The Bear’s Cub #1:  

Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed

By Juli

 March 2002

Note:  This is an AU, based on the premise that a teenaged Tyr, shortly after escaping from slavery, found an orphaned Harper and became Seamus’ foster brother/father figure. 


Of all the sentient species he’d encountered, humans had to be the dirtiest.

Tyr Anasazi’s mouth twisted in disgust as he picked his way across the refuse-strewn alleyway.  Even a Pregpog Tree Ape knew better than to soil its living environment with its own waste, and that particular species ranked so low on the intelligence scale that some argued that they weren’t sentient at all. Still, even though stupid, the ape knew better than to wallow in its own shit.  Not so humans. If he’d had a choice, Tyr wouldn’t have been in this stinking alley, seeking a sheltering bolt hole.  Ever since his Pride had been wiped out, however, the young Nietzchean had found few choices left to him.

At least the alleyway smelled marginally better than the slave pens had.

The fifteen year-old resolutely turned his mind away from that uncomfortable topic.  He had regained his freedom and the overseer who had tormented him was dead by Tyr’s own hand.  It was in the best interests of his continued survival to take to heart what lessons the experience had offered and not dwell on the rest.  However unpleasant, no experience Tyr could learn from was wasted, especially not if it could be applied to the monumental task of reestablishing his Pride.

The task at hand wasn’t as all-encompassing but was still important – shelter.  The captain of the cargo ship that had hired Tyr on as a temporary stevedore had been all too happy to take advantage of the adolescent’s desperation.  Although scrawny by his own people’s standards, Tyr was still capable of moving a lot of freight.  His relative youth and lean financial situation had been an easy combination for the Sallas’ captain to use to justify paying Tyr less than the going rate for cargo wranglers.  The teen had been aware of the inequity, but had been in no position to negotiate a higher wage... and had even less leverage to keep the captain from ditching him on Ifia, a planet of questionable reputation, especially where Nietzcheans were concerned.

So, Tyr found himself with little money and no immediate means to getting more, unless he were willing to peddle his body in ways totally distasteful to him.  Since he wasn’t, that meant scrounging lodging rather than paying for it.  The young Nietzchean wandered the streets of Ifia, mindful to keep a confident expression on his face.  One lesson he’d learned from the Sallas’ captain was to never show how desperate you were and he was determined not to make that mistake again.  Eventually, Tyr had found what he was looking for – an alleyway off a main thoroughfare, somewhat secluded but with clear sight lines for at least a minimum amount of security.

Once he’d ducked into the narrow access lane, Tyr was even more pleased to discover an unclaimed alcove.  From the looks of it, the buildings adjoining the alley had been remodeled several times and, somehow, a tiny corner had been boarded off and apparently forgotten.  There were some signs that an animal was making its den there, but Tyr wasn’t terribly concerned. From the strewn goods that had been crudely fashioned into a small nest, the creature was undoubtedly slight in stature and therefore couldn’t pose much of a threat.

Satisfied that he’d found his lodging, Tyr gratefully dropped his carrysack.  The adolescent was weary down to the bone.  The last couple of years had brought a series of hardships, very nearly too much for even a Nietzchean to endure.  The loss of the Kodiak Pride, including Tyr’s own family.  Slavery.  The overseer with an all-too-personal interest in the young Nietzchean under his control.  Clawing his way through tons of suffocating rubble.  Weeks of meaningless jobs, performed for meager pay and the opportunity to put star systems between himself and his former owners.

Intellectually, the Nietzchean knew that the safety his bolt-hole offered was dubious at best but it still was a relief to have a hiding place.  Tyr moved some debris out of his way and made himself a spot to lay down.  Night was falling fast and, although a portable light was one of the few items he’d been able to sneak off the Sallas, the teen wanted to conserve its energy.  As tired as he was, sleeping wasn’t a problem.  With every intention of resting lightly, a necessity since was alone in potentially hostile territory, Tyr soon nodded off and exhaustion took him deeper than he’d intended.

An indeterminate time later, Tyr was attacked.

