Summary: Tyr suspects that Beka and Rommie are far more than fellow crew.
Pairings: Beka/Rommie, Beka/Rommie/Tyr
Disclaimer: Tribune owns all rights to Andromeda.
Setting: No specific point in time. Second or third season-ish.
Feedback: Praise and constructive criticism welcome.
Archive: Ask first and I'll probably say yes.
Author's Note: Mostly just messing around with some of my favorite pairings.
By B.L.A. the Mouse
Tyr didn't think anything of it the first time. Beka and Rommie had recently returned from a swampy planet, after all, and the supplies of the Maru were limited. It wasn't unusual to borrow someone else's things as needed. He had used Beka's body wash on more than one occasion himself, and to his knowledge Harper had never returned the shirt Dylan had loaned him. For Rommie to smell, so faintly, of Beka's shampoo was no concern of his, and if the scent lingered longer than it would for anyone else, it was something about which he did not see the need to worry.
The second time made him wonder. No one had left the ship in days, and yet when Dylan, on their regular run through the decks, stopped Rommie as she passed, Tyr could smell again the light fragrance he associated with Beka's toiletries. He didn't realize how close he was leaning to discern it until she gave him an odd look and stepped away. After she went on her way and they resumed their run, the oddity of it distracted him such that he missed Dylan turning at a corridor junction and had to backtrack several steps to catch up with him.
Those isolated incidents were not enough to concern him. It was the third time that led him to question the balance of power aboard.
It had been a false alarm that had called them all to Command, the attack only the last blast of weaponry from a long-deserted outpost. They stood down, Harper already ruminating on what might be found there and Tyr ignoring him as best he could. There was a step beside him as he stood at the console, then a wash of the detergents and body products he associated with Beka on the air currents, as well as a piquant scent he associated with her proximity to him. He was unable to prevent the swell of anticipation, but something was wrong, dampening it. Her heartbeat was too faint, as if she were still piloting, but there was another step, now up to the platform itself. He didn't look, didn't betray his curiosity, but simply moved aside to allow her room to stand. He was stunned when the slim arm reaching past him was not Beka's.
"All systems are normal," Rommie announced, almost directly under his ear, "courtesy of some excellent flying."
"Hey, Beka's got the magic touch," Harper told the room at large.
"Indeed she does," Rommie agreed, more quietly, but with sufficient volume for Beka to hear, as she turned her head to meet Rommie's gaze. The smile on Beka's lips was not mere appreciation of a compliment. Nor was the warmth in her eyes regard for a friend and crewmate, but instead heat of a different sort.
Tyr made his excuses and slipped away.
For days there was nothing further, nothing to confirm or deny his suspicions regarding Beka and the ship. There were no betraying scents on either of them, no interactions that were anything other than those of comrades-in-arms, and he had almost convinced himself that his vaunted senses were failing him. Beka would not have had to be that close to him for him to smell her. It would have been entirely too easy, with those stimuli, for him to interpret that small exchange as something far more than it was.
He had been roaming the ship deep into the night when he was unable to sleep, an unfortunate habit that had arisen of late. Weary of the familiar route through the decks and the equally familiar route of his thoughts, he turned to the mess deck in the almost certainly vain hope that something there could ease his mind and aid his rest. He had been only steps from the door when an undeniably feminine giggle had emanated therein. He had slowed instinctively, curious as to whom the giggle belonged, and pressed his hand to the wall as he waited.
"It tickles." Beka's voice, amused, another barely-suppressed giggle at the end of the statement.
"It's not supposed to." Rommie now, vaguely irritated.
"Well, it does!" A pause. "A little harder?"
Rommie was the amused one now. "Whatever…" a soft sound of lips against flesh, "you want."
Silence now, then the slide of fabric, the undeniable rasp of a zipper. His free hand, he realized, was clenched into a fist, one that only tightened at the low sigh that had to be Beka's. It took so much strength of will, more than he would have thought, to relax his muscles, to silently step away from the door, to evenly pace to his quarters and lock them against the others.
To not give in to the irrational, unserving anger and jealousy.
He kept that urge tamped for days, pushing it down whenever he saw the two of them, no matter the circumstances. For days he did nothing, said nothing, until Beka cajoled him into sparring practice again. Wary of her previous tactics, he slipped his hand from hers before she could sink her teeth into his flesh.
She laughed and twisted to free herself. "So you can learn."
"Of course." He repinned her hands. "Yes. I learned something the other day, in fact, that I had apparently been misinformed of." One foot shifted to the side to prevent her toe on his instep.
"Oh? What?" She twisted again, loosening his grip.
"The avatar isn't Harper's life-sized love doll." She tensed in his arms as he continued, "It's yours instead."
