Pairing: John&Dorian (epic-bromance)
Feedback: Makes me happy, just play nice
Disclaimer(s) can be found here
Summary: Four years after making it through a deadly special forces mission on Mars, John was the only survivor of a police raid gone wrong. The raid took his leg and put him in a coma he should never have awoken from and taking almost two years of his life. Now back on the force, begrudgingly partnered with an android, Dorian, DRN-167, who’s too close to human for his own good, John’s being asked to go face the very things that changed his life, to follow the man who created and betrayed his partner, and face the crime group, InSyndicate, responsible for the ambush that cost him his team and his leg- all wrapped up in one nice little package over the Wall, which segregates the livable portion of the city and the area overrun by the C24s.
Dorian returned fifteen minutes later- an awkward, boxy bag slung over his shoulder.
“The conquering hero returns,” John snarked in greeting.
“I’m going to remember you said that,” Dorian volleyed back.
John snorted. “All hail the conquering toaster.” The sarcasm drippied from his words like honey.
“Hey, be nice to the man with your leg,” Dorian countered with a smirk, even as he brought the appendage to John. Handing off the leg, he told John, “We’ve got twenty-three minutes before the first device goes off.”
While John situated his prosthetic and his clothes, Dorian packed up the charger in its makeshift case.
“Ready?” John asked rather unnecessarily.
Rolling his eyes, John stood, checked his weapons, and started down the tunnel.
They’d just reached the juncture that would take them out from under the bunkers and into the park itself, when a resounding explosion rocked the tunnel walls. It was followed by a cascade of subsequent explosions.
Before John knew what was happening, Dorian tackled him and flung them both several yards down the connecting passage just as the earth shook in a way he hadn’t felt since he was seven, watching his world quite literally collapse around him.
John flailed- he had to get away, he’d promised himself long ago he wouldn’t be buried alive again. Hell, he wouldn’t even be buried dead if he had any say.
“John!” Two hands wrapped firmly but gently around John’s wrists, pinning him to the ground at the same time the heavy weight shifted off him. “John. John, it’s okay. You’re safe,” Dorian soothed as best he could. “You’re safe, John.”
John slowly calmed as he recognized Dorian’s voice and the gratifying absence of crushing weight on him.
“You okay, man?” Dorian did his best to modulate his voice to hide the fear he felt for his friend.
Sitting up, John rubbed the base of his skull. “Yeah, I’m fine. You?”
“Nothing a few minutes with Rudy won’t cure.” Dorian reached out a hand to help John up.
“At least they won’t be following us from here,” John quipped, inspecting the damage to the now sealed off tunnel.
“John,” Dorian’s voice was unnervingly serious, “we have a problem.”
John turned to see Dorian examining Rudy’s charger, at least that’s what he thought the mangled and sparking scrap of metal was. “Shit.”
Dorian gave John an apologetic look.
John raised a hand, forestalling anything Dorian might be about to say. “It’s not your fault. We just need to get Vaughn and get out of here before either of us are down for the count.” He waited for Dorian’s nod. “Good. Now what’s the fastest way out of here.”
“The tunnels or the park?” Dorian asked as he accessed the drainage maps again.
“The park,” John clarified, “easier to avoid those bullets you were talking about.”
“There’s an exit a few hundred yards up ahead. It puts us about fifty feet from the wall.”
“All right, let’s get you out in the daylight.”
Within minutes they were back out in the open. A quick survey by both of them determined the sentries had indeed been called back, presumably to help with the explosions. It made reaching the relative safety of the city buildings refreshingly simple.
They moved swiftly through the city streets toward the industrial area that housed the Mercer buildings, stopping a few buildings shy of them to get the lay of the land.
What they saw was disturbing. The complex was dead. Completely dead. Where they would’ve expected at least minimal guards, there was no one and no sign that anyone had been there recently.
“You think he was lying?” Dorian asked.
John shook his head adamantly. “No. You don’t lie when you’re that scared.”
Dorian nodded in agreement.
John closed his eyes for a minute, replaying what Alan had told him. His eyes snapped open. “He said ‘beneath.’ Is there a basement?”
