A/N: Here we go, Light and Shadow series episode TWO!

So I know a few reviews from the last story mentioned loose ends and how I didn't answer everything. Somewhat the point, especially since this is a series. Stuff will get answered obviously, but I didn't want to close it up all nice and pretty at the end of the first part and make it so there was no reason to really care about anything that happened next.

This is going to start getting heavily SFF now; with more bizarre people from other worlds and big plot things and so if you're still on for the ride, brace for that. :) I will tentatively state the update frequency at every other Friday, for now. (obviously it's Thursday today; early treat.)

Title: Chiaroscuro

Author: Alyn Drasil

Rating: overall R

Disclaimer: mine lalala

Warnings: swearing, m/m stuff. And UNBETA-ED. This can't be stressed enough.


[PROLOGUE]

It was about eight o'clock at night, and I was sitting in the living room of my apartment with two life changing experiences, in the form of a woman named Rysa and a man named Keyd.

A little run up to speed: on Halloween night I'd accidentally brought a graveyard statue to life after my jerkass friends had dared me to kiss it. Turned out the statue was actually a warrior from another world, named Keyd, under a curse that I had somehow removed. The statue had a female warrior partner, Rysa, and I'd been made to wake her up too. Their race was called the oenclar, and they had magic and strange abilities that came from little entities that lived inside them.

Soon after that we ran into a member of the oenclar's opposing race, the clarbach. A man named Ahieel who had used my confusion and ignorance of the situation to try and turn me, and my own latent abilities, against Keyd and Rysa. It had worked pretty well, too. Keyd had lost a wing before we'd gotten out of it, and after that I was pretty much committed to their side.

Fighting against Ahieel together had been a strange experience, and one that we'd eventually won in some way after Ahieel had accidentally completely changed the way my already-odd ability worked. He had left only a grove of energy-heavy trees behind, a grove that Keyd and Rysa had been carefully monitoring to make sure it was disappearing safely. And we hadn't seen Ahieel since.

And during all of this, Keyd and I had been harboring secret crushes on each other—him too terrified of his sexuality to say anything, and me too confused by the whole thing to do anything until it was nearly too late. Being gay in Keyd's world was almost always a death sentence, but he had briefly gotten over it enough for us to have an awkward, but good, sexual experiment.

That pretty much brought us up to now.

Keyd and I were sitting by each other—not next to each other, there was the whole span of a cushion in between us—and Rysa was on the second couch. Not five minutes had passed since she and Keyd had had a massive reconciliation about Keyd's sexuality—never actually hidden from her—but now there was more serious business to attend to. Mostly, that their reason for staying here had disappeared.

"The grove is gone," Rysa said. "We really have to start thinking about making contact with your father—finding out what's happened, how long it's been."

"I know," Keyd said. "I do know that."

They looked at each other for a moment, one of those conversations without speaking. Then Keyd looked at me, and put his hand out towards me. I wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean, so I reached back towards him. He curled his fingers loosely around my wrist, gave me a single indecipherable look, then turned back to Rysa.

"Bialad jonos," Keyd said, softly, looking directly at her. "Frinnava arlu haij dar."

Rysa exhaled a little, and looked back and forth between us. Keyd was still holding her gaze, but not demandingly. More like he was waiting for her to give him permission. His hand was still around my wrist, and getting a little tighter as Rysa continued to not do or say anything.

Finally, she lifted her head a little bit, and brushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "Haij dar," she said to Keyd. "Yvirran."

Keyd let out a breath that caught a little in his throat, and let his hand drift off my wrist. He gave Rysa a small, almost imperceptible nod. "Iaymat irad," he said. He paused a moment, then added, fairly hesitantly, "Tlu sair…"

Rysa almost seemed to smile, and then she got up from the couch. She sent a last look at Keyd, then me, and then left the room, going down the hallway back towards my bedroom. I heard a door shut somewhere back there. Immediately, I looked to Keyd.

"What was that?" I asked, and Keyd just shook his head. It was strange now—we were alone together and actually able to talk, for the first time since our little thing, last night. I had no idea what to say, or do, or what Keyd was thinking. Not that that was unusual.

