Sweat poured down Kayin’s face. He’d broken rocks along Haven while the sun drenched kisses all over his body, worked in times of stress where his life could have been over in seconds, and still through all of that he had never worked up a sweat quite like this. Kayin forgot just how many things a well-known companion takes with her on long journeys. Especially famous and well trained ones like Vanya, who wandered off somewhere. This ship was like all others during their first flight new, alien, confusing, and a little cold. The Alice was still staring at Kayin, judging him, and vice versa. Before the fence would open up to the ship he had to make sure his safety was in order. Once this was established he could trust Alice, and then Alice could trust him.
Kayin waited for the redhead to walk back to inspect her cargo. Once the view of red hair and violet eyes was within close proximity Kayin coughed to get her attention which was him just breathing out and using an excuse to get her attention. “What do you want to know and please be specific?”
Violet eyes met his face with a distinct lack of curiosity. “Excuse me?”
“Do you want to know about the face?” his hand gestured to it as he moved a little closer, “Or how about my time on Haven? What it’s like to feel the hot sun on your back working on a mine? Or better yet, how does it feel to have part of your skin being cut away and shaped with very little anesthetic? Just ask and you’ll get the answer. No tricks, Kayin said firmly with some frustration.
The companion shook her head, turning away before showing any hint of sadness. “I understand now. You don’t owe me anything, Mr. Mason.” Her words were firm but not unkind. It was the truth, after all. With that she turned to walk away from him.
“I’m sick of living two lives and being something I’m not,” Kayin said this rushing up behind her making sure she heard. Again there was another look of confusion from Vay, but again Kayin said,”I’m sick of being something I’m not.”
Almost against her will, her eyes moved across his face, taking in the changed features and the almost imperceptible scars. Right in front of her was Kayin; somewhere in there was Duke. “So who were you on the Repose? And who are you now?”
Kayin started to walk away from her heading toward the safety of his room, “If you want the answer you’d need to pull up a chair. It’s not simple until the end,” he said walking slowly waiting for the second set of steps. Vay followed making herself comfy in the room that was faintly decorated with a few personal files including holo-photos, box to the side of the bed serving as an end table, and a small rusted out medal. She allowed him to do all the work including lock the door and pour a glass of what little sake was left over. The final empty bottle hit an empty box that was a garbage can. “I wasn’t into supplying arms, you and I both know that. If I knew then what I knew now, I’d supply every browncoat ship..disgraced soldiers that ever wore brown, and anyone with a chip on the shoulder caused by the alliance….And I’d do it with a smile,” Kayin said coldly with bitterness oozing off of every word mixing with anger toward the end.
“It was a regular old Tuesday at the job. Just going through database to find out the next assignment and that’s when I clicked on a few things I shouldn’t have..Just stumbling around into places I’m not even sure how to get back too….,” Kayin breathed out hard letting that last part of the statement sink in for both of them, not just Vay. “Half of it was shared with the ‘Verse a year ago…Three years ago they didn’t want people knowing the first part let alone the second, and there I was…exposed to both.”
Suddenly Kayin sat on the bed watching her, “So hours later my bank accounts were cleared out and I was heading to back alleys looking for a way to stay alive. That’s where this,” he gestured around his face, “happened. Want to know something interesting about the alliance and medical supplies?” His audience of once listened in silence, letting him say everything he needed to. Dark eyes watched her intently focusing on them, “They monopolize supplies and so doctors with the training, but don’t want to give the government it’s fair share become unlicensed and get what supplies they can. Getting your face rearranged with low amounts of anesthetic hurts…..a lot. To the point where the pain does what the anesthetic should have…It knocks you out.”
“That’s a lot to go though. Alone.” Though her words were still calm, Vanya couldn’t keep the emotion from touching her face. She looked away from him again, waiting for him to continue.
