Marcus turned and looked up at Keynis, into him, and motioned as if something needed to be said, but there was an inexplicable hesitation. It felt like he was nervous. Keynis couldn't figure out why he would be nervous, so he stopped and compelled him to speak through action. And the action was simple, he stopped what he was doing and turned to him.
"Are you alright, Marcus? What is it? Go ahead, my friend, you can tell me."
With that, Marcus lost all timidity. He rose and smiled, standing at his full height, thus making himself almost a full meter taller than Keynis. Marcus then spoke.
"Could you talk to me? I have so many questions." His voice was clear and loud and his English was perfect, but there was something exotic about his accent, no matter how slight it was. It pleased Keynis' ear. His physical presence was also pleasing to him. His hair, his soft, black robe, and even his scent spoke of nature. But not of something wild. More like wind and trees, a campfire and home. And cold water made hot for tea.
Keynis considered the question for one second, and then smiled. "Of course, child. Ask whatever you'd like. It will help keep me awake, too."
Marcus didn't hesitate. He consumed the opportunity to learn more. "You look scared. Are you scared?" the Ursine Marcus asked.
"Yes, I am." Keynis answered, a bit uneasily, but his fear was obvious.
"And you are afraid of whatever is trying to get into the room, to get to us?" Marcus asked.
Keynis sat on the edge of his desk, carefully avoiding any buttons, levers or any of the other various control mechanisms arrayed there. With an almost playful sadness, borne of resignation, he said, "Yes, I'm afraid of the people trying to get in."
Marcus smiled. "People? They want to hurt us, and kill us? But you won't tell me why?"
Keynis smiled back, although he didn't know why. The young Ursine put him at ease. "In that order, I should think, my friend, and no, there is no purpose in telling you why."
The two of the were quiet for a moment. In the distance, down the hallway and up the stairs, they could hear what sounded like drums beating in discord. It was the sound of the door being weakened, broken, bent, shattered. Keynis guessed they had 3 or 4 hours at most before the seal would be cracked, and then the door pried open. They looked at each other.
Marcus drew close to Keynis, dragging his useless, misshapen leg behind him. He had been born with it, and he negotiated with it easily. Keynis stood up, and the two were inches apart now. The Ursine spoke in a whisper, his warm, moist breath passing over Keynis' ear. He felt pins and needles along his spine. "And you won't let them hurt me, torture me...so you're going to kill me, and then yourself."
Keynis suddenly lost interest in what began to feel like a game. Marcus sensed this, and held fast. "I only say that because, if it is true, and I think it is...then we are more than friends, aren't we? More than comrades? More even than family or lovers, I think. We are...as one."
With that, Marcus rose to his full height again, towering above the human. He smiled broadly and put his hand to his ear, indicating in an exaggerated, mocking fashion that he was listening to the door. The door that kept them alive. The door that would soon come down.
"Since that is the case, let us listen to different music than this! Do you know any songs? A poem perhaps? We can certainly outplay them!" His great arm swept over Keynis' head as he indicated the hallway and door beyond. "Let's live together a bit if we are going to die together soon." And he was still smiling. The smile of a child. A smile that was not cynical or defeated. More like a joyful smile, a playful challenge to a friend. "Sing the poem you were reading earlier, my Otif. It said something to you that made you weep. It took you out of this room. Let it take me out of this room, as well!" His eyes glowed.
With that, Marcus sat down upon a nest of blankets and old clothes that he had been using as a bed. Now seated, his head was just below the chin of Keynis, the human, the lover, the friend, the comrade. The beloved Otif. He looked at the human in an affectionate way, his head cocked a bit to his left, and he was smiling again.
In the background, there was the sound of metal slamming into metal. Every so often, a voice perhaps.
Keynis started to enjoy, and see the value, in the game. He returned the smile, and in that moment Keynis and Marcus were the only two beings on the planet entire. Despite all the noise that spoke to the contrary.
"Okay, I can do this for you. You may find it maudlin and sentimental, the way a 200 year old child would. But it is beautiful to me."
Marcus was almost glowing, he looked that happy. There was a purity in him, an innocence, that seemed to radiate from his eyes, his smile, and even in the way he moved. There was a eagerness and curiosity to him, not unlike a child waiting to see a magic trick, or hold a kitten.
Keynis rose, and walked to the stairs, to the ascending hallway. Three steps up felt high enough for a stage of sorts. It was certainly wide enough, considering the stride of the Ursine engineer who designed it.
"Ok, this poem..." and he was interrupted. Keynis had to speak. He simply said, "I'm happy that you are talking to me now. Very happy!" With that, the small human returned the smile. There was real affection between the two, and that affection now had a voice. Expression.
Keynis took a deep breath, and began to speak.