He shifted a little bit towards me on the couch, not really meeting my eyes.

"I—" he stared, then rubbed two fingers along his temple, and started again, "we won't have much time, together. I know we both knew that, but…if you don't want to do anything further, I'd understand."

"How much further did you want to take this?" I asked, and Keyd went slightly pink again. He stood up, abruptly, rubbing his palms against the sides of his thighs and moving over to the living room windows. I didn't have to be able to read him well to sense his anxiety.

"I don't know," Keyd said, addressing the window blinds. "I just wish—we didn't have to leave right now."

Why do you, I almost asked, but I knew that answer. He and Rysa were pretty much nomadic world-jumpers, and it was just that their time here was going to end—they had to go back to their people. I couldn't go with them. We had both known this thing couldn't last long, and now the end of it was probably coming in a matter of hours. Just how many depended on—seemingly—Rysa.

I stood up myself, and went over to him. It took him a moment to notice I was next to him, and then he blinked a little, and turned to me.

"So what are these, anyway?" I asked, taking his wrists. Keyd turned his hands over in my grip so they faced palms down, with the new oen patterns facing up.

"Shields," he said, looking down at them himself. "But don't change the subject."

I hadn't actually thought he'd catch on to that. But I guess we really did have to figure this out, and now.

"Look," I said. "I have no idea what I want. At least, in terms of things I can have. I don't even—what do you want?"

Keyd just looked at me for a moment. His expression wasn't quite neutral, but I still wasn't any good at really reading him yet. If I had to guess, he looked nervous.

"Put your hand here," he said, after a long silent moment, and lightly tapped two fingers again the left side of his chest. So I did, resting my palm flat against the cotton shirt from Target that he was wearing. I could feel his heartbeat underneath my hand, a steady pounding rhythm.

"Feels normal," I said. Keyd's chest was also rising and falling slightly with his breathing, and with my hand this close to the central pattern of oen on his chest I could really feel his energy, a lot more than usual.

Keyd gave me a little sideways smile. "Our hearts beat slower than yours," he said. "So this is not normal, for me. This is what happens to me, around you."

Was my own heart beating faster than usual? I didn't know. Keyd suddenly seemed closer and he hadn't actually answered my question at all, or maybe he had. I just suddenly felt hot breath on my face and the tickle of his hair against my temples and my hand on his chest got crushed between us when his body pressed against me and his mouth came to mine.

Most of our kissing had been some sort of awkward, mostly because Keyd always just seemed along for the ride, never leading or pushing for anything. Only that one time he had, last night, when he had caught me up against a wall as soon as Rysa had left us alone.

And this kiss was more like that. Keyd gripped into me as soon as our faces met, one hand twisting into my hair and the other around my back and seizing my opposite shoulder. It was a hard kiss, ungentle and frantic, and the only thing I could do was seize back at him, dig my own hand into his hair and the other at the back of his neck, only hoping this wasn't one of the last times we would do this.

I heard the front door open and couldn't be bothered about it until I remembered Rysa was already here. So there was really only one person who'd be coming through that door.

I pushed Keyd away, a little harder than I meant to, and he stumbled back a pace. I looked towards the door and saw—not unexpectedly—my roommate Martin standing there, looking a little bemused and mostly surprised. He was holding his messenger bag in one hand and looked like he had forgotten he hadn't yet put it down. He didn't really look at Keyd at all; he looked at me.

"So, that Lisa girl isn't really your girlfriend, then," he said, after a moment.

"Uh," I said. "Not really, no."

#

The first thing I did was launch into an uncoordinated and poorly-worded explanation of why a super-tall guy with facial tattoos had been macking on me in the living room. But Martin cut me off before I got very far.

"Dude, dude," he said, holding up his hand. "I really don't care if you're gay, all right? I'm a little surprised, but—"

"I'm not gay," I said. "I'm—Jesus, look, I'm not anything, all right."

