Summary: "She found it, tucked neatly in her footlocker, three days after he left."

Pairings: Beka/Tyr

Disclaimer: Tribune owns all rights to Andromeda.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: Several episodes, end of season three to series end, especially "Pride Before the Fall".

Setting: Post season three.

Feedback: Praise and constructive criticism welcome.

Archive: Ask first and I'll probably say yes.

Author's Note: This one was a little odd, but I liked what it came out to and thought I'd share.

What He Left Behind

By B.L.A. the Mouse

She found it, tucked neatly in her footlocker, three days after he left. Simple, gold, like she'd seen so many of their enemies wearing, but with a Kodiak crest that matched the one engraved on a handful of things he'd owned. She suspected that it would fit perfectly if she tried it on, but instead she cursed him, swallowing the knot in her throat and burying it under a cluster of socks.

After the Route of Ages, she was numb for so long, with no idea of what was and wasn't her. When she finally knew, when the fog lifted and she remembered everything, she pushed it away, told herself that he had just been using her and messing with her head. She almost managed to forget about it, that time.

There were days after Arkology when she was between panic and desperation. Needing something to do, she went through the corners of the ship, sorting everything that she could find. Some went out an airlock, mostly clothes and souvenirs from old boyfriends, but most went to into crates that she stored the largest smuggler's hold. Her father's and Rafe's things took up the most space, and Harper's took up almost as much. Trance had left less since she moved the plants to the girl's room and the Andromeda. Rev's things fit in one small box; he'd never carried much. When she packed away Tyr's shirt and his throwing stars, two books and a gun she didn't have ammunition for, they covered the bottom of a single box. She was about to drop it in the hold next to the box she had dedicated to Dylan and Rommie and Rhade, filled with High Guard uniform pieces but with the forcelances in her weapons locker, when she hesitated.

It was still there under the socks, and she folded it carefully in the mesh shirt before adding it all to the hold.

Her fingers itched to pull the crate back out after Peter. She wanted to know if Tyr had had any idea, had left any other message, but she fought the impulse. There was nothing else there, nothing those remnants of his life could tell her, no secret inscription or treasure map hidden there that could make sense of it all. So she swallowed the doubt, the confusion, the anger and the fear and the guilt, the curiosity most of all, and left it all undisturbed, especially the secret hidden in his shirt.

It took so much to convince the Nietzscheans, all of them arguing and debating and demanding their own DNA samples. There were weeks of travel, meeting with alphas and matriarchs, listening to Dylan's testimony in pride after pride until the majority agreed that at the least she had Nietzschean DNA. Then they rushed to claim her, setting in motion weeks more of travel, this time with a Nietzschean escort to protect her.

She stopped for a week with Jaguar pride. Charlemagne was gracious and offered her an elegant suite; Elsbett was bitter. She ignored it, had to in order to keep her sanity, and thanked whatever god there was that none of them found that smuggler's hold. She smiled and nodded and bluffed her way through one state event after another, trying to avoid both murder and marriage.

On the fifth day there was a dinner. It was an hour before she was expected, and she was bathed and dressed and at loose ends when someone knocked at the door, undoubtedly another Nietzschean inviting her to watch him spar. She opened it anyway, one hand on her gun. Almost immediately she let her hand fall away and stepped back. She wasn't sure herself whether the step was out of caution or to let her visitor come in and close the door behind himself. He did so and then waited.

The braids were there, as long as ever, but his forearms were still bare. The same leather clung to the same chiseled muscles, the same guarded warmth was in his eyes, and she suddenly felt that he was laughing at her, so suddenly self-conscious was she of her own long braids. His gaze dropped to her arm and to the bracelet she wore there, a single strand of DNA with no pride markings, the line broken only by the unadorned clasp. She held her breath, waiting for him to ask, but he looked back to her eyes and said, simply, "Matriarch." He put his hands behind his back, his whole air subservient, and said no more.

She wanted to tell him so many things: that she missed him, that she hated him, that she'd found the helix. She wanted to ask him why he'd left and why he'd come back, what had really happened the year before and what was going to happen now. No words came. She licked her lips, nervous, and stepped forward; he didn't move except for a flicker of his eyelids. Her fingers were trembling when she raised her hand, and while she was tempted for a moment to swing she instead settled her palm against his jaw, feeling the faintly ticklish rasp of his beard against her skin. This close he even smelled the same. When he lifted his own hand, it was equally shaky, steadying only when he pressed it over hers. That touch was as familiar as she expected it to be. "Tyr."

"Beka." He turned his head to kiss her palm.

From no words to too many, they all balanced on her tongue. The first to fall were not the ones she would have chosen. "I don't want a husband. Or children."

That beautiful bright smile made her flush. "Then I won't be your husband. I'll be your friend, your lover," she warmed further, "your ally." He drew closer, whispered, "Your solace." He kept her hand pressed to his cheek while he kissed her, sweet and lingering with the promise of heat. Their eyes met again for a moment before he leaned to her ear. "I have one child. You have millions. Between us, that is enough."

The End