Fandoms: Blake's 7
Trope: character in distress
Characters: Kerr Avon, Tynus, Anna Grant
Length: 1,259 words
Summary: After Anna's death, Avon records his thoughts in the hope that it will help.
Outsider (on AO3)
Or right here:
Cally said that recording this might help. It's worth a try.
I have never been good at reading people.
It took me my first ten years to learn that people didn't always tell the truth and to how detect the signs of sarcasm and, if I was attentive, outright lying. (Watch their eye direction provided you also know whether they're right or left-handed.)
Lies I believed as a small child include:
- If you keep your eyes open when sneezing, they will pop out - easily disproved with some experimentation.
- If you swallow whole seeds or pips, plants will grow inside you - extremely unlikely with the level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
- It doesn't matter whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game. Demonstrably wrong.
- The tooth fairy will take your discarded milk teeth and leave a credit. This one is particularly galling because I had to work out what was in it for the tooth fairy and decided they built little pearly houses for themselves using teeth as bricks. Yes, I lied to myself.
- Unused brains will turn to mucus and drip out your nose. Thank you, mother, for the most frightening lie, even if it was directly responsible for my coming top of all my classes.
- Your grade does not matter. This one is the most egregious and told only to those who are not Alphas. It may induce some (like me) eventually to test into Alpha but it is still an outrageous lie. Grade matters.
- We already have enough people for the team.
- This seat is taken.
- I forgot to invite you to my party.
- Too many more to mention, all of which I now put down to my complete lack of social skills and misreading of (or utter failure to detect) social cues.
- All the above with accompanying smirk, a cue I'd learned by ten.
It was at high school that things improved. Firstly I discovered that people thought it was funny when I said what I thought of those of lesser intelligence, which was, to be exact, all of them. This and learning how to remain expressionless when verbally attacked were extraordinarily effective in reducing the number of said attacks.
It was a classmate, Tynus, who taught me some of the tricks to passing as normal. Our relationship started when I informed him that a thought could not cross his mind as the walkway was down.
"Oh, really? Think you're smart, do you?"
I was puzzled by this complete non-sequitur. "I am puzzled by this complete non-sequitur." In retrospect I'm highly relieved that Tynus didn't know h0ow to say 'sequitur' either.
"Cur Avon! Cur, get it?"
"Ah. The mispronunciation of my name means I'm a dog?"
"Yeah. I suppose you can do better?"
"Certainly. Say my name quickly and I'm craven."
I think it was insulting myself that made Tynus like me. Or at least I assume he did. He started spending time with me, joined the chess club as well, and tried to teach me how to 'act normal'. He never stopped calling me "cur" and when I objected a few months later, said that was what friends did: insult one another. Affectionate banter. I use it now with Vila who is an almost worthy competitor in the art.
"You have to learn to smile now and then," was another of Tynus's bits of advice. "Other kids are a bit scared of you, you know."
Tynus recoiled. "Perhaps a tad less sharky than that."
I am still not entirely sure that I have mastered the art.
Besides when to smile (e.g. after making a joke, but not at someone else's unless it was after an insulting length of time), Tynus had various other social adeptness advice like empty phrases considered to be polite, not standing too close to people when talking to them, and refraining from being too honest in my opinion of chess opponents if I actually wanted to have some (although most of these, if disregarded, are very useful ways to disconcert others). Now that I think of it, Tynus too was an outsider, but for different reasons: being even worse at sport than I was, liking art (not a pursuit valued in the Federation), and generally being 'a weed'. We were rather like aliens trying to pretend to belong. In fact I once found a note on my desk: "Kerr Avon, we regret to inform you that your application to join the human race has been rejected." Actually I considered that a compliment.
We remained friends at university, and afterwards too, along with Keiller, another outsider due to his size which I regard as a bizarrely illogical reason to dislike anyone, lack of intelligence being a far greater flaw. The three of us did exact considerable monetary revenge on society however.
I think that one of the reasons I consider Vila and Cally to be more congenial than the others is that they too are outsiders. Not quite members of the human race, literally in the case of Cally.
Tynus did not prove to be a friend despite how long we knew each other. I would be lying if I said that hadn't hurt, but not as much as it might have since Vila was there, for what that's worth. Although since I'm being honest here as Cally advises, that happens to be a non-zero amount.
Navigating the minefields of human facial expressions and social conventions was still difficult as an adult, especially now that I was considered physically attractive (although how my lips are any more sculpted than others' escapes me), and one very helpful tactic was appearing not to care when I failed. Then I met Anna. Anna was different from the usual run of human from the start: cool, logical, crystal-clear, always saying what she thought. We met at a boring function when she joined me on the side lines where I was holding a drink and looking expressionless and therefore aloof.
"The only way to survive one of these stultifying affairs," she said, lifting her own glass to me.
We spent an unexpectedly pleasant evening exchanging our less than flattering (but accurate) opinions of everyone else there, and that's how it started. Anna was self-contained, forthright, her calm and elegant face always easy to read with its lack of overstated or puzzling emotion.
She was a perfect match for me.
When I thought she had been killed, it hurt in the centre of my chest. No, nowhere near the blood pump that fools think is the seat of emotion. I am unsure of the physical cause of this pain but it always returned whenever I thought of her.
But she hadn't died. She'd lied to me all along and I'd never seen that in her face or heard it in her words. I'm not sure which hurt more, losing her or finding out that how she'd played me.
First Tynus, then Anna. Obviously I am still not good at reading humans, and will doubtless be betrayed again. The best strategy is simply not to care, or at least learn not to.
This didn't help in the way Cally thought - not that I expected it to - but I have acquired a strategy for dealing with future betrayals. So thank you, Cally.
Delete this file, Zen.Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comments.