Dorian got the blank, faraway look he sometimes got when he was searching and analyzing information, while yellow sparked under his skin. “Yes, a rather extensive one- it appears to span the entire complex.”
“Looks like we weren’t the only ones to think underground was the way to go. Okay,” John exhaled. “Access points?”
“There’s elevator or stairwell access in each building, but we have to assume they’re being monitored.”
“Of course, they are.” John exhaled heavily and rubbed his temples with one hand. “Okay, what’s going to run your engines harder- trying to intercept the sensor feeds or going underground?”
“Either way we’ll be underground, John, just a matter of when, and I honestly don’t see there being much difference in the power drain on my systems,” Dorian explained.
Nodding his head slowly, John weighed their limited options. “Right, we take the tunnels. We’ll double back a few blocks before we go down. They’re more likely to have alarm sensors on the ones closest to the complex.”
“Agreed.” Dorian’s lights barely flashed before he said, “The corner of 61st and Lagoona. We should be able to access through the diner there.”
John gave a quick nod and began backtracking the relatively short distance.
“Can you draw me a map of the tunnels?” John asked when they reached the diner.
“Not a problem.” Dorian snatched a napkin and pencil from the diner counter and quickly sketched out a near perfect diagram, passing the finished product over to John.
As soon as they hit the tunnels, they knew they were on the right track; not only were the passageways clear and obviously well-used, but small lights lined the walls every fifteen to twenty feet.
“Definitely on the right track,” John whispered. He looked down as his napkin-map and cocked his head slightly. “How the Hell are we supposed to find him in this mess in less than a day?” John growled softly.
“We’ve come this far, John.”
John looked at the man at his side. Dorian’s electric blue eyes radiated faith and belief and John sucked in a breath. If Dorian believed they could do this, then he’d believe it as well, and Dorian was right, they’d come this far. He squeezed Dorian’s shoulder. “Thanks, man.”
Dorian practically beamed. “Anytime, John.”
“Any chance you can hack into their system? Maybe find out where their people are located?” John asked as they worked their way down the tunnel.
“Not from here, but if we can find any sort of data cable-works I should be able to access anything on their mainframe.”
They walked on past two small junctions and there were still no signs of people despite the growing frequency of the lights illuminating tunnels.
A few more yards and Dorian grabbed John’s arm abruptly. He pointed up and left when John’s brow furrowed at him.
There, just a few yards ahead of them, was a small black box. “That’s it?” John whispered.
“That’s it,” Dorian agreed with a smile. He went up to the box and pried off the lid. It took mere moments for Dorian to access the complex’s database, dark green and pink lights chasing each other across his skin as he searched for any information on Vaughn- his location and his experiments. “Got him. Vaughn’s in the easternmost building.”
“Minimal. As we suspected most of their forces have been called out to the bunkers,” Dorian confirmed.
“Let’s go get the bastard.” John adjusted his gun and took point as they wound their way along the outskirts of the complex.
“Here.” Dorian stopped them at a three way intersection. “Down there,” he indicated the turnoff, “this access point should put us right in the middle of Vaughn’s building.”
Once again the tunnel’s lighting turned sparse, but thankfully their goal was only a handful of yards into the passage and soon enough they were emerging into a sterile grey room lined with boxes.
Sound filtered through the open door causing John and Dorian to flatten themselves against a row of boxes. They watched as a very disinterested, uniformed man passed by and on down the corridor.
Silently, John came up behind the man and tapped him on the shoulder. When the man turned around, John gave him a bright smile. “Hi,” he said just before hitting him. The man fell like the proverbial sack of potatoes.
After John dragged him back to the storeroom, Dorian relieved him of his weapons and radio, while John tied his arms and legs and gagged him. With what was probably more care than the unconscious man deserved, they lowered him down into the tunnel.
He gave Dorian a nod and they entered the hallway. They found little resistance- two more guards, one turning down a connecting corridor without noticing them, the other currently residing in a supply closet- until they reached the hall Vaughn was on. Several doors littered the hallway, most seeming generic enough, but three were adorned with secure electronic locks. It was outside these that four guards milled about. John and Dorian stopped at the corner, both letting the men’s conversation drift to them.
“I don’t get it,” one of them said- he was young and wiry and John thought he could still see the water behind his ears.
