Sick Leave

John is under the weather.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. This is written for my own amusement.


Dorian dropped into the car where John Kennex waited, parked outside the warehouse apartment the DRN shared with Rudy. "Can I thank you again for getting me a room with the loneliest man on Earth?" his lips pursed and his bright eyes graced John with an accusatory gaze.

"You want to go back to the ken dolls?" John's threat lacked the usual air of playful cruelty that he tended to use on his partner. Instead of antagonizing and spirited, the threat came out as real and annoyed. John was gripping at the steering wheel overly tight as he drove to work. Most people would have seen this as Kennex's normal, discourteous behavior. A blue crack of light flashed beneath Dorian's flawless skin as he examined his partner.

"You're sick," Dorian stated as a matter of fact.

Kennex sunk lower in his seat and rolled the back of his head against the headrest, "Am not," he muttered. "I just had a late night."

"Your upper lip is sweaty and your hair line, too," Dorian said, his blue eyes maintained a constant and concerned lock on the other man. Kennex squirmed with discomfort. "You look pallid, even for you." Dorian stuck two fingers out to rest them on John's forehead.

He batted the fingers away dismissively, "Lay off, robot."

"You have a fever," Dorian looked forward toward the street and once again his face glowed blue, "I could get a more accurate reading if you'd let me—"

Kennex thrust a hand out, displaying his fingers in a gesture meant to silence the DRN, cutting him off mid-sentence. He eased the car onto the expressway. "I said I'm fine." They drove in silence, John brooding and Dorian busy with the flashing lights on his head.

"I've already called you in sick for the day, so you should probably head for home," Dorian turned to look at John. He was clearly happy with himself.

Kennex jerked the wheel, sending the car across three lanes and skidded to a halt along the shoulder of the expressway, eliciting angry honks from other drivers. John twisted in his seat to look into the face of the ridiculously realistic mass of wires, synthetic skin, and light bulbs. "Are you serious right now?" he asked, furious. His head was pounding. "Undo it."

He was manic and his stomach seemed to lurch up into his throat. The detective had to close his eyes and cover his mouth with his clenched fist to quell the rising queasiness. Once the storm passed, he opened his eyes and said with more restraint, "Undo it, Dorian, now."

The android shook his head in response, the curved smile lines around his mouth doing a rather poor job of concealing his amusement.

"Jesus, I'll do it myself." John patted on his shirt, jacket, and pants pockets then looked around his car in a rage. "I left my fucking cell phone."

"I think you should let me drive you home, John," Dorian said, "You are clearly ill."

"Get out. Walk back to Rudy's. Enjoy the fresh air." Kennex leaned over Dorian's lap and pushed open the door to the passenger seat, "Out of the car."

Dorian sat there, washing John with a contemplative look. He pursed his lips and cocked his head slightly to the side.

"You know what?!" Kennex raised his voice far too much. He sounded irrational even to himself, but now there was tremendous pressure to finish his thought, "I've gotten rid of other robots like….this only…" Silence overtook him and a green look passed by John's face and he turned to his own door and shoved it open. He lost the control and his breakfast in one quick movement out the door and on the ground next to the cruiser. Traffic rushed by, sending waves of hot, metallic-smelling air into the car.

Dorian placed a hand on the back of John's neck. "Come on, let me take you home."

"Goddammit," Kennex cleared his throat disgustingly and spat an acidic wad onto the ground. He pulled the car door shut in a fit. "Fuck." He shrugged Dorian's hand off of him in a violent jerk, started the car up, and merged recklessly into traffic. At the next exit he spun off and turned the car around.

Dorian was quiet but his eyes never left John. This made him want to scream. "Stop hovering" he insisted, "Stop looking at me. I'm not a science project!"

"I'm not sure what you have," Dorian sighed, "once we get back to your place, I'll run some tests."

"Yeah, fuck that," John growled, "I'm dumping you off back at Rudy's. I don't need Nurse Dorian pissing me off while I recover."

