Don't Marry Me
Diana DeRiggs

This story is a bit of an extension of a fragment from a story written a couple of years ago, Death Isn't the End, where Tyria behaved rather strangely when found with another man. This story explains why! It's been in the works for quite a while now, and many thanks to Csillag and Wraith6 for being patient and sympathetic betas.

* * * **** * * *

"I can't."

Kell was at a loss. He'd just asked Tyria Sarkin -- whom he had been dating for over a standard year -- to marry him, and she had simply refused. It might have been less awkward if he had not been in the middle of making love to her, of course. Now if he continued, he could be construed as not serious. If he stopped, he'd be a cad. Crud ...

She embraced him with her whole body, drawing him closer, so he settled down on her and decided to settle on a nuzzle. "It's okay. I thought I'd just ask."

Tyria held him tighter, "No, I know it's a big deal, and I'm sorry. I should have told you long ago. I can't marry you. I can't marry anyone. Forgive me?"

But I'm not just ANYBODY, he wanted to yell out. "Of course. I still love you, Tyria."

She sighed, "I know. And you know I love you."

I thought I knew.

"This is a good time to explain, Kell," Tyria's hands rubbed the skin on his back and shoulders. "I can't marry you ... because I'm already married."

Kell's erection had been shrinking this whole time and with that, his penis gave up and plopped out of her. He stopped trying to go with the flow and pulled himself off her body, rolling to the side. He wasn't sure he really wanted to hear this. His head was churning, I've been fucking a married woman all this time!

Seeing the look on his face, she rolled quickly over him, pinning him down, as if fearing he'd bolt off the bed. "Wait! It's not like that!"

Kell tried very hard to appear nonchalant, but it wasn't working. He was rigid, even though he was trying to keep his arm around her. He swallowed hard, "So, uh ... where is he now?" Everything's changed between us now. He couldn't reconcile his passion with a married woman.

"He travels a lot, he has places on Toprawa and Coruscant and stays in lots of other places, too. I'm actually never really sure where he is ... Kell, it's not what you think. I'm married to him, but we don't have a conventional marriage. I swear to you, I've never had sex with him; I've barely been with him for more than a few hours at a time."

Kell tried hard not to give her a look of astonishment, "So why'd you marry him?"

She sighed and moved herself over him some more, "Marriage isn't just about sex, Kell. I'm sorry if that's why you asked me to marry you ... but I understand. I've made that mistake, too, getting married for sex ..."

"But you said you haven't had sex with him!" Kell was wondering if this was really happening to him.

"Kell ..." Tyria spoke quickly over his protest, "he's not my first husband."

Now Kell was confused.

"Remember what I told you about my parents?" He could feel her trembling a little against his shoulder. He nodded. She continued, "My mother died when the Empire firebombed the planet. My father was killed by troops. They just broke into the house and they took me away."

"But you must've been just a kid then," Kell commented, "what would they want with you?"

There was a long silence.

Finally, she broke the uncomfortable quiet, "Look at me, Kell. I know I'm beautiful. I always have been. How do you think a beautiful young girl would survive in an occupied prison world? What could she possibly offer to the men who ruled her planet?"

That was all she had to say; Kell got the picture. He embraced her back. "I'm so sorry ... I ... I never knew ..."

She wiped her eyes, "You weren't meant to. No one does; at least, no one in the New Republic does. The head of the local garrison had a slaving contract on the side. He was supplying young girls to the pirates, but he kept me with him. He died in a dispute-related firefight, and his second-in-command claimed me. By then I was old enough to be considered a juvenile adult and he made me marry him so I'd have to legally stay with him."

"Tyria ... I'm sorry. It's boggling my mind ... I can't believe men would do that to a child!" Kell was feeling queasy.

"Don't let it worry you, Kell," the need to comfort had shifted between then, so now it was her turn to comfort him, "It won't do to worry about the past like that. That's what Freery told me."

"Is that your ..." Could Kell say the word? "Is he ...?"

"His name is Freery Garmin, and yes, he's my husband." Tyria held her breath, waiting for her lover's reaction. When none came, she breathed out in a soft whisper, "Do you want to know more?"

"I don't know ... Yes." Kell hated sounding like an idiot, but he couldn't help it. He didn't want to hear anymore, yet he had to know. "Yes. No." He rolled off the bed and groped for his clothes. "I'm sorry, Tyria. I can't. I'm sorry."

