of the Andromeda
Uncovered Awards 'Best Stand Alone Story' 2003
Winner of the Andromeda Uncovered Awards 'Best Stand Alone Story' and 'Best M/M Story' 2004.
This was all Dylan's fault, Harper thought as he gave a particularly vicious prod with the laserprobe.
Oh, not for blowing up the Maru's engine and sabotaging the long-range comm system - that would be stretching the bounds of culpability-assignation, even for him. But it was definitely Dylan's fault they were in this situation.
Hadn't he told Dylan that not all the Fochseyn were keen to sign up to the renewed Systems Commonwealth? Hadn’t he warned Dylan about the bloodthirsty way the damn furballs usually dealt with problems they didn’t like? Hadn't he suggested they drop off First Observer Lak'lle in the Andromeda Ascendant, who at least came furnished with honking big guns, a spiffy security system, and - bar one captain - sensibly paranoid crew?
But no. Based on some outdated, outmoded memory of how the Fochseyn operated, Mr Infallible High Guard Commander had decided the natives were friendly, the risks were negligible, and blah blah blah.
Harper had blanked out the rest of the military speak. It didn't matter anyway, 'cos the end result was the same. Sheesh. If he had to get stranded, why couldn't it be on a sun-drenched beach planet with accompanying perky brunette like on that ancient vid ‘Gilligan's Island’? Instead, he was stuck here on some god-forsaken icecube with a sullen brunette who wasn’t even human, much less female. Definitely not his first choices for a convivial desert island party. And if he had to...Pop! Sssssssssss…
Damn. Something else making its way to the Great Scrapheap in the Sky. Boy, was Beka gonna be pissed. Dylan was so going to rue the day. And he, Harper, was so going to enjoy watching Be...
*My Master's voice*
Harper thought sourly and resisted the urge to woof.
"WHAT? I'm BUSY."
He was answered with silence for a few moments as the Nietzschean apparently registered his irritation. Footsteps sounded from the bridge, and then stopped on the engine room gantry. Tyr's voice sounded above him, as calm as if he was reciting the lunch menu.
"The heating systems just died."
Oh frak. Harper pulled his head out from under the equilibrium stabilizer, scrambled to his feet and stared up in an accusatory fashion at the man towering over him.
"Tell me you're kidding."
A dark eyebrow lifted. No other answer was forthcoming.
Double frak. Harper swarmed up and over the railings, past the Nietzschean still standing cross-armed and motionless on the gantry, and through onto the bridge at almost sub-light speed. He frantically tapped out an environmental systems check. Yep, no doubt about it, the heating was down. Crashed. Extinguished. Kaput. Dead. He looked out the view screen at white, white and whiter.
they would be if he didn’t get it up and running.
Half an hour of rapidly chilling temperatures and very inventive repairs later, Harper called it a day.
“OK,” he addressed his silent companion, “Thanks to the sheer genius of yours truly, it looks like we aren’t going to freeze our asses off into oblivion. Which in my case, would have been a truly sad loss to the ladies of the universe, even if I say so myself.”
“The temperature is still dropping.”
Harper noted for once the Nietzschean wasn’t wearing a sleeveless top. He’d acquired a thick dark pullover – probably Dylan’s, judging from the way it clung to the larger man’s torso. Hah! Even the Uber-race weren’t immune to the cold. Though he wouldn’t like to bet against the odds of Tyr surviving longer than him.
“That’s ’cos only the crew quarters are going to be heated. The whole system is pretty much fried and I’ve had to cannibalise some circuit boards, so this is as good as it gets. I can’t reroute full power or the system’ll overload. The bunkroom is our best bet ’cos it has the smallest autonomous heating system on the ship. If we bundle up we should be OK.”
Tyr considered a moment.
“Then I suggest we adjourn to the sleeping quarters before it becomes uninhabitable out here.”
“Man with a plan. OK, you want to grab remove what items we may need? I doubt we’ll want to come out here later.”
Tyr nodded and left. Harper ran a couple more systems checks, then followed.
The difference between the bunkroom and the bridge was already noticeable by several degrees, and even then it was like walking from a freezer into a fridge. Tyr dumped a pile of equipment on the floor next to the door as Harper sealed it.
“Wow, it’s about now I’m wishing I was a Fochseyn with an inbuilt fur coat.”
Harper saw one side of Tyr’s mouth twitch upward into his ‘almost smile’.
“You seem to have enough hair for a human already.”
Harper opened his mouth to state that he had great hair, thank you very much, and everyone told him so – and those that didn’t, well, they were just jealous. Tyr, reading in his body language some of his intent, changed the subject.
