Viteri’s eyes were a little wet. She debated offering him a tissue, but the guards had been very clear about making physical contact even if the man was firmly shackled. The trial notes had included pictures of Tobias Grady’s beaten form. The poor man had been barely recognizable as human. “We didn’t hook up right then.” Viteri swallowed. “He was scared, and to be honest, so was I. I wasn’t a virgin by any means, but this was the first time I really, you know…” He shrugged. “Wanted things to work.” He smiled a little. “And Tobias really didn’t have any idea what he was doing. It’s not exactly something they cover in sex ed down in Bailey.”
“So, you took things slow.” Diana nodded.
“At first, yeah.” Viteri nodded. “We kissed, then we went back to the lab…”
He’d always been conscious of Tobias’s presence in his workspace, but now it seemed a little something more. He was aware of each and every time they brushed against each other as Tobias watched him work. Now and again they’d exchange smiles that managed to be both warm and awkward. It took almost an hour for them to manage to get into the swing of work.
“Alright, I get the aesthetic reasons, certainly…” Tobias examined the prototype. “But from an engineering standpoint is directly mimicking the human hand really the way to go?”
“Once properly calibrated, the prosthetic could be interchangeable.” Zeke shrugged.
“Is that possible?” Tobias blinked. “I mean, it’s being driven by the human brain.”
“Yeah, but it’s not innate. It’s pure muscle memory.” Zeke shook his head. “Human movement is a learned skill. That’s why human infants are so damn helpless compared to other critters. We have to learn to talk. Things like horses do it instinctively.”
“But could you learn how to have five different styles of hand?” Tobias raised an eyebrow.
“Not sure how hard it would be, but it’s the same general theory of learning like, how to use different video game controllers. You’ll mess up a lot on the first couple levels but after a bit it’s just second nature.” Zeke frowned. “Problem with this, of course, is…” He turned toward Tobias. “I want to do it…” He hesitated.
“Open source.” Tobias nodded. “No way we can make mods for every situation, and it’ll be getting improved on all the time.
Zeke smiled. “Yeah. Exactly. I just make the connection unit, the part that plugs into the body. The rest gets released…” He shrugged. “Won’t be as much profit in it, of course, but people can get what they need.”
“Betterment of mankind.” Tobias nodded.
“Problem with that though is someone will eventually figure out how to make a weapon out of it.” Zeke sighed.
“That won’t be us though.” Tobias shook his head.
We. Us. He liked that part. “No. It won’t be us.” He smiled. “I can’t stop them, but I’m not going to help them. I will have to add some defensive stuff though. Preventing it from being hacked and the like.” He waved Tobias over. “Come on, I’ve got some more stuff to show you. I think I’m going to need your help with some more patent paperwork.”
Rather than cook, once back at Tobias’s place they sent out for pizza and ate while going over papers. Zeke chuckled. “You lost me about ten minutes ago.”
Tobias grinned. “Now you know how I feel when you start going on about transducers or whatever.” He turned the stack of papers around and pushed it toward Zeke. “You’ve got four more designs you should patent right away.”
“What about the virtual intelligence?” Zeke blinked as he went through the papers.
“It’s not complete enough for you to get a viable patent, and frankly, I think even as good as you are…” Tobias shrugged. “You’re still one man.”
“Open source.” Zeke slowly nodded. “Gets more perspectives, and…” He exhaled.
“It’s not like you want it to be proprietary anyway. Face it, you’re going to need input from a host of different ologists in addition to just engineers.”
“You convinced me already.” Zeke smiled. “Now you need to work on convincing banks and lawyers and…”
“You do you, I’ll do me…” Tobias nodded. “We’ll get it.” He looked back down at the papers and started making little notes here and there. For a few moments, Zeke just watched him. Tobias smiled a little. “You’re staring.”
“Well, now that you know I’m doing it, there isn’t exactly a reason to be subtle.” Zeke shrugged.
