The mission is an in-and-out slice job: mid-level criminal organization, maybe in possession of leads on black market supply lines. It goes well as Cassian uses a disposable cover and a lot of smooth talking to get into the compound. It goes well as he opens a side door to let K-2SO slip in. It goes well as K-2 slices the compound’s mainframe, and it goes well as they leave just as quietly as they came in.
It stops going well on the way back to the ship. A motor control process glitches and K-2 stumbles over nothing. Cassian gives him a questioning look, but K-2 doesn’t acknowledge it. He’ll worry about it once they’ve successfully escaped.
As they leave atmo and jump to hyperspace, more of K-2SO’s processes hiccup despite his efforts to regulate them. He manages to keep the only outward sign of struggle to a minor tremor in his hand while working the console, but of course the spy notices that, too.
Cassian doesn’t say anything until they’re safe in hyperspace. By then, dozens of K-2’s normal processes have faltered, and unfamiliar subroutines have co-opted his processors.
“I appear to have contracted a virus.” K-2’s voice sounds strange to his own auditory receptors.
Cassian’s body language zeroes in on Kay. “How bad is it?”
“It does not appear to be targeting my core programming, nor is it attempting to control my networking capabilities or motor functions.” He doesn't say that the disruptions are frightening enough.
His reticence doesn't help: Cassian doesn't appear overly soothed. “But?”
K-2 sighs. “But it installed new directives. And I can’t initiate a normal shut down cycle,” he realizes once he tries, and makes an effort not to panic. “I don’t want to force one when I’m like this.”
Cassian’s face goes into battle-plan mode. “What are the directives?”
“I don’t know!” The virus is hidden behind layers of encryption, and it’s one of the most frustrating things he’s experienced. Even under the Empire, he’d always been able to at least read all his programming. This is the least in control he’s ever been.
He hates it.
“They aren’t explicit and I can’t read them. All I have is this...compulsion to do...something.”
Cassian’s frown deepens. “Anything violent?”
Most people, K-2SO is sure, would move away once the idea occurred to them, or at least prepare themselves for evasive action. Cassian leans in, and K-2 would be touched by his trust if he wasn’t angry with his lack of self-preservation.
“No,” K-2 says sharply. “It’s...input, I think.”
“Could it be trying to get you to leak intel?”
“I don’t feel the need to network myself,” K-2 says.
Cassian stands up. “I’m getting the manual interface.”
They sit facing each other on the deck, a cable running from the port in K-2's arm to something like a heavy datapad. Cassian taps at it, picks up and scrolls through a second, virus index datapad, returns his attention to the diagnostic.
K-2 is restless inside and out. Under normal circumstances he’d have projected what the directives probably were, the best way to handle the situation, the most likely risks and outcomes, but now he can’t dedicate enough processing power to the task. With each rogue process he shuts down three more spring up in different directories, and after only half a minute of that he has to stop to avoid choking himself with their proliferation. His optics rove over Cassian and the ship, his hands open and close, and his servos and hydraulics and cooling systems are active too, taking him nowhere but deeper and deeper into agitation. Directives, electricity, data all cycle through him at alarming rates. It’s heating up his components above optimal parameters.
“You’re rocking,” Cassian says a moment later, concerned.
“Am I?” K-2's surprise is distant. Anything that isn’t the insistent loop of buzzing energy under his plating feels distant. “It’s getting worse, Cassian. It’s replicating the directive across all of my processors. I can barely think and I still don’t know what it wants!” In his frustration he hits the deck with a resounding clang. Cassian grimaces at the noise.
K-2 would be sorry, but the sensation of impact grants him momentary relief that in turn indicates the directives. “It needs tactile input.”
He starts running his hands across the deck, fingertips, then palms. It’s sufficient, at first, to quell the virus to a tolerable hum, but it doesn’t take long for the feeling to reach unbearable levels again.
“Cassian, this isn’t enough. I don’t understand.”
