Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions

Chapter Eighteen

Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight and Phoenix


Getting Tekas to come for a walk wasn't hard-- they did that a lot, after all-- but he was prepared for more of a fight when he announced their destination to the lift. Tekas knew enough about the station now to know that "Deck Eight" meant the flight deck, and "docking pylon" meant they were likely visiting a ship. It probably didn't take a work of genius to guess just which ship they were going to.

"Something you neglected to mention, Tayne?" Tekas asked with one brow raised.

"You don't have to come in," Tayne told him. "Though I can't imagine what harm there'd be if you did."

"Taaaaaaaaayne...." The sound that came out of Tekas's mouth was very nearly a whimper, and most certainly a whine. "I'm not good around younglings... they're not going to like me being in there...."

"They're eggs, Tekas," Tayne protested. "They're probably not even going to notice, if you don't make an effort to be noticeable."

"Eggs or not, I'm not going in. I wouldn't want to chance disturbing them...." Tekas flinched at the very idea. "I'll just wait outside, if that's okay."

"'Course it's okay," Tayne answered, still puzzled as to just what bothered Tekas so much about kids. "I already said it was. Are you even gonna manage making it to the hatching?"

Tekasynos looked far more distressed than he really ought to be, but he didn't explain, and Tayne had long since learned to suppress curiosity when someone looked so embarrassed. It was likely to remain a mystery, at least for a while.... "I'll be there if you still want me to be," the infernal said sheepishly, "I'll just sit in the back."

The lift door slid open and Tayne led the way out into the docking rings. "Well, there's going to be a couple hundred other people there, watching, so I really don't think having you there will be a problem. Hatchings're popular here." Tekas just shrugged, and Tayne eyed him with a little concern, albeit wary concern. If he was this bad with eggs, what would he be like with a hatchling? The airlock to the ship opened obligingly, as well, to the dragon-sized hallway and two larger-than-dragon-sized hanger doors on either side. "I won't be long," Tayne promised, stopping by the human-sized portion cut into the dragon-sized hanger door.

"Take your time, I'm not going anyplace." Tayne returned the smile that came with the assurance, and added a kiss, then shifted down and shook himself vigorously. It felt like too long since he'd been a lion. Damn tempting man he was staying with-- damn tempting man who he also gave an affectionate rub against his legs in farewell before trotting through the hatching bay door.

He was in luck today, as both parents were watching their eggs rather than a dragon-guard from the ship's staff. He'd kind of hoped he could meet Chiami and Haaji'hashmel before the hatching, and now he had his chance. They were friendly enough-- Haaji'hashmel, the sira, seemed really rather nervous, but Chiami was positively cheerful-- and were glad to talk about their offspring, including the firstborn Dij'hiyaii, who Tayne also got to meet, as he was happily purring in his mother's arms. The eggs had multiplied since the last time he'd visited, now counting fifteen in total with a few more likely on the way, as there were still four days until the hatching. A number of them were even "awake" enough this time to exchange a few telepathic words. All in all, if Tekas hadn't been waiting above, Tayne could have happily spent far longer than he did. Perhaps he could finagle a return trip tomorrow, and convince Tekas to either come down with him or stay at home-- or bring a book, or something!

It was maybe fifteen minutes later when he came padding back up the stairs and out, and emerged just in time to see the airlock door into the rest of the ship slide shut behind a newcomer from within. Tayne blinked in surprise at the vaguely familiar black face framed in bright red fluff, and blue eyes fixed on the wall beside the door-- on Tekasynos. Who, Tayne realized quickly, had himself pressed closely against the wall, looking rather like the prey which has just sighted the predator. He was just glad the supernal wasn't his full size, rather than shrunk down to no more than six feet tall-- though either way, he was still looking down on poor Tekas.

"Whoah, whoah, what's going on here?" he exclaimed, and Israfil flicked an ear in acknowledgement, though he didn't look away from Tekas. Tayne crept out just enough that he was standing between them, hoping he didn't have to wind up diffusing any opposing-species bombs.

"Pardon me, Tayne," Israfil said politely. "I sensed an infernal aboard, and felt it wise to investigate."

