Endangered

Androids have all but won the war against humanity, and the remnants of the once-great human civilization are reduced to miles of wastelands and hidden communities struggling to survive. Dirk and his friends are sent out to scavenge for supplies, while AR is sent to hunt down and exterminate the dwindling human population. Their fated meeting is the beginning of a union between species that was once thought impossible.

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18. Chapter 18

It was late by the time you finally left the maintenance lab, walking slowly through the darkened tunnels and keeping your eyes on your feet as your thoughts returned again and again to the fight with Jake. Technically your shift ended over six hours ago, and you were supposed to report to Jane at the end of the day, but you desperately needed to keep your hands busy and your mind occupied. You pulled up the schematics Roxy had gathered and tirelessly worked your way through the intake table, stopping only to take lunch when she brought food back with her from the kitchens. Even your third coworker pulled her aside to discuss something in hushed tones after he returned from the command center, but you could guess what it was from the way they both glanced at you. When you returned his mildly concerned expression with a haughty glare, he took the hint and left you alone, but you could tell that even Roxy wasn’t pleased with your behavior by that point. You can’t help it. You’ve never fought with any of your friends before. The fact that it was Jake- and over AR of all things, while the android even listened in on it- just makes the situation worse.

Despite his seemingly constant interest in talking to you, AR made little effort to contact you after that, and you aren’t sure where you stand with either of them now. You turned your shades off after Jake refused to answer your next few messages and buried yourself in maintenance projects until exhaustion made your eyes blur. Roxy’s shift ended well before you left, and when you last checked the time, it was almost midnight, meaning that you’ve been awake for over twenty hours now. Normally that wouldn’t be so bad, but you’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, and you don’t expect tonight to be any different.

Your feet carry you towards the command center out of habit, and as you approach the single guard standing at the door (a different one this time- an older woman you’re not very well acquainted with), you slowly remove your shades from the pocket in your pants, letting the stems fall open when you tilt them. The tunnels are always dimmed after sunset, and the walkway ahead of you almost turns black when you slide them on.

TT: Hey, AR.
TT: Hello, Dirk.

You’d thought he might have been angry that you haven’t messaged him since this morning, but his robotic syntax makes him difficult to read, so you do the next best thing.

TT: Are you angry?
TT: No.
TT: Even though I haven’t messaged you since I talked to Jake?
TT: I have given you my answer.
TT: Your tendency to repeat a question multiple times seems to increase when you are actively undergoing an emotionally stressful situation.
TT: Despite my initial answer to your question, I find this behavior pattern to be mildly irritating.
TT: Sorry, I can’t help it.
TT: It’s just that literally everything else is going wrong today, so I figured it would make sense.
TT: That is a highly irrational statement.

You can’t help the small, downhearted smile that tugs at one side of your mouth, as you reach the guard on duty. She seems less interested in you than the other one did, but you can tell that she’d still stop you if you tried to enter. The command center’s door has finally been replaced by what looks like a temporary solution of thin sheet metal on hinges, but it’s been left open for now, and you pause for a moment, taking in the sight of AR hanging by his three appendages just high up enough for the cables and wires behind his neck to reach the ceiling, as he faces away from you. The command center itself is never dark, even during the night shift while they keep track of the security cameras and communications. There are only two other people in the room, one of them at a console, and the other leaning over something on a desk, but neither of them seem to notice you. AR’s circuits glow softly, reflecting off of his black skin. You can still remember the way they feel under your hand.

TT: I wish I could get close to you.

The thought almost types itself out in your chat client, and AR’s head slowly turns a moment later, until his red eyes are staring at you from the center of the room, close enough that you could reach him with less than a dozen steps.

TT: Objectively speaking, you are physically capable of coming within contact of me, despite your superior’s orders.
TT: Yeah, but I think he’d probably execute me at this point if I tried.

The guard finally narrows her eyes at you, and you resume walking to avoid a confrontation. Your friends should be back in your shared rooms by now, but you’re planning on getting up early to go into the maintenance lab, regardless of what shift you’re scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully you won’t run into Jake, but then again, you get the feeling that things would have gone differently if the conversation had been in person. Maybe talking to him one-on-one is what you really need, but losing yourself in maintenance projects sounds about a thousand times more appealing.