The Nietzchean awakened to the feeling of a weight landing on his chest and the sound of epithets being yelled into his ear.  Tyr’s mostly-asleep mind flashed back to the night his family was killed.  For a heartbeat, the youth was back in his mother’s house, listening to the sounds of slaughter going on all around him.  In the next heartbeat, his mind shifted to the slave pens and the press of too many unwashed bodies packed into too small a space. With a jerk like a poorly functioning holovid, Tyr’s mind brought him abruptly back to the present and the Nietzchean came fully awake.  As he did, the teen automatically categorized his assailant as he’d been taught.  He immediately realized that the weight pressing down on his chest was slight; the fists pounding on his chest were small; and the voice yelling, “Mine!  Mine!  Mine!” had a piping quality to it.

Tyr decided that he’d been right about the alcove’s previous occupant being small and not a threat, but never would he have imagined that the tenant he’d ousted was a child.

In a move that was fluid despite his exhaustion, Tyr rose from his makeshift bed and firmly grasped his attacker by the back of its grubby shirt.  Holding the interloper’s slight but struggling form as far away from his own body as possible, the Nietzchean reached for his portable light and flipped it on.  The resulting harsh illumination lit the alcove’s meager interior in a harsh glow and Tyr got his first good look at his assailant.

At another time, Tyr might have found the fierce look of defiance on the child’s tiny features amusing, but he was too tired to find anything entertaining about the situation.  For a moment, the not-quite-grown Nietzchean and the dirty human child glared at each other.

“What do we have here?” Tyr finally asked with a sneer.  “”A Parkonian Gutter Cat?”

His words broke his opponent’s silence.  “My place!  Mine!”  The youngster yelled, not at all intimidated by the fact that his foe was holding him several feet off the ground.  “You get out!”

Tyr blinked and then laughed.  It wasn’t a pleasant sound, since the teen was still not at all happy at having been awakened.  “Not a Parkonian Gutter Cat, after all,” he derided his captive.  “It’s just a dirty little kitten, with milk teeth instead of fangs.”

The child struggled in Tyr’s grasp, making a swipe at the Nietzchean despite the fact that the teen held him well out of arms’ reach.  The movement, however, did gain the boy his freedom, as the decrepit fabric wasn’t up to the task of supporting his weight.  With a moist ripping sound, the cloth of his tunic gave way and the boy hit the ground.

Tyr fully expected his diminutive foe to run away, but instead, the child started kicking at his shins.  “My place!  You get out!” The urchin chanted with each kick.  His head didn’t even come up to Tyr’s waist.

Nietzcheans valued children above all else, the cycle of procreation being sacred to them.  The young of other races were, of course, much, much lower on the value scale than even the least gene-desirable Nietzchean child. In general, however, non-Nietzchean children could expect marginally better treatment than their parents. That was why Tyr, instead of twisting the boy’s neck and thus ending his problem expediently, instead reluctantly placed one hand on the child’s dirty head and straightened his arm.  The difference in their sizes was significant enough that the simple tactic put Tyr out of the boy’s meager reach.

The teen watched as his attacker continued to punch at empty air.  Despite his resentment at having been rudely awakened, the young Nietzchean was reluctantly coming to appreciate the human child’s fighting spirit.

After a few more minutes of futile struggling, the little dynamo finally wound down.  Physically, at least.

“Nasty Niechy,” the urchin yelled, aiming one last kick in Tyr’s direction.  “My place, mine!”

Tyr shook his head in bemusement.  “You have a one track mind, kitten.  You’re almost as determined as a Nietzchean, I’ll give you that.”

The teen’s comment got his opponent started again.  “Not a kitten, not a Niechy!”  The last was virtually spat out in disgust.  “I’m a Harper and I made this place.  You get out!”

No longer amused, Tyr jerked the defiant urchin forward.  It was no burden at all to wrap a hand around each of the human’s stick-thin arms and lift him so they were eye-to-eye.”Let me give you something that I’ve found to be rare in this universe: free advice that’s actually worth listening too,” the Nietzchean said, ignoring the blue eyes glaring back into his own.  “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  Seeing the rage in the boy’s face become replaced with confusion, the teen rolled his eyes at the human’s ignorance.  “I’m bigger than you are, kitten.  You’ve lost.  This place *was* yours but it’s mine now.”

