John watches silently as Dorian enters his flat, walking past him and half way across the living room, only then turning back to wait for John as he follows, after closing the front door. Dorians expression is apprehensive, and he remains troublingly silent. This is afterall the man that John spends most of his day trying to shut up.
John looks at him curious but hesitant. He’s pretty sure he’s not going to like this. Dorian doesn’t do this, he doesn’t just show up at his door at night, he’s never done this. If there was an emergency Dorian would have just called, he wouldn’t have asked to come inside with a voice that said he wasn’t sure if he wanted John to say yes.
Of course John said yes, he could see that Dorian needed something, and when Dorian is truly in need, when a request comes from his heart, John could never say no. Except he hasn’t got a heart, he’s just wires and numbers, he reminds himself stubbornly, feeling a pain twist in his heart like it has every time before.
The silence stretches out between them and John realises he has to make a choice. Push to find out, or brush whatever this is aside with banter. He feels Dorian would take the excuse not to talk about whatever this is, jump at it even, but part of him is curious. The part that makes him a good policeman, the part that wants Dorian to be okay, a part he can’t ignore so he soldiers on against his better judgement, “Dorian, if I wanted a statue in my living room, I’d just buy one. You wanna tell me what this is about?”
Resolve settles over Dorian like cloak, all his insecurities hidden beneath it. Truth be told, John loves this side of Dorian, the forceful and independent side. A part of him hates it too, because it’s so hard to remember he’s just a robot when he seems anything but just circuitry and programmes, when he’s almost human like this.
“You keep doing that,” Dorian bites out. When John just looks at him in confusion, Dorian continues, “You keep making jokes, all of them constantly reminding me I’m just a robot, a synthetic,“ he adds acidly. John can’t help but wince at that, but doesn’t say anything as Dorian continues. “I know you like me, you risked your life for me, and at times I think you might even respect me, I don’t know.” Dorians voice has gone from angry to soft and confused now, struggling to understand the dual emotions that John keeps radiating, hot and cold. “You woke me up, you were the first person I saw, and you’ll always be special to me for that. I respect you and I want you to respect me, but I can’t see how you ever can if we can’t get past the fact that I’m not real to you, so I’m here.” Dorian takes a long blink, as if resetting his thoughts, “I’m here to sort this out. once and for all.” He takes a deep breath, “If you want to put me back to sleep then do it, because the constant threat that one day what I do won’t override what I am is killing me.”
John takes an urgent step forward at that before he can stop himself. He can’t stop the words falling from his mouth though, “Jeez! You really believe that?” John asks, hurt and guilt tumbling over in his mind and flooding over the walls he builds up anew every day.
Dorian stalks forward until he is inches from John, “What else am I supposed to think?” he bites out. “You’ve threatened it enough times.”
“And you smile,” John shouts back, words stressed, “You know its only a joke, that I would never....”
“And if I joked about killing you every single day? Of course I smile, what else am I supposed to do,” Dorian states, each word sharp and biting like a knifes blade.
John shakes his head, “No,” he denies angrily, because he doesn’t want to believe it, can’t, because it means he’s hurt Dorian a thousand times over, and inside something twists bitterly at the thought, and yet part of him knows it’s true. He’s known it all along, that he’s been so angry that he is in this predicament and that he blames Dorian for not being capable, for not being human enough. He has struck out to inflict pain, to even the balance just a little.
His head is swimming with emotions and he knows he needs to leave, except this is his house and he knows now that Dorian won’t let this go. Even now, Dorian is continuing, getting everything off his chest. “You threw an MX out of a moving car. You going to do that to me someday?” Dorian asks.
“Noooooo,” John almost screams out, just the thought of it hits deep. “They’re different. They’re not you.”
“There synthetics. That’s all I am, right? You’ve never held back on your hatred of my kind. Look at the way you treated Darren. He was the same model as me.” Dorian continues.
“He’s not you,” John bites out and he’s edged forward, nearly nose to nose with Dorian.
Part of him knows that Dorian is getting him angry on purpose, knows that Dorian has got closer than anyone since John returned to the force and he knows just how to get John to say the truth. John can feel himself getting angry, can feel the words rising up to be spoken and he tries to steady himself, to find that inner calm he has in battle situations, anything to stop those words from being free from the prison he stored them in. But Dorian has got his emotions erupting in fireworks and he’s overwhelmed by them so when Dorian says, “Then why do you say the things you do, just to hurt me for the hell of it?”
“I don’t say them to hurt you. I say them to remind myself,” John spits out, in righteous fury.
“Remind yourself of what?” Dorian laughs out bitterly.
