Author's Note: I know Lynn Flewelling does not approve of fanfiction, so I apologise in advance. However, I'm not trying to make any money or take any credit for her fantastic work, I just can't find a lot of Nightrunner fanfic out there and thought I'd like to share stories with other fans. So, yeah. This story is set somewhere inbetween Book 3 and 4, and please take liberties with the timeline. Thanks!
The last thing Alec expected to see when he reached his apartment was some guy trying to pick his lock. He froze at the staircase landing, clutching his bags of groceries, blinking at the dark-haired, oddly-dressed intruder cursing under his breath as he continued to fiddle with the lock.
Very slowly, and very carefully, Alec set down his groceries and assessed the situation as calmly as he could. The guy was about the same build, so he could take him in a scuffle if it came to that. Okay. Good. Alec nodded to himself, trying to ignore how cold and clammy his hands felt. Also, the intruder was distracted, so Alec had the element of surprise on his side. Or maybe the best option was to run and alert the super, to be on the safe side.
He was still trying to think of the best way to raise the alarm when the intruder suddenly turned around and spotted him. Alec was expecting shock, anger, fear or even tears, but the last thing in the world he expected to see was the sheer delight on the intruder's face.
"Alec! Tali!" The man dashed over to where Alec was standing, beaming as though he had just struck the lottery. "Bilairy's balls, am I glad to see you!"
"Hey, whoa!" Sheer reflex made Alec take a step back, reaching into his pocket for the mace spray attached to his keys. He almost fumbled as he yanked it out, the keys jingling merrily as he waved the mace in the man's surprised face. "Get away from me!"
"Alec?" The man seemed extremely confused, as well as completely unaware what the mace was capable of. "What are you doing, tali?" He looked at Alec up and down, frowning. "What happened to your hair? Why are you wearing those clothes?"
"Wha- How do you know my name?" Alec sputtered, still refusing to relinquish his hold on the mace. It was far too confusing at the moment, and he wondered if he had time to dash to his bag and get out his cell phone.
To his surprise, the man sighed and pushed aside the mace impatiently. "Tali, we may be in grave danger here, I really don't have time to play games-"
"I am NOT playing games!" Alec yelled, and the man took a step back, looking alarmed for the first time. "Now, who the hell are you and why are you trying to break into my apartment?"
The man was holding up his hands as though in surrender, but he was watching Alec curiously. "It's me, Seregil. And I don't quite know what you mean by 'apartment'." Here, he actually looked a little pained. "You really don't remember me, tali?"
"No," Alec said firmly. "And why do you keep calling me that? What is a tali?"
This time, Seregil sighed wearily. "Damned Thero," he murmured. "Now he's gone and erased your memory as well."
Now Alec was quite certain he was dealing with a lunatic. "Who's Thero?" he demanded to know. "And I'm pretty sure I haven't lost my memory, thank you very much."
Seregil looked just as confused as he was. "Look, tali, why don't you just put down your, um, little can and we'll try to find our way out of this place? Or at least until Thero manages to translocate us again?"
"Uh huh." Alec still kept the mace aimed at Seregil's face. "And why don't I just call the police and we'll let them take care of everything?"
Seregil let out a frustrated groan, and at that point Alec would have really run to alert the super, but then a few things were nagging at his brain. Firstly, why was this guy dressed so weirdly, in medieval type clothes? Secondly, how did he know Alec's name? And thirdly, why did this guy look so familiar?
He eyed Seregil warily, taking in his long dark hair, wide grey eyes and the slender, high cheekbones that actually made him quite striking. He looked only a couple of years older than Alec himself. He had never seen this guy before, that was for sure. If he did, he would have definitely remembered. Alec shook his head. The idea of finding the guy who was trying to break into his house rather attractive was preposterous. Just how hopeless was he? He could feel the sides of his face heat up in a telltale blush.
To his surprise, Seregil offered him a crooked grin. "You're doing it again," he said, the warm affection evident in his voice.
Despite himself, Alec was curious. "Doing what?"