They were close to John's building and he found the wheel shifting beneath his grip. Dorian had assumed control. Fighting it, Kennex squeezed his hands harder around the steering wheel but found the car unresponsive and the wheel impossible to budge. Giving up, he folded his arms, and scowled. As it turns out, he really was too sick for this shit. He glared out the window, stewing in the misery caused by the wanging headache behind his eyes and the terrible taste in his mouth.

Dorian opened the car door for John and offered a hand. The dreary detective ignored it and launched himself from the vehicle, slamming the door. Dorian made the door lock beep with a flash of blue light just under his ear on the left side.

"I'm not inviting you in," John said, leaning back against the cruiser. The cold metal made him realize that he had sweat right through his shirt. He couldn't think about Dorian right now. "If I can make it to my door, I'm going to crawl into the shower, and sit on the floor there until tomorrow." He was telling himself as much as he was telling Dorian. "See you tomorrow."

"I could carry you," Dorian offered.

Kennex shoved past him, toward the elevator in the parking garage. Dorian followed while chattering about symptoms.

"Aren't you leaving?" John asked wearily.

Dorian shook his head. "Whatever," John growled, resigning himself to the situation. Once inside, he kicked off his shoes and handed his jacket, gun, and shirt to Dorian. He rubbed his socks off on the rug and headed for the bathroom. He was clearly not himself.

From the lofty hallway, Dorian heard the shower turn on and the sound of an electric toothbrush. He headed for the kitchen to boil water for tea. While performing this task, he searched his medical database for possible strains of flu virus in the area.

Kennex emerged from the bathroom looking wet and tired. His hair was plastered to his head and he had donned soft, grey sleep pants that clung low on his hips. Dorian discretely took note of the faded scars from shrapnel that still marked his partner's torso. "You still here?" he asked Dorian, accepting a cup of tea on his way to the couch. He set the tea on the coffee table and stretched out.

John squeezed his eyes shut again. Dorian knew that look. He came from the bathroom with a plastic garbage pail. "If you need to get sick you can—"

John nodded and ripped the flimsy plastic receptacle from Dorians's grip and retched into it pitifully. When he finished, he handed it back to Dorian and rolled onto the floor where he decided to stay. Dorian hadn't ever seen his partner so compromised.

John groped for the hot tea, his fingers running into the power button on his light screen coffee table. Blue and shining in the air, the last browser John had open popped into existence. Dorian leaned forward for a peek. The online dating profile. Heh.

John lifted his heavy head to see the screen and closed it quickly. Shooting Dorian an annoyed glare. "Want to be a pal?" he asked, lifting himself upright, his bloodshot eyes rolling up to find Dorian's face. "Get out so I can be miserable in peace. I get enough flack at the office. I don't need people I work with watching me get sick. "

Dorian rolled his blue eyes up toward his impeccable hairline. "Sip your tea, John."

John brought the tea up to his mouth and took a sip, shaking his head to help ignore the taste in his mouth. He leaned his back into the couch from his position on the floor, "I don't know what is going on. I haven't been sick in years."

"You can't say that anymore," Dorian smirked. He took the plastic waste bin to the bathroom to wash it out.

John took the moment of peace to think about the situation. He couldn't sit here and sip tea on the floor while his partner tooled around his apartment. He got up and took his cup to the kitchen and tossed it down the sink. Dorian came in behind him and John spun to face him. "Look, go Dorian. Get a cab back to Rudy's. I just need to sweat this out." He leaned against the counter and folded his arms. His lips twitched into a fake smile, attempting to prove how good he felt, "I'm really fine. I'll come and pick you up tomorrow."

"You know I'm charged with your safety. As your partner, I'm—"

"At work, on the job, yeah, yeah," John waved a hand in the air, leaning more weight on the stone counter, "You called me in sick. I'm off duty. Please don't take this the wrong way, but fuck off." John gave Dorian a hard look, trying to stand his ground. A sour surge of pain took up residence in his stomach at that moment, forcing him to double over suddenly. Dorian dipped down to one knee and placed his hands on both sides of John's arms for support.

"You are clammy," Dorian sighed, "I need to find a way to get a blood sample over to Rudy."