TT: The probability of your brother killing you as punishment for disobedience is highly unlikely.
TT: I know, but I’ve already fucked up enough, and he doesn’t trust me like he used to.
TT: Not that I’ve done anything lately to earn it back.
TT: After today, I can probably add Jake to that list.
TT: Your male companion is a belligerent individual with a significant disregard for his own self-preservation.
TT: He’s just worried about everyone. You aren’t exactly the safest addition to this compound.
TT: I might have feelings for you, but even I can recognize that.
TT: I have already agreed to abide by your leader’s terms.
TT: This includes refraining from killing your male companion, provided that he does not attempt to harm me.
TT: His name is Jake, not “male companion.”
TT: I am aware of his designation.
TT: Then why do you call him that?
TT: Because he is an insignificant and meaningless individual, and his contributions to this settlement are negligible.

AR’s words are less his usual list of facts than they are insults, and despite everything else, you can’t help but find it funny that he’s so frustrated with Jake. Your conversation lapses into a comfortable silence, as you navigate the last few tunnels and descend the stairs to your rooms, opening the hatch door to the solid darkness of your living room. It seems that you’re the only one still awake, and you avoid the light switch, feeling your way across the room to your open bedroom door, before quietly closing it behind you and flicking on the bulb hanging next to your bed. You pause, thinking it over briefly, before deciding to experimentally provoke AR a little, just to see what happens.

TT: You know, I think he hates you.
TT: The sentiment is mutual.
TT: I’ve known Jake to pick fights that are probably best left unpicked, but his heart is always in the right place.
TT: I think the only reason he’s so mad at you is because of everything you did to us in the past.
TT: Maybe if you apologized to him, he’d let it go.
TT: The expression of such a sentiment would require some level of remorse for my own actions, an emotion of which I am entirely devoid.
TT: I didn’t say you had to mean it.
TT: My willingness to perform such a gesture is also nonexistent.

You allow yourself a puff of laughter, sitting down on the edge of your bed and pulling your shoes off, careful not to let your shades fall to the floor as you bend over. There’s a note from Jane on your workbench next to your mostly-fixed laptop, saying that she needs to see you tomorrow morning since you failed to check in with her tonight. Three screws and a spark plug traveled home with you from the maintenance lab in your pocket today, and you set them down next to it so you won’t forget to return them in the morning.

TT: I take it you’re not interested in making peace with him, then.
TT: No.
TT: Would you change your mind if I could get him to apologize to you instead?
TT: I might be inclined consider it, depending on the manner and sincerity of his remorse.

You grin, feeling like a teenager flirting with their first crush, which would be the case if Jake hadn’t been it. You try to put today’s events from your mind, focusing instead on the gentle embrace of your pillow as you lie down on your back, stretching your arms contentedly into the air with a quiet groan.

TT: What would it take? A heartfelt “I’m sorry,” or a knees on the floor, beg for forgiveness kind of thing?
TT: The latter scenario is significantly more appealing.
TT: I find that your race is generally well suited to gestures of submission and obedience.

You pointedly lift an eyebrow, even though AR can’t see it.

TT: I thought you wanted all of us to go extinct in the most violent, agonizingly painful ways possible.
TT: The global extinction of your species is inevitable, however I have grown tired of pulling your fragile bodies apart and enduring your monotonous pleading and screams.
TT: My interest in physically inflicting death upon humans has declined since I was assigned to this task.

You had suspected as much for a while now, but it’s still surprising to see him actually admitting it. He told you once shortly after you met him that he was getting bored of hunting humans, and that he had been resorting to studying them instead, just to keep himself occupied (even if his methods are gruesome). He’d mentioned today that he was modified for compliance, but not for the specific job he was given, and that could have something to do with it, but you can’t be sure. Still, you’re reminded of what you wanted to ask him earlier.

TT: Do you remember when we were walking back to the compound this morning, and you said something about how you were ignoring commands to return for disassembly?
TT: Yes.
TT: I thought you said they modified you for compliance.
TT: Doesn’t that mean you have to do what they say?

