Will to Power III:
Resistance Overcome

Angyl and Orithain

June 2002

Disclaimers: All things Andromeda belong to the estate of the late Gene Rodenberry and Tribune Entertainment.


What is good? All that elevates the feeling of power, the will to power, the power itself in man.

What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness.

What is happiness? The feeling that power increases---that resistance is being overcome.

     ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886

A roar of fury shattered the silence of the captain's quarters of the Valkyrie. The second alpha of Orca Pride, now first alpha as a result of death of his brother Guderian, swore violently as he played the message from one of the Orca captains, also dead now.

Guderian, their sister Freya, and Guderian's fleet were dead, and the station, one of Orca's biggest, had been destroyed, all at the hands of that Kodiak bastard... and all over a kludge! First Anasazi had insulted the Orcas by putting Freya, his wife, aside, divorcing her for a scrawny human male, then he'd attacked the station, unprovoked.

Dimitri vowed that the Kodiak would pay for the insult to the Orcas. Fortunately for his current mission, that of discreetly killing the sons of the Sabra Pride Alpha, his vengeance coincided with his duty. He had already arranged for the deaths of all but one of the sons, and that one was aboard the Andromeda Ascendant, learning the arts of battle from 'the great Tyr Anasazi'.

"We'll see how you and your High Guard," he sneered the words, "ship fare against the Orcas' secret weapon." He caressed a panel in his cabin, eager to test the point singularity weapon they had captured from a Magog ship against his enemies.

"Hey, Lok, hand me that hydro spanner, will ya?" Harper yelled from deep within the entrails of his 'pet' project. Even now that term gave him a chuckle, especially seeing as how he was supposedly the pet on the ship.

"You mean this one?" Fingers trailed down his outstretched arm then placed the requested item into the engineer's outstretched hand.

"Loki, behave. Your dad has Andromeda making sure you behave yourself, and you know he's got a temper when it comes to me. I like you, kiddo, and I don't wanna see your dad kick your scrawny butt around the sh....."

The ship heaved, and Harper was thrown across the room, the only thing saving him from broken bones the teenaged Nietzschean who wrapped himself around his father's lover, absorbing the blow. Scrabbling up as the ship rocked again and the warning claxons sounded, Harper managed to keep his feet under him. "Lok, hey, Lok! Rommie, what the hell is going on!?!"

"I don't have time to talk now, Harper; the ship is under attack. Report to engineering; you're needed."

"Rommie, Loki's hurt; I need a medic or something to look at him. He's bleeding, and his shoulder looks... weird," Harper interrupted frantically. God, if the kid got hurt trying to save him, he'd kick Loki's ass around the ship!

"HARPER! I need you in Engineering. The chief engineer is dead. There are massive casualties. The Sabra youngest son is dead. My hull is breached, and I need you to fix me!" The door to Harper's workshop slid open, and two of the mariabots came in bearing a stretcher. Watching long enough see them load Loki up, Harper dashed out the door and down the maintenance tubes, scrambling down decks to get to Engineering and take over the repairs to the ship, while avoiding the areas sealed off due to hull breaches.

Tyr got the message that Harper was on his way to Engineering, one of the worst hit and most dangerous areas of the ship, and he had to fight against his urge to abandon his crew to their fates while he bolted off to protect his mate. Silently he cursed the ship and Harper both for creating this situation, though he knew that Harper wanted nothing more than to be useful and to employ his engineering skills.

When Andromeda also advised him that Loki had been injured, he closed his eyes briefly, sparing a fervent hope that both his son and lover would be well, then forced himself to put them out of his mind and concentrate on protecting his ship and destroying the Orca who was attacking them.

While Dimitri had the advantage of a superior weapon, the Kodiaks had Tyr, and the outcome was never in any doubt. It took some time and heavy casualties, including the loss of several ships and severe damage to many of the others, but within the hour, another Orca ship had been destroyed and Tyr was on his way to Medical to check on his son, then Engineering to check on Harper.

Harper worked tirelessly, fixing, repairing, tweaking and generally patching the Andromeda back together with the help of the engineering crew. It was a strange thing for him to actually be ordering a bunch of Nietzscheans around and telling them what to do. Even weirder was to see them obeying him, a human, a former kludge for cryin' out loud. But hey, he was the only person next to the chief engineer who knew the ship inside and out, and he had the added advantage of being able to jack in as required.

To say that his favorite AI ship was a mess was putting it mildly, and Harper worked until his eyes started to cross and he couldn't open his mouth without yawning. He was aware that the battle had been won at some point, and he thought Tyr might have come to check on him, but he couldn't be sure as he was jacked in at the time.

However, 24 hours on his feet was finally taking its toll, and the young human spent the last of his energy mapping out the critical areas that needed to be repaired and a priority list of duties, and then he staggered back to the captain's quarters and managed to make it as far as the couch before he passed out cold.

Tyr heard the outer door open, and he came out of the bedroom in time to see Harper collapse onto the couch. Shaking his head, he picked his mate up and carried him back to bed, sliding under the covers and holding the blond close.

It had shaken him--terrified him really, truth be told--when he'd realized how easily he could have lost Harper that day. He could only be grateful that none of the children had been harmed.

Without realizing it, his arms tightened around Harper, as if to keep him safe by brute force alone.

Whimpering as his ribs compressed, Harper stirred out of a too sound sleep to stare woozily around. Realizing that he was in his room and that the bone blades lying flat against his stomach were his lover's, he stroked the arm clumsily. "'M okay, Tyr; s'gonna be all right. Lok's gonna be all right; we're all good. Now sleep, okay?" the human yawned, rolling over as the arms loosened some to bury his face in the silky smooth flesh of his lover's chest. "Y'smell like carbon, y'know. Need to shower." And he was out again, his own arms snuggled around his mate's waist.

Unwilling to let go of Harper long enough to take that shower, Tyr simply closed his eyes and went to sleep as well. Morning would be soon enough to shower... with Harper.

Tyr tapped a finger speculatively against slightly pursed lips, then looked around again to be sure that his mate hadn't suddenly appeared in their quarters. He hadn't, of course; Harper's shift in Engineering wouldn't be over for another three hours, and the human engineer never left early. If anything, Tyr often had to go pry his mate out of the depths of Andromeda. His glance around was nothing more than a sign of the nervousness he would deny if confronted.

Making his decision, he keyed in the code to reply to the message, then waited until the first alpha of Pride Sabra, Tamberlane, appeared on the screen.

"Greetings," he said formally, bowing his head slightly to the older alpha to denote respect, then met his eyes squarely. Kodiak, after all, was the higher status pride.

"Greetings, Tyr Anasazi, out of Victoria by Barbarossa." The Sabra gave Tyr his respectful greeting. "You have received my message."

"I have. I was under the impression that you looked with favor upon my brother Balder's suit for the hand of your First Daughter."

"You were correct. However, circumstances change, and now there is the possibility of becoming First Wife of the Pride Alpha. Sabra's First Daughter would be a worthy mate for you... and with the deaths of my sons, her firstborn son, your son, Anasazi, will be the next ruler of my pride. Our prides would be allied, increasing your power."

"And your security," Tyr replied dryly, no fool. Still... "You are correct in that I do need new wives, and the First Daughter of Pride Sabra is not without status of her own. I accept your offer, Tamberlane. Elsbett Mossadim shall be my first wife."

"Excellent." The two men negotiated the wedding and dowry with an attention to detail worthy of an interstellar treaty - which, of course, this was. Eventually, they agreed on a dowry of two systems to be given to Kodiak, the balance of Sabra's holdings to go to the firstborn son of the marriage once he became the next Alpha.

Tyr was pleased with the decision; one of the worlds in the systems that would belong to Kodiak outright was on the edge of Sabra-controlled space, though far enough away from the border for it not to be a cause for concern should their alliance be broken before he had a son to inherit both prides, and it would do nicely as a new homeworld for Kodiak. It had the added advantage, though he would never admit it, of being terraformed for unengineered humans, making it perfectly safe for Harper.

Shortly after he concluded his negotiations with Tamberlane, agreeing to meet on the new Kodiak homeworld for the wedding in two weeks, he heard Harper returning to their quarters. He debated telling his mate about his upcoming nuptials, but he decided against it. Knowing that he was going to marry again would only upset Harper, and he was unlikely ever to meet Elsbett. Best to let it lie.

He stood up, stretching to relax muscles slightly stiff from being seated so long during his conversation with Tamberlane, suddenly wanting Harper as hungrily as if he hadn't had him just that morning.

Rummaging through the small cooling unit that was kept stocked with snack foods both he and Tyr were partial to, Harper grabbed a Sparky cola and popped the cap, chugging half the bottle in one gulp. "Hey, Romdoll, how's the new interface on deck 14 treating ya? Did I tweak it enough, or should I head back down there and play with your circuits a little more?" Harper asked with a laugh.

Over the months since he'd been captured, then sold, then recaptured, then freed, then had taken off and been brought home again, Harper had learned that the safest venue for his flirtatious behavior other than the big Nietzschean who growled and pounded him into the mattress on a daily basis, oh and whom he loved fiercely too, was the artificial intelligence of the Andromeda Ascendant.

Tyr might insist upon calling her 'ship' but along with Beka, Dylan, Trance and Rafe, Harper considered Rommie one of his closest friends. Which was why he was so diligently putting together her avatar body for her. He wanted to be able to interact with more than just a holo. That one time, in Rommie's cyber matrix, when she'd taught him how to ballroom dance, Harper had seen the longing in her eyes. She was a living ship, with a mind and emotions; how could he not want to give her a body to go along with her soul?

"You play with my circuits every chance you get as it is, Harper," Rommie replied, a disembodied voice filling the living space. "And you tweak me as much as you can. You've done more to restore many of the programs I'd lost in the battle of Witchhead than anyone has in the past three hundred years. I'm feeling more whole than I have in centuries, even with my hull still having a hole torn through it.

"You, however, are not a machine, and you need downtime despite the mind that never sleeps. And I think Captain Anasazi might be a little put out if I monopolized your time any more than I already do. Speaking of which..."

Harper turned to see his mate leaning against the door to their bedroom. "Hey, big guy, thought you had bridge duty today? Something up?"

Tyr prowled toward his lover, the tight brown leather pants letting Harper see for himself what was up. "My shift ended several hours ago, Harper," he replied, his heated gaze fixed on the other man. "Now we're both free until tomorrow... and I find that I want to spend every moment of that time making you scream," he purred.

Harper eyed the stalking Nietzschean with a smirk. "Whoa, someone's a walking hormone today," the human laughed, finishing the rest of his cola. "Can I at least take a shower first? I've been crawling along conduits that I don't think have seen a living being in decades. They were kinda dusty."

As if to prove his point, Harper shook his head, and a fine layer of dust floated off his hair before it was quickly sucked up by the internal air recirculators. "And then there's the sweat and the grime, oh and the cherry lube from when I fucked myself with a dildo between decks 18 and 19 to relieve an itch," the blond continued with a truly evil grin.

Tyr smiled faintly and shook his head, reaching Harper and tossing him over his shoulder. "Absurd human, you know perfectly well I would be able to smell the sex on you if you had done that... and would be annoyed that you hadn't called me to watch," he teased, chuckling.

He dropped Harper back on his feet beside the shower, watching him as he peeled the skintight brown leather from his body and leaned in to start the water. "Well?" he said, glancing back at the still-clothed blond. "I thought you wanted to get clean?" He stepped under the water, tilting his head back to allow it to flow over his face, water sheeting over his body, tracing every muscle with its silvery sheen.

"And here I thought you were gonna undress me too," Harper replied with a moue of disappointment. "Some big, uber alpha stud you turned out to be... maybe I oughta go shopping around for a new model," the human teased, knowing full well he was treading a thin line and hoping that the big Nietz was in a good enough mood to handle him teasing about a subject that tended to bring out the 'master' in Tyr.

