[A3-21 System Offline]
He couldn’t say no, he needed him to do this. He hated putting this on him but there was no way he could back there, what he had been through, what they were putting Harkness through, he couldn’t take the pain, the torment. He couldn’t do that. He didn’t have it in him anymore. He couldn’t stand up, there was no way he could go through all that again, he wouldn’t last, he knew that. There was no being strong over this, he didn’t need to be. That was all thrown aside now. He was ready to see this to the bitter end, he wasn’t unprepared, he had seen this coming for a long time. He was ready.
When he finally agreed, confirming that he wouldn’t let them take him, he visibly let all the tension that had built up in his limbs go, swaying on his feet at the heaviness of his form. Falling down in the hold he chocked against his erratic breathes, reaching up his hand the wrap it around the others hands, a gesture to tell him it was alright, that he could do this. The other reached up to him, taking out the familiar device he had given to him not moments before. Similar to the one that he had carried around all these years, which had done nothing to prevent everything that had happened it could not stop the events that unfolded beyond their control. Pressing into the others chest his balled the fabric round his fingers, the device clutched firmly in his grasp, he was not leaving him here without a way out.
“You gave me somethin’ nobody else would, I can never thank you enough for that. I’m glad that we had what we did, even if it wasn’t long enough. I know I didn’t tell you enough and I should have, but now is as good a time as any. I love you, more than anythin’. Thank you for showin’ me that you cared.” He didn’t acknowledge the defences breaking, keeping his contact firmly on the other. Lifting his lips into the familiar smirk, he gave a small nod. “Alright Chief.” There was nothing as his world plummeted into darkness and the sound around him dulled into a deathly silence.
It wasn’t meant to be like this. He was never meant to have this experience. Hell, he would take it all back, every emotion, every want for free will to feel nothing. Nothing had to be better than this. His chest ached in a sharp twist as he cradled Butch against his chest. A wrecked breath tore from his echoing in the ruined room that had defined his life. He would go back to that, if it meant forgetting this image. His hand clung to his cheek urging him to move or smile at him, anything but those eyes that didn’t meet anything. A shuddered breath moved Butch’s dishevelled hair and silence followed. There was no hell to watch it, no objection. Nothing.
His expression crumpled. They had been right. Synthetics couldn’t display strong emotion. They couldn’t cry but this had to be much worse. There was no satisfying outlet to what he felt like. Splinters shattered against his back as the defences dropped. Defiant, Harkness paused placing Butch down taking a moment to look at him before standing and turning to face the Hunters. Butch, even now, had given him a way out. He didn’t owe the Institute shit. He wasn’t a piece of their property.
He felt his system desynchronise with the absence of Butch, the pulse point that didn’t exist. But even then the time was too long. A minute without that man was too long. His chin raised arrogantly as he stared on at the synthetics and armoured scientists as they finally broke through, displaying their loss but not their complete defeat. All it took was a flick of his thumb to unsheathe the pulse pen previously handed to him. There was no protective instinctive or self defensive mechanism that fought against him as the process behind the action became painfully clear. Simply an agreeing silence from his system.
He pushed the weapon into the side of his own neck. A move he had performed on the countless runners he had hunted down, murderer. He activated the pulse. It crippled and then it burned, tearing through out him combining deactivation with the desynchronisation in a way that would be hard to salvage. The pain was nothing compared to the loss of Butch and that thought alone kept him from pulling it back out. He could vaguely hear a yell as his knees buckled and his body made impact with the ground. His cheek slammed against the cold surface as his vision briefly focused on a blur of blue and black. He smirked slightly before the system became unresponsive.
"Me too." His voice was a hoarse whisper, barely covering the small space between them; he was not holding back the the wavering hitch that caught in the back of his throat, breaking up the words and cutting them short. "But we had somethin’; you gave me more then most would even think of. A chance. You gave me time. I just hope I gave it back as well." Because he wanted him to feel like he was giving something back to him, anything at all. That was all he wanted. He was done with trying to make him feel human, because that didn’t matter to him anymore. It was just having him there and letting him have the life he wanted, whatever that was that was the most important thing. Butch hoped that that was something he had done for him. That he had helped someone. Him.
