"Whatever is done for love
occurs beyond good and evil. "
Gaheris walked down the empty hall toward his own quarters. Within his mind and heart raged a burning sea of emotion. It had been a few months since that night when he had fallen asleep by Dylan's side, exhausted from the wound that had nearly killed him, and from the emotional tides of that day...finally able to feel some small measure of peace because Dylan still loved him. Of course he knew all too well that Dylan's words "I don't know what to believe in anymore..." meant that he no longer believed in him...no longer trusted him.
Then he had thought there was hope, hope that he could once again earn Dylan's trust, yet in the past months, his hope had slowly died, a little each day, as he knew all too well that Dylan was avoiding him. They used to spend almost every available moment together, sharing their sorrows and joys. He missed the games they used to play...yet now, Dylan had hardly spoken a word to him in months, and of those precious few, most were on Command.
Nothing could ever shake his love for Dylan...just as Gaheris knew that Dylan still loved him, deep down inside...but the unhealed breach of trust was unbearable.
As he passed Dylan's quarters, Gaheris's sensitive hearing picked up something...Dylan's voice, his anger and bitterness clearly audible:
"I have something to confess. I'm here to make peace with the
Nietzscheans, but inside me, I want to kill every single one of them.
Because of him...Gaheris Rhade."
Gaheris heard Rev's voice...
"The first officer of your ship."
Gaheris froze as he heard Dylan's response:
"More than that. My friend. He was supposed to be the best man
at my wedding. And then he betrayed me. Because I trusted him, the Nietzschean invasion got past my ship and the Commonwealth was destroyed. I lost my crew, my family, my friends...my fiancé. I lost the time and age I belonged to, Rev.
Hell, I lost civilization itself!"
Some small part of him felt he shouldn't be standing outside Dylan's door, listening, but the greater part of him was too broken to move, even to flee the pain. He could not blame Dylan for feeling as he did, nor would it ever shake his love for his friend...but nothing could take away the pain Dylan's words caused him...
The rest of the conversation passed through his mind and heart like a salvo of missiles, tearing apart his already broken soul, leaving nothing but indescribable pain in their wake.
"And now you're wondering, is it worth reaching out to Nietzscheans?"
"They're genetically engineered to be paranoid and selfish and treacherous. Am I right to be prejudiced?"
"As a Magog, my own genes predispose me to slaughter
indiscriminately, eat my victims, lay eggs in the paralyzed bodies of sentient beings.
I think if you were truly prejudiced, you would have shot me on sight."
" It's not the same. You're a Wayist. You're the most peaceful person I know."
"Ahhhhh. Then in each species, no matter how horrible, there's room for improvement.
You don't have to forget. You don't even have to forgive. But you must look for the good in the beings you encounter.
Otherwise, your restored Commonwealth will be founded on distrust, and it will be over before it even begins."
The ensuing silence reminded Gaheris to leave, and still reeling with the shock and pain of what he had just heard, he staggered back to his quarters, and sank down on his bed, engaging privacy mode.
Had anyone been watching him now, they would have known how deeplynhurt he was. Everything about his posture betrayed his deep pain. He seemed totally broken, too crushed to sit up straight, almost curled up from the pain, his elbows resting on his knees, his head bowed low with total misery.
There was no reason to hold back his tears, except that for a long time the pain and shock were too intense even for tears.
Slowly one drop, then another, and another ran from his eyes, becoming an unstoppable torrent... like his blood the day he had almost died... Not for the first time, Gaheris wished he had died that day.
His right hand descended, pulling his forcelance from its holster. A flick of his wrist activated it, and he pressed the charged weapon against his heart. In this moment he wanted nothing more than to feel his consciousness, his pain melt away into nothingness as he died, to find peace at last.
But he knew he could not do it, because if he took his own life, Dylan would understand why... and then he would have to live with the same pain and regret that had been Gaheris's torment for two years, and he could not let that happen.
Regretfully, he holstered the weapon, and drying his tears, burying his pain deep inside, prepared for his duty shift in Command.
Dylan sat looking at the empty Go board, where he and Gaheris had spent so many hours together.
His thoughts anywhere but the present... He remembered Gaheris's words, words that had never stopped giving him an uneasy feeling, but at the time had simply brushed off:
"It's only cheating if you get caught."
Memories of the worst moments of his life flashed through his mind. He dove, taking cover behind a console, calling in shock: "Rhade!"
Gaheris's response burned into his mind: "I tried to warn you!"