The Nietzschean stepped back, removing his face from the flow, shook his head slightly, and opened his eyes to look askance at Harper. "Maybe you should stop babbling nonsense and get in here with me before I start without you," he replied, fighting fire with fire. Still watching Harper, he curled his fist around his own erection, slowly pumping himself, his eyes growing heavy lidded with the pleasure.

Groaning softly, Harper quickly skinned out of his clothes, the metal ball in his tongue clicking against his teeth as he licked his lips hungrily. One hand began to tug at his nipple ring, extending the nubbin of flesh and forming a current between it and his cock, which twitched and leapt in anticipation.

"I'm supposed to be trying to wean myself of this addiction, you know," Harper gasped. "Learning how to control the urges so that they don't overwhelm me and can't be used against me. You're really not helping my 'drying out' process at all."

One spiked arm reached out to pull Harper into the shower and flush against a large, aroused body. "And has it occurred to you yet that what happens between us has everything to do with us and nothing to do with your training, Pet?" Tyr rumbled, leaning down to nibble on the side of Harper's throat.

"Oh and like they're mutually exclusive," the engineer snorted, managing to avoid snorting water at the same time. "Helloooo, Tyr... sex addiction/sex. They kinda go hand in hand there. Gee, some uber you're turning out to be," Harper teased. "Even my inferior human brain could see that connection!"

"Well, Pet, while I agree that you should work on eliminating a weakness, I most definitely do not want you to get over wanting me," Tyr pointed out, growling faintly at the very idea. "I like having you able to keep up with me, Harper."

Harper snorted. "More like you like making me pass out at least once every other day from coming so hard my eyes cross," he teased as he ground his ass back into the hard erection. "One of these days I'm gonna make you pass out, just you wait and see!"

"I look forward to it," Tyr replied, not sounding particularly concerned. At that moment his attention was focused on finding out what part of Harper tasted the best as he slowly worked his way down his neck, over his shoulder and arm. At the same time, he pressed forward, his heavy erection nudging against Harper's entrance, and he reached over for the container of oil they kept there.

"Fuck," Harper gasped, his neck bowing submissively, arching out of the way to allow the bigger man's explorations. "You are so fucking huge," he sighed happily. "I feel like... I dunno, just so tiny and fragile next to you. I mean, I shouldn't be confessing this since I'm a guy and all, but I like it. I like feeling like you're gonna swallow me who... oh yeah, right there!" Gasping hungrily, Harper planted his arms on the metal bar that had been added to the shower to allow him something with traction to grip.

Bending forward at the waist and spreading his legs wider, Harper pushed back into his lover's cock, teasing them both with their hunger. "So is it gonna be a quickie in the shower, or should I drop the soap to get you motivated?"

Tyr had to laugh. "When have you ever known me to need motivation when you're around, never mind when you're naked and bent over, waiting for me?" Still chuckling, he poured the oil into one hand, slicked it over himself, and pushed inside of his waiting mate. "By the makers," he groaned, "every time with you is as tight and frantic as the first." One large hand slid over Harper's hip to grasp his cock, slowly petting him as Tyr began to move inside him.

"Gotta," Harper moaned voluptuously, "gotta love nanobot technology!" he laughed, referring to the nanobots Tyr had had Rommie program and implant in him in order to heal him from the beatings and rapes he received at the hands of Freya's people. "Keeps me nice and, oh yeah, right there, nice and tight so that every time is the first time all over again."

The captain's eyes widened slightly. While it made perfect sense, he'd never considered that effect of the nanobots. "Lucky for us," he rumbled, hips lazily gliding back and forth, keeping it slow and easy. He knew Harper would demand more very soon, and he loved teasing the blond until he howled and begged for what he wanted.

Writhing against the big Nietzschean, trying to motivate him non-verbally to move a little faster, plow a little deeper, Harper whimpered hungrily. He had to admit, at least in the privacy of his own mind, that Tyr was right. This wasn't about addiction; this was only and ever about love and need and desire. Between the two of them. A fact that Harper, despite his months of security and constant reassurance from Tyr that he was exactly where he was supposed to be, was still getting used to.

A home, a lover, a life without fear despite the occasional attack by other Prides. For someone who'd never had these things for very long, and when he did for brief moments, had watched his loved ones ripped away from him, abandoning him again and yet again, it was a terrifying concept. He'd spent too long guarding his heart and believing the galaxy only had the worst to offer him. Yet now, right now, he had everything he'd secretly prayed for - all in the form of a rather impressive Nietzschean Alpha and leader of his Pride. The ironies were not lost on him.

However, they were shunted aside for the moment in the face of a more pressing need. "Fuck, is that the best you can do, oh Uber-master? I'm not even feelin' it yet, if you know what I mean. You're givin' me a freakin' walk in the park here, and I want a hard, fast, dirty ride!"

Growling, Tyr curled his hands around Harper's thighs, lifting him as he thrust into him, the human's only support aside from his grip on the bar the hard shaft impaling him and the hands on his legs. "Hard and fast?" he rasped, yanking Harper back to meet every pounding thrust. "If you insist." He slammed forward, nearly ramming the blond face first into the side of the enclosure, snarling words of love and lust.

"Oh god, baby, yeah!" Harper wailed, his head falling forward between his outstretched arms and his eyes rolling in his head as he was taken just the way he wanted to be. Hanging onto the bar for dear life as he was manipulated and pounded, taken within a hair's breath of the pleasure-pain he rarely indulged in, Harper had to admit that if he was still addicted, he really didn't want to be cured, at least not of his mate. "Tyr, god, love you, love you so fucking much, big uber-stud you!"

Groaning at Harper's idea of compliments, Tyr thrust harder, wanting to feel his mate come apart for him, needing to feel it. "I love you," he rasped, his back arching as his own climax drew near, holding back only to pleasure Harper.

To hear that one little phrase uttered by his big Nietzschean was more than enough to send Harper tumbling over the edge. Mewling loudly, fingers turning white on the metal bar, his eyes rolling back in his head, Harper shot great ropes of creamy white semen all over the shower wall, his inner muscles clamping down hard on Tyr's invading cock.

A near howl of pleasure tore from Tyr's throat as Harper clenched around him, drawing his own climax from him after a very few more strokes into the tight heat. He wrenched Harper back against him even harder, big fingers bruising the fair skin, then slowly lowered him back to the floor, slumping slightly over him.

"I think I just saw the face of god," Harper panted as he slid to a kneeling position on the floor. "Didn't know he was such a perv."

That surprised a snort out of Tyr, who'd thought he'd given up being surprised by anything Harper said. Shaking his head, Tyr reached over to turn the water off before his mate drowned himself. "You are a very odd man," he observed, stepping out and toweling off vigorously while eyeing his lover.

"Yeah, but you love me anyway," Harper beamed, a sappy smile spreading over his face. Stepping out of the shower, he moved to cuddle against his lover, wincing slightly with each step. "Definitely ridden hard and put away wet. I love it."

Tyr dried him off and scooped the sated human up into his arms, carrying him out to the bed and settling them both in its comfort. "Get some sleep," he ordered, holding Harper against himself. "You'll want to be well rested when we reach Asgaard in a few days. I'm told that some of the inhabitants even like to surf." He would never admit it, but that had been the final deciding factor for him regarding which planet would be the new Kodiak homeworld.

"Surf?" Harper bounced up and straddled the Nietzschean's waist. "You mean I get to surf? Man, I gotta get my board from the Maru and get it waxed up, need some sex wax, need to make sure I've still got my surf shorts, need to... YES!!!! I get to go surfing!" Harper pumped his fist in the air before trying to dive off the bed.

Laughing even as he wondered if his hearing had been permanently damaged, Tyr caught Harper around the waist and drew him back down. "I'm certain that everything will still be there for you in the morning, Harper. And it is still a week until we reach Asgaard. You have plenty of time to get ready after you get some sleep, Pet."

"But I wanna check out my board, Tyr," Harper pouted for a moment then relented and snuggled into his lover. "So, now that we're out of danger, we're going to this planet, and we're doing nothing but repairs, does that mean I get my uber-fix on a regular basis again?"

"I have to meet with the head of Sabra Pride," Tyr replied, carefully choosing his words. "That will probably take a few days, but the rest of the time will be ours." He would have to tell Harper about Elsbett eventually, but the human would only brood about it if he told him now. Better to do it afterward, when the two of them were on the ship, together, and Harper could see that it made no difference to them.

"Yeah, but that's like a week away, and it shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, right? I can't wait to show you how to surf. You'll love it, Tyr, I swear," Harper looked up at his lover, eyes full of quiet adoration. "You are so totally amazing. You remembered I like to surf, and you found a way; you really found a way. I love you so fucking much."

Wincing internally even though it was true that he had chosen this world because of Harper, Tyr smiled at his lover. "And I love you, Pet, very much." He drew him closer, already looking forward to their time together, dismissing Elsbett Mossadim as insignificant.

"Good answer, big guy, because you know how fragile us poor little emotional humans are, right?" Harper teased, bopping Tyr on the arm before finding a comfortable position on his lover's chest to fall asleep.

Trance Gemini, now an unofficial member of the medical team aboard the Nietzschean ship Andromeda Ascendant, stood beside her patient, a soothing hand running over his brow as he tossed in fevered dreams. Although they had been able to heal Rafe Valentine's physical wounds, the psychological and emotional ones were far more troubling. He remained in the medical bay because he had to be tranquilized to sleep, and even so, every night, he woke screaming from his nightmares.

Only Trance's touch could sooth his troubled sleep, yet awake, he wouldn't suffer anyone to touch him. The purple woman sighed softly. She had never anticipated becoming so personally attached to one of these humans, yet this man touched her as no one, not even her friends, ever had. There was a perfect possible future, there always was, but so far, she couldn't see it.

"NOOOOOOO!" Rafe bolted upright, sweat pouring off of his brow as the memories of that hellish time with the Orca came crashing back yet again. Oh god, how did Harper sleep at night, having gone through this and having remained as a slave for so long? How did he shut his brain off?

Realizing he wasn't alone, like every other night he woke up screaming, Rafe plastered on a parody of a smile. "Hey, there's my favorite purple angel. How're ya doin' today, dollface? Feel like goin' dancin'?"

"How can I be your favorite? I'm the only purple person you know," Trance pointed out, wishing he would allow her to help him or at least to comfort him. "But I'm not an angel, and I don't think there's room to dance in here." She watched him worriedly, still wondering why she cared so much. She barely knew him after all.

"Sure there is, dollface, and why, just one of you makes you my favorite, doesn't it? Since I don't know any other ones, that makes you the perfect one to know, doesn't it?" Rafe asked, turning on the old Valentine charm that had netted him quite a few new pretty people for Uncle Sid's stables, as well as more than one customer for those pretty people and more than a few sweet deals on the side.

"As for dancin', well, there's dancing and then there's dancing if you get my meaning. But then again, you are one of Beka's crew, and she'd have me by the cojones if I tried anything with you, so I'd better behave. Speaking of, where is Valentine Smart? Haven't seen her around lately, or is she avoiding the broken fucktoy of the Orca pride? Whoa... where did that come from?"

Trance crossed her arms and frowned at the man now sitting up on the bed. "You're not fooling me, Rafe Valentine, and you're certainly not fooling yourself, so you might as well stop trying. We both know exactly where that came from, and if you don't let it out, it's going to eat you up from the inside out."

"Hey, if a cute kid like Harper can suck it up and move on, so can I," Rafe retorted. "How is the kid, by the way? I heard... well, it's kinda obvious he's still with his owner since we're on a fucking bone head ship. But is he, you know, okay?"