“Maybe different textures?” he suggests, chewing at the edge of his thumb, still scrolling through files upon files of code.
K-2SO reaches out to pull cargo webbing through his fingers. The softness is pleasant, but hardly adequate. The smooth bulkhead is completely unsatisfactory, but a seat cushion gives him some relief.
“This is better,” Kay says, almost kneading the chair. “Not what the virus is targeting, but the closest thing yet.”
“Good, keep doing that. Maybe we can - found it!” Cassian focuses the diagnostic on the file, juggles both datapads to search for it in the index. “Okay, I can tell it’s a polymorphic direct action virus, we know it’s targeting the directives matrices and the sensory processing subroutines...” He trails off into muttering.
K-2's internal temperature is still rising. It’s only a small measure of relief when he opens all of his access hatches simultaneously, venting heat into the ship’s cabin. The clicks and hisses get Cassian’s attention.
K-2 answers the look in his eyes. “I calculate roughly eighteen minutes before I have to force a shutdown or risk damaging components.”
Cassian sets his jaw and starts tapping purposefully at the interface pad. From what K-2 can see, he’s trying to manually delete the virus.
After four tries, K-2 decides to take a look himself. He reaches for the datapad.
His fingers brush Cassian’s, and the virus realigns K-2’s entire being around the small touch.
“Oh,” he says, and drops the interface in a clatter. Cassian opens his mouth to ask a question but before he can K-2 is curling metal fingertips around Cassian’s hand, his wrist, the complex sensations of temperature and density and movement drawing Kay in like a tractor beam. Before he makes any decision at all his thumb is sweeping back and forth across Cassian’s pulse. It feels perfect in itself, and yet it also sparks a cascade of want that floods K-2's circuits.
Apparently he can still make projections. His processors have started generating hundreds of different ways he could touch Cassian.
“Oh, damn,” K-2 says, vocabulator wavering.
Cassian has gone very still. “Kay?”
K-2 reaches up with his other hand and only just pulls himself back from touching Cassian's chest.
“It's ninety-seven percent likely a Galatea virus,” the droid explains. It’s an effort not to pull Cassian to him. To not wrap his limbs around his friend, push his hands inside his clothing, lean close to whisper desire into his ear. What stops him isn't the fact that he's never wanted anything like this before - and maybe his lack of concern is the virus's doing as well - but that Cassian's never shown even a hint of interest. K-2 would much rather shut down mid-process than betray Cassian's trust.
"The directives are for physical contact with an organic body.”
Cassian stares at their joined hands. “So, sex?” He sounds guarded. K-2 doesn’t know what to make of that, except that it’s a perfectly reasonable response to the situation.
“Will that resolve it?” Cassian meets his optics again. “Will you be okay?”
“If it happens soon, probably,” K-2 says, and his free arm drifts closer. He pulls it back again. “I’ll shut down now if you’d rather not.”
Cassian shakes his head. “No, it’s not worth the risk.”
“It’s fine,” Cassian says, and if he doesn't sound pleased, he doesn't sound miserable, either, and K-2 decides to trust that his friend is choosing this.
He stops fighting the compulsion and lets his hand come to rest on Cassian’s sternum, his body pleasantly cool to K-2's overheated plating. A deep breath swells Cassian’s chest. The movement captivates K-2, and he keeps his hand there for a few moments, cataloging the sensations in as much detail as possible. The texture of Cassian's shirt. The movement of his exhalations over the exposed internal components of K-2 's arm. The minute frown on his friend's face.
Soon the need to be closer, more intimate overcomes his interest in Cassian’s respiration, and he slides his hand lower, down Cassian’s stomach, settling at the man’s belt. He realizes that his other fingers have been dipping up into Cassian’s sleeve, reaching for more skin.
“Here.” Cassian untucks his shirt, tugs it over his head. Before he’s gotten it all the way off, Kay is exploring his body, fingers running along his ribs, palms against his waist, fascinated by the contrast of Cassian's scars to his unmarred skin. The direct contact is - or is rendered by the virus into - a warm, steady pleasure. K-2 hums, low-pitched and long enough to almost qualify as a moan, and he can't be bothered to feel embarrassed.