“I, uh…” Tobias chuckled a little before blushing. Then he set his pen down and leaned back in his chair. “I…”
“Tobias?” Zeke stood, then held out his hand. “Would you like me to take the initiative?”
“Please.” Tobias ducked his head a little before taking Zeke’s hand and letting Zeke pull him to his feet. His hand touched Zeke’s chest. “When did you start being taller than I am?”
“Just after high school, I think.” Zeke smiled.
“Heh.” Tobias slid his hand up to Zeke’s shoulder. “You, uh…” Zeke gently caught his chin, and lifted his mouth up a little to kiss him. He didn’t force the issue, keeping the kiss tender and gentle. Tobias returned it, then opened his mouth to allow Zeke to probe inside. He put an arm around Tobias, pulling the other man closer. Tobias felt tense, but slowly began relaxing. His hand touched Zeke’s side hesitantly, then lightly ran his hand to the small of Zeke’s back. “I feel like a nervous virgin.”
“You are.” Zeke smiled. “In a manner of speaking.”
“Fair point.” Tobias took a deep breath. “My room is…” He laughed nervously. “You know where my room is.”
“Tobias…” Zeke caught his chin again, tilting his head up so their eyes met. “I’m going to need you to talk to me a little. Tell me what you want.”
“I…” Tobias swallowed. “I don’t know what I want. I just…” He exhaled. “I want you.”
“If you need me to slow down or stop, just say so, alright.” Zeke kissed him again. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Okay.” Tobias nodded. “Okay.”
Undressing Tobias was a pleasure to be undertaken slowly. Gently, he kissed the side of Tobias’s neck. Tobias made a pleased little gasping sound as Zeke lightly raked his teeth over warm flesh. He continued kissing the other man as he took off his own shirt, then maneuvered Tobias onto the bed. Tobias’s hands came up to touch him gently as he climbed atop Tobias. Tenderly, he pushed Tobias down onto the bed, using his slightly greater size to hold the other man in place. With his right hand, he began roaming Tobias’s body. With his left, he cupped the back of Tobias’s head and pulled Tobias into a kiss.
It didn’t take him long to get Tobias squirming and panting beneath him. But just to be sure, he pulled back from the kiss. “You giving me a green light here, Tobias?”
“Yes.” Tobias’s voice held heat.
Zeke kissed him. “Do you want me to take you, Tobias?” He caressed Tobias’s hair. “Or do you want to take me?”
“I’m not…” Tobias blinked. “You mean you’re asking which of us gets to…” He blushed again.
“To top, yeah.” Zeke kissed him again. “You can always try the other way around later, if you want.”
“I think…” Tobias swallowed before turning an even darker red. “I don’t…”
“Hey, hey…” Zeke shook his head. “Tobias, if you’re not ready, we…”
“I want you to take me.” The words came out of Tobias in a rush.
“Alright.” Zeke smiled before kissing him, caressing until Tobias’s body was once again squirming and relaxed. He fumbled a little for the oil he’d grabbed earlier. He’d have preferred water-based, but this hadn’t exactly been a planned event. Tobias’s body arched against him when he probed a finger inside, but before he could ask if Tobias was alright Tobias caught his eye and smiled. Zeke kissed him again as he continued playing his fingers inside Tobias, making sure he was well prepared.
Then he shifted his position. Tobias turned over before Zeke could direct him, then froze. “Is this…” Tobias’s voice was hesitant.
“Let me…” He kissed the side of Tobias’s neck before carefully positioning the other man. He didn’t want Tobias beneath him, didn’t want to put the weight on him for the first time. So, he put Tobias on his side instead.
Tobias gasped a little when he felt Zeke’s cockhead brush against his passage. Zeke hesitated, his hand on Tobias’s hip. Tobias moved his own hand, putting it atop Zeke’s. “Zeke.” Tobias’s voice was little more than a whisper. “Yes.”
