I'm going to kill him, Yama thought, staring after Harlock. He'd never wanted to kill anyone before, but he knew he wanted to kill Harlock, and he knew that he'd be capable of doing so. For Isora. For all the evil he's done. For -
(Someone threw an arm over his shoulder. It was a bit of a relief, to be honest; anyone looking at him would probably know exactly what he'd been thinking, and if he got caught before he got to Harlock, that would ruin everything; they'd kill him, or dump him on an asteroid somewhere and then -)
"Kid," Yattaran said, "I know exactly what you're thinking."
Right. Yama swallowed. He supposed he might try to lure Yattaran somewhere and kill him, too, and hope - what? Yattaran was important aboard the Arcadia. Unlike Yama, people were going to notice if Yattaran suddenly vanished.
"Uh," he said.
"You think you're the first rookie getting all starry-eyed after the Captain's saved their worthless lives, eh?" Yattaran tightened his arm around Yama's neck.
You think I'm - Yama almost shot him then and there, but given Yattaran's friendly expression, he decided that while it felt like Yattaran was trying to strangle him, that wasn't actually Yattaran's intention.
"Now, you did Kei a solid, so Uncle Yattaran's going to take pity on you, yeah?" Yattaran gave Yama's neck one last squeeze, then released him.
Yama tried to look appropriately grateful. It helped that he was able to breathe again. "Thanks?"
"Any time." Yattaran grinned. At least, he showed a lot of teeth. "So. Listen up. It's not going to happen. The Captain - he don't play, you get me? All work. You want a good time, look somewhere else."
I'm not interested in a good time, I just want to kill him. Not, Yama decided, the sort of thing he wanted to share, assuming Yattaran would even believe him. Which would be bad, because Yama was supposed to be blending in here. "Thanks," he said again, because Yattaran seemed to be expecting some sort of reply.
Yattaran punched him in the stomach. "You're going to be all right, kid. Just stay smart, yeah?"
If you're going to leave me alone now, that should help.
Happily, that did seem to be the plan. Yattaran walked away, whistling, leaving Yama to stare after him, contemplating murder. (Well. Murders, but killing multiple people before he got to Harlock really wouldn't be feasible, so.)
So for the sake of figuring out not only how to kill Harlock but also when and where, Yama started following him. Subtly, of course. Discreetly. Taking care not to be obvious about it.
"Hey?" Yama said. Kei, not Yattaran, which was good. It was also bad, because he really did like Kei and needing to kill her for the sake of his mission would suck.
Happily, he'd come prepared. He held up his mop. It was 100% genuine.
"You've been scrubbing at that same piece of floor for the past five minutes now," Kei said.
"There's a spot I can't get out?" Yama offered. He wasn't sure why a self-repairing ship that didn't need fuel in order to fly would need someone to mop its decks.
Kei didn't even look. Her expression softened. "Look, Yama. The Captain - he's not like the rest of us."
Well, no. For starters, he's going to be very dead, very soon. Yama didn't like to think about what would happen to the rest of the crew then. They were pirates; they'd get what was coming to them.
"I just don't want to see you get hurt," Kei said, putting a friendly hand on his arm.
Yama smiled at her, imagining Harlock's expression as Yama'd kill him. Surprise. Fear. Relief. Desire. Lust. Wait, what? "I'm - fine."
Kei looked unconvinced, but she nodded. "All right. Then move it. Rest of the deck's not going to clean itself, you know."
Yama saluted, mop still in hand, and Kei laughed.
He wondered if Harlock would have laughed, too, if he'd seen, or smiled, maybe. It was hard to imagine, and of course Yama wasn't interested in finding out what Harlock looked like when he smiled or laughed or slowly took off all his clothes while Yama watched.
Kei sighed and shook her head and then walked away before Yama could decide what to say.
Objectively speaking, Harlock was rather attractive, Yama supposed, lying in his bunk, awake, trying to go over the information he'd gathered so far. Pirates were the stuff of romance to start with, and Harlock had the added benefit of being a living legend. He was enigmatic, dramatic and heroic.
He'd saved Yama's life and supposedly, the lives of many other members of the crew, never hesitating to risk his own life for theirs.
Of course, in Harlock's case, it was debatable whether or not that was actually true. The dark matter had done something to Harlock, as it had to the Arcadia. You only needed to look at Harlock to know that Harlock was no ordinary man, not anymore. Yama had felt it himself.