Suddenly he understood. Gaheris had been warning him:
"Three years we've been playing this game. Have you always been cheating?"
"Why would I cheat?"
"The same reason I do. So that you can win."
Still angry and bitter, Dylan looked up at the frame holding pictures of him and Gaheris, saying in a low tone laced with bitterness, yet also a ray of understanding:
"Why didn't I listen? You were warning me. You'd do anything to win... Even kill me."
Yet it was not he who had nearly died that day...it was Gaheris. When Gaheris had fallen, and not gotten up again, Dylan's rage melted away to shock and horror at what he had done. He remembered turning Gaheris over to check on him, seeing the horrible wound in his chest, and whispering terrified and regretful:
"Gaheris, what have you done?"
Gaheris's response was quiet, too weakened to do more than whisper:
"I'm proud of you... You should be."
Dylan muttered bitterly to the silent image of his friend who smiled back from the photo:
"You were proud for me. Because I won."
He knew what to do. If not anything else, Gaheris had taught him a valuable lesson about Nietzscheans, and now Dylan knew what to expect from Tyr. No-one but himself and Andromeda knew about his decision to start an overload in her AP chamber... This time, Dylan would be prepared. He was ready for another round.
Dylan looked back at the old photograph, pulled back into the memories of the past. He remembered the day they had played that game of Go, what Gaheris had said with a smile: "Oh, we have love."
Dylan had known only too well that Gaheris meant him...he loved him.
In his mind's eye, Dylan saw Gaheris laying before him, dying from a wound he had inflicted... Yet despite his certainty at knowing what Gaheris had meant... something stirred deep within him.
Gaheris's whispered words held buried within them so much emotion, so much pain and yet love. He had seen the one tear that ran from Gaheris's eyes, and even the slight smile that graced his lips as he leaned against Dylan's hand, laying there feeling his life ebbing away.
Somewhere deep down inside Dylan wondered if Gaheris had always wanted it to end this way...for no other reason but that he loved him and wanted him to go on.
Why had Gaheris told him he should be proud...if not to try to ease his pain? Why did Dylan feel that there was so much more meaning in Gaheris's words "I'm proud of you."
His mind was spinning... the conflict this was causing within his heart was tearing it apart.
Perhaps one day he could sort it out, but right now he had to get to Command.
Dylan and Gaheris turned to face Tyr as Guderian's forces led their crew in hostage.
Gaheris's gaze was locked on Tyr...not like it had not happened before to him, but with a weapon pointed at Dylan, his anger was magnified exponentially. In that moment if looks could kill, Tyr would be having his funeral.
Suddenly both he and Dylan froze as something neither of them expected was said. Guderian was offering Gaheris a chance to be a husband and a father, to have a pride again...to no longer be alone...provided he would help them against Dylan.
Dylan froze in terror... Which Nietzschean would refuse? Gaheris had lost everything and everyone during their 300 years at the event horizon...only to find that his entire family had died, his line erased from existence. Now he was alone, knowing that his genes would die with him, even alienated from his best friend...what was left for him here?
Gaheris moved, but only slightly, only to step closer to Dylan's side, his response to their offer a long and very angry growl resonating from deep within his chest. Had it been directed at him, even Dylan would have flinched.
What happened there struck home within Dylan's heart. He could feel Gaheris by his side, giving him silent support, willing to risk everything for his friend. He could feel something practically emanating from his friend...it was angry but also fierce and protective...he could feel his love.
Despite the desperate situation, despite Andromeda's countdown to their deaths...he felt safe.
In the end, they won. Dylan had correctly predicted Tyr's move, and had been prepared. As the Orca pride left, Andromeda initiated emergency venting, and all was well for the moment.
Gaheris stepped through the doors to the Obs deck, where Dylan was leaning on the sill, looking out at the stars. He quietly called out: "Dylan."
Dylan turned to face him: "Gaheris."
Gaheris inclined his head slightly, waiting for Dylan to speak, knowing that there was much on his mind. Dylan waited silently, his only response was to raise a brow, clearly waiting for Gaheris to speak first.
Gaheris sighed silently. There was no surprise in Dylan no longer wanting to confide in him, but it did not take away the pain he felt.
Holding his voice perfectly level despite his sorrow, he said: "I am proud of you."
Dylan sighed almost wearily, turning toward the stars again: "Why?"
Gaheris stepped closer, still leaving a distance between him and Dylan, before speaking again:
"For learning to survive."