“NO!”

“Yes,” Tyr countered, shaking the boy hard enough to make the child’s legs swing as he dangled in Tyr’s clutches.  The action served to emphasize the Nietzchean’s point and some of the defiance trickled out of the young human.

Tyr sensed the change in his opponent’s resolve.  “No, go, before you make me angry.”

The teen set the human none too gently on his feet.  Seeing a last bit of defiance in the boy’s face, the Nietzchean suddenly dropped into a defensive crouch, displaying his arm spikes and barring his teeth in a menacing growl.

That did it.  With a yelp, the child turned and ran, snatching a rag from the nest Tyr had seen when he discovered the alcove.

“Smart move, kitten,” The Nietzchean called as the urchin disappeared into the alley.  “Running from a fight you cannot win means you survive to fight another day.”

When he was well and truly alone, the teen shut off the light.  The Nietzchean squelched any feelings of remorse that arose from having kicked a young and defenseless child from his only shelter.  Tyr was Nietzchean, which meant that his first priority was Tyr and the human would just have to find a new place to live -- it was as simple as that.  Besides, Tyr had no desire to stay on Ifia one minute longer than he had to.  So, if he were watchful, the boy could reclaim his nook when Tyr was gone.

Feeling much better about the situation, Tyr settled back to doze the rest of the night, confident that it would remain undisturbed this time.

*******************************

In the coming days, Tyr came to regret two things.  One, that he had advised the child to “run and fight another day.”  And two, that he’d thought, even for a moment, that the creature was defenseless.

The Nietzchean refused to let himself regret that he hadn’t snapped the urchin’s neck when he’d had the chance. That way led to madness and madness was, no matter how justified, unproductive to his survival or to restoring his Pride.

Tyr had begun to look for work the very next day after his run-in with the boy.  Although it galled his Nietzchean soul to work for humans and other inferior species, he’d long resigned himself to its necessity.  Unfortunately, the citizens of Ifia weren’t quite so resolute. The planet had previously been a dumping ground for Nietzchean slaves, those unfortunate enough to have been harvested in general raids but unsuitable for whatever work the Nietzcheans had been conscripting for at the time.  Of course, the slavers wouldn’t put themselves out to the effort of returning the unneeded ones to their homes and therefore simply offloaded them at a convenient location. Not only was it cheaper, but the Nietzcheans then knew that they had a ready supply, should a different need present itself.

Most who arrived at Ifia, never achieved the funds to return to their places of origin.  Instead, they simply stayed and made a life for themselves on their new planet as best they could.  The civilization that already existed there was seedy enough as it was, but the constant influx of new slave-rejects, and the “sharks” that their desperation attracted, made Ifia even more disreputable than it had been. Nietzcheans had stopped using Ifia a year or two earlier as a dumping ground, but the citizens had certainly not forgotten how they’d ended up there.  They were still wary enough of any Nietzchean not to attempt to attack one, even one as alone and young as Tyr, but neither were any of them the slightest interested in hiring a member of the species that had made their lives so miserable.

It also didn’t help that Tyr had acquired a shadow, one that was loud and vulgar, despite its small size.

At first, the street child that had called himself “a Harper” contented himself with yelling insults and unflattering descriptions of Tyr as the Nietzchean made the rounds of potential employers. The creature remained hidden and his voice wasn’t that loud, but since Tyr never got further than the front door anyway, even that minor disruption was enough to undermine his employment attempts.

The next step in the young human’s guerilla campaign involved throwing rubbish.  Having obviously observed Tyr and noticed his preference for remaining clean, the child began pelting the Nietzchean with garbage whenever the opportunity arose. Given how scummy Ifia and its denizens were, there were *lots* of opportunities.  Tyr’s superior senses and reflexes helped him dodge most of the filthy missiles.  Most, but not all.  A few of the projectiles found their mark and Tyr had to interrupt his job search more than once to do a quick clean-up.  What was worse, once when he ducked, the garbage hit a large, furred alien next to him, one that immediately blamed Tyr for being hit in the head with something that smelled like it belong in the sewer.  That time, it was Tyr that ran from a fight, with the urchin’s gleeful cry of “Nasty Niechy!” ringing in his ears.

