it's completely dysfunctional. Love never enters into the equation; Korso doesn't even know if there's an Akrennian word for it. Preed told him once that it was synonymous with "weak spot," but Korso doesn't really believe him. He only believes around a third of what comes out of the slippery fuck's mouth anyway.

Maybe less. Because the only things he really believes are what they never say. It's the way they'll instinctively stand with their backs to one another in a tense situation, how just a flick of a glance or a shifting of weight speaks volumes. The things they've never discussed. The reason they've been a team since the dust and shrapnel of what used to be Earth was just beginning to settle.

He wouldn't call it a trust. More of an understanding. An alliance, a kind of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' thing. And that manifests itself in loud, chaotic ways in shootouts and dogfights, and sticking together in the madding crowd.

And it shows in the much quieter stretches - maybe not literally quiet, Preed never shuts up - but when they're not fighting or running for their lives or making deals with the Devil. Both know what it's like to live on the very fringes, to scrape by by bare inches and do absolutely anything just to stay alive.

It's why there's no argument when Korso says he can't keep running anymore. That staying alive and maybe, just possibly having some security and peace of mind is more important than hanging on to a relic of a lost world, a stupid, desperate home that he's finally tired enough to give up on.

And he's just so tired.

He doesn't belong to anything anymore, and nothing belongs to him. It's the ultimate parental abandonment, and it's only in these quiet, small hours that he lets himself think this. When he lets himself relax his fanatical guard against being pigeonholed as just another piece of human garbage, a drifter, floating aimlessly and contributing to nothing.


And he doesn't have to explain this to an Akrennian free agent who's more comfortable on a human ship without another member of his species around for lightyears. He doesn't need to spell out that he needs a distraction, someone to not ask questions and him him as hard as he can, and let him take out his anger and frustration and turn it into a kind of violent sexual therapy - and then roll off of him and leave without a word.

Or to keep him up talking, filling the silence with banter he likes to think is witty, debating the status quo or planning the next quasilegal venture to put money in their pockets and keep the ship running, keep themselves breathing.

Or to seize him in a vicegrip, long, wire-strong arms and legs clamping around him like a steel trap. Hold him immobile and possessed - and it is that possessiveness, that control that he only allows when there's no one else around to judge, and wonder why a confident, aggressive ex-captain with a pretty good bead on life would need to feel something even vaguely like belonging.

And he holds on right back. Because even if a slimy, perverted, treacherous alien is all he has left in the universe to hold onto, he'll take it.