Author: KousukeAsazuki PM
Bren is the paidhi, a virtual bridge between the atevi and human customs. Other than translation, though, how can he form an alliance between these two contrasting societies? \\Request fic-- Gabe Ragnarok; light fluff and implications.//Rated: Fiction K - English - Friendship - Words: 2,399 - Favs: 1 - Published: 03-29-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4955878
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I'm not going to comment much on this because I'm honestly not sure what to say. I hope you enjoy, though.
Eventually, slowly, he began to fall in to the regular routine of things and came to understand how-- if not why-- the atevi functioned the way they did. It was a clean-cut society; proper and neat. Even their killings seemed precise and exact, as if nothing they did let room for error or mess. It was, as he had thought many, many times before, an older way of things. Less, and at the same time more, evolved than the humans' current mannerisms. It was comfortable now, though; now that he had become a part of their way of life.
Still, some things were familiar. In particular, the deep fondness he felt for certain people (atevi) and the relationship he shared with them. True, his subordinate position to Tabini was not one he had experienced before, but the same feelings still resided. Feelings of devotion and concern-- things that he usually only reserved for a select group of people. Family, friends, that sort of thing. Tabini wasn't his family, though, and he wasn't sure he could consider his superior as a friend. After all, that concept was foreign to atevi, and so it should be foreign to him, as well, right?
That wasn't his job, though. His job was to bridge the gap between the two societies, not distance it or play favorites. That was human nature, however, to pick your most desirable person and devote yourself to him or her. Atevi could understand that. He still felt that he should pick someone back home, someone he knew inside and out, but his heart told him that the aiji was that person for him. Tabini couldn't understand that. Not his actions, per say, but his reasoning. Atevi were devoted because that was what they were raised to do; Bren-- humans-- were devoted because they wanted to be. It was a difference, a big one.
Therein was the desire and conflict of every paidhi. How did one, who was so naturally bias to human emotion and custom, find a balance between their own ways of life and ones so contrastingly different? He supposed it would have been no easier had he been an ateva, though. He thought he was doing a good job, all things considered, if only in just mimicking the atevi customs.
These were the thoughts that filled his head and kept him awake at night. Tonight, especially, for some reason, he couldn't sleep. His eyes bore holes into the ceiling above him and his mind raced with thoughts of responsibility, duty, and every now and then a feeling or two. He was confused, even after all this time serving under Tabini, about his relationship with the aiji and his meaning to him.
Tabini had said, every now and then, that Bren was valuable, but was that not just because of his position? Atevi saw things as they were and their words hardly had double meanings. Bren wasn't valuable, the paidhi was valuable. That was alright, he understood why, but it didn't keep him from returning the feelings of importance to his superior. However, being the human that he was, he always wondered if it was something deeper than their public relationship. Or was this the sort of commitment that all of Tabini's subordinates and servants felt for him? It was hard to say and even harder to ask.
Thinking would do him no good, though, as thoughts often led to misconceptions, which led directly into uncalled for and often offensive actions. Yes, thinking was bad when it was too much on too serious a subject. However, the edges of his mind clouded over with curiosity and contradiction. The paidhi in him wanted to keep the peace, to not cause any commotion or unease, but the human in him wanted to test his limits; Bren wanted to know, for certain, just where he stood.
This was not the time, though, and nor was it the place. A midnight visit to Tabini's room while he was asleep was out of the question, even for his burning desire to know. Logic dictated that he wait, perhaps even long enough for the questions to die down, and the threat of major consequences kept him in his bed, staring at his ceiling.
It would be a long night.
"Are you alright?" The expressed concern was nothing out of the ordinary, especially when presented to a bleary-eyed and down-trodden Bren.
He knew he looked the worse for the wear-- like he had been up all night researching something of dire importance, or finishing up a project that could not be put off any longer. He had no such excuse, though, only his screaming thoughts refusing to let him sleep a wink. Usually, it wasn't that bad, but a covered pot eventually-- always-- boiled over. So, it was no surprise at all that Tabini voiced his inquiry.
"I'm fine," Bren assured him, giving a small nod. He had just finished a meeting in which several, mundane political issues were discussed back and forth between equally stuffy, monotone individuals. Of course, with his lack of sleep and personal disinterest in the subject matter, Bren tuned in and out and caught, if he were lucky, half of the comments thrown about. Fortunately, it was all everything he had heard before, and he easily responded to the matter with the same, formulated response he had before. Nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing inspiring.
Then he had left and, moments later, been approached by Tabini, who was uncharacteristically alone. He came with the reasoning that Banichi approached him earlier, saying that Bren looked worse for the wear, but would say nothing about what was bothering him. Of course Bren would talk to Tabini about it; he couldn't deny a request from the aiji.
"Did you sleep well last night?" It looked as if the human hadn't slept at all, though there was something about him that hinted at more than a mere restless night. He still had yet to completely figure Bren out-- humans in general, really-- as much as he tried. Normally, he would dismiss it, but today it seemed as if understanding the much shorter, much paler being was necessary.
"I didn't." Lying to the aiji-- to Tabini-- was absurd. Besides, he would find out anyway, as if the answer weren't already obvious enough. "Just restless." Alright, so perhaps Tabini didn't need to know everything.
"Is this common for you?" For you; for humans is what he really meant to ask.
