This is Issue #145 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find ‘DeathWatch’ then go to ‘#0 – A Beginning’ and read from there, or go find the issue # you remember, and catch up from there!
* * *
The fuselage gave a groan and shudder as the plane banked hard to the south. Flying under the scanners made for quick maneuvers, at times; Danival watched the skies as they soared over city and farm alike, headed swiftly toward the borderlands. If he could get Garrett south enough, they’d be able to head east and end up nearly in Ilona. Garrett could go searching for the downed ships, check for prisoners and perhaps even effect an escape. The Allied Forces had lost quite an asset the day Alec Garrett officially resigned, and left the active service.
Garrett checked readouts and navigation panes, adjusted certain instruments and followed Danival’s lead. For the most part. “When’s the last time you actually piloted this ship?” he wondered, smirking wryly
“Having some second thoughts?” Danival chuckled. “Don’t you trust me?”
“If I’m going to die on this trip, Dani, you’re the man I’d be most comfortable doing it with. I simply hoped I’d get to my destination, first, not crash along the way,” Garrett sighed.
Danival rolled his eyes and said, “Sosat mig, Alec.”
“Suck m–!” Garrett laughed aloud and covered his mouth in faux shock, saying, “You’ve grown.. frekh, in your old age, Dani.”
“Sassy!? Old?!” Danival growled. “You’re wearing a chute, right? We’re close enough to the mountains, you could hike it.”
“I take it back,” Alec laughed. “You’ve always been mercenary. You just used to like me better,” he teased.
Danival’s voice was low as he quipped, “Det var før du knuste hjertet mitt, Alec.”
Not so low as Garrett couldn’t hear him; leaving the Forces for the Academy had given him the chance to deepen his language skills in more than just the old High Speech. The younger man looked stricken, swallowing roughly. Kriegic could be a beautiful tongue — but when spoken in anger or grief, it carried the broken heart of its speaker in raw hands. That was before you broke my heart, Alec. “Dani, I–“
“Knulle mig,” Danival cursed, shaking his head. His cheeks were red in shame; this was not how a decent man acted. “Förlåt mig, Alec. You left for the same reasons I left someone before I met you. Perhaps that was fate’s way of telling me to have a care for matters of the heart. To not be so callous. We’re reaching the foothills. I need readings every… eight kilometers.”
“You thought me callous?” Garrett said, flinching. “127,” he added, frowning slightly at the readouts. “Dani, things changed, but not for everyone. I couldn’t just openly…” He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I still can’t,” he sighed, thinking of Ellison Brody, and the man’s obvious disgust for his son’s nature. “Progress… happens for everyone, including those who hate. They learn new and more dangerous ways to hate, and we can’t always recover. 115.”
“No, I thought you clueless,” Dani said quietly, adjusting his altitude. “I thought you were payback. I thought the universe was laughing at me, and I thought myself stupid. I suppose… I imagined I would never see you again. That you’d some day manage to wake up, as I had, and you’d try to be happier, and I’d hoped… I’d hoped any future lovers would be kind to you.” He looked to Garrett frowning slightly watching his reaction.
“Ninety-seven,” Garrett said softly. He was quiet for a moment, thinking over what to say next. “There weren’t any. Pull up.”
Flabbergasted, Dani turned from the screens, no longer really watching what he was doing. “What?” Dani said, looking baffled. “Garrett, it’s been… it’s been over ten years.”
“Pull up, Dani,” Garrett said more urgently, looking at his readouts, tapping one of the screens. “Can we change the subject? I’m–“
“You can’t expect me to believe you haven’t had any kind of a relationship in ten years,” Danival said, half-smiling in disbelief, shaking his head. “It’s all right if you–“
Garrett’s voice was clipped and quick; he could feel his pulse in his fingertips, nerves making his heart race — he’d never much loved flying. “Eighty-three, Dani–“
Oblivious to Garrett’s worry, Danival kept right on speaking. “–don’t want to talk about it; it’s been a long damned time, and I was angry, I was so angry,” Danival explains, his expression oddly sweet, kind.
“Danival! PULL UP!” Garrett shouted. His eyes were wide; he reached to try to grab hold of Danival, as if to be certain he had the man’s attention.
“Alec,” Danival sighed, looking fond. He shifted his grip and pulled back on the stick faintly. The plane shuddered and groaned again, leveling off. He ran his fingers back through the pale waves of his hair, and then smoothed his beard contemplatively. “You always had a flair for dramatizing things.”
“And you were always impossible,” Garrett sighed, sitting down heavily, rubbing his face. His eyes were tired as he looked to Danival, and then back to his instruments, uncertain as to where he should rest his gaze. His heart felt tight; he’d known it would be hard to face the man who’d saved his life. He’d known to expect that Danival might not even help. “Ninety-four.”
“I liked to think I’d finally learned what the important things were,” Danival said quietly. His voice was low as he continued. “That I stopped being so concerned with the rules and realized that for so many, it was safe to break them.”
Silence reigned between them both for a long time as the horizon simply kept changing, kept coming, kept flowing beneath them like restless waters. They flew past the eastern ranges, and into the lowlands that were so disputed. He kept the plane below all longrange scanning altitdes, aided by Alec.
“Dani…” Garrett began quietly, after awhile.
Danival nodded, smiling faintly. “It’s all right, Garrett. It was a long time go, and you didn’t really owe me anything then, nor do you owe me anything now.”
“Dani,” Garrett sighed, bowing his head. “I did love you,” he promised.
Danival’s smile turned brittle, but remained on his lips, and softened with nostalgia. “I know,” he said softly. “I know.”
* * *