When Will could finally touch himself in peace and privacy, Proxima Centauri B began to feel like home. There'd been a few moments aboard the Jupiter, when they were trapped on the water planet or docked on the Resolute, that he could take a few minutes to find a scrap of relaxation, but not often. It hadn't been often at all when they weren't running from one crisis to another, coming to the brink of death again and again.
Then they arrived, they were assigned a home, a bedroom, a bed… and Will had privacy for the first time since they left the Resolute with a Jupiter full of nearly a hundred other kids.
Arm cocked beneath his head, he lay back in his new pyjamas and his new blankets. He stared up at his new ceiling and the unfamiliar geometry of the shadows from the faint artificial light filtering through his window. Sleepily, he ran through some mental calculations to estimate the angles of those new shapes of light. He lightly stroked his belly as he pondered, summoning goosebumps to prickle on his abdomen and chest. Once he was good and sensitive, he gently scratched the backs of his nails from hip to hip, circled his navel, and then let his hand stray lower, under his stretchy waistband to his slowly swelling flesh.
Then a pressure in the back of his mind announced that he wasn't as alone as he'd thought.
Will froze with fingers wrapped around himself, equal parts surprised, embarrassed, and annoyed. Really? he thought with heat. Now?
He received a sensation of curiosity, an afterimage of swirling stars, a flash of a plain white room. The Robot equivalent of What are you doing? I'm bored.
Will couldn't hold onto his annoyance. He never could with Robot, his dearest friend. He debated stopping and just going to sleep now that he had an audience, but it was probably something he'd have to get used to. Robot may have eavesdropped on him before without him knowing it, anyway, during their time apart.
Besides, his dad said it was a perfectly natural act, nothing to be embarrassed about, just to do it in private and go talk to him again if he ever felt like doing it with someone else. Assuredly because there would be additional rules.
Does this count? Will wondered. His hand began to move again, a light, three-fingered touch moving down his length. He snickered to himself as he imagined how that conversation would go. "Dad, I masturbated while telepathically linked to Robot. Is that perfectly natural?"
As he continued, the tension eased from his neck, shoulders, and heart. He hadn't realized he'd been holding so much until he melted into his clean, new mattress. Home. Safety. Family. Robot. All was well.
He released a shuddering breath. They'd come so close to losing everything. Everyone. But, there they were, on Proxima Centauri B. Together.
He didn't know if words translated across his link to Robot, but he tried, anyway. I'm glad you're here. With the thought, he tried to send all the affection he felt toward Robot; his trust, gratitude, relief, care. Whatever challenges awaited on their new world, they would face them together.
Robot returned the sentiment with something that felt like warmth. His warmth joined the heat building in Will's belly and thighs and oozing through his veins. Did Robot ever do anything like this? Was there a special way Robot could touch himself to feel good? Was it as private as this, as personal?
That thought transformed Will's relaxation into Will's growing tension. He imagined Robot's huge, gentle hands moving over his sculpted metal plates and elusive etchings, perhaps finding some secret, hidden node of sensors that responded strongly to touch.
Will's hips jerked, startling him with the intensity of the sensation. It had been a while since he'd done this; maybe it was another symptom of growing up. Instead of relaxing, he was getting excited, heated, his abdominal muscles contracting with every rhythmic pull. He gripped himself harder, almost squeezing, and stifled a groan with the back of his wrist. If anyone else heard him, it would be beyond embarrassing, normal or not. But he couldn't stop himself from continuing, harder and faster, not even when he felt wetness coating his skin, or when the weight of Robot's presence became heavy, palpable, as though he was right there with Will, his lights swarming behind Will's tightly closed eyes.
Molten pleasure pooled between his legs, tugged tight at all the strings holding him together, and then released him in a minor explosion. He uttered a choked moan and hot liquid splashed up his stomach and over his fist.
He sagged back against his pillow, took a few heaving breaths, and looked down at himself. Oh. Gross.
His father's voice returned to him. "One day, Will, you're going to ejaculate. It's perfectly normal."
Does this seem normal to you? he wondered in Robot's direction. You must think we're a very strange species. One day, he was going to find out Robot was a xenobiologist and was hanging out with Will out of professional curiosity.
The absurd thought made Will chuckle. With heavy limbs, he awkwardly rolled and got up to find some dirty laundry to wipe himself off. Then, tired and satisfied, he returned to his not-so-clean sheets.
Goodnight, Robot. As Will tired, their connection became less distinctive, easing off into a vague sense of comfort.
He stared at the geometry problem on his ceiling, and sank into sleep before he'd solved a single angle.