Cassian had hoped to postpone this conversation for a long time, possibly forever, but then they make a bad landing on a storm-scoured world, and he winds up thrown across the cockpit and pinned under broken machinery. K2 heaves pieces of console off him until he’s free, but there’s no time for Cassian to conceal the deep wound down the length of his forearm, or the wires and circuits it exposes.
K2 pins him immediately against the bulkhead, one metal hand wrapped around Cassian’s throat. “You’re not Cassian.”
“I promise you I am,” Cassian says. He’s stronger than he looks, but not strong enough to free himself from K2’s grip. “There are admittedly some things I didn’t tell you. And I will, but maybe first we should make sure the ship isn’t on fire?”
The ship turns out to be a total loss as far as future transportation goes, but is not on fire. They make themselves as comfortable as possible in the wreckage of the lounge to wait for rescue.
“You seem like Cassian,” K2 says thoughtfully. Cassian wonders if he’s still considering trying to rip Cassian’s head off.
“I’m the same person I’ve always been.” “Person” is the questionable word in that sentence, but he’s not about to say that to K2. It’s somehow easier for him to be certain that Kay is a person than that he is himself.
“You didn't tell me.”
“That's because it's a secret, Kay.”
“That isn't much of an excuse.”
He doesn't need an excuse for keeping secrets, but he does at least feel he owes K2 an explanation. “I really am from Fest. They were making experimental androids there.” Cassian’s always assumed it was for some criminal purpose, since he can’t think of a legitimate one that would require androids to pass for human, but his creators were kind enough to their creations.
“Experimental androids,” K2 says, craning his neck to look Cassian up and down.
“Don’t feel bad that you couldn’t tell. You’re not supposed to be able to tell. My heat signature matches a human one, and if you scratch my skin I even leak something that will pass convincingly for blood.” The fluid is dried red and sticky now around the edges of his wound. He’ll need more tools than he has on the ship to mend it.
“You certainly behave like a human,” K2 says. That’s not, possibly, a compliment. It’s been strangely comforting to spend time with K2, who doesn’t want to be an organic being and doesn’t really understand why anyone would.
“I was designed to. When the Empire took over on Fest, things got messy, and Draven found me. He recruited me to the Alliance.” It’s equally true that his choices at that point were extremely limited — stay and be taken apart by the Imperial droid research program that was moving in to build battle droids, or run and be alone in the world with no purpose to his existence at all.
Instead, Draven offered him the chance to fight the people who killed his creators and his … for a long time, he was careful to refer to them only as “the other androids from his model series,” but having K2 for a friend is rearranging his head a little bit. They were his friends. The Empire killed his friends. Cassian allows himself the comforting heat of anger for a moment, and then dismisses those memories to the depths of his data bank where they belong.
“Most people in the Alliance don’t know,” he continues. He doesn’t want K2 to think it’s that Cassian doesn’t trust him in particular. “Androids who can pass for human tend to make people nervous.”
“I won’t hold it against you that you look human,” K2 says.
“Thank you, Kay.”
K2 reaches for Cassian’s injured arm, and Cassian doesn’t jerk it away, allowing K2 to investigate. He does flinch when K2 actually reaches to touch the exposed wires. “I’ll fix it later,” Cassian says. “It won’t hurt unless you poke it—”
K2 slides one finger down the length of a sensory lead. It’s a white-hot snap of sensation, intensely and uncomfortably erotic in an unfamiliar way. Cassian feels himself shudder, motor functions oddly disrupted. “Do that again,” he says, even though he probably shouldn’t, and K2 obliges. There’s another electrical snap, a shiver deep inside him in places he hasn’t imagined wanting to be touched.
“Where else does your body open?” K2 asks, his eyes brightly alight, and that isn’t something Cassian makes a habit of telling people, but the moment he starts thinking about the implications of the question, he can’t leave it alone.
“There’s an access hatch in my lower back, but—I have functional genitals, obviously, I’m experienced at passing for human in all sorts of circumstances—”
“This will be better,” K2 says, his metal fingers feeling at Cassian’s back. “How does this open?”
“Only voluntarily.” He makes the effort, flinching as K2 swings the panel open. He’s never liked being worked on this way, and never quite stopped resenting his creators for not putting the access hatch somewhere easy for him to reach. He’s done maintenance on himself behind his back in a mirror, but that’s neither comfortable nor entirely safe.
This feels different, K2’s metal fingers feeling more natural as they slip in between the wires than human fingers ever have. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Cassian asks.
“More than you do, apparently. I’ll have to show you.”
K2’s fingers slide down wires, and Cassian can feel the shift in electrical current as K2 uses different parts of his fingers, a bright buzz that ebbs and strengthens. He can feel the arousal it provokes in his groin, but also just as intensely in his lower back and running up his core. K2 bridges two leads with his fingers, and there’s a snap of current that makes Cassian’s hips jerk involuntarily.
He’s had sex before, he’s had orgasms, but he’s always wondered if it’s better for humans, if the ways that he’s programmed to respond to genital stimulation have failed to entirely capture whatever makes humans crave sex so intensely and seem so affected afterwards. Nothing’s felt like this, bright sweet jolts of sensation running deep into his body and spilling across his skin. His hands and feet feel oversensitive, everything that touches them making him more intensely aroused.
“I’ll stop if you say so,” K2 says, although he sounds disappointed at the prospect.
Somehow K2 works his hand even deeper, an uncomfortable stretch as wires shift, and then he hits a cluster of wires that shouldn’t be sensitive, buried that deep inside him, but they’re clearly connected to sensory leads, because when K2 strokes them, it’s like a starburst of sensation through his groin and his chest. His hips are shuddering again, and he strains back against K2, wanting more contact, and K2 shifts his fingers to run current through the sensitive wires.
It’s a huge hot surge of pleasure that mounts until it’s just short of unbearable and then breaks in an electrical thunderclap through his whole body. He can feel the aftershocks throbbing through his groin as K2 works his hand back out, not an easy process and one that sends a few more shivering jolts down sensory leads before K2 finally frees his fingers.
“You’re right, you know more than me,” Cassian says. He’s spent his entire existence learning how to be human, but he’s not human. This isn’t the only thing he’s learned from K2 about how to be a droid. “Can you show me how to do that to you?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” K2 says, and takes Cassian’s hand to show him.