“What’s there to get, Mark? There’s been an emergency at the lab, all hands on deck. We’re back-up, so we back them up, whatever that entails. Right now, that means we take over guarding the doctor and the lab here.”
“We should be out there,” Mark argued. “What’s so important with this damn scientist anyway?”
The man who was obviously the leader, or at least the senior thug, slammed Mark into the wall. “We should be here, guarding the man who could turn the tide of this war.”
Mark shook the other man off, rolling his shoulders in some small act of defiance. “Fine. I still think we’d be more useful out there.”
“You don’t need to think- just do.”
Hearing those words made John’s jaw clench. In this place the memories of Olduvai were stark and fresh, and he could hear those words coming out of Sarge’s mouth and the cold dread he’d felt then returned as the similarity of the situation resonated in him. At least this time he knew who was the enemy and who he could trust, and Sam’s life wasn’t on the line- just the fate of the city, and who knew how much further InSyndicate planned to spread its reach.
“John? Are you okay?” Dorian asked when his sensors started pinging their warning that John’s blood pressure and adrenaline levels suddenly shot up.
John gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes closed. “I’m fine, D, just really want to kill that bastard. Don’t worry,” he said, giving Dorian a roll of his eyes and a half put upon look, “I’ve got more control than that.”
“If you say so.”
John scoffed and turned his attention back to the guards. “What do you think, simple divide and conquer?” John snickered. “Give Mark something to do.”
Dorian chuckled quietly. “I have just the thing.”
Positioning themselves further back down the hallway, John gave Dorian the go-ahead.
Pale, almost white streaks of lightning flickered along Dorian’s cheek as the clear sound of two pairs of running feet echoed down the corridor. It was almost a whisper when it reached John’s ears, but it was clear enough.
“Fred, Arri, go check that out. We’re supposed to be the only ones in this part of the building, so be careful.”
The order was met with twin, “Yes, sir”s, as the two men separated from the others.
John and Dorian shared a nod as they waited for the men to get close enough to attack.
With quick, expert moves, John and Dorian took the two men down.
“Two down, two to go.”
Crouching against the wall at the corner, John peered out quickly to see what the remaining guards were doing.
“Okay. Still oblivious,” John reported.
John nodded. “If we can split them up it’ll be easier.”
“What did you have in mind?” Dorian asked.
“A visual aid.” He smirked. “Cross the hall,” he explained simply.
Dorian looked at John as if he was insane- well, more so than usual.
Sighing, John quickly mapped out his plan. “They see someone or something crossing to the far side of the hallway, at least one of them will come check it out, especially since they will have lost contact with the other two idiots. If they both come, we have them on either side. If it’s only one of them, then he’ll be distracted on your side of the hallway and I can rush whichever stays behind.”
“Two good plans in one day- I’m impressed,” Dorian snarked.
“Gee, I impressed my toaster- my life is now complete.”
Dorian just beamed and slapped John on the shoulder. Just before he made his move, Dorian shot back at John, “Go get ‘em, ‘White Cheetah’.” Luckily for him, Dorian was crossing the hall before John could respond.
“Did you see that?” their leader asked. “Fred? Arri? You have anything?” he said into his radio. “Fred? Arri? Come in.”
“Calm down, Rick, they’re probably just off giving each other handjobs or something.”
“Shut up,” Rick growled back. “There’s someone here.”
“Then let’s go,” Mark said, voice full of overexuberance.
Rick pushed Mark back with the length of his gun across the younger man’s chest. “I’ll go. You will stay here and look out for Vaughn. We’re not leaving the doc undefended.”
Mark seethed, though he backed down.
“Good. If you don’t hear from me in five minutes call for reinforcements.
“Yes, sir,” Mark acknowledged, more out of training than respect.
“Here he comes. Ready?” John checked with his partner in an almost silent whisper.
“Of course,” Dorian huffed as if it was the ten-thousandth time John had asked him- the actual number was in the low single digits. “I’m rushing the idiot down the hall, right?” he asked with his most innocent quizzical look.
John glared. “Asshole,” he groused, although the soft twinkle in his eyes and hint of laughter spoke louder than his glare or his words.