"Blushing." Seregil's grin widened. His grey, luminous eyes regarded Alec with a warmth that seemed very genuine. "You're always doing that."
For once, Alec was speechless. He really didn't know what to do. It was tempting to call the cops, but this man seemed so sincere and genuine that he wanted to know more about what was going on. He really seemed to know Alec. And if he was really a nutcase, it seemed inhumane to get him thrown into the slammer. He appeared rather harmless.
"Come on," Alec found himself saying. "I'll give you five minutes to make sense of the whole thing."
"Alright." Seregil seemed amused, and Alec prayed that his instinct was right, for once.
Alec was very fastidious about keeping his apartment neat and tidy, which explained the little tingle of pride when he opened the door and let Seregil in. Sure enough, the man's jaw was slack, but that probably wasn't due to the cleanliness and neatness. Instead, Seregil headed straight for the LCD TV, running a finger over the flat screen.
"What is this?" he asked, fascinated.
Alec snorted. "You've got to be kidding, right?"
Seregil seemed completely serious. "Is it some kind of mirror?"
Alec stared at him for a good minute, and when Seregil cocked an impatient eyebrow at him, he finally said, "It's a TV. A television."
Seregil ran his hands over it in awe. "What does it do? Is it like a wizard's looking glass?"
Now Alec was really lost. Not quite knowing how to answer Seregil, he picked up the remote instead and switched on the TV. A hockey game was on, but the way Seregil jumped back with alarm was priceless. He peered at the screen intensely.
"Are those people inside?" he asked, pointing at the hockey players and rabid spectators. "How did they get in there?"
Alec pressed the 'off' switch, and the sudden loss of sound and picture made Seregil take another step back. If it wasn't so confusing, it would have actually been hilarious. Was this some really bad, twisted version of 'Encino Man'?
"Okay, look." Alec was trying to get some hold on the situation at hand, and Seregil's antics weren't helping any. "You've been asking all the questions so far, so let me ask a few things, okay?"
Seregil nodded. "Fair enough." When Alec sat down on the leather sofa, Seregil absently moved to sit beside him, stretching out an arm behind Alec. At Alec's wary look, he asked, "What?"
"You, um." Alec pointed at the armchair. "Maybe you'd want to sit over there?"
"Oh." The hurt that crossed Seregil's face for a fleeting moment seemed genuine enough, and Alec actually felt a little guilty. Seregil got up and walked over to sit in the armchair. "Sorry. Force of habit." He seemed a little subdued now.
"It's alright." Alec closed his eyes. It wouldn't do to feel sorry for some nutcase who had been trying to break into his apartment. "Now, first things first. How do you know my name?"
Seregil's mouth quirked up in a smile. "Well, you're my talimenios."
"A bond between two people which goes deeper than mere romantic love," Seregil explained, before sitting back with a sigh. "How on earth did Thero manage to erase your memory? You should remember all this. I thought that the spell-"
"Wait, wait." Alec gestured back and forth between Seregil and himself. "You mean, we're, um. Like, boyfriends? Lovers?"
Seregil nodded with a smile. "Yes. Actually, far, far deeper than that. That's what talimenios is."
"Uh huh." Alec frowned. "What language is that?"
Now Seregil really seemed incredulous. "Do you mean to tell me that you've forgotten all your Aurenfaie?"
Alec didn't like his tone. "For all I know, you could be making this up."
The way Seregil's gray eyes widened almost convinced him that the other man was telling the truth. Or at least believed that he was. "Making it up?" Seregil sputtered. "Making up an entire race and language? Our heritage? By the Four, what has Thero done to your brain?" He waved a hand distastefully at Alec's clothes. "Or your clothing, for that matter?"
Alec looked down at his t-shirt and jeans. "What's wrong with my clothes? You should talk! I mean, look at you! You look like you just wandered out of a casting for Camelot!"
Seregil was now trying to breathe deeply, massaging the crease between his eyebrows. "Alright, alright. We're not going to get anywhere like this."
"Just tell me how you got here, and why you were trying to break into my apartment," Alec said tiredly. "At least let's start there."
