Sometimes he is still angry with First, who had everything even when he failed, even when he rebelled; First, who has a new master to give him orders and a place to be. But sometimes he...he needs First, too, because without a master of his own Elgar doesn't always know what to do with himself. First gives him a focus, and teaches him things that Master never bothered to have him learn. Useless things, mostly, but Elgar has no more pressing orders to follow and it fills the time, so he learns: how to pay the kind of meaningless attention to a warm day that is enjoying the weather. How to have preferences among foods based simply on flavors instead of how nutritious they are. How to be touched outside of a battle.
Today they're working on all those things at once, sitting on a blanket that First commandeered, under a tree on a hilltop where the breeze will reach them. There was food earlier, bread and sharp cheese and red, tart-sweet berries; Elgar tried to eat slowly and savor the tastes. Now they're stretched out quietly on the blanket, and First is running gentle fingers through Elgar's hair. The touch has a soothing effect, lulling his senses, and it took effort the first time for Elgar not to resist it. He was made to be vigilant—but his original purpose is obsolete now.
First shifts next to him—coming closer? That, also, seemed like a threat the first time it happened, but Elgar makes himself hold still and not attack. First means him no harm, for some reason.
Still, when First kisses his mouth, Elgar can't help flinching.
First pulls back, watching Elgar's face, eyes wide and blue. "Sorry," he says. "Is that not okay?"
That question doesn't even make sense. "How should I know?" Elgar asks. It isn't what he was made for. He's seen humans do it, but it always seemed irrelevant to his purpose; Master never gave him reason to believe otherwise. "I have no way to evaluate it."
"You—that isn't what I meant," First says. "I mean, is it okay with you, or do you want me to not do it?"
Elgar closes his eyes, as if he could shut out First's confusing expectations just by not seeing him. "I used to be able to go for whole months without anybody asking me what I wanted," he says.
First takes his hand and squeezes gently. It still seems strange to Elgar how many gestures of affection are also gestures of restraint. "Sorry," First says. "I know this is still hard."
"It's not necessary," Elgar says.
"Zephie wants you to have the chance," First answers. "She's seen that we can be more human than he let us, after the way I changed."
At least if this is all because First's master wants it, that makes it easier to understand. "Did she tell you to kiss me?" Elgar asks.
"No!" First says, and he sounds distressed enough that Elgar opens his eyes again to watch First's face. "No, she wouldn't—she wouldn't do something like that. She's...she's always really careful to make sure she's not compelling me to do anything like that."
"Even though she's your master," Elgar says thoughtfully. The princess is even harder to understand than First, but Elgar can't seem to be frustrated with her; he supposes in some way he's still following Master's old orders, that made her the most important thing.
First shakes his head. "She is. But she cares about me, and she wants to be sure I'm doing things I want to do. The point of people doing these things together is to make each other happy, so she's careful to make sure I could still stop if I wanted to." He sighs. "Sorry. I'm pushing all this stuff too fast, I guess. I had a lot more time to get used to the idea."
Elgar doesn't answer for a minute, trying to sort things out in his head. Anything First can do, he should be able to do, too. And it's strange, doing things for the sake of how they feel, but it's not upsetting. "You can kiss me again," he says eventually.
"You sure?" First asks.
"I said so, didn't I?" Elgar says. Making the choice is difficult enough without having to make it repeatedly.
First smiles apologetically, as if he's realized he's being difficult, and doesn't ask again. Instead he leans closer and kisses Elgar's mouth a second time. He moves slowly, and his mouth is gentle against Elgar's, the touch strangely soft. He doesn't mind it, Elgar supposes. And it...means that First cares about him, doesn't it? That's a pleasant feeling.
He tries to reciprocate, mirroring First's gestures, and First hums approval against his mouth. Pleasure shivers warm down Elgar's spine at the response, and when First's tongue presses at his lips, he yields. Like this he thinks perhaps he can see why people enjoy kissing; they act out their trust in each other when they're this close, don't they? And the gentle tease of this kind of touch—his body scarcely knows how to react. It's pleasant, like having First pet his hair, but with an added sense of urgency that seems like-not-like battle. He's breathing far harder than he should be when First pulls back.
"Still good?" First asks. His eyes are dilated and his lips flushed. The sight is...enjoyable, Elgar decides.
"Yes," Elgar says. "I want," and how strange does that feel, to say those words without Master to prompt him? "I don't know."
First nods. "Do you want me to touch you more?"
That sounds right. "Yes," Elgar says. "Do that."
"We're going to have to work on how you ask for things, eventually," First says, but he's smiling. He kisses Elgar again and this time his hands wander at the same time, sliding up Elgar's arms and down his back, following muscle contours. It feels...more purposeful than when he's touched Elgar before, somehow. His hands trace hips, thighs; even more than the kissing, this touch holds Elgar's attention, makes it hard to think of anything else. First's hand slips between his legs and palms his cock, rubbing slowly, making him stiffen. Elgar can barely hold back the whimper that rises in his throat. His body moves without his leave, hips rocking toward First's hand as if that's all that matters.
Elgar wrenches free of the kiss. "Stop," he says.
First goes still immediately. "What's the matter?" He lets go, and Elgar rolls away from him, sitting up.
"I can't pay attention to anything else," Elgar says. His kamond crackles with agitation, and the hair on the nape of his neck is standing up.
"You don't like it?" First asks.
Elgar shakes his head. The problem is that it feels too good, not that it doesn't feel good. "This isn't a secure location," he says. First seems to believe that because the war is over, nobody means them harm anymore. "It's a stupid risk to take."
First gives him the apologizing smile again. "Fair enough," he says. That seems strange, too, that it should be so easy to refuse; everything is different, without orders. "...Does that mean you'd be interested if we were someplace safer?"
"Ask me then," Elgar says.
He plans to say yes.