripped the edge of his small table, his nails scratching lightly on the underside.



Sherlock’s mouth opened, but instead of saying anything, it frowned with something close to irritation. “Because after almost five months, I still want to be near you every day. Because I can make you laugh, and I want it to happen again and again. Because you thought I was real, the first time you saw me. You ask me to do things, rather than tell me. Your skin is warm, and you lick your lips, and your hair looks like a desert, and I have never even seen a desert. Because-”



It was only a handful of steps to cross the room. John stood up on his toes, taking Sherlock’s face in his hands to press their lips together. Sherlock staggered back a pace, but soon wrapped its arms around John’s waist again. “I’m sorry I’ve been such an idiot.” John breathed, caressing his thumbs over the machine’s cheeks. “I’ll make it up to you, I promise. It may take me a while, but I will make it up- Sherlock… is there a reason only one of your cheeks is going red?”



“Sorry. Glitch.” Sherlock ducked its head, and the lopsided blush faded. “There, better?”



“You are adorable.” John pulled it down for another kiss. “Absolutely precious,” he toed off his shoes, kicking them aside. “Completely amazing,” he took Sherlock by the hand, and led it back to his bed, where he drew back to covers. “And incredibly perfect.”



John slid into the bed, pulling Sherlock after him. When they were each settled, he pulled the folding doors shut, closing them off in the little alcove. Lying Sherlock down on its back, John dimmed the overhead light until they were bathed in a warm, soft golden glow. In the low light, the eerie pale tone on the android’s synthetic skin became more flesh like. Where once it was nearly blue and transparent, it now looked creamy with health.



“You’re so beautiful.” John murmured, trailing his fingertips up the length of Sherlock’s throat, following them with his lips. The skin warmed under his touch. “When I first looked at you, I thought it. Thought what it would be like to have you under me.” He nosed up under Sherlock’s ear, nibbling soft bites there, peppering the spot with kisses.



Despite the tangle of clothing between them, Sherlock wrapped its long legs around John’s waist, tilting up its hips. John reached down to hold it by one thigh. He pushed up, rocking back on his heels to shed his shirt. He tossed it to the end of his bed, soon followed by his vest.



“May I touch it, John?” Sherlock propped up on one elbow, reaching out. When John bit down on his lip and nodded, it rose up to meet him.



No one had ever shown an interest before. After he was wounded, John wore a shirt into bed on the few rare occasions he slept with someone. Sherlock was regarding the scar with avid fascination. “From the entry and exit points,” Sherlock dusted its fingers over the raised ridge of scar tissue, thick eyebrows twitched together in concentration. “You were facing your gunman, but not head on. He was in an elevated position, and shot down at you while you were moving.” Its hand slid over John’s upper arm, to caress and investigate the exit wound. Where on the front the mark was small, like a red and purple thumbprint, the back was ragged and large. The bullet had torn out of John, leaving a mangled mess behind. Across his left shoulder blade, the scar was nearly the size of Sherlock’s splayed hand. “You were running to help someone.”



“Not now, Sherlock. Please. I will explain later, but I don’t want to think about that now. Not when I have you right here.” John slid his palms up from Sherlock’s hips, pushing its shirt up and off. It joined his own clothes at the end of the bed. “You deserve my full attention.”



John was slow and careful in his exploration. He slotted his hips between Sherlock’s thighs as he kissed and licked at its skin. Each time he covered a new spot with his lips, warmth bloomed under them. Steadily, he worked his way lower and lower until he was able to tug on the drawstring of Sherlock’s bottoms. The thin purple cloth tented open for him to slip a hand inside.



“Christ, Sherlock, it feels so real.” The android had no pubic hair, but its slim penis was deliciously responsive, and tactile. It had a very human silk-over-stone rigidity, and it throbbed rhythmically. “Does it feel good when I touch you here?” John lowered his head to place a small kiss to the tip.



Sherlock rose back onto its elbows to watch. “It does. Forty percent of my receptors for inducing a sexual response are located in my penis. Twenty percent are scattered around my body, such as my ears, and feet and nipples. The other remaining forty are within my anal cavity.”



John sputtered out a short laugh. “Ooh, baby. I love it when you talk dirty.” He grinned up at Sherlock, doing his best to show that he was teasing. “Be patient with me, Sherlock. I haven’t done this since I was back in Basic Training.” Wetting his lips, John sucked the warm, dry head into his mouth. It had no flavour, but it pulsed and quivered between his lips.



Sherlock’s hand came to rest on the back of his head, and it rolled its hips lazily. “You had to learn how to perform oral sex before you could pass your combat training? That seems a bit pointless. It’s not as if you would he called on to provide orgasms in the middle of a battlefield scenario. Oh. Oh, god, John. Giggle again. That felt… Oh, yes…” Its head fell back and to the side, its fingers tightening in John’s hair.



Without pre-come to ease the way, John had to lick and spit on the penis to keep his mouth from getting raw. It was worth it though, to hear the soft pleading in the android’s voice. Running his tongue from tip to base and back again one last time, John knelt back up to remove the last of his clothes. “What is the best way to prep you, love?”



Sitting up, Sherlock reached into one of the shelves that lined the wall around the bed. It handed John a bottle of lubricant, and eased back onto the pillows with its knees spread wide. “You will have to clean me after, but I am prepared much the same as a human male. Use more lubricant than you think you might need, however and make sure I am well coated. I can’t force my body to dilate, and I don’t want to risk you getting friction burn. I am running seventeen different programs simultaneously, to try and give you as realistic an experience as possible.” It moved its hand down, and clutched the inside of its thigh. Its fingernails dimpled the soft, flushed skin.



The lube was not quite medical grade, but it was odourless, and clear. John poured a generous amount into his palm, then rubbed his hands together to warm it. The bottle, he dropped onto the bed beside his knee to grab later. “So, basically, you’ve got your sex on shuffle?”