Taking a deep breath, Seregil's voice was flat and emotionless. "We were both called for a nightrunning assignment," he explained. "So we went to the Oreska house to see Thero, who would help to translocate us."
"What is nightrunning? And who is Thero?"
Seregil eyed Alec warily again, but nonetheless spoke. "Nightrunning is what we do. We are Watchers." At Alec's blank look, he added, "Spies, if you will. And Thero is a wizard at the Oreska House. Nysander's assistant, remember?"
Alec sat up in amazement. "You know Mr. Nysander?"
"Yes, tali, we both do," Seregil patiently explained.
"Okay." Alec sat back, frankly amazed that Seregil knew who the local librarian was. Maybe there was something weird going on after all. "Go on."
"Anyway, Thero had just learned a far more powerful translocation spell that could transport us over further distances and without so much physically draining effort from the wizards," Seregil said matter-of-factly. "So he tried it out on me first, and I was thrown into this long, black tunnel, which is odd because that has never happened to me before during a translocation spell." He shrugged. "And I guess you got caught along as well. And lost your memory in the process."
Alec was trying to let it all sink in, but it was too much. Most of the time, he was pretty sure he was talking to a stark raving madman who lived in his own fantasy world, but the revelation that Seregil knew Mr. Nysander was a pretty big jolt. Also, Seregil knew his name. And his annoying habit of blushing. These were some indications of intimacy that were pretty hard to fake.
"Okay, for the sake of argument, let's just say that I lost my memory," Alec said, trying to ignore the look of relief on Seregil's face. "So what happened next?"
"Well, when I opened my eyes, I was crouching in this strange corridor full of doors," Seregil said. "So many doors, and all with strange numbers on them. I was sure that it was some kind of code, so I started trying to crack the codes. When I couldn't, I decided to pick one of the locks to see what were behind these mysterious doors." Seregil smiled at him. "And that was when you showed up, tali."
Alec frowned as he leaned back against the sofa. While Seregil's story was incredible and frankly quite fascinating, he did seem like he was truly from another world. His clothes, manner of speaking and reaction to the TV pretty much confirmed all that. The idea that Seregil was a wandering madman was slowly fading into the background. He looked too clean and well-fed for that.
The man in question was now poised on the edge of the armchair, looking straight at Alec, nothing but warmth and affection in his eyes. It was clear to Alec that Seregil believed they had some special relationship, and he couldn't quite deny the pull he felt towards Seregil, the fact that he found the man extremely familiar, even if he had never seen him before.
"Okay," he finally said. "I really don't know what's going on here. But you obviously are very far from home, and you seem to know me somehow. And Mr. Nysander. So I'm not going to call the police about you trying to break into my apartment."
"Alright." Seregil's face was a perfect blank, but Alec could not help but detect a hint of amusement in the man's clear grey eyes. "Thank you for that. I think."
"No problem." Alec was finding it hard to decide what to do next. The sane thing to do would be to gently but firmly show this guy out of his apartment and be done with him, but Alec was intrigued. After all, this sounded like one of those fantastical tales that Mr. Nysander was always telling him. "Next thing we should do, I think, is turn in for the night. It's getting late. Then tomorrow, we'll go see Mr. Nysander and see if he can't shed some light on this."
Alec was completely unprepared for Seregil's reaction, in which he went pale and his lip started trembling. "Are you saying...Nysander is alive?" Seregil's voice was barely a whisper.
"Yes, of course," Alec said. "He stays very near the library. We'll go see him tomorrow."
Despite the bizzare events of the evening so far, Alec was even more stunned when tears started rolling down Seregil's cheeks. The man turned away, his shoulders shaking with sobs, and Alec immediately jumped to his feet, wanting to go over, but not quite daring to. "What's wrong?"
"N-n-nysander," Seregil choked out, and it only took a few more seconds for the remaining frozen shards in Alec's cool demeanor to melt before he finally relented, going over and wrapping an arm around the man, patting him on the back consolingly.
Alec shook his head with a sigh. What the hell have I just gotten myself into?