Tekas's mouth opened, but all that made it out was a squeak before he closed it again with a little whimper. Tayne, wishing heartily he could lean comfortingly against his legs-- or bristle defensively at Israfil, which was rather the stronger impulse, and harder to keep controlled-- shot him what he hoped was a reassuring glance. "Israfil, this is Tekasynos Valar. Tekas... this is Israfil Armaita. He's here with me, Israfil."

A look of surprise flickered across Israfil's face. "With you, Tayne?"

"We worked together on our last mission," he said, and cursed himself for sounding defensive.

"I didn't-- didn't mean any harm," Tekas stammered. "I'm sorry-- that my presence disturbed you. I'll leave...."

Israfil gave him a momentarily puzzled look, then relaxed significantly, probably deliberately, as the infernal's discomfort-- or maybe, more accurately, "fear"-- finally sunk in. "You didn't disturb me, friend." Only a very slight pause marked the oddity he probably felt calling an infernal "friend". "You merely piqued my interest, as it were. If you mean no harm, I have no quarrel with you." He even smiled gently. "Inter-species friendship is probably something more of us should be making an attempt at."

Tekas just shifted uncomfortably, frowning, quite as if the attempt at being friendly was only making things worse. "I don't know about that, really," Tayne said, looking away awkwardly. "We had rather bad luck with it, Torshael and I, except for Tekas. He's sort of a special case."

"You'll have to come by sometime and let me know how your search went," Israfil suggested amiably. "And tell me how such an interesting friendship came to be."

"Uh, yeah. Maybe later, Israfil."

Probably picking up on the rather obvious level of tension between the two of them, Israfil simply nodded rather than requesting something more specific. "I'll look forward to it. Enjoy your stay, Tekasynos," he added to Tekas.

Tekas managed a tiny nod, and Israfil retreated back into the ship. Tayne again had to resist the urge to turn and nuzzle Tekas comfortingly, though he wanted to, badly. Too close to another supernal-- too likely to be seen-- High One, he hated this. "I'm really, really sorry, Tekas," he half growled, half sighed, giving the door a glare after it shut again. 

"Not your fault," Tekas murmured shakily. Tayne ducked his muzzle under one hand, a small enough amount of contact, but more than enough to feel his trembling. "I don't-- know what's wrong with me...."

Well, Tayne wasn't actually surprised, and he could have bitten himself for not thinking that Israfil might want to investigate an infernal on his home ship. He should have thought about it. A lifetime of being afraid of supernals for what they might do to you-- and a newer fear of what they might take away-- wouldn't be overcome immediately, no matter how many supernal friends one had. Really, Tayne was feeling a little shaky, himself. "It's all right... come on, you can keep your hand in my mane." He wanted the touch as much as he expected Tekas would. "Let's get back to the elevator...."

He felt fingers twine in his mane, and he sighed softly, starting for the airlock with Tekas beside him.

" ... thank you, Tayne...."

"For what?"

"For putting up with me.... I know it can't be easy."

That-- what? Tayne felt completely blank for a moment before that really registered. "Oh, hell, Tekas.... I like you. You don't have to thank me or apologize to me or-- anything." The airlock door opened for them, and he leapt down the two steps to the station floor, turning to wait for Tekas and trying to look as earnest as he felt. "Just be you, and you don't have to be sorry about it. I like you."

Tekas nodded, coming down the steps in a more subdued fashion, but the instant the lift doors closed behind them a moment later after he'd given it directions, he found a pair of arms wrapping tightly around his mane. He chuckled softly, shutting his eyes, and burrowed his muzzle into Tekas's shoulder. ::If I'd thought Israfil might've noticed, I wouldn't have made you come... I'm sorry about that.::

"It's okay," Tekas said into his fur. He was slowly relaxing, at last, the trembling subsiding the farther they got from the Destiny.

::You still wanna go for that walk, or is the hotel all right?::

"I don't mind either way."

Well, that was very helpful. Tayne lifted his head again with an amused rumble, and spoke aloud, now that his muzzle wasn't pressed into Tekas's tunic. "Hotel it is, I think." For now, anyway. He didn't want to have to worry about keeping secrets or being discrete... at least for the next hour or two.


Chapter Nineteen

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