The teen did his best to ignore both the hurled insults and the trash.  As much as he wanted to hunt the boy down and rectify his earlier mercy, he didn’t dare.  None had dared attack him yet, but seeing a Nietzchean chase down a ragged human child would be sure to incite the other citizens against him.  Given his current status, Tyr couldn’t afford it and so he endured, hoping to outlast his stalker.

Oddly enough, the child left Tyr alone when the Nietzchean was in the alcove he’d appropriated from the boy.  Like an animal, the urchin probably realized that it was best not to draw attention to its lair.  Even if his home had been stolen by someone else, he wouldn’t want the other predators to find about it. Or perhaps he sensed that Tyr wouldn’t be reluctant to pursue him in the isolation of the night, without witnesses to be offended if a Nietzchean was violent towards a human youngling.

It was a stand-off between teenaged Nietzchean and dirty human child... until the evening Tyr came back to the alcove and found that all of his belongings had been urinated on.

Between the destruction of his Pride and family, slavery, and the forced hand-to-mouth existence he’d been enduring, Tyr had few possessions and none he was sentimental about.  That didn’t stop him from becoming infuriated upon finding that they defiled in such a way. 

“This just isn’t worth it,” the teen muttered to himself after the rage had passed and he began to salvage what he could of his things.  “Let the creature have this hole if he’s so attached to it.  I can find somewhere else.”

It took a minute for his words to sink in, but when they did, Tyr stood still in shock.  Was he, a Nietzchean, actually thinking of admitting that a human child, at least ten years his junior, had bested him?  Had he sunk so low? Or, it occurred to him, was this child simply more suited to the Ifian environment than he was?

And, if so, was that something he could use?

*******************************

The next day as Tyr made his rounds, he observed his stalker with a new eye.  Instead of being frustrated on how the child managed to stay out of reach, he instead admired how well the boy knew hidden nooks and crannies throughout the city.  The teen still dodged the thrown garbage, but as he did, a plan began to form in his mind.  With any luck, he could not only stop the child’s irritating attacks, but he could also use the boy to better his own situation.

That night found the plan ready to put into action.

Tyr had secured an odd job here or there.  Not enough to earn any significant wages, but enough to buy a little bit of food.  With what he was able to steal from the carts in the marketplace, he had enough to fill not just one empty belly, but two.  As the sun began to fade, he set his offering out and waited for his stalker to arrive.  Tyr had no doubt that he would.  It had been obvious that the child had been watching him and, besides, the Nietzchean figured that the creature wouldn’t have wanted to stay too far away from his home.

“I know you’re out there, kitten” he called, when alleyway was riddled with shadows and he heard a faint scuffling noise that couldn’t be attributed to vermin.  “You might as well come out.”  He’d set his portable light on low, enough to provide some illumination but not enough to be blinding.

There was silence at first, but then that maddening voice that had become so familiar answered him.  “Nasty Niechy,” the boy derided him, “Not dumb! *You* come out.  Stay out too!”

Tyr upped the ante, stepping a few feet away from the alcove and setting down a small pile of food.  “I won’t hurt you, kitten.  I just want to talk to you.”  The silence became expectant and the teen could almost hear the little one’s stomach growling at the thought of food that didn’t come from a garbage can.

“Talk?”  The voice was decidedly less mocking this time but still full of doubt.  “No hurt?”

“Just talk,” Tyr assured him, careful to remain seated a comfortable distance from his offering.  “No hurt... and you can eat.”

“Food, for talking?”  The child’s tone was still unsure, but Tyr could make out movement from just beyond the lantern’s reach.  “Why?”

“I want to propose a truce,” the teenager explained, watching as one thin arm darted out of the shadows and snatched a piece of fruit from the top of the proffered edibles.