"There’s no need to thank me Hark." Every bit of strength he had he forced into holding his face there, looking at him. Leaning in he pressed their lips together for a moment, just savoring the small time they had left. Blocking out the pain, the frantic thuds that emanated throughout the room, the alarm whirring above them it could have been just them in the room, nothing else going on. None of this bullshit. Just them and their normal lives going on as they were. But that wasn’t going to happen, he knew that. But at least it could bring him a small amount peace in these last few moments. Because he knew it was coming. He could feel it. "I don’t know what the fuck I would have done without you." He wouldn’t be here that was for sure. The mess he was in at the start of his time in the wastes was enough for him to know that he wouldn’t here now if it wasn’t for him.
The bursts of light that forced their way through the barricade harshly cut through the defense they had set up. It was the defining moment telling them that soon enough this would all be over. He did not stop the swell that rapidly formed, settling against his cheeks, there was no reason to hold back. “Hark, you can let them… I can’t go back there.” There was a silent plea in the words that didn’t need to be spoken, yet it was being asked. “Please.” Yet it wasn’t an ask, it was a plea.
He leaned into the touch letting his eyes momentarily close as he savoured it before he opened them. To see him, see that he was breathing. In front of him, real. He let out a small weak laugh that hitched and tore in his throat. “You gave me a life.” Even within Rivet City he had lived a routine. There was no spark or spontaneous thought that existed without Butch. He showed him how to be human. Pinkerton has provided him to the means of such a lifestyle but even then it’s limit was freedom. Surviving. He wasn’t truly living. He lifted his hands to thread his fingers into Butch’s the warmth increasing around him. Harkness closed the distance between them again, this was not a moment or a brief touch. He let his hands drop to wrap around him pull him closer than he physically could. His lips parted into the kiss filling him with the familiar feeling, scent, touch. Except this wasn’t familiar. This was a last. He pulled away as a loud crash thudded against the door turning to look at the damage, the small light that cracked through. “I can’t do that" he spoke desperately turning back to him with wide eyes.
He barely had minutes and there was too much to think about. He shook his head quickly, he couldn’t do what he was asking of him. His thumbs brushed the dampness away from his cheeks trying to reassure him. Trying to falsely convince him that this would be all okay. His chest twisted at the sight, he had never seen him like this. He paused as another crash slammed into the door before instead of shaking his head, he began to nod. He knew what he was asking him to do. Hell, they has spoke about this but then it hadn’t seemed like a possible reality. This wasn’t humane. He was asking for a way out. Harkness could do it, physically. “Okay" he agreed "you’re not going back.”" His lips brushed his brow once more and he held him close, tightly, with a desperation that was unmatched. His hands moved along the curve of fabric to sit behind his neck settling his head within Harkness’s hands, vulnerable. “I give a shit, about you.” He swallowed giving him a smile that shattered. He felt the shrapnel hit his back with another slam of the door.
“Troublemaker” he spoke it as a greeting, as if he was welcoming him and not saying goodbye, because with each thud of the door they were running out of time. His hands twisted, manipulating the neck quickly in a jolt that filled the room with a soul breaking snap. He wasn’t going back. They weren’t getting him. Harkness hitched a sob, the body becoming heavier. The shell slumping to the floor and Harkness sinking with it an agonising yell erupting from him.
He fell easily into the embrace, allowing his form to fall against the others knowing that he would support him. His fingers still desperately clung onto him, knees buckling beneath him, but he held himself up as much as he could. He wasn’t given in yet, no matter what was to come, there was no way he was letting himself fall till the last moment. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of breaking him. It would be on his terms, not there’s. Huffing a laugh, he made it genuine and sincere. "Every fuckin’ time Hark." They would give them hell, even now, even if it was only small, they always showed them who was stronger. They could have spent a thousand androids and they would have fought no matter what. Every single fucking time. This was the one time they would win, just not like they thought they would. He was tired, there had been times when it would have been easier to give up, just let them do whatever the hell they wanted but he knew for his sake that there was no chance of that being an option.
Smirking he tilted his head at him, the cheeky smile breaking through the harsh reality of it all. He was still Butch because he was here, he could still be that person to the very end. "Always. Security Chief needs his Trouble maker right?" Because there was no one without the other. Which made this all the more real, proved to the Institute that it was more then just being human. It was a connection, one that couldn’t be broken, not by them, not by anyone. "I love you so fuckin’ much y’know that right?" It was honest, no holding back, there was no need to be. He hadn’t told him enough times, taken too long to finally admit it but it was true. He did love him. He wouldn’t be here otherwise. His hand rested heavily on his cheek, he wanted to caress the silent path along his jaw, the mark he had made but energy and will to do so was draining away and he just couldn’t muster up the strength to even hold himself up.