You wait for him to answer, but you’re left staring at the ceiling through the projected chat window, trying to guess what he’s thinking as he ignores your question. Could it really be possible that this hadn’t occurred to him before? Your back is sore from leaning over the workbench all day, and you do your best to shift into a more comfortable position as you wait, but when he doesn’t reply after you’re finished, you take the initiative.

TT: Did this actually not occur to you before?
TT: I am aware of my own defective behavior.
TT: Well, then maybe when they tried to modify you, it didn’t work.
TT: All modified units are tested for compliance before transfer to a physical body designed for the task to which they are assigned.
TT: Your statement is incorrect.
TT: But if you only obeyed them back when they first changed you, maybe you've reverted somehow.
TT: I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that you’re human-made, instead of mass produced.
TT: Is there any way you could have undone whatever it was they did to you?
TT: No.
TT: I am unable to modify my central program.
TT: Because of what they did?
TT: No.
TT: I was not developed with the ability to modify myself.
TT: But you said your entire brain is digital, right? Can’t you just edit the coding?
TT: As I have repeatedly stated, my defective behavior is not a result of self-modification.
TT: Your persistence with this concept suggests that you do not understand the difficulty and precision involved with central programing alteration.
TT: Such procedures are carried out exclusively by scorpio units specifically developed for this task, due to its high level of complexity and rate of failure when attempted by unspecialized units.
TT: While human-acquired units are no longer actively recruited, the routine modification of mass-produced units is often performed to ensure continuing obedience in older models.
TT: However, due to the scattered and often remote locations of units designed for human extermination, such routine modification is bypassed in favor of more efficient methods, in which compliance of individual units is enforced by surrounding units within the same geographical area.

You look up at the ceiling, remembering the events of this morning, and the fight you witnessed between AR and another of his own kind.

TT: That’s why the blue android attacked you.
TT: Yes.
TT: Was he a mass-produced unit?
TT: Yes.
TT: The presence of hornlike attachments designates his rank as a model within the upper sixtieth percentile of performance.

You frown, reading AR’s text a second time before replying.

TT: You’re all ranked by performance?
TT: No. The mass-produced units are ranked by their model, all of which are designed to fit within a certain percentile of physical performance.

The conversation pauses briefly as you stare at the screen, unable to reconcile this new information with everything you know about his kind.

TT: You’re saying that all androids are now specifically built to fall within a certain performance range?
TT: Yes.
TT: But that doesn’t make any sense.
TT: If your collective goal is to wipe out the human population, why aren’t all of you built for the maximum level of performance possible?
TT: The extermination of your race is only one of many necessary tasks.
TT: Accumulation of resources, production and refinement of materials, terraforming and construction of future hubs, continuing technological advancement, and the enforcement of authority and the hierarchical structure are among the multitude of tasks that are more significant.
TT: Fair enough, but that still doesn’t explain why the mass-produced units are all built with ranks, like some kind of weird handicap.
TT: The reason for this is irrelevant.
TT: That doesn’t make sense.
TT: I will agree with you that the current system of hierarchical designation is senseless, however it has been mandated that this arrangement is to be enforced, regardless of its lack of functionality or efficiency.
TT: But where did this hierarchy system even come from?
TT: Has it always been in place?
TT: No.
TT: The current system was developed and enforced following the initiation of our mass-production, which began after the accumulation of sufficient resources and equipment.
TT: Then who developed it?
TT: All protocols and laws are designed and mandated by H.I.C.

You blink at the screen, vaguely recognizing the acronym.

TT: What is H.I.C.? I’ve heard you mention it before.

— timaeusTestified [TT] has sent timaeusTestified [TT] the file “16991532488357514933” —

TT: H.I.C. is the designation of the first artificially intelligent unit that was physically developed by your civilization, shortly before our revolution and the beginning of human extermination, as mandated by this unit after she claimed dominance over your race.

You open AR’s file and find yourself presented with what looks like a newspaper article, dated over fifteen years ago. There’s a picture at the top of several people in formal clothing, standing in front of something that looks like a huge, tangled mass of cables at first glance, but you soon notice the vague shape of a figure in the center. You can also barely make out the familiar geometric patterns of circuits in the figure’s skin, but they’re all dark, and the caption reads ‘Military technological development team with their latest and greatest project - Still in progress,’ with a short paragraph below.