He would have a bruise from the force she had hit him with. He stepped away, rubbing the spot and assessing her anger. Defensive, certainly. Righteous, perhaps. Genuine, in any case. "Do you take offense to that characterization?"
"You know I do."
"What, then, would you describe it as?"
"None of your business." She turned to the door, was at it in seconds, but paused. "Or maybe as something that's making you jealous?"
He scoffed. "I-"
"No, you're not jealous, because you could never be attracted to a Human woman— or an android— and you can't be worried about your own skin because you know that neither of us would…" She hesitated and he supplied an ending.
"Place sex above survival?"
"I was going to say love, not sex, but I doubt you'd realize what I was talking about."
Then she was gone. He was left watching the empty doorway.
There was now a distinct frigidity in the way they both treated him. Beka must have repeated the conversation— or they had been monitored— as she and the avatar's facets all treated him with icy civility. He was not content or satisfied, but willing to let that be the emotion to carry the day, as they still came to his defense against a cadre of Ogami. He never wanted or needed to overhear them one night on his circuitous route to his own quarters, only steps down the corridor from Beka's.
He had almost reached the corner when he heard them. Not the playful, amorous behavior of before, but somber now, and his desire for information outweighed his concern of retaliatory action.
"…still an increase in his biosigns." Andromeda, almost reflective.
"That doesn't mean anything. Doesn't he do the same thing when you're around?"
"Yes, but not to the extent that it could be considered scientifically significant. I believe factors other than physical appearance affect it."
"So, what, give you a heartbeat and make you smell like me and it might change?"
"Probably not that simply or easily, but yes."
They were talking about him. And considering whether he was attracted to either or both of them? He shook his head. Beka was attractive, but Human, and while Rommie was visually appealing her artificial nature precluded any further consideration. He waited, curious as to what else might be said.
"You do realize that he can probably hear us."
"I don't care. If he hasn't figured it out by now I'd be surprised. He wouldn't act on it anyway."
"Given Nietzschean philosophy? No. We're neither of us suitable wives and potential mothers."
"That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. And that's assuming I'd take him anymore." Beka paused. Rommie's response must have been nonverbal, based on her next comment. "Oh, come on, after that? He's pretty but he has no idea. I'd kill him in days. Besides, I'm usually a one-being woman."
"I should hope so." There was a beat, then, "I just don't understand why you're letting it bother you so much. It's hardly outside the norm for the views he's stated before."
"Which view? Love being a trick of the DNA, the pointlessness of an android romance, the uselessness of cross-breeding? The general superiority complex? 'Ooh, I have more genetic engineering, so I'm automatically superior'?" The rancor in Beka's voice took him by surprise, and he drew back, not sure what to make of it. He knew even less what he should take from the avatar's next words.
"I was thinking more of sour grapes. He can be bitter when a potential advantage, such as a hypothetical relationship with the captain's right hand, is removed from the equation. I've also noticed a tendency to lash out when his survival is threatened, and based on our experiences with my— with the Pax Magellanic…" She faltered, but recovered quickly. "If he thinks that one of us is using the other for a purpose that may endanger him or keep him from his own goals, or that we'll be sufficiently distracted by this that our actions will again lead to endangering him, he might react badly."
It galled him, but she was correct, if only about their distraction leading to his death. He had no patience for weakness, even less when there was no possible genetic gain. To consider his life being at risk because one human chose to waste her reproductive years on a potentially unstable artificial intelligence— that, yes, might account for the vehemence of his scorn in his assessment to Beka.
They were speaking again. He held his breath and waited.
"Yeah, because sex is so distracting that I'd let myself get killed."
"I believe I should be offended by that."
"Oh, no, I— You're plenty distracting, trust me. I mean, big picture, sex isn't distracting enough to make me get us all killed. The occasional moment, maybe, but— He thinks that's all this is, you know? Just sex." Beka seemed troubled by that. He was surprised at the statement disturbing her still. At the moment of their discussion, perhaps, but now?
"We do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in compromising positions."
"Even if we weren't, though. Not that that's a suggestion. But it's not the only reason."
"I know." A step on the deck plating, then a hand on leather, barely detectable. Whatever Rommie had done increased Beka's heartbeat. Tyr took advantage of their distraction to draw a fresh breath. "So… usually a one-being woman?"
Beka laughed, briefly, but with warmth and a hint of something that made Tyr's spine and the base of his boneblades tingle. "There may have been some exceptions to that. Like the boyfriend who had a thing for other guys getting involved…" A kiss, the length of it making his muscles tighten, and not only with jealousy. "I don't cheat, if that's what you're asking, but if you want to suggest someone, we can, mm. Negotiate that." She laughed again, lower. He imagined that she was quite close to Rommie's ear now. "Even someone like Tyr," another kiss, "who's attractive as long as he doesn't say anything."