* * * * *

Face Loran wondered whether he should leave Kell Tainer alone at the tapcaf bar. He wasn't talking to anyone, not even the bartender, and appeared to be sobbing quietly. The tall man was much stronger than him, so he thought twice about interfering. He ended up calling Runt Ekwesh, who had been Kell's wingman when they were a starfighter squadron. The Thaakwashi, though small for his species, was much stronger than Kell, in addition to being his best friend.

"Go away, Runt," Kell was slurring into his drink by now, "and take your brains with you. I'm trying to obliviate my own, I don't want any of yours!"

Runt gestured for a drink and sat down next to his friend, "Our leader thought it would be supportive of me to participate in whatever pathos you are imbibing in."

Kell started giggling, "No way you would want to follow me here. You know, I wish I had another brain, so I could switch them. Instead, I think I will just drown my brain and try to die."

"You are doing a poor job of commiting suicide, Kell. Killing yourself through solvent abuse takes a long time, and your body is likely to kick in it's defense mechanisms before you can succeed." He looked apologetic, "It is a weakness of your species, I'm afraid."

"Shaddap," muttered Kell, "I'm simply miserable. I do not appreciate logic, you big ugly furball."

"I am here to help, Kell," his roommate ignored his insult, "I am trying to drink as much as you, so I might understand. My metabolism is rather different, but it might be possible. At least, Face told me to do so. It was sort of an order."

Kell spilled the remainder of his drink when he tried to snort in derision, and instead, just ended up choking and coughing. "Runt, just go away. You don't understand."

"Is it about Tyria?" Runt sat leaning a bit away, in case Kell took a swing at him. It was just as well, as the big man lunged at him.

"How did you know? Oh my sore head, you're psychic!" Kell was quite aggitated.

Runt leaned into his friend, to prevent both of them from falling over. He sighed, "Kell, it's ALWAYS about Tyria."

"Oh." That was a bit anticlimatic. He rallied, "But not like THIS!"

Runt noticed the lump in Kell's shirt pocket, so he reached over and pulled out a box. He flipped it open, glanced at the contents, sighed again, and snapped it closed. "So, she said no?"

Kell buried his face into Runt's shoulder and wailed, "She said NO! And she explained WHY!" Runt wasn't sure if he should give Kell a hug or push him off. He looked around and was relieved no one else was in the tapcaf; the bartender had gone off to hide somewhere. So he settled for sitting still while Kell sobbed against him, wetting his arm.

"Kell," Runt didn't like the feeling of Kell snuffling into his arm, "did I ever tell you about my grandfather? Well, he's sort of my grandfather, not really, but it's the closest I can describe him in your human terms."

The big man started to wail, the sound muffled by Runt's fur. The Thakwaashi sighed and kept on talking, "He was unusual for my race. He was a hunter, an adventurer. He married my grandmother out of obligation, but it was rumored that she was not the only woman he was living with on a conjugal basis."

"Did he sleep with Tyria?" Kell looked angry and damp, raising his head off his former roommate's fuzzy shoulder.

"Don't be stupid, Kell, it doesn't suit you so well," Runt opted to reply only simply.

"You made a joke! Runt, that's like a dozen this month! You're getting good at this!" Runt pulled the drink away from Kell and replaced it with a glass of water, which Kell slurped greedily. Perhaps he was so drunk that he didn't realize the difference between water and lomin.

"Kell, he was away a lot. There were even rumors that he was dead from time to time. No one would have blamed by grandmother if she was not being faithful to him, but it caused some grief among the neighbors and some of the family members to hear people talk about it. But she is a very strong woman, and she had many children who looked alike, so if she had been having indiscretions, she had been very careful about them.

Her husband, at the very end of his life, confessed his relationships to her, but she kept quiet about herself. Finally, as he felt the end nearing, he asked her, 'My love, you have been so good not to judge me. But before I cross over, I need to know ... our children ... they all look aliked, except for one.' Kell, the different one was my father."

Kell was confused by the story and blinked up at Runt, but his friend wasn't looking at him, pausing to take a long pull of lomin. He didn't know what to say, so he waited for Runt to continue or explain.

"She was a good woman, Kell. My grandmother was noble and truthful to him. She confessed that yes, that child had a father different from the others. Her husband wept, apparently he was not ready to hear this fact. But his time was running out and so he insisted, who was the father of that child?