His small hands eased the round swells of Sherlock’s arse apart, and he probed one finger inside. The android’s hole trembled and churned around the intrusion before relaxing. It was warm inside- almost hot- and felt like wet satin. “God…”



John took his time working Sherlock open. When he was able to move all four fingers in and out of it with only some minor difficulty, John nodded. “Ready, Sherlock?” He plucked up the bottle, and poured some more lubricant onto his hand. He stretched out, holding himself up on one arm as he coated himself. “Tell me if you’re ready, please.” He kissed its ear, and sucked the lobe between his lips.



“I’m ready, John. I’ve never been so open before.” Sherlock gripped John with its thighs, and reached down to help guide him. “Is this how you want me? I can go on my knees, if you like. I know you have a fondness for looking at my backside. You would like the way it jiggles, if you took me from behind.”



“Fuck…” John bit the inside of his cheeks as he nudged the head up to breach Sherlock’s loosened hole. “N-next time, maybe. Right now, I want to see you. Your face.” He planted both palms on the mattress, and held Sherlock’s pale blue eyes with his own dark ones. Leaning briefly to one side, he grabbed his ID tags and tossed them over his shoulder. “I want to read your reactions, when I do this.” Almost agonizingly slowly, he pressed forward. He didn’t let up until Sherlock’s rump was cradled in the scoop of his pelvis. “God. I can’t… Sherlock, I won’t last long. I’m sorry.” His breath was already coming out in short little gasps.



“Don’t apologise, John.” Sherlock slid its hand along the mattress until it could link their fingers together. “You’re very thick. You are touching all of my receptors.” It moved its free hand to grip itself, pumping slowly. “Several times while during your manual preparation, you brought me very close to the cusp of completion. There is a very real possibility that I don’t actually require the extra attention to my penis, to be able to properly finish.”



John huffed out a laugh, and dragged his tongue along the shell of Sherlock’s ear. “You mean, my fat cock is hitting all your sweet spots?”



“Yes, John. That’s what I said.” Sherlock’s full lips pursed out in an almost sulky frown as it worked its fist a bit faster.



“And you almost got off, with me fingering you?” John slipped one hand down to help.



“Exactly, John. I almost did.”



John kissed it, then rocked up to sit on his heels to watch. Half of Sherlock’s face flushed a rich, rosy red, and its mouth opened in a small O of surprise. John picked up his pace, drawing nearly all of the way out, before thrusting back in to the base. He knew precisely what that face meant. “You could come, with nothing but me, buried deep inside of you, couldn’t you?”



“Yes. Yes, John, I- Oh. Oh… John, I am going to climax. May I? I can stall it, but it would take me several minutes to reboot the program. Am I allowed to have an orgasm?”



“Never ask me for permission, Sherlock.” John groaned loudly. “Please come. I want to watch you. Please, let it happen, love.”



The machine began to thrash, its dark curls bouncing on the pillow. “John, it’s going to happen. It is happening.” Sherlock’s head slammed back on the bed, its spine arching. Its penis shook and trembled in its grip. “John, you’re giving me an orgasm. Move yourself into me, harder. I want this to happen to you, too. Oh… John… John!” Its cock jumped in its fist. The tiny slit at the tip pouted open. Nothing spurted out.



“Fuck… Sherlock, I could watch you do that forever.” John held it by the narrow waist, his eyes half closed, pupils blown wide. He tucked his chin down to watch them moving together. “Can I come inside of you? Will it damage you?” He could already feel his cock twitch, hard and leaking into Sherlock’s snug canal. Each snap of his body jarred Sherlock’s much lighter frame across the bed.



“You will just have to be thorough when you clean me. My cavity is an enclosed environment. No damage can be done from filling me with ejaculate. Do it, please.”



“Thank you. Christ, Sherlock you’re so perfect. You’re amazing, and beautiful. Watching you come was the most incredible thing I have ever seen.” Chanting praise and adoration, John rode out his orgasm, never breaking his gaze from Sherlock’s. When he finally shuddered and spilled inside of his partner, he was all but yelling the name he had given it.



“I don’t want to pull out.” The young doctor laughed eventually, wiping his sweating face on his upper arms. “Can I just stay in you forever?”



Sherlock ran its hands lazily up John’s arms and over his chest. In slow, caressing circles, it roved down his belly, to the spot where they were still joined. “It would be rather awkward, explaining the Sherlock shaped lump under your trousers tomorrow.” It squirmed on the mattress, and gently pushed John away. “Besides, I need to be cleaned before I start getting gummed up. You could use a drink to restore your fluids. Possibly a snack. So, get off, and go draw a bath.”



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Awkwardly, they managed to fit themselves into John’s tiny bathtub. Sherlock was submerged up to its chin, leaning on the man’s chest.



John trailed wet fingers over its cheeks, and up through its hair. Everything felt warm, and soft, and wonderful. “Thank you for this.” He murmured, kissing the side of Sherlock’s head. “You were incredible.”



Water dripped from the faucet. Sherlock was distracted, calculating the size of the ripples created by each droplet. “You too, John.” It mumbled, flicking at the surface of the water. “Why are you still touching me?” It lifted its hand, enthralled by the way the light caught and bent through the water tracing down its arm. It had never been in a bath before. “I expected you to flush your semen out of me, then go to sleep.” It explained, when John didn’t answer.



The doctor stiffened as he reached for a sponge. “Is this bothering you? I’m enjoying being close to you. Or… God dammit, Sherlock. Please stop comparing me to your owner. You are not just a toy to me.”



Roughly, John scoured his skin with the sponge, sloshing water about. When he was clean, he pulled the plug, and lifted the android out of the tub. “So, yes, I am going to hold you.” He chafed his skin dry with a towel before handing it to Sherlock. “I’m going to bring you back into my bed, where I am going to kiss you, and cuddle you, and eventually fall asleep beside you. Because that is what you do when you’re in love. Now, stop standing there like a bloody mannequin, and dry off.”



He turned on his heel, and marched back to the bed, where he gathered up their clothes. He folded Sherlock’s and set them on the sofa, bundling his own to be washed later. “Are you coming? It’s late, and I’m tired, and I want to feel my arms around you.” He burrowed under the blankets, turning out the lights.



