This is what I like to call a ficlet, just a one-act story. It's after the S3 finale, so don't read it if you don't want to know what happens. The lyrics cited come from A Sorta Fairy Tale by Tori Amos, and the title is a line from How Can I Not Love You by Joy Enriques, from the soundtrack to Anna and the King. For one, I just liked that song, but I also thought it fits the story—Beka is trying to figure out what was going on all along.Rating: PG, I guess. It could well be G, but a G rating reminds me too much of Disney movies, and this is way too angsty to be any Disney movie. I mean, come in, it has Tori.
Summary: Just a slice o' Beka's life.
Pairings: As if you have to ask! Tyr/Beka!
Read, review, and listen to A Sorta Fairy Tale, and How Can I Not Love You (if you can find it). Trust me, they're significantly better heard than read.
Finally, this has not really been updated—just edited. "I miss him too, boss," Beka's favorite mudfoot confided in her one evening as they sat alone in the Officers' Mess. He flicked his bright blue eyes up to her briefly, then concentrated on his can of Sparky Cola and dish of macaroni and cheese.
Beka's head jerked up. "Huh?" She had stiffened at the sound of his voice, but her shoulders slumped again when she realized what he'd said. "Oh, yeah."
She seemed about to drift back into her own world when the import of Harper's words hit her. "You miss him? Why?" Beka and Harper had known each other long enough that she didn't have to elaborate on that simple question—why Tyr? Why a Nietzschean who had apparently turned out to be no different than nearly every single other Nietzschean they'd come across (though Beka still couldn't believe that)? Why a man who had developed friendships with them and saved their lives, who they had casually teased and been casually teased by?
Harper's fork made a soft scraping sound on the metal plate. "I don't know." His voice fell and rose erratically in the grip of strong emotions. "He was my friend, Beka." He barked a short, mirthless laugh. "When we were fighting the Magog, he gave me his knife. We fought back to back. He wasn't protecting me then, you know? It was like... we were equal then, both these great warriors fighting our demons and trying to take as many of them down with us as we could."
During the pause, the engineer chugged the rest of his Sparky and clanged the empty can on the table. "And all I could think was... this was something I used to do with Brendan. Like Tyr and I were... family or something." He scoffed, but the quaver in his voice gave him away. "He sure conned us good, huh?"
Beka almost smiled. "Yeah. He did." A sigh that began deep within her escaped her lips. "Am I that obvious, Harper?" She toyed with her coffee mug.
"Nah. I've known you the longest of anyone on this ship. Dylan and Trance might notice something—Rommie's worried about all of us—but there's a lot happening these days. They're probably just writing it off to stress."
Now Beka did smile, albeit weakly. She didn't mind Harper knowing how she felt—and why. He had seen her with Bobby, and after Bobby, and after the odd guy here and there. She wouldn't have minded the old Trance knowing, the soft-spoken, naïve, cheerful, and infinitely compassionate purple girl, but this new shade of Trance had brought with her a new personality. Beka had never stopped trusting her—unlike Harper—but she'd never really confided in Andromeda's environmental systems and Chief Medical officer since that impossible day over a year ago. "Thanks, Harper."
The young man swallowed nervously. "Beka? Um, if you ever want to, you know, talk... or something..." He looked up hopefully at her.
Tears sprung to her eyes, and she stood up quickly. "I will, Harper. Not now... but I will. Soon. I promise."
A few days later, she was bustling around her quarters on the Maru when a dusty music disc caught her eye. She held it for a moment, running a thumb along its edge and gazing at its prismatic surface. As if in a dream or trance, Beka turned and slid the disc into her personal computer console. "Track three," she ordered. She felt like she was on auto-pilot, powerless to stop an invisible, overwhelming force controlling her movement.
Years ago, her father had insisted she and her brother learn the practically dead Earth language English. Ignatius Valentine could never be considered cultured in any sense of the word, but he had taught his children this tongue of their ancestors. His intention had nothing to do with those ancestors, of course, except the musicians.
Music, like literature, could never be fully enjoyed until experienced in its original form, so the Valentine children learned English. This way, they would understand and appreciate their father's small collection of rock music. His daughter Rebecca fell in the love with the genre and had spent whatever money she had left over building an impressive collection, well-known in certain circles.
Quiet, solitary notes drifted from the mediocre speakers, and then a woman's melodic voice filled the air. The first few words made little sense to a child of a space-faring age, but she understood the lines that followed them perfectly.