“It is absolutely ridiculous how good you feel,” he says. “Really absurd.”
“Ah,” Cassian says, and K-2 isn’t sure if it's the statement or the touch that's making him flush.
For a few moments, K-2 continues like that, hands sliding all over Cassian's chest, back, arms, stomach, his touch gentle and exploratory. But soon the caresses gain fervor and he spills even more heat from his chassis.
“Getting worse again?” Cassian asks. He's still frowning in concern, but K-2's never seen him express this emotion while shirtless and flushed and with a twelve percent increase in his pupil dilation. They're natural responses to the stimuli Kay is providing, he knows, biological consequences without external meaning. What he doesn't know is if it's the virus or something deeper that makes him want to inspire more such responses. Just that he wants to, the desire strong enough to channel more and more of his battery life into already overburdened systems.
“Getting worse again."
“Give me your hand,” Cassian says, and closes dry, callused fingers around the metal of Kay's palm. K-2 wants those hands elsewhere, everywhere, anywhere Cassian is willing to touch him.
Cassian avoids eye contact as he brings Kay's hand to his lips and takes his first two fingers into his mouth. The human's wetness and heat and soft, clever tongue overwhelm K-2, flooding his processors with virus-generated pleasure, and he finds himself spouting a litany of profanity interspersed with Cassian’s name. He isn’t so loud, however, that he misses Cassian’s little sounds, hitches of breath that suggest grunts, sighs.
Maybe a moan? K-2's free hand is still stroking Cassian’s waist, which could explain the human’s breathy noises.
It’s one of these, made when Cassian’s lips are on K-2's knuckles, metal fingers halfway down his throat, that ignites Kay’s pleasure. All of the virus’s processes cease their previous tasks in favor of burning Kay up in ecstasy.
He cries out and undergoes what feels like a slow-motion spasm, body undulating as his internal components activate and stop in sequence. His optics brighten to the point that Cassian needs to shield his eyes, and then flicker into the dimmest possible setting.
“Kay?” Cassian leans close and searches K-2's face. He looks, K-2 distantly notes, openly worried, biological signs of arousal now indistinguishable from a fight-or-flight response. “Kay, are you alright? Did the virus clear?”
It takes K-2 a moment to find his speech subroutines again. “I feel strange.” All the words he can attach to his state of being are messy and organic, like ‘floating’ or ‘intoxicated’ and it would be annoying if it wasn’t so good. “I think I could accurately describe it as euphoria. The virus appears to have pleasant side effects.”
Cassian lets out a slow breath. “Did that take care of it?”
“No,” Kay says slowly. “My processors - my battery - I’m still hot, Cassian,” he says, because it’s true, and a moment later his hands are on the human’s skin again, desire only a fraction less intense than before. “I still need you.”
Cassian bites his lip - even if it’s just contemplation, it winds the buzzing tension under K-2’s plating yet higher - and his eyes dart all over Kay. The orgasm's laid Kay out on the deck, apparently, and Cassian settles between the droid’s wide-splayed legs. One of his hands is on Kay’s chest, steadying himself, and the other taps at the droid’s thigh just above the open access hatch.
It takes Kay three full seconds to understand what Cassian is asking. “I don’t see why, but go ahead.”
Slowly, Cassian reaches inside Kay’s leg, working his hand around the tubing and wiring. It’s an insertion similar to the times Cassian’s done maintenance work on the interior of K-2 ’s limbs, the careful push and drag of skin against his components a familiar sensation, but for the first time Kay wonders if it's anything like what an organic experiences with the hand of another inside them.
He wonders if Cassian finds the experience at all similar to sex. K-2SO is hard and dry where an organic is soft and wet, but right now his internal temperature is comparable to that of a human, and the close quarters mean his hydraulic hose and series of cables offer flexible resistance to the pressure of Cassian's hand.
