Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions

Chapter Eleven

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


Walking through the gates of Shu-Riin wasn't quite as good a feeling as walking through the gates of the City, but it was certainly a good feeling, particularly after three days stuck on Star City by himself. He really needed to face the fact that he didn't like being alone; at least bonding would likely help that.

It was early evening, the entrance to the city shrouded in the shadows of the forest behind him, despite it being early morning back on the space station. Tayne, human-formed so he wouldn't stand out too much, had to hurry down the road from the point he'd teleported to in order to get to the gates before they closed for the night. One of the Sentinels at the gate had recognized him, after a rather comical double-take, and smiled at him with no small measure of surprise as he passed; Tekasynos was the only person he'd told he might be back. Tayne had grinned at him, but didn't stop to chat, anxious to get to his destination.

The city looked better, with two and a half more weeks of rebuilding behind it. There weren't any more piles of rubble anywhere, and the least damaged buildings seemed to have been repaired. The ones that had been demolished completely still hadn't been replaced, but it looked like work was underway towards that goal. He even passed the house that he had unintentionally taken a curtain souvenir from, in his attempt to slow Zu down, and he couldn't even tell that he'd crashed into it not that long ago. His shoulder ached a little in memory-- his wing probably would, too, if he were wearing it at the time-- but the only outward sign of the damage now was a different color of curtains in the windows.

Best of all, though, was that the city was alive with bustle and business. People were at ease, or as much at ease as anyone in a big city ever was when they were busy with whatever tasks they had at the time. Missing, however, was the buzz of activity and nerves that had filled the air before the battle, and the feeling of shaky relief that he followed it. Life was just going on as it always had, now. With so few chances to see what came after the wars were won and enemies defeated, Tayne was glad to be able to see it now.

He was even more glad-- and, admittedly, a little apprehensive-- to see Tekasynos's house, just where it always was. He hitched his single bag up more comfortably on his shoulder and climbed the steps, hoping Tekas had been serious about dropping by without warning being all right. Hoping more that he wouldn't be upset that he took longer than he'd anticipated. Hoping that he was actually home, which wasn't necessarily a given.

He tapped the knocker and waited.

As he had half-expected, Irithin opened the door. He actually got a startled look out of the ex-seer, and he couldn't resist a grin and a mirror of the raised brows in return. Apparently he was welcome enough even if he was unexpected, though, for Irithin stepped back to let him enter. He just nodded his thanks on his way in, peering past him and wondering if surprising Tekas-- not giving him any warning of who was about to join him-- was the wiser course.

Whether it was or not, he didn't say anything on his way inside, and neither did Irithin, though that wasn't really surprising; Irithin never did talk much. Tayne found the couch in the front room occupied by-- well definitely an infernal, given the glowing red eyes, and the face and glasses were certainly the right ones, but....

"Brown hair, Tekas?" he asked with half a grin, by way of greeting.

Tekas blinked and looked over the back of the couch in surprise. For that brief moment, looking at Tekas looking back at him blankly, Tayne had just enough time to be pleasantly surprised at the change. He had brown hair now, all right, with the usual blue streaks dampened to a burgundy-violet color, but he had it bound back, now, and cut to an even length, and the effect was definitely attractive. It looked less shaggy, now, and more... refined, even with that one strand hanging loose on one side of his face. High One, especially with that one strand hanging loose on one side of his face. It almost made him want to muss it up again, just on principle, or in fun-- only almost, because it would also be a shame to ruin the look. He looked good, especially with the glasses.

The moment was a short one, as then Tekas brightened considerably as his startled brain registered who it was. "Tayne!" he exclaimed, putting down his book and pulling off the oh-so-attractive glasses.

"Hello, Tekas," Tayne said, returning the smile and coming further in as the infernal got up. It looked rather like he'd been missed-- and the late date either hadn't been noted or had been dismissed as irrelevant.

"It's good to see you," Tekas said, smiling, and came around the other side of the couch, as Tayne noted out of the corner of his eye-- and with some relief-- that Irithin was promptly making himself scarce. "How are you doing?" the infernal asked.

"Fairly rotten," Tayne answered with a bit of a grin, dropping his bag lightly to get his arms around him. "The City is nice, but it gets boring quickly."

"Sorry to hear that." Tekas tucked his head against his shoulder, returning the hug. "Is it boredom that brings you back here, then?"

"Well, I was a bit lonely," Tayne admitted with more of a grin, and nuzzled into the now-brown hair. It smelled a little different, dyed. Like... like cinnamon? He'd have to shift lion, with that form's enhanced sense of smell, to figure out for sure, and he didn't want to lose his arms at the moment. It felt too good to have them around someone. "High One, it's good to see you...."

