Character(s): Martyn Alasev-Dol/Yaris Berkn’leter
The first time it happens, it catches him off guard.
You see, when Yaris met him, Martyn was stealing supplies from a Tykavli mothership and he was ridiculously tall, half as broad and so Yaris had drawn some conclusions, after all it takes a certain kind of man to let himself onto a Tykavli mothership.
(Yeah, a great big idiot, it turns out.)
But Yaris was all ready to be part of a rag-tag immoral crew of outlaws looking to murder and steal their way through the galaxy, and then this happens.
He’s lifting his sword, all ready to separate a man’s head from the rest of his body, and then a hand lands on his elbow and he turns to see Martyn looking at him in horror.
“What are you doing?” he says and Yaris cocks his head, feeling for all intents and purposes like a confused puppy dog about to get scolded for wagging his tail.
“Honestly I thought that was pretty obvious,” Yaris says, blinking a few times.
“We don’t just kill people,” Martyn says. His hand still rests on his arm and Yaris isn’t sure how to feel about that either. “It isn’t our way.”
“They’ve seen our faces,” Yaris says, looking down at the man sobbing at his face, “what else am I meant to do?”
“Yaris,” Martyn says, “you just… let them live.”
Well, that makes no sense at all, but Yaris lowers his sword anyway, trying to understand from Martyn’s face what he’s trying to tell him.
“It’s not like we’re not already on every wanted poster between here and Sol,” Martyn says.
He can’t argue with that, so he sheathes his sword. The man at his feet is sobbing thanks at Martyn but neither of them are paying him a jot of attention, too busy looking at each other.
“This is what I do,” Yaris says and Martyn’s hand slides down his arm, rests around his wrist like a shackle he doesn’t want to be rid of. “I’ve always—”
“You were Tykavli,” Martyn says, like he needs reminding. “You aren’t anymore.”
“That doesn’t change who I am,” Yaris snaps.
Martyn doesn’t even flinch, and a tiny part of Yaris hates him for that. “No, it changes what you are,” he says. “Who you are is up to you.”
Martyn cuts him off. “No, you were Tykavli. Now you’re Yaris and you get to find out who Yaris is.”
He looks at him slowly, something burning inside his chest that he can’t definine. Hatred? Desire? Something else? It’s just hot and angry and burning like a sun somewhere below his bottom left rib and he wonders if he’s been shot. He checks. He hasn’t been shot, not by a gun anyway.
He lifts his gaze back to Martyn’s eyes. “I was—” He wants to say a number of years, but it won’t mean anything to Martyn. No one knows the passage of time on his planet but his people, and there’s only a few of them left. “It’s been a long time.”
Martyn studies him. “How long?”
“I don’t have the appropriate words to explain it,” he says quietly. “But… most of my life. Ninety-eight percent.”
He hears Martyn swallow, and then strong arms envelope him in a hug and subsequent loss of his dignity. “What are you doing?” he hisses.
“Just embrace the embrace,” Martyn soothes and he stands, awkward and stiff in his arms. “You suck at hugging.”
He tries to shove him away. Martyn holds him tighter. He gives in and lets his face plant against Martyn’s shoulder. “So what’re the rules?”
Martyn draws back a little but doesn’t fully release him, which is the worst part of this whole thing, really. “What’re you talking about?”
“I do better with structure.” Yaris lifts his chin, meets Martyn’s eyes with determination. “What’re the rules? I need rules.”
“We don’t kill without a good reason,” Martyn says.
“Is wanting to a good reason?” Yaris says.
Martyn makes noises in his chest. “No. No, that’s not a good…”
“Rules,” Yaris says again. “Clearly defined rules.”
“Can I write them out and get them to you later?” Martyn says.
Yaris nods. “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll do my best to stick to them.”
Martyn smiles a little. “I know you will,” he says. “And to start with, we don’t kill—” He looks around and the sobbing man is long gone. “Huh.”
“I can go after him,” Yaris offers.
“Nah.” Martyn throws an arm around his shoulders and Yaris is strongly aware that he is the shorter man in this situation. “Let’s get back to Speeta. I have a list to write.”
Yaris smiles, just a little, and he wonders how unpracticed it must be that it makes his face ache. “All right,” he says and lets Martyn lead him away by his shoulders.