And I was talking to you
And I knew then it would be
A life long thing
But I didn't know that we
Could break a silver lining
She returned to her bed and sat, legs crossed under her, facing her nightstand. Framed pictures rested on the faux wood, a red-headed Beka with her father and brother, the Maru's crew with and without Vexpeg and Trance, and Beka standing very near a tall, dark, and very handsome Nietzschean man. She kept a picture of the Andromeda's crew in her quarters there, but this was her ship and her private refuge. Slowly, she reached out and picked up the third picture. It had been snapped at a planetside diplomatic function. Music had been playing then, too... but the notes she heard now drowned out recollections of that former tune.
And I was ridin' by, ridin' alongside
For a while till you lost me
And I was ridin' by, ridin' alongside
For a while till you lost me
Till you lost me in the rearview
You lost me, I said
They all had gone to the planet—the six (with Rev gone) that Beka would always think of as the Andromeda's original crew—for its something- centennial anniversary of the passing of comprehensive civil rights for all people.
The shocking thing that Beka had discovered was that there, they actually meant it. Trance had been greeted with curiosity, Tyr with none of the habitual glares and suspicions that followed around a Nietzschean among other species, and Rommie with none of the usual coldness once they discovered her mechanical nature.
The planet was a refuge for the oppressed and downtrodden peoples of the galaxies, and since there were no laws—or even social norms, anymore—against interspecies marriage, Beka had spotted sorts of beings she was sure she never had before. Someone had told her that interspecies ob- gyn specialists were in especially high demand (and regard) here.
The people were unusually high-spirited for government officials, and the crew enjoyed the celebration immensely. Beka didn't even mind the dress Rommie had provided for the occasion, a soft, flowing crimson gown that rested on one shoulder. A bottom layer of scarlet satin lay underneath two or three translucent layers of thin tissue, each a darker shade of red, and the effect was one of shifting maroon shadows. On a whim, she had tipped her hair to match the dress. All night, she had been deathly afraid to spill anything on herself.
If she were one to drink champagne, Beka probably would've gotten a little tipsy. She stuck to sparkling fruit juice, and even that made her giggle when the bubbles went up her nose.
Tyr was obviously suppressing a smile as her giggle turned into an undignified snork. He laid a hand on her back, ostentatiously to prevent her from choking, as she pressed a napkin to her face. She missed the heat of his palm when he moved it.
"Are you all right?" As it usually happened, he was seated next to her. He leaned in close. "I believe even our generous Captain Hunt would be annoyed if you died during this marvelously egalitarian anniversary."
Beka smiled, but the sarcasm in his tone irritated her. "Does it really bother you that much?" This wasn't the first time he had made a sardonic crack about the planet's unique social order. "Yes, there is a half-human, half-Nietzschean woman sitting down the table from us. Are you really not okay with that?"
The sharpness in her voice caught Dylan's ear, and he glanced up from his conversation with the President of United Peoples to raise an expressive eyebrow at his two crewmembers. Beka subsided and studied the colorful food in front of her.
Tyr sighed, then stood and offered her his hand. "Dance with me. You want to talk, Dylan wants peace... so dance with me." An elegantly uniformed band played classical music behind a round dance floor of gold-veined ivory stone.
Beka rose hesitantly. She was ashamed of her outburst, though no less irked. "I don't know how to dance to this." She held up a warning finger. "And don't tell me to 'just follow your lead', cos that never works for me."
He smiled wryly. "I don't doubt it. Just remember to always step with the opposite foot, as if you were walking. This music is measured in three counts, so we can waltz to it. I'll just... guide you where you walk." He held out his hand once more, and Beka took it. This time, Dylan looked rather more approving.
They started to waltz in silence, Beka trying (and succeeding, for the most part) not to step on Tyr and Tyr trying to lead (without seeming to do so) a waltzer who had never waltzed before. Beka picked up the gist of the dance soon enough, and, hoping Tyr wouldn't try anything fancy, continued their conversation. "So?" she asked expectantly. "Is all this crazy talk about equality just too much for you, Tyr?"
He lifted his hand from her waist and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "The color suits you. You're stunning tonight, Rebecca." Her confusion was mirrored in the depths of his dark eyes. "It isn't that this vexes me. The reason that Nietzscheans... in general... don't breed with others—besides concern about their genetic line—is that their offspring would not be viable, if any could be produced at all.
"We achieve immortality through our children. The issue of children is less certain with humans—we are not two entirely separate species—but the prevailing belief is that any offspring could not reproduce. To witness those who have overcome that barrier..." he shook his head. "Nietzschean tradition and rule discarded, made obsolete by genetic counseling and therapy." He paused. "This is no more customary for your people than it is for mine. Does it not... challenge you as well?"