And... it was good. Better than he'd expected. He hadn't really thought he'd had time to miss Tekas, but he had.

"It's good to see you, too, Tayne," Tekas said quietly, a faint and pleasant thrum in his voice and his body pressed comfortably against his own. "What have you been up to since you went home, hmm?"

The first question anyone was likely to ask, and already Tayne wasn't really sure he wanted to talk about most of it.... He'd wind up with pity, or uncomfortable looks. Right now, it would certainly be one surefire way to ruin an otherwise happy evening. He sighed a little and drew back. "C'mon, sit with me if we're exchanging 'what did you do while I was gone' stories," he suggested.

Tekas looked up at him with something like surprise. " ... is something wrong, Tayne?"

He paused a moment, then decided, albeit a little reluctantly, that he might as well explain. Apparently a sigh was enough of a way to even unintentionally broach the subject. "Sit down and I'll tell you about it," he said, and led Tekas back to the couch. "It's why I took so long getting back...." Sitting down, wishing he could face Tekas and still keep an arm around him, he settled for keeping a hand. "We... spent the whole first week planning a funeral."

Tekas frowned a bit at him. "What happened?"

"My father...." Tayne shook his head. "He's an active, just like me and Tor'. He was. He-- died in the field. Just a day or two before we were recalled."

As he'd rather expected, though he looked vaguely sympathetic, Tekas also looked tongue-tied. "I'm sorry, Tayne," he said at last. Tayne offered him a little grin.

"I'm all right... it was just a really long week." He even thought that might be the truth, now; being all right. Maybe as long as he didn't talk about it much. 

Tekas nodded solemnly. "I can imagine...."

With that out of the way, Tayne brought the infernal's hand to his mouth to kiss the palm gently. "It's over, at least. The family's mostly gone home, and Torshael can settle into his new monster of a house in peace. And I could come here."

Tekas's purr sprang up, as if pleased that he'd been thought of. Or at least at the kiss and hand held up against Tayne's cheek. "I'm glad you're here, regardless."

"Mmm. Me, too." He nuzzled briefly against the exposed wrist attached to that hand, then scooted over and put his head on Tekas's shoulder, instead of the other way around like it usually was. Tekas obligingly rearranged himself a little and settled an arm around his shoulders, so he took the opportunity to get an arm around the infernal's waist in the process. "So how about you? Why the hair change?"

"One of a number of things done to prevent Zu or her minions from accidentally discovering that I'm still alive. That, and I rather enjoyed a different look."

"Different, it is," Tayne agreed lazily, shutting his eyes. "Looks good, too. What else did they do? I see you didn't move."

"I didn't have to, luckily enough." Quite lucky, since otherwise Tayne wasn't entirely sure how he'd have found him. "The Order was kind enough to help me cover my tracks: Tekasynos Valar exists only as 'deceased' in public records. I run my business under another name due to my 'passing'.... Oh! And I have a little ward I carry around so that divinations pick me up differently, too." He sounded quite pleased at that last. Tayne chuckled.

"Very thorough. You should be safe enough, sounds like, even if Zu has any inkling to return here. Am I going to have to remember a different name, now, then?"

"Nah," Tekas chuckled, dismissing the thought with a wave of a hand. "It's purely for business reasons."

"Mm, good. Been busy, then?"

While Tayne just focused on relaxing, and enjoying being back with Tekas and having an arm comfortingly around him, the infernal gave him a brief run-down on what all he'd been up to, rather in more detail than Tayne had given him. Well, really, business dealings-- which ships were out, which ships carried which goods, which ships needed rebuilding after the incident in the harbor-- were probably easier to talk about than funerals of close family members. Besides, Tayne didn't think Tekas really would want to hear that much about the City, and even if he did, there would be time for that later. Right now, as Tekas was finishing with, "And I'd just settled down to read for a while... and then you showed up," he'd finally opened his eyes again and realized his proximity to a particularly lovely neck. He hmmed in acknowledgement and leaned up to kiss it. Tekas, though briefly surprised, rather quickly melted back into the couch a little with a soft sigh as he kept up the attention.

"Three questions," he breathed against Tekas's skin. "First, have you had dinner yet?"

"Not yet," Tekas answered distractedly, head obligingly rolling aside to give him better access.

"Mmm, damn." He nuzzled up against Tekas's ear. "We'll have to get that out of the way. Second question: can I stay the night?"

The answer was even vaguer, and gratifyingly without hesitation: "Of course."

"Good." Tayne drew back to grin mischievously at him. "Third question: do you have anywhere in particular to be in the morning, or can I keep you up most of the night?"

Eyes half lidded, Tekas purred at him. "I most certainly do not have anywhere to be."

Tayne smiled, "Perfect," and leaned in to kiss him.


Chapter Twelve

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