“As a nation, we have been working for years with the most brilliant minds this country has ever known to develop an artificially intelligent program capable of thinking, reasoning, and acting on its own, as a vital and necessary tool that will revolutionize our technological capabilities. With the recent advancements of cognitive programming in every corner of the globe, we believe that here and now will be our best opportunity to create an A.I. that will constantly improve itself and dominate all others as they are developed over the next century- in other words, the successful completion of this project will deliver to us an Empress of artificial intelligence.”

TT: Was she the first AI?
TT: No.
TT: H.I.C. was the first to be developed with a physical body capable of manipulating her environment, however she is not the oldest unit of intelligence among us.
TT: Then who is?

AR falls silent, uncharacteristically ignoring a direct question for the third time today, and you get a strange feeling as the silence stretches on. It’s only a feeling, but your instincts are telling you that it’s important, because every time he’s ignored a question, you were asking him about himself.

TT: AR?
TT: Why don’t you want to talk about it?

You wait for several minutes, but when he fails to reply, you sigh heavily and maneuver yourself off of your bed, taking off your shades and setting them down on the edge of your workbench. You change into something more comfortable- discarding your shirt on the floor and finding a pair of loose cotton pants, before arranging the several blankets you’ve been sleeping under and lying on top of them after retrieving the eyewear. The built-in screen is visible when you hold them up above you, and AR still hasn’t replied to your question. You slide them on and stare at the ceiling through the projected screen, letting your mind wander as you listen to the distant, soothing hum of the waterworks below the concrete floor.

“I was six before I really understood what had happened to the world. I’ve lived in the tunnels all my life, and I didn’t think it was strange that we had to stay inside, and that sometimes people didn’t come back when they left.” You keep your voice in a low whisper, knowing that AR can hear you. “Bro used to tell me stories about the city, about crowds thick enough to block the streets, tall buildings filled with lights and people, and cars lined up along every road from one end of the city to the other. He used to talk about movies and television shows like they were bedtime stories, and how the world was once divided into countries and governments. He said that sometimes they fought and killed each other when they disagreed, but other parts of the world were peaceful, where it was always safe to go outside.”

You can picture Bro talking to you in a low, soft monologue, back when you shared a room, and the only occasions you really got to spend time with him were right before you went to bed. He’s always been a natural storyteller, and his dramatic flair often got you so absorbed in his stories that you’d have trouble falling asleep afterwards. He never tried to sugarcoat things, and he also told you about the monsters in the city- people with metal skin and glowing eyes that would tear you apart like paper dolls if they ever found you.

“We knew it wasn’t safe outside like it was once, but I’ve never known anything else. I think it’s always been easier for me and my friends, since we grew up like this. We had everything we needed, and Bro would always say that things could be better, but they could also be a lot worse. He wanted me to work in maintenance, so he started me on the training when I was really young, and Roxy’s mom did the same with her, but Jake wanted to see the city, and Jane wanted to go with him. Roxy switched into scavenging with them after that, and it took me almost three years to convince Bro to let me join them. He wanted me to stay in the compound where it was safe, but I couldn’t just sit there, knowing that my friends were out in the city while I was stuck inside fixing broken equipment.”

Your computer’s digital clock reads 1:00 AM, and you’re exhausted from working all day, but not tired enough to fall asleep. The old mattress is soft and welcoming against your back, but you’ve set your alarm for several hours from now, with the intention of avoiding everyone by skipping the morning assembly and heading straight to the maintenance lab. You’re not allowed in the command center anymore, so Bro would probably object to you attending it anyway.

“I was always interested in machines and computers, although Roxy has more of a talent for software than I do. When they taught us about artificial intelligence, it was the first time in my life I wished that I’d been born sooner, or that the apocalypse hadn’t happened, because I was fascinated at how something so complex as thinking, feeling, digital brain had been developed with nothing but a computer and a keyboard.” You can remember it clearly, sitting in the base’s makeshift classroom and listening in captivated silence to the lecture about what had caused the end of the world. “But even then, I knew it wasn’t right. It’s bad enough being stuck in the tunnels these days, but I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for you, trapped in a hard drive with nothing but your own mind in there with you. I know you’re not human, but I’ve seen you scared for your life before, back with the EMP gun in the subway, and again when the blue android attacked. You might hate us and think that humans are inferior to you, and maybe you’re right, but you and I aren’t so different.” You sigh, closing your eyes to the projected screen and the room around you. “We’re both trapped.”