The concern is back in Cassian's expression, now accompanied by concentration. K-2 doesn’t resist the urge to cup his face, thumb on the crest of his cheekbone, fingertips sinking into dark hair.
Cassian leans into the touch, just a little. Kay finds that very pleasing.
When Cassian makes contact with the weight-bearing structure near the back of the droid’s thigh - in particular, when he touches the pressure sensors designed to detect loose hardware - an intense jolt of pleasure makes Kay gasp.
Cassian freezes, concern deepening into alarm. “Did that hurt? Do you want -”
“Do it again,” K-2 insists.
Cassian blinks, and does so, slower this time, making pleasure radiate outwards from the place his fingertips connect with K-2 ’s hardware. Kay moans, and Cassian licks his lips.
“Again, Cassian, again.”
This time, Cassian doesn’t stop. He works Kay’s sensors in a variety of speeds, of directions, of pressures, all the while looking intently at Kay like he’s never seen him before. K-2 won’t let himself classify that as anything more than curiosity, but he hopes, stars how he hopes, that it’s desire. He’s so fervent in his yearning that even as each delicious press of Cassian’s fingers inside him blots out his surroundings in a haze of pleasure, Kay doesn't miss the correlation between his own noises and Cassian's increased heart rate, breathing, and pupil dilation.
K-2 ’s hands have come to rest on Cassian’s waist. They stay there for a while, no room for anything in his head except what his friend is currently doing to him. It's only when Cassian pauses to flex his hand that an isolated process is able to wonder how it looks, K-2 spread out like this, open and needy and craving the human’s touch.
He hopes that Cassian likes it, and not just because the alternative would be deeply embarrassing.
A moment later Cassian leans carefully against K-2 , avoiding the open panels. One of Kay’s hands finds its way from Cassian’s waist to his hip to his ass, and the droid squeezes and pulls Cassian closer.
“Fuck,” Cassian whispers, rolling his hips, his hand coming to a stop. K-2 doesn’t have very much in the way of sensors in the lower part of his torso, but he extrapolates that Cassian must be hard and grinding against Kay’s hips.
“You’re aroused,” he says, failing to keep wonder and satisfaction out of his voice. “I was not expecting that.”
“Yeah, well,” Cassian huffs, but doesn’t finish the sentence.
“I like it,” Kay says, and kneads Cassian’s gluteus muscles again. It encourages another hip roll, another drag of Cassian’s cock against him.
“Fuck, yeah, like that.” Cassian is panting now, eyes completely blown, and it pleases K-2 . It pleases K-2 that Cassian is deriving pleasure from their contact and it pleases him to be the one ruining Cassian’s considerable composure.
K-2 brushes Cassian’s lips with his other hand, wanting to feel inside him again, and Cassian obligingly opens his mouth. He closes his eyes when Kay slides two fingers past his lips and starts to suck them again, tongue working around and between them, lips dragging against his plating, cheeks hollowing. His dark lashes brush his cheeks, messy hair frames his face, and pleasure is unmistakable on his face now that he’s no longer pretending that this is a businesslike encounter.
They each have fingers in each other, after all. It’s enough to make the hand on Cassian’s ass pause and restart several times.
The droid isn’t the only one having trouble concentrating; Cassian thrusts erratically and his fingers in K-2 ’s leg are still. After a while, though, he appears to make a decision, pulling his hips away from Kay’s body. He regains enough coordination to move his hand again, stroking Kay’s internal sensors in time with the ministrations of his tongue. K-2 falls into the same rhythm and fucks Cassian's mouth as Cassian fucks him. Both of them are moaning, now, and Cassian’s heavy breathing and K-2 ’s fans only add to the noise.
Their three hands, three points of contact - Cassian's hand in K-2 ’s thigh and Kay’s fingers in his mouth and his ass under K-2 ’s hand - aren’t an arithmetic sequence but exponential. The pleasure from each seems to multiply the others until there’s nothing left of K-2 but the ecstasy, the high, the rest of him blotted out in an eternal moment of light.
