Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions

Chapter Twelve

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight


The following week passed much more pleasantly than the last one had. At the very least, Tayne liked Tekas's house more than he liked his brother's. Tekas had been amused when he'd compared the manor in the City to a museum, but he'd been serious; it felt like he shouldn't be touching anything, when he was in that place, lest he break it or get it dirty. Tekasynos's house, while not exactly homey, also didn't feel like he should keep his voice down while he was in it. More, though, outside the house he had plenty of people around who knew and liked him that he could borrow a little time from for a chat, or a spar, or just to watch in silent company while they worked. The only real drawback was the constant smell of the ocean, but he thought he might have been getting used to that. As long as he didn't have to get on any boats.

And of course, there was Tekas. He'd insisted that he stay at his home, when Tayne tentatively suggested he could stay at the Red Ferret so he wouldn't bother him all the time, and he'd given in without too much protest. The man didn't really have much cause to leave the house unless he wanted to, with most of his business easily conducted indoors while his ships were out or being rebuilt, and things like groceries and household necessities mostly delivered right to his door. So when he wasn't working on paperwork or busy painting-- at which times Tayne let him be and wandered the city-- he pretty much got to spend the bulk of his time in his company. And since he couldn't spend that entire time tempting Tekas into bed or onto a couch or to share a bath-- or getting tempted, which was a remarkably flattering experience that he quickly decided he liked-- they found a variety of other things to do, too, from just reading in each other's company to wandering the city together to even twice finding a theater show to watch. That had been fun, and fascinating given the seemingly impossible things the actors managed to do. They usually wound up cuddled up somewhere by the end of the day, though, which Tayne had no problems with.

All in all, it was the most relaxing week he'd spent in a long time, perhaps since he was a cub. The lack of something constructive to do hadn't even started to bother him yet, as everything non-constructive but still fun that he'd been keeping himself busy with was novel enough to prevent him from dwelling on it.

But there was also something waiting for him, and he couldn't forget it forever-- not that he'd wanted to! Getting back to Star City in time for the hatching was important. He just didn't want to have to leave again. A compromise was definitely in order.

So, one evening after dinner as they shared the couch-- Tekas's head resting in his lap while he read, and Tayne idly playing with his hair with one hand while he thought-- he brought it up. "Tekas," he began, interrupting a pleasant purr on the part of his companion, "do you think you could get away for a week or two? From Shu-Riin, I mean."

"Hmm?" Tekas blinked up at him. "I suppose so... why do you ask?"

Not sure whether to be embarrassed by it or not, Tayne said, "I signed up for a possible bonding back at the same place Haiiro came from. I should probably get back there in a few days-- I think time works a little strangely between here and there, and I don't really want to be late." Tekas chuckled at the comment, and he added, "But I was hoping you'd come, too. You know, just until the hatching."

"Ah. Well, I'd be happy to join you, Tayne," Tekas answered. "Might make for a nice change in scenery."

Tayne sighed a little, relieved. The thought of going back to Star City by himself was a little daunting, but going with someone might actually make it fun-- and not having to leave Tekas behind again in the process was even better. "Change of scenery, you'll definitely get. Have you heard much about Star City, or the Abstract Destiny, here on Kynn?"

"Not really. There isn't a great deal of information available in regards to worlds other than this one. At least, nothing easily accessible around here."

"Well, it's pretty different," Tayne said. "I spent a few days there getting myself signed up before I got myself back here, and a couple weeks back when Haiiro hatched. It's a space station-- this... city, just kind of hanging in space. And it's huge, bigger than Shu-Riin. There's a lot of tech, and so many different kinds of people... I didn't know what most of them were, even after all the worlds I've been on in the past few years."

"Sounds impressive," Tekas said with a small smile.

"It's a little overwhelming, actually," Tayne admitted ruefully. "Exciting for a little while-- probably much better with company than alone-- but definitely not somewhere I'd ever want to live. Everything moves too fast. Sort of. It's hard to explain."

