Characters: Razer and Aya (Razaya)
Word Count: 3,704
Summary: A future "what if" scenario that takes place a few months following "Homecoming." Razer and Aya are growing ever closer, seeking a little intimacy with one another, yet Aya's inability to physically feel like an organic life form remains an issue.
Notes: Special thanks to my role playing partner-in-crime, Cybra, who plays Aya at The Wake RP. It was a discussion with her that helped get this story off the ground.
(Warning: Story has not been beta'd!)
The room was dimly lit, as it often was, the only light cast by a small lamp on the nearby desk. Razer often preferred to keep it that way, the door shut to keep out the light from the areas beyond so that he could enjoy a little peace and quiet. His quarters were his hideaway from the brightly lit consoles of the Interceptor's bridge and the chatter of his crew mates. That evening, however, there was a new source of dim illumination within the room.
Razer sat on his bed, his back against the wall. The weight in his lap was a familiar one, the softly glowing blue eyes that looked back into his carrying just a hint of curiosity. It had really been quite the journey for them both over the last few months, Razer only starting to come to grips with his feelings for Aya when a Star Sapphire portal was able to transport him across the galaxy to her side. Yet even then he had continued to hide away his feelings, uncertain as to how to deal with the idea that he was falling for an artificial intelligence. That he still thought of Ilana quite often and was loyal to her memory did not particularly help his situation, either. Yet, slowly, he had allowed himself to give into what his heart was telling him. Aya was, after all, more than just a nav comm. She was a crew member of the Interceptor, an integral part of the team. Often she was also the voice of logic, a good foil for Razer's temper when it got the better of him. Most importantly, she was also his friend. A level of trust had been built between them and now, as they sat together in his quarters, they found themselves building further upon that trust.
It had been difficult for him to express his feelings verbally at first, especially while he had remained uncertain that anything between them was even possible. So their tentative courtship had progressed with light touches here and there to test the waters. A touch to the arm or shoulder, his hand against the small of her back, her fingertips brushing his... Almost to his surprise, Aya had reciprocated well enough in most cases, offering him a small smile here and there. He questioned whether or not she was simply doing so because it seemed to please him and, for short while, he'd felt guilty about it. Did she fully understand what was going on? Had she evolved the ability to care about him on that same level?
His answer came when she approached him one evening, asking questions about what gestures of affection were customary between two beings who felt very strongly for one another. Through her evolution and study of social protocol, she was coming to terms with the fact that she was especially fond of him. In fact, his own attempts to reach out little by little had encouraged her developing attachment. Though the conversation that followed had been one of the most awkward Razer had ever waded through, he was reminded during their talk that despite Aya's want to have contact with him, there was very little that she could actually feel. Of course, he had known this... How could he not? Her ability to take damage without being in pain meant that her tactile sensitivity was highly limited in comparison to an organic life form. It was hardly a handicap given her form and function, since it meant that she could continue to operate efficiently as a program even if half her limbs were missing, whereas most organic life would be so paralyzed with pain that thinking clearly would be extremely difficult. As their relationship had developed, however, she had started wanting more, to know what it was like to truly, physically feel. The conversation went a long way in causing him to harbor yet more guilt. After all, it meant that those times she had reached out to him first, it had been far more for his benefit than hers. That she at least wanted the contact was a relief, however that left him wondering if he could do something to help her experience something closer to what he did each time they made touched, something that could be switched off when it would be beneficial to have far less tactile sensation.
The trust she put in him to alter her android body amazed him. It had taken some planning and research on his part, hardly a project that they could simply leap right into without preparation. Alterations would need to be made to both her hardware and software, the project best done in progressive steps as adjustments would no doubt be necessary. Razer worked on it in his spare time outside of missions, writing and checking code, working maintenance on Aya's body to study it before making the necessary changes and making sure that all of it was done without anyone else prying into their business. The last thing he wanted was to explain any of it to either Hal Jordan or Kilowog.
Earlier that same evening, Razer had finished the last of his work. The change in Aya had been immediate, the AI instantly aware of her surroundings on an entirely new level. She had taken several minutes just to walk about, more aware than ever of how the impact of her metal feet against the floor sent vibrations through her legs. Her fingers had brushed the walls and work table, her optics bright as her systems gathered information via pressure, texture and vibration, her altered tactile sensors bringing her an elevated level of sensation.