"Right," Martin said. He looked back and forth between me and Keyd—who had shifted behind me at some point and seemed to be trying to appear generally invisibleand lifted his eyebrows. "You're having a crisis."

"Look, this isn't even the important thing right now. I'm not dating him, I'm not having a crisis, I'm—" It suddenly occurred to me that Martin really deserved an explanation. Of everything. He had been my best friend until all this shit started, and I hadn't had time for friends.

I grabbed Keyd by his elbow, and hauled him around until he was next to me.

"Keyd," I said, "this is Martin. Martin, this is Keydestas. Keyd."

Martin took it in stride. "Hey," he said, and offered Keyd his hand. Keyd's eyelids were flicking without fully blinking, but he took Martin's hand and shook it.

"Keydestas, huh," Martin said. "Are you foreign?"

Keyd did blink then. And didn't answer. Then he looked at me. "Frequency," he said.

"Oh, shit," I said. I was so used to Keyd and Rysa not engaging anyone else in conversation that I had forgotten that they actually couldn't.

"Martin," I said, and my roommate looked at me. "Do you have time to uh—listen to something really, really bizarre and insane but true?"

"Does it have to do with your foreign boyfriend, here?" Martin asked. "Or all the weird shit that's been going on? Or that fact that your eyes are yellow?"

"You noticed that?"

Martin quirked an eyebrow. "Dude."

"Yeah, okay, right. I—yeah it has to do with all that. Keyd and that girl I told you was my girlfriend—who isn't, and her name's Rysa really—and me, and—I just need to explain this to you. All right?"

"Sure," Martin said. "You don't have to be so freaked, you know. It's not like I'm a homophobe or anything."

"It's about more than that," I muttered, annoyed that I apparently sounded panicked. And that Martin thought that I thought that poorly of him.

"Hey, Keyd, can you—" I paused, and then decided might as well go all the way here. "Can you take off your shirt, for a minute?"

Keyd gave me a brief look, but he seemed to understand what I was getting at. He pulled his shirt off over his head, and Martin looked impressed.

"Man," he said. "Your boyfriend works out."

"He's not my—he's a warrior."

"That part of the weird shit you're going to explain?"

"Uh huh. So let me—Keyd, are you going to turn around? The shirt thing was for a reason."

Keyd was still facing towards us, which showed off the oen mark in the middle of his chest, but that wasn't what I needed Martin to see. His face would have looked neutral to anyone but Rysa, and now me. I could tell this was all making him supremely uncomfortable. It probably didn't help that he couldn't understand what Martin was saying at all.

"Just show him your wing," I said, "maybe those shields too. Or the sword, whatever you want." Keyd blew out a little breath, nodded, and turned around and put his back to us. I felt his familiar humming magic in the air, and then his wing flashed out over his shoulder. I'd never actually seen it come out from this angle. It was a little like the sword—the tattooed pieces lifted off of his skin and enlarged and fractured into more pieces, all in about half a second.

It was definitely enough to startle Martin. He jumped backwards, crashed into one of the kitchen chairs and grabbed at it for balance.

"Oh, whoa. Shit," Martin said. "I—how did he do that?"

Keyd, meanwhile, had turned back around to face us, his wing still up but not fully outstretched, and was standing with his weight on one foot, his hands behind his back. He glanced at me, I gave him a little nod, and the wing went away again. He started to put his shirt back on.

"He's not exactly from earth," I said to Martin. "Which is one reason why you can't understand what he says. He can't understand you, either, by the way."

"Not. From…earth," Martin said slowly. "Okay. Right. I—fuck."

"I know," I muttered. "Showing you that was the fastest way I could think of for you to at least—be in a mindset to believe me."

"I don't think I can't not believe you," Martin said in a complete butchering of proper negatives. "Shit."

I looked at Keyd. "Is there a way to tune him into frequency?"

Keyd spread his hands out. "Rysa might be able to. She's done it before, in other worlds, but I don't know if it's possible in yours."

"Let's get her when she get back out here, then," I said.

"So," Martin said, carefully letting go of the back of the chair. "So, you can understand what he's saying?"

