Title: In the Name of Crystal

Fandom: Crystal Singers Universe (Anne McCaffrey)

Type: Oneshot

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Mainly Lanzecki./ Trag,

Summary: The account of Trag and Lanzecki's first meeting, and subsequent dealings. Slash

A/N: Is slash. Not graphic slash, but still male/male relationship. And for the other side of the spectrum- there are touches of het. Will be part of an Arc about their relationship, but can be read alone.

The class that was just about ready for their first lesson in just what it meant to be a singer, were currently eyeing each other with a good deal of misgiving and just the slightest hint of threat. There were no moves towards friendship or even affable conversation, each member keeping themselves well to themselves. This did not apply, to glancing at each other occasionally, sometimes with concealed interest, other times with plain boredom. It was an extremely mixed group, about equally proportioned as to the sexes, with the physical attributes ranging from stunning, to mildly good-looking, with a pit-stop at almost every point in between. One gorgeous woman, with green hair, and deeply tanned skin, was already weighing up every other person in the group, and sorting them as potential mates. Most others, merely looked sullenly at one another, keeping their thoughts well concealed.

The woman leaning outside the room, raised her eyebrows at the man and drawled her first impression. "Pathetic as always." Contrary to the disdain in her voice, she was actually not a crystal singer herself, instead being one of those whom the transition had made suitable for Recruitment and Training, RT as it was commonly known, not having gained anything specific from the transition, but having lost her vocal quality in it. The man thought, somewhat cynically, that she was probably just jealous. Having a peek himself, he shrugged.

"About the same as usual I'd have thought. That green-haired one though," he pursed his lips, and shook his head. "If she breathes in any deeper, that jumpsuit is going to burst." 'Kion as he was known (his actual name being nigh on unpronounceable,) was also not a crystal singer, being instead a Sorter, off duty for a couple of days, after a clumsy Singer had sliced through his tendon with a shard of crystal. He had nothing at all against pretty girls, and his comment had been rather more admiring than admonitory. "Whose doing the dramatic 'look how fast I heal' today then?"

"That screw-up Moreldin, have you seen what he looks like?" She was about to continue, no doubt with something unflattering, when a smooth voice interrupted her.

"Fascinated Lexy though I'm sure I would be, by your captivating discourse, do you mind if we could get a move on?" The woman flushed, and mumbled something, moving into the room. 'Kion gave a small chuckle, and began to move away. He had an appointment with Lanzecki for a beaker of beer. He'd been in the same student group, as the Singer, and though their Transitions had sent them different ways, Lanzecki was rather different from the other singers, in that he positively forced himself to remember, keeping assiduous personal recordings, updated daily of everything he had learned, and maintained links with other people, hoping to be able to find some form of memory triggering that would prevent complete memory loss. So far, his research had come to nothing, but he remained fairly good-tempered about his loss of findings, insisting that someday, someone was going to come up with something. Well fairly good tempered for a Singer anyway, who were amongst the worst-tempered, egotistic, stubborn arses, he'd ever had to work with. At that was just their good points.

Sure enough, there was Lanzecki sitting at the table, staring into thin space. 'Kion laughed. The other man had just come in from the Ranges, bad-tempered as hell, because he had failed to cut enough to get off-world, thanks to a storm that had blown up out of nothing, and which promised to keep sledges grounded for at least a week. Lanzecki had a gift for sensing the black crystal, and he'd just discovered a vein of it, that he was sure the storm would totally cover. Any man other than 'Kion would have had doubts about approaching a off singer, but as Sorter for Lanzecki he had weathered bouts of petulant temper, even worse than this one. They talked of inconsequentials for a little time, then Lanzecki inquired about the new group of possibles. 'Kion was indifferent. "Usual lot," he said. "One of the female ones was pretty good looking, the rest varied. Nothing leapt out as being unusual, if you know what I mean."

Lanzecki shrugged. "I was thinking of offering to shepherd."

A Singer walking past heard that and snorted. "Wouldn't do it mate. Not worth the money, shepherding some silly bint, who doesn't know what to do when crystal-lust strikes in the morning. I did it, and it was so farquing awful, that I still remember it." He finished and continued on.

Lanzecki shrugged. "I don't know," he resumed. "Shepherding is a decent amount of money, for what is very little work after all, and to be honest I'll do anything to get offplanet."

'Kion lifted one shoulder in a half shrug. "Unless one of the brats has a Milekey, you'll be off world anyway, before they have any need for a shepherd."

"I'm broke. Just came back remember? At least I think I did." His face screwed up with remembering, and he whipped out the personal data bank, and accessed his personal log, reading in note form. "I was right. Just returned from someplace called Akelon. I was barely in enough credit to get off-world then, and restocking my sledge finished it off. I should have cut black, but all I got was a triad of blues, before the storm."

'Kion shrugged. "Well pick a good-looking one then." And with that, their conversation turned amiably enough to other things.