She had expressed an interest in spending time with Razer soon after. He had accomplished the alterations with only her in mind, but for Aya the changes were to benefit them both. She no longer had to pretend to understand the feeling that came with their contact and could therefore reciprocate with greater confidence.
It was their first time sitting together in such a way, Razer with a few butterflies in his stomach while Aya better situated herself. Through her own recent research following the conversation that had gotten the entire project underway in the first place, she had learned that such closeness was customary for many cultures, Razer's included. He sat with his Lantern suit still on, feeling that they were going far enough by being on his bed within the confines of his quarters. Perhaps he would shed it later in favor of his civilian clothing, but for now the suit remained a formality he was not yet ready to give up.
One of her hands moved to rest on his chest, Aya pausing a moment to experimentally rub the tip of her index finger over the surface of his chest plate. He watched her in silence, taking in her subtlety shifting expression as data streamed through her systems. Lifting her other hand, she glanced up to meet his gaze as her fingertips brushed his face. Razer let his eyes close, holding still as she touched his skin, fingers running down the sharp curve of his cheekbone to his jaw.
“Does that produce a pleasant sensation for you, Razer?”
“Yes.” He opened his eyes, voice quiet. “And you? This shouldn't be all about what I feel.”
“It is interesting...and quite pleasant as I perceive it,” she answered. “At least that is how it is being translated through the feedback I receive from the constant flow of data.”
He nodded a little, shutting his eyes again as her fingers contacted his skin again. There was a slight tingle that came along with her touches due to how much of her consisted of solidified green energy, but it was not undesirable. Rather, in the right spots and with the perfect amount of pressure, it was almost enjoyable.
Razer breathed deeply, exhaling slowly as Aya used one finger to trace the markings on the right side of his face. Slowly, her finger traveled down to his jawline once more, then skimmed lightly up to his lower lip. His breath hitched slightly, his body stiffening a little as he held as still as he was able. As her fingers found his cheek again a moment later, his hand came up and covered hers, pressing her palm against the side of his face. The metal of her hand was cool enough against his skin that it sent goosebumps up along his arms beneath the sleeves of his Lantern suit.
Aya tilted her head in question, not fully understanding the gesture. “Is that pleasant also?”
“It is. Here, I'll show you what it feels like. A similar sensation, even though my palms are not composed of metal.” He released her hand and moved to touch her face in turn, but paused before contact was made. “Aya, you must promise me one thing, though.”
“If something I do doesn't meet with your approval, you must tell me. This is entirely new for you, but...you must decide what is acceptable for yourself.”
The thought that someone who was so new to physical sensations and intimate contact could easily be taken advantage of had occurred to him numerous times over the last few weeks. It was part of the reason he had been somewhat nervous about the entire situation, knowing that he would need to approach it carefully and with Aya's well being foremost in his mind. Part of him was even afraid of enjoying anything between them too much, so concerned was he that she not be somehow ill affected by his actions despite good intentions. He resolved then to hold himself in check.
Aya considered his words before responding. “Do you think you would do something that would I find unacceptable?”
“It's possible,” he replied. “We're all different, Aya. Even when contact is given in a caring manner, sometimes it simply doesn't feel right. You must develop your own set of preferences.”
Her hand touched his where it hovered before her, encouraging him to proceed. “Understood.”
Razer nodded and carefully brought his palm up along the curve of her jaw, watching as her lids slipped half shut in response. His thumb rubbed gently at her cheek, Aya leaning into his touch, her lips parting a fraction. Without a word from her, Razer could tell that she was making this new sensation her primary focus. With any advanced system, any number of tasks and checks could be running in the background at any time, leaving the Red Lantern to wonder how she was interpreting the feeling of his gloved hand against her cheek beyond simple touch, if there were any new queries prompted, any data with gaps that needed to be filled.