Kayin breathed out hard looking around before he spoke, “Everything was a painful blur when I came to and the first things I remember was sliding out of a sewer grate. A few crumpled cortexes laid on the ground flashing my name and photo. The doctor set me up with a name and place to go as a way out. I guess it’s how he kept business word of mouth about guys willing to look the wrong way for people caught in a jam….Quickly I boarded the ship and remember seeing Londinium. The creeks and jerks of the clunky ship that somehow kept together when it broke atmo went away as my thoughts were on the one thing that hurt leaving…” Dark eyes suddenly casted an intense stare on the woman, “they were of you,” he said intently.
“Soon the planet became so small the only thing left to see was the face staring back at me, and it wasn’t mine…”
A thin smile touched her lips. “I knew you hadn’t done anything wrong.” She shuddered briefly as she processed everything he’d just told her. “I am sorry, Kayin. Duke didn’t deserve this. No one deserves something like that.”
A half smile played on his lips as fingers ran across his face, “Yeah…they don’t. I know what happened to you was grueling and wrong,” he said while placing a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry for it and that I caused it, but you were still able to walk back to some semblance of your life…And me…I had Haven.”
Her fingers gently closed over his, holding his hand for just a moment. Since now was not the time to remind him that her life had been searching for him, she asked, “and that’s where Kayin came from?”
“Yes…but it took a while for the name to be officially given,” he said solemnly even with a smile starting to brew. “Crazy bastard took me in,” Kayin chuckled sitting down.
“And turned you into a hun dan?” Her smile was more teasing than accusing.
He chuckled softly, “Hardly…a hun dan helping raise the young when he wasn’t mining. The hun dancame after I left Haven,” Kayin said joking but still serious. “Deyin Mason took me in and treated me like kin. In the end, we were kin,” he spoke with words laced full of sadness.
Vanya watched him in silence for a long moment. Her hands had returned to her lap, unwilling or half afraid to continue touching him. “What happened then?”
“He gave me a name.”
“And what would he think of the man Kayin had become?” Though she tried to keep the bitterness from her voice, she couldn’t help but let the question out.
Kayin shook his head, “He’d call me a hun dan and then smack me upside with something hard, maybe pointy. Then he’d say something like, ‘What do you think yer’ doin’ ya hun dan, dun sway, son of a bitch? After all the talks? Yer’ doin’ this!?’ and then he’d smack me again,” he said with a big smile.
The little companion couldn’t help but smile with him. “I like him already.”
“You don’t know why he would though.”
“You’ve told me this much…” She waited for him to continue.
“What else would I talk about to the only person I can trust in a place I don’t know? What I could about the life left behind.”
She smiled again. “Should I be flattered then? Or did you only share the bad moments?”
An eyebrow raised toward her as he questioned Vay, “There were bad moments?
The smile slowly faded from her lips. “There are now.” Brushing a wrinkle out of her long skirt, Vanya sighed softly. It was probably time to leave. He’d unburdened himself, she’d listened; it was a good start. Without another word, she rose from her seat and began to move toward the door.
A heavy sigh came from his pursed lips before looking toward her, “And I hate…I hate every second of it,” Kayin grabbed her drank and let it run down his throat. “The great thing about Kayin Mason on Persephone….he was unafraid. People saw that and I had business as a fence they liked I was reckless and fearless. It wasn’t that I had anything to fear…The Alliance stole everything from me, and that made me unafraid. Nothing left to loose and I’d steal small pieces of them…..and then you came back,” he said solemnly. “You walked into my life aboard Keith’s ship….He was a client of mine, ran a few jobs for him on some hot merchandise. I was prompt and efficient…even got him more than what it was worth…I gave him the access in return for a favor….When I cashed in that favor for safe passage on a ship named The Repose… He didn’t tell me there was a woman with violet eyes I could never forget even after a hundred surgeries….”
She almost hated his ability to stop her in the doorway. “Kayin…” She didn’t even know what she wanted to say to him.
“I’ve moved fancy art held by some snooty officers, weapons, collectibles, food, and never blinked an eye. Yet my toughest job…should have been the easiest…, and this is where Deyin would hit me again,” he smirked watching her.