Sherlock climbed in beside him, lying flat on its back. “Please don’t say that again. It is very confusing.”



John pulled the covers up over them, snuggling close. “Say what, love?” He yawned, and kissed the side of its neck.



“That you’re in love. It doesn’t make sense. Yes, you can feel lust for me- I was designed to be appealing, after all. Affection is also possible, such as one would have for a pet, or a favourite book. But you cannot be in love. Not with me. I am nothing but wires and advanced artificial intelligence.”



“Toast,” John mumbled sleepily.



“I don’t… Sorry, John, but what?”



“Basically? Shut up. You think I can’t love you? Just because you’re made with metal, and detailed programming?” The doctor propped himself on his elbow, and looked down at it. “I am nothing but blood and bone, and tissue. Things just managed get mashed together in a manner that made me like this. Just like you were put together to make you how you are. When I kiss you-” he did so, briefly, to prove his point. Then more deeply, and lingering, because he could. “When I touch you, or smile at you, does it make you feel different from when others have done it in the past?”



Sherlock closed its eyes to access its back up memory. “Yes. It does. But that’s not love, John. That’s skill. It can’t be love.”



“It is for me.” John settled back down. “I love you, Sherlock. Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to say it back.”



Sherlock watched as John fell asleep, listening to his quiet snoring. “I can’t say it back,” it murmured. “You hate it when I lie.”



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John frowned as he walked into the lab. Sherlock was playing with some beakers, pouring fluids from one to another, watching them react. A short brunet was talking to it, but Sherlock wasn’t responding. On his way by, John brushed his fingers over the back of its hand in greeting. It didn’t lift its head.



:Is everything okay, Sherlock? Or are you just really absorbed in what you’re doing?:



John set his personal computer up in the corner, sending Sherlock an instant message. The small icon on the screen flashed for a moment before he received a reply.



:I am well, John. I turned off my aural functions, and am dulling my physical receptors. I saw you come in, but I didn’t want to alert Jim to your importance. Forgive me for not greeting you properly?:



:Of course, love. But what’s going on? Who is that, and is he bothering you?:



:This is Jim. My owner. Former owner, I should say. He comes down and talks at me from time to time when he knows I will be alone. He didn’t know you were coming in early. I analysed that blood sample from Sergeant Donovan while you were sleeping last night. She doesn’t have the flu. She is pregnant. You don’t have to worry about putting her in quarantine. :



:I still might, if she calls you my Fuck Bot one more bloody time. Do you want me to ask him to leave? I don’t like that he comes to see you. :



:Don’t be concerned John. He has only had sex with me three times since he sold me to the medical team. And none of those times overlap since I’ve been coming to your bed. :



Lip curling up, John shut down his system and stood. “Sorry to interrupt, but Sherlock is working.” He explained with frigid politeness to the other man. He tapped Sherlock lightly in the arm to get its attention. “There’s some mould cultures incubating in the fourth heat unit. Can you please go check on them?”



Sherlock smiled, and mouthed something. Its eyebrows twitched together, and it rolled its head on its shoulders. “Yes, John. Check the mould cultures. Fourth unit. Anything else, John?”



“No, that’s it for now. I may think of something later, though, so don’t wander off.” He watched the android move away, its steps slightly off rhythm.



“You seem to be enjoying my little Kitten, aren’t you, Dr Watson?” The man wiped his hand on his thigh, and held it out. “I’m Jim. Jim Moriarty.”



For the briefest moment possible without seeming actively insulting, John shook his hand. “I’m sorry, Mr. Moriarty, but you really can’t be here. My lab is off limits to civilians for health and safety reasons. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”



“Have you fucked it, yet?” Jim turned to watch Sherlock pulling trays from a small glass unit, checking the contents of each dish wish exaggerated care. “Silly question, of course you have. I wish you would tell me how you fixed its little problem. Its pretending now. Granted, not very well, but still. You’ve done some excellent work on my toy, Doctor. I’ll have to take him for a spin soon to check out the new skills.”



“Get out of my lab.” John gripped Moriarty by the elbow, forcibly steering him from the room. In the long corridor outside, he get him go with a rough shove. “If I find out you’ve come back, there are any number of people I can speak with to have you removed from the ship.” He drew himself to his full height- still two inches shorter than the other man- and caught and held his gaze. Moriarty’s eyes were dark, almost black. “If you come near Sherlock again, I’ll insist that they not wait until we are docked planet-side before you are pushed out of airlock.



In a parade ground perfect maneuver, John turned on his heel, and went back into the lab. Closing and locking the door, he leaned on it with his head in his hands.



“John?”



“I know, Sherlock. I know.”



The doctor dropped his hands, and reached out the grab the front of Sherlock’s shirt. Held tight to his chest, the android slipped its arms around him. “That was unbelievably stupid. I know it was. But he just… Dammit, he made me angry. He thinks he can just come and take you back.” John’s nails bit into the soft skin on Sherlock’s back, even through his shirt. “Thinks you belong to him.”



“I don’t. John, I no longer belong to him. Even after you fixed my programming issues, I didn’t give him the type of sexual experience he wanted. I lay there and let him rut into me, but I didn’t respond. I disabled my feeds, and did internal maintenance. When he put his pen-”



“You’re trying to make me mad. Why?” John held Sherlock out at arm’s length, searching its face. The smirk it wore was similar to the one that came with its teasing and jokes.



“The moment Jim called me Kitten, your heart rate elevated. Your breathing quickened. When he asked if you had fucked me, you began clenching your fists at your sides, in preparation of striking him. Just now, when I explained what he has done to me, you developed an erection. Which is much more noticeable, now that I can look down and see it. There is some lubricant in the top drawer of the desk, behind Miss Hooper’s miniature cat collection. Would you like me to bend over the desk, or lie on my back?”



For nearly a minute, different emotions fought for control of John’s face. Eventually, he sputtered a quiet laugh. “You got turned on, watching me puff up my chest and throw my weight around?”



