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

Chapter Fifty-One

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


It had been a wonderfully lazy day, and to cap it off, his healers-- Thaddius's half-sister, of all people, and a furry sort of dragon from the same place Haiiro had been hatched, according to Torshael-- said that he was not only allowed to shift-- which he promptly did-- but also encouraged him to move around as much as he liked, within reason. Since lazy didn't really mean in bed all day, for Tayne, he appreciated that, and spent most of the afternoon wandering around the inn and its immediate environs. There were things to watch, people to share small talk with, fresh air to breath-- though he did try to stay downwind of the harbor-- and his own sore legs to stretch out.

When the sun set, it was hardly surprising that dinner wasn't in his room, like breakfast had been, but down in the tavern itself with his brother and Haiiro. Thaddius was as friendly as ever, and provided some excellent wine without even commenting that invalids shouldn't be drinking. It wasn't as if Tayne was about to over-do it, after all. His only complaint was that he couldn't eat cleanly while in lion form, but he made short work of his meal so he could change back, so it wasn't too much of an annoyance.

It was a little more surprising that, as dinner was winding down and almost right after Tayne had shifted back, Tekasynos came in. He had said he'd come back, but Tayne had started to think it wasn't going to be today. Still, he couldn't help but appreciate the timing; he found it much harder to flirt in lion form. Maybe he'd just have to stay like that for a while, and he could start to get that tendency under control again. The infernal waved in their direction, earning a smile from all three, and Torshael motioned for him to join them.

"You look much more awake, Tekas," he commented amiably. "Took a nap?"

"Mmmhmm," Tekas agreed, wandering over and finding a seat between Tayne and Haiiro at their table, the only empty one there. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything?"

"No, we were just finishing dinner," Haiiro told him with a smile. He still looked somewhat tired, but then, he hadn't slept again, as far as Tayne knew.

"You eaten yet?" Tayne asked.

"Before I came over, yes," Tekas answered. "I didn't want to impose in case you had already finished-- which seems to be the case, at least somewhat."

"Well, and Haiiro's really the only one still picking at it," Torshael said with a smile. "So you're even mostly right, I suppose."

"I'm a slow eater," Haiiro admitted sheepishly.

"There's still half a bottle of rather excellent wine, if you'd like to share," Tayne pointed out. He would have even poured, if he'd had hands at the moment.

Tekas nodded amiably, and Torshael did the honors-- the table was small enough, particularly for someone with his brother's long reach-- of filling him a glass. Conversation was easy, and Tayne was proud of himself for keeping himself entirely platonic. Maybe not flirting wouldn't be all that hard, if he just paid attention to what came out of his mouth for once. He did get a little concerned, though, when Haiiro rose at last and said, "I hope you'll excuse me, but I think I'm ready for bed."

"Which means I expect I am, as well," Torshael chuckled. His ability to stay awake and alert when his bond was less than such still hadn't improved.

"I'm sure you two can finish off the wine by yourselves," Haiiro added. The look he gave Tayne was difficult to read, but that in itself probably meant there was more purpose than sleep in leaving him alone with Tekas. And he had a feeling he knew something about what that purpose might have been.

"Sleep well," Tekas smiled at them.

"Thanks," Haiiro grinned, back.

"Night, you two," Tayne said after them, and they turned and headed for the stairs together, tossing a "good night" at Thaddius as they passed the bar.

Tayne settled more comfortably on the padded bench he'd switched his chair for-- Thaddius really could accommodate all types, thankfully-- and fixed his attention back on his single table-mate. Well, this could be interesting; he hadn't really been alone with Tekas since... well, since he first realized he was even attracted to the man. Infernal. Whatever.

Not for the first time, he had to wonder just what was wrong with him. Supernals were not supposed to be attracted to infernals, good or not. But then, they weren't supposed to be attracted to their own sex, either, and Tayne knew how well that had worked out for him. Maybe he was just going to have to accept being perverse in this, too. Stupid hormones. 

"I didn't get a chance to thank you, this morning," he offered as a conversation starter, getting his thoughts back on track. "Tor' told me you'd been helping the healers out ever since they brought me in."

"I was worried," Tekas admitted, sounding almost... sad. "It was really the only thing I could do."

"Well, it's much appreciated," Tayne assured him with a grin. "If a little unanticipated."

" ... you didn't think I would do something like that?"

Ears back a little with chagrin, Tayne rustled his wings in a shrug. "Honestly, I never thought about it at all, whether you would or wouldn't. We haven't exactly gotten along in the past." And, more to the point, he'd seemed a little uncomfortable with him since then, at least when he forgot himself and got too friendly, but he wasn't about to bring that up.

Things really weren't going as well as he'd hoped. Not only had he really not meant to sound like he had that little faith in Tekas-- not only had he not meant to have a serious conversation now of all times-- but now Tekas's gaze had descended to rest on his hands, folded on the tabletop, with an unreadable expression, and his response took a long, tense minute in coming. Tayne was starting to think he'd ruined the rest of the evening already, not ten minutes into the conversation, when the infernal finally spoke.

"Tayne, I don't know how obvious it might be, but I care about you." Tayne blinked at him; though he'd been expecting one of various things, that wasn't one of them. "I messed things up, I know... but you gave me another chance, regardless." He looked up from his hands at last. "There aren't many people I'd be confident to call friends... but I count you among them."