“I’ll use this bunk.”
He sat down on Beka’s bed, the biggest in the room. Harper watched as Tyr removed his boots and nothing else, then proceed to get under the covers.
“You realise Beka’s probably gonna fumigate when she knows you slept there?”
He couldn’t resist the dig. Tyr gave Harper a withering look and rolled away to face the wall. Harper was unsure if this meant he trusted Harper or didn’t consider him a serious threat. He had the feeling it was the latter.
“'Night!” he chirped, unreasonably cheered by Tyr’s offense.
Four hours later, any sense of cheer had long since evaporated. Or rather, frozen. Harper was cold. Very cold. Damn cold. Very damn cold. Only his thoughts were warm, and they were engaged in systematically slandering Dylan’s ancestry, mental capacity and sexual proclivities. Tyr was asleep in the bunk below. Harper had nothing to do but lie there, conserve energy, and shiver.
He hated inactivity, hated being forced to remain in one place with nothing to do. Inactivity led to introspection, and introspection was something Harper avoided with great diligence. Sure, it meant he had more mental boobytraps than a Reterin minefield, but what kind of idiot went walking through a minefield anyway?
Still, he couldn't help listening to Tyr's slow steady breathing and wondering what was going on in that convoluted brain. After the whole thing on the... with the... after they’d fought together, and before he'd rid himself of his passengers, Tyr had been all buddy-buddy. He’s been as protective of Harper as if the human been some pregnant Niety matriarch (though Harper had actually been playing Mommy, so maybe that was why? and wasn’t that a seriously warped thought?). Hell, Tyr had even died, albeit temporarily, so Harper could live.
There was a rustle and then Tyr was pulling back the covers over his head.
"Can the heating go up no further?" he enquired.
"Yes, I just decided to freeze my butt off for the fun of it." Harper grumbled, as much as he could with his teeth gritted against the cold. Tyr's frown deepened but he didn't answer. He reached out and laid his palm on Harper's cheek. The Nietzschean's hand was blissfully warm and Harper involuntarily tilted into it. Tyr pulled back. Harper gave a little snort of disgust and wriggled back down into the bed, clumsily pulling the blankets up over him again until only wild blonde tufts showed.
The word was a barked order.
"What?" Harper re-emerged, peering up at Tyr.
"Out of the bunk. We're going to share body heat."
"You're shivering and your motor control is poorer than normal. At this rate you're heading towards mild hypothermia, so stop arguing and get out."
Harper’s brain finally registered the idea of warmth and the concerned look.
"Oh, OK. No objections here."
Harper struggled out of the blankets and coats he was wrapped in and off his bunk. When he would got to the floor Tyr steered him towards Beka's bunk.
"We need to raise your core body temperature as quickly as possible. Strip."
Harper's eyebrows attempted to connect to his hairline. Tyr appeared unfazed, regarding him with an impatient look.
"Clothes will impede body heat. But leave your socks on, we need to keep your extremities warm."
Before he'd finished talking Tyr was undressing. A little warm glow bloomed in the pit of Harper's stomach at the sight. Wow. Tyr really was that perfect all over. Harper jerked his gaze upward when Tyr began to remove his underpants. Get caught ogling the Nietzschean - mmm, real smart, Harper.
"Strip quickly and get in the bunk."
Tyr ordered irritably when he realised that the human hadn't moved.
Harper fumbled with his clothes. Tyr sighed and helped him, being of more use in the disrobing than he was. Harper was glad he was too cold to blush as the Nietzschean unzipped Harper’s trousers and knelt before him to remove them. Oh, yeah, now that was a sight you didn't see every day. He wasn't sure whether to be relieved or insulted Tyr left him his underpants. The air was freezing, so he pulled down the blankets and wriggled between them as fast as he could. Smooth flesh was pressed against his back, and he shuddered as his skin reacted to the sudden rise in temperature all around. Tyr pulled the blankets up over their heads, then wrapped his arms about Harper, curling his legs and body around the smaller man so as much of them connected as possible.
Warmed by the mass behind him, Harper's body temperature gradually rose and his shivering died off. Muscles relaxed, bit by bit, as the heat soaked into his skin. Thoughts quickened from their previously sluggish state. Harper found himself concentrating on the light breeze across his left cheekbone, listening to the sound of gentle inhalation and exhalation. Tyr wasn't asleep; he could practically feel the Nietzschean's gaze on the top of his head. To go along with everything else he could feel, enfolded in Tyr's arms and practically covered by the Nietzschean's body. Harper tried to deny the sensation of safety this envelopment gave him, but whilst his mind was saying that security was about as trustworthy as a twenty-thron whore's virtue, his body was thinking the opposite.