Beka smiled then. "Are you kidding? I've always had a weakness for spectacularly good-looking men, and a lot of Nietzscheans qualify." She dropped her eyes for a moment. "Marriage does seem a little odd, but if they're happy, Tyr, I'm happy for them. Why can't you be happy?"
His grasp of her tightened a little. "I am happy for them. I pity their children if they ever leave this planet, but I am perfectly content with the situation."
Beka snorted softly. "Gee, I'd hate to see you not happy."
He sighed again. "It forces me to re-examine decades of teaching and an entire culture. It forces me to think, to see things from a different perspective, to look at things differently—as I never have before."
Beka rested her chin on her hand. "He'd never looked at me that way before."They maneuvered a corner without actually turning Beka much. A photographer was making her rounds, and she captured the pair dancing close, now conversing more lightly and smiling.
"What do we call 'em though? Klubers? Ubges? Social outcasts?"
Tyr scanned the room. "Mr. Harper is calling one his auburn ambassador of amoré, if that helps you any."
Beka smothered a giggle. "At least they'll be warmly welcomed by the horny of the galaxies wherever they go." The music sped up to a swing-y tune. Captain Valentine grinned. "Now this I can do. Harper forced this stuff on us constantly during the old days. Just... don't try anything aerial. Bad memories."
Her companion regarded her askance, then proceeded to spin her madly around the floor. Beka was flushed and laughing when they finished and attracting the eyes of quite a few men in the room. She noticed this and smiled to herself. It really wasn't such a bad dress after all.
Those admiring gazes didn't escape Tyr either. "Do you remember when I pulled Dylan from the edge of a black hole?"
Beka's eyebrows climbed halfway up her forehead. "Um, yeah. Hey, do you remember the time I convinced the Sinti Council not to leave the Commonwealth? Or that time I-"
Tyr stepped closer. "I was wearing a helmet, Beka." He tilted his head and brushed her lips with his. A ghost of a smile passed over his face. "As you tell Harper, you'll catch flies. Didn't I tell you I was looking at things differently?"
You could taste heaven
Feel out the summer breeze
Didn't know when we'd be back
And I, I don't
We'd end up like
"But he wasn't." She stood suddenly and stalked around her room. "Or maybe he was. He didn't know about Tamerlane then. Sometimes he would give me these looks when he didn't think I was looking. And maybe I looked back. When we had been arguing or working out or collectively kicking some anti- Commonwealth ass, there was this incredible rush of...something between us."
"Or maybe I'm just off my rocker. I mean, hello Beka, you're talking to yourself. Probably not a good idea to listen to Tori when I'm already feeling a little crazy." She sat down heavily. "Tyr Anasazi, out of Victoria by Barbarossa, of the Kodiak Pride, what were you thinking that day? What were you ever thinking?"
Her door chime sounded. "Come in," she called.
A young woman with a deceptively delicate façade entered her room. "Beka, this just arrived for you." Rommie peered closely at her XO. "Are you okay? I know we've all been under extreme stress lately. If there's anyone you need, you know we're here for you."
Beka took the package. "Thanks, Rommie. I know." She turned the box over in her hands. "Who's it from?"
The android shrugged. "From the looks of it, it's seen more of the universe in the past week than we have in the last six months. I scanned it for explosives and known toxins. It's clean."
Beka was halfway across her room before she realized that Andromeda's avatar was still in her doorway. "Uh, is there anything else?"
"N-no." Rommie slowly turned to leave.
Beka smiled wanly at her. "I promised Harper I'd talk with him soon. Like you said, it's just stress. Nothing a little R&R and crew bonding won't fix."
The other woman returned the smile. "Glad to hear it." She left, and the door slid closed.
Cautiously, Beka removed the layers of brown paper, revealing a dull silver case. It had a simple clasp that Beka lifted after a short internal deliberation. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head, and her jaw dropped when she opened it.
A gold necklace shone brilliantly under the Maru's fluorescent lights, striking against a black velvet cushion. She handled it carefully, hardly daring to breathe. There was a center ring that went around her neck, and slender filagree gold that hung from the ring between attached points.
She studied it and noticed that the filament was lifted slightly above the ring, so it rose and fell in a smooth, serpentine motion, continuous S's laid on their sides with a ring running near the top edge. Three impossibly thin bars connected the two golden strands where the loop fell and one where it rose. The designed tickled at something in the back of her mind, but she couldn't bring it to the surface.
A white piece of paper fluttered from the necklace. When Beka examined it, she found a strong, slanting print that read simply, "Look at it differently." She puzzled over the cryptic note only a moment before it became crystal-clear. "Tyr," she whispered. "What are you thinking?"
And I'm so sad
Like a good book
I can't put this day back
A sorta fairy tale
A sorta fairy tale