"Cute kid?" Trance repeated in disbelief, her eyes widening. "You don't know Harper very well, do you? 'Cute kid.'" She shook her head. "That cute kid, as you call him, has survived a lot more than you ever want to know, and he's one of the strongest people I know.

"And he's more than okay," she added with a soft smile. "He's in love, and better still, the captain loves him too. Owner." She snorted her opinion of that. "They may be Nietzschean and human, but any owning's reciprocal.

"You should talk to him, you know. He understands what you're feeling, and he could help you get through it."

"I... don't wanna dredge anything up for him. If he's happy, he doesn't need to be reminded of what it's like. I want him to be happy; he really deserves it," Rafe admitted softly. "Even if it is with one of them."

Trance was tempted to hit him over the head with something. "Would you stop being so stubborn? You won't talk to me; you won't talk to Harper; you won't talk to Beka... You need to talk to someone, and unless you'd rather talk to the Nietzscheans, we're your only choices!" Human men could be annoyingly obtuse at times.

"Hey, doll, I'm a Valentine; we do stubborn well," Rafe replied, flashing a disarming smile. "C'mon, you telling me that my little sis is all sweetness and light? I don't think so!

"As for talking, what'll it accomplish, really? It's over and done. I'm alive; he's dead, thanks to the cute kid. Time to get on with life and stop moping around over what happened, right?"

"And that's why you sleep so well at night?" Trance inquired sweetly, seeing him flinch and wincing internally at having to hurt him. "Like any poisoned wound, it needs to be lanced so it can heal," she said softly, moving a little closer. "Please let me help you, Rafe."

"Why? I mean why does it matter so much to you? If it's just because I'm Beka's brother and you pity me, well, Valentine Smarter doesn't need pity, thanks all the same," Rafe replied, his voice growing hoarse under the strain.

"I happen to like you; isn't that reason enough?" Trance had no intention of exploring her feeling never mind dissecting them for Rafe's edification.

"Hey, don't get your spandex in a knot, dollface, yeesh!" Rafe replied, shocked. "You know you turn ultraviolet when you get irked?"

Giving up for the moment, Trance turned to leave. "I don't understand you at all." She frowned over her shoulder at him. "But I'm not giving up on you, Rafe Valentine. I can outstubborn you."

Dylan cursed under his breath as he hit the mats for the fourth time, this time harder than the previous three. Gasping for air, he had about two microseconds to catch his breath before Agravaine had him pinned to the mat.

"Tell me again why I agreed to let you pulverize me?" the human gasped, trying to ignore the way the bone blades pressed against his throat menacingly and praying that the bulge in his groin wasn't that noticeable and that the pheromones he was exuding were being masked by sweat.

Rhade stared down at the human, easily seeing and smelling his arousal, and his arm spikes remained pressed against Hunt's throat while he lowered his body slightly, letting the matching erection press into the other man. "Because it is only logical to take advantage of any opportunity to increase one's survival and battle skills." And because you want me as much as I want you.

"Logical. Umm... if you say so. How about you getting off of me though; I kinda need to get cleaned up. Beka's waiting for me, and my daddy told me never to keep a lady waiting," Dylan gasped, the Nietzschean's erection making him more than a little flustered. Since when was he attracted to men? To a Nietzschean male?

Smiling sardonically, Agravaine rose to his feet in an easy, lithe movement, then extended a hand to assist Hunt up as well. "Well, I would hate to come between you and Beka," he said with an odd look in his eyes. No, he'd rather Dylan forgot she ever existed, but that didn't seem likely. "Same time tomorrow?"

Dylan scuffed his shoe on the mat. If only there was any way to back out gracefully, but he'd promised Harper he'd play nice, and that meant getting along with Harper's erstwhile bodyguard. "I can't guarantee because Beka wants to start working on that overhaul of the Maru's engine core but..."

"I'll see you then," Agravaine said, ignoring most of what the human said as he left, already plotting ways to get the human out of the blonde kludge's bed and into his.

Standing nearby, Beka frowned as she watched the big Nietzschean leave. She'd thought for a while that she was seeing signs of interest in Rhade's eyes when he looked at Dylan, and this just confirmed it for her. More surprising was Dylan's corresponding though reluctant interest in the uber male.

Beka was certain of Dylan's love for her, but she knew that trying to keep the two men apart could easily lead to bitterness and acrimony. This was going to take some thought.

The gentle sound of waves lapping and the sun beating down, warming his flesh and causing a light sheen of perspiration to appear, were bliss to the young man. The breeze off the ocean ruffled his hair slightly as he baked away his cares.

Harper had spent the morning catching waves, skimming through half pipes and basically wallowing in the water. The only thing missing was Tyr, the bastard.

Here Harper was, and the sorry sack of Magog entrails was out getting it on with a brand new wife, who had so generously informed the little kludge boy that he was just a sideline amusement to keep Tyr's bed warm in deep space. She was going to be the new first wife and help Tyr continue his line, satisfy his genetic imperative and continue refining the Pride's genes.

"Genetic imperative, my lily white ass," Harper growled quietly, "he's a fucking goat, and he growls if I even tease him about someone else. He can go out and have all the women he craves, but he's willingly sacrificed sleeping with other men, how magnanimous of him. Asshole. Like I don't know he's gotta find the uber-bitch attractive and desirable for the equipment to work, what kind of an idiot does he think I am? But he doesn't love her; he loves me so I should feel better. Shit for brains, typical Nietzschean horn dog, sorry son of a..." Harper ranted to himself.

Tyr stood in the shade of nearby trees, having come to surprise his lover, and listened to the harangue. His eyebrows rose higher with each insult, though being called a goat was a new low from Harper. He shook his head. From anyone else or under any other circumstances, he'd have killed for less. But fresh from the bed of his new wife, Elsbett Mossadim-Anasazi, he couldn't blame Harper for his anger.

He wished he could stay with Harper alone, but that wasn't possible. Having done his duty, pleasurable as it was, however, he could take some time for himself, and he'd decided to join Harper here where they could just be themselves.

Sighing, Harper rolled over onto his back and shaded his eyes to look up at the sky. "Why do I even bother, apart from the fact I love the sorry sack of shit more than my own life? I mean he's gonna let me go eventually when one of his precious wives or some high-placed muck a muck in the Nietz empire becomes offended by him having a kludge for a lover. I'm just gonna get fucked over again, as per usual. Christ. I'm such an idiot!"

Scrubbing at the angry moisture gathering in the corners of his eyes, Harper bolted upright, grabbed his board, and headed for the water. Time to catch a curl or two, lose himself in the ocean, and try and forget, if only for a moment, that he was nothing more than a glorified sex toy for a Nietzschean sperm donor!

About to step forward, Tyr hesitated when he saw Harper wipe away a tear. He decided to wait a while, let his lover have some time to himself enjoying his hobby before letting him know he was here. Besides, watching Harper would not be a hardship.

He watched attentively, curious about this surfing. He'd never seen anyone do it before, and he didn't understand what Harper found so fascinating, but he hoped to find out.

Harper paddled out and waited for the right wave to come along, letting the motion of the sea soothe and caress him, rocking him like his mother's arms. Damn, he'd missed this. Catching the perfect wave, riding the pipe, conquering the elements and mastering them.

Seeing a build up that looked promising, Harper began to paddle towards the shore, letting the wave's momentum catch up to him, and then he popped up on the board, shooting the curl. It was perfect, absolutely perfect!

Twice more he caught waves in, cresting them with no problem at all. Finally a perfect pipe wave came, and Harper was determined to see if he was still the best. Catching the crest, he watched as it began to break, curving over him. Riding the pipe for all he was worth, Harper chanced a glance at the shore to see if his shipmates had returned to watch him.

Seeing Tyr threw him, and then suddenly the world was turning tail over end, and he didn't have time to catch a breath, and his lungs were full of water. He didn't know if he was up or down; all he knew was that there was water all around him and his side was on fire from where the board's fin had caught and sliced him.

Horrified, Tyr watched Harper wipe out, and he held his breath waiting for him to surface again. Moments passed and Harper still didn't surface, though his board popped up. Swearing, Tyr ran down the beach and dove into the water, glad that he was barefoot for the beach and didn't have to waste precious seconds taking his boots off.

He headed directly for the board, one hand grasping the tether as he dove beneath the surface, searching for his lover. Moments later, he surfaced, holding a still Harper in his arms. By the time they reached the beach, he was relieved to see that the human was stirring and coughing.

"Ow," Harper managed to get out, rather disgruntled that he'd wiped out. "That hurt."

Tyr clutched him tightly. "You could have killed yourself! I don't think I approve of this surfing." He shuddered slightly.

"Didn't ask your approval," Harper replied belligerently, his chin and his Irish coming up. "Aren't you supposed to be off single-handedly breeding the next generation of Kodiaks or something?"

Genetically enhanced intelligence told Tyr that mentioning his new wife would not be a smart thing to do. "I wanted to spend some time with you. And I'd really prefer that you not kill yourself, Pet."

"Bullshit," Harper replied succinctly.

"You were feeling guilty because you've wedded and bedded that Mossadim bitch from the Sabra Pride. Having Rommie keep in constant communication with the Eureka can be a bitch, can't it?" the human snarled, then gasped as he pulled his hand away from his side and saw nothing but red, literally, as his blood dripped off his spread fingers.

Tyr gasped and instantly had Harper flat on his back while he inspected the wound. He sighed in relief when he realized that, though deep, it was not a bad wound, and the salt water of the ocean had already cleaned it, preventing infection. All that remained was to bandage it.

"Hold still," he said, using Harper's shirt for a bandage, then picking him up, intending to carry him back to the ship.

"Jesus, I can walk, you know; I may be your toy, but I'm not some goddamned rag doll," Harper groused stubbornly, although he gave in since he really did like being in his lover's arms. "Guess the Sabra bitch didn't wear you out as much as she must have thought, hunh?" he muttered pettily.

Tyr sighed. "Harper, you knew what I was when you chose to stay with me," he pointed out, conveniently ignoring that he'd held Harper captive until he agreed to stay. "I can't change that, not even for you."

"I should have stayed on Rommie," Harper murmured, angrier at his own foolishness than at anything else, including Tyr. "At least there I could live with my illusions, and I had things to keep me occupied so that I didn't have to think about you enjoying being with your wife. It hurts to think of you wanting that, that... It just hurts, okay?" he finished on a whisper.

The Nietzschean stopped and let Harper slide to the ground though he kept his arms around him. "Harper..." He didn't know what to say. This was who he was. If Harper couldn't handle it, they had no future, and they both knew it. He realized that he really did love the human when he decided that he wanted Harper to be happy more than he wanted him with him.

"Are you going to be able to accept this, Harper?" he asked quietly, his arms falling to his sides as he stepped back. "Or do you want to leave?" He couldn't believe how hard it had been to say those words.

"Fuck no. What I want is just me and you and Rommie and a sky full of stars, but I know I can't have that either. But you can't expect me to just calmly accept you getting pleasure out of fucking that woman. Hell, Tyr, you go apeshit if I even mention another person; I mean you get seriously rabid. I can be just as fucking possessive too, not that I have a choice in the matter.

"I need to bitch about it, okay? It's a human thing to wallow in misery and make other people miserable too when you're unhappy. I mean, I love you, and I'll take you any way I can get you. But seriously, next time I stay on Rommie, or I go on a shake down flight with the crew of the Maru or anything else but going planetside because it's taking all the control I have not to go and rip that... that woman's heart out!"

Put like that, Tyr understood completely. Had the positions been reversed, he didn't think he'd have been able to keep himself from killing the one who touched Harper. "I'm sorry," he admitted. "But for now, it is just us, no one else, and we have two days before the Andromeda is scheduled to leave again. For this time I'm all yours, Pet. Perhaps we could find something more enjoyable to do than argue?"