With a definite effort Harper concentrated his senses on what was in front of him, not that he could see very much in the dark cavern created by the blankets. Other senses were more acute in the darkness however. Tyr smelt musky, a wholly human musk with undernotes of leather and clean salty sweat - but it wasn’t unpleasant either. Idly he wished this had happened on the way to drop off the ambassador – the Fochseyn would have made a good bedwarmer with his plush charcoal fur. Though if he had had the red-brown colouring of some Fochseyns Harper didn’t think he could have slept with him - in this situation it would have been too much like snuggling up to a Magog. A tremor shook him at the thought. The arms around him tightened and he felt the brush of bone spurs against his upper thigh. He shuddered again.
If it was at all possible, Tyr pressed closer, surface softness giving only slightly before there was nothing against his naked skin but hard warm muscle. Harper wriggled.
"Uh, not so tight, big guy. Ribs work best in a three-dimensional configuration."
Tyr loosened his grip slightly.
"How are you?"
"I'm good. Warm. Warm is good."
Harper shut up before he degenerated into ever more verbose idiocy. There was a resounding lack of conversation for the next several minutes. Harper searched his mind for some innocuous conversational thread and came up with nothing. Tyr wasn't offering anything either - not that Tyr had all that much to say to him nowadays anyway. Which really sucked, given he'd thought they'd been going somewhere; connecting on a level that disregarded the whole human/Nietzschean issue, even if the big guy still had a tendency to mouth off Will-to-Power aphorisms. He was surprised Tyr hadn't spouted one already, and he'd even be glad to hear it for once, 'cos this was more than awkward, lying here in a cozy dark little nest with Tyr spooned around him, breathing onto his face and pretending everything was hunky-dory. From block of perfectly carved ice to almost-friend, back to icicle again. Nietzscheans - who could figure them? Finally, he couldn't stand the stretched silence and deliberately quiet breathing any longer.
"Y'know, hypothermia's supposed to be an easy way to go."
"And just who is responsible for that idea?" Tyr queried, "The people who died of it?"
Harper choked, laugh vibrations running through his body. Behind him, Tyr moved backwards, shifting his legs restlessly.
"Nah, people who managed to survive it. They say that after the initial freezing-in-excruciating agony it isn’t so bad. Your limbs deaden, your core temperature drops like you said, and the cold reaches your heart. Then all sensation numbs out. You can't even tell you're frosty or hurting. It all just goes away."
Tyr's voice held a thread of bemusement.
"Mmmhmm. Can’t feel a thing. 'Course then you lose consciousness and die." Harper paused, deliberately relaxed his muscles. "See, it's the recovering part that really sucks. They rescue you before you buy the farm, you gotta warm up again, get out of that numb phase. And it hurts like hell, all that returning feeling – even more than the freezing-in-excruciating agony part. Might be easier to just let go, not face that pain, go back to being cold and dead. But let’s face it, that’s all you are then – dead. The other way hurts, but at least at the end of it you're alive."
Or something like that.
For a couple of minutes they lay there quietly, and he came to the conclusion Tyr wasn’t going to say anything. Harper had just decided there was no reason to make an exception to his usual policy of filling up awkward silences with babble when Tyr spoke.
“Is that so, Little Professor?”
The smooth tenor sounded amused.
“Huh? Er, yeah.”
There was another lapse into silence. Harper decided babble was not the way to go for once.
“It would appear to be injudicious then, not to accept the pain.”
Tyr’s voice rumbled in his ear, vibrations passing down the rest of his body.
Tyr sighed, breath shivering across Harper’s cheek.
“Do you miss your family, Harper?”
Every muscle in his body clenched.
“Relax.” Tyr began stroking his arm. “There was no intent to recall bad memories. I merely wished to know if you missed having a family.”
“I do have a family. Beka and the others are my family now.”
Tyr sounded genuinely curious.
“Yeah, even Miss Gold-and-Shiny.”
Even to himself he sounded defensive and he wondered why he’d made the admission. Let alone what Tyr was fishing for.
“You humans never cease to amaze me.” Was all the Nietzschean said. For once his tone seemed devoid of condescension.
"Yeah, well, from what I've seen of Nietzscheans that doesn't take much. Severe lack of imagination in the making-friends-'n-influencing-people department. You're much better at the making-foes-'n-extinguishing-people schtick." Harper jibed.