Vanya almost smiled back. “And why would he hit you?” Her slender shoulder came to rest against the door-frame, not leaving but not ready to stay again just yet.
“Take away everything a person cherishes and set them in a new place, with a person he sort of trusts. Losing everything came at a price, but not everything lost would be costly to hear. Things uninvolved with the how one lost it all are generally safe to talk about,” Kayin said plainly looking at her before turning away. His eyes scanned the room, “You were searching while I was talking..Him and I talked about random things. Usually about the things we loved from family to people to what planet serves the best, what and why. I think it’s why he trusted me. Eventually a person drops the act if you keep them talking long…I didn’t have an act to drop back then.”
“And did he teach you to talk around the subject without actually coming out and saying it?” she asked not unkindly. “Just say it, Kayin.”
“No, but I’ve been honest so far..”
“This time.” She knew she wasn’t being entirely fair. After all, hadn’t she come to understand his reasons for herself? But she didn’t want to be fair, or rational. The companion didn’t know exactly what she did want, but it wasn’t just words.
Kayin smiled, “Seems I’m not the only one dropping walls tonight. You’re losing your reserve,” he said calling Vay on the obvious.
The diminutive woman gave a shrug. “Maybe having my life in danger is making me impatient.”
He chuckled watching her shaking his head, “I doubt me telling you my true feelings about you is hardly dangerous…well for you anyway. There’s stories about men in my position,” Kayin said with a chuckle still lingering on his breath.
Her perfect brows furrowed slightly. “You don’t know…” Kayin’s face dropped as the realization of something bigger was going on, he shook his head with an affirmative no wanting to hear more.
Slowly, almost reluctantly, Vanya left her spot by the door and came to sit near him. “You didn’t wonder why I was here instead of on Repose?” Her long tresses fell across her face as she looked down at the cool metal floor. “Apparently there’s a former client who’s a little…” Her nose wrinkled at the thought. “Fixated. We killed some of his men back on Triumph. But more will come, I’m sure.”
Kayin stared at her with cold eyes with his voice matching in tones before speaking, “Still got your gun?”
Now he was falling into overprotective mode, just like everyone else. “Of course I do. I’m in no hurry to throw my life away.” He looked at her saying coldly, “Give me the gun.”
“Then I’ll find my own…I’ve only got one thing that can be taken away from me and I intend to defend it…Damn the consequences and cost,” his eyes narrow as he spoke with a voice able to send shivers not just down the spine, but the whole body.
As her hand came to rest on his arm, Vanya opened her mouth, fully intending to scold him or tell him to calm down. But the skin under her fingers was so warm. Her violet eyes met his for only an instant before shutting him up in a much more effective fashion… a kiss that surprised her as much as it did him.
His arms suddenly scooped her up before a leg hit the shutting mechanism on the door. He laid her on the bed staring down at her, “Where’d that come from?” Kayin asked her unsure if he meant her kiss, or his actions afterward.
Placing a delicate hand on his chest, she pushed him back slightly. “I may not know you, Kayin Mason. But I think I’d like to… I need to. Because every now and then I see Duke in you and I miss him.” Her fingers made their way to his cheek.
Sadness gripped his face tightly while staring at her, “I am him…,” he said with soft and low words sliding away slighty. Part of the point to ranting and telling her about the life of Kayin Mason was showing deep down somewhere…that they were the same. That Duke Shinjo and Kayin Mason were more than just the same person on a genetic level.
“But I can’t call you Duke,” she reminded him gently. “So indulge me. Let’s try to forget Kayin thehun dan and start fresh. I’ll even let you get a gun so you can do that manly overprotective thing.” A little spark lit her eyes as she smiled at him.
“Thanks. So do you want to know the real Kayin or what the papers say?”
Vanya touched his lips softly then somehow managed to look graceful as she climbed off his bed.”Surprise me.” With a smile and a wink, she drifted to the door. “We’ve got plenty of time.”