PLEASE READ THIS. Because I've gotten a few recent messages on this and maybe I made it unclear, I'm very sorry if I did…
The rewrites of this story are NOT PUBLIC. They are on my Patreon. This is because I'm trying to figure out how to publish it, and don't want a complete version online while that happens. But I would like people to be able to read it if they choose and if they can. It'd be $1 to read, and there's already 6 chapters available, as of April 2017.
I don't only post Chiaroscuro there, though. There are other stories too, so if you do go to my Patreon please be aware of that. Signing up there is more of a support of me in general, rather than 'buying' a story from me. I'm dirt poor, chronically ill, and not a full-time writer, but I try to write as well and quickly as I can and I'm sorry if I disappoint people when that doesn't happen.
Since I know one of the caveats of FP is not to post a 'note' as a chapter, here is a fairly decent chunk of the 3rd chapter.
Father. Father? This guy was Keyd's dad? Was this for fucking real right now? How were all these people showing up at my apartment all at the same damn time? How'd he found us?
And this felt like a Western standoff; nowhere near the enthusiasm Ociir had gotten when he'd shown up. Keyd and his dad stared each other down for a long damn minute, standing a few feet apart, neither one talking or moving. I could feel every second go by with each heavy thud of my heart. Keyd wasn't facing me, but his shoulders moved up and down with slow controlled breaths, and his fingers curled up into his palms. His dad had a pure poker face; there wasn't a thing about him I could read.
"Keydestas," his dad said, finally breaking the silence and the tension. "Jahol akhren dejj."
Oh good. Alien language. Isji, that's what it was called. Still couldn't understand a word of it, but at least I knew the damn name. And I'd get Keyd's half of the conversation, so maybe I could—
"Haol ekenhan kumre, imata," Keyd said.
Never fucking mind.
Keyd's dad almost reacted to that; a shift backwards of his shoulders and a tiny lift of his head. "Haol kinta kefryretan." He had a real controlled and intent way of talking, all his attention focused right on Keyd—like I didn't exist anymore. And I was totally fine with sliding a couple more steps back, getting out of the way of their conversation.
Whatever Keyd's dad had said to him, it made Keyd square his shoulders and take in a real calm and slow breath. But he didn't actually seem calm. More like he was tamping down some serious frustration. I couldn't actually be this good at reading Keyd by now; he had to be losing some of his composure or something.
Keyd and his dad threw more short quick sentences back and forth at each other, and then Keyd started doing something that I had to guess was explaining. He was sure saying a lot of words, more than I'd ever heard out of him at one time, and of course I couldn't fucking understand any of them. But I caught the word Ahieel a few times, and Rysa's name, so I had an idea of what he was talking about. But he still sounded really...uninvolved. Like he was reading a book report or telling a really unexciting story. It all sounded precise and reserved and almost like a business meeting.
Then I remembered that Keyd and Rysa had actually been gone for twelve years...and this was the first time Keyd and his dad had seen each other since then. Even if it'd only seemed like a few weeks for Keyd, it hadn't for his dad. This has already seemed like a really unemotional conversation between people who didn't really relate to each other, but now it seemed really weird. If Keyd hadn't actually called him father to his face I'd've never guessed they were family, or even related at all.
Well, maybe I would have if I just looked at them. They looked a lot alike. The same straight, sharp noses and angled jawlines. Keyd was a little taller, but not by much. His dad had a much neater and shorter haircut, but the same deep black color, and he seemed a little bulkier under all those layers of clothes. I didn't want to say he was a handsome guy, but he really was a handsome guy. It'd taken a while for Keyd's hard features to really grow on me, and he had that heavier brow and angled eyebrows that made him look constantly intense, but his dad was...more straight-up attractive. He barely looked old enough to even have a kid Keyd's age. But I didn't actually know Keyd's age, and after the weird confusion about twelve years passing...I had no idea how old any of these people were.
"I didn't think he would come here personally," Rysa's voice said suddenly, right in my ear. She'd sidled up to me and bumped lightly up against my shoulder, and it actually made me feel better. That she was here with me, and that she was confused.
"That's really Keyd's dad?" I asked, and she nodded. "They don't seem that friendly."
Rysa made a little noise in the back of her throat, and when I glanced at her she was doing a weird frown that looked more disappointed than angry. "They're complicated," she said.
"Oh, that sounds great," I said, and I think the sarcasm flew right over Rysa's head. Complicated. Like a Facebook relationship. Did Keyd have any relationships that were simple? Just one regular friend or relative that didn't come with a mile of explanation and a ton of baggage? Shit, I was even one of those people now. Making Keyd's life more difficult and dangerous just because he liked me. "What are they even talking about?"
"Hm," Rysa said, tilting her head towards them like she hadn't been listening until just now. "You."
Oh, even fucking better. "Are you serious?"