To Harper's surprise, Tyr chuckled.
"You’ve never lived in a Nietzschean pride, have you?"
"I’ve been a Dragan slave."
The answer came out low and flat. Harper could almost taste the salt and iron of blood on his tongue.
"Not all the prides are degenerates like the Drago-Kazov. The Kodiak kept no slaves. But we did have humans living amongst us."
"As long as they were good little kludges and knew their place, huh?"
Tyr sighed. The breath blew past Harper's face, warm wind in the heat of the desert.
"That is not the point, little one.”
The stroking arm returned to quiescence on his upper thigh.
“Disregarding for the moment the totally offensive stature remark, the million thron question is – what is the point?”
There was no reply for at least half a minute, as though Tyr was debating something internally. When he did speak, it sounded as though the words were spoken reluctantly,
“Andromeda is my family group now. Not one I would have voluntarily chosen, but it is a place to start.”
Harper was silent. Heart to hearts with Tyr were not his idea of a relaxing way to spend a nanosecond. Then again, he guessed he had started it. Damn it - why was that again? Temporary insanity?
“OK, so we’re one big happy family. Doesn’t explain the sudden ‘give Harper a bell and treat him like a leper’ bit.”
He wasn’t going to mention the timing aspect.
“Subsequent to the removal of the Magog larvae,”
OK, so Tyr was.
"I came to several realisations. The first, as I have said, was that the crew of Andromeda is my family group now. The second, and perhaps more important, was that I have formed an…attachment. Something I was not yet prepared to do at this stage of my life."
"Attachment? What do y…uh. Oh."
Harper stuttered to a halt as his mind caught up with his mouth. He thought it over a moment. Shit. Agony aunt for lovelorn Nietzscheans. So not his ball of wax. Ah hell, no-one ever accused him of keeping his advice to himself.
"Well, even disregarding the Earth women quip," which sure, he wasn't supposed to know about, but Beka had been so pissed she'd given him the full one hour ‘who-the-hell-does-he-think-he-is-Captain-Rebecca-Valentine-is-way-too-good-for-him-thank-god-I-didn't-notch-up-yet-another-loser-boyfriend-my-taste-in-men-really-sucks’ rant, "I'm sure Beka would be willing to forgive and forget if you were prepared to grovel for oh, say a week or two."
Silence. He was so glad he couldn't see Tyr's face at the moment. He added helpfully,
"She really likes Trelian chocolate."
"For such a clever human, you are remarkably blind when it comes to relationships, aren't you?"
He wasn't sure if Tyr was annoyed or amused. Not an altogether unfamiliar occurrence.
"Hey, I resemble that remark! Just because all the women we meet can keep their hands off me does…eep!"
The squeak emitted itself spontaneously as Tyr's hand slid up his thigh, trailed across his groin, and settled over Harper’s cock in a decidedly sexual manner. His stomach quivered with a delightful butterfly flutter that Harper had almost forgotten existed, body memory too imprinted with the painful churning of the Magog larvae. Then Tyr shifted his left leg over Harper's hip and thigh, pinning him to the mattress. The movement brought them flush up together, skin to skin, and hot naked erection nestling between boxer-clad buttocks. Harper sucked in a breath and held it, shocked.
"I no longer have any sexual interest in Captain Valentine."
Harper started to breath again; short sharp little breaths.
"No…no kidding! Uh, I'm really flattered big guy, but isn't this kind of sudden? I mean I can tell you're interested," from the size of things, interested in a big way, "but have you thought this through? Not interested in one-off fucks here," except on shore leave of course, but everyone knew those didn't count. Tyr was now stroking his cock and damned if his anatomy wasn't proving him a liar and showing interest. Shit, talk faster.
"And having sexual relations with some scrawny undersized kludge isn't exactly going to score any brownie points with female members of the Uber-race, right? The future mother of your children is going to seriously wonder about your taste and mental capacity. Some momentary sexual gratification really isn't worth the risk to your genetic-worth profile in the long run," and OK, babbling now and also semi-erect "and I don't think Dylan would be happy about us making out in a life or death situation," probably not going to hold any weight as an argument with Tyr, "and I'm really not interested," back to lying, and Tyr was caressing his dick in a slow and much too sensual fashion for a Nietzschean "and sleeping with crew-members is so not a good idea anyway - why do you think I've never slept with Beka? Well, apart from the fact she always turns me down, I mean. Which is really all to the good and I'm flattered,” repeating himself here "but I think you should... STOP!"