"Ah. Well, I'm sure I'll see for myself, hmm?"

Tayne smiled down at him. "Yeah. Thanks for going, man." Tekas smiled, back, and he settled back again, threading his fingers through the infernal's hair some more, earning himself a contented sound and a moment of purring. However, he had a question tickling at his brain, now, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to ask it. "You know, I've always been kind of curious... if you don't mind sharing. Infernals don't usually bond, do they?"

"Not really.... Infernals view the concept a bit different than supernals, I imagine?"

"All I know is I've never seen a bonded infernal, that I know of," Tayne shrugged. "Supernals do it more often than not, but I've never seen an infernal with a human or elf or what-have-you." Not exactly the truth, since he'd seen a couple with human slaves, but that really was beside the point, and he was still being careful about what he said about infernals. Since he was sleeping with one on a regular basis now.

"Infernal have a more... negative view on bonding," Tekas explained slowly. "You're more likely to see one with servants, or slaves." Tayne joined him in finding the idea distasteful, especially since he'd just been thinking the same thing. "It's a common opinion that an infernal that takes a bond gives himself a weakness instead of gaining an ally. And if an infernal does find an individual worth bonding-- one that can defend itself against supernals or other infernals-- there's normally a clash of ego between the two. It's a great deal more messy, I suppose you could say."

Tayne could imagine it, and his chuckle wasn't particular amused. "That makes far too much sense, sadly. Are infernals ever happy?" He winced, realizing what had just come out of his mouth. "Sorry, that was rude...."

Tekas didn't seem annoyed at the slip, thank the High One. "It's fine, Tayne. It doesn't offend me or anything, if you're worried about it." Given his much earlier instruction not to compare Tekas to his infernal kin, he had been a little concerned, but if he was fine, Tayne wasn't going to worry about it. "They seem happy enough with what they do," Tekas continued thoughtfully. "And it's how they're raised. I can't really speak for myself, though. I've always been a bit odd, so I was never really happy growing up."

"A bit odd?" Tayne repeated with a smile. "What were you like?"

"Well, I was a runt, for starters. No affinity for magic-- you already know that, but it was true even then. I had to work harder to become strong enough to properly defend myself even against my own kin... I never really much liked destroying things, though I ended up doing it, anyway...." He sighed. "I took on that role to avoid another-- I... didn't want to kill anyone."

It sounded a lot like what Ahraosa had said: she didn't like killing or destroying, usually did it wrong or chose things that were already falling down or dangerous to destroy.... Probably why he was good enough to be Purified rather than destroyed. "Isn't there anything infernals can do other than...? I mean, my sister is horrible in battle, so she works in the City, at the library... and my poor mother barely survived her single year in the field, so she coordinates housing. Do infernals just... not have anything like that? Any non-combatants?"

"Infernals live rather-- differently-- than supernals do," Tekas explained. "Infernals don't have a city or anything like you do... non-combatants really don't have a place unless they're strong enough to claim such a position... or happen to be a female of high enough rank-- or be on good terms with one. The strong prey on the week... if you aren't strong enough, you're fodder or food, in most cases."

Feeling more than a little sad at thinking of a young Tekasynos stuck in a place like that, Tayne fell to stroking his hair again. "No wonder you got out as soon as you got the chance...."

"The opportunity presented itself, and I took it. That's all I could do, honestly. If it hadn't, I'd still be there... or dead, perhaps by now," he added in a near-whisper.

Tayne shut his eyes at the thought, fingers playing gently through the infernal's hair and over his forehead. He wondered how many other infernals were in positions just like Tekas's, forced to do work they hated, but in danger of their lives if they stopped.... How many artists, scholars, or diplomats there might have been, if they weren't disposed of in their youth for not being strong enough, or evil enough.

Then a thought occurred to him. "Tekas... that rift, that you came through. How many infernals know about it, do you think?"

Tekas latched onto the change of subject gladly. "Not sure, really... why do you ask?"