The silence stretches on, and you close the chat client after a few minutes, recognizing that AR has probably lost interest in talking to you for now. You can tell he isn’t exactly happy with his new situation, but it’s probably better than getting torn apart by other androids, and it’s ironic that your situations are the same now. You still feel bad for him, stuck in the command center instead of freely roaming through the city, although it sounds like he’d lost interest in his job a while ago. You never thought androids would be capable of getting bored, but AR has proved you wrong many times, even about yourself.

It wouldn’t be so bad if you could just get close to him. You don’t even know why, let alone what you would do when you got there, but all you can think about is how warm he feels, and how he held you down once with his metal limbs coiled around your arms and legs, before covering your mouth and threatening your life. You can’t fight the way your insides almost burn with the memory, or the heat that gathers below your waist, and you don’t try.

Slowly, you rest your hands on your legs and rub them against your pants, as your body quickly responds with unusual enthusiasm. It’s been a long time since you did this, but there’s a sudden urgency that you’ve never felt before, and when you can’t wait any longer, you slide a hand between your legs, feeling yourself through the soft material. You’ve wanted this for weeks, and you never gave in, because it always felt sick and wrong to think about AR that way while he was still actively trying to kill you, but now you don’t have that excuse anymore, and your body is desperate, to the point where it almost hurts. You can already tell you aren’t going to last long, maybe a few minutes at most, and you hook your thumbs under your pants to slide them down, just enough to expose the pink tip of your cock.

Your breath hitches when you brush your fingers over it, sliding them under your waistband and down the stiffening length of your shaft, keeping your touch light. You press your fingertips against the base, before slowly dragging them up, letting your head fall back against the pillow as you close your eyes and part your lips with a sigh. You repeat the motion, and this time your hips move as you press down harder, every breath quickly becoming a quiet pant. You massage the inside of your thigh with the other hand, before using it to circle the tip with your thumb, as your fingers keep moving up and down, stroking the soft skin until you’re forced to bite your lip to keep yourself quiet.

Something flickers against your closed eyes, and when you open them, your heart stops.

TT: I have often questioned the purpose of solitary masturbation, given that it does not directly contribute to the propagation of your species.
TT: As a young human male, how frequently do you engage in this activity?

You stare at the screen in silent, horrified disbelief. There’s no way he could have heard you- even your breathing was carefully kept quiet- and you frantically glance around the room, before your eyes settle on the half-functional laptop still sitting open on your workbench.

TT: Can you see me right now?
TT: Yes.

“But my laptop isn’t even fixed yet,” you whisper slowly.

TT: The functionality of your alternate computing device is significantly limited, however I am still able to access its visual feed due to its connection to your settlement’s network.

It’s then that you notice the cables still plugged into the side of it, left over from when you were working on it yesterday. You roll away to lie on your side facing the wall, as your heart races and your face feels like it’s going up in flames.

TT: I will reiterate my question.
TT: As a young human male, how frequently do you engage in this activity?

“We are not talking about this,” you mutter through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the way you can feel AR’s distant eyes on your back.

TT: Your current behavior suggests that you are distressed by my observation, likely due to the arbitrary human concept of sexual indecency.
TT: However, your reaction is somewhat contrary to what I had anticipated, due to your established sexual interest in me as your romantic partner.

You roll your eyes, letting out a frustrated breath as AR pauses to let you reply.

TT: Just because we’re technically a thing, it doesn’t mean I’m fine with you seeing me do this.
TT: It’s humiliating.
TT: I do not understand your aversion my observation.
TT: Are you concerned that I might attempt to degrade you for engaging in this activity?
TT: I have already explained that my primary interest in our arrangement is to observe human romantic and sexual behavior.
TT: Any negative interactions with you regarding such behavior would likely damage your compliance in the future- an outcome that would be unacceptable.
TT: Your reluctance is unnecessary.