"No," Bren answered shortly, not wishing to delve into the train of thoughts he had banished from his mind after great difficulty. He thought the bits and pieces that he had caught of his recent meeting was the only thing that kept him from withdrawing too far into himself. And what good would he, the paidhi, be if he didn't wish to communicate?
"What's troubling you, Bren?"
The clear familiarity of his name, spoken by Tabini, set a tension he wished he didn't feel. Guilt, perhaps, at being so secretive. After all, no one was secretive with the aiji, if the aiji didn't wish them to be. Tabini was asking him to open up, to talk-- something that wasn't quite customary. No, not at all. So what did he do? He blocked it out. What a genius.
"It shouldn't be your concern, aiji-ma." That was the best response he could give, maintaining the delicate balance between tactful declination and meaningful avoidance.
"And why shouldn't it? If my paidhi is acting strangely, is that not reason for concern?" He had a point, he knew he had a point, and Bren knew it, too. Normally, he wouldn't play these games because simply demanding the answer was always enough to elicit the desired response. Bren was troubled, though-- it was obvious by the look on his face. In fact, even for Bren, a serious change of facial expression was reason for concern; he had done well to mimic the atevi in that aspect, quickly and apparently easily. Only when he was seriously troubled did his mask slip away.
"Yes," the light-haired man murmured. He knew he was testing his limits with Tabini, but it was difficult to vocalize exactly what he had been thinking about all last night. What was he? To Tabini, to the atevi, to himself. He didn't know any of it. He doubted the aiji could answer most of his questions, but the ones he wanted to ask the most were the ones concerning Tabini himself. That in itself confused him, but that would have to be saved for another sleepless night.
"Well?" They had been walking for quite a while, and not at the slow pace that such a delicate conversation usually dictated. No sooner had he finally broken through the crumbling walls Bren attempted to construct than they reached his bedroom door. He knew, at the very least, the human would likely use such an excuse to escape from the question, but his presence demanded that the paidhi answer his concerns.
"Aiji-ma." Bren shifted, unusually and embarrassingly nervous. It wasn't as if he were a schoolgirl, nor was he proclaiming affectionate feelings-- at least, dear lord, he hoped not-- but the awkward air that settled in his mind caused him to act as if he were. Summoning his courage, and pressed with the reminder that Tabini wasn't an enterally-patient person, his cool, blue eyes locked with the burning yellow of his superior. "It's just that I was wondering."
Bren's behavior was almost as amusing as it was infuriatingly confusing. Just when he thought he had this man figured out. He wondered if acting strangely was customary to humans for a specific reason, but he couldn't even begin to guess. He would find out soon, though. "Wondering?" Tabini pressed, finding that such prompting was necessary to keep the conversation moving. That wasn't normal, at least for the Bren he knew, as if there was another.
"Who am I to you?" He had said it in the simplest, vaguest of terms that would probably elicit as many misconceptions of his inquiry as it did understandings of his recent, odd behavior. He thought to immediately rephrase it, but wasn't quite sure how. Clarification, perhaps? "Who am I, Bren Cameron, to you?" would have, perhaps, been more accurate. As it was, Tabini would likely just answer 'the paidhi'.
What an odd question. Had Bren come under a case of amnesia suddenly? That didn't seem to be it, given his usual regard toward Tabini. Who was he? Well, he was the paidhi, that's who. An inkling told Tabini, though, that such a response was not the one Bren was looking for. Completely at a loss, he simply stared down at the man. "Explain."
He had, in a sense, been saved. Of course Tabini wouldn't understand the question, not only because of his lack of understanding of human customs. If their positions had been switched, Bren himself would probably be just as confused. "Not as the paidhi," he clarified, "but outside of titles..." What do I mean to you? That was what he wanted to ask, though it might be just as easily answered with the same response.
Tabini realized the implications and then fully understood Bren's hesitation. It wasn't a question easily asked and far too inappropriate to voice. Out of the political light, beyond their obvious relationship, what more did Tabini see in Bren? He knew, perhaps, only because Banichi had approached him some time ago with a similar inquiry from the human. They had both been equally puzzled until Banichi finally resolved the matter. Regardless, he had never expected to be confronted with such a question. It was a relief, though, that this silly concern was the extent of Bren's distress.
"You are a valuable asset to me, nadi Bren," he said in his low tones. "It's a relief, to me, that you were chosen as my paidhi." Sensing that his words had settled Bren only slightly, Tabini extended a hand to capture Bren's own.
Cool skin met his own and, once again, set Bren's mind into a chaotic slur of confusion. It wasn't a handshake, not quite, and Tabini certainly wasn't holding his hand; it was simple contact. Some sort of crossroad between atevi and human custom, defining a relationship that couldn't be explained in either species' language. It made sense, though was unable to be explained. It was, Bren decided, the purest intent of the paidhi in him and the deepest wish of the man in him.
Releasing Tabini's hand, Bren's own came to his knees in the customary, formal bow. He stayed in such a position for a few moments longer than normal, struggling to fold his smile back into a normal, straight-mouthed expression. Finally, he rose to meet Tabini's gaze and gave a short nod of acceptance. "Thank you."
Unable to logically explain what he was being thanked for, while understanding fully on some level, Tabini said no more as he watched the human depart from his presence. He wondered, as he entered his room, if this new sort of communication could be a middle ground for atevi and human customs. Perhaps Bren would become more valuable than he thought.