Tayne wasn't sure whether he felt relieved, pleased, stunned, flattered, or just plain fluttery, but at least it was good. He hoped Torshael was right about looking calm more often than not, no matter what he actually felt, though. He didn't think it'd do well for him to look too much of any of those things. He tried for an easy-going grin. "Don't be so hard on yourself," he answered, scooting forward on his belly on the bench to give Tekas's hands a nudge with his muzzle. "Everyone messed things up, it's hardly your fault." Setting his chin on the tabletop next to the infernal's wrists, he added, a little embarrassedly, "And that's... really good to hear."

He felt much better when that got a smile out of Tekas, at least.

It also got a hesitant reply, which made him skew his ears in confusion. "It's probably not the best time, but... I did have something else I wanted to talk about...."

Lifting his chin again, he said, "Sure. What's up?"

Tayne had known Tekas long enough to recognize the little things he did when feeling awkward or embarrassed, and ruffling up the back of his hair like he was doing now was definitely one of them. "Well... I guess you could say, it's about you. I wanted to talk about some of the... exchanges?" he guessed at the word, "we've had lately...."

Oh. Yeah. Those. "Uh... yeah. Look, I'm sorry about that," he said, looking away with some embarrassment of his own.

" ... why?" Tekas asked, looking puzzled.

Tayne looked back to stare at him. He should have thought that was obvious-- but then, he also thought Tekas had already thought of that, so maybe it wasn't. "I... kinda thought you were interested in my brother. I am most definitely not my brother." They really had very little in common, he and Torshael, besides parentage and history, and the thought of someone originally attracted to Torshael welcoming the same from Tayne didn't really make sense. And Tekas's reactions had only served to reinforce that idea, so far. 

"It's... awkward to describe, but... my temper wasn't the only thing thrown off balance, before. I think your brother is amiable and pleasant on the eyes." Tayne snorted lightly. That he was; you'd have to be blind not to notice it. "I can say the same about you," Tekas continued. "Besides...." He set about making a mess of his hair again, with that embarrassed head-rub. Tayne had to quell the urge to bat at his hand to get him to stop. " ... 'being interested' is nicer when applied to someone who might reciprocate."

Tayne eyed him warily. That was all well and good, but reciprocation was really only worth it when one wasn't second place to someone you cared about. "Would you even have considered, if I hadn't been flirting with you? You obviously considered with Torshael, without any sort of encouragement."

"Well, yeah. ... I like spending time more with you, anyway. You seem, I don't know... easier to talk to." There was enough embarrassment in the admission that it might even be true. Tekas might have been good at being unnoticeable, but he didn't seem like the type to be nearly as good at actually lying, no matter what he'd thought about him when he first met him. He must have made a really rotten infernal, before he escaped, poor fellow.

Wait. Why in the name of all that was holy was he thinking about something like that when someone had just confessed that they liked him more than Torshael? He didn't think that had ever happened, not even in a non-romantic sort of context. Admittedly, he hadn't really asked anyone, but some had been quite obvious about where their first affections lay....

Oh, and Tekas was still talking, too. "I just... I was afraid to say anything, really... with how messed up everything was before. I didn't want to screw up a friendship when that alone is so rare for me...."

Well that, at least, he had something immediately to say to. "Yeah," he agreed, nodding. "Yeah, that's tough...." He still was finding this whole conversation hard to believe, though had had to admit he wanted to. " ... You really mean that?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Tekas managed both surprise and hurt at once, and Tayne immediately felt bad.

"High One, I'm sorry," he sighed, and scooted forward another inch or two to rub his forehead against Tekas's arm in apology. "Nobody's ever said anything like that to me, that's all. Torshael's the one who always gets things like that, you know?" Well, really, he probably wouldn't... but maybe he could sympathize, anyway, or at least see where he was coming from.

"It's okay," Tekas said, relaxing a little. He even shifted his hand over to brush over his mane.

... hey, he could do that all he liked. Tayne rubbed his head into the petting with a contented rumble. Apparently Tekas had no qualms about doing that, either-- he actually looked both amused and delighted-- for he obligingly kept it up. Tayne dropped his chin back onto the tabletop and half-shut his eyes to enjoy it.

"You know," he said after a minute, with a slight grin, "this could make that night out I promised you quite a bit more interesting."


He had to admit, Tekas made an amusing picture when he was a little confused mixed with a little sleepy-looking. Cute, even. "I promised to take you out," Tayne reminded him, lifting his head to butt against the infernal's hand again. "Remember?"

"Oh, yes, I remember." Tekas looked a little embarrassed at having forgotten, actually. Well, Tayne wasn't going to hold it against him.

"Still interested?" he asked. "Once I'm declared fit enough, anyway."

"Of course," Tekas smiled.

"Good. Then as soon as I'm sure I won't get enraged healers running after me, we'll do it. Until then," he scooted the rest of the way over and ducked under Tekas's arm with as mischievous a grin as a lion's face could get, "you can keep petting me."

Tekas chuckled. "My pleasure."

Since it was Tayne's, too, that suited just fine.


Chapter Fifty-Two

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