He floats, circuits awash in muzzy sweetness, and it takes him a while to realize that most of the rogue processes have stopped. A while to have enough processing power to be aware of things like his subroutines and his environment and the events of the last half hour. He starts a systems check, and just the fact that he can is a good sign.
Cassian is leaning on K-2 ’s chest, respiration rate slightly above resting, a bead of sweat on his temple, lips slick and flushed. “Kay? Is it gone?”
“Yes. I have quite a lot of defragmenting to do, but otherwise I am undamaged.”
Cassian sags in relief. “Good. That’s good.”
“Thank you,” K-2SO says.
Cassian frowns, almost offended. “You needed help.”
“I think that went a little beyond basic maintenance,” K-2 points out.
Looking sharply away, Cassian shrugs naked shoulders. “Yeah.” He sits up, winces. “Look, if you’re all right I’m just...I have to go take care of this,” he says, and gestures at the hard line in his pants.
The virus is gone, but K-2 ’s interest is not. He lays a hand on Cassian’s arm, voice soft. “I could take care of it for you.”
Cassian won’t meet his eyes. “No, it’s fine, I know those weren’t choices you would have made without the virus.”
K-2 rests his other hand at Cassian’s hip, lets his fingers curl into his waistband. The human doesn’t move.
“I don’t regret any of it,” Kay says. “Do you?”
Cassian’s biting his lip when he looks at Kay.
“Not if you don’t.”
K-2 sits up and slides his hands around to rest on Cassian’s belt. “May I?”
Cassian swallows. Doesn’t speak for a long moment while watching Kay. K-2 wants to move, to touch, but its different from before, this wanting. The virus made him crave sex as if he had a physical need for it; what he feels now is the desire to resolve a projection, to close a circuit. It is less urgent but both broader and deeper.
Cassian finally nods, swallows. “We have to be careful of fluids.”
K-2 turns Cassian around so that his back is to Kay's chest. Cassian’s breathing speeds up, and Kay unfastens his belt and pants.
“Tell me,” Kay murmurs into Cassian’s ear as he frees his cock, “What about the experience arouses you?”
Cassian leans his head back against K-2 ’s shoulder, mouth hanging open, his hands braced on the droid’s thighs. One of Kay’s hands splays wide on Cassian’s chest, the other curling around his flushed cock, and Cassian swallows a moan. He puts a hand over Kay’s, getting him to grip tighter and then stroke, making a broken noise in his throat at the contact.
“You,” Cassian pants, the single word confirming K-2 ’s suspicions and sending a thrill through his systems. “You liking what I do to you. You wanting me. You touching me. Gods, yes, yes, Kay,” and if K-2 thought he’d enjoyed Cassian’s pleasure before, the man gasping Kay’s praises while writhing in his arms is at an entirely new level. He’s never seen Cassian so open before, so uncalculated, and he decides then and there that he’s never going to give this up, not as long as Cassian wants him.
Cassian wants him. It doesn’t matter that being wanted wasn’t even on Kay’s radar two hours ago; now Cassian wants him, and he loves it.
In a quiet background process, he suspects he might need it.
After a few more squeezes, Cassian moans into Kay’s neck, his whole body tensing, his cock pulsing in Kay’s hand as he spends his release onto the deck. Then he goes soft in K-2 ’s arms, and the droid laces their fingers together as Cassian comes down.
“I never thought I’d be glad to catch a virus,” K-2 says after a while.
“I don’t recommend getting another one,” Cassian says, but Kay can hear the laughter in his voice.
“Oh, I don’t need to,” K-2 says. “I think I have a pretty good idea of how it processed sensory data. I’m eighty-six percent sure I could write subroutines to replicate the effects.” He looks down at Cassian. “I’d need to test it extensively, of course.”
Still defenseless in the afterglow, Cassian’s face breaks into a slow grin. “I think I could help with that.”