Title: "Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle"
Author: monimala
Fandom: "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda"
Rating/Classification: AC for language, Beka/Tyr, brief Beka/Other, angst, second person pov, sexual situations.
Disclaimer: Majel Roddenberry, Fireworks, blah bliddy blah.
Summary: Takes place directly after "And Your Heart Will Fly Away". Beka has had enough of the "will he-won't he" tug-of-war with Tyr. Hasn't she?

"Perfect."

Even now, the word tastes like ash on your tongue. Like a six-day Flash hangover or the backwash of Magog larvae swimming around in your stomach.

Desiree was perfect. Golden tanned and curvy and feminine and flowing purple and more than human. Perfect. Everything you're not.

You almost wish you'd killed her. Even though you know Tyr probably would've broken your neck for it. At least you would have been one thing she could never be...someone who could cut ties, make the break, let a man *go*.

And it's that delusion that makes you glad you didn't succeed.

Dying with Tyr's huge hands wrapped around your throat...that's no sign of a liberated woman. That wouldn't make you different from her...it would make you stupid. It would be her he would mourn, not you. It would be her he would love...never you.

And you still can't cut the ties, make the break, let a man *go*.

He came back from Elba 9 alone. Quiet and snarling and it ate away at you, just like his acid reminder on the command deck that you're beneath him. You're a kluge. Your wants, your desires, means nothing to him. It's still, and always will be, "not in a million years."

But you know that's not the case when he tenderly wraps your hands. When you fall and he's there to catch you. When he makes you strive to do your very best. When he stares down an approaching man on a Drift who isn't good enough. When he grabs you and kisses you in the corridor because he can't get the taste of you out of his mind, the smell of you out of his system.

You're a fuck-up. You're a Flash addict, thrill junkie, space brat, orphan, who'd rather wear leather than silk. You'd rather fly than walk, rather fuck than make love. And you have nanobots preventing you from *ever* accidentally getting knocked up and creating any *more* fucked-up Valentines.

You're about as far from his idea of perfect as it gets.

And most of the time, that's all he wants.

A few days from now, when the wounds of getting dumped by the Most Beautiful Girl in the Universe wear off, he's going to give you a kind word. He's going to admire the way you navigate slipstream or encourage you to throw a harder punch. And he'll touch the inside of your wrist like foreplay, brush the hair from your face like sex.

Tyr's only in love with you when there's no one around to remind him that he shouldn't be.

And you're in love with him no matter what.

It isn't an even trade.

But you're not perfect.

And neither is he.

***

He's right on schedule. Contrite, poetic, once you're a few star systems away from the memory of heartbreak.

"Beka..." he whispers, vibrating against the curve of your throat. "Beka...forgive me..."

"Fuck you, Tyr," you hiss, trying to focus on re-calibrating a few of the slip drive controls.

"I was unspeakably rude," he murmurs, placing one palm, lightly, on your hip, leaning in...inhaling the pheromones that only he can sense. The ones that have his name all over them.

And that's when you whirl around, grabbing his hand and throwing it away from the place that's already tingling and screaming 'hey, put that back!' "Rude?" you repeat, blinking back tears that must be of rage, not hurt. "Rude? Tyr, we are crew members on this ship and whether you're a Nietschean, a Kalderan, or a *Vedran*, I deserve respect. I have saved your ass more times than I can count. You DON'T dog me for being human."

His eyes reflect wounded innocence, but his lips twitch with amusement. "My opinion of your humanity is not why you are angry and you know it." Arrogant bastard. "You have always known where I stand on the subject of human women. What hurts you, Beka, is that you didn't know where I stood with *other* women."

You might be biting through your lip, because you taste blood. And you know the Command Deck on Andromeda is the worst place to have a personal argument, but given Dylan's little revelation about Privacy Mode not really being all that private, you know there's nowhere to hide. So, you might as well say it. It. Everything. No, not quite.

"I don't CARE where you stand with other women, Tyr. You could have one stashed in every drift between here and Earth and it's not my problem. Not anymore." You shake your head, wondering why, all of a sudden, you're having trouble breathing...why you want to kick the shit out of him and collapse into girly hysterics all at the same time. "*I'm* not going to be one of your dirty little secrets. Not the pathetic kluge that you'll only touch when a Nietschean bitch isn't around or when an alien being takes over your body. I deserve better than being the stand-by fifth choice that you *might* lower yourself to fuck one day."