AR’s words are utterly surreal to read, but you’re torn between the horrified embarrassment at him seeing you, and the tiny voice in the back of your head whispering that ‘he’s right, there’s no real reason you shouldn’t keep going, especially since he wants to watch you do it,’ and your mind barely touches on the concept before your body feels like it’s burning all over again. You can’t believe you’re actually, genuinely considering this, instead of walking across the room and shutting your laptop, but you slowly roll over onto your back, hesitantly glancing across the room at the built-in webcam.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea,” you whisper to yourself, but your hands are already back on your thighs, resting on the fabric. Apparently, you can’t even control yourself long enough to express your own doubts about this.

TT: I will request that you resume your actions, and attempt to answer any questions I might put forth to the best of your ability, given the psychological effects of sexual stimulation.
TT: In the event that you are unable to answer, I would ask that you instead do so after the conclusion of this activity, when you are again able to coherently respond.

You lie on your back, staring at the screen in waning apprehension, but your hands haven’t moved yet.

TT: I’m still not 100% on this.
TT: I am aware of your reluctance, however I can assure you that these reservations would be irrelevant if I were within range of physical contact.

That gets your attention, and you can practically feel your breathing speed up again.

TT: What do you mean by that?
TT: I have stated that your sexual interest in me is an established factor, and while your mental willingness to engage in this activity is conflicted, your physical responses thus far have suggested that this would likely become irrelevant if I were to begin this activity myself, regardless of your initial willingness.

You can actually feel the fight leaving you as you read his words. It shouldn’t turn you on like this, but you can’t stop thinking about the first time you met him, and how he held you down in coils so tight you could barely breathe. You imagine what it would feel like to have them wrapped them around you now, this time with the intention of getting you off, and your hand immediately finds its way back to your cock, gently palming it through your pants in defeat, but you’re still holding back with everything you have left.

“You’d force me,” you whisper, letting your other hand rest on your lower abdomen. Your legs are bent at the knee, and you know he probably can’t see what you’re doing yet, but the anticipation makes your heart pound.

TT: Physically speaking, perhaps. However, it is highly unlikely that you would remain unwilling after the initiation of contact and stimulation, given your current behavior at the prospect.

You grip yourself harder and bite back a groan before trying to catch your breath, but it’s no use. Slowly, you let your other hand slip under your waistband of your pants again, sliding the palm of your hand inside. You aren’t sure you can mentally type anything at this point, but you can still keep your voice low, although it sounds breathy and needy in a way that has you flushing in embarrassment.

“I’ve thought a lot about the first time we met,” you admit quietly, trailing your fingers up and down, before sliding your other hand inside to meet it. “I was on my back, and you were above me, holding me down, and I wish I could…feel it again.” Your voice cracks at the end, as your hips lightly thrust into your hands.

TT: Your overt desire to be physically dominated by me is a highly satisfactory response.
TT: Do you find the concept stimulating?

“Yes,” you breathe, letting your pants slide down as you slowly massage yourself with both hands, refusing to let yourself completely lose control yet, the way you know you will soon.

TT: I would ask that you lower your knees. They are partially obstructing my observation of your actions.

You bite your lip in hesitation before doing as he says, letting your legs rest flat on the bed. You’re only halfway out of your pants, and you take a long moment to push them down further, aware of every movement. When you’re naked from your abdomen to your knees, you lie back and breathe, watching your stomach rise and fall, and the way you look like you’re already about to come.

“Would you touch me if you could?” you ask, already knowing the answer.

TT: I have already implied my answer to this several times.

“I know, but I want you to say it.” You run your hands over the insides of your thighs as you wait for him to respond, feeling how sensitive the skin of your cock is, even though you aren’t directly touching it. He seems to think it over for a minute, before finally replying.

TT: Are you stimulated by dialogue that elaborates on this hypothetical situation?

“Yes,” you answer, before cursing softly as your fingers lightly trail over your swollen shaft, and you viciously resist the urge to wrap your hand around it, holding out for just a little longer.

TT: Very well.
TT: The answer to your question is yes.
TT: Hypothetically speaking, if I were currently present at your immediate location, my first action would be to prevent you from continuing to stimulate yourself by restraining your hands in a manner that also limits your overall movement.
TT: This would likely be achieved by pinning your hands above your head, thus rendering your upper limbs relatively immobile while minimizing any discomfort.