The last was barked out on a sharp exhalation as Tyr's fingertips feathered over the head of his cock, and the jolt of sensation running down his shaft jerked him fully erect. He writhed around, trying to break out of Tyr's hold. The Nietzschean used the motion to shift over him, pressing Harper onto his back and effortlessly holding him down with one leg. The ease with which Tyr immobilised him was frightening and the realisation of just how much bigger and stronger the Nietzschean was quickened his breathing with alarm, causing Harper's arousal to wane a bit. The blankets slid down a little and admitted the low illumination of the bunkroom. He looked up into the Tyr's face and realised, yes, the bastard was amused.
"I told you we took human companions in my clan. And any worthy mate of mine will recognise your intelligence and survival instincts outweigh your physical shortcomings. Many though they are."
Harper was surprised by the flush of anger that ran through him and sharpened his voice, overriding his fear and arousal,
"Well Uberman, considering my physical shortcomings I have to wonder what you're doing with your hand on my dick."
Tyr smiled, a not very comforting slash of white in the dimness.
"There is a difference between physical shortcomings and physical attractiveness, little one. And you hold more than enough of both."
Then the white smile descended, the large brown body descended, and Tyr was kissing him.
There was the impact of lips and teeth on his, probing tongue ravaging his mouth. It was like a tropical flood - warm, overwhelming, unstoppable; when he finally surfaced, gasping for air, Tyr left him no time for thought, tracing moist kisses down his neck, his shoulder, his chest. A lick on his right nipple causing another sharp intake of breath. He whimpered Tyr's name, tried to push him up and away, but the Nietzschean ignored him, catching his wrists and clamping them by his sides, and continuing his progress down Harper's torso.
Tyr's dreadlocks trailed down his chest, a soft sensuous caress that followed his mouth like an outgoing tide washing over the sands. Tyr briefly released his right hand, turning his own and dragging Harper's underwear down around his knees. Uncertain whether he was about to protest or acquiesce, Harper started,
"Tyr, please, I…"
Speech was lost as Tyr's lips engulfed his cock and slid down it. A scream hit the back of his throat and choked. Tyr pulled back up and then slowly went down on him again, tight wet suction dragging every nerve in Harper's penis alive. His hands kneaded the mattress, sheets clenched between his fingers. If this was just one of his graphic wet-dreams, he was never ever going to forgive the Divine if he woke up now.
Tyr scraped his teeth up Harper's length and he couldn't strangle the cry that erupted or refrain from arching upwards. Harper surrendered to the deluge of stimulation, existence reduced to the sensation of slick warmth, Tyr's rough tongue underneath his cock, his teeth scoring lightly above. The weight of Tyr's torso pressed his legs down, sideways movement restricted by his underwear, but the confinement just made him more frantic to thrust upward into Tyr's mouth, more desperate to bring himself off. Tyr sped up, mouth plunging up and down, wet and hot and rough. Release started in the pit of Harper's stomach, coiling around that place he never thought he'd want to feel anything again. He could feel it pressuring down through his groin and balls; he was being dragged down by that undertow again, deep and deep and deeper until he hit bottom and was coming out the other side. Exploding out of the depths into the light, expelling air and relief with a howl.
He collapsed bonelessly onto the bed, gasping for breath. Tyr moved up, pulling the blankets back over their heads and sealing off the chill air he had been too distracted to notice. Harper lay there, panting, eyes closed. Tyr said nothing, just reclined on his side. Harper could almost feel the Nietzschean watching him. When he had regained some control of his breathing Tyr laid a hand on his chest. Harper shuddered, skin over-sensitised in the aftermath of his orgasm.
Before Tyr could continue however, the high-pitched warbling of the comm system sounded. Tyr growled, then slipped out of the bunk. Harper could hear Dylan's voice from across the room, Tyr's low pitched replies. They drifted away as he sank into a warm deep well of darkness.
“Harper! Wakey wakey Harper!”
“Mmpfh minutes more Beka...”
“Well, I can see you’re none the worse for your adventure.” Beka’s voice chortled. Consciousness and memory surfaced at the same time. Harper bolted upright in the bunk; registered the chill air and dragged the covers back up over himself. Tyr was nowhere to be seen, only…
The pilot responded in the same tone, leaning over him, hands on hips. Harper wriggled, relieved beyond words to find himself clean and clothed in underwear. Tyr must have done a quick cleanup whilst he was asleep. As if plucking the subject from his brain, Beka continued,
“Well, I have to give you points for originality, kiddo. That’s one way to get Tyr into bed with you.”
For a moment Harper’s mind went blank with panic, wondering what Tyr had told her, then he registered the grin on Beka’s face.