“Truce?”  The question was muffled by the sound of munching but still clear enough to understand.  “What’s that?”

This was going a lot better than Tyr had anticipated.  The boy must have been starving to accept the bribe so easily.  “A truce means a cease-fire... a pact,” the teen struggled to use words that he thought the young child would understand.  “I won’t hurt you, you won’t hurt me.  Instead, we help each other.”

The arm had come back, one dirty hand groping from the darkness at the pile of food.  At Tyr’s words, it instead slapped the ground in frustration.  “Help a Niechy?  Na-huh!  Nasty!”

Tyr was getting very tired of that word but put the frustration aside.  If this truce worked, though, he’d increase the boy’s vocabulary out of simple self-preservation.  “Think about it,” he said, calling on every bit of patience that slavery had taught him.  “I’ve noticed that you’re always alone.  Don’t have many friends, do you?  And there’s lots of scary people around, people that would want to hurt someone as small and alone as you... but I’m bigger than you are, so I could help protect you.”

Tyr noticed that the boy was slowly creeping out of the shadows as he spoke, approaching the light and the food.  As the child’s face became clearer, the Nietzchean noticed by his expression that he was listening and Tyr decided to play his most important card.  “We could share this space of yours.  I’m not leaving.  That much should be clear, even after what you did.  So, if we share, you’d have part of your place back.” The teen shrugged.  “Half of something is better than all of nothing, even you should be able to figure that out.”  Although he didn’t admit it to the boy, he was also hoping the child could help him learn the city’s back ways, so that Tyr could disappear at will.  That, and the added camouflage of appearing to have taken a human foundling under his wing, should help dissipate some of the other citizens’ hostility towards him.

The boy crouched by the food, shoveling it into his mouth as fast as he could when Tyr made no sign of stopping him.  With his mouth still full and busy chewing, he appeared to consider the proposal.  “Share?  Protect? No touching?”

The Nietzchean winced in sympathy at the wary question.  He had a feeling he knew what was behind that inquiry and as a young one also on his own, he understood where it came from.  As a Nietzchean, his upbringing had been ruthless by some standards, but in a way Tyr had been sheltered too.  No Nietzchean would consider hurting one of their own children and it had come as a great shock to him to find those in the universe that considered the young a desirable type of prey.  “No touching,” he assured the younger boy firmly.

Tyr felt himself being assessed by two blue eyes too old for the human’s young face.  Apparently he was found worthy, because the child plopped himself down and began to eat in earnest.  “Okay.  Truce.”

The Nietzchean smiled, pleased at a victory, no matter how small.  “Good.  Now that’s settled, we should formally introduce ourselves.  I’m Tyr Anasazi, out of Victoria, by Barbarosa.  Of the Kodiak Pride.”

The child tilted his head to the side, forehead wrinkled as he considered.  “‘Out of Victoria, by Barbarosa,’ what does that mean?”

The teen sighed, obviously they had a lot of ground to cover.  “Victoria was my mother and Barbarosa was my father.  The Kodiak Pride is my...” the Nietzchean struggled again to put the concept into words an uneducated human youngling would understand.  “My family.”

“Oh,” the boy said, having finally finished off the food and wiping his hands on the rags that served him as pants.  “I’m Seamus Zaz’ny Harper.” He pointed a finger to his chest in emphasis, then proudly added, “I’m from Earth.”

Tyr couldn’t help but notice that the child hadn’t mentioned his family.  An inexcusable omission for a Nietzchean, but perhaps not quite as grave a faux pas for humans.  Not that Tyr was personally interested in his new partner’s background but he realized he needed to gather information about someone who would be sharing his life for a few days.  With that in mind, he continued the line of questioning as he gathered his gear and motioned the boy to join him in the alcove.

“What about your parents?”  The teen asked.  “How did a child so young end up on his own?”

The Nietzchean almost ran into the youngster as Harper abruptly stopped.  Tyr was about to berate him for nearly tripping him when Harper turned to him, the glitter of tears obvious even in the little light that was available.

gogs ate ‘em,” the boy whispered.