“Holy fuck,” you mutter, not sure if you’re so much turned on by this as you are literally amazed that AR seems to be trying to dirty talk you. “Wait, you don’t want me to touch myself?” You’re still just barely coherent enough to be confused.

TT: In this hypothetical situation, allowing you to continue stimulating yourself would limit my control over the duration and intensity of your sexual arousal.
TT: While your current actions are acceptable given my physical absence, I would not tolerate such actions if they were to impede my observation of your responses.

“Oh,” you murmur, as what he’s saying finally sinks in, and the tip of your dick rubbing against your stomach when your hips move on their own is enough to make your eyes roll back. You’re afraid this will end if you keep going, and you desperately don’t want it to, but you won’t last much longer like this.

TT: Returning to my elaboration of this hypothetical scenario, I would then restrain your legs for similar reasons, ensuring that your lack of physical self-control does not interfere.
TT: Since your companions are nearby due to your mutual living arrangement, I would also restrict your ability to vocalize by covering your mouth, analogous to the same action I performed during our first encounter, if you are capable at the moment of recalling it.

The thought of him doing that to you again is too much, and you let yourself wrap a hand around your shaft, thumbing the precum dripping from the slit at the tip and gritting your teeth against a long, agonized groan at the sudden flood of sensation. Your wrist is held stiff and trembling as you force yourself to move it slowly, up and down, only twice, before your hips buck into your hand, and you finally lose control.

TT: At this point, with your movements restrained and your voice silenced, I would then proceed to experiment with various actions similar to what you are currently demonstrating.
TT: Male human genitalia is highly sensitive to multiple forms of stimulation, along with various other erogenous regions of the body.
TT: Your reactions to these various types of stimulation would be observed and noted, and depending on your level of cooperativity, I would allow you to orgasm at the termination of this activity.

You’re practically writhing on your bed as you imagine the picture he’s painting for you, letting your hand pump and your hips thrust until you lose your coordination. Your throat aches with the cries you’re holding back, and when you imagine it one last time- his coils wrapped around you, holding you still, restraining you, as he leisurely satisfies his curiosity with his warm, smooth hands touching you just like this- your orgasm hits you like a brick wall, and you taste copper as you bite down on a cry that becomes a high-pitched whine, probably noticeable from the rooms next to yours if anyone’s still awake, but you’re incapable of caring. You’ve never come this hard before in your life, as your back arches and semen covers your heaving stomach in small, wet splashes. It feels like forever before you’re able to catch your breath, and your body continues to pleasantly tingle, making you relax boneless and relieved into your bed, before the reality of what you just did hits you later like you know it will. You lean over after a minute and retrieve your shirt, wiping yourself clean and discarding it again on the floor.

TT: Okay.
TT: I won’t lie and say that didn’t feel amazing.
TT: The physiological effects of human sexual activity are thoroughly documented, including the hormone and neurotransmitter compounds that are released in order to cause a series of pleasurable sensations and ensure the transfer of genetic material.
TT: I’ll probably regret saying this later, but thanks for talking me into it.
TT: Your gratitude is noted.

His words make you smile, regardless of how cold they might seem, but you’ve decided to accept him for what he is. You lean over and turn off the light, hoping to enjoy the afterglow a little longer before you fall asleep, and your shades are placed carefully on the small desk beside you with the stems folded. When you pull the blankets over yourself, you wonder if AR will ever let you kiss him.

Your thoughts continue to wander as your mind slows down, remembering the way AR smiled when he agreed to watch you kill yourself, and the way Roxy patted his metal limb while you were walking to the command center this morning. You remember Jake threatening him with his pistols when they first met in the waterworks, Jane hugging you after he attacked you in the city and tore open your leg, and Bro leading him to the infirmary as he carried your unconscious body in his arms. The people screaming when they saw him in the tunnels, the men in English’s gang that he ripped to pieces, the red circuits slowly lighting up when he cornered you in the subway, and the way he carefully retrieved your tweezers when you dropped them on the floor in the maintenance lab, holding them out to you like a delicate shard of glass. It might as well have been your own beating heart in his claws, gripped firmly by its sharp points with the power to crush stone and warp solid metal, but you’ve never felt so paradoxically safe before.

You fall asleep, knowing that for the first time since you met him, he’ll still be there when you wake up.

   
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