His hand left her cheek after a moment, fingers trailing over her jaw and down the side of her neck. Aya tilted her head a bit to allow him better access, the blue of her eyes dimming in what he interpreted to be contentment. Hand sliding around the base of her neck, Razer then pressed two of his fingertips to the back of it, applying a minimal amount of pressure while rubbing in small circles. A tiny sound from her gave him pause a moment later, however.
“Razer, you requested that I inform you if any of your actions were unacceptable.”
“I did.” He removed his fingers, immediately concerned that perhaps he had contacted a pressure point that bothered her.
“May I also inform you when I wish you to perform an action repeatedly?” She was gazing up at him now, expression something akin to hopeful.
Razer's eyes widened marginally. “Yes, of course.”
“As you are aware, I possess a cluster of sensors in that region you made contact with,” Aya explained. “The sensations your contact provides are very pleasing to me.”
A tiny smirk of amusement tugged at the corners of Razer's mouth as he touched the back of her neck again. “Very well, then. If you'll lean against me, Aya?”
She did as requested, resting one shoulder and the side of her head against his chest while his fingers resumed their massage at the back of her neck. For as much as she was able, Aya seemed to relax against him, again making that same tiny sound he heard previously. Now that Razer had another chance to hear it, the sound struck him as a tiny, synthesized sigh. A smile played across his features as he let his fingers creep up around the base of her helm.
“Razer, do you also possess a sensitive contact point at the back of your own neck?” Her voice was quieter this time, almost subdued.
“I do,” he replied, his voice lowered to match hers. “But for now, will you let me continue? I'm content to keep the focus on you, since this is your first experience with elevated tactile senses.”
“Yes, provided I may reciprocate at a later time.”
“At that later time, there will be no arguments from me.”
Even at the angle Aya was situated at, leaned up against him, he was able to catch sight of a small smile curving her lips. Razer knew better than to deny her something she wanted done, so it was best to come to an agreement before he continued lavishing attention on her. More than anything, he wanted the evening to be a good experience for her, one that would be memorable even for a so-called artificial intelligence with a perfect memory.
His other hand came to rest on her hip, fingers curling over the curve of it. Aya's followed a moment later, her hand covering his to keep it in place, mirroring his earlier gesture as she'd touched his cheek. The hand at her neck drifted down past her shoulders, his fingers settling on and caressing her exposed lower back. Aya hummed quietly in response, prompting Razer to work his fingers a bit higher, the tips sliding along the lower ridge of the metal section that comprised her upper torso. Her grip on his other hand tightened a fraction. Curiosity prompted Razer to continue along his present course, testing the seam where metal met synthetic skin.
“Are the vibrations registering clearly?” he asked, unable to keep from smiling a little.
“Affirmative.” Aya's tone was soft, her eyes completely closed. “Please continue.”
Razer allowed himself a low, pleased hum of approval as he shifted to bring both hands into play at once. One massaged Aya's lower back, his fingertips rolling against what would have been the base of her spine while the other stroked the back of her neck. She curled against him, head tilting forward to fully expose her neck to his affections.
To watch her reactions, to even hear them... It made all his hard work worthwhile. He was never more sure than in that moment that Aya was more than a machine, more than a program. She was evolving, an embodiment of will that was learning to become a person of her own. That she had come to think so much of him, to trust him so unconditionally to walk with her in her journey was humbling. There were many things in Razer's life that he regretted, so many sins he had yet to make up for on his own path. Yet he knew then that giving in to what he felt for this unique being – this extraordinary person – was something he should never regret. A part of him would always miss his old life on his home planet. He would understandably wonder now and then what his life would have been had it not been interrupted with tragedy and grief. Likewise, he would never forget Ilana. A part of his heart would always belong to her, yet he knew that the time for grieving, for laying awake at night with all the “should haves” and “could haves” racing through his mind was drawing to a close. Being a part of the Interceptor's crew was bringing him redemption. Being an ally to the Green Lanterns was serving to make him a better person and provide him with people he could trust. And surrendering to his feelings for Aya was softening his heart and allowing him to know happiness again, little by little.
“Aya...” His voice was little more than a whisper as he ceased tracing her seams.
She looked to him, chin tilting up as she met his gaze. “Yes, Razer?”
He lifted a hand, cupping her cheek once more, his expression soft and sincere. “Thank you.”