He entered slowly, keeping his motions as gentle as possible. Tobias’s first time deserved to be special. To be tender and loving. He used his hand to guide the other man’s hips, then smiled as he felt Tobias begin moving in matching rhythm. He kissed the top of Tobias’s shoulder before moving a hand to start fondling him.
There was a moment of slight disappointment when Tobias bit back the sound of his orgasm, muffling it further by pressing his face into the pillow. He released his own orgasm only a few moments later, then pulled Tobias close, luxuriating in the feel of the other man’s yielding body. “Tobias?”
“Thank you.” Tobias’s voice was quiet.
To his surprise, he felt tears prick the back of his eyes. He turned Tobias to face him, then kissed him. “Thank you.”
It took him almost a full minute to get his bearings the next morning. Tobias’s room bore no resemblance to his own, and he’d only really seen it once. Then there was the part where Tobias lay in his arms, his body pressed against Zeke’s. His arm was around Tobias’s shoulders, his dark skin a stark contrast against Tobias’s paler tones. It was early enough in the year that Tobias didn’t have much of a tan.
Zeke was trying to figure out how to extract himself from the bed without waking Tobias when the other man stirred in his arms. Tobias looked up at him sleepily, then turned bright red as awareness started to flood back into his eyes. “I, uh…”
“I’d like to kiss you, Tobias.” Zeke smiled at him. “If that’s alright.”
“It’s…” Rather than come up with a verbal response, Tobias shifted to kiss Zeke. Zeke returned the kiss. Once again it took a few moments for Tobias to fully relax into the caress. They were both panting when they broke apart. “It’s alright.” Tobias nodded. He frowned a little, then it became a smile. “I’m alright.”
“Good.” Zeke ran his fingers through Tobias’s hair. “Come on. I’ll make you breakfast.”
Despite how badly he wanted to talk about what had just happened between them, Zeke let Tobias turn the conversation back to the patents. He signed where Tobias told him to sign, not bothering to read the documents. Then Tobias got awkward again, unable to meet Zeke’s eyes. Zeke started to reassure him that they could take things as slow as Tobias wanted, but before he could Tobias went to a drawer and took something out. “Here.” He offered the item to Zeke.
“Tobias…” Zeke stared.
“There is a key to the back door, but you should come in through the front…” Tobias kept holding the keys out. “Or through the garage because of the alarm. The code is —”
“Tobias.” Zeke put his hand atop Tobias’s hand. “Are you…”
“I want to keep this between us, at least…” Tobias shook his head and took a deep breath. “But I want you in my life, Zeke. I want this to be…” Tobias exhaled. “Real.” He took the keys, then nodded. Tobias smiled. “The code is 1701, which you should remember because…” He turned a little red again.
“Star Trek.” Zeke smiled as he tucked the keys into his pocket. “You know, you’re cute when you get nerdy.”
“Oh, shut up.” Tobias glared.
She gave Viteri time to collect himself. None of this was in the trial notes. The accusation had been that he’d broken into Tobias’s house. Perhaps something had happened to cause Tobias to take his keys back or change the locks, or… Or perhaps the story was far different than what had been told at the trial. “You loved him.”
“You couldn’t help but love Tobias.” Viteri shook his head. “You should have seen him at work, once we got the office running. He’d move through the place like some benevolent god, giving a word of inspiration here, a touch of advice there. He had a way of making you want to be better than you were. I may have run the engineering side of things but he was the one that recruited the talent.” His smile was sad. “I think I was the only one that got to see the shy, hesitant part of him. To everyone else he was their confident king. And because he believed in you, you believed in you too.”
“You mentioned he didn’t want to do defense contracts.” Diana looked over her notes again.
“For the betterment of mankind.” Viteri nodded. “There was a time that was what we genuinely wanted. All we wanted. To make the world a better place. You get a chance to look over our books?”
“Considering your work, your company barely showed a profit.” She frowned at the print out she’d made earlier.
“Because it wasn’t about the money. It was about…” Viteri swallowed, then his face darkened. “Of course, not everyone saw things that way.”