Harper sighed and leaned into the older man's chest. He had just one more thing to say and then would gladly drop the subject. "I don't want to meet them. Ever. Okay? Just promise me that. It would hurt too much to know that they have your name and your children and everything your society can give a wife, and sometimes I can't even have your time."

Drawing in a deep breath, Harper turned and made a valiant attempt at one of his smiles. "Now how about you get me fixed up and then tell me what you have in mind, okay?"

"I think the bandage will be sufficient," Tyr said after a judicious glance. And it had the added benefit of eliminating one of his lover's hideous shirts. "I don't have anything particular in mind. I thought I'd leave it up to you to choose."

"I guess rock climbing or cliff diving is out, hunh?" Harper joked weakly.

Tyr growled. "Try again."

"Skydiving?"

"No!" The narrow-eyed gaze fixed on the other man, and it was clear that he was reaching the end of his patience.

"Not even if we do it naked?" Harper continued to tease, enjoying how he could make Tyr go a little crazed.

"I can think of much better things to do naked, Harper." Deciding that there was only one way to make him stop spouting ridiculous suggestions, he kissed Harper. Hard.

When Harper was at last allowed to breathe again, he smirked happily. "Took you long enough to figure out how to shut me up. See what being apart for a week does? Not even those damn drive inhibitors I've been wearing have helped much. The lust has made me go crazy, and you'd better fix it soon, or I'll just be a mindless fuck toy."

Tyr grinned. "Sounds like fun to me," he teased, one hand already curling around his lover's cock, knowing that Harper was going to need to come several times after the days of abstinence. "I like you mindless." He licked at a pebbled nipple.

"All the time? No back talking, no sassing, no being a brat - just a mindless kludge with no emotion who can't even love you because he's so far out of it?" Harper rejoined on a moan as his body was roused and played with. Reaching up with a hand, he took the tiny device out of his jack and tossed the inhibitor as far away as he could.

"Harper, you would have to be three days dead before you could manage that, and even then I think you would find a way to talk!" Tyr snorted. "Besides, I have the perfect cure for your mindlessness." His free hand slid down the back of Harper's trunks and teased at the sensitive ring of muscle.

"M-my side," Harper gasped as he bucked forward too rapidly and felt his side twitch. "Gotta be, can't reopen, can't move, God, TYR!"

Tyr's hand on his cock moved faster, the other stopping what it was doing to press down on one hip, holding him motionless. "Come for me," he rasped, hot brown eyes fixed on the whimpering man.

Harper's pleasure quadrupled as he was forced to remain perfectly still, no movement at all allowed. It drove him crazy, and before he knew it, he was coming hard and fast, his semen coating Tyr's hand and his own belly with its milky heat.

"Oh, fuck, Tyr," the younger man whimpered, sagging downwards, in sated exhaustion. "Damn, I've missed you."

"That's one," Tyr purred. He released his grip on Harper's hip, knowing that the human was too limp with pleasure to move yet. He moved down Harper's body until he reached the softening shaft and began to lick it clean, lapping at the spatters of fluid like a cat after cream.

"One?" Harper groaned happily, lying on the towel and letting Tyr clean him thoroughly. "One what? You're babbling, Tyr."

"One orgasm, Pet. We have a week to make up for." Tyr's flashed a grin at him before returning to his most enjoyable activity.

"You really are trying to kill me, I know you are!" Harper moaned quietly. "A week's worth of orgasms? I'll be a dried up, dehydrated husk!"

"Then it will be up to me to rehydrate you," Tyr purred, stretching out beside Harper, knowing that the smaller man would crawl on top of him. "I'm sure I can manage to get liquids into you somehow," he smirked.

Harper immediately rolled and plastered himself on top of his lover, rubbing his cheek back and forth across the bigger man's chest as he relaxed. "Umm, I don't think you cumming a river in me is gonna help with my rehydration problem. That's not the kind of liquid I'm gonna need," he pointed out logically as he let the sun bake into his back, turning his skin from ivory to pale gold.

Tyr laughed lazily, enjoying basking in the sun with his mate in his arms. "I think I can manage some water and other food and beverages from time to time. I have to keep you in good condition after all," he teased, running a fingertip lightly along Harper's spine.

Harper squirmed and winced slightly as the shallow cut shifted and pulled a bit. "How 'bout giving a poor wounded kludge a little recovery time?" he begged quietly.

"Harper, if you call yourself that one more time, I'm going to spank you!"

"Hunh?" Harper's head shot up to look at the older man. "What are you babbling about, Tyr? Oh, you mean the kludge remark. Newsflash, big guy: to most of the universe, that's precisely what I am. Geez, never thought I'd see a Nietzschean with rose-colored glasses - weird man!"

"Harper," Tyr growled warningly. "Belief does not make a thing true, or we would have gods walking among us. Stop calling yourself that... or trying to drive me away before I leave you. I'm not going to leave you. I love you, foolish human."

"I'm sorry," Harper replied in a small voice, ducking his head and burying his face in the massive chest. "I don't mean to, really. I... well, I've spent my entire life thinking of myself as that; it's hard to stop, y'know?"

"Then I will just have to keep reminding you." Tyr didn't seem too disturbed by the task. "But right now, I think we both need a swim to clean up... and perhaps more." He stood up, easily bringing Harper with him, and swung the smaller man up into his arms as he strode toward the ocean.

Harper clung to the older man, groaning softly as the salt water seeped under the bandage and into his wound, cleaning it again but stinging nonetheless. The deeper Tyr strode, the tighter Harper's arms curled around his neck. "Owowowowowowow," he whimpered, his body quivering with tension until at last it stopped stinging. "Damn, remind me to visit Rommie and get her to recalibrate my nanobots so they work faster," he groaned at last.

"Considering how often you manage to injure yourself, I would say that is an excellent idea," Tyr agreed, holding his clinging armful close. "Only you could harm yourself in such a wide variety of ways. If Nietzscheans could have heart attacks, I'm sure you would have driven me to one."

"Hey, I didn't plan on the Andromeda getting fired upon while I was hooked up to Rommie's VR matrix, y'know. Fried neural synapses are painful, lemme tell ya! And then the plasma burns, wellm Loki crept up behind me and... never mind," Harper replied, squirming to get away from Tyr. "I was swimming long before you showed up, Nietz, so you can lemme go already!"

"But I don't want to let you go," Tyr pointed out with irrefutable logic. "I like having you in my arms, here where I know where you are and what you're doing. I wish I could keep you here all the time, but I know you'd never allow it," he admitted quietly, lowering his head to kiss Harper tenderly. "But I sometimes give in to wishful thinking too."

He eyed Harper narrowly. "And what exactly did Loki do?" He decided then and there that it was time to find his eldest son a distraction of his own.

"Nothing worth mentioning," Harper blushed, not wanting to inform his lover that Tyr's son had crowded up behind him, pressing an erection into the small of his back. Harper had managed to ignore it until a hand landed on his ass. Then he'd jumped, and the plasma welder had gone awry, and then Harper had been too busy putting out the fire and getting to medical to pay the mischievous youth any more mind.

However, he'd cornered Loki the next day and sat the young man down, explained the birds and the bees to him and the rules about poaching. You don't poach your father's Pet. End of story. Hopefully Loki finally got it.

"And that's really sweet, Tyr. Thanks. But you're right, I'd have to hurt you if you didn't let go."

Tyr bit back a laugh and forbore to ask him just how he planned to accomplish that feat, though he could do nothing about the twinkle in his eyes. He raised his hands in mock fear, backing away from Harper slightly... but not too far in case some man-eating denizen of the deep decided the blond human looked tasty. If it were going to happen to anyone, it would be Harper!

"Asshole," Harper muttered with an acerbic look then all of a sudden slipped beneath the water and darted away, thankful for his greater than usual lung capacity and the rolling tides that kept the water churning and frothing. He'd show that damn Nietzschean a thing or two. Rounding a rock formation, Harper came up for air and peaked around the outcropping to see Tyr standing there, looking frantically about for him. HA! Harper snorted softly, then climbed onto one of the lower, sheltering rocks and began to bask in the warm sun.

Tyr waited tensely for some sign of Harper surfacing, watching almost desperately, then when the seconds passed, he let out a despairing cry and dove under the water where Harper had vanished, determined to find him, no matter what.

Jumping at the cry, Harper stood up in time to watch Tyr dive under water. "Oh fuck, he's not, shitshitshit!" Watching the older man surface more panicked than ever, Harper groaned low in his throat. Okay, maybe it hadn't been such a hot idea.

"Umm, Tyr? I'm fine," he called out sheepishly before clambering off the rocks and heading for shore at a fast clip. Oh lordy, he was gonna get it now! Maybe if he could make it to his clothes and hightail it to join up with Beka, Dylan and the others...

Tyr heard Harper's voice with a sense of disbelief and turned to see the younger man moving away. He clove through the water with every bit of speed his Nietzschean body was capable of and came up behind Harper in moments. He caught the other man in his arms and pulled him to him, wrapping his arms so tightly around him Harper could barely breathe. He'd never felt such fear in his life.

"Hey, hey! A little room to breathe here would be nice!" Harper gasped as he squirmed against the older man. "Fuck, what's gotten into you? I was fine, okay? Bek and Dylan used to claim I was part fish; there's not a whole lot that I can mess up in the water, really!"

Tyr raised his head slowly, dark eyes fixing on Harper's face with a terrible lack of expression. "You did that on purpose."

Harper ducked his head. "Well, umm, yeah. Dammit, Tyr, you treat me like a kid or an incompetent who can't take care of himself. I... you worry about Loki less than you do me. I'm not some helpless... I can take care of myself, but you don't seem to believe me. I hate it when you laugh at me!"

"I see," Tyr replied expressionlessly. "It seems I must apologize." He nodded distantly and turned to walk away, afraid of what he'd do if he stayed near Harper another instant.

"Well fuck!" Harper slammed his fists into the water as he watched the Nietzschean retreat. "I can't win with you, can I? Well fine, whatever. Go sit and brood and be all Nietzschean, I'm going swimming!" Striking out into deeper water, Harper swam and swam until his arms were tired, his lungs burned and he couldn't go any further. Floating on his back, he just let himself drift, not really caring where he was or how far from shore. He let his mind empty, and he simply lost himself among the waves.

On his way back to the ship, carefully not allowing himself to think of what had just happened, Tyr encountered some of the others. Giving an incurious look to Hunt, Valentine and Rhade, he told them where Harper was and asked them to make sure he made it safely back to the Andromeda.

Once again alone, ignoring the surprised queries of the others who had expected not to see the Nietzschean captain or his human lover again until it was time to leave the planet, Tyr wandered back toward his shuttle, planning to return to the Andromeda. Unfamiliar with the daily compromises of loving someone, he couldn't understand how Harper could claim to love him and still have done what he had. Had this all been some strange plan to regain his freedom? But no, that didn't make sense.

Baffled, Tyr returned to the ship and his quarters, ignoring Loki's excited questions and not even noticing some of his other children. Alone at last, he stretched out on his bed and stared at the ceiling, refusing to think.

When Harper had announced his intention of going down to the planet, Beka had seized the opportunity. She knew that Agravaine Rhade would go down as well, and this would give her the chance to do something about the situation developing between the Nietzschean and her lover.

She and Dylan went planetside as well, picking a spot far enough away from Harper to give him the privacy he desperately needed, yet near enough that Agravaine could join them while still being able to hear Harper, thanks to Nietzschean hearing. She could see how uneasy Dylan was for the three of them to be alone, but Rhade looked faintly amused and curious.