You half-expect him to hit you. But his raised hand just hovers in the air as you shrug past him. As you turn and stalk out of Command, you pretend not to see Rommie's sympathetic face pop up on the screens. And you imagine that Tyr's hand closes, falls flat against his side, as he wishes you'd come back.

Oh, now you're perfect all right.

A perfect fool.

***

You engage Privacy just for the Hell of it as you strip off your clothes and stand in front of the mirror. It's nothing Rommie hasn't seen before, you're sure, but you're looking at yourself for the first time in...in a very long time.

You have nice ankles. Not too bony or too fat. And your stomach, well, it's as flat as a flexi and as hard as a rock. Your arms aren't bulky and your tits, well...you've had it on good authority that your rack might be the only thing that outweighs your piloting skills. There are hollows under your eyes because you haven't slept in a while, but your face is angular and you've always, always, liked your nose.

You're not scarred or ugly or broken. You're strong and lean and toned.

There is *nothing* here...*nothing*...that is any less than another woman. Than *her*. His oh-so-perfect lover.

"Fuck you, Tyr," you say again, dashing the stupid tears from your eyes with the back of your hand.

You'd repeat the mantra a thousand times except that Rommie gently interrupts the Maru's sensors with comm. "Beka, you're needed."

You can almost picture her whistling and staring up at the ceiling as you yank your shirt over your head, tug your pants back on. "Privacy my ass."

When the door to your quarters slide open and you stagger out towards the deck, still zipping up a boot, she chirps, "Sorry."

And before you can ask her why, the giant wall of muscle in your way becomes your answer. "Beka..."

"Move it, Anasazi. Rommie says I'm needed," you growl, shoving at his chest, wincing when your skin scrapes the chain mail.

One finger on your chin, tilting your face, forcibly, upwards. "You are." His eyes are what got you first and now they get you again. Melted and soft and so, so, vulnerable. So different from his flawless body, from his boundless strength. "You are needed. By *me*."

"You don't need anyone." You jerk away, kicking the offending, half-zipped, boot across the room as you turn back over the threshold. You're going to have to do something like slip and tell Dylan his ship has the hots for him. That's the only payback for stunts like this. "You're just mad because I'm not falling all over you anymore."

The door whooshes shut behind him. You only know he's there because you can *feel* him in your pores, not because he made any kind of betraying noise. "You never *did* fall all over me Beka. But you are now. You're breaking apart," he observes, so clinical and yet so, so, insightful. "Why is that?"

"Probably because I'm *human*." You kick off the other boot, tug off your shirt again. "We're not as evolved, you know. So we don't make sense. We don't do what's in our own best interest. Lord knows, loving you is the stupidest thing I've ever done. Including Flash."

"What?" His hand closes around your shoulder.

You stall where you stand...turn around slowly, and you know the look on his face isn't because you're half-naked and pissed off. He's horrified. Terrified. And the taste of Magog is back in your mouth...because so are you.

"What did you say, Beka?" he asks, slowly, palm on your neck...and then your cheek. "Please, tell me I heard you incorrectly."

So help you God, if he laughs at you...if he mocks you, you'll kill him. He'll die at your hands and you won't mourn him. Not one bit. You cross your arms over your breasts, self-conscious, wondering how your anger turned into stripping and confessions.

You gingerly remove his hand from your face, shaking as you peel back each finger. And then..."I...I said I loved you, Tyr."

"Oh." He nods, swallows, and you watch the knot in his throat rise and fall with the motion. "Right. Of course."

Your lower lip starts to tremble. "You can leave now." Your blaster is on the bed. Across the room. "Please leave my ship before I hurt you."

"Before you hurt me or before you cry?" There is no mockery. Simply curiosity. His damned child-like curiosity. And he searches you for the answer...for the answer he doesn't even need.

"Get out."

You don't know if his eyes are wet, regretful, or if it's just the sheen in your own making you see things that aren't there. And then he's reaching out again. "Beka, please...please understand...I have loved Desiree--Medea--since we were children. We are of the same Pride. If the Kodiak had not been slaughtered, she would have been my mate and not Freya. I would never have lost Freya and my son. And I would be with her now if she'd have me."

"That doesn't make it better." You flinch away before he can make contact again. "That makes it worse."

His fingers float millimeters from your cheek, skate down over the contour of your breast, your hip, before falling. Even now, he craves you. He can't deny it. "I know."

The door whooshes shut behind him once more.

And that's when you let yourself sob and wail and shatter the mirror.

You would've been perfect...you would've been perfectly happy not knowing that you never had a chance.

