They are redesigning a water pump.
(Water pump is a simplistic and rather reducing word for that inspired piece of machinery. Equius can feel his own touch all over it, for all that he's never seen it before. At the same time it's the touch of him aged five sweeps -- clumsy and with no grasp of faster, smarter, more elegant shortcuts, more advanced mathematics.)
They are redesigning a water pump, in the heart of Alpha Strider's domain, the capital built to his name. There is art of hoofbeasts and musclebeasts everywhere, statues and fountains and weather vanes and bas-reliefs, realistic or stylized so much that their elegant lines are left at nothing but cryptic curves on the walls. Bowed-round necks, the line of a strong hindquarters, a tail proudly lifted into a flowing banner. It's very pleasing to the eye.
There is a hill at the center of the city and there is a building over it that oversees everything, that wraps around this tunnel digging into the hill and into the water table underneath and brings it forth. It is both castle and water tower for the city entire, a marvel of archaic engineering.
Also it's the only city they've seen so far that has enough water pressure for actual showers. The technology is most intriguing and needs to be applied to their home post-haste, if possible at all, because Equius for one is rather tired of having to detour by his Land to take a bath in his old hive every single time he gets dirty, or sweaty, or wants a shower at all. So while it is gratifying that the locals are falling over themselves to bring refreshments and tools and towels and whatever other offerings they think their gods will need or want, Equius has to admit he would have come anyway.
The company doesn't hurt either. The Dirk human -- no, that's ... either too forward or too hurtful and probably both -- Strider is sharp-minded and comes at things from interesting, original angles and takes criticism with equanimity. They work well together.
"My lord Blacksmith, may I trouble you for --"
Equius is gratified by their respect, though the muddle of colors the locals come in does not enable him to place them in any kind of due order. This one comes robed in his colors, though, the blue of his blood and the darker blues and blacks of his Aspect, and there is something sharp and appealing to the thirst for knowledge in her old eyes that pushes her to dare when the mayor himself would not. He bids her come closer, observe around his shoulder as he annotates Dirk's plans. Dirk smiles, faint and sharp, ember eyes on him.
His hands twist and shape metal into forms that would permit Dirk's designs to exist. There is a synergy there taking shape, there are people gathering, robed in Void and Space and Mind, and their attention is a whisper of rightness, a prayer, the feverish notes they take incense, it is gorgeous and perfect.
Dirk's fire-shaded wings cast more solid shadows than his own diaphanous cobalt.
"We're done," he says. The tightly leashed pride, the sheer satisfaction pull Equius' eyes up. Dirk has his shades up, over his hair; their eyes meet straight on through Equius' broken ones. He catches himself smiling back, with the same sense of well-deserved triumph, the same pride. Of course they could do this, but it doesn't mean it was not a great accomplishment.
"I rather think you're right," he replies, hand light, cautious as he caresses the copper tubes and gears of the new machinery.
He'd straighten up at this point, only there's a hand curving over the back of his head, slipping under the ponytail he tied his mane back into. Pulling him in, despite his superior strength and size and weight, like of course he'll follow its demand, like of course it can make him. He is shocked silent.
After that there are lips on his, firm and demanding, and he's opening his mouth to a demanding tongue before he can even think twice. His heart kicks in his chest; he sways, goes tense, afraid for a second to fall and crush their creation, but Dirk holds him steady, chuckling in his mouth.
He lets Equius go, rolls back onto his heels, and he's uncurling from his crouch in a smooth, seamless second. Around them people have gone silent, save from a single giggle whose owner Equius will not smite only because it comes wrapped in Nepeta (and Dirk's) pink and burgungy.
"You get to pick the second date," Dirk tells him, and amidst an explosion of whispers he strides off to confer with his high priest, leaving him to sort metallic odds and ends and his feelings.
He did not even notice he was being courted.
It was a highly efficient date nevertheless. Intense, tailored to both their interests, deepening their understanding of each other and their synergy tremendously.
Arousing, too, embarrassingly so.
He does not have the faintest idea how he'll top that.
First things first, strategy meeting with Nepeta. He can already tell Dirk will soon have a fist in his hair, not a hand, but he is not surrendering without a fight.