Sherlock shrugged and tried to shuffle closer. “Broadly. More specifically, it was watching you… What’s the term? Stake your claim on me.” It turned and wiggled its rear invitingly. “Claim staked, time to enjoy the reward.” Peeking back over its shoulder, it bit its lip.



Scoffing, John gave it an open palmed swat. And, because it was correct, he watched it jiggle for a second before hugging it around the waist from behind. “You are so adorable. I love you, and I fully intend on taking you up on your offer. Later. I do still have a job to do here. Come on, you big tease. Get back to work.”



“Fine. I will behave. Under one condition.”



Adjusting himself in his pants to ease the pressure, John did a little hop-skip to get back to his computer. “Yes, of course. I’ll let you break it to Donovan that Anderson has soiled her with his genetic material.”



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“Oh… Oh, Christ, Sherlock, you’re amazing.” Almost coughing for breath, John rocked forward on his knees until he felt Sherlock slip free from his body. With a loud groan, he fell back again, bracing himself on Sherlock’s up-drawn legs. “I’m all rubbery.” Giggling, he swiped a hand over his face, and flopped onto his side.



“Will you tell me how it happened, now? The circumstances, I mean.” Sherlock dragged its fingers through the semen cooling on its chest. It used its foot to turn the lights in the sleeping alcove on, and examined the pearly greyish white fluid with interest. It pressed its fingers and thumb together, then drew them apart to test how viscous it was.



John stopped it just before it put its fingers in its mouth. “Stop playing with it.” He chided, picking his shirt up from the floor. He scrubbed his partner clean, taking extra care around the tip of its penis. Using his fingertips, he opened the tiny slit, and swabbed it out. “Why do you want to know, love?”



“Because it’s a part of you. And I want to know all the parts of you.”



Frowning, John stretched out beside Sherlock, turning the light back off. “Tell me again that you don’t love me.” He mumbled, propping himself on his elbow. “Not much to tell, really. My unit was called in because of an uprising on the planet I was stationed on. Locals were being attacked and killed, and several families had been taken hostage. I was supposed to be there strictly as medical support. Which of course went to hell after my CO, Major Tomlin was killed, and I had to take over as senior officer.” Sighing, John rested his cheek on Sherlock’s chest. As much as he hated not feeling a heartbeat, or its body move with breath, he had to admit the lack of sweat was a nice bonus. “There was this outcropping of rocks, just below the ridge where the other guys were holding up. A friend of mine had gone to see if it would give us an advantage. He was shot. In the thigh.”



Sherlock brushed its fingers through John’s short ashy hair, but was mercifully silent.



“We only wear body armour. Shielded from cock to collar, is the joke. Everyone always forgets the arteries in the leg, and arms. Percy’s femoral artery was severed. That’s a bleed out in less than ten minutes, especially in that heat, with gravity working against him. He knew he was dead. When he called for me, he didn’t call for a medic. He called for me. I grabbed Tomlin’s rifle, and took off up the ridge. I was shot about twenty feet away. A through and through. Shattered the bone, and grazed the sub-clavian artery. My whole left side was useless. I couldn’t move. I could see Percy, though. Stupid bastard looked me right in the eyes.”



Even a year later, John could still smell the acrid dirt that had been under him. Feel the blood pumping out of his body. See Percy looking down the hill at him. “I couldn’t hear him, but the fucker was mouthing ‘Sorry’ over and over again to me. Until… until- Christ. He died, asking me to forgive him”



“And did you?”



“There was nothing to forgive. It’s human nature, to want to have someone with you, if you think you’re about to die. I couldn’t leave him alone, to bleed out on the side of a hill.”



“Were the two of you lovers?” Sherlock asked, smoothing down John’s mussed hair.



“No,” the soldier shook his head, pressing up into the android’s hand. “Nothing like that. Just friends. I didn’t take any lovers while I was in the service for just that reason. Watching a friend die was brutal enough. It left me with a limp in a leg that was never even injured, and I still wake up screaming about it sometimes. Watching someone I was in love with die… That would probably kill me. I’d probably swallow a bullet.” I mean-”



“I know what it means, John. You would shoot yourself. Please don’t speak that way. It bothers me. It frightens me, that there was a chance you could have died long before you ever came onto the Baker. I never would have met you, or looked at you, or heard your voice. That is extremely distressing, John.”



John rolled over on top of Sherlock, and kissed it deeply, burying his fingers into its hair. “I’m not going anywhere, my love. Not for a long time. You’ve got ages yet, to get sick of me. I’m only thirty.”



Sherlock pursed its lips. “I’m nearly two and a half. Promise me you won’t trade me in for a newer model? One with a tighter- Your laugh is my favourite thing, John. Don’t ever stop doing it.”



“I’ve never laughed as much as I do when I’m with you.” John climbed back down, hunting on the floor for his pillow. “Are you going to sleep?”



Sherlock held John cradled to its chest, and kissed the top of his head. “Yes, I have a bit of internal maintenance that should be done. I will power down afterwards. Please bring me back up when you awake.”



The young doctor mumbled something that sounded like an agreement. After he drifted off, Sherlock turned on its side to watch him. It was forced to remove more and more information to make room for all of the tiny quirks, and habits and oddnesses of John. While he slept, Sherlock touched and kissed and tasted his skin, ran its fingers through his hair, and spent hours listening to his heartbeat and breathing.



Cataloging the evening’s events, Sherlock pressed one final kiss to John’s temple, and began the process of shutting down.



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"You look well, Dr. Watson."

          

John reached out and tweaked a lock Molly Hooper's hair as he passed. "Thanks. I just had a nice work out in the gymnasium. My shoulder is starting to feel quite a lot better. Where's Sherlock?" Setting his bag down on the bank of counters, he logged into the system to check on any updates made during the night.



"It's not here. Someone came to fetch it early this morning." Molly explained, twisting her fingers together. "I thought you knew. Its owner bought it back last night. We couldn't really afford to keep it, and he was offering more money than we bought it for. D-Dr Watson?"