“Uh, yeah. Right. Um, where is the big guy?”
“He’s back on the Andromeda. We get to do all the dirty work as usual – I’ve fixed the heating system, but I need you for the rest of it.”
“Oh, why didn’t you wake me before?”
Why hadn’t Tyr woken him? What did that mean? Was this the Nietzschean version of Morning-After Regret? Shit, bloody typical – why did everyone always leave him dangling?
“Tyr said you were heading towards mild hypothermia, but you just needed your sleep. You sure you’re alright, Seamus?” The grin dissolved into worry “Maybe we should get Trance to take a look at you.”
“No, no, I’m fine, Bek. Just a little groggy, y’know?”
“If you’re sure you’re alright?”
Well, no. Shocked, panicked, stunned – yes. Alright – no.
“I’m fine. Hand me my clothes wouldja? Unless you want to jump in here and warm me up?”
The last delivered with one of his most lascivious smiles. Beka laughed, deflected, then turned away to fetch his clothes. Harper braced himself to climb out into the cold again.
No, the damn Merakin gauge wasn't in his living room. He'd told Rommie it wasn't but she insisted that's where she'd seen him with it. His quarters might be a mess, but they were an organised mess. He knew where everything was and what was there, and the Merakin gauge certainly wasn't. He headed out again, only to have the door stick. He slapped the open button. Nothing.
"Rommie? My door's stuck."
"I'm sorry Harper, but I've locked it."
"What? Rommie doll, not funny. Let me out!"
"The ship has been instructed to open the door only on my command."
Tyr's voice came from behind him. Harper spun, startled, and took a step backwards as he realised how close the Nietzschean was. Where the hell had he come from?
He said, somewhat redundantly, as there were no other six-foot-something walking slabs of chocolate-coloured muscle on the Andromeda. Especially ones that wanted to lurk in his quarters and ambush him.
"Indeed. As you once somewhat colourfully said – if the mountain will not come to Mohaman, Mohaman must come to the mountain."
"It's Mohammed and it's…oh never mind. You want to tell me what the hell's going on? Why Rommie won't open the damn door?"
He turned and stabbed the button repeatedly and uselessly.
"Both Captain Hunt and Captain Valentine have enquired, with varying degrees of threat, as to what I did on the Maru to upset you so much. They also requested the situation be resolved."
Harper was beginning to feel dizzy he was turning around quickly so much.
"What did you tell them?"
He asked in some alarm.
"That we had initiated a relationship and you were currently experiencing some difficulties coping with the fact - or were 'freaking out' as Captain Valentine so elegantly put it."
Tyr regarded him with his usual almost-smirk.
"You did! I can't believe you just, just…ohmygod…what did Beka, no, I don't want to know. I can't believe you told them that! I can’t believe they’re letting you do this!"
Harper could hear his voice rising in pitch and volume to the full patented Harper Outraged Squeak.
"You have only yourself to blame, boy. Had you agreed to discuss this privately and rationally I would not have had to involve our crewmates. Instead you have spent the past three days running and hiding from me."
Tyr stalked towards him. Harper's back made contact with the door without him being conscious of moving.
"Ah, Tyr, big guy, I know we kinda did the wild thing, or rather, I did the wild thing and you did the bizarre thing and it was…umph."
Tyr's palm plastered his mouth shut.
"Shut up, little man, and listen."
There was a distinct lack of amusement in Tyr's face now as he loomed over the human. Harper stilled, danger senses pinging frantically.
"I may have been mistaken, so I will ask you now, and think carefully before you answer because I will ask it of you only once and never again - do you wish us to engage in a relationship, or no?"
He released Harper's mouth and withdrew a couple of paces. Harper sucked breath in, inhaling the lingering scent of Nietzschean. It did strange things to his stomach, that not-Magog fluttering he'd felt on the Maru. He flicked his gaze around the room nervously, every survival instinct in him screaming for an escape route. Tyr retreated another few steps. Harper was under no illusion the Nietzschean couldn't grab him from there even had the door been open, but it gave him a mental distance.
"Rommie, unlock and open Harper's door."
The fact Tyr used Andromeda's name surprised Harper, revealing how off-balance the Nietzschean must be. The door panel opened behind him. Tyr folded his arms around himself. It struck Harper for the first time that it was a gesture of self-protection just as much as it was the gesture of superior smugness he'd always taken it for. The fluttering in his stomach had transmuted into a sinking feeling now. This was serious. Way too serious for him. Serious was Dylan's job. Way too serious was Tyr's job. Not his.