"I was just wondering. We've never been able to figure out how or why it got there, not from anyone we talked to in the past three years.... But you, Ahraosa, and Hois all managed to get through-- all three of you infernals who were unhappy, who needed an escape. I'm just... wondering if that's not a coincidence. If maybe more unhappy infernals might find their way to it and out of the realm."

"If I could hazard a guess, I'd imagine plenty of 'content' infernals passed through, as well, if Zu was any indication," Tekas sighed.

"Well, a lot of supernals left the realm that way, as well," Tayne pointed out. "So it's obviously not an exclusive sort of portal. But at least there is the possibility for escape, for infernals like you, when there really wasn't before. It's the best-- actually, the only explanation I've come across so far. Other than it being a completely random event, or for some reason the High One or Fallen wanted their followers spread out across the universes for some reason."

Tekas chuckled dryly, a humorless sound. "There aren't that many 'like me'. Why would something like that appear for that reason, anyway? No outsider would have known or cared.... The Fallen certainly wouldn't have bothered... and the High One... well, I doubt he really cares about the already damned."

The bitterness in the infernal's voice didn't surprise Tayne so much-- he'd had a hard life, so far; why would he think the High One cared about him?-- but when he sat up, moving out from under his now-still hand, that surprised him a little more. He let him, watching a little sadly. "Tekas, I do think he cares. He knew full well what I've been doing, and among supernals it's considered wrong. But he didn't even reprimand me. He was the one to tell me to leave the realm again, when I was starting to get restless, and he had to know I'd be back here before long...."

"I'd imagine that care is for you, Tayne," Tekas sighed, getting up. " ... I'm going to get something to drink. Do you want anything?"

"Sure," Tayne said quietly, pushing himself up, too. "I'll come with and see what you have."

Following Tekas into the kitchen, Tayne's mind was working furiously. He wanted to tell him-- but he didn't know that it would help. It might, but it might not. And so few people knew, even among supernals.... The Peregrin family was an exception, because of their family history, but....

As Tekas poured them both a glass of wine, Tayne finally made up his mind. "Tekas," he said softly, "did you know that the Fallen is a supernal?"

Tekas considered this for a moment. "It never really crossed my mind... but I suppose he had to come from somewhere."

"Mmmhmm," Tayne nodded. "There's speculation that he might have been a Favored, even. It's certain that many of his original followers were. Not too many realize that anymore, but there isn't that much difference between us, just time, a lot of conditioning, and the Fallen's anger. That's why I think the High One still cares, Tekas. I think he'd take every last infernal back, if that's what they wanted."

Tekas's careful expression of neutrality as he handed him his wine was disheartening. "I shouldn't have brought this up," he murmured. "Sorry, Tayne. I don't mean to tread on your beliefs."

Tayne watched him head back to the living room with both sadness and frustration. He didn't want to fight-- whoever heard about fighting over whether or not someone loved you? a god, no less?-- and he knew that if he pressed it any further, it would become a fight. Either that or Tekas would just withdraw more, which he thought might've been even worse. He sighed and padded after him. "You're not," he answered. "Just my optimism. Don't worry about it."

"I can tell it's important to you, Tayne," Tekas said without really looking at him. "I don't mean to be so negative about it. I just have... a very different perspective on the matter, that's all." He settled back onto the couch with his wine. "Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it, though.... It means a great deal to me, even if it doesn't seem like it right now."

Trying not to be too disappointed-- you couldn't change someone's mind in a day, especially not if they didn't want to change it-- Tayne sat down beside him and tucked an arm around his shoulders. "Will you at least believe me when I say I care about you?" he asked, leaning over to kiss the man's temple.

Tekas smiled warmly, leaning into him and nuzzling up against his neck. "Yeah...."

"Mmm, good. 'Cuz I do," he assured him, hugging his shoulders fondly.

Tekas purred at him happily, and Tayne let the matter rest. For the moment, anyway.


Chapter Thirteen

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