"Yeah," I said, "yeah, it's—hard to explain. He can understand me, too."

"I'd hope so," Martin muttered. He had eased off the chair a little, but wasn't looking much more assured. "Shit, Alan, where did he come from?"

"Uh," I said. "D'you remember Halloween? And that statue in the graveyard—the one you jackasses had me kiss?"

Martin squinted and looked up towards the ceiling. "Uh, yeah, sort of," he said, and then—"wait, that statue is him?"

"Yeah," I said. "I told you it was bizarre."

"Wait," said Martin again, and now he sounded like he was about to laugh. "Wait. Don't tell me that it was like—you kissed him and woke him up?"

"Uh," I said, "yeah, kinda, basically. I mean, it wasn't like—it sounds stupid when you say it like that! It was a curse—I took it off them without knowing."

Rysa had even explained to me at one point that it wasn't even the kissing that was the thing that had broken it (and occasionally, put it back)—it was just touching them with intent. Whatever ability I did have had interpreted a specific intent to touch them as a specific intent to draw away or put back energy. Which was why sometimes we'd touched with nothing happening.

But Martin was grinning too amusedly at me for that explanation to be any good on him, I could see.

"That's the best story I've ever heard," he said. "Better than telling people you met on like, eHarmony or something."

If he didn't stop making stupid insinuations, I was going to have to punch him, no matter how much I liked the guy. I didn't need jokes about my incomprehensible relationship with Keyd, even if I knew it was Martin's way of telling me he didn't care I'd made a random switch of sexuality.

"Yeah, sure," I muttered, but before Martin had the chance to make any more dumb jokes, Rysa came out from the hallway, from wherever she'd been hiding and giving me and Keyd time to talk. Martin perked up at once.

"Hey," he said, "there's the other one."

"Hey, Rysa," I said. "Can you, uh—align him into frequency?" I knocked Martin in the shoulder, even though it was pretty clear who I was talking about. "D'you think you could?"

Rysa gave Martin a once-over. "Maybe," she said.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I know it's kind of late notice, but—he did let you guys crash in the apartment for a couple weeks without saying anything so—I think he deserves to be able to talk to you."

"Hey, it's cool," Martin said mildly.

I thought of something, suddenly, and turned to Rysa. "Wait," I said. "Didn't you say you talked to him once, when I was kind of out of it?"

"I never said I spoke to him," she said, with a little smirk.

"How did you tell him anything then?"

"Tell you later," Rysa said, and then she turned to look at Martin, with a clear sense of purpose. Martin took a very tiny step back.

"It's all right," I said to him. I didn't want to patronize him, but I knew how—well, scary—Rysa could be to someone who didn't know her.

"Can I sit down?" Martin said, groping for a chair and pulling it underneath him. "I'd really like to have this chair."

"m'sure that's fine," I said. Martin looked ultimately relieved.

Rysa stepped forward and curled her hands around his head, her fingers digging into his hair. She closed her eyes, and I saw the oen on her hands start to glow faintly black-purple.

"Alan, uh, Alan, what is she doing?" Martin said, sounding like he was keeping panic very sharply reigned in.

"I'm not sure specifically, but in general she's going to make it so you can understand them," I said.

"Uh," Martin said. He was gripping the arms of the chair fairly hard. "Right. Uh."

Rysa stayed holding onto Martin's head for probably about five minutes. She didn't move, and her eyes were closed, and her breath was so light that it almost looked like she wasn't, at all. At one point, Martin's eyes rolled up a little and his eyelids went half-masted, and he went just as still.

Keyd and I just watched. I tried to catch his eye a couple of times, but he was stolidly looking at Rysa, and I wasn't sure what I would have done if he had looked at me anyway. I didn't feel like we'd figured anything out, at all.

Rysa finally pulled back, the glow around her hands fading fast. Martin's head dropped forward towards his chest, and then jerked up sharply, like he'd caught himself falling asleep. He squeezed his eyes shut and put his fingers to his temples.

"Hello," Rysa said to him, and Martin glanced up and blinked hard. "Do you understand me?"