"Okay," she said abruptly, plowing straight to the point in typical Beka Valentine fashion. "I know you love me, Dylan, same as I love you, but watching you two dance around each other is making me dizzy. Do something about it!"

Ignoring Dylan's sputters and Rhade's watchful gaze, she continued, "Getting it out of your systems may be all that it needs, but if not, we'll figure something out."

"Getting what out of my system, what the hell are you talking about, Bek?" Dylan obfuscated, not quite willing to admit his desire, especially not in front of the woman he one day wanted to have children with. It was just... obscene.

"You've got sunstroke or something; you need to get looked at, and I... I'm going for a walk!" Standing abruptly, Dylan tried to extract himself from the potentially lethal situation. He was not doing this!

Beka snorted indelicately. "Gimme a break, Dylan. I'm not blind. The pair of you get hard whenever you get within half a ship length of each other." She eyed Dylan. "There's nothing wrong with wanting a member of your own sex, you know."

"And you agree to this?" Rhade suddenly spoke up, looking at the human female with increased respect.

Beka shrugged. "Better that I know about it than you sneak around behind my back. Besides, you're not exactly hard to look at, you know."

Ignoring that and still blocking Dylan from walking away, Agravaine frowned slightly. "Are you planning to watch or participate?"

"Depends on you two."

"Look, I'm standing right here, and guess what, I'm not talking about this. It's ludicrous. And correct me if I'm wrong here, but without my agreement to this sick little negotiation of yours, Valentine, it ain't gonna get orbital, let along make it to slipstream, so you may as well forget the whole scheme.

"And will you get the fuck out of my way, bone head?" Dylan snarled at the bastard Nietzschean firmly planted between himself and the Maru.

Rather than replying, Agravaine caught hold of the aggravated human's arms, pulled him close, and kissed him. Thoroughly. With a great deal of attention, leaving not a single inch of Dylan's mouth unexplored. At the same time, he aligned their lower bodies so that his erection was pressed alongside the human's stirring cock.

Groaning, Dylan fought not to respond, but his cock betrayed him, leaping to attention. He then tried to hold his lips immobile, stiff and hard, but goddammit all, Rhade tasted hot and dangerous and thoroughly delicious. Was this why Harper jumped into bed so quickly with Tyr? Was this what the Pride Alpha did to his friend each and every time they...?

Hands coming up, Dylan pushed hard against Agravaine's chest. "I've never... I don't know how... and I'm sure as hell not gonna start now! It's great for Harper, glad he's happy and lovin' it, but I'm the alpha of my pride, and dammit all, this is not happening!"

Agravaine somehow managed not to laugh, and Beka was able to restrain herself as well. "That logic is somewhat flawed since you aren't a Nietzschean, and Tyr himself proves that this does work for an alpha." He worked a hand between them to cup Dylan's groin, fingers teasing at the hard cock, and he kissed the human again.

Dylan felt his lips and his body soften in spite of his resolve not to give in to what had to be a temporary attraction, nothing more. Damn but the bastard could kiss. It just felt so weird with Beka watching them, watching him being seduced by another man of all things, a Nietzschean no less. And she'd been the one to give said Nietzschean the green light to seduce him. He felt like he'd fallen down the rabbit hole and had ended up in another dimension.

The need for oxygen soon had him pushing away again, but this time he could only sag against Rhade's definitely hard body, worried eyes looking over his shoulder to Beka.

"I don't... I can't... hurt you, you know? I love you, Bek, and if this... I can't cause you pain, not like this. You need to be sure, or I won't, and even if I do, I can't, not in front of you, not the first time, okay? I don't think I could handle you seeing me..." the co-captain of the Maru stammered out.

Beka looked a little disappointed, but she nodded slowly. "If that's what you need, love, that's how it'll be." She moved closer, ignoring her own instinctive tension at being that close to a Nietzschean, and kissed him lightly. "I love you, Dylan Hunt, and I trust you." She glanced at the man watching her so carefully. "And I see the attraction," she admitted wryly.

"I'll be on the Maru." With a final glance at the two men, she turned and walked away, visions of the two of them naked and entwined in her mind. Screw that, she'd use the Maru's sensors to watch. She grinned wickedly.

Agravaine waited silently, his hands still lightly petting the human leaning against him, not wanting to say the wrong thing and frighten him into bolting again.

Watching Beka go, Dylan had the first true inkling of how Harper had felt when he was pinned by Tyr's gaze that first fateful encounter. There was something truly... terrifying about being the object of a Nietzschean's lust. They were rather single-minded and unstoppable when they decided they wanted something, and Rhade had just been given express permission to make good on his wants.

"One question: why now? You've been around all this time; why did you decide to start putting the moves on me now?" the light-haired human asked, not yet willing to look Agravaine in the eyes, something he had had no trouble doing before today.

Agravaine shook his head, amused again. "Dylan, I've been watching you since the first moment I saw you, and this is far from the first time I've offered you openings. As that rather observant female of yours could tell you.

"But the captain has given all of you special status, so there wasn't anything I could do without your consent, something else she seems to have realized," Rhade added, realizing that without Beka's interference he might never have gotten this far.

"I... you have... special status? What the fuck does that have to do with anything? And I hate to break it to you, he didn't give us special status; he let us go. Not that he could have kept us for long, no offense, but having been born and raised a free man, there was no way I was gonna stay a prisoner for long. And neither were my people. Harper just... found a better solution for all involved," Dylan snorted.

Of course, the human knew he was stalling things by starting this argument, but the Nietzschean's cock kept digging into his hip, even through their clothes, and there was no mistaking its size. Dylan was honestly unsure if he could take that inside him, especially when he'd never even done it with another man, not even Harper when the younger man offered himself on a silver platter during those first hours of his withdrawal after being liberated.

Ignoring the human's attempts to start an argument, Rhade simply kissed him again, his hands this time working to divest them both of their garments. He'd waited a long time to touch this man, and now that he could, he found that he had no patience left.

Groaning quietly as his mouth was ravished and his clothes stripped away from his body, Dylan wondered for the hundredth time that hour just what the hell he was doing, letting a Nietz male seduce him, but he could no longer deny that it felt good or that it was what his body was clamoring for. He just hoped this one time would burn it out of his system and leave his curiosity satisfied so he could devote all his passion to Beka again, instead of feeling this strange dichotomy of lust.

He loved and worshiped his lover; Beka was one of the strongest, most capable and sexiest women he'd ever known. She was beauty, brains, independence and sheer gutsy sexiness all rolled into one, and he got hard just thinking about her and how much he loved and wanted her.

But more and more the Nietzschean who was diligently stripping the clothes from his body and plundering his mouth had begun to star in private, insidious fantasies of hot, sweaty, primitive rutting... and then there were those other fantasies, the ones where they made love tenderly and even the ones where Rhade and Beka both took turns on him.

It was depraved, and Dylan thought he really shouldn't want this, yet it was as seductive as hell, and here he was, the Nietzschean's tongue down his throat and him naked; that should be telling him something. And where were those hungry whimpers of need coming from? Dylan wondered, not realizing that the sounds were emanating from him.

Agravaine heard and reveled in every whimper and sound of desire coming from the human in his arms, and he pressed the other man to the ground, sprawling on top of him with their erections caught side-by-side between them.

"Yes, so good, taste so good," he praised, finally releasing Hunt's mouth to allow the human to breathe while Rhade orally explored more of him. Dylan tasted somewhat salty, thanks to the sea breeze, and Agravaine seemed determined to lick every inch of him clean.

Eyes closed, sun floating down on him through the dappled leaves above, the sound of waves, the feel of sand, and the touch of Agravaine all worked to leave Dylan a quivering mass of want. He couldn't remember ever feeling this hungry before. Was that what desire between men was like? All hunger and need and the quest for dominance? It was a side of him he'd never experienced before, and he wasn't sure if he'd be the one playing alpha in this scenario.

Dylan had a feeling he'd lost control right about the time Beka had offered him up to Rhade on a platter, and now he wasn't sure if he even wanted to regain that control.

Dylan's hands clenched and unclenched at his sides, unsure of what he was supposed to do, where he was supposed to touch. This was so different than loving Beka, and for a moment he wished he'd taken the time to actually talk to Harper about the mechanics of what he wanted to do and have done to him. It would have served him well right now, but at the time it had been something he didn't need or want to know about.

The groan burst from his throat with unexpected force, and his body arched up off the sand as Agravaine sucked one of Dylan's nipples into his mouth. Great gods, it was as if someone had set off a nova bomb in his libido; he was instantly harder than ever and leaking heavily. "God, oh god, Rhade..." the human moaned softly.

"Yes, I'm right here, Dylan," the Nietzschean murmured, hungrily suckling on a nipple while one hand petted the human's rippled belly, slowly working downward. He didn't want to frighten Dylan into bolting again, but Rhade was hungry for him, and he wanted him now.

He continued to nurse at a nipple while his hand crept ever downward to cup Hunt's balls, easily rolling them in the loose, velvety sac.

Moaning continuously, Dylan's head tossed from side to side on the sand. Tiny whimpers of need interspersed the other noises he was making and, inanely, all Dylan could think was that at this moment he sounded exactly the way Harper had that one time on the Maru, when rest of the crew could hear what Tyr was doing to their engineer and how much the young man seemed to be enjoying it. Noises that Dylan was now emulating had permeated the crew area of the ship and had left them all hot and flustered.

Every tiny sound of pleasure from Dylan had Agravaine growing harder until he couldn't wait any longer... which was when he realized he didn't have any lubricant with him. His eyes flew open, and he was about to curse when he spotted the small container of lotion on the sand where Beka had been standing. Smiling faintly, he reminded himself to thank her properly sometime.

He shifted down to take Dylan's leaking erection into his mouth while he reached over and scooped up the lotion. Once his fingers were thoroughly coated, he began to glide them along the crease between the human's cheeks, slowly getting him used to being touched there.

Gasping and tightening as he felt Agravaine's fingers slide between his cheeks and slide back and forth over his anus, Dylan's eyes shot open. "I... I don't know how to do this," he admitted, his throat closed and tight. "I've only ever had women; I haven't even experimented. It seemed wrong somehow." Forcing himself to relax muscle by muscle, the human managed to get himself under some semblance of control, but he still couldn't quell the tiny tremors that raced through him.

"There's nothing wrong, and all you have to do is relax," Agravaine purred, still petting him though he stopped blowing him, at least for the moment. "Just relax and enjoy." He slowly slid the fingers back and forth, each stroke growing shorter until he was simply teasing the tense opening, an oil-slick fingertip slipping slightly inside with each pass.

Moaning, Dylan did what he was told and relaxed into the sensation. He wasn't all that sure about the enjoying part, for it was far too foreign and new to him. Sure, Beka had touched him there, had even slid a finger inside him while they'd made love, and they'd even talked about her taking him once, but that idea had sort of fizzled out, but this... the Nietzschean's arm spikes rubbing across his belly were a very real reminder that his partner was not homo sapiens but homo invictus.

"Easier said than done," Dylan gasped as one finger slowly slid inside him. "Whole new ballgame here, this is definitely uncharted territory and more than a little strange," he admitted, eyes finally opening only to be swallowed whole by the hunger in Agravaine's eyes.

"But very, very good," Agravaine promised, sliding his finger a little deeper until he found and nudged the small bump of Dylan's prostate, knowing that would show the human man exactly what he had been missing. "You're going to like this." When Dylan jumped and moaned, Agravaine carefully added a second finger, knowing that he was going to have to take this very slowly. He wanted Hunt to enjoy this, to want more, because he knew that he wanted Dylan as his. If he had to share him with that human female, well, so be it, but Dylan was his now.