John just stops. He toys for a moment with the idea that he might be able to threaten Rudy into wiping Dorian’s memory banks, and hates himself the second after he thinks it. Dorian’s eyes take on a calculating look as they scan John’s still face. He knows he’s found it, the reason that John keeps blowing hot and cold and he won’t let this go. John can see it, Dorian thinks if he understands then he can fix it.
John still can’t move, the shock of saying it out loud has frozen every part of him, except his heart which is hammering painfully against his ribcage.
“Remind yourself of what, John?” Dorian asks softly into the silence, eyes still tracking every inch of John’s face, looking for that clue that will unlock everything.
“Remind me that you’re not capable,” John says quietly. It’s the truth, and he knows Dorian will see that. It’s just not the whole truth, but he knows how Dorian will interpret the words.
Dorian is jerking back as if he’s been slapped, and John knows he’s hurt him once again but he remains still, trying to keep his face stoic as he watches pain and disbelief war for dominance on Dorian’s face. If he can just get through this then he can assure Dorian he won’t be put back to sleep, if John can just get the emphasis off why he constantly states robot, when he should say friend, love.
Dorian’s turning away, desolate and quiet, but accepting. John can’t help the relief that floods through him but when Dorian whips back to look at him, eyes narrowing on his face, John realises he must have seen it in his peripheral vision. He hurries to put it back, to pull the mask of indifference over his face once again but he already knows it’s too late. He can't convince Dorian that he never saw it, even if Dorian thinks he was mistaken all he has to do is replay his video feed and watch it again and again to make sure. John still tries though.
There is a twitch to Dorian’s head, as if an idea hit with such power that it knocked his head. He hesitates, but eventually he speaks, quiet and challenging, “Not capable of what, John?”
John’s breathing increases, he’s scared and he knows Dorian can read it in the beat of his pulse, his laboured breaths. John knows he can say, ‘of being human,’ but he can’t quite bring himself to say the words out loud, to hurt Dorian to that degree. Plus he doubts he can say it with even a smidgen of the sincerity he needs to convince Dorian.
He feels like he’s been chased by a pack of wolves and they are about to take him down. He is suddenly tired, he feels so weak. Almost without realising it, he speaks the forbidden words, the pain and despair wrapped in them robbing the sound away so they come out as quiet as a whisper, “Of loving me back.” He closes his eyes and thinks about falling to the floor and just letting go.
The soft lips on his, spark a sudden burst of energy built on anger and disgust. He shoves Dorian away from him as he himself spins and stalks away, “Jesus!” he screams. He pivots sharply in the wide open doorway to the living room, “You don't have to please me to stop me from killing you, Dorian.” John’s hand steals up to his temple to rub at the massive headache forming there, “Jesus! I can’t believe you did that.”
He pulls the hand away from his temple, stretching it out to Dorian, palm open and shaking in anger. “You’re a police officer, not a sexbot,” he shouts accusingly. “You honestly think that little of me? That you have to do that to stay alive.”
“No, not to stay alive,” Dorian agrees assertively, but follows it up in a soft voice, a smile on his lips, “But I think I have to do it regardless of anything.”
John just frowns at him, trying to figure out why as he lowers his hand back to his side.
“I… I think I am capable, John.” Dorian says, a light happiness to his tones, even if the words are hesitant.
John closes his eyes in pain, the hand shooting back up in the universal sign for stop. “Don’t,” he grinds out. “Just don’t.” He takes a deep, steadying breath as he squeezes his eyes further closed in pain, feeling the moist tears along the edge of his lashes before he opens his eyes again to look on Dorian’s confused face.
John watches as the face morphs from confusion to shock, “You truly don’t believe I’m capable of love.” and Dorian says the words like John just said he’s capable of genocide.
John sighs, the truth is out there now. He can’t put it back in it’s box so he has to see this through. “I believe you do, and I do think you’re capable of emulating it, but not feeling it, Dorian. You can’t programme love, it’s not built up of numbers and commands. It’s an instinct you just can’t have. It’s not your fault, but no, I don’t think you are capable.”
“I feel something, I know I do,” Dorian states. No anger, just intense belief weighing down every word. “So, explain it to me. We’ll go through it and I’ll prove it to you.”
“Explain love?” John says, shaking his head sadly. “That just proves it, Dorian. You can’t explain love, it just is.”
“You think that person is the most important person in your life, right.” Dorian continues, ignoring John’s negativity as always. “You put them above everyone, even yourself. You want only their happiness, to hear their laughter makes something inside bubble free and you can’t help but smile to see it. You want their respect, their love. I want that from you, John, that’s how I feel. You are the most important person in my existence.”
“Of course I am,” John shouts in exasperation. .”That’s the way you’ve been programmed. I’m your partner, you’re programmed to please me, to die for me. You’re mistaking your programme to care for me, for actually caring about me.” The admonishment hurts, his voice turning from exasperation to tender and breaking as he tells Dorian the truth of it.