Do you know who it was, Kell?"

Kell blinked again, "Freery Garmin?"

Runt was confused, "Who is Freery Garmin? No, it wasn't him. My grandmother kissed her husband, knowing he would be gone soon. She got on her knees and whispered in his ear, 'The father of that child ... is you.'"

Kell fell off the stool in his astonishment and laughter. Runt might have been making a joke, or he might have been relating a tru bit of family history. Even in his drunken haze, he realized he might be offending his friend. But it was funny!

"Kell," Runt pulled his friend off the floor when the convulsions of laughter subsided, "who is Freery Garmin?"

His sides and stomach aching, Kell felt lightheaded. "He is ... married to someone I know."

"To Tyria?"

Kell his his face in his large hands and nodded. It was still painful to think about.

"Kell, why are you upset and surprised that she is married?" Runt's tone was irritatingly soothing.

"We were dating, Runt. I wanted to marry her. She can't be married to more than one man at a time. And what's worse, she's been married before, too. More than twice. She's like a serial husband-acquirer." Kell was getting angry now. He found the mug of ale Runt had pulled away from him and was guzzling it down.

Runt put another drink in front of his friend, "Didn't you ever wonder how a girl like her ... orphaned, bright, beautiful, destitute ... didn't you ever wonder how she got off Toprawa?"

Kell slammed down his mug, washing foam from the lomin all over himself, "You knew?!?"

Runt shook his head, "No, I did not. But it would not have surprised me. Things are not always as they are in holomovies, Kell. And I'm aware of a slave trade out of Toprawa -- it was common when the Empire subjugated a planet. There was always a sort of civilization vacuum that attracted pirates and slavers. I had assumed she was maybe like Dia, able to escape from that type of situation. But what you tell me now also makes sense."

Kell's head ached, "I'm such a fool. No, I never wondered."

The two men sipped their lomin. Runt put his hand out and rubbed his friend's shoulder, "I was telling you a true story. My father is the only true son of that bastard who was married to my grandmother. That woman helped raise me, and when she was very old, she took me aside and told me that tale."

Kell dropped his head down, "I'm sorry I laughed. It was funny, but I'm still ashamed of myself."

"No, it's okay. It was an unexpected benefit. I have told no one this tale before. Do you understand why I told it to you?"

Kell sighed, "No, please tell me. As you can see, my mind and parts of my body are a bit paralyzed right now."

Runt's face formed into a smile of sympathy and pity, "My grandmother, of course, had actually, in fact, been untrue to my grandfather. But she was strong and brave, and men could not help but be attracted to her. Even as an old woman, younger suitors could be found trying to court her. There was something special about her, and men found her irresistable."

Kell was sobering up and was very interested to hear this bit of Runt's history. He obviously worshipped his grandmother, yet was perplexed by her, too.

"Many enouraged her, Kell," he stopped to sip his lomin, but as far as Kell could see, the alcohol was still not affecting his friend, "for it would have been simple to prove my grandfather was with others and to obtain a ... how do you term it? A divorce? A sort of permanent separation?" Kell nodded, indicating this was the right word.

"But she told me, 'I'm not the marrying kind. I married him because then I would never have to worry about marrying ever again. I married him because he's not the marrying kind, either.' It confused me, but now I think I understand. I think this is true of Tyria, too. There are some people who get married so that it is no longer a concern to them."

Kell snorted, "That sounds awfully dumb, Runt. Why would you marry if you weren't the marrying kind??"

"Kell, you are not understanding. My grandmother married a man who was a bad husband because she did not want men to try and 'trap' her by marrying her. She deliberately chose him because then she would be free to have affairs with other men, no strings attached, I think is how humans refer to it? If she became pregnant, she would not be forced to marry the father, because she was already married. It was much safer for her for her to already be in a legal relationship.

I'll bet you anything, Kell ... I'll bet you that Tyria does not enjoy sexual relations with her husband. I'll bet she does love you, but she cannot equate love with marriage. She would not love you the same way if she saw you as the marrying kind. Her marriage keeps her safe, it's a mechanism she uses for coping with her situation. I understand this, Kell. Why don't you try to do the same?"

It was too much for Kell. He was spinning into unconsciousness. The last thing he remembered was being pulled over Runt's shoulder and being carried out the door of the tapcaf.