***

If the rest of the crew notices anything amiss, they don't say anything. They're pretty good at that...having patently ignored Tyr's lack of bone spurs for months.

Seamus preens under your praise of his particle manipulation and lets you hug him and ruffle his hair for no reason whatsoever. Trance says nothing when you wander into the greenhouse and commune with the plants as you read a trashy holo-novel. Rommie's sympathy has pretty much disintegrated into the subtle paranoia that you're going to say "Hey, Dylan...fuck the horny AI, would you?" any minute. Dylan, himself, of course, is clueless beyond belief. You could wear a tiara and belly dance on deck and he would just blink and tell you to engage slipstream.

Come to think of it, he'd probably tell you that if you suggested he fuck the horny AI, too.

Business as usual on the Andromeda Ascendant.

Except for the gaping hole inside your chest.

And the fact that Tyr makes it widen every time he doesn't look at you, every time he takes an extra three steps so that your shoulders don't brush in the corridor. Every time he meets your eyes with silence instead of some holier-than-thou insult about your breeding.

If they notice you spend more and more time on the Maru...once again, they don't comment on it. And you wonder...you wonder if you took her and ran...if you flew away to parts unknown...would they follow? Would their stupid crusade to save everybody include saving you?

From yourself?

Not this time...please, not this time.

Because it's one thing you have to do on your own.

***

"Dylan...the Maru has just jettisoned from it's docking bay."

"What?"

"It's Beka...she's gone."

"What do you mean 'gone'? Where is she headed?"

"She scrambled her coordinates and turned off comm. I...I cannot ascertain her destination."

"My crew REALLY needs to stop doing this. Tyr...? Tyr, where are you going? Oh, no...not you, too...!"

"I am taking a slipfighter. When I return, we'll have Captain Valentine back. Is that sufficient, Dylan?"

"Er...yes."

"I thought so."

***

He finds you in a bar on Schroedinger Drift, matching a scruffy Luceran shot for shot. His shadow takes up half the floor, shoulders filling the doorway of the dive, and you laugh, spilling fiery drift moonshine all over yourself.

"What the Hell are you doing here?" you demand, licking drops of liquor from your fingers, your wrist, as your drinking partner overturns his chair in his haste to make room for your guest.

He shrugs, hand ready on his blaster as he rights the wooden chair with ease. "You knew I would come for you."

"I did?" you scoff, shaking your head. You don't think you did. How were you supposed to know that he can find you anywhere? No matter where you choose to hide and get shitfaced?

"You ran knowing I would come find you. So here I am." His smirk is self-satisfied, so confident. So. Damn. Sexy. It hurts.

"And why *is* that, Tyr?" you wonder, gesturing to the three-headed bartender for another shot. He scurries over and deposits it on the table before you can even blink...no doubt not wanting any trouble with Nietscheans. Smart guy. Dumb you. "Why exactly did you feel like it was your duty to come looking, huh? Just because I might *want* you to? You'd do that for a lowly human woman you don't even love?" You pound back the shot, loving the burn in the back of your eyelids. Not as good as Flash, but it'll do. "Whipped," you scowl, nastily. "You're whipped."

"Beka..." he begins, leaning forward. His smooth, muscled, arms taking up the entire surface of the tiny, rickety, table.

"Shut up." You cut him off, swallowing hard and wondering why, why exactly, you always have to fall for these big, superhuman, guys. Tyr, Bobby. You like a little extra in your man. You like the baggage. Because it's heavier than your own. "I didn't want you on my ship and I don't want you in my face. Feel free to leave and tell Dylan that I'm *fine* and I'll be back soon."

"Getting drunk in a hellhole on some backwater drift is not 'fine'." He closes his hand around your wrist, stroking the soft skin above the pulsing veins with his thumb. And you can't suppress the shiver. "And you *do* want me on your ship, in your face...in your bed." He whispers the last thing, husky and cruel. "That is the problem, isn't it?"

"It's MY problem." You don't yank your hand away because your reaction time is off, because you're drunk and slow. Yeah. That's right. Not because the simple touch makes you hot. Not because you know it does the same to him..."Yours is the fact that you want me back...you always have."

He always looks so startled when you have a point. Like it is beyond his comprehension for anyone else to have insight into his twisted brain. "Beka, I came for you out of courtesy," he protests.