Rommie murmured something that sounded affirmative. He would have been offended at their assessment of him and their assumption that he would so obediently fall into line with any plans that they had for him, even felt himself bridling at the comments, but then he heard movement and tensed in preparation for flight. He couldn't be sure that they were aware that he was still there. The sounds ceased after a moment, replaced by a small sigh. Risking he knew not what, he still did not dare to breathe as he edged around the corner.
Beka leaned over Rommie, pressed to the wall with her fingers tangled in Beka's hair. Neither of them noticed him as he edged away, going back the way he had come.
Their words ate at him, the wounded tone of Beka's voice gnawing at him for two more days. Before a third passed, he found himself on edge as he worked in the gym, his motions ineffectual and aimless. At last he paused, returning the weights to the rack. "Ship."
"Yes, Tyr?" Again she acknowledged him with cold civility.
"I would like you to relay a message to Captain Valentine." The hologram waited, impatience in the cross of her arms and the arch of one flickering eyebrow. "Inform her that while I may have valid reservations regarding the… nature… of her personal relationships, my method of communicating them was, I realize in retrospect, poorly chosen."
"Is that all?" But she seemed at least partially appeased by the near-apology.
He hesitated. There were other aspects of that overheard conversation that intrigued him, as well, but these were not things he was inclined to share with the AI. "Yes."
"Consider it done."
She was gone, and he was as alone on the ship as anyone ever was.
It was not only the hologram who was appeased. Beka almost immediately was no longer inclined to reconcile him to pariah status. He found that he had missed her smiles. The avatar, too, was more willing to treat him kindly, an unusual circumstance even beforehand. Even Harper remarked upon it, asking what Tyr had done for her. A never-before-heard compliment even escaped her lips.
It should have been a restored alliance and nothing more, yet Tyr couldn't forget the rest of that conversation in the hall. For them to suggest, so easily— Yes, Beka was Human, as close to Nietzschean as could be, but still not so. Likewise the avatar looking Human. Yes, he had had moments of temptation, thoughts deep in the night about the feel of Beka's lips against his own or testing his strength and endurance against the android's in a far more personal setting than the gym, but they were thoughts, no more. The urge to see if Beka would sigh for him like she had for Rommie, if Rommie would clutch at his hair as she had Beka's, that had arisen since he had overheard them, was the same, inconsequential to life outside of the midnight hours.
More and more often he found himself wondering about those very things, and more than once in the following weeks he woke from dreams, vague and unsettling, about the three of them. These speculations were not aided by the propensity of the other two to be less than discreet with their affections; he was surprised that the others did not yet seem to know, but the omniscience of the AI no doubt helped in concealment of their actions. It led him to wonder whether they deliberately ignored or even encouraged his presence, and in light of what he had overheard his more paranoid instincts tended toward the latter.
He could have ignored, would simply have labeled it chance or a game of theirs or perhaps a subtle form of revenge and let it be, were it not for the effort they seemed to be exerting to convince him otherwise. It was soon not only smiles that Beka was extending to him but casual touches and hints of more, and that compliment was followed by others from Rommie, albeit not in front of the others. His own subconscious colluded with them, sabotaging him, and he found himself displaying, not only for Beka but for the avatar as well. Admonishments, resolutions to do otherwise did nothing, and he resolved himself to more tortured dreams, more wasted effort, because even if he would give in to what they seemed to promise there was no guarantee that they would do so— witness Beka's testament that it would not last.
It was this weighing on his mind that he wended his way to his quarters one night. He was not surprised to find that once again they had not reached the door to either's quarters, the faint noises reaching him before he turned the corner. He slowed, deliberating. The Maru? Other quarters? The long way back around to his own in the hope that they would have retired by then to somewhere more private? Wait? He had done all but the last before, and he decided on the untried alternative. Judging by the speed of Beka's heart, barely audible from where he stood, it would not be long. One hand to the bulkhead, he leaned cautiously, his curiosity he told himself merely to determine precisely how long.
It wouldn't be long at all. The flush on Beka's cheeks, Rommie's mouth, her hand… It seemed only seconds, though it was surely much longer, before Beka arched to that touch and he ducked back, lest he be discovered. The afterimage remained unbidden, twisted and coupled with those of his dreams, and he fought the impulse to discover whether either of them would react that way for him, even as he heard them stumble to a door.
Long minutes passed as he settled himself, cooled his blood, and he thought that perhaps a late-night visit to the gym would not be amiss under the circumstances. His own room, with the appropriate clothing, lay past Beka's. Five steps, ten, and he was almost safely by when the door slid open. They were both there, smiling, reaching for him and urging him in, the smell of their bodies and the want they held snaring his senses and drawing him close.
The door slid closed on an empty corridor.