"You are going to be a blood sample if you don't….!" John wasn't on his game today, he couldn't even come up with a good insult. Another pain shot through his stomach. "Just, please leave. I'm just sick. I need to rest and wait for it to go away." John got himself upright again, for the most part, and shoved down the hall and disappeared behind the bathroom door.

Unperturbed by John's lack of hospitality, Dorian went into the bedroom and made the bed. The apartment was once an industrial building; he examined the brick walls and the large windows. The masonry was old and made John's contemporary furniture seem purposefully sparse. The android drank in a dismal row of black clothing, bright red paint around the windows that he correctly assumed were from the previous owner, and painted concrete floors. Right on the water, this apartment couldn't have been cheap. This was his sanctuary, a monument to the struggle his life had become in the wake of utter devastation. It required a certain amount of reverence to be in this space.

Or, maybe it didn't. Much to Dorian's surprise, there were wine glasses on the dresser and one had lipstick stains on the rim of the glass. Dorian examined it. The wine hadn't been sitting in the glass too long, less than 24 hours. This required investigation, Dorian opened John's online dating profile to see if he had indeed been using it. Access denied. He changed the password. Figures.

He carried the glasses to the kitchen and found John back on the couch. He looked like shit. "Oh dammit," Kennex groaned, "I thought you'd left."

"Was it Detective Stahl?" Dorian asked, sitting by John's legs on the couch. John made no motion to move over and make room. In fact, it looked like the surly detective was considering giving his synthetic companion a good kick.

"Was what Stahl?" John asked, leaning his head back into the couch, "You think she got me sick?"

"Was she the lady you had here last night?" Dorian clarified.

John pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. "No. Jesus. What is wrong with you? Stop spying on me."

"I'm not spying," Dorian said, "I was just in the bedroom making the bed in case you want to lie down and I found the wine glass and—John!" A dark, thick droplet of blood was emerging from John's nostril and when it formed a stream, the other side of his nose began to drip as well.

When he felt the wetness on his lips, John touched his face and recoiled at the sight of so much blood coming from his nose unexpectedly. He recovered quickly, pinched his nose, and lifted his chin, tilting his head all the way back.

Dorian's face darkened with concern. "Don't tilt your head back, John."

"Okay mom," John barked sarcastically, "Get me a fucking tissue."

Heading for the bathroom, Dorian muttered, "I bet you didn't talk to your mom like that." Under the sink, he found a first aid kit and selected a syringe sealed in a sterile bag in the bottom of the plastic box. He returned and handed John a wad of toilet paper. "You don't have tissues."

John stuffed the toilet paper into his nostrils with the grace of a drunken gorilla. He looked even paler than before and his forehead was wet with perspiration. Bloody strips of toilet paper in his nose did nothing to improve his look. When Dorian brandished the syringe, John looked at him wild eyed, "You stay away fromb me with that thig, goddammbit."

"If I can get a blood sample," Dorian said softly, approaching slowly, "Rudy can let me know if you have something in your system besides a flu bug."

John wrenched the toilet paper out of his face. "I really fucking wish that robots could get the fucking flu, so you could fucking feel how I fucking feel right fucking now," John ranted, pulling a couch pillow in front of his lap and hugging it, "fuck. Just stay away from me."

The hand that seized him was quick and the needle in his arm hurt quite a bit. "I'm really sorry John, I'm not trained in collecting blood. I don't know how to do it so it doesn't hurt." Dorian withdrew the needle from the soft skin around the crook of his partner's arm joint. John jerked his arm back and let loose a furious stream of sounds, some of which seemed to be imitating expletives. It was hard to tell.

Dorian injected the blood into the side of his neck and his face bloomed with blue. He was on the line with Rudy to discuss a new symptom and to analyze the sample, ignoring John all the while.