"If you say so," Dylan gasped even as he clamped down on the fingers slowly working their way into his body. Closing his eyes again, he forcibly willed his body to relax and accept the invasion. He'd agreed to this, this mating and he was gonna see it through... and then head straight back to Beka and reaffirm the fact that he was straight.

But he couldn't deny that it had felt unbelievably good. Better than he had ever thought it would. When Agravaine's finger scraped over his prostate a second time, Dylan felt his body relax entirely. He could no longer deny that even if his mind wasn't 100 percent sure of what was happening, his body definitely was. "Oh god, that... that..." Blue eyes opened to show hazy pleasure and a willingness to continue. Thighs spread a little wider to allow the Nietzschean more access to his body. "I think I could learn to like this," he admitted softly.

"Pleasure is always enjoyable," Agravaine agreed, fingers lightly stroking inside the other man, stretching him and rubbing the sensitive gland. Smiling faintly, he lowered his head again, taking Dylan's rigid cock back into his mouth so he could nurse upon the hard length. His tongue lashed the shaft, his teeth lightly scraped over the head, and his free hand coated his own cock with the lotion.

Rhade shifted over Hunt, body covering his, and he drew the other man's legs back and apart, settling between them with the head of his cock nudging against his opening. He lowered his head to kiss Dylan hungrily as he slowly pushed inside him, biting back a groan as the tight, no longer virginal heat closed around him.

Whimpering at the slow burn as he was stretched wider and wider while the large organ worked into his body, Dylan moaned into the mouth that claimed his, and his erection flagged slightly with this final breaching of his body. He had forgotten just how big Agravaine's cock was until the Nietzschean impaled him with it.

Breathing hard through his nose, working his way through and past the pain, Dylan finally slid his eyes open to stare up into ones full of hunger and possessive pride. The human shivered slightly at the weakness that insinuated itself in his limbs even as his body tensed and spasmed around its invader. Eyes closed again, and the first officer in him fought to get himself under control. He was the last of the High Guard, goddammit, where was his spine?

When his eyes opened again, Dylan managed a shit-eating grin. "Is that the best you've got, bone head? I still don't see what has Harper following the captain around like a cat in heat. I mean, it's just a cock up my ass; it hasn't done anything amazing yet."

Eyebrows rising, Agravaine smirked down at him. "Just remember that you asked for it." He braced himself on his hands, arm spikes lightly brushing against Dylan's sides, and he drew his hips back, hissing quietly as the hot channel clung to him. Keeping his eyes fixed on Dylan's to see every nuance of expression, he pushed into him again, going a little deeper this time. He repeated the motion again and again, adjusting his angle slightly each time until the gasp told him that he'd found the exact spot he wanted.

Rhade lowered his head again to take Dylan's mouth as his hips began to thrust harder, his cock gliding in and out of the grasping velvet heat, nudging Hunt's prostate with every stroke. Harder and faster he moved, taking the body he'd wanted for so long, claiming him thoroughly.

Inside the shuttle, Beka watched the two on the viewscreen, and her fingers moved in the wetness dripping out of her. She moaned hungrily as she watched the Nietzschean take her lover and saw how much Dylan was enjoying it.

Next time, she promised herself, next time Dylan will be in me while Rhade fucks him.

The thought was enough to make her come, whimpering hungrily as her body clenched, wanting something inside her.

Dylan moaned around the tongue raping his mouth, his ass being plundered just as thoroughly. Fingers tried to grasp at something to anchor him, but the sand beneath them was ever shifting and left him without an anchor of any kind, sort of like his emotions at this very moment. He had been so sure he wasn't going to like this, that this would be an obligatory fuck and then the Nietzschean would leave him alone, and he and Beka could move past this, but now...

Back arching up off the blanket, Dylan turned his head to one side, breaking off the contact with Agravaine's mouth in attempt to keep at least a pretense of distance between them. Panting, Dylan couldn't deny that this was earthshaking, and he felt like he was spinning out of control and heading straight for a black hole.

A particularly fierce stab to his prostate had him once more focused on the here and now, and with a clench-jawed groan, his cock spasmed and shot, dotting his stomach with semen. "Jesus Christ!" Gasping, Dylan couldn't help but rear up, legs planted in the sand as he used his body's weight to push the Nietzschean up further, thereby granting Agravaine deeper access to his body.

He'd always been so careful with Beka, knowing that his size and strength compared to hers would have caused damage if he'd truly let go, but now the rules had changed. The fact that he was part heavy-worlder no longer mattered when his lover was another male and a Nietzschean at that. There were no holds barred, and he found that he responded to his rough handling even more readily than he did to Beka's softer seductions. What the hell was wrong with him?

Gasping out his pleasure in shattered phrases as Dylan came, Rhade continued to pound into him, one hand grasping Hunt's cock, stroking and pulling, not allowing him to soften. "That's one," he panted, staring down into dazed blue eyes. After waiting this long, the Nietzschean wanted more, so much more, and by the Progenitors, he was going to get it.

He bit his way along Dylan's jaw until he could reach his mouth again, his tongue sliding between the parted lips to claim the hot, wet depths once again. His cock drove into the human's ass as he ignored the tiny whimpers of pleasure-pain as he raked flesh sensitized by Hunt's recent climax, and his fingers forced the other man back to full erection.

Biting back a howl, Dylan was not about to give the bastard the satisfaction of seeing how close he was to begging for Agravaine to stop. What the fuck was he, a machine? God, the cock in his ass hadn't softened at all and still pummeled and claimed with inhuman precision. Maybe he'd been a little too cocky saying he couldn't understand Harper's slavish fascination with the Andromeda's captain.

Nails raked across Agravaine's back, leaving bloody gouges in their wake, and then came to rest on the Nietzschean's chest. Pushing up hard, Dylan managed to get some breathing space between himself and his... whatever the fuck Rhade was to him now. "Enough," he panted. "That's enough!"

"Never enough," Rhade growled, hips never stilling as he continued to possess the other man. The slight change in position brought his lower belly against Dylan's renewed erection, so he shifted his hand to Hunt's nipples, pinching and tugging at the rigid buds.

Then he suddenly stilled, cock buried deep inside the human, pelvis pressed against his erection, one hand lying lightly against a hard nipple. He knew that despite his words Dylan's arousal would not permit him to stop now, so he teased him by stopping all movement.

Dylan gritted his teeth and refused to offer up a word of complaint. The son of a bitch was a sick, sadistic bastard; that was all there was to it. But he was damned if he would beg for it. Biting down on his lip until he drew blood, the first officer of the Maru glared at his Nietzschean tormentor, refusing to be the first to break even though his body was screaming at him for movement and his cock was begging for attention.

Dylan was his own man, and he was not ruled by his cock or his need to mate. He wouldn't allow that to change now and especially not for Rhade. "If you are quite finished, get the fuck out of me! I need to get back to Beka, if it's all the same to you."

"But it's not," Rhade replied calmly. Staring into the shuttered blue gaze, he drew his hips back until he was in danger of coming out of Dylan, then thrust forward hard, driving back into him to the root. "We've only begun. There's so much more to show you." His voice grew huskier as the pleasure spread again, and his fingers plucked at the still hard nipple that had been cupped beneath his palm.

Beka watched the two gorgeous men, panting and shaking as she came again and again, still feeling hollow and wanting them. She'd been worried when Dylan tried to talk his way out of this before fully surrendering to Rhade, but she quickly realized that the Nietzschean was more than able to master the situation and the lover they now shared. Soon, soon she would be able to join them and ease this ache inside her, but first Dylan had to stop fighting what he was feeling.

The moan escaped his torn and bloodied lips before he could stifle it. Son of a bitch, he should have known the other man wouldn't play fair. Rhade was, after all, a Nietzschean. Dylan's chest arched up under the assault to his nipple, and he gasped as it was pinched hard, sending a shot of pained lust coursing through him. "God damn you, who says I want to be shown?" he managed to grit out.

The trouble was that the Nietzschean could very well be right that there was more he could be shown and, worse still, more that Dylan wanted to learn. Part of him couldn't help but feel that he was somehow betraying Beka, and that part fought the pleasure, thinking that it was unfaithful to the woman he loved.

He was stuck between a rock and a hard place and didn't know how to react beyond the fact that if he didn't come soon, he'd lose his mind.

"Your body does," Rhade purred, his tongue flicking over Dylan's ear. First suckling on the tender lobe then nipping sharply, he drew a gasp from the reluctant man. "Your body tells me that you want more."

And answering that demand, he began to thrust harder, each stroke jolting into Dylan. This time, he wanted them to come together, his own body letting him know that he was reaching the limits of his control. He lowered himself slightly so that his lower body again rubbed hard against Dylan's cock with every thrust, needing to make him come.

It was too much for the human to stand, the constant teasing, the stopping and starting and grinding. Dylan groaned and thrust upwards into the hard male body above him, needing to come yet again. "Son of a bitch, will you just make me come already?" the human demanded with a growl, thrusting up against the Nietzschean aggressively.

"That. Is. What. I'm. Trying. To do." Agravaine punctuated each word with another bone-jarring thrust, slowly losing control and beginning to move faster and less rhythmically. He suddenly pulled Dylan's legs over his shoulders, sinking deeper and feeling the tightness around him, his own body shaking as his climax began to overtake him.

Beka groaned as she came again listening to Dylan demand what he wanted from Rhade. When the tremors faded, she yanked her clothes back into order and headed back toward where the men were. She was only human, and after watching them, she had to be there, to touch them and taste them both.

She shook her head in disbelief. If anyone had ever told her that she would be planning to fuck a Nietzschean...

Shuddering as he came down from his orgasm, Dylan relaxed back into the blanket and ran a hand over his face in disbelief. Maybe if he just kept his eyes closed... The hand running through the cooling semen on his stomach made that thought moot as did the husky laugh in his ear.

"Like I said, I've never done this before, and certainly not with a Nietzschean. A male Nietzschean. I mean with Bek we cuddled and talked and, well, played. But with you, no offense, but I really don't want a bone blade in the guts, thanks."

"I really doubt that he's planning to kill you, Dylan," Beka laughed huskily, sinking to her knees beside the still joined men, knowing that they could smell her arousal.

"You were incredible together," she said, trailing a finger through the thickening liquid on Dylan's stomach and bringing it to her mouth to suck it clean.

Rhade laughed slightly, watching the woman and the stunned expression on Hunt's face. "And now you want to join in?" he asked, knowing the answer perfectly well.

Beka took a deep breath and leaned closer, one hand going to Rhade's shoulder for balance as she kissed him, tasting Dylan in his mouth.

Dylan wasn't sure if he liked the thought of his lover kissing Rhade, but he couldn't deny that there was something incredibly hot about watching Beka thrusting her tongue in and out of the Nietzschean's mouth. "Jesus," he groaned, "never mind Rhade planning to gut me, you're gonna exhaust me to death. C'mon, Bek, give a guy a change to recover here. Haven't you ever heard of refractory time?"

Both the woman and the Nietzschean laughed, their mouths parting so they could look down at the man still impaled on Rhade's cock.

"Just lie back and enjoy, Hunt," Beka suggested, grinning wickedly. "From what Harper's said, you're in for a treat... and while I'm willing to share, I'm not giving up prior claim," she added with a warning glance at the Nietzschean.

Rhade smiled slightly. This woman was worthy of the man he had claimed, and she was not without interest. She was not one of his kind and could never bear a Nietzschean child, but he too was willing to share. "Acceptable," he said.

"Hey, don't I get a say in all of this?"

"You will go down to the planet and relax, you stubborn mule!"

That comment of Trance Gemini's had started an argument that lasted for several hours and showed no sign of stopping even when she essentially dragged him down to the planet and shoved him out the slipfighter onto the beach.