This time he could not keep the pain out of his voice. He had tried to warn Dylan, tried to teach him not to trust so naively...and Dylan had in the end learned...but Gaheris knew that what he had taught Dylan had shattered Dylan's trust in him, perhaps forever...and that hurt more than he could bear.
Gaheris stood frozen in place for a moment, not seeing the tears that had filled Dylan's eyes, as Dylan thought of the tragic irony...both times Gaheris had said he was proud of him, he had hurt Gaheris terribly... this time perhaps in a worse way. He had picked up the pain in Gaheris's voice, the deep sorrow he was struggling so hard to conceal...and in that moment he knew...
Gaheris walked with a heavy heart to exit the OBS deck, while Dylan pulled his forcelance from the holster, leaving it on the sill, and turned towards Gaheris. He called his friend's name, just as he reached the door: "Gaheris."
Trying hard to fight back the pain that radiated from his gaze, Gaheris turned, walking towards Dylan who came toward him, meeting him at the center of the room.
Dylan closed the gap between them, stepping closer to Gaheris than he had been since that night right after he'd nearly killed him.
He could see the torrent of emotions flashing through Gaheris's eyes, he could see the pain and fear that was there. He could see the desperate hope in his eyes, hope, needing to believe he could one day regain his best friend's trust...and the resigned sorrow, certain that he would be hurt yet again - certain that his deepest wish would never come true.
Dylan said softly, catching Gaheris's gaze with his own:
"Gaheris. I know I have been avoiding you lately..."
Dylan sighed and lowered his gaze before continuing:
"I guess I have been angry...angry at you for things that were not in your power to change. Some part of me blamed you for all I have lost...forgetting that you have lost just as much, if not more... and the universe...Civilization is in tatters, the strong prey on the weak, there is no justice, no unity, no law... "
Dylan broke off noticing the hurt in Gaheris's expression. He said softly: "But I know that's never how you wanted things to turn out..."
Glancing back up to meet his friend's gaze, not sure how to go on, Dylan said:
"What Tyr did today...it got me thinking. I needed to understand what he would do, how he thinks...And in the process I realized something. You had tried to warn me, many times in fact. I was just too slow.
...You tried to teach me, to help me understand Nietzscheans, to foresee what was coming... And I think I have finally understood what you were warning me about all along, but I also have understood something else..."
Dylan looked into his friend's eyes, not missing the pain within their depths. He took Gaheris's hand in his own, and gently pulled so that Gaheris's arm was between them, with his relaxed boneblades pointing towards Dylan.
Holding Gaheris's gaze with his own, both mirroring the same sadness...yet also hope, Dylan said in a voice so soft it was almost a whisper: "I trust you, Gaheris."
Gaheris's eyes filled with tears that he could no longer hold back, knowing that what Dylan had done was proof of his trust, knowing as well as Dylan how vulnerable he was in this moment. Gaheris had noticed earlier that Dylan was unarmed. Yet Dylan's breathing and heartbeat - clearly audible to Gaheris's enhanced hearing - had remained perfectly calm.
Gaheris dropped his arm, pulling Dylan into his embrace. He rested his forehead against Dylan's shoulder, weeping tears of sorrow but also joy, knowing that at last his long journey of tears had come to a happy end, knowing that Dylan still loved him and trusted him, that their friendship never died.
Dylan held Gaheris close, resting his head on his friend's shoulder, weeping too. He knew he had hurt Gaheris deeply in the past few months, and more than anything he was deeply grateful that Gaheris was still his friend, still loved him.
After what seemed like an eternity, when both their tears had subsided, Dylan whispered: "I trust you with my life...I know that what happened between us was never what you wanted. It was what you had to do. You were given an impossible choice, your people's survival and safety for the universe...or me. I guess in a sense you tried to choose both. That's why you were warning me, you never wanted to hurt me."
Dylan pulled back slightly to look into Gaheris's eyes, saying with a smile though his tears: "It's an honor that I mean so much to you. Thank you."
Gaheris smiled sadly too, looking into Dylan's eyes and echoing the words he had said so long ago - only a few months for Dylan...but an eternity of unbearable pain for him - "It's an honor to serve with you."
His voice trembled with the deep emotion:
"And an honor to be your friend."
Dylan smiled gently saying: "The honor is mine."
They stood side-by-side, looking out at the stars, for over an hour, silently enjoying each other's presence, each other's love like healing rain falling on a parched desert, or the life-giving rays of the sun penetrating and dispelling the darkness of their sorrow.
Unknown to them a sun smiled. Now that they had passed this hardship, she knew that no matter what, their friendship would only grow stronger.