"I understand you are afraid. It is not an easy decision or an easy choice. But you have conquered your fears before.”
Oh yeah, and look where that had ended up. Shit. No, hyperventilating was not a life-style choice. No matter how much it seemed to have become so over the last three days.
Think. What was it he wanted? Physical attraction - really big though it was - aside, was getting Tyr what he really wanted? If he was talking about big there was the Nietzschean thing. The overbearing, self-righteous, vain, vicious and brutal thing. The future clan Kodiak thing. All of which were really parts of the same big thing when you came down to it. There was also the loneliness thing. The companionship thing. And the in-love thing. None of which he really wanted to think about, let alone acknowledge, thank you very much.
Yeah, he was afraid. Someone had handed him the winning lottery ticket and that just didn't happen to him. He tried to cash it in, something would happen, it would blow up in his face, turn out to be fool's gold. He'd had so many of the important people in his life die on him, leave him, disappear on him or just plain turn into somebody else. It seemed to him it was just buying into trouble, accepting this lottery ticket. He stared into Tyr's eyes but there was no help there. The Nietzschean was being purposefully bland. Looking at him just restarted the butterflies in Harper's stomach.
"As someone recently told me, it hurts like hell, all that returning feeling. Taking a chance might hurt, but at least at the end of it you're alive."
Tyr’s voice was almost neutral. Not exactly a wild declaration of love by most standards, but then this was Tyr. The Nietzschean was much bigger on actions than words, as he’d shown on the Maru. And when it came down to it, wasn't it actions which counted? That thought spurred Harper to a decision. Fear or no fear.
"Rommie, shut and lock the door please. Engage privacy mode."
"Privacy mode engaged."
Rommie said. The door clicked shut behind him. Harper walked up to Tyr. For a second he stood there, searching the face above him, reading calmness, acceptance and the beginnings of hope in Tyr’s eyes. Then he slid his hands around the Nietzschean's neck, pulling his head down. At first it was a mere brush of lips, a mingling of breath. Then Harper ran his tongue over the bottom lip pressed to his and hesitation went out the window. In their first encounter Tyr might have been the aggressor, but now it was Harper who demanded, Harper who controlled and devoured. Harper who tightened his arms around the other man, raked his fingers through his hair and slid their bodies together. Eventually he pulled back, sliding his tongue slowly from Tyr’s mouth, sucking the full mouth as he went. Desire shone from the brown eyes and Tyr’s expression was one he’d only seen the fringes of before, something scarily like happiness.
“Bed.” Harper said, and pulled him quickly into the next room. He fell onto the bed, bounced and dragged the Nietzschean down to him. He didn’t give Tyr time to speak or think, but swarmed over him, clothes pulled and tugged off, breathless with want and anticipation, until they were both nude, kneeling opposite one another.
God, but Tyr was beautiful. He felt slightly cheated he hadn’t got to see him like this their first time together. And maybe right about now he should start feeling like an inferior scrawny kludge, but he didn’t. Tyr wanted him, needed him, maybe even loved him. There was no hiding that, the evidence was rock solid and erect between Tyr’s legs.
Harper plastered himself up against Tyr, fingers digging into the heavy muscled shoulders, mouth mapping the distance between Tyr’s ear and collarbone. Such a small, miraculous distance, one he never thought he’d know. Tyr groaned and Harper started to thrust against him, torsos and hips and cocks gliding against each other, friction building a fire between them. The groans were Tyr’s and the whimpers were his. Tyr had settled his hands on Harper’s arse, kneading his buttocks in time to the increasing urgency of their rhythm. Harper would have bruises tomorrow but now it felt good, he wanted more, he wanted to touch all of Tyr at once, explore every inch with feverish strokes and biting kisses. Harper could feel himself on the verge of coming and pushed away from the heat. He fell back onto his hands, panting. It took a few seconds for Tyr to collect himself.
Tyr’s query was just as breathless as Harper was. Harper twisted and grabbed his utility belt from the edge of the bed and pulled a tube of lubricant from it. He slid his legs either side of Tyr’s knees and offered him the tube,
“Take me. I want to feel you come inside me.”
Tyr gave a hoarse moan and closed his eyes. For a second Harper thought the Nietzschean was going to come on the spot. The muscles on his stomach rippled and spurts of pre-come spilled from his cock, but Tyr's control won out. His eyes opened again and there was little pupil showing in the dark aroused gaze. Harper slid his right leg up Tyr's thigh and around his waist, then leaned back onto his elbows, licking his lips at the wealth of hunger in Tyr's predatory expression. He’d always been uncomfortable being focus of that look before and now he knew why. He hadn’t thought he could get any harder, but oh, he’d been so wrong.