"I—yeah," Martin said, blinking several more times. "I do."

Rysa smiled, showing lots of teeth, which didn't seem to assure Martin any further. "Good," she said. Then she held out her hand to him. "To finally introduce myself—I'm Rysanys."

"Uh, Martin," Martin said, taking her hand after a moment. "Uh."

I didn't really blame him for the lack of speaking power, since I hadn't been much better at first either. At least Rysa was a little more friendly than Keyd had been with me.

Martin was tenuously touching at his head, poking at his skull like he'd thought Rysa might have partially removed some of it.

"All right, great," I said. "So we can all understand each other now."

"Him too?" Martin said, sparing one hand from his head-exploration to point to Keyd.

"Me, too," Keyd said, and Martin blinked again, lifted his eyebrows, and then nodded.

"Guess so," he said. "Well, uh—nice to meet you, Alan's boyfriend and Alan's boyfriend's…sister?"

Rysa laughed. "Close enough," she said. "I suppose we also must thank you for your hospitality, here."

"I said it was cool," Martin said. "You didn't trash the place or anything, that's all I ask."

I glanced at Keyd, and for once he was actually looking back at me. But as soon as I met his eyes, he looked away, fast and almost embarrassedly. I didn't know what the hell was wrong with him; we'd been fine five minutes ago when we were making out.

Rysa was looking back and forth between us, and she suddenly moved forward and took Keyd's arm. He startled, almost looked alarmed, and then went flat and neutral again.

"You must excuse us for a moment," Rysa said, mostly to Martin, starting to drag Keyd towards the door. He didn't protest—just followed her, unexpressive. They went out the front door and it banged shut behind them. It was quiet for a few moments, with Martin and me just standing there kind of dumbly.

"So he's…not your boyfriend," Martin said, finally, still looking at the door.

"I don't think so," I said.

#

Trying to talk to Keyd sometimes was impossible. And right now, he was putting effort into making it so. Once Rysa and Keyd came back from whatever little talk they'd had outside, he clung so close to her that it felt embarrassing to start trying to talk about our whatever in front of her, even though she knew now. I'd thought he wanted to talk, but apparently I'd been wrong. I couldn't talk to him that night, and the next morning he was doing the same thing, and I got fed up with it.

I decided that I might as well go to class instead. This semester was quite possibly shot to all hell already, but I had been going back to some classes recently, so maybe it was salvageable. After all, as I was being reminded of recently, Keyd and Rysa would be gone very soon. And I'd just have my normal life to get back to.

I threw my school shit together into a bag and headed out. Hopefully Keyd and Rysa wouldn't take off while I was gone, because I didn't bother to say anything to either of them. But it didn't matter, because I didn't get very far. About as far as the edge of the parking lot.

Because there was a very tall man standing in the middle of it. His face was tilted downwards, and his arms were lifted slightly from his sides. He was very, very palely blond. And I could feel a bright, high pulse in the air around him.

I stopped, at once, in the middle of the walkway, and did a sharp about-face. That was a clarbach, and it wasn't Ahieel. Therefore it had to be Bad Bad News. And already my body was reacting to his energy, trying to drag it towards me. Running right back to the apartment and siccing Keyd and Rysa on him seemed like the best idea I could possibly have, except for the voice that called out after me, "wait."

I spun, nearly tripping over myself, and saw that the new clarbach had seen me, and was coming towards me at a pretty rapid pace.

"Ah, fuck," I said, and did the only thing I could think off—which was to push about three break shields out of me and at him. I had a lot of them to spare from practicing with Rysa, after all.

The shields shot up between us, invisible and cooling and safe. The clarbach's buzzing whining magic dimmed down to a tinny drone. And my body stopped trying to drag his energy in—or at least, enough to where I could resist it. I breathed outward, then set my jaw and prepared—well. Prepared to have this guy try to slam the shit out of me.

But the clarbach drew up sharply, his eyes going marginally wider.

"You aren't—" he started. "How did you just—"

"Long fucking story," I said. "You should know I'm pretty dangerous to you, so don't try throwing any energy or spells at me, they won't work."