"You have been a large part of everything that's gone on here," Rysa said. "Of course that would be part of the explanation of what's happened here."
"I thought you already told him what'd happened."
"Maedajon clearly wants to hear it for himself," Rysa said. Maedajon. Had to be Keyd's dad's name. It sounded kinda cool, actually. "And I wasn't able to talk with him directly when I was there; he was in council."
I could get that, if Keyd's dad really hadn't seen him for twelve years. But now I was losing track of all this weird cross-race family stuff and exactly what was going on. "Okay, so, Keyd's like...I know he's basically like your brother," I said, and Rysa gave me a little nod. "So is Maedajon like your dad too, kinda? Do you think of him like that?"
"I don't," Rysa said, carefully. "But that's nothing against him. He didn't raise me; I was grown by the time I came to them. But the Raen family has done a great deal for me, and Maedajon—Keyd's father—has always been supportive."
"It was dangerous and unwise," Rysa replied, real bluntly. "But he still did it. Their entire family is responsible for me being here."
I would've asked more, but right then Keyd turned in our direction and locked eyes with me. He didn't even have to say anything, or make a gesture; he wanted me over there. And shit, the least I could do was go meet his dad. Or help him out. Or whatever he needed.
So I left Rysa and walked back to Keyd, brushing against him as I did. It wasn't even on purpose, my wrist just bumped into his hand, but Keyd yanked his arm right up against his side like he'd touched a hot stove. He didn't look at me or actually move away, but his whole body was radiating a don't get near me attitude.
Right. Of course it'd be like that. I understood, with the whole being-really-closeted thing and with his dad right here, but holy fuck. It was even less subtle than how weird he'd acted this morning right in front of Rysa and Ociir. Keyd was so good at shutting himself off, I didn't get why he had to do this instead of just ignoringme or not reacting. He'd been real good at that when we'd first met.
But...he had said he'd never talked about this, acted on it or done anything at all in his entire life. That he was scared of just being around other men, and now here he was in front of his dad, standing next to a guy he'd actually made out with a couple times. Of course he didn't know how to do this subtle. He'd never had any practice. And it was something that scared him, in a way that was real hard for me to imagine. Keyd just didn't come across as person who scared easily.
Maedajon was looking right at me, and I got a sense that he was legitimately curious about what I was gonna say. His eyes were the same color as Keyd's and just as unreadable, which was kinda unnerving. A familiar look in a stranger's face.
"Hi," I said, like a dope, and then, "sir. I'm Alan. It's, um, nice to meet you. Sorry about being kinda rude before. I didn't know who you were."
Maedajon made a low rumbling sound that legitimately sounded like a laugh. At my side, Keyd flinched. I could feel him staring at me, and just hoped I wasn't fucking this up too badly. But I probably was.
"Alan," Maedajon said. He said it the same way Rysa and Keyd did; aw-lawn. "My name is Raen Maedajon. Though you may know that already."
"Sorta, yeah," I said. I hadn't told him my last name. Did that matter at all? I'd never told Keyd or Rysa my last name. But I was pretty sure I'd never heard Keyd's last name before either, even though their last names seemed to come first. Unless I'd been calling Keyd and Rysa by their last names this whole time.
"I've heard you've been of help to Keydestas and Rysanys," Maedajon said. He didn't sound impressed or surprised or anything else. Just stating a fact.
"I—sure," I said, right before I started to deny it. If Keyd had told him I'd been helpful, I should just agree. Didn't want to make Keyd look stupid or say he was wrong, not in front of his dad.
"I understand you possess some abilities, as well," Maedajon said, and I just nodded. "Unusual, in a muted world. But certainly fortunate to come across."
"I did my best."
"Then you have my thanks," Maedajon said, and he dipped his head at me, almost like a little bow. And then that was it. He turned back towards Keyd, and I had the sense that he was done with me. That was fine, absolutely fine. I didn't really like his attention being on me too much. Although he was honestly less scary than Keyd had been when I'd first met him. But this was the fifth alien I'd met and maybe I was just getting used to it.
"He saved my life." Keyd's voice came out sudden, clipped, and mad. I'd never heard him sound like that, and it startled me into looking at him. His eyes were hard, tension pulling his mouth into a tight line and ticking a muscle in his jaw. Even Maedajon seemed surprised. "Isn't that worth something more than that?"
Keyd had freaked the fuck out when I'd barely touched him, but he was gonna get worked up over his dad kinda dismissing me? Jesus, he was bad at this. I knew I should quit while Keyd was already winning the foot-in-mouth contest, but I had to say something.
"You saved mine too," I said, and cringed a little under the sudden stares of two almost identical pairs of blue eyes. "I mean, I helped you and you helped me; you got me into this shit but you also got me out of it. I didn't do any of this for a reward, Keyd."