In all fact, Lanzecki didn't recall the thought of shepherding, until he stopped in to visit Anadina, the medical orderly, with whom he had a long-running acquaintance, mostly dealing with his trials in memory recovery. She was currently playing Florence Nightingale to a man in his early thirties, who was obviously in the throes of a difficult Transition. While he waited, he stared curiously at the young man in the other room, who was scoffing the largest meal he had ever seen, some feat considering that Lanzecki had been through Passovers that made you gorge like the devil. He couldn't place his face, though there was nothing new there. No matter how hard he tried, people slipped like water through his mind, but even so there was nothing familiar about this youth at all. For youth he was. He could scarcely be over eighteen or nineteen, tall and thin. He was good-looking, handsome with the sort of looks that promised to mature when he got a bit older- dark blond hair, dark grey eyes, and an expression that though directed at his food was resolute.

Anadina touched him on the arm. "Sorry," she said. "Come on in to my office. I see you've met Trag."

Lanzecki raised an eyebrow. "Milekey?" he inquired.

Anadina looked thoughtful. "I'm not sure," she raised a hand to forestall comment. "It sounds silly I know, but he took a little longer than most Milekey's. But on the other hand it was painless, and he emerged a Singer well before any of the others even got past the first stage. So at this stage, yes I am assuming Milekey. He's having his cutter made at the moment, and in a couple of weeks, he'll be ready for a spell in the Ranges."

Lanzecki didn't know what made him say the next words. "I'll shepherd him."

Anadina looked surprised. It wasn't like they had people falling over themselves to shepherd new charges, indeed even at the very decent money they were offering, they were usually short on numbers, and especially not young, able bodied Singers who were accustomed to singing black crystal, and known for being irate. Well she wasn't going to refuse. "Thank you Lanzecki." She even, with uncommon daring, pushed it a step further. "I don't suppose, you'd like to give him a quick tour of the place."

The look he shot her was at the very least amused. "Fine. I'll explain the ropes to him, the night before I take him out cutting. Until then you're on your own." Which was a hell of a lot more than he'd ever conceded before.

Arching her eyebrows, she asked him a final question. "Why suddenly so interested in Trag?"

Lanzecki grinned. "I have a theory, and I want to test it out on him."

He didn't see Trag again, until Anadin messaged him, reminding him of his promise. Since Trag had entered it into his reminders list, he hadn't actually needed the message but he still appreciated it. That night, he kept an eye out for the young man in the dining room. He was sitting alone at a table, the rest of his class-mates scattered around the room. Lanzecki sat down opposite, and began to chat. Trag was obviously quick minded, all the questions he asked were intelligent and relevant, and he had a vein of quiet humour that manifested itself under a completely straight face. He was not like any other Singer, Lanzecki had ever met, even other new ones. They tended to be loud and brash, full of their own importance and convinced that they knew it all. Usually already talented people in whatever field they had come from, they thought themselves worthy of far more respect than any other Singer was ever going to give them. Trag was completely different. When Lanzecki inquired as to his previous occupation, he simply replied that he had been a student in astro-physics. He didn't mention in the least, what Lanzecki found out much later, that he had solved a theorem that formed the basis of travelling at just below the speed of light, and still being able to transport large amounts of goods. Unfortunately, after he had presented his first paper on it, he had suffered from a nervous breakdown, and refused to go back into the graduate program. Lanzecki knew none of this at the time, only that Trag was an interesting contrast to most of those who became crystal Singers. Hell, he didn't even really sound like a Singer, or look the part. Where Lanzecki was imposing, Trag was diffident, in all truth in spite of his good looks, he looked as though he would be happier behind a desk.

In spite of that though, he found the younger man (who was actually at the physical age of twenty, three years or so younger than Lanzecki's own physical age,) excellent company, and a good conversationalist. It was not until the end of the evening, that he realised Trag shared Lanzecki's own interest in the problem of memory retrieval- not because he was particularly bothered about remembering himself, but because he thought it a terrible waste. It was late, when they finally made their way to bed, and Lanzecki could not remember when he had last had such an interesting evening. Though it was somewhat obvious that he wouldn't remember. He entered the occurence into his log, and then clambering into the bed, fell asleep immediately.

They were first out in the morning, and Lanzecki spent a profitable day, finding crystal, and teaching Trag how to cut for the first time. The first thing they cut was a rich deep blue in fifths, which Lanzecki couldn't help thinking of privately as a good omen, that Trag was cutting darks already. That took up most of the day, guiding and helping, in a way that he honestly hadn't thought he could do. By the time evening had come, they were both exhausted, Trag from the unaccustomed use of his muscles, Lanzecki from the mental effort. They had filled cartons with crystal, and Lanzecki promised himself that tomorrow they would go for black.

