“It wasn’t my idea to do this now!” Fuwa growled, stomping across the floor of the basement as they waited. The plan was to move Horobi to a more secure location in a continuation of their current, however shaky, alliance against Thouser, but they had to wait until the close was clear and no one else could notice and possibly report to ZAIA. As a result, Hiden was having Izu monitor the headquarters’ security cameras, the two of them had been stuck biding their time in the dark, empty basement—together. For hours. “I’d rather not spend more time with you!”
“I have noticed.” Horobi replied dryly, preferring to stand at the centre of the room and look around rather than useless motion, watching the human pace. He could have sat down in one of the still-upright folding chairs, but he’d had enough of them after weeks of being trapped in one.
Vulcan’s head spun around to glare furiously at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You have been particularly vocal on the subject.”
“That a problem?” Fuwa’s voice came from right beside his shoulder, the human having marched back over to him, eyes blazing angrily.
Horobi sighed, turning to face him, rolling his eyes. “Why must humans be so insufferably loud?”
Then Fuwa’s face was in his, practically spitting, like Vulcan always did when he began boiling over. “You trying to start a fight or something?”
Horobi said nothing, just staring back at him for a moment—then, because Fuwa was so close, radiating anger, and because he’d had enough of being pushed and snapped at all day, he leaned his head sharply forward and shoved his lips roughly against Vulcan’s.
It wasn’t really a kiss. More just slamming their mouths together and holding there. But even that was unexpectedly an almost… Pleasant sensation. Fuwa was warm. He was solid. He was… Real. And so very… Human. He was everything Horobi should detest with every single atom in his being, and yet the closeness was… Comforting. He felt Fuwa freeze, his heartbeat rising and his breath coming short, telltale signs that said he’d never done this before.
Something in Horobi’s mind misfired, and without thinking he found himself pulling closer, trying to cling to the warmth of Fuwa’s body like the room was suddenly cold, his hands actually reaching up to grab hold of the human’s suit jacket for more proximity. Vulcan was still too stunned to react, but he didn’t falter or stumble back when Horobi pressed closer against him, stedfast as a pillar. Horobi’s head tilted, unbidden, like his body wanted to turn this into a real kiss, his lips moving against Fuwa’s. The reaction made even less sense to him—HumaGear had no hearts, no lungs, no blood. He should have no instincts that could move him without his command… But he’d also learned long ago that they were still sensitive to touch—and something about contact with Fuwa made him want more. Abnormally warm, heartbeat like a bass drum, and the sheer fact that Vulcan hadn’t tried to kiss back at all, wasn’t trying to press the unexpected advantage he suddenly had or make use of Horobi’s abrupt loss of guard. The complete opposite of that person…
When Fuwa finally did move, it was to shove Horobi away, like the touch was painful to him, jerking back and staring like a deer caught in headlights. With some distance between them, Horobi’s senses came back online, and he immediately tried to recover some of his own dignity, reassuming his usual cold expression. Vulcan took longer to bounce back, visibly struggling to calm both his heartbeat and breathing.
He looked so startled and lost that Horobi couldn’t resist a smirk. “… I would have assumed you had at least kissed before.”
Fuwa turned red, though it was hard to tell if it was from embarrassment or anger. “W… What are you…?”
“It is particularly obvious by how flustered you are.” Horobi informed him shortly, not bothering to wait for him to finish.
“Of… Of course I’ve…!” Fuwa’s panicked look settled into an only slightly rattled glare as he trailed off. “And what the hell would you know about kissing?!”
“More than you do, apparently.” Horobi tilted his head, analysing Vulcan’s agitation. “Really? No one?” He smirked slightly once more. “Not even Valkyrie?”
Fuwa flushed even more at the mention of Yaiba, turning away to collect himself. By the time he looked back over at Horobi, however, his eyes had narrowed even more, his mouth twisting. “Sh… Shut up!” He snapped sourly. “Where the hell did a HumaGear trying to destroy humanity learn kissing, then?!”
The answer was so immediate and flat that it threw Vulcan off for a moment, and his rage was tempered by bewilderment. “A… Amatsu?” His mouth opened and closed a few times before he found anymore words. “You… You kissed Amatsu?”
Horobi merely stared at him blankly. “I did not say that.”
“But you just…” It was like he could see the gears turning as Fuwa processed his statement. “… Oh.” Vulcan’s expression shifted even more, a look creeping onto his face that was partway between horror and… Pity? “Oh.” He said again, gaze dropping to the floor.
Horobi raised an eyebrow at him. “Satisfied?”
Fuwa was quiet for long enough that Horobi began to turn away, until the man abruptly spoke, far softer than before. “Then… Why kiss me?”
Horobi froze. He had no answer—his initial intention had been to force the human to be quiet, maybe embarrass him—but he had no excuse for his behaviour after that. Especially not the way he’d tried to get closer and deepen the kiss. Was it the overwhelming, petty sense of finally taking something that before had only been taken from him? Or was it because Fuwa was so much Amatsu’s opposite that it felt like… Like contact with him somehow cancelled out what Amatsu had done. At the very least, the drastically different sensation overrode the lingering, phantom memory of Amatsu’s touch, something he could still feel years after the last time the President of ZAIA had even been in the same room as him. HumaGear didn’t experience or need for intimacy the same way humans did… But the way the sensation of Amatsu’s cold fingers curling around his chin, or tracing the lines of his face and down his neck, running through his hair, while the mouth over his would occasionally bite down sharply on his lip as a reminder of who was in control, still clung to him like invisible shackles had taught him that touch not only mattered, but would stay with them for a long time. With Jin the binds had lightened—focusing on his son had given him something else to think about, something infinitely more pleasant. The Ark’s will had been a purpose beyond the chains of the past; both a chance to be something more than… His.