John shoved past her on his way out of the lab.



"Where is he, Lestrade?" He snapped, pushing his way into the security office. He grabbed Lestrade's personal computer from his hands and logged into the ship's internal system.



:Sherlock, where are you?:



"It was given back to its proper owner, John. There was a bill of sale, and everything." Lestrade held his hands out, entreating, trying to keep the doctor calm. "I'm sorry, but he legally owns it. He can do whatever he wants."



"Moriarty? Moriarty has him? For fuck's sake, Lestr-" The device trilled in his hand with the response.



:I'm so sorry, John. They came for me this morning. They said they were taking me to see you. They lied. I'm not allowed to see you again. I want to go back to your quarters, but they won't let me leave.:



:Where are you, love? I'll come for you.:



Baring his teeth at the security personnel, John showed him the screen. "He's scared, Greg. As far as he knows, someone kidnapped him, and is holding him against his will. By a sick fuck who only built him to have something to abuse. God dammit!"



:John, I'm in Jim's private quarters, in the diplomat's wing. He has a new companion. It is large. It has connected to my system. I am unable to disable my pain receptors. They've had me for hours.:



:I'm coming. I will get you, Sherlock. I promise. I love you. When I get you back, we'll go in together and delete what happened.:



"John, I can't allow you to do this. I understand that you have formed a bond with that thing, but I won't allow you to endanger a human life for its sake." Lestrade took the device away from his limp hands. "If you try, I will have no choice but to take you into custody. I'm sorry."



"I love him. Greg, I love him. He isn't just a piece of plastic... He isn't a machine. He's real. I didn't form a bond, I fucking fell in love." Pacing in spot, John dug his fingers into the short brush of his hair. "Please, Greg. Please don't do this." In the guard’s hand, he device sounded again. "What did he say?" When Lestrade hesitated, John made a grab for it. "What does it say!"



"It... John..." Lestrade cringed, gripping the computer tightly. "'They're hurting me. Help me.'" He whispered. "John, I can't let you go for it. I'm sorry. Please, John. Just relax, I'll see what I can do to help."



"Why bother?" snapped a nasal voice behind John. The doctor whirled to find Anderson standing there, holding a handful of reports. "Sir, it isn't your fault Dr. Watson got attached to a mindless robot. Not your responsibility. He'll get over it soon enough." Sneering, Anderson locked eyes with John for a moment, before filing his reports.



"Anderson, just leave. Before you get-"



John shoved past Lestrade, standing before the taller man. "Say that again." he ordered, voice low and dangerous.



"John... Don't." Lestrade placed a hand on his arm, trying to draw him away.



Shaking him off, John drew himself to his full height and glared at Anderson. "I'll get over it, will I? I hope your wife knows you're so fickle with emotions. Perhaps your girlfriend does? Do they both know you keep getting turned down by a 'mindless robot' for a second tumble?" His lip curled up off his teeth.



"What? I didn't... Watson, it is a fucking toy. A doll. A broken doll, do you hear me? It doesn't feel anything. And neither do you. Deal with it."



Hair raised on the back of his neck, John grabbed Anderson by the front of his smock to hold him in place. Rocking up onto his toes, he slammed his forehead into the man's nose and let him crumple to the floor.



A sharp pain jolted through his shoulder. His entire body stiffened before he collapsed against a table, with his eyes rolling up in his skull.



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"John?"



The doctor rolled over, groaning as he rubbed at his head. "Did you fucking electrocute me?" He mumbled, trying to sit up.



"I didn't have a choice, mate. You had assaulted a member of the crew." Lestrade slipped an arm behind John's shoulders to help him up. "Granted, he deserved it, but still. You okay?"



"Yeah, I'm fine." He muttered, keeping a hold of his head to keep it from rolling off his shoulders. "How long was I out?"



"About an hour. I convinced Anderson to drop any charges against you. And... I got you something. 5H?" The security officer stood and opened the door to the small cell John had been taken to.



Shaky on his feet, John stood and caught Sherlock up in his arms as soon as it stepped through the door. It moved tentatively until it was able to sink into John's embrace. "I'm sorry, John. They came for me in the lab and told me that you needed to see me." It folded around John, trying to touch as much of him as possible. "Jim's newest toy connected to me to override the work you had done. They were able to inflict pain without physically touching me." Clutching at the back of John's shirt, Sherlock whimpered quietly.



"It's okay, my love. I've got you. We'll delete it all, I promise." John reached out and grabbed Lestrade by the arm and whispered, "Thank you."



The officer ran his hand over his silvery hair, and nodded. "I figured if I didn't go get it back for you, you'd tear the entire ship apart. I bought you some time. But you need to be off at the next planet drop. There’s only so long I can keep this covered up."



With his eyes locked on Sherlock's, John cupped its cheeks and ran his fingers through its curls. "We'll take the first shuttle out. It leaves at 0720 tomorrow, right? We'll be on it."



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"Christ, Sherlock, hold still. Let me just connect this up, and I'll manually remove the last 24 hours." John's fingers were trembling as he peeled the layer of synthetic skin from Sherlock's back.



So much had changed, since the first time he had done this, nearly half a year before. "No, John, I need to tell you something first."



The wires connected, and the complex three-dimensional image of Sherlock's internal system appeared on John's screen. The doctor logged in, accessing the memory storage. The files were corrupted, a virus having worked its way behind the android's firewalls. "Don't worry about it, love. I know none of this was your fault. I'm not angry at you." Working as fast as he could ahead of the virus, John stripped out the old, corrupted files. "In the morning, you and I are going to be leaving the Baker. Maybe go back to my home planet. Or we'll just bum around ships for a few years. Haven't decided yet." With a little mirthless laugh, John hacked deeper. "Honey, you've got a bit of a malfunction in here, but it's from before today. Want me to rewrite it?"