The clarblach just looked at me. Almost disappointedly. But I knew this game, it was the same thing Ahieel had always done. I wasn't buying it.

"This is going to be much different than I expected," he murmured. "You must have been the third I was sensing…"

"Yeah, whatever," I said. "You just—you just get the fuck out. Leave."

The clarbach only shook his head. "I need to see Rysanys."

"Not likely," I told him. And as an afterthought, "and she's not here."

"She will want to see me," the man said. "Tell her that Ociir needs to speak to her." He said it like awk-ear.

"No," I said. "Sorry, pal."

"I understand," the clarbach said, "that you have no reason to trust me, especially if you know Rysa and Keyd. But you must—" he paused, drew in a breath, and started again, "my word won't mean much to you, but I do promise that I have no ill intent towards them."

"Seriously," I said, "I'm not this stupid." Well, not anymore, at least. Nobody was going to pull an Ahieel on me again.

The clarbach—named Ociir, apparently—spread his arms in front of him, palms up.

"Lock me here," he said. "Anything you want. Just please—get her."

Because of course I knew how to lock him there. About the only thing I could do was to throw a break shield around him—well. Maybe that would work.

I wasn't quite sure how to do that either, so I ended up throwing a bundle of energy out towards him in a sheer attempt to look like I knew what I was doing. The shield snapped up around him, closing off the feel of his energy entirely. I was impressed with myself for about two seconds, and then I thought about how I had no idea if this was really working or how long it would last, and I figured I should probably get Keyd and Rysa, immediately.

I sprinted back to my apartment, finding Keyd and Rysa in the living room on the couch, having a furiously whispered conversation with each other. I couldn't care about what they were having personal issues with right now—there was a much bigger one outside.

"Hey, guys," I said, "there's a clarbach outside." Both Rysa and Keyd started to attention at once, breaking off their conversation. "I think you might want to deal with him—you know, kick his ass or something. I put him in a break shield, but—yeah. He said his name was Ociir, and that—"

Rysa and Keyd had leapt to their feet before I'd even finished saying the name. But neither of them looked angry—Rysa looked shocked, and Keyd looked—well. He looked the same, but in a different way. I wasn't sure exactly how to decipher it, or even explain it.

"Ociir," Rysa strode over to me and took my shoulders. "He really said that was his name?"

"Yes, yeah," I said. "Shit, is this guy worse than Ahieel, or something?"

Rysa didn't answer—she let go of me and rushed for the door. Keyd wasn't very far behind her. They blew right past me and I barely managed to reel around and follow after them with my balance intact.

I chased them out to the parking lot, where the clarbach named Ociir was actually still standing, with my lame excuse for a shield still humming around him. Rysa physically staggered at the edge of the lot, coming to an abrupt halt when she saw the guy standing there. Keyd had stopped behind her, a hand falling to her shoulder.

Ociir noticed them right away, lifting his head and looking directly at Rysa.

"Rysa," he said, quietly and almost reverently. "I—"

Rysa was suddenly running, dashing forward and leaping straight for him, dissolving the break shield with a slice of her hand—I guess she could do that, it was hers originally after all. For a moment I thought she was just so furious that she'd forgotten she had magic and had just bare-handed attacked him. But then I realized that she was…hugging him. And he was hugging her back, his arms around her and her face pressed into his shoulder and neck.

"Oh my god what the fuck," I said, flatly. "Keyd. Shit, man, explain something here."

Keyd had come up against my side, bumping against my arm. He was also looking at Rysa and Ociir, but with a resolved, forced neutrality.

"Ociir," he said. "He's Rysa's brother."


Come back in two weeks. :D

Another note—while I really appreciate catches/questions on obvious goofs in plot/sequence of events, please don't bug me on accidental grammar tweaks. As I say every time, these are unbeta'd. I try to do it myself (I am pretty much a grammar nazi), but I can't catch everything (lots of words to look over here), and I really dislike reviews that simply point out a single grammatical error, and that's it. ;_;