* * * * *

Runt sat on the designated chair to receive the hololink call. An image of an older human male depixelated and became clear. Runt spoke, "Hello, I am Hohass Ekwesh. Thank you for making the time to speak to me, sir."

The man smiled, "No trouble at all. Anything for a friend of Tyria's. Tell me, how is she?"

"She is fine, sir. I have contacted you to ask an uncomfortable question about Tyria. I am a friend of Kell Tainer." Runt held his breath, wondering of Freery Garmin would recognize the name.

The white-haired holo nodded, "Ah, yes. Kell -- he is a paramour of Tyria's, is he not? Quite devoted to her, is my understanding. Is anything wrong?"

"No, sir. Well, yes, sir. He was hoping to ask Tyria for a deeper relationship than one they have, sir. And I need to confirm ... you are Tyria's next-of-kin?"

The man laughed, a short burst, "I have never heard it put that way before! But yes, yes, I am. But I am afraid I cannot give permission for what Kell might want. I take it you understand the situation?"

Runt smiled, "Yes, sir."

"But Kell does not? It's nothing personal, more a legal problem."

"No, sir. I understand, sir. Well, not completely, sir."

The man chuckled, "So, what do you need from me, Hohass Ekwesh, friend of Kell Tainer?"

This is where Runt fumbled a bit, "This is not exactly my business, sir, except as a concerned friend. Will Tyria be joining you someday, sir?"

Freery Garmin looked thoughtful. "That is the plan, Hohass, though we haven't solidified anything. There is no timeline. But she is free to do as she pleases, of course. She has not contacted me about Kell's request, if that's what you mean?"

The Thakwaashi nodded, feeling a bit shy. This really wasn't his business, he was just trying to help out Kell.

"You are a good friend, Hohass. But no, she hasn't said anything. So no, I do not think she plans to be leaving me for Kell."

Runt noted the 5 minute timer was coming up, signalling the end of what he could afford for a civilian transmission. "Thank you, sir. May the Force be with you."

Garmin smiled, "It is, Hohass -- I am a lucky man. And may the Force be with you, and for Kell, too."

* * * * *

Kell walked into the tapcaf and saw Tyria sitting alone in the dining section. He has not seen her since she had rejected his proposal. She had tried calling and visiting many times, but he had not been in his usual places. He needed time to think, especially after Runt confirmed it all, so he'd gone into hiding.

Runt had told him that Tyria will meet him here. Kell hadn't wanted to go, but Runt convinced him that meeting he in a public place was ... safer.

Tyria got up to run toward him, but the haunted, angry look on Kell's drawn face stopped her. She sat back down slowly and waited for him to sit down, too. She was sad that he took the seat opposite her; they normally sat on the same side or cady-corner to each other, their knees touching, for embracing and snuggling.

"I've missed you, Kell. I've been looking all over for you! Where have you been??" She hadn't intended to nag, but she really had been worried. She'd even called the medcenters, hoping he had not tried anything stupid. I shouldn't have told him ...

Kell didn't even look up, but he started talking, never meeting her face, "I will be the first to admit, I have been affected by holovids and romantic books. I have sisters, too, I could not have escaped their girlish notions of love and marriage." She reached out to him, started to say something but he interrrupted her, again without looking at her, "Let me finish, please." So Tyria withdrew.

"The guys I knew, they were into sex and sex, and more sex -- you know the type. You accused me of it, too, back when we first met.

Some of the boys were very mean to the girls they knew, and I'll admit, it bothered me a lot. How could a man bed a woman if he didn't intend to make a life with her? I know it's kind of sappy, but that's just the way I am -- I'm just a romantic to the core. So when I first saw you, Tyria, I knew ... I knew I wanted you, but more than simply for sex. I wanted you in my life forever. I had always planned to marry you, to make you my wife." He paused when the server 'droid came to take their order for drinks. "It's just the way I am. Even if it hadn't worked out, I at least intended to marry you, Tyria. That's really important to me."

Their drinks came, and Kell was grateful for the opportunity to have something to do with this hands, and for something to look at besides the table.

"You are living a life that's like ... well, it's what the boys might consider to be a sort of ideal man's life. Married to someone, and having an affair with another. I realize, Tyria, that your husband knows about me and you; you tell him everything, don't you?" He paused, letting Tyria know she could join the conversation.

She silently nodded. There was no point in denying it.

"But you didn't tell him what I asked you the other night." Kell could feel the tightness behind his eyes as he struggled to keep his tears back, and to keep his voice from pinching out.