"No!" Sherlock tried to sit up, nearly upsetting the computer that was resting on its thighs. " Leave it alone, John. It's important." It reached back, attempting to grab John's computer. "It's the reason I'm attached to you." Its long fingers twitched spastically at John's knee, scratching at the soft material of his trousers. "I'm only supposed to feel this for my owner. Whoever holds the codes for my system. I'm not meant to feel anything for you. I don't want to lose that. You're good to me. I can't lose it, John. I can't lose you."



Toppling his jumble of wires and cables aside, John lunged, attacking Sherlock's mouth with his own. "Never. Sherlock, I'm never going to leave you. I love you. It's you and me from now on, yeah? We'll take care of each other." He buried his fingers into its hair, pulling it close.



Sherlock bit at John's lips, and tried to probe its tongue into his mouth. "John, Jim told me something today. He said it was a secret, and that I couldn't tell anyone."



"Don't worry about it, Sherlock. Forget him. Forget everything to do with him." Stroking Sherlock's face, John selected the folders containing the information from the last day. "See you in a minute, love." He deleted the memory and forced a reboot.



Stiffening, Sherlock's eyes went blank for a moment. Its mouth fell slack, followed by the rest of its body. As the start-up sequence began, its fingers twitched.



"Sorry John, did I go into sleep mode?" Sherlock smiled sweetly, cuddling up against John's belly when it came back online. "I didn't mean to."  It nuzzled the doctor, drawing him down to the bed next to it. "Why are you shaking?"



It took a few seconds to disconnect all of the cables and wires from the android's back. John set them, and his personal computer aside before stretching out on his side. He cradled Sherlock to his chest. "I just had a bit of a bad dream. Don't mind me." He kissed the top of Sherlock's head, running his short fingers through its hair. "Could you do me a favour? I'm starting to get bored of being on the Baker. Could you check which planet the next shuttle will be landing on? There should be one tomorrow morning. I want us to be on it."



"Us? You want me to go with you, John?" Sherlock propped itself up on its elbow, looking with wonder, and something close to confusion, down on the man. "The next shuttle will actually be going to the Locard station on our way past. From there we can board one of three dozen other ships. The earliest one to leave Locard will be four days from now. Then there will be another two days after that. The remainder are not filed yet, at least not on the Baker's system."



"Lovely. We'll find somewhere to go from there." He gently kissed Sherlock's face, inclining his head to be able to see it better. "How are you feeling?"



"I'm well, John. Thank you for asking. You're still shaking."



"Don't worry, it'll pass soon enough."



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"Am I- hah!- hurting y-you?"



"No. No this is wonderful. Please don't ever stop."



"I love you. I've never loved anyone but you."



"Why... I don't understand. Why are you crying? Did I do something wrong?"



"Shh... It's not important. Just... keep doing... F-Fuck! That! Yes!"



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It was 0217 when an explosion rocked the Baker.



Her emergency procedures went immediately into effect, shutting down all unnecessary systems, and setting off ship-wide alarms.



John's medical alert began to scream for his attention, letting him know that 1,895 people had died within moments, and that a further two thousand were in critical condition. Rolling out of bed, the doctor scrambled over to the display, and punched in his codes to shut off the blaring alarm.



When John had taken over as the head of the Medical wing, he had inputted the vital signs of each passenger into the Baker's internal mainframe. While he watched, the death toll rose. Lives were winking out of existence as he stood there.



"Christ... Jesus, Sherlock, come on. I need to get to my lab!" Another two dozen died as he dressed hastily in a pair of discarded jeans and a soiled tee shirt. He threw Sherlock's clothes at it and yanked on some soft soled shoes.



In the corridors, the alarms continued to sound. John sprinted down the dimly lit hall, with Sherlock at his side.



"John! What are we doing?"



After hours, the doors to the lab were locked and could only be opened with specific biometric coding. The first two attempts John made were rejected because his hands were sweating. Scrubbing his palms on his jeans, he placed the left one on the sensor pad, while typing in his password with the left. "People are dying, Sherlock. I need to set up a triage station, probably in the main gymnasium." As he was speaking, the lock disengaged, and the door opened with a hiss. "Can you access the ship? Will she still let you? What happened, were we hit with something? A crash? We're in fucking space! How in the hell would we suffer a collision? There is literally all of the universe that we can fly in!"



Quietly accepting the rolls of bandages, and bottles of medicine, Sherlock shook its head. "There was no collision, John." Its greyish eyes were dull as it spoke to the ship. "The explosion was the result of an incendiary device, located in the Diplomat's wing. In all likelihood it was wired into a timer, to set off at a pre-determined moment." It staggered slightly as it caught a bag John had tossed at it. Righting itself, Sherlock filled the bag with the supplies. "John, there are currently 2,019 people suffering from life threatening injuries, and another 941 that are in critical condition. By my estimates, we only have supplies enough to tend fourteen people. Sixteen, if they are only suffering internal injuries, or blunt force trauma." It tucked a box of disposable syringes under its arm and put several bottles of tablets into the bag. "The supply rooms are sectioned off. We have nothing to treat burns"



"I know that!" John snapped, filling his own bag with as much as he could find in the cupboards. The lab contained mostly electronics, and other things to run diagnostics. It only carried the most basic of supplies, and what it did have, there was very little of. Realistic, he focused his attention on things to dull pain and to make the dying more comfortable. He knew there was almost nothing he could do, but try to ease the way for the injured. "But this is my job; this is what I'm trained to do. This what I was hired for."



"You won't be able to save them, John." Sherlock pointed out, hefting the duffel up over its shoulder. "We should get to one of the shuttles before they all depart. Otherwise we'll be stuck here until emergency response personnel come to investigate. I'm draining my main power supply, boosting the Baker's distress signal. With any luck, it may reach someone before the life support systems go offline."