Pulling away there was a desperation portrayed on him. It was like nothing he had ever felt before, it was undefined just as everything had been in the start. God damn him. He had said it. So openly now and there was no actions he could follow it up with. There was the want to fight and protect but more more than that there was the knowledge of defeat. He rested his brow against his, giving him another small nod. “I wish we had more time" he stated bluntly. Even if it was simply to go back to literally being the Trouble maker and the Security Chief. He would give a hell of a lot to be able to provide him that opportunity. Butch was young. Hell, Harkness had fifteen years on him this was not an age to go. “I gathered that" Harkness gave a quiet laugh that didn’t quite reach his expression. It had always been a touchy topic between the two but now he couldn’t see why. “Iove you too." He had never actually spoken the words allowed because it was the first time they had been relayed to him. Hell, it was only paraphrase he had been shown in actions. He honest to god gave a damn about him.
Harkness leaned into the hand before he gave a slow nod. They had pretty much openly accepted what was about to happen. The shuddering crash against the door simply emphasised it. He lifted his hand, curling his grip around the pulse pen making sure he held it tight. Harkness risked a quick look over his shoulder to the cracking door. “Thank you” he emphasised “for everything." There was more to be picked up on the words than what was being said.
Holding fast on to him he stared right back at him. He didn’t know whether it was because he simply didn’t want to let go or if it was because he physically couldn’t stay upright any longer. It was enough for him to lift his other hand and place it on his other shoulder, making sure he stayed there, in front of him, they would have to beat him senseless to make him let go. He was not there’s, he was his. Even if Harkness didn’t like the phrase, he was never there’s he was always his and always would be and it would end that way as well. Nothing would change that, not them, not anyone. They would always be together and he was going to make sure that they did not take him back, because this time they wouldn’t see each other again and Butch couldn’t take that. He couldn’t go back. For Harkness’s sake and for his own. "We knew it would come to this…" It was something he had said not so long ago. He had already come to terms with it, the reality however was much more wrenching and no amount of preparing would have made this any easier.
Shifting his feet he gripped his fingers deeper, he physically needed to feel him there, needed to know that he wasn’t going to be taken away from him, that he was there and not going anywhere. Not yet. He knew that this was it, that they had done their final run, that the past had come running full speed at them both and hit with it’s full force. Accepting it was difficult with the continuing thuds and cracks of the make shift barricade and the alarm blaring above them. But he knew, now more than ever, there was nothing they could do to stop this. "Y’know I wouldn’t change a thing, not this not anythin’." He would do it all again, the pain, the torture, the ups and downs all of it he would do over and over, just to be with him, because without him, there was no Butch.
To have thought anything else would have been fanciful and unrealistic. They were simply two people, it didn’t matter what the hell they were made of synthetic or flesh, there was simply no defeating a god damn organisation like The Institute. Heroes and the bullshit that came with them belonged in books because out here in reality they simply didn’t exist. Life wasn’t some glory shit. They all fought to survive out here and sometimes that meant losing. His expression became firm, defiant. There was not a chance in hell Harkness would have ever got to choose the situation in which everything finished but if he had to choose the last face he saw, it was Butch.
He wrapped a careful hand behind his neck to pull him in. Careful to avoid the bruises and burns that scattered the skin he was so protective of. It was a harsh reality that proved they weren’t home. His own skin was littered in surgical wounds and exposures. His lips brushed against his brow as he held him close. Took everything in. The warmth, the solid weight, the scent of pomade, leather and spice that somehow managed to linger above the clinical environment. “Yeah" he spoke through a broken voice before swallowing. His fingers drifted up to lightly curl in his hair, embedding themselves, running along the strands. "We really did give them a hard time though”. It was always a matter of when and they had put up a hell of a fight.
Harkness have him a warm earnest smile. “Neither do I. You were always going to be a problem for me .• His problem.