Her eyebrows arched a little in confusion. “What is it that you have to be thankful for? It is I who should be thanking you.”
“What do I have to be thankful for?” Razer offered her a fond smile. “Many things.”
He leaned in, his lips pressing gently against hers, a pleasant tingling sensation accompanying the contact. Aya made a soft, rather surprised sound, but did not pull away. Rather, she attempted to kiss him back, following his example and closing her eyes. Not wanting to overwhelm her, Razer began to break their contact after a moment, but suddenly realized that her hand had wandered up to rest against the side of his head. She leaned back into him, her lips finding his again. Despite himself, Razer made a tiny, surprised noise of his own, eyes widening considerably before he surrendered to her desire to kiss him further. It was likely the first kiss had not provided her system with enough data and she was seeking more, thus extending the moment to prolong the experience. Razer could find no reason to deny her, allowing himself to wrap his arms around her, almost cradling her against himself.
“Razer,” she murmured against his lips, “Please...”
The rest of her words were lost as he kissed her again, his lips parting to grasp at hers. Aya tried to follow his lead, her attempt to meet him halfway not nearly as practiced. Yet, it was enough to draw a low growl out of him, the contented rumble building in his chest and reverberating in his throat. Startled by the sound he'd let slip, Razer broke the kiss, expression betraying a hint of embarrassment. Aya watched him in silence for a second, wondering why he drawn back so quickly.
“Are you alright?” she inquired, suddenly adopting a subtle expression of concern. “Have I done something unacceptable?”
“No, Aya. I...merely did not expect...”
“You did not expect me to kiss you in return?”
Razer's expression became rather sheepish. “I didn't, no, but it's more that I surprised myself.”
“Can you please explain?”
“The...growl,” he admitted after a good deal of hesitation. “I didn't expect it.”
“It was uncharacteristic of the sound you typically make when you are angry,” she responded, clearly trying to puzzle through it. “Why did you make it?”
“It was automatic. It means I...was enjoying myself.”
“Is that not part of the point of this activity?”
“It is, but--”
“If we repeat our previous actions, what is the probability that you will again make that sound?” Aya held eye contact with him, unaware of how her innocent question would affect him.
Razer's face suddenly felt uncomfortably warm. He was no fool. He did not think that their first few times together would be entirely without embarrassing moments, but now that he was faced with one such moment, he found he was struggling.
“I can't provide exact odds, Aya,” he replied, shifting his gaze off to the corner of the room, unable to look at her without feeling further mortified. “It simply happens! I could replicate the sound anytime I want, but it would not be genuine.”
“I do not understand. If is a naturally positive response, why does it upset you?”
“It... It's just that...” Razer trailed off, frowning as he finally focused on Aya once more. “I meant to keep myself in check. Tonight is supposed to be about you, not me. About completing your alterations and introducing you to what it means to be...intimate. I've always had the ability to physically feel. I didn't want to make this about me.”
Aya's hand came to rest on the side of his neck, the A.I. gazing up at him with what he realized was concern. How much she had changed since they'd first met... “That we are together makes this situation about both of us, correct? Razer, you have been unhappy for so long. If what is acceptable to us both is enjoyable for you, you should not restrict your own reactions.”
Razer sighed quietly, knowing that she was right. Perhaps he was being too careful. To restrict himself too much would be to potentially take away from her enjoyment of the evening, as well. “I...suppose I felt some degree of guilt. My apologies, Aya.”
She offered him one of her little smiles in return, an expression of hers that he was coming to like more all the time. From what so many saw as a mere machine, hers was a smile that always came across as so very genuine. “Apology accepted.”
He found it in himself to smile in return, though he blinked in question as she suddenly took up one of his hands in her own. Turning Razer's hand, Aya placed his palm against her cheek.
“I would like to continue if you are willing, Razer.”
His smile quickly became a smirk. “I am, but you may lead, Aya.”
For a brief moment, she almost seemed to imitate that same smirk of his before leaning in and bracing her hands on his shoulders to kiss him. Razer embraced her, kissing her back and holding her close, even as another little growl slipped out.
- Fan Fic: "Alterations"