"I..." John slung the strap for his own bag over his shoulder and took Sherlock by the hand. "I know, Sherlock. But I need to do something. I'll stay as long as I can, help who I can. Don't worry." He rose up on his toes and kissed the android's lips. "We'll be on the shuttle with whatever survivors we can make stable enough for travel. Can you tell me where the greatest concentration of injured passengers is?" He wet his lips and grabbed a pair of scrubs to stuff into his bag. He knew the Diplomat's wing was beyond saving, even if it hadn't been sectioned. At this hour, majority of the passengers would have been in their quarters. At least they had died, hopefully quickly, in their beds.



"Residency quarters, levels B through D." Sherlock nodded, double-checking the information behind its eyes. "Crew living spaces, for the most part. 826 people are there. The rest are scattered throughout the ship. They are so out of the way, that by the time we reach them, they will have died. I can disable to oxygen flow to those levels, allowing them to die more peacefully."



His disgust at the offer quickly passed, as John realised that it would be the most humane option. "Do it." He whispered, clutching Sherlock's hand. "Cut off the oxygen. Vacuum what's left into the emergency piping, to give the rest of us a bit more time."



They stood together, silently, watching as dozens of tiny lights on John's life support display flickered out. Setting the device on a table, John walked stiffly to a corner, and vomited.



Wiping his mouth on the back of his wrist, the doctor straightened, and took a shaking breath. "Ready to go?" He spat a few times to get the taste from his tongue and turned. "Shit... You?"



Jim Moriarty smiled brightly, and twiddled his fingers in a cheerful wave. Behind him, four men stood holding weapons. At his side, a tall blond, obviously synthetic man stood with its hands clasped behind its back. The texture of its skin, even from a distance, was clearly rubbery. It was patterned on its face and bare chest with faint tiger striping.



"Sherlock, come over to me." John held out his hand, stepping toward his partner. "Take my hand, love."



Gnawing its lip, Sherlock looked down at the box of syringes it held in one hand, and the bottle of antibiotics in the other. "Can I put something down?" It asked, plainly distressed that it couldn't do all the tasks that were being asked of it. It was shutting down its own internal functions, in order to maintain its connection with the ship. The process of re-routing the oxygen supply into the pipes was only halfway finished. "I can't take your hand, otherwise." Its eyebrows snapped together, and it shifted from foot to foot. "John, what's going on?"



Keeping his eyes on Jim and his men, John continued to move to Sherlock. "Yes, drop everything that's in your hands, and come here. We're going to get out of here. Why are you doing this?" This last was to Jim, as soon as he pulled Sherlock to his side.



Shrugging, Jim gave an exaggerated frown. "Why not? I've got more than a thousand political forces all packed together in a floating tin can. How could I not try and play? You've no idea how easy it was." Dancing in place, Jim shoved his hands into his pockets and giggled. "They even gave me access to the ship's engine. In less than an hour, the engine will blow, and we'll be dead in the air."



"I'm not even going to bother telling you that you're mad." John stepped back, taking Sherlock with him. "And what? You're after me, because I stole your toy from you?"



Still dancing in place like an excited child, Jim nodded. "Pretty much. I don't like people playing with my things. It annoys me. You annoy me, Dr Watson."



"Boss..." Jim's android reached out and caught the madman's sleeve. "Something feels wrong." It scratched the skin of its belly, and squirmed.



Eyes narrowing, John helped Sherlock to remove the duffel from its shoulder and set it aside. "Run, Sherlock. Please run." He shifted them around, putting himself between the machine and its former owner. Setting his shoulders, he faced Jim. "Once you destroy the engine, you'll be dead too."



Strolling across the room, with his men at his back, Jim toyed with various pieces of equipment from the tables as he went. "No, I won't." He murmured quietly.



The android began to claw at its skin, curling in on itself. Jim reached out, and stroked its cheek. “Boss?”



“Sher- DOWN!”



John shoved Sherlock hard in the chest. Its light frame went sprawling, sliding along the floor to crumple against a bank of counters. Behind him, John heard the low whir and whine before the world went white.

Jim’s newest toy broke apart as the small charge in its chest cavity ignited. Enclosed in such a small space, the explosion was amplified, sending bits of metal and circuitry scattering. The tables and chairs around it blew out in a half-circle.



Something, a chair leg perhaps, part of a table- John wasn’t certain- struck him in the back of the leg.

“Sherlock… Run…” John’s knee buckled, and he hit the floor. The former soldier could feel his jeans wicking up his blood as it pulsed out of the wound in his thigh.



Glass crunched beside his head. Soft soled shoes knocked a bit of rubble aside to stand over him. John glared up at Jim, who stood with a foot on either side of his waist. “You didn’t even want him.” He mumbled, shifting his shoulders. His tongue darted out to wet his lips. He tasted blood. “He wasn’t good enough for you, so you sold him.”



Curling his lip up off his teeth, Jim checked the charge on his gun. His own face was bleeding, but most of the explosion was directed outward. The most damage he had sustained was to his slightly charred clothing. Allowing the blood to run freely down his cheeks, Jim levelled the gun between John’s eyes. “You made it better.” He snapped. “You took something I worked so hard on, and you fixed it. You were going to die anyway. We all are, within an hour. But I couldn’t let that slide.” He crouched, pressing his knee to John’s chest, smiling affectionately when he cried out in pain. “You think you can just… take what I’ve built and improve it? You think you’re better than me. You think you’re so much bet-”



There was a tiny pop, and suddenly Jim looked surprised. Shocked. His mouth fell open, and his eyes went wide, before he slumped over onto his side. In his temple, a small round hole bloomed red.



"Why did you do that?" Sherlock moved sluggishly, swaying on its feet. In its hand, it held a small pistol, taken off the body of one of Jim’s men. The weapon hung limp from its fingers, until it dropped it to the floor. Kneeling, Sherlock pushed Jim to the side, and cupped John’s cheek. Annoyance clouded its features as its thick eyebrows snapped together. "You're dying. Your heart rate has dropped considerably, and your adrenaline levels are spiking."



Scrubbing his hand over his mouth, smearing blood across his face, John rolled limply to his side. "Sorry."