It worked beautifully. Dorian had Rick out and cuffed before he could make a sound. John’s target fell seconds later, taken completely off guard by the rush that was John Kennex.
Dorian might’ve teased John about his reported high school football nickname, but he had to admit that seeing John move, he totally deserved the moniker now. “Nice going,” he said, when he joined John, adding, “cheetah,” with a smirk.
John’s responding eye roll was mitigated by his bemused smile. “Just open the door.”
“Whatever you say, John.” Dorian placed his palm on the keypad, veins lighting up along his hand. With barely a sound the door clicked open.
“God damn-it, don’t you people know how to knock?” the room’s single occupant snapped. Nigel Vaughn was average height, round faced, and his snowy white hair gave him the appearance of someone who should be working as a Santa Claus, rather than hunched over a workbench with enough electronics to make Rudy swoon. “I’m in the middle of something here,” he said slamming his palms on the table. “What do you people want?” he demanded, finally turning toward his guests. The colour drained from his face when he saw John and Dorian standing in the doorway. “Oh…”
“As welcomes go, I’ve had colder,” John quipped. “Step away from the table.” John made an ‘over there’ motion with his gun for emphasis. “D, take care of the research.”
Dorian just nodded; he was feeling anger and betrayal in such strength it scared him. The only time his emotions ran this high was when John was involved and those emotions were anything but negative.
“I don’t suppose apologizing will have any sway with either of you,” Vaughn asked with an innocence that made John’s blood boil.
Before he’d realized it, John had Vaughn slammed up against a wall, pinned by John’s gun. “You’d best understand this- the only reason you are alive is Dorian. Despite everything, you are the closest thing to a father he has and I don’t want to be the one to take that from him. But I swear to God if you give me any excuse I will kill you,” John growled with a special venom reserved for people who hurt his family- and this man had almost crushed both Dorian and Rudy.
Vaughn visibly gulped, trying to shy away even trapped between the wall and John’s gun.
“John,” Dorian called calmly, in what he hoped was a soothing tone. “I’ve got it.”
“Then let’s get out of here.” He yanked Vaughn away from the wall and thrust him at his partner.
Vaughn managed to look sheepish, while Dorian lashed his wrists. “This isn’t how I’d hoped to see you again,” Vaughn told Dorian in a voice that was almost reverent and adoring.
It made John’s skin crawl. Even knowing Dorian wasn’t human, John was impressed by his calm. He knew Dorian could feel, had emotions- regardless of what he himself would outwardly protest, especially to Dorian.
Ignoring Vaughn, Dorian turned to John. “I took the liberty of uploading a virus into their system. All of Dr. Vaughn’s work will be permanently destroyed and it will temporarily shut down their entire system.”
“Nice work, D.” John squeezed his friend’s shoulder. “You,” he directed at Vaughn, “move it.” John emphasized his instructions with the muzzle of his gun shoved into Vaughn’s back.
Dorian took charge of their captive with a bruising grip on his arm as they led the way to the nearest tunnel entrance and then through the maze of passages until they were safely out of range of InSyndicate’s security systems.
They walked for a few blocks before Dorian veered off into a tall apartment building.
“D?” John asked so softly he knew Vaughn wouldn’t be able to hear.
“You need to rest,” he whispered back, “your leg is firing off like New Year’s Eve.”
He was about to argue, when a spike of pain pierced through his thigh, turning his rebuttal into a wince.
Dorian simply arched an eyebrow and continued toward the stairwell.
Grumbling, John followed. “Damn know-it-all ‘bots.”
Traversing the twenty-one flights to the roof access took twice as long as it should’ve. Partly because of Vaughn and, John suspected, more than a little because Dorian knew how bad his leg was killing him- though John would be damned if he’d let Vaughn know.
As soon as they were outside, Dorian handed Vaughn off to John and began to strip.
“What the Hell, D?”
“The sun sets in a little over two hours,” the android explained.
Of course. Rudy had turned Dorian’s skin into one big solar panel. While Dorian stripped, John secured Vaughn to the iron railing that wrapped around the roof access, and zip cuffed his ankles for good measure. When he turned back, Dorian was almost completely naked, save for a pair of black briefs.