Getting close to Harlock felt like standing next to a force of nature. Exciting. Dangerous. Arousing.
What is wrong with me? Yattaran and Kei both mistaking his interest in Harlock for a crush had its advantages: neither had looked the least suspicious of his motivation for asking all sorts of questions about Harlock, even if the answers to some of his questions had been less than satisfactory.
Yama felt flattered that they trusted him, of course. Pleased that they cared about him. It meant that he was doing a good job, that his infiltration of the crew was proceeding according to plan. He was fooling them, playing a part. It wasn't real.
Just like these other thoughts and feelings Yama had about Harlock weren't real.
"Yama," Harlock said.
They were alone, with no one else of the crew around to hear - or see. Yama was armed, as always; it would be easy, so easy, to kill Harlock right now. He might even be able to make his escape, to get off the Arcadia before anyone realized what he'd done.
"Captain," he said, though he didn't need to. Harlock would never be his captain. Harlock knew that as well as Yama. It was a relief, in a way, that Harlock knew the truth. It meant Yama didn't need to pretend, didn't need to feel guilty over lying to a man he had come to - kill, Yama thought with great determination. Harlock was the man he had come to kill. Nothing else mattered.
Nothing else could be permitted to matter.
Harlock looked at him, his expression brooding. Serious. Grim. Yama suddenly wondered if Harlock spent as much time thinking about killing Yama as Yama spent thinking about killing Harlock. It seemed reasonable, even if Harlock supposedly also spent a lot of time thinking about pirate stuff.
He wondered if Harlock had also thought about kissing him, about what it would be like to have Yama in his bed. Yama hadn't seen Harlock's bedroom for himself, but he'd heard the stories. There was a real bed and everything - a huge bed, according to rumor. Plenty big enough for two.
Yama bet it had nice, soft sheets, too, and pillows. Probably a few skulls hidden in the bedposts, because that seemed a bit of a theme in the Arcadia's interior decorating scheme.
"You seem rather lost in thoughts. Anything you'd care to share?" Harlock asked.
Your big, extra Gothic bed, Yama thought, before he could stop himself. He reassured himself that it was only because getting close to Harlock would offer him a lot more chances to find out Harlock's weaknesses and kill him. "No, Captain," he said.
Harlock stepped closer. Yama wondered where his parrot-bird-thing had wandered off to. "Are you sure?" He leaned one hand against the wall next to Yama's head.
If the idea was to make Yama feel intimidated, it wasn't working. Mostly, Yama was beginning to feel annoyed. Here he was, doing his job, not harming anyone (well, not yet) and here was Harlock, to whom Yama hadn't done anything (yet), asking questions and making him feel ... things.
Someone should teach Harlock a lesson.
Yama glared. "Very sure. Captain." He tried to sound sharp, brave. A bit cocky, even. He knew and Harlock knew, that Harlock wasn't going to do anything to him. Harlock had saved Yama's life. He'd accepted Yama as a member of his crew.
And now Harlock was kissing him. Hard.
Yama's brains took a few moments to make sure that this was real, rather than another fantasy or daydream or what-have-you, which was why Yama didn't push Harlock away, or make his lack of interest clear in some other way. After those first few moments - well, it seemed rude. Plus, it might blow his cover. Again. Much safer and more sensible to go along with it.
Harlock broke the kiss after what felt like a solid half hour. "Forgive me. I wanted to do that since the first moment I set eyes on you."
That's silly. I didn't want you to kiss me until we'd actually met, Yama thought. "Nothing to forgive," he said. "Unless you planned on never doing it again."
Harlock smiled - one fewer mystery in the universe, and kissed him again and -
- and Yama woke up, breathing hard.
I'm going to kill him. Not to keep his promise to Isora, but because he wanted to do it. Because Harlock deserved to die, for being who and what he was. I'm definitely, definitely going to kill him.
Yattaran poured Kei another drink. Everyone else in the mess hall was already lying on the floor like the lightweights that they were, but Kei was made of sterner stuff.
"You think the kid stands a chance?"
Kei shrugged. "As much of a chance as any of us."
"Ha!" Yattaran said. "I knew it. You, too, eh?"
"Too?" Kei arched one of her lovely elegant eyebrows at him.
"Slip of the tongue," Yattaran said, raising his glass. "To love. It's hopeless and terrible, but what fun would life be without it?"