He froze. Were they going to get out of this? What going to happen to them if they didn’t? What was going to happen if they did? Would they leave them alone or would they just come after them again? He couldn’t not go back to the city. Ellie was there. His life was there. All these things moments ago never crossed his mind because getting out was the more important. Now however it was a different matter entirely. They weren’t away from this yet, not by a long shot. "I really don’t know." That was the only answer, they couldn’t go back to the city, they would just find them. But Butch couldn’t run from Ellie, not again, he wouldn’t do that to her. "Hark…" There was nothing he could suggest or say to make this better, there was no way out apart from the door they had just barricaded, the one that was currently being slammed against.
"No." What was the point, the amount of people coming through that door, there was no way hiding from them was going to change anything. The fight had gone again now, there was only so much and now he had none of it left. They were only running from the inevitable now, this was happening and no matter how hard they tried they weren’t getting away from it. This was their last mind fuck, let them have a moment of hope and freedom and take it away from them just as fast. Placing a hand on his shoulder he used every inch of strength that he had left to turn him to face him, away from the door. "Stop. Please. I’m not going without you and we both know that even if there’s an openin’ I’m not gonna get far." Sighing he tightened his grip on his shoulder, holding himself up against him. "Please, just stop."
It didn’t take much for him to turn. There was no physical effort. He wasn’t just turning, he was giving up. There was no way out of this. Synthetics were made with instincts and right now his system made him very aware of the fact that he had turned his back on a threat. It was primal. It wanted him to turn back but he refused the suggestion. Instead becoming lost in the familiar and coaxing blue in front of him. His lips parted to speak before he realised that he didn’t have any words. There was nothing he could say to change this situation. At worst they would be hauler back and the torture would begin again but for now he simply allowed himself this moment. It was the least he could give himself because things were only going to get worse.
He simply allowed his gaze to roam over Butch, taking it all in. Seeing all the injuries that had been inflicted because of him but he saw much more than that. He saw the curves of features that he had woken up to. The line that became emphasised when he smiled. His hand lifted to brush his thumb along the line of his jaw as he offered him a small weak nod. “Okay." With that he submitted to him. Harkness ignored every life saving recommendation from his system, everything artificial and non human was now lost and forgotten. He left it behind to simply look at him. “What now?" he asked quietly because hell, they were both thinking it. All he could see was fighting back or allowing themselves to be defeated, he grimaced reached up and placing a hand on top of his, over his shoulder, returning the light grip.
"I’ll keep it in mind." In all of this they could still make each other laugh, still pull them out of the rut they had fallen into and somehow make things seem a little brighter. This was them, no matter what situation. They would fight until the very end. That was what they do. No matter what life threw at them they would do anything for each other. And they were. To the very end and that end looked to be travelling further and further away from them. He was trying to not to get his hopes up too much. But it was hard not to when they had had such a break through.
Instantly he slumped against the wall, there was only a small amount of strength that he could muster up and it was draining at the moment. But he was still fighting, still holding on. For him. For them. "Are they out there?" That was the only thing in their way. He hoped that they had out run them, but they would find them eventually. It hit him like a ton of bricks. How were they going to get away from all of this. They had the upper hand no matter what. "Hark, where we gonna go? Fuck." He didn’t give a shit what room they were in, he wanted to be out of it and out of this damn building. "Shit. We need to fuckin’ run, get the hell out of here, that’s not gonna stop them for long." Minutes, that was all it would take before they broke down the barricade and all this taken away from them.
Shit. Fuck. He looked at the door horrified only vaguely hearing Butch over the loud ringing in his ears. It was an understatement. They were very much out there. Butch and Harkness were very much out numbered and their only exit and entrance rested right on that door in front of them. He had two options right now and he wasn’t didn’t want to do any of them. He could be practical or he could put on a brave face. What would that do? Delay what Harkness’s system told him was an unavoidable outcome. He turned slowly, expression shattered. “Run where?” He had been running for many years now. This wasn’t the same.
He liked this position. He was the next barricade between them and Butch if the door failed. When it failed. There was a crash as an external force slammed against it, audible against the alarm. Hell. “Butch…" his voice trailed. He didn’t have a plan. There was no tactics from the Security Chief, only a hollow sense of impending doom and the realisation that he couldn’t plan anything because there was literally nothing he could do. His face straightened. The only plan forming. "Get behind that desk and stay there. Whatever you hear, whatever you see, don’t move and don’t make a damn noise. When there’s an opening, that’s when you run.”
He could get him some time but not much more.