It was morning, and Lanzecki stretched to his full extent, filling the crystal-song fill his limbs. He arched involuntarily, and rolled over pressing his already hard erection, against the younger man. Trag was only hazily awake, but he responded with as great avidity, if rather less skill. Within moments, sleepsuits were cast aside, and bodies were rubbing against each other, Lanzecki finding Trag's mouth, and kissing it hard, feeling the other man, gasp beneath his weight. Lanzecki guided Trag's hands, already knowing what to do with his own. It was over quickly, crystal song ending with them both if not sated, then at least relaxed. Lanzecki winced a little. Perhaps that had not been the best thing for him to have done. Even now, he could still remember that first rush of crystal heightened pleasure, the first time he had felt it, the surprise and shock, and he could remember his cynical older partner- a woman incidentally, leaving the cabin until it was over. Perhaps he should have done that, rather than given the other such a rude awakening into the world of crystal.

He avoided Trag's eyes, and they got dressed silently. Lanzecki was annoyed now. The easy familiarity he had shared with the other man was gone, the banter non existent. Trag, merely stood there, holding his cutter and waiting for instructions. The answer hit him like a ton of bricks. Dammit. Trag hadn't known he was attracted to men. Lanzecki had acted with a Singer's careless expectations, that most people would be willing to sleep with him. From the looks of things, Trag from a backwater planet, hadn't yet caught on to the fact, that sex was mostly the same no matter the gender. He demonstrated how to cut the deep greens that they had found, mind elsewhere completely. Trag gave a sharp hiss, and Lanzecki jerked awake. The other man had cut his hand on a crystal shard. It would heal soon, the Ballybran symbiont would take care of that, but a bandage was still in order. He paused cutting for a moment, and started tying the bandage on.

Once that was completed, they packed the cartons away in silence, and Lanzecki turned his mind towards finding black. Now was the time for his theory to come into play. Keeping his voice casual, he asked Trag what way he thought they should go. Trag shrugged, then concentrated, before finally, hesitantly pointing a direction. Sure enough, just as Lanzecki had suspected, there was black crystal. Oddly enough, though Trag was obviously sensitive to the presence of the crystal, he showed no particular inclination to touch the stuff. Most Crystal Singers, whether black-sensitive or not, enjoyed holding the material. Obviously not Trag though. Very odd. Lanzecki, instructed Trag in the ins and outs of thralling, and after telling him, how to break a thrall, he started to cut the black crystal. What felt like moments later, he was blinking, and staring at the amount he had cut. Trag had put his cutter on the ground, and was looking bored. Lanzecki felt a personal exultation. If this didn't get him off the planet, then what the hell would? Then he remembered Trag, and felt a bit guilty. Judging by the light, they had some time left, and he let Trag attempt his first black crystal.

By the time they had made it back to HQ, they had cut enough to get Lanzecki off world, and make a very substantial hole in Trag's debt. It was the most successful cutting expedition, on record in Lanzecki's file, and at dinner that night, he congratulated Trag. Moments later, staring into space, he spoke about what had been worrying him. He might as well apologise now before he forgot. "I'm sorry about that morning," he said carefully.

Trag looked away. "It wasn't your fault," he said stiffly.

"I should have remembered the effect." He paused, and then said carefully. "You were not used to being with a man were you?"

That brought him a wry smile. "That obvious huh? Look Lanzecki, don't worry about it. It was going to happen sooner or later, and I might as well have the facts straight from the beginning, not only about Crystal Singing, but about myself. I enjoyed it, I don't know if you did or not, and it cleared up a question mark."

"In answer, I did enjoy it, and I should remark that not every Crystal Singer prefers both genders. Many will partner with only the opposite sex, fewer with only their own , most are omnivorous. It is just, that if you live a long life, such things lose their importance mostly, and it becomes more about finding someone who suits you, than about their gender." He stopped, aware he was beginning to make a speech.

Trag regarded him calmly. "Would you like to partner with me?" The question was forthright, not blunt, simply without waffling.

Lanzecki opened his mouth, ready to reply with all the reasons why that would not be a good idea, then closed it. He'd do well to take a leaf from the other man's book and simply give an answer. "Yes."

"Good. That's settled then." Trag continued eating unperturbed, then finishing he pushed his plate away. "My room number is 147BlockB."

Lanzecki was sure his mouth was unbecomingly open. "Huh?"

Trag looked a little impatient. "We're going to be thrown together a lot from now on Lanzecki, if you still decide you want to partner with me. We might as well get started. I'm sure you have a lot to teach, and I'm a quick learner." This was said without so much as a bat of an eyelash, yet Lanzecki was aware of what precisely was being said. Trag sauntered off, and Lanzecki grinned to himself. Not the most romantic proposal ever, but one he would gladly take him up on. He could see a future in this.

Before the flames start pouring in (that is, if anyone bothers to review this story, it not being a popular fandom,) no Lanzecki was not in love with Killashandra, and the text actually would appear to point to a canon relationship between Lanzecki and Trag. This is my take on what they'd be like, when much younger. Please pardon any inaccuracies, I wrote this from memory.

Reviews very welcome

A.W.