The field-patched bullet holes glared against Dorian’s smooth, unblemished skin. John had to stop himself from reaching out to touch the rough edges so reminiscent of the battle scars his own body once held. It was odd to think this was another thing they had in common- the wounds that would mar most people’s flesh were nothing but memories for them.
“John? Are you all right?” Dorian’s warm voice broke through John’s thoughts.
John looked up into Dorian’s electric blue eyes. “Yeah,” he said softly with an honesty he found surprising, but for the first time since he’d woken up from his coma, he thought he might just be okay. “How much juice you think you’ll have after that?”
“D,” John admonished, knowing Dorian knew he wanted a more specific answer.
“At this rate I’ll have approximately sixty-three percent charge, more than enough to boost your leg and make it the three miles to our extraction point on the Wall.”
“John, I scaled that clock tower with a fifteen percent charge,” Dorian reminded him.
John snickered. “Yeah, you even managed to impress Richard with that.”
Dorian smiled, not only at John’s hidden praise, but at the reassertion of what he’d come to think of as his John.
“What the Hell are you smirking at?” John asked with curious amusement.
“Nothing, man. Just glad to be going home.”
Chuckling, John clapped Dorian’s shoulder. “Me, too. I’m even starting to miss Paul.”
“I’m going to tell him you said that.”
“Do that and you’ll be sleeping with the MXs again,” John mock threatened, biting back a laugh.
“Low blow, man. Low, low blow.” Dorian shook his head, trying to hold in his own laughter.
A softly breathed, “Incredible,” drew John and Dorian’s attention.
“What?” John snapped at their captive.
Vaughn, bound as he was, was almost giddy. “You two,” he replied. “I’ve never seen one of my children bond so deeply. I always hoped it was possible, but the DRNs were recalled before they could reach their full potential.”
John’s brow furrowed, but Vaughn seemed content to remain silent and John wasn’t in any mood to rise to him. He turned back to Dorian, where he had settled on his discarded clothes, and eased down next to him to wait for the sun to set.
As the sun finally dipped fully below the horizon, John grudgingly worked his pants leg up far enough for Dorian to work his magic and get John mobile again and relatively pain free.
It was almost seven hours later when they reached the point of the Wall they were looking for.
John was itching to get back over the Wall and away from InSyndicate, C24s, and the memory of exactly what he was. He watched Dorian scale the Wall with ease leaving him alone with the man who was their entire reason for being here.
“I suppose you’re proud of yourself,” Vaughn broke his self-imposed silence. “I would be,” he continued when it was obvious John had no intention of answering. “It’s not everyone who could survive over here, even with someone as special as Dorian.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” John quipped.
“I’m not sure you’d believe half of what I could tell you,” Vaughn’s often patriarchal tone turned condescending.
Smirking derisively, John ducked his head. “You have no idea.” He cast his eyes toward the top of the Wall. “That’ll be our ride.”
It hadn’t even been a week, but it felt like months since John had stepped foot into the bullpen at police headquarters and he sure as Hell wasn’t expecting the welcome he and Dorian got- a round of applause and congratulations from everyone.
Even Paul came up to shake his hand and slap Dorian companionably on the shoulder. “I hate to say it, Kennex, but you two did good work,” he admitted.
“Coming from you, Richard, that doesn’t mean a damn thing,” John answered, though they were both smiling at the insults.
“Play nice, boys,” Valerie chided playfully.
John and Paul shared a look.
“You’d have us locked up if that ever happened.”
“Speak for yourself, Kennex.”
Dorian sidled up beside Valerie and stage whispered, “I think we might need to make that call now.”
Laughing, Valerie shook her head. “I gotta get back to work. You guys were really amazing,” she said, dropping a completely inappropriate kiss on each man’s cheek.
John caught glimpse of Captain Maldonado at the top of the steps to her office.
She smiled at him and tilted her head toward her office.
Nodding in understanding, John turned back to his friends. “Well, kids it’s been fun, but we’re being paged.”
“Already in trouble then, Kennex,” Paul shot out, shaking his head goodnaturedly as he settled back as his desk.
After giving the command to screen and secure her office, Sandra hugged John. “It’s good to have you back.” She stepped back and squeezed Dorian’s hands. “Both of you.”