Eyeing the fuming man sitting on the sand, she asked curiously, "What is a mule anyway, and are they really stubborn?"

"Mules are purple skinned and pushy, and you tell me," Rafe snarled as he stood carefully and headed towards the beach and away from the crazy woman who'd ever so thoughtfully taken him under her wing. How'd he ever get so unbelievably unlucky?

There he was on a fucking Nietzschean planet after being on a fucking Nietzschean ship following watching his uncle be shot to death and being captured and 'trained' on a world that still brought nightmares both waking and sleeping. His sister and his crew had rescued him then had been rescued in turn by the Andromeda. More specifically they'd all been rescued because Harper was on the Maru, and Harper belonged to the Nietzschean captain, poor bastard.

Maybe if he were lucky, he'd drown or get eaten by a shark or something. That would save him from the purple Pollyanna and a galaxy full of bone heads. A man could dream, after all.

Eyes narrowing into an expression that no one who'd known the sweet and somewhat ditzy Trance on the Maru before they'd encountered the Andromeda would have recognized, the purple woman stood for a moment before following the irritating man she found herself interested in.

"Are you always this difficult, or is this something special you save just for me?" she demanded, coming to a halt directly behind him. Since the innocent routine wasn't working on Rafe, perhaps it was time to let him see her other side. "Or maybe you just want to remain the injured victim and be pitied by everyone?" she asked sweetly.

"I don't want anyone's fucking pity. What I want is for every one of those Nietzschean butchers to die slow and painful deaths. But since I can't have that, I'll settle for a few minutes of peace and quiet without you constantly trying to get into my head. Why the hell couldn't you be like every other female I've ever met and simply want to get into my pants? Noooo, you have to dissect and slice and try to finish what those bastards started," the former brothel manager seethed.

"It's bad enough that those, those freaks of science raped my body; do you have to try and rape my mind with all your fucking sweetness and light?" Rafe was lashing out, angrier than he'd ever been in his life, and unfortunately the one person who truly wanted to help him was the only one available to let loose the rage. He would have loved to be able to beat the shit out of a Nietz or two, but none were to be found. Instead he was taking out his hatred at the universe in general on the one person who'd...

"FUCK!!!!!" he screamed, turning away from Trance to stare blindly at the clear blue sky. "Why do you care so much? Why do you fucking care?" he groaned, his anger burning out as quickly as it came, leaving him exhausted and trembling as he sank to the beach. "Why the hell didn't you just let me die? Would have been cleaner."

"Because the universe wouldn't be nearly as nice a place without you in it." Trance knelt down behind him, her arms coming around him and drawing him back to lean against her. Stronger than she looked, she supported his weight, murmuring soft words of comfort.

"For the record," she said suddenly when she thought it was time, wanting to shock him back to himself, "I'm not averse to getting into your pants either. I just happen to think that all of you is interesting."

The setting sun prompted Harper to think about heading to shore. He'd been floating on his back, lost in his thoughts or more accurately trying not to think at all, for so long he'd apparently let the afternoon slip away and had lost all track of time. There was just one problem, he thought, as he rolled over onto his stomach and treaded water while looking around. The shore was nowhere in sight.

"Brilliant, just fucking wonderful! Great boy genius I am, shit!" the young man chastised himself. "And naked as the day I was born no less, oh, that's gonna get such a fucking thrill for whoever finds my bloated corpse." Cautioning himself not to panic, Harper tried to think rationally. Overhead a flock of what appeared to be seagull-like birds flew away from the sun. Birds. They didn't go out too far from shore, or they'd die. Follow the birds, Eureka! Keeping his eye on the prize, Seamus Harper struck out for shore, not giving in to the burn in his arms or the ache in his legs. He was not spending the night floating in the middle of the ocean butt naked! Damn, why hadn't he put his swim trunks on before taking off like that?

Harper let out a huge sigh of relief when he at last made landfall. Damn, he'd been way out there. Dusk had long since fallen, and he barely managed to keep the beach in sight as the sky grew darker and darker, night coming faster than he could swim. But he knew which way to go; he just had to make sure not to get disoriented.

He could barely feel the shore when his feet finally touched; numbness and dehydration had set in, the salt water sapping the electrolytes from his body. Harper had no idea where he was or how far away from the others. He was cold; he was hungry; and he hurt inside and out. Damn, what a way to go - alone and miserable on the friggin' Kodiak homeworld, way to go, Harper!

When Tyr finally grew aware of his surroundings again, he realized that hours had passed and Harper still hadn't returned to the ship. While he believed that his irritable lover might refuse to come back in an attempt to punish him for leaving him there, he knew the others would have advised him of Harper's plans. If they knew them.

Tyr flowed to his feet in a single movement, immediately establishing communications with Agravaine, who was forced to admit that they had never found Harper, though having a healthy Nietzschean sense of self-preservation, he forbore to mention that they hadn't actually ever looked for him or why. Snarling at his subordinate's incompetence, Tyr directed the ship to search for life signs on the planet, radiating outward from where Harper had last been seen. In moments, Andromeda had found a single human life sign, far distant from the beach where they had had their pleasant and not-so-pleasant interludes, and Tyr sighed.

He realized now that he had overreacted to what had happened, but how in the name of the makers had Harper managed to get all the way there? Shaking his head, he headed back to the planet to find out.

He landed the shuttle at the edge of the rocky beach where Andromeda had found Harper and stepped out, searching the darkness for signs of his lover.

Curled up in a tight ball, trying to conserve body heat and stay conscious, Harper chuckled a bit hysterically. Not so different from some of the things he'd gone through with the Orca, after all. And he'd survived that. He was tough. Tougher than Mr. High and Mighty ever gave him credit for, asshole. And he'd tell him so too - if he ever got back to the Andromeda, that was.

The glaring lights made him wince and close his eyes. Not time for sunrise yet, what the hell?

Tyr spotted Harper almost immediately and sighed before striding across the sand toward the huddled human. Questions could wait. Right now, he needed to get his mate warm and fed. Pausing only long to speak Harper's name so the human would recognize him, he scooped the shivering young man up into his arms and strode back to the ship.

He kept Harper in his lap the entire short flight back to the Andromeda and refused to put him down even once they arrived. Once again ignoring everyone, he carried his lover to their quarters and straight into a hot shower. Only then did he stop ignoring Harper's sputtering and fix him with a steely gaze.

"We'll talk when you're done. I'll be in the main room." He turned on his heel and left before he gave in to temptation and joined Harper in the shower.

What seemed like hours later Harper stepped out of the shower, finally warm and free from all the crusting salt. Rommie had taken the time to scan him and make sure there was no lasting damage and had even augmented his nanobots to work at a more efficient rate to repair his side wound and re-hydrate him as well as deal with the minute tissue damage. Harper actually felt almost human again.

So why did he want to crawl into a conduit tube and not come out again? One word. Tyr. Damn, this whole belonging to someone was too complicated for words. Where had it all gone wrong, and how could he make it right again? Harper really didn't have the answers this time around. He couldn't remember ever feeling this emotionally helpless in his life.

Walking through the bedroom, his feet dragging, Harper took a good long look around, sure it would be his last, and walked out the door to meet his fate.

"Okay, here I am. Get it over with; tell me you're tired of me and my ass is back on the Maru with the rest of the kl... crew," he said resignedly as he stood just inside the door, thumbs in his pockets, slouching against the wall.

Tyr sighed, eyeing his despondent mate. "How many times am I going to have to tell you that I love you and I'll never let you go before you start to believe me?" He glared at the smaller man. "Your ass is right where it belongs, and you're not going anywhere except to bed!"

"I..." Harper's eyes widened, and his voice cracked as he answered. "I'm s-sorry. For everything, the way I-I acted on the beach, getting you mad, being jealous, getting hurt, going off on the Maru to rescue Rafe, nearly drowning an' making you come after me when you obviously didn't want to. Am just a complete wipe out when it c-comes to the relations-ship thing!" the younger man blurted out, wanting to get it all out in the open once and for all.

However, the sudden urge to scream, shout, throw a tantrum or cry his eyes out had Harper wheeling around to race back into the bedroom, where he threw himself on the bed. Burying his face in a pillow to muffle the few sobs that escaped his control, Harper's body was wracked with shudders of pent up emotions that were riding too close to the surface due to his total exhaustion.

The Nietzschean stared after Harper in some confusion. The way that man went from angry to repentant to the makers only knew what was enough to give even a Nietzschean a headache! He followed his lover into their bedroom and sat down on the bed beside the quivering, miserable human.

"Harper, neither of us has done this before. We're going to have a few clashes. That's to be expected. I've watched your Captain Valentine and Hunt, and they certainly argue often enough. Just don't... don't pretend to be in danger when you're not."

"I didn't think," Harper managed to get out, his voice still muffled by the pillow. "I just felt. You make me so mad when you patronize me and treat me like you would Skadi or one of your younger kids. I may be accident-prone and a bit of a klutz at times, but I am an adult, believe it or not, and can take care of myself. Badly but I can do it," the young man groused quietly.

"I'm sorry," Tyr said finally. "You're right, you are an adult. But you humans are so weak and fragile compared to us that sometimes it's hard to remember all that. I promise I'll try."

Harper rolled onto his back, suddenly angrier than he could ever remember being, even though Tyr had been trying to make up. "Weak and fragile?" he bellowed into the older man's face. "You think surviving the Orcas was a cake walk? Or living in the camps? Or being conditioned and turned into a glorified fucktoy slash information retrieval unit? You think having this jack shoved into my neck was a feather tickle? Or killing Guderian?

"You can be such an asshole!" Running out of steam, Harper flopped back on the bed, still fuming but too exhausted to care. "Weak and fragile, my granna's ass!" he snorted.

Tyr wondered vaguely if banging his head on the wall would make him feel better, but he wasn't crazy enough to say that out loud. "Harper, I know your life has been... difficult, but that doesn't change the fact that Nietzscheans are stronger. I could break you in half if I'm not careful of my strength around you... Loki could! No matter how much you wish it were different, that's not going to change. I can't change the universe for you."

"Whatever," Harper replied sullenly. His emotions were riding a rollercoaster right now, and a lot of pent up anger was coming out and being directed at Tyr for reasons he couldn't, or wouldn't, examine. "Being human sucks," the younger man declared vehemently. "Gotta love being an inferior species. I'm going to sleep now. My weak and fragile self can't keep up with your superior genes!"

Tyr gave up. "Fine. If you want to sulk, go right ahead. I've already learned that you can be completely unreasonable when you want to be, and nothing I can say can change it. I'm going to the bridge."

Growling subvocally, Tyr stalked out of the room and up to the bridge, where his suddenly silent crew gave him a wide berth. It was always obvious when their alpha and his human lover had argued; Tyr looked like death looking for a place to strike.

"He's just being honest, Harper. Genetically speaking humans are more fragile than Nietzscheans," Rommie said quietly, appearing next to the bed and trying to comfort her friend. "He didn't mean insult by it."

"He rubbed my face in it, Rommie. And he laughed at me! He didn't think I could tell, but I've learned to read him pretty well. He was laughing at me; do you have any idea how... pathetic that makes me feel?" the human replied.

"They told me for years that I was worthless and weak and if weren't for the fact that I was pleasing to look at and intelligent for a kludge, I'd have been long dead. And they laughed at me too - look at the freakish human kludge who's only good for spreading his legs and downloading information 'til his head explodes from the pain and his nose and ears and eyes begin to bleed. Tyr... I know he didn't mean to, but, well, he made me feel like they did all over again.

"From anyone else I'd laugh it off or get snarky about it, but from Tyr... It hurt, Romster. It hurt bad to think he sees me as so, well, so useless," Harper confessed quietly.