Again, she opted for the silent answer. She closed her eyes and shook her head, no.

Kell continued, softly, "It wasn't important enough to tell him?"

Both of them looked at their drinks, and Tyria took a small sip of hers. "What would it have accomplished if I did, Kell?"

He sighed, "You were protecting him? Then you do love him."

She stirred her drink around and around. "Yes, of course I love him."

"More than me ... you won't leave him for me ..."

She sighed, and slowly, slowly nodded.

* * * * *

The two men were back in the small room on the military base assigned to Runt; Kell was hiding from Tyria again. Runt was exasperated by him, "Kell, that information was not meant for you to break up with her. It was meant for you to understand that her relationship with Garmin is unusual. It's the relationship with you this is more normal!"

Kell was lying on the bunk with a pillow over his head. He was still weeping. "But she'll never marry me!"

Runt sighed, "No, she will not. I know this, why don't you? Just as my grandmother never married the fathers of her other children. But it doesn't mean she doesn't love you, Kell. She still wants to be with you. So what if she is behaving like a human male? YOU are behaving like a human female! You two are compatible!"

Kell sat up, looking wounded, "That was supposed to be a joke, wasn't it? That one wasn't so funny, Runt."

"No, it was an observation. Get out of my room, I'm tired of babysitting for you. You are such a girl, Kell."

Kell would have argued back, but the Thakwaashi had picked him up and dumped him outside his room, then locked the door. Kell was about to pound the door of his best friend and verbally insult him, but he spotted Tyria leaning up against the wall, her arms crossed.

Realizing he'd been double-crossed by Runt, he fumbled a bit then smoothed down his hair, "Been waiting long?"

To his surprise, Tyria drew back and punched him hard across the chin, snapping his head sideways and making him see stars. He was quite dizzy and shocked, then he felt her grabbing his ankles and dragging him down the corridor. He was so disoriented that this act was just not processable. He felt the bump of a threshhold as Tyria dragged him into her room, and he was helpless to resist when she started taking off his clothes. He watched dumbly as she took off hers, too.

"Get up! If we're going to fight, we're going to do it naked so you can't just walk out of here like a sissy girl!" Tyria was growling at him. He was even more stunned now. He couldn't have gotten up, even with help.

"Get up!" She pulled at his arms, but he didn't give her any help and she couldn't move him at all. Frustrated, she straddled his waist and started slapping his face, "Get up and fight, you sissy! Fight like a real man!"

He was getting a bit embarassed. He had never seen this side of Tyria before ... and it was turning him on. He twisted this way and that so she wouldn't feel his erection, but to no avail. There was no way she could have missed the hardened member smacking her in the backside with her energetic attack. She rode him him like a bucking reek, pounding on his body, venting her frustration at him. "You run away from me when things don't go your way, you sneak around my back, you cry by yourself, you worthless, useless, pantywaisted..." She said lots of mean things to him. It was humiliating ... and erotic.

Of course, in the end, he managed to move Tyria over his penis and was delighted that this seemed to turn her on, too. She was slippery and damp enough to take him in one stroke, and then she rode him hard. She was still angry at him, but was humping him like she was obsessed. He gasped and moaned, shrieking when she bit or pinched him; this could have been rape, but he was enjoying it far too much.

* * * * *

The members of the squadron watched as Tyria and Kell underwent a "commitment ceremony" -- they explained it wasn't marriage, but a promise stronger than marriage. The guests all thought it was very sweet, assuming that because of the uncertainty of their jobs and lives, perhaps marriage was something neither of them took much stock in.

Runt stood in the back with Freery Garmin, whose eyes were damp with happiness. He whispered to Runt that he was very glad that Tyria had found someone she could have a normal relationship with. He had always worried that her early life had psychologically damaged her; that was why he had consented to marry her in the first place. She told him she needed marriage to protect her from anyone who might want to possess her that way again. Runt nodded, understanding that this was exactly as his grandmother felt.

As the two exchanged rings, both Runt and Freery smiled knowing that instead of a normal inscription of love, there was instead engraved on the inside of the circlettes an inscription that was both a promise and a warning: Don't Marry Me. It was a reminder that they were together, and a promise that they would marry no one else.

Well, thought Runt enviously, as the ceremony wrapped up, that's the finest declaration of love one can ever expect, no matter how far out or normal your relationship really is ...

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