“It’s good to be back, Sandra,” John agreed.
“I’m so proud of you, I know I had no right to ask you to do this, but you know you’ve saved a lot of lives.” Maldonado gave them a quick nod and a smile, returning to her desk. “Now, I think Rudy’s about to blow a gasket waiting for you.”
“Well, we can’t have that, can we?” John smirked.
“Captain?” Dorian stepped forward.
“Yes, Dorian?” she asked sweetly.
“I just wanted to say thank you. For everything. For giving me a chance.”
“Dorian, I’ve always had faith in you.”
Dorian practically beamed, smile wide, his eyes seeming to shine even brighter than usual.
“Now go. I don’t want to see either of you until Monday.”
As they left, Sandra had to smile at the two men. Putting those two together was one of the best things she’d ever done.
John clomped down the stairs to Rudy’s lab, Dorian behind him. “Hey, Rudy, you miss us?”
The robotics expert breathed a visible sigh of relief. He rushed to meet them at the base of the staircase. “You made it.” Rudy threw himself at the pair, first giving John a bear hug, which was met with an awkward pat on the back, then treating Dorian to the same greeting; unlike John, Dorian returned the hug.
“Good to see you, too, Rudy,” John replied.
“Well, come on. I need to run diagnostics on both of you.”
“Rudy, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not one of your ‘bots,” John remarked. Still he followed the frenetic scientist to his main workstation and took a chair close to the gurney Dorian would be on.
“Take care of John first,” Dorian told Rudy as he hopped up on the gurney, handing John the bag he’d had slung over his shoulder.
Rudy looked at the bag quizzically. “What’s in the bag?”
“We came bearing gifts,” John told him. A single finger innocently trailing from just below his eye to his ear and down, in a lopsided Y.
“Oh!” Rudy exclaimed, understanding John’s signal that this part of Rudy’s lab had eyes and ears. “Okay, well, I’ll just… or it can wait.”
“Rudy,” Dorian said to calm their friend.
“Right.” He took a deep breath and punched a few keys on his console. “Five. Four. Three. Two. One,” he counted down. Rudy smiled in satisfaction as the room powered down. “Routine system review and maintenance,” he explained. “The systems linked to the police interface will be down for the next forty-seven minutes.”
John gave Dorian a questioning look, a final check that he wanted to do this.
Dorian responded with a definitive nod.
With that John carefully opened the bag, revealing its contents.
“Are those?” Rudy asked reverently, kneeling down for a closer look.
“They are,” Dorian affirmed.
“Shouldn’t these be in evidence?” Rudy asked.
“Officially, they don’t exist; they were destroyed when we blew up Vaughn’s lab,” John explained.
Rudy gingerly picked up a small vial containing one of hundreds of Synthetic Souls. The look on his face was one of pure rapture. “Not that I’m complaining, far from it, but why?”
“More than anyone you understand the value of these,” Dorian told him. “We both agreed they’d be safest with you.”
“I-I don’t know what to say.” Rudy set the vial back in its case. He looked between John and Dorian with wide eyes full of amazement. “It’s an honour and I promise you I’ll live up to it.”
“We know you will,” John said honestly as he rezipped the bag and offered it to the tech.
Taking the bag, Rudy stood, saying, “I’ll be right back.”
John and Dorian shared a smile, knowing giving the Souls to Rudy was the right decision.
“You know, I’ve been thinking-”
“A dangerous pastime for you,” Dorian snarked.
“Shut up. I think I know why Sandra partnered us together.”
“Because you’d destroy any MX that came near you.”
“Damn-it, D, I’m trying to be serious here.”
“I’m sorry, John.”
John took a deep breath before continuing. “Neither of us is quite fully human- it’s a hard thing to deal with alone, but there’s not much choice. You know, when Paul called us two cops from the scrapheap he was right about one thing, there are two of us. We’re two of a kind and we don’t have to be perfect. It’s what makes us a good team. You and me, D.”
“John,” Dorian’s voice was full of awe.
John sat back. “If you’re going to say something about my feminine side, I’m gonna take it all back.”
Dorian chuckled. “I wasn’t. I was just going to say thank you.” He gave John a soft smile. “But since you brought it up…”