"Bullshit." You work your foot, slowly, out of your left boot...and from there it is easy to stretch your leg under the table and rub your toes against his thigh. The creased leather is warm. He jumps when your foot slides, neatly, into the v of his lap and there is no denying the fact that he's hard for you right this very second. "You tell me you could never want me, that you could never love me, and then you jump on a slipfighter and come all the way here to...to what? Tell me that again?" You tilt your head, victorious, as he gasps and growls. "You're lyiiiiiing to yourself," you sing, off-key as you stroke his cock with your toes. "You want a kluuuuge...you want me more than you want your precious Desiree..."

Just when he's about to spill priceless Nietschean seed all over the inside of his tight pants, you pull your foot back and jam it back in the boot. The jingle of credits being tossed to the bar makes him open his eyes... and the glazed confusion there...the confusion...*that* is what you think you might have wanted when you took the Maru and left.

Just once...just once you want him to know what it's like to feel used and incomplete and...and imperfect.

"Beka...wait..."

"I *have* waited, Tyr. Entirely too long."

Now...now you think you might be able to cut the ties, make the break, let this man *go*.

Or at least fake it until you can.

***

He finds you again two days later on the gambling hell of Yudhistira. Apparently, he has this ability to trail people like a good, faithful, hunting dog and the same stupid persistence.

You're rolling eight-sided dice, betting on seven, when you feel his heat behind you, and you don't turn until your numbers come up. As the dealer slides the credits in front of you and the waiter refills your Romulan ale, you sigh and accept your fate.

"Why are you following me, Tyr?" you wonder, wearily.

He sighs, so long-suffering and put upon. "I told Dylan I would not return without you."

"Aaaand he's STILL lying, Folks. Let's tell him what he's won!" You sweep the credit chips into your bag and push away from the table, brushing past him with the honest intent to get the fuck out of Dodge.

Except that he grabs your arm and stops you. Because, really, if he hadn't done that, you would've hit the hangar, grabbed the Maru, and gone elsewhere without another word. Really. "Beka, you are being unreasonable," he grinds out, jaw clenched with frustration.

"I'm being unreasonable? I'm taking some personal time and getting over an unhealthy non-relationship. You're the one who can't let things go!" You glare pointedly at the fingers spanning your bare forearm. "Shouldn't you be HAPPY I want to stay away from you? Shouldn't you be sending heartfelt love transmissions to your perfect woman?"

"Perhaps I AM!" he snaps.

Chips scatter everywhere, along with patrons, when he slams you backwards against the dice table. And it should hurt, but it doesn't, because his hands are on your waist and he's crushing you to him. And you can't breathe but you don't need to because he's kissing you and it's everything.

His mouth is soft and hard all at once and his beard rubs circles into your chin, your cheek that you know you'll feel for weeks. He tastes like warmth and Tyr and desperation and before you know it, your arms are slipping around his neck and he's locking your legs around his waist, rocking into your pelvis in a pale parody of the real thing.

"BekaBekaBeka." Your name is an animal growl, a mating ritual, a stamp of ownership. "My Beka...mine..."

And that's when you remember...

Tyr's only in love with you when there's no one around to remind him that he shouldn't be.

"Stop...stop it...stop...no." You tear away from the kisses even though they're the only thing in this universe you truly want, slide down his body even as he struggles to keep you close, to conquer your mouth again. "Let me go, Tyr."

"Why?" His lips are as swollen as your own must be...and he's breathing raggedly despite the fact that not even a ten kilometer run can wind a Nietschean. "Isn't this...isn't this what you want me to admit, Beka? That you're in my blood? That I would follow you to the ends of this universe to keep you safe?"

You gather up your things with the grace of somebody who didn't just have near-sex in public. And when you look up at him again, your hormones are under control. *Everything* is under control.

"You'd follow me, Tyr, until another Nietschean woman comes along...or you go back to Medea. Your need for babies and Prides and power...*that* is in your blood. Not me. And I'm nobody's consolation prize."

Perfect calm.

Perfect cool.

You buy yourself a flowing purple dress in the shopping quarter before you leave.

***

You expect to be found again. And maybe that's why you make your way to Pierpont Drift. To the slippery flirtation of someone who won't care what you motives are... because any torch he might have carried for you has long since burned out. Hawkins hasn't forgiven you for stealing back what he rightfully stole first. The Heart. His heart. But, luckily, he doesn't hold grudges that rule out a little wine, a little dancing, a little sex.

Like most human men...he's easy.

"You're a cold bitch, Beka," he tells you as you shove him down on the bed, straddle him, and strip off your tank top.

"If you don't like it, Leydon, you can leave," you murmur, undoing the ties on his shirt, ripping it open when they don't untangle as fast as you'd like.