Tyr didn’t need a further explanation.  The child had said he’d been from Earth, he really should have figured it out himself.  Magog had decimated that particular planet, making it ripe for Nietzchean slave raids.  It wasn’t at all surprising that the boy’s parents had died in the original Magog attack, only that Seamus Harper himself had survived.  As for his presence on Ifia, the Nietzchean slave raids easily explained that.  As young as he was now, Harper must have been a toddler at the time he’d been taken, too young even for slave work.  No wonder he’d been dumped with the other undesirable slaves.

In spite of himself, Tyr felt something akin to sympathy for the human child.  He knew what it was to lose one’s family, become enslaved, and then have to survive totally alone and bereft.  Still, he didn’t offer any words of comfort, not willing to unbend from his Nietzchean superiority 

“Well, there are no Magog here,” he gruffly said, “We have to find me a job tomorrow and there are some things I want you to teach me, so get some rest.”  Then, before the child could respond, he added, “if you can stand the smell, that is.”

The human had the temerity to giggle instead of looking abashed.  As it gleefully jumped into its nest of rags, Tyr having been too fastidious to use them himself, the child laughed at him.  “Funny Niechy.  You should have seen how you looked, holding your nose and yelling!”

Nietzch-ee-an,” Tyr carefully enunciated.  “Not Niechy. Nietzchean” He could ignore a little territorial spraying if it meant keeping the peace, but not the continual mispronunciation of his species’ name.

Niechy,” The boy chirped back at him, the look on his face defying Tyr to object.

Nietzch-ee-an,” Tyr repeated.  When the child only laughed at him, the teen almost gave up but then something occurred to him.  “Alright be that way, *kitten.*” The threat was clear, Harper could either use the proper word or Tyr would continue to use the hated nickname.

Threats were something that Seamus obviously understood.  Nietzchean,” he repeated correctly, heaving a huge sigh at the injustice of it all.

Tyr repressed a laugh of his own, decided that he would win this round gracefully.  “Goodnight, Harper,” he said, spreading out his own blanket and preparing to go to sleep.  He’d just begun to nod off when he felt the boy’s warmth join his own.  “What are you doing?”

“Cold,” came the succinct reply.

The teen was tempted to kick the child out, but the boy had a point.  The weather had turned to cooler and there was a decided nip in the air.  Deciding that shared warmth was a good idea, he left the youngster in peace.  They’d deal with the issue of personal hygiene and possible fleas in the morning.

He was again about to drift off when he felt a hand touching his hair.  “What is it now?”

“What those?”  The boy asked, referring to the barely started locks that adorned Tyr’s head.  They were still short, but deeply meaningful to the Nietzchean teen all the same.

“They’re mourning locks,” Tyr replied, not bothering to turn around and face the child.  He told himself it was to emphasize his superiority to the boy and had absolutely nothing to do with the tears he felt stinging his own eyes.  He’d taught himself not to think of his family, only of his mission to reestablish the Kodiak Pride, but somehow this human youngling had managed to break that resolve multiple times in only one night.  “There’s one lock for each person I loved that died.”

“Oh,” Tyr could almost feel the child counting.  There’s an awful lot of them.”

“My family’s dead,” Tyr admitted, surprising himself at revealing such a vulnerability to a virtual stranger.  Even if the stranger was a child, it still went against his training... but that didn’t stop him from continuing.  “All of them, down to the last aunt and cousin.  I don’t have anyone either.”

The teen felt a small hand pat his back.  “Na-huh, not no more” the sleepy voice objected, “Now you gots me.”

And, in spite of his upbringing, Tyr found that statement meant more to him that he ever would have thought.  The teen was still Nietzchean, but a young one and a adolescent that had survived several horrible ordeals.  The warmth of a warm, non-threatening body pressed up against his back offered creature comfort that was hard to deny.

As Tyr joined his small companion in sleep, he couldn’t help but wonder just what it was he’d gotten himself into.

~the end~  

 

Return to Andromeda Index

Return to Fandom Index

Comments or questions taken at: journeyoftheheartfiction@yahoo.com