Disclaimer: The Death Gate Cycle is a series of seven books written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the characters that appear here belong to their original creators etc. They are not mine. Written for darkhymms in the 2012 Blasters and Wands Sci Fi and Fantasy Swap
"Until I Fall Away" by karrenia
Haplo had spent most of his life either running to or running rom something, that it had almost as comfortable and familiar to him as his own skin; second nature as it were.
Alfred thought, 'Sometimes people put up walls, not to keep other people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.'
It was a heady but dangerous direction in which his thoughts were taking him, because the object of his preoccupation was also supposed to be his nominal enemy. Too much time had passed, too many things had changed since the era when that had been a basic of good and evil, black and white.
He had been taught that the Patryns were the enemy, that they were they the ones to be feared , and Alfred, while he was afraid of many, not the least of which was tripping over his own too-large feet, he was still very much afraid of the Patryns, but was he still afraid of this particular one?
In the privacy and silence of his own mind, Alfred Montbank considered this question and the best that he could come up with, was yes and no, all the while smiling a quiet yet sad smile at the thought that his quibbling nature often irritated his travelling companion, who seemed to exude such certainty and strength of will.
Alfred was not the same as his distant ancestors' those ancestors of his, the legendary Sartan had been much on his mind of late. Legends said that they had vanished from the Sundered Realms, but how and why?
Haplo's agenda was all too clear, he had a mission from his Lord Xar, ostensibly it was to travel to each of the realms and do what amounted to reconnaissance, but there had to be something more to it, right?
Alfred was tired of the circles in which his mind was wandering, but nonetheless he would persevere. Because, in a way that he could not begin to describe, as different as each of they were, the fact of the matter was; they needed each other.
Why he felt that as strongly as he did was impossible for him to point into words; whenever he tried he stumbled over the words more so than he ever had his own over-sized feet. He knew that Haplo did not much appreciate having him for a travelling companion and grew impatient and short-tempered, and would never admit it, not even to himself, but he could feel it, too.
Alfred's meandering thoughts were abruptly interrupted when he realized that while he had been leaning against the real of Haplo's remarkable flying ship, and had thought that all of the other man's concentration had been given over to piloting it; it turned out that not all of his concentration had been on the ship.
Haplo was glaring at him out of the corner of his eye, and the expression on his face was both implacable and a bit annoyed. Alfred had never known that Patryns possessed the ability to read the thought of others, and if they had been able to, it should not have worked on a Sartan, whose magical abilities were on par to their own.
Alfred swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing a bit erratically in his slender throat, and offered a weak but reassuring smile, knowing all the while that it was a weak attempt at best, but nevertheless putting forth a brave effort, his heart shuddering in his breast. Wondering, 'Is this love, He's the enemy, I should hate him, all he stands for, but I do not. What is wrong with me?'
Haplo, considered the other man for a bit, and thought, 'The next time he looks at me that way, in will not hesitate to throw his skinny hide off of this ship.' Following shortly on the heels of that particular thought, another more uncomfortable one followed, 'But can I afford to do that. While the fool may be a fool, and he knows it, he is my only lead to finding out if the Sartan still exist, so I still need him., at least for a little while.'
Staring daggers at Alfred, Haplo, 'thought, damn me, Alfred, stop looking at me that way, it's disconcerting and it appears as if you're attempting to seeing right through my skin and bones and right into my head.' Aloud, "If you can't find something to keep yourself occupied, you can go and keep company with the damn dog. He'll want feeding soon enough."
"Sure, Haplo, anything you say!" exclaimed Alfred cheerily even as he loosened his white-knuckled hold on the ship's railing and in the process of doing so stumbled and feel down on his rump. He quickly righted himself and dashed off in the direction of the ladder that led below-decks.
Haplo nodded and returned his concentration to piloting the ship.