"Make your disco face and search the web for flu symptoms. Educate yourself. Then get a taxi, or a bus, or a friend, or take a fucking walk," John said, rubbing at his arm, "I'm bleeding." He slammed off into the bedroom. He couldn't seem to land in one room for five whole minutes. He knew he couldn't physically eject Dorian from his apartment. Androids weighed a lot more than men and he recently watched Dorian throw a truck. There was little he could do about the nanny-bot making him crazy.

John felt a little dizzy as he entered his room. He thought about the woman he had met last night at McQuades. Her dating profile had been something adorable about bunnies or puppies or some shit. Maybe it was flowers? He couldn't even remember if he'd fucked her or not, everything was a smear of light, a blur, and a lost memory. How much had he had to drink? He felt bile rising in his throat at the very thought of alcohol. He thought about making his way to the bathroom and getting it over with, but Dorian entered the room with all the softness of a hurricane.

"Drugged!" he said, hands on hips, "drugged and maybe date raped!" his face betrayed him as he looked John up and down, "Okay not date raped. But drugged for sure!"

John cupped both his hands over his privates, "What' I say about scanning my balls?"

"Don't move," Dorian snapped, "Rudy is going to send instructions."

John rolled face down onto the bed and moaned, "what the fuck?" into the bed sheets.

Dorian used the coffee table computer to gain access to John's dating profile. He found a conversation between John and a woman, making plans to meet up last night. He attempted to access her profile but found that it had been wiped clean. Figures. John must have been desperate to fall for this.

Rudy was calling in and Dorian answered. "Take good notes on the symptoms, Dorian," Rudy said, unable to conceal his excitement, "You know the gas that targets cops? Well this seems to be a different form, maybe a pill or a liquid drop, but John isn't dead so it must be way milder."

"Should I take him to the hospital?" Dorian was overcome with concern.

"Well, no, not necessarily," Rudy paused to sigh, "They won't know what to do. They won't know what this is. They'll put him through a bunch of tests, piss him off, and I'll still be the one who comes up with an antidote."

"Keep a close eye on him," Rudy suggested, "Don't let him leave or over-exert himself. Keep me updated on the symptoms. Once I have something, I'll get it over to you."

"The cops exposed to the gas form of this stuff died," Dorian stressed.

"Yeah," Rudy agreed, "I don't think you should leave John alone. I'm still looking at the blood sample. If his skin starts to get bubbled or covered in boils, or his hair falls out, or his fingernails fall off, please call me right away. But I don't think that will happen."'

"You don't think?"

Rudy didn't want to send the DRN into an emotional episode, "99.9% sure, Dorian. Really, I bet if you took a look around his apartment, you'll find some valuables missing. Rohypnol and other drugs like that wouldn't have any effect on a police officer. The very inoculation that this drug is targeting protects John from almost anything else."

"Okay," Dorian said, turning in the living room to look for any missing objects. "Work fast."

"I'm working now," Rudy assured, "it might just need to run its course. We'll see."

Dorian disconnected the line and went to go find John. Not on the bed anymore, not in the kitchen. Not in the bathroom. There was a crash from the back room. Dorian ran back to John's second bedroom, his trophy room. Glass shards filled the floor and spray paint covered the walls. Expletives, a crude drawing of what seemed to be bacon and an even cruder drawing of what was definitely meant to be male genitalia. In the middle of the carnage stood John looking pale, ill, and bewildered. "John," Dorian said quietly.

John turned to look at Dorian and put his hands out to gesture at everything, "What did I ever do to this bitch?" he asked rhetorically. John walked over to the remnants of a trophy case and picked a medal out of the rubble and examined it angrily. Looking gaunt and overly tired, he left a broken trail of bloody footprints behind his left foot.

"John, you're walking in glass." Dorian crossed the room and lifted John up, slipping one arm under his shoulder and the other crooked behind his knees. He carried him from the room while accepting a barrage of furious insults and a few hard elbows to his chest plate. Dorian dumped him unceremoniously onto the kitchen counter and said, "Relax!" He knelt to examine the bottom of John's foot. John attempted to kick him in the face but Dorian grabbed his ankle in a vice-like grip. John held his breath to hide the pain. A gash below the big toe seemed to be the root of the problem. Blood oozed steadily from the thin wound. There were a few smaller shards of glass stuck in the tender skin in the middle of the foot and around the sides. "Please. Stay put," Dorian asked but made sure to make it seem like more of a warning than a request.