But Jin was gone and the Ark had been no freedom at all, and the feeling of the cold hands clawed back in, wrapping back around his throat. The contact with Vulcan had unexpectedly overridden the memories, the warmth chasing away the ghostly cold. Whenever Jin had touched him, all his senses had locked onto that contact as a welcome distraction, but that was all it was. Jin’s touch was different; it didn’t—couldn’t—seek out the lingering traces of Amatsu’s hands and wipe them away, as Fuwa’s had seemed to, like he was washing away stains.
He hadn’t realised how long he stood frozen until Fuwa’s voice came again, slightly closer. “Oi. Did you hear me?”
Slowly, Horobi turned his head to look at Vulcan, who had taken a few steps around to stand in front of him again. One of Fuwa’s hands was partially extended, like he’d been thinking about reaching out to the HumaGear—when Horobi looked at him, however, he quickly snapped it back, looking vaguely self conscious. For a moment, Horobi just stared at him. “… I do not know.” It was not a lie. He was genuinely unsure of what his purpose had been. “… You are not Amatsu Gai.”
Fuwa gave him a look like he thought he was going senile. “Well… Obviously.”
“That had… An unexpected effect.”
Vulcan frowned, shifting even nearer, enough that Horobi could detect just a slight hint of his higher body temperature, his hand drifting out again. “… Horobi…”
When Fuwa’s fingertips actually brushed his sleeve, his gaze flicked further up to meet the human’s eyes, which were now brimming with some sort of weird mix of emotions that Horobi was certain he would never be able to properly process—but there amongst them, just like before, were horror and pity. Staring into Fuwa’s eyes, with the man so close that the warmth he radiated like a bonfire was beginning to seep through the the fabric of his coat, Horobi could suddenly feel every single persisting trail of Amatsu’s touch he’d ever endured, wrapped around him like a horrible, frozen cloud—and he just wanted it all off.
It wasn’t even a full step forward to be close enough to kiss Fuwa again—and this time, his mind was clear, and his every motion deliberate as always. Vulcan wasn’t as shocked, either, and though he initially tensed when Horobi’s lips first touched his, he relaxed after a moment, rather than pulling away. For a bit, he just let Horobi kiss him, holding still as the HumaGear’s hands drifted up again, this time to grab handfuls of his blazer, pulling closer—then his head tilted slightly, pushing back just a little, like he was trying to ask a question. Horobi paused, pulling back just barely enough to speak, and used a word he’d only uttered a very few times in his life, “Please.”
Vulcan promptly closed the tiny distance between them. Fuwa kissed as angrily as he did everything, with the same air of spoiling for a fight. His mouth was warm, his lips slightly chapped, and he inexplicably tasted like coffee and chocolate, though Horobi knew that as a HumaGear, he shouldn’t be able to taste anything. It felt like a challenge, an invitation to push back, rather than an expectation of control. His hands settled lightly on Horobi’s arms, leaning closer rather than pulling or grabbing, staying completely away from the HumaGear’s face. His mouth was clumsy against Horobi’s, inexperienced—Horobi suspected that if he had ever kissed before, it hadn’t been since high school at the latest—nothing like the practiced grace Gai had used. His heartbeat and breathing were fast and loud, almost panicked again, bursting with emotion, not light and unaffected.
He’d never really considered how small Fuwa actually was, either—he’d always known the man’s exact height, but had never had reason to compare it to his own. Now he realised Vulcan had to tip his head up and stand slightly on his toes for them kiss. With that knowledge, his hands loosened from Fuwa’s suit, one moving to the back of the human’s head, fingers weaving into Vulcan’s hair—the other arm went around the human’s waist, lifting him easily off the ground. Fuwa gasped sharply, his own arms shooting around Horobi’s shoulders for balance, fingers scrabbling against the HumaGear’s back for purchase—not that Horobi was in any danger of dropping him. Once they’d settled into a more comfortable equilibrium, Fuwa’s hands began exploring, tracing new memories across Horobi’s back and shoulders, even up the back of his neck to the edge of his head wrap, fingertips even slipping under it, brushing against the hair beneath. Horobi let his more complex systems slow down, choosing to lose himself in Fuwa’s warmth, in the strange, combat-like kiss, shutting out the rest of the world, even his own internal clock.
Eventually, it was unsurprisingly Fuwa who pulled back first, shoulders heaving, voice breathless. “… Some of us need to breathe regularly.” For a moment, they kept just staring at each other—until Vulcan finally swallowed nervously. “So…” He rasped, raising his eyebrows, “… Can you put me down?”
Horobi hesitated for a moment, but finally he reluctantly lowered the human back to the floor, arms lingering around him for a bit before at last pulling away and stepping back. He turned away slightly as Fuwa smoothed and righted his clothes in awkward silence, trying to put his own mind back in order, and finally realising the situation he’d put himself in. “… We never speak of this again.”
Vulcan took several more deep breaths, raising the back of his hand to his lips. “Damn… You even kiss like you’re trying to kill someone…”
Horobi glared at him. “We. Never. Speak. Of. This. Again.”
Fuwa watched his expression for a moment, then nodded slowly. “… Agreed.” He said, at last. Then his phone buzzed, and he quickly checked it. “… That’s Hiden. Izu says we’re clear to go.”
Satisfied with Vulcan’s agreement of silence, Horobi spun on his heel and marched off toward the stairs without waiting to see if Fuwa was following him.