"I...I would...but I think you need two people for properly angry sex..." he laughs and moans at the same time, chasing it with a yelp when you slide your knee into his groin and apply pressure.

"You have no idea what I need," you assure as the suite's lights dim. "But I'm glad you're willing to give me what I want."

"Something to remember me by?" he wonders, eyes bright and amused and completely focused on...on you.

"No." You wrap your fingers in the light brown hair at the base of his neck, pull back his head so he gasps and grins and arches up. "Something to forget someone else by."

You don't know why you expect that someone to burst into the bedroom halfway through, when Leydon is keening your name and telling you how good you are. You don't know why you cry out "oh, God, please!" when it doesn't happen. You don't know why you turn away and dry your sweat--not tears--on the sheets and feel seven kinds of empty instead of tired and well-fucked and born anew.

A hand rubs your back, affectionately, and then there's the rustle of clothes being retrieved. Once dressed, the reformed thief comes over to your side of the rented bed and kneels down. In his eyes are all the things you've schooled yourself not to expect. Sympathy. Compassion. Affection. Understanding. "Beka?" He strokes your jaw with two fingers. "Whoever he is...? You deserve better."

You offer him a brittle smile and nothing else and stay molded in the cocoon of unfamiliar covers until the door slides closed in the wake of him.

But you know he's right.

You deserve better.

And that's what you tell Tyr when he knocks on the door in the morning, looking so disappointed in you, as if he can smell the other man on your freshly-showered skin. "Beka...why?" he asks, leaning on the door frame, pitying and above you and so, so, ridiculously blind. "Why did you do this?"

You shake your head, smiling through the fury. "I deserve better."

Anger, low and vibrant, in his throat. "Better than some puerile, inbred, idiot like Leydon Bryce-Hawkins? For certain."

You palm his cheek, stroking the week-old growth of beard before you heft up your gear and step into the hall. "If you were really certain, Tyr, you would've kicked in the door last night and broken his neck. You would've killed him for touching me." You're sure your mouth is glittering because it feels so sharp. Sharp enough to make your lips bleed. "You'd have done that for Medea. For any Nietschean bimbo this side of Tarn Vedra who could give you a dozen kids and ammunition against the Drago-Katsov. But you'll never... you'll never do it for me."

Before he can argue...before you can see if he *doesn't* argue... you're gone.

***

"Beka...nice to have you back with us."

"Thanks, Dylan. Nothing like a spur-of-the-moment vacation to put things into perspective, you know?"

"Mhmmm. Is, uh, Tyr with you?"

"He's running about a day behind me. I'm sure he'll turn up soon."

"Okay. All right then. I guess, uh, take us into slipstream."

"No problem. Have sex with Rommie while I was gone?"

"WHAT?"

"WHAT?"

"Never mind."

***

Tyr turns up exactly one day after you do. His predictability, once endearing, has become your curse...because you know exactly when he goes for training work-outs, exactly when he's on Command, and exactly when he pauses on the threshold of the Maru, wondering if he should or shouldn't come aboard. You know exactly when he leans against the door to your room and hopes you'll just answer it...just let him in.

And you know you can't. Not yet.

But the word "perfect" sounds nearly normal to you now. And you spend almost an hour randomly peppering it into your speech. "Harper, you're almost as perfect as my music collection!" "Trance, I don't know if I've told you before, but that hairstyle is perfect on you." "Rommie, calm down, it's perfectly fine. Dylan does NOT think you want him." "Dylan? I was *joking*. I know you and Rommie aren't like that...evenifshe'sperfect for you."

Of course, you're still in love with him.

It doesn't turn off. You can't navigate it. You can't slip beyond it.

But it doesn't hurt quite so damn much now that you know, for certain, that you have no control over him. That he will always be, unfailingly, Tyr Anasazi out of Victoria by Barbarossa, Nietschean to the core even if it no longer shows on the surface.

You only break down crying and railing and swearing once every few nights. And Harper hasn't had to send any more drones down to repair your mirrors.

A few more days from now, when the wounds of getting entangled with the Most Arrogant Bastard in the Universe wear off, you're going to give him a kind word. You're going to admire the way he handles tactical or ask him to show you a higher kick. And you'll touch the inside of his wrist like foreplay, brush the hair from his face like sex.

You'll be in love with him only when no one is around to remind you that you shouldn't be.

And he'll still want you no matter what.

Now, it's an even trade.

Because you're not perfect.

And he'll never be.

 

--end--

December 2, 2002.



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