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After Sunset

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Koba wasn’t like the other apes. He wasn’t there to see Caesar’s initial rebellion against the cruel human with the cages and the water-hose. He wasn’t even given his advanced intelligence by Caesar. But, he adored Caesar all the same, perhaps on an even deeper level than the other apes given the fact that his initial attitude towards him was skepticism. Skepticism that turned into respect that turned into all-out love. It was unique, his relationship with Caesar, and Caesar appreciated it just as much as Koba did.

Koba embraced Caesar now, high in the treetops. He always treasured their alone time. Caesar was busy, especially now that he had a son, but he always made time for Koba. Although Koba knew hatred and anger intimately, he felt joy and love with equal intensity, although only Caesar ever really got to see that side of him. Koba was guarded – at least, to everyone but Caesar.

Caesar had seen him baring himself to the world. He had seen him let loose and play in the trees as if he were young again. He had seen him show concern – show fear – when Caesar was in trouble. Around the other apes, Koba tried his best to earn respect and remain steady and strong. But he looked up to Caesar, and longed for something more than just respect from him.

Bonobos were affectionate by nature, but still, Caesar was surprised when Koba’s embrace turned into a kiss, passionate and almost smothering. That was a side of Koba even Caesar hadn’t seen, something long-repressed by his days in the lab, perhaps.

After a few moments Koba pulled back, almost shy, looking for approval.

Koba, Caesar signed, but he couldn’t think of what else to say.

Koba love Caesar, Koba signed. And then again, and then again, as if he’d finally figured the tangled web of emotion that went through his mind when he and Caesar were alone together.

When he saw Caesar speak in front of the rest of the colony, he felt admiration. When he went hunting with Caesar, he felt camaraderie. Those were simple enough. But when they were alone, it was something else, something he’d finally pieced together.

Caesar stared for a moment, brow furrowed, deep in thought, before signing back: Caesar loves Koba.

Koba smiled and hollered and jumped around, excited as he was during his first day out of the cage and into the treetops. Caesar pressed one finger against his mouth and signed: Quiet now, children sleeping.

Koba nodded, sheepish, he wasn’t usually prone to such outbursts.

We are not mates, Caesar signed.

 I know, Koba signed, Not mates. Still love.

Caesar nodded.

Koba hesitated, briefly, Still touch.

Koba bowed his head, hand outstretched, palm up. He wanted this more than anything, the first intimate contact he’d ever had in his entire life – a rarity, especially for a bonobo. But if Caesar thought it best that their love not transcend the realm of emotion, Koba would respect his judgment, even though it would pain him and –

-  And then Koba felt Caesar’s fingers sliding across his palm, slower than usual, before he felt his king’s body pressing him up against the trunk of the tree.