John lifted a finger and opened his mouth to respond, but his face contorted miserably and he leaned over to heave into the sink. His stomach was pitifully empty by now and nothing came out. Dorian wrinkled his synthetic nose and assumed correctly that John wasn't going anywhere. This drug he was given was making him miserable and taking all of the fight out of him. Blood was crusted around his nose and his lips looked dry. Dorian felt an overwhelming urge to soothe his aches.

Upon his return, he brought with him a blanket and the first aid kit from the bathroom. He wrapped the blanket over John's shoulders before getting to work carefully picking the glass out of his foot with a pair of tweezers. John tugged the blanket close, surrounding himself, and buried his face in the soft folds. Dorian carefully bandaged the cuts on his foot, acutely aware of how awful his partner was feeling.

As Dorian finished his task, John's leg announced in a robotic female tone, "Power at 15%."

Dorian did the math. Over the past three days, they had worked a case to completion, never fully leaving the station for home. Last night he was drugged and slept with his leg attached. It had probably been off the charger for three days, probably four or five, knowing John. "Do you think you can sleep?" Dorian asked gently. John was burrowed in his blanket and leaning heavily against the cabinets.

He nodded. Muttering, "I want to brush my teeth first."

Dorian picked John up again. This time, there was no protest. His fever raged and the DRN read his temperature and sent a digital report to Rudy. It was even higher now. "I'll draw you a bath, too," Dorian said, setting John on the couch. He pushed John's pant leg up on the right side and disconnected the synthetic leg. John's attempts to protest were lost in a series of shivers.

Dorian placed the leg carefully in the charging dock and then he drew a lukewarm bath and carried John to the bathroom. "I don't take baths," John groaned, "I'm a man for fuck's sake."

"It is tepid," Dorian said, "You can stay in while it cools down. It should bring down that temperature."

John wanted to storm out of there but as weak as he was, with one leg missing, he was at Dorian's mercy. Once he had wrenched the blanket from the sick detective, Dorian scanned him for any major changes. None of the horror-ridden symptoms that Rudy mentioned had emerged, much to his relief. He helped John out of his pants—or yanked them off of him with great difficulty and feeble protest, and then settled him into the tub.

"What no toys? Where's my rubber duck?" John quipped, "Jesus it's cold." He abandoned covering his genitals to hug his own arms.

"Stay in as long as you can," Dorian said, "I know it sucks."

John glowered, "you don't know shit about being cold you-Ah fuck it." He sunk in the water, hoping to protect himself from the cool air that seemed much more punishing than the cool water. He was goose pimpled and his skin was sensitive to touch.

Dorian left to turn down John's bed sheets and to make him another cup of tea to sip. When he returned, John's teeth were clattering from the cold water. "G-g-get me out of f-f-here," he shivered.

Dorian lent him a hand and wrapped a towel around John who stood there dripping. He looked like an angry, wet cat. After he brought him a pair of boxer shorts and waited for him to finish brushing his teeth, Dorian carried John to his bedroom and put him into bed. "Try to get some rest. I'll be right outside if you need anything."

"Thanks," John said, pulling up the covers around his neck, "Could you do me one more big favor, please?"

"Anything," Dorian said sincerely. He was eager to do something for John that was actually appreciated .

"Go get my gun, bring it in here, and shoot me in the goddamned head," John requested, locking eyes with the android and pulling the covers up to his nose.

Dorian's smile lines ever present around the sides of his mouth disappeared as his lips pressed into a thin hard line of disapproval. "You'll be on your feet in no time," the DRN ignored John's rude request. "I'm going to replace the bandages on your foot then leave you to get some sleep."

John closed his eyes and was out before Dorian returned with fresh bandages. He was moaning softly in his sleep when his partner slipped out and set to work sweeping up the broken glass in the trophy room, after hiding John's gun, of course.

End chapter one