Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission

Chapter Forty-Nine

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


Haiiro was only half-hiding, on his way through the city after spending the morning at one of the many infirmaries set up in the city to handle the injured from the attack, but he was hiding just enough that people really didn't notice him or who he was. Nobody ran into him, or even bumped him, and he got a few casual nods and hat-tips, but that was it-- and he was glad. He didn't really want to be greeted, stammered at, thanked profusely, or even stared at reverently, and he was worn out after all the injured and infected he'd been doing his best to heal. He had to make up for all the death and danger that had followed him here somehow, but it was hard on his nerves, being around so many injured, some even dying. He'd completely shut down most of his sensory abilities while he was there, and hadn't even brought them back up yet. 

His own thoughts were starting to wear on him, too, so while he walked-- and hid himself from the perceptions of most of the crowd-- he listened to other people's thoughts, instead. He was finding, almost to his chagrin, that listening to other people think was relaxing, especially when they weren't angry or upset about something. He wasn't sure what to make of that, since he'd always told himself he didn't want to snoop and always had to have a reason to delve into someone else's mind, but since this was more of a passive listening than anything else, so far he only worried about it a little. He thought he might let it pass at least until he felt comfortable with his own thoughts again-- he just hoped that would be soon. 

It was with surprise, however, that he found familiar thoughts on a familiar circuit not far away. He looked up to see Tekas approaching him from down the street, lost in his own thoughts about himself, the supernal brothers, and even Haiiro himself. Haiiro smiled a bit and altered his perceptions-hiding so that Tekas, at least, could see him. He didn't mind talking with a friend. "Hello," he said as they came within a few feet of each other.

Tekas looked up, smiled a bit and waved in greeting, closing the distance between them. "How have you been holding up?" he asked.

Shrugging, Haiiro answered, "All right, I guess. I've been helping out at the infirmary, and people keep wanting to talk to me...." He shook his head; he didn't want to talk about himself. "How about you? Torshael told me you were helping look after Tayne."

"To be honest, I haven't slept in a while," Tekas admitted, and Haiiro settled into step beside him as he walked. "I think I'll be able to wind down in a little while, though. Tayne woke up, and he seems to be doing all right."

"He had good healers," Haiiro agreed, sensing the faint confusion regarding Tayne-- well, Haiiro had seen that before. Tayne had been acting oddly with him, after all. He just wished he knew what to do about it. "Thank you for helping him.... That was kind of you."

"Having someone I can consider a friend is very precious to me. I was worried about all of you... and too much of a coward to do anything more."

"You're not a coward, Tekas," Haiiro assured him with a little smile. "You stood up to Zu for us, remember?"

"Yeah... I remember...." Tekas rubbed at one arm reflexively, the one that had been broken in that very event, remembering just how much standing up to Zu had hurt. " ... but I couldn't do it a second time.... I don't know, I guess I feel like I could have done more.... I was just afraid to."

Haiiro knew that feeling, too. He still wished he hadn't run away from Zu's certain revenge, and left the city in the north defenseless-- but Torshael and Chi and everyone else were right, what good could he have done? But he'd faced Zu, even though he was terrified, and Tekas was hardly less than he. "I think if there was something you could have done, that only you could do... you'd have done it even if you were afraid."

The infernal considered that a moment, then nodded. "Wise words."

Pleased that he'd managed to say something helpful, this time, Haiiro smiled at him, then walked in silence for a minute. It was nice to just walk with someone who didn't think he was a demigod, or a hero, or anything. He caught himself listening to his thoughts again, though, and found them again on Tayne-- and... how he might bring up the subject? Mildly surprised, but willing to help out, he said, back on the previous subject, "I'm glad you and Tayne are getting along now. I bet he was surprised to find you there when he woke up."

"He was," Tekas agreed with a faint frown. "I don't know why... I didn't want to embarrass him, though, so I pretended not to notice."

Haiiro thought a moment, then suggested, "Well, you're not a healer, and I think he's still trying to make sure you know he likes you, like he's not sure he's convinced you yet. Or something. That's the only thing I can think of for why he acts so strangely sometimes, with you."

"Honestly," Tekas began hesitantly, "I don't understand why he's interested... after everything got messed up before...." He didn't mention Irithin's name, but it was obvious who he was talking about, and that he was still a little bitter about it.

"Nobody holds that against you, Tekas," Haiiro said earnestly. "You're a nice person, and we've been through a lot, the four of us. Someone-- meddling like that-- that wasn't your fault. And besides, Tayne said he was trying to get you angry... he thought that maybe if you got it all out, you'd feel better. He and Torshael do that sometimes."

Tekas gave him a blank look for a moment, then quite suddenly laughed. Haiiro stared at him in confusion. "My apologies, Haiiro," he chuckled. "I wasn't being very specific, or clear, about what I was referring to. Tayne has been, ah... flirting with me, as of late."

For a moment, he didn't understand, but then it feel into place. "Flirting with-- oh. Oh!" Haiiro blushed, chagrined that he hadn't understood sooner. Tayne hadn't just been overly friendly, he'd been flirting! How could he have mistaken that for mere friendliness? Maybe he just hadn't really known what flirting looked like; it wasn't as if any of them had done much of it. At least now he would know. "So that's what he's been doing... I didn't even consider that." He took a moment to reorder his thinking. "And you're wondering why he'd do that?"

"Pretty much," Tekas sighed.

"Well, you're good looking," Haiiro hazarded. "And you are a nice person. And if Tayne likes men the way you do, too... I don't know, it makes sense to me."

"Not exactly what I meant," Tekas said, rubbing at the back of his head awkwardly. "After the thing with Torshael... I mean, everything I was feeling and thinking then was getting intensified and blown out of proportion, even that... but I don't know. If it were me in Tayne's place, I guess I'd be a lot more wary about it."

"I don't know, about that," Haiiro admitted. "I don't know a whole lot about Tayne, really... not this sort of thing. Maybe you could ask him?"

"I suppose that would be the rational course of action.... I can only hope I'm a rational person, hmm?" Tekas chuckled. "Thanks, though, Haiiro."

"Don't mention it," Haiiro smiled. "It's nicer to think about someone else's problems for a while."

"I don't feel so bad for bringing it up, now," Tekas smiled back-- but before he could say more, he was clenching his jaw against a powerful yawn. Haiiro, drawn in as much by the almost-yawn as by the thoughts in his head of the long hours Tekas had spent at Tayne's side with the healers, actually did yawn, covering it embarrassedly with a hand.

"I should let you go, I guess," he said when he'd recovered. "I'm pretty tired, too."

Tekas looked a little embarrassed, himself, but it was amiably enough when he said, "I imagine I'll see you later, then."

"I'm sure," Haiiro smiled. "Rest well."

When he and Tekas parted ways, Haiiro actually did feel a little better. And quite ready for a nap....


Chapter Fifty

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