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Dec 04, 2020 6:42 PM
the rest of the yeerk war
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<- Oh, I just wanted to let you know that I was done with the manual block on the Gate-terminus. I also blocked Alloran, while I was doing it anyway, I can easily remove that if we decide he is allowed on Earth.> 

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<Thank you.> Sigh. 

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Leareth heads back across the field to find him. 

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<I am a little worried about you> Matirin says.

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<Oh?>

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<Do you need anything? Are you coping okay?>

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<...I cannot really tell. On either count. Which I suppose is - not a reassuring sign.> 

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<I would suggest Melody but I think she's having a bad day. You could...pet me?>

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<All right. If I am going to demorph I want to go to my apartment again or something.> Mental sigh. <I wish I - knew what mental motion to do, to just be coping fine, it is very inconvenient that I do not.> 

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<I do not think people usually cope fine with the murder of their, uh, younger self - admittedly it doesn't usually come up - but someone close to them who they had promised to protect.>

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<...I suppose not. Even the less specific version has not come up much, for me.> 

Leareth heads back to his apartment and demorphs just inside and is immediately in tears again. There's no particular pressing emergency that he needs to stop it for, so he doesn't, just sits down on the floor again and reaches vaguely for Matirin. 

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Matirin reaches him and pets him even though he has very little fur when he's like this. 

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It helps a surprising amount, the sudden transition from Andalite to a human form he rarely spends much time in nowadays, but where he's very aware of his emotions and their physiological correlates. Leareth rests his face on Matirin's fur and - lets himself stare fully at it, the exact limits and magnitude of his - their - failure here, it feels clearer than yesterday. Sharper-edged, in some ways more painful, but smaller, he can define the bounds of what went wrong and what was lost. 

Not everything. Things they can never get back, yes, but not everything of value in the world. (He's still confused about that comment Cayaldwin made but he's not going to poke at it now.) 

Eventually he manages to relax fully. 

- and then falls asleep, his breathing slowing and deepening. 

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This is not in Matirin's experience of how the therapeutic benefits of being human and petting a quadruped are supposed to manifest but maybe this is exactly how it is supposed to work. He holds very still and watches Leareth sleep (and Thoughtspeaks people to check on Cayaldwin, who is practicing magic, apparently, which is not the most worrying thing he could be doing). 

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It's still the middle of the day and Leareth doesn't stay asleep for very long. He wakes up twenty minutes later or so, twitching before rising fully to alertness and going still again. :...Oh. Sorry: His Mindspeech sounds a lot steadier, now. 

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<You do not have anything to apologize for.>

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:Well, thank you: 

Leareth stretches, runs his hands through Matirin's fur some more and tries to poke at what he's feeling and what he needs. 

:...I feel angry: he says finally, slowly. :Not with Alloran, or - even really with myself. Just. In general. I think I still want to tail-fight? It feels as though that would - help, with something. If you are up for that then maybe you should do it in morph with Gifts and shielding, though, I - would probably end up fighting the scary way: Or the hot way, according to past-Matirin. 

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<I am up for that.> He stands up, walks the length of the room a few times to stretch his legs.

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Leareth morphs back to Andalite and looks around. <Should we go somewhere with more space?>

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Leareth follows him out, moving neatly and precisely with no wasted motion, the way he does in an emergency of some kind. He stretches as well, readies himself. 

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Matirin waits for him to put the shield up and then starts.

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Leareth checks Matirin's shields at the start, carefully and with a flicker of affection-feeling-of-safety, but after that he fights as though his life depends on it. As though the fate of a planet depends on it.

In moments, he's only half in the present. Entirely focused on the physical particulars of the situation, on Matirin's exact position and movements and momentum, mapping out the paths ahead of him - but in the bigger picture, his sense of past and present and future stitched together, he could be in any of a thousand times and places. The final moments before the Yeerk surrender on Earth. A battlefield in Velgarth. A temple where a god wreathes him in flames. Several hundred miles from Urtho's Tower, watching the world crumble and burn. 

Leareth is still not quite as good at tail-fighting as Matirin, though, and all the defiance and desperation and will-to-triumph in the world won't guarantee he can win in any given bout. 

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He can win about half of them. Honestly Matirin has been practicing a lot more, over the last six months, he was never really good at tail-fighting but it also had never really been a priority. It's - he's not totally sure that it's good for Leareth but it seems to be absorbing Leareth, and he seems to want to keep doing it, and it feels like there's - something here that he can't get otherwise -

 

- something that Leareth might really need -

 

 

- he goes until he's too exhausted to handle another bout and then, instead of surrendering, he takes a step back and looks carefully at Leareth and hits him not with his tail but with a lightning bolt. (This fight he couldn't win one in a thousand of and that feels important, too) -

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