"I know." Keyd's eyes were still bright and hard. "But you deserve more than this."
Maedajon looked back and forth between the two of us, slow and assessing. Then he said to Keyd, "What would you have me offer him?" He sounded absolutely sincere. "What do you consider your own life worth? Money? Goods? A commendation of some sort?"
Keyd clamped his mouth shut, fury flaring up in his eyes for a fast second, before his whole expression wiped clean and calm. Tension still strung tight through his body, but he just seemed mildly on edge. Not mad as fuck and ready to do something about it, which he still had to be. Worst part was, I couldn't do a damn thing to reassure him.
And Maedajon had a point. Or I thought I understood the point he was trying to make. How would you put a value to your own life? I couldn't put one on my own, or Keyd's, or Rysa's. I definitely didn't want any kind of reward for anything I'd done, but even if I did there was nothing I could think of that would be equal. Keyd looked like he got the point too, but that it'd only made him angrier.
I turned back to Maedajon. Weeks of staring up at Rysa and Keyd actually helped with feeling less intimidated by this guy. Sorta. He still felt like a powerful intimidating person. He was probably a soldier too, some really important rank. I definitely got a military feel off him. "I don't want anything. Really. I helped because I could, and because they helped me. That's it."
Maedajon seemed to like that answer. Maybe. Something that was almost a smile, even more subtle than Keyd's tiny barely-there smiles, moved his face.
"And you would be willing to remain an ally to us, if it were needed?" he said.
"Sure, of course. Yeah. If it helps protect my planet from the clarbach."
"That is good to hear. However, you must excuse us for now," Maedajon said. "We need to return to our people, to address that exact issue." Then he turned back to Keyd. "It's been a long time, and there are many things that need to be dealt with."
"I know," Keyd said. He sounded real calm and composed but I could actually see tremors going through him, tight angry little shakes as his hands clenched harder at his sides. Even Ahieel hadn't made him this angry. So on top of everything else, Keyd had serious dad issues.
And maybe he had reason to. But I couldn't judge from just a minute or two of talking to Maedajon, other than he seemed really comfortable with taking control of a situation and came across as pretty intense and confident. None of that was automatically bad, and he'd been decent enough to me.
Maedajon dropped his hand down onto Keyd's shoulder, a real firm and solid grip. Keyd almost sagged under the force of it, but then held himself up again with his shoulders set back.
"We were just about to return before you arrived," he said, which was the truth. "I was not planning to abandon my duty. I simply had other business to finish here first."
"And is it finished?"
Keyd drew in a hard little breath and didn't answer. Maedajon still translated it as one, apparently as a yes.
"Then, it's time to leave," he said, and I saw his fingers dig slightly into Keyd's shoulder. I suddenly felt Rysa at my other side, sensing her energy before I actually saw her out of the corner of my eye. Maedajon looked at her, and an actual smile crossed his face. Small and quick, but definitely a smile.
"Glad to see you're well," he said to her.
"And you," Rysa said, and Maedajon made a little noise in his throat that was kinda like an agreement. The almost-fond expression on his face faded. Then he looked at me.
"Again, you have my thanks," he said, and all I could really do was nod at him. Then suddenly he was steering Keyd away by the shoulder, somehow spinning them around so he was walking behind him and kind of guiding Keyd along in front. Rysa immediately fell into step with Maedajon, but it looked like a scrambling automatic reaction, like she was more worried about getting separated from Keyd than anything.
Shit, Maedajon was really taking them. This seemed a lot more drastic than Keyd and Rysa just going back on their own. It sounded like Maedajon had shown up specifically to get Keyd to come back and deal with some shit—whatever that meant and why it was his 'duty' to handle, I had no idea, but there was some reason for this. Which made me start thinking that Keyd and Rysa weren't going to be able to come back at all. They were soldiers after all, and probably had superiors, orders they'd have to follow, and if that didn't include ever coming back here again...
"Wait—wait, no—" I started, uselessly, but it didn't come out very loud and only Rysa seemed to hear me. She looked over her shoulder, catching my eyes, and mouthed something at me. Which I couldn't fucking understand because she spoke another language, and we only understood each other when there were actual sounds for their magic radio channel to translate. Guess she'd forgot that.
So I watched as Maedajon practically marched Keyd away from me, taking him through the front gate of the complex, around the corner and out of sight, Rysa hurrying after them. The feel of their energy faded away with them until I couldn't feel it tingling softly in the air anymore, and I was standing alone in the parking lot.
There is much more story on my Patreon. If you're willing to wait, it will be published (probably self) in a few years, for probably a few bucks. Or there's Patreon. I'm sorry if you don't have the means to do either, but this is just how I'm handling this story. I want to write the best version of it I can and have that available, but I'm just not able to write that quickly with how my personal life is. I'm very sorry.