As if the plea broke him from some stasis lock, Tyr surged over him, mouth and tongue opening and penetrating his own. Harper felt Tyr sliding his hand down his leg to his ankle, pulling it up and over Tyr’s shoulder and securing it there with warm encircling fingers, leaving Harper vulnerable and open. He moaned desperately into the safe warmth of Tyr's mouth, then turned his own to biting and kissing the Nietzschean's face and neck. Electric shock jolted through him as one of Tyr's slicked fingers pressed through his anal ring without warning, sliding slowly up his back passage.
He demanded and the other man complied without argument, pushing a second finger inside, thrusting them in and out, causing the flutter of loosened muscles and a half-forgotten burn. Tyr twisted his hand and Harper shuddered, crying out, and then there was the blunt demand of Tyr’s cock at the entry to his body. Harper screwed his eyes shut and gulped air. This was what it came to, what he wanted. To own. To be owned. To be a part of.
“Harper. Look at me, boy.”
Harper opened his eyes and smiled at the sight. Tyr was flushed, sweaty and altogether hot, but it was the unexpected tenderness in his eyes that made him overwhelming. Harper’s smile expanded into a grin as he curled his free leg further around Tyr's waist and pulled him down. Tyr leaned over Harper, watching the face below as he breached the tight ring of muscles, then slowly sank his cock into the body underneath him.
Harper panted, open-mouthed, at the burn. He was ready, but it had still been a long time since he’d been taken by another man and it hurt, no matter how much he wanted it. About halfway in he had to tighten his grip on Tyr’s waist when the Nietzschean attempted to withdraw at his involuntary whimper. He pulled Tyr on, until he could feel the curl of hair against his balls. For a single still moment there was nothing else in his universe but the triumphant pleasure on Tyr’s face and the sensation of his body tight around Tyr's hard cock.
He glanced down between his outspread legs to see the black of Tyr's pubic hair mingled with the blonde of his, the root of Tyr's penis stretching his arse amidst a tangle of ivory and chocolate limbs. He’d never seen anything so fucking hot before in his life. His anal passage was loosening in short sharp pleasurable little spasms and when he looked up he could see Tyr battling to remain motionless. The thought he could break that iron discipline was irresistible. He arched up under Tyr, bucking against him.
His name was a gasped question.
“Yes, now Tyr, now…”
Tyr's right hand tightened on his hip, pushing it down, the other pulling his ankle further up and out so he was split wide open. Harper moaned at Tyr's slow withdrawal and even slower second penetration, and protested,
“Tyr, fuck me now! Hard, fast, just fuck me.”
Tyr cried out and any control he had crumpled. He thrust into Harper just like he’d asked him, hard and fast. Again and again, until he was slamming into Harper so hard his whole body shook with the force of the thrusts. Harper wrapped his arms and legs around Tyr, lunging against him in counterpoint, absorbing him, taking him deeper and faster inside. The spiral finally peaked and then he was coming hard; a rush of jism and relief that left him stunned and sobbing. Tyr was emitting frantic little groans as he rammed his way to orgasm, his heavy body fucking Harper hard into the mattress now. Harper had a few seconds to love it, the abandon, the control, then Tyr clenched and thrust and came.
There was a flood of heat inside him and Harper was amazed again by the thought that this was really happening, this was Tyr, holding him and taking him and being held and taken in turn.
Tyr rolled onto his side, managing to stay connected whilst disentangling Harper's limbs enough he wasn’t lying on them. Harper laid his head on the hot skin stretched across the drumming of Tyr's heartbeat and listened as it slowed. He sighed as Tyr slipped out of him in a trickle of warmth, but it didn’t finish the intimacy of the moment, lying there tumbled together, flesh cooling and breath slowing in easy silence.
Tyr ran a hand through Harper's sweaty hair, futilely trying to calm its wildness. Harper could have told him the way it appeared during the day was its tame look, but he figured Tyr would work it out soon enough. Tyr ran a finger down his cheekbone to his jaw and gently tilted his head to meet Tyr’s gaze. He smiled lazily up. Tyr’s voice held concern,
“How are you?”
How was he? What could he say? He was stunned, he was elated, he was blissful. And that was just the sex. On the other thing - he was amazed. He was unbelievably happy. How could he explain all that?
Oh, and where had that come from? Could he get any more cryptic?
But Tyr was smiling, that tender expression in his eyes again. So maybe that was all Harper needed to say.