"Harper, be fair. Tyr has lived his entire life surrounded by Nietzscheans. To him any human is a fragile and breakable thing, but he doesn't see you as useless. He's trusted his children to you, Harper. Do you have any idea what that means to a Nietzschean?" Rommie asked.

"I... I don't know, Rom-doll. I guess I fucked up again, hunh? Relationships are a lot harder than they look," the young man choked out, managing a wan smile. "Guess I should go and apologize or something."

Checking on her captain, the ship's AI nodded emphatically. "That would be a good idea, a very good idea. Preferably before he kills someone for breathing too loudly."

Grumbling under his breath about being the one to always give in, Harper stomped over to the com and then composed himself. Opening a channel to the bridge, he made a quick and brief announcement. "I, Seamus Zelazny Harper, apologize to the crew of the Andromeda for getting her captain PO'd, and I apologize to the captain for being an ass. That is all."

Looking over to Rommie, he scowled at her. "Well?"

She just shook her head. "At least it'll get him off the bridge. I'll see you later, Harper." She made a hasty retreat before the captain could arrive.

Moments later, Tyr did arrive, annoyance in every line. "What exactly did you think you were doing?" he snarled.

"Apologizing for being an ass," Harper snapped back at the bigger man. "Apparently I wasted my breath! Geez, not even an apology is good enough for you!" Hurling himself into a chair, Harper crossed his arms, prepared to sit there all night. "Next time I won't waste my breath!"

Tyr glared, arms crossed and feet braced. "You are the only person I know who can make an apology sound like an insult!" He stopped to think about that. "Apart from myself, that is."

"Maybe that's why we're good for each other," Harper replied quietly, trying to meet his lover halfway.

Tyr smiled crookedly. "And make each other so crazy." He took a step toward Harper, arms uncrossing and falling to his sides.

"I make you crazy?" the engineer asked, eyes lighting up as he uncurled from the chair and made his way over to the towering mountain of Nietzschean. "You know, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me, other than I love you, that is. I can make a Nietzschean crazy. I like that."

Wrapping his arms around Tyr's neck, Harper just held on tight, savoring the feeling of them just being together and not fighting. They'd been doing that so much lately, and Harper felt horrible about some, actually about most of the things he'd said and done; however, he just couldn't seem to keep his mouth shut at the time. It was like once he started, he couldn't stop, and it all started when...

When that Sabra bitch had called him to stake her claim on Tyr. Damn. Guess he had a lot more insecurities than he cared to admit.

"Tyr... can I try and explain all of this, really explain?" the young man asked quietly. "Without you getting mad or trying to interrupt me or anything?"

"Well, I can't promise no interruptions," the captain replied, knowing from past experience how frustrated he got sometimes trying to understand Harper, "but I can promise to try. I want to understand, Harper, to know what's bothering you because something clearly is."

He started to stretch out on the bed, then stopped, deciding that if this conversation got painful, he didn't want it to happen in their bed; instead, he carried Harper over to the couch and sat down, the smaller man secure in his arms. It had the additional advantage of allowing Harper to move off his lap if he needed to, but Tyr hoped he wouldn't.

"I guess the immediate reason I was acting like this is because you got married again. To her. And it scared me. I know you love me. I know it in here, Tyr," he said bringing his lover's hand up to his heart, "but sometimes it takes me a while to get it in here," Harper continued, pointing to his head.

"I lied to you, to Dylan, Trance and Beka, and to myself about a lot of things," the young man confessed quietly. "Well, if you call lying by omission a lie. I... Truth is, I grew up on Earth. It was hell; there were Magog raids and Nietzschean raids, and it was just this cesspool of corruption and horror and...

"My da was killed right in front of me when I was four. He was protecting me and my older sister from some slavers who wanted young meat for certain Nietzscheans with certain vices. Da died protecting us, and they got my sister anyway. I was too small and too skinny, and they knocked me down, and I guess there was so much blood they thought I was dead.

"My ma didn't last long after; she missed my da too much, and then I was an orphan, so my aunt and uncle took me in despite the number of mouths they already had to feed. And then a Magog raid came, and my cousins Deklan and Siobhan were... impregnated," Harper all but spat the word out, "and we had to either watch them be eaten alive from the inside out or we had to kill 'em. At least our way their death was quick and painless, but I can't even begin to tell you what it did to my aunt and uncle.

"I fell in with a bad crowd after that. I was maybe seven or eight, I think, and one day the lot of us were caught desecrating a statue of Mussoveni, and the Dragans in charge decided that even they didn't want us on planet, so they made a deal, a sweet deal from what I heard, and we were shipped off to an Orca slave camp.

"Apparently the Orcas needed fodder for one of their more dangerous mining operations, and in return the Dragans got a piece of the action. If I thought Earth was bad, it was a veritable paradise compared to where we were sent. I watched my so-called friends lie and betray and backstab each other, and then one of them squealed on me, singling me out so that he wouldn't be raped. That's how I drew the attention of the Orca Alpha and how I ended up getting... conditioned," the young man admitted, his voice suspiciously hoarse while he refused to meet Tyr's eyes.

"I... Something got hard inside me after that. I didn't trust anyone, didn't want anyone, and didn't let myself feel anything. It just left you wide open for a whole lot of hurt that was worse that some of the beatings and the rapes.

"And then Bek and Dylan rescued me, and I suddenly had a family again, and it was hard. It was so hard, Tyr," Harper admitted, his knuckles white and his entire body taut with his struggle to keep it all in check. "Trusting them, letting them in because I was so afraid that one of them would betray me or hurt me or sell me out or something. I'd go to sleep fully clothed with a stash of credit chips hidden on me so that I could get the hell out fast if it got that bad. I wasn't gonna go back to the camps for anything. I'd have died first.

"But they wormed their way in, and suddenly I was human again and not just meat to eat or a kludge to be used. And then you came along, and I had someone of my very own to love and who loved me.

"I guess she just blind-sided me and brought back all the old fears of being abandoned, being used, being betrayed. I know you'd never do that; I know you love me, but sometimes... I'm scared again, you know? So I try to drive you away before you leave me or something, I guess."

Tyr just held Harper tightly, wishing he could change the past, take the pain away, but he couldn't. "I'm sorry," he offered quietly. "Sorry I didn't talk to you about Els- about her first, but it really wouldn't have helped, would it." He sighed. "I love you, Harper, and I'm not going anywhere... and neither are you," he added possessively. "This having a relationship is more complicated than I thought."

"I guess so. Do me a favor though, big guy? Next wife you acquire, tell me before she does? I mean she was probably just marking her turf or whatever, but I'd rather know before they decide to tell me or one of the crew slips it out?" Harper asked quietly.

"I can take it if you tell me, but not the way this one happened. That's what really hurt worst of all. Finding out from, as she put it, your legitimate and legal spouse, not from you. I'd rather you give it to me straight, and then I can go sound off to Bek and Dylan and blow it off, not let it fester," the younger man continued. "It wouldn't have felt so... bad coming from you. I mean it would have felt bad but not like a set of arm spikes in my gut."

Tyr flinched. "I... I'm sorry. I hadn't thought about that. I was trying to avoid having to face you with it," he admitted, flushing slightly. It had been cowardly and had ultimately hurt Harper far more, but at the time, he'd only been thinking of not hurting him with the news.

"Because of Elsbett's rank, as long as she has children regularly, I shouldn't have to take any other wives," he offered, hoping it would help.

"You do what you gotta do for your Pride, Tyr. I know that has to come first over everyone and everything. The Orca hurt you bad, and you need to rebuild and... you need wives. And more children... just don't tell me about the conception, okay? I really don't wanna know that," Harper replied quietly.

"Guess we both hurt each other this time around, hunh? I really don't wanna do this again. I can't lose you too," the young man husked, his lip quivering slightly. "Forgive me?"

"Always," Tyr admitted. "It seems to be part of loving you." He tilted Harper's head up with a finger under his chin and kissed him, reclaiming his mate. "And I too would prefer not to repeat the experience."

Harper's hands wrapped around Tyr's neck and held him close. He shifted and squirmed until he was straddling the Nietzschean's lap and giving his all to the kiss. This was the one part of fighting he did like. The making up.

Tyr stood up, bringing Harper with him, and started back for the bed. His hands were busily stroking Harper and unfastening his clothing, eager to feel their naked bodies pressed together again, and he was nibbling on the raised flesh around the engineer's implant.

Squirming and whimpering, Harper could only gasp out his pleasure, whisper his need and beg for release. "Please, Tyr, need you, love you, want to. Please need you in me, to know, to feel... need so much," the young man begged needfully.

"I'm right here," Tyr replied, growling as he worked to remove their remaining clothing, then fell upon his mate. A fierce need to reclaim the other man as his rose up in him, and he grabbed for the lubricant, preparing Harper as quickly as possible before pushing inside him. An atavistic groan of ownership fell from his lips as he felt the tight, clinging heat of Harper surrounding him, and he immediately began to take the human hard.

"YES, TYR!!" Harper cried out as he felt himself penetrated and claimed. "God, oh god, love you, love you, love you," the young man whined, his legs wrapped around the Nietzschean's waist as he tried to meet every stroke with a thrust of his own.

Harper's hands raced up and down his chest, pinching his nipples, twisting his nipple ring, and stroking his cock and his balls. Surging up, he began to feast on Tyr's nipples, his tongue piercing lashing the taut nubbins of flesh, wanting to increase his mate's pleasure.

Tyr watched hungrily as his mate teased his own body, heightening his arousal and Tyr's as well. A deep rumbling purr issued from him when his Pet's mouth fastened onto his nipple, and one huge arm wrapped around Harper, supporting him while he continued to pound into the smaller man.

"Mine, all mine," he growled. "Want to feel you come for me, Pet, want to watch you come apart and then come inside you."

Whimpering around the button of flesh in his mouth, Harper let his free hand slide between their pounding bodies and wrapped it around his dripping cock. Stroking himself to the same rhythm that Tyr took him soon had his balls crawling up into his body and his head falling away from his lover.

Sharp, broken gasps escaped his throat, and his eyes rolled back into his head. Unintelligible garbles of want and need poured forth, and with a last jerk of his cock and a last impaling of his body, hot white semen sprayed between their writhing bodies.

Harper's climax triggered Tyr's, and the big Nietzschean groaned his pleasure as he came inside his lover, reclaiming him. Tyr covered Harper's mouth with his own, indifferent to the need to breathe as he claimed his mouth, needing the connection.

"I do love you," he said quietly, brown eyes somber, when he finally raised his head.

Harper's smile was one of mystified delight. "I know you do, I just... it's like a miracle every time I hear it, that you could actually love me, a human," the younger man admitted. "I... you're everything I've ever wanted in life, you know that? You're my heart, my home, my safety, my sanity - everything. I'm not even sure I could live without you anymore, even if I had to."

"You'll never have to try," Tyr vowed fiercely, lying atop his lover and staring down into the bright blue eyes. "I'll never let you go." If someone had told him before he met Harper how much this one human would come to mean to him, he would have suggested euthanasia for the madman, but he could more easily give up his own life than Harper's now.

Harper closed his eyes, trying to live in the moment. If there was one thing he'd learned in his life so far, it was that nothing was certain. The very state of the universe was in constant flux and so too was everything and everyone in it. The now was all he had, and now was good. It was very good.

Opening his eyes, he smiled up at his lover, his mate, and his life. "You know, I even like it when you call me Pet now; it doesn't mean what it used to. I don't mind it when you call me that, Tyr, even in public."

Laughing, Tyr teased, "If I weren't Nietzschean, the shock might have killed me. Pet." He kissed Harper lingeringly.

"You ubers, tougher to kill than cockroaches," Harper teased back when he could speak again. "But I think I'll take you to a cockroach any day."

END

  since 02-17-07

 

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