Dorian shakes his head. “I’m programmed to care for you, right?” he asks.
“Programmed to put your wishes first, unless it’s to protect you from yourself, right?”
John nodded again, confusion on his face this time.
“Your survival should be my constant thought, right?” Dorian’s voice is growing harsher with every sentence.
John can’t figure out where this is going, but he agrees so he nods again.
Dorian stalks over to him, anger in every line of his body. His voice is firm, edged in anger, voiced as a challenge he says, “Then why do I want to kill you when I see you smile at another person the way you smile at me? Why do I want to rip apart anyone who puts a hand on your skin and punish you for allowing it? If pleasing you should be my ultimate goal, then why do I wish anyone who makes you smile was a hundred miles away from you, that even when I’m making you angry and upset, I still want it to be just us. Why do I care so damn much if it’s just about numbers and commands?
”You know why my model failed? Not because of their programming, but because they were given humanity, they were too human and nobody noticed. They were left to deal with PTSD, with emotions that no one took the time to explain to them and they went mad with it. I know I’d go mad with it if you left me, I’d go insane trying to live without you in my life. I’m not just programmed to protect you, I want to, I need to, because you are my life. Even on the days I want to kill you, I still want you. I just never took the time to realise it until now, until you denied me what I wanted.
“If this is what you want, then why won’t I just accept that? If it pleases you, it should please me, right, but it doesn’t. It hurts, like a thousand bullets to my body. It feels like I’m running out of power and my insides are shattering apart. I don’t care that you refuse to accept this, I do and I’ll spend the rest of your life breaking down your walls until you let me in,” Dorian raised a hand to lay on John’s chest, “until I’m right where I want to be, right here in your heart, the way you are in mine.”
John hadn’t moved a muscle. He just listened to the words, really listened, and watched. He watched Dorian’s eyes sparking in anger, listened to the plaintive words that reflected John’s love for Dorian back at him. Everything he felt inside was given flight and renamed as Dorians love for him. Could it be, that the soul chip didn’t just emulate a soul, but created one? Could he really be capable of love? Could that be the real reason the DRNs went mad? He thought about taking a section of the public and putting them on the front lines and realised that yes, a lot of the ‘issues’ they had with the DRNs would also manifest themselves in humans, especially in the mind of a child, which the DRN’s were at the beginning.
But surely someone would have noticed? Surely they tried everything before they scrapped them like nothing more than scrap metal? If he didn’t love Dorian, would he have cared to look further, would he have realised he was more than just a robot, more than the programme he once was?All these thoughts barrelled around his head as he looked on Dorian, on the face he had come to love. Even when Dorian placed a hand on his chest, he didn’t move, couldn’t tear his eyes away from the emotions laid bare on that beautiful face, from the tears forming in those crystal blue eyes.
Dorian’s words dry up, and John still just watches him. So much going on in his mind that he can’t process it all in time. Dorian’s face takes on a deep sadness when John continues to remain motionless, “But I guess for now the answer is no. You still think I’m incapable of loving you.” There is a bitterness to his words, but still John doesn’t react.
It’s as Dorian is pulling away, as John feels like he is losing him that he reaches out, sliding a hand against his neck, his fingers sliding into the soft hair. At the same time his other hand snakes out and grips hold of Dorians jacket, pulling him in while angling his own head as he leans in and kisses the man he loves. In his dreams the kisses are passion filled, forceful and needy, but the reality is gentle and languid. Lips caressing each other intimately, tasting and mapping, as his body fires up with tingles of pleasure and a cloak of contentment settles over him.
It’s like moving through treacle, and yet it also happens in the blink of an eye. With Dorian’s hand pressed over his heart, and his lips against his, John finds he is willing to risk it. Even if it’s just wishful thinking, he just can’t risk that he was wrong and Dorian is capable because now he’s here, where he had dreamed of being so many times, he knows he can’t give it up. A thought strikes out of the blue and he pulls back. “What about the online dating profile? If you felt like that, why did you do that?”
Dorian smiles smugly, “You never read the profile did you?” After John shakes his head, Dorian continues, “Trust me, you wouldn’t have got any responses. At least, not from anyone you’d be interested in.”
John shakes his head again, “I’m never going to win against you, am I?”
Dorian sweeps in to steal another kiss, before pulling back, “I like to believe when I win, we both win.”
John just laughs and shakes his head, eyes fond. “uh-huh,” John agrees sarcastically. “Well, at least now I know how to shut you u….”
He never gets to finish the sentence as Dorian swoops in and begins kissing him again. John laughs against his lips but doesn’t break the kiss. He could spend the rest of his life in just this moment and die happy. His life has just become worth something, because he’s just given it to Dorian, along with his heart.