His jeans were a bloody ruin, the entire left leg already soaked. "Sherlock, I need you to go bring the medical supplies to the Residency quarters." He slurred, pressing his hands to the inside of his leg to try and slow the bleeding. He didn't bother to attempt to stop it, just put off the inevitable for a few more minutes. "Then grab the first shuttle carrying survivors out of here." Biting nearly clean through his lip, he arched his spine off the floor in pain. As he collapsed back down, everything became soft, and pleasantly warm. "F'kin' shock..." he mumbled."Love you, Sh'rl'ck." He smiled shakily, tears streaking over his blood stained cheeks.



Sherlock sat up, brushing debris and bits of metal from around them. "John, no. You're not allowed. What do I do?"



Scanning files- First aid..... Not Found. File Deleted.



Scanning files- Blood loss..... Not Found. File Deleted.



Scanning files- Femoral artery.... Audio clip found. "That's a bleed out in ten minutes."



"John, I don't know what to do. Tell me what to do. You're leaving me. I don't want you to leave me, John."



"I need you to go, Sherlock. Please. I'm telling you what to do now. Leave, and get to a shuttle." He smiled still, melting boneless to the floor. "That's an order." He giggled weakly, and tried to salute. His hand fell limply beside his head.



"I don't have to obey you, remember?" Sherlock pointed out, cradling John in its lap. It ran its fingers through his hair, staring down at him. "You fixed me. I can't lose you. I need you to tell me what to do." As it spoke, it re-routed the oxygen supply into the Med Lab. Lying cracked amongst the wreckage, John's device chirped plaintively, trying to alert him to the sudden jump in the death toll. Support systems began shutting down throughout the rest of the ship.



"Hold my hand?" John requested, letting go of the wound in his leg. His fingers were wet, slippery, as he gripped Sherlock's fingers with the last of his strength. "Just.... Sherlock, tell me you love me."



Scanning files- Love.... Files Found. Accessing.....



Sherlock's eyes flickered as a rush of images and audio clips flooded its system.



John's laugh-Snowflakes-John's smile-Warm skin-"You're amazing."-Fingers threading through its hair-"Never ask permission."-Toast-"Fine, just one more game."-Murmured words moments before sleep-"I love you."-"I love you."-I love you, John.





"I love you." Sherlock clutched John's hand, linking their fingers together tightly. It leaned in and kissed his forehead, his cheeks, lingering on his lips. John was right. It did feel different. "I love you so much, John. I let you fix me, and I spotted you in the gymnasium, and I gave you snow, and I love you."



Around them, the Baker went offline. One solitary life line beeped unsteadily on John's alert.



"Worth it." John breathed, cupping Sherlock's cheek. He had to grip its hair to keep his arm up. "You're worth it, Sherlock. Sorry I couldn't-"



The alert went silent.





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Lieutenant Trevor stroked the machine's hand. "Sorry, Sherlock then. Listen, Sherlock, something happened on the Baker. A long time ago. Can you tell me what it was?"



Sherlock frowned. "I am sorry, but my files are corrupted. There was a power surge, when I shut off the Baker's life support systems. It must have damaged the files. There was an explosion. Jim was bored. The engine was disabled in the explosion. Is John fixing the engine? He is quite skilled in things like that."



Major Nichols stepped up, placing her hand on Trevor's shoulder. "Sweetheart, I'm very sorry, but this damage to the ship happened a very long time ago. Humans..."



"Where is John?" Sherlock began to look visibly distressed, fighting the hands that were holding it down. "I don't like being apart from John. Everyone knows this. John's my.... He's..." The android giggled softly. "I love him. I remember now. I love John."



"Come with me," Trevor helped Sherlock to stand off the table. It was unsteady and disoriented on its feet, and had to clutch at the soldier's arm. "John's here." Sucking in his cheeks, Trevor unzipped a large green bag. On each of the four corners, there was a tiny, but powerful charge that, when activated, would reduce the contents to a small pile of dust and ash.



"That's not John." Sherlock glared at the body. The corpse had sunken cheeks, and tight, almost glossy skin after spending decades in an completely sealed environment. "That's.... It isn't John... It can't-" Forehead creasing, Sherlock reached into the bag.



On the body's chest, a pair of military ID tags still gleamed. Picking the familiar disks up, the android clinked them together. It had hundreds of files on these disks. The way they felt when it rolled them over its knuckles. The sound they made when John was holding himself above it, bodies moving together. How they looked, proudly displayed on John's chest as he lifted weights, or ran on a treadmill. Confused, Sherlock took the chain, slipping it over its own head.



The soldiers drew him away from the body, and sealed the bag once again. Nichols set off the charges. The bag stiffened, then swelled, before deflating entirely. Afterwards, they put Sherlock in a corner to wait while they cremated the rest of the bodies they had found.



"May I be excused for a moment?" It asked politely, as they were discussing what tasks they could assign it on their ship. "If you're going to take me with you, there are a few items I would like to bring with me." Without waiting for permission- John had done his work well- Sherlock turned and left the lab.



7437



Sherlock punched in the codes for John's quarters. The room was stale, and preserved exactly as they had left it. On the table was the book John had been reading. Photos still lined the wall- John receiving his medical degree, being given the rank of Captain, standing with Sherlock at his side. Their clothes from that last night were still in a crumpled pile near the bed. Sherlock brushed its fingertips over the worn fabric of the shirt John had thrown at it before sprinting from their room. One of John's, from when he was still in the army.



From one of the cupboards, Sherlock collected some of the snowflakes. They were dry and brittle. Bringing them to its face, it rubbed its nose against them before walking over to the bed. Slipping under the thin sheets, Sherlock entered its security protocols.



Accessing memory bank....



Disable feeds, Yes/No?



Yes.



Everything went beautifully silent.



What task required?



Restore factory settings.



This is a permanent process. It cannot be reversed.



Restore factory settings.



Decommission in progress....



Clear hard drive- Yes/No?



Yes.



Factory settings restored.





The android's head hit John's pillow as it collapsed. Its grey eyes went blank, and its face slack.



From its limp fingers, dozens of paper snowflakes tumbled to the floor.