seesonlysmoke: (questioning)
[personal profile] seesonlysmoke
OOC: This is Altaaf's long, overdue response to this post from Ryan. Apologies that it took so long. x-posted to IJ and [livejournal.com profile] writers_muses

Just don’t give up I’m workin it out
Please don’t give in, I won’t let you down
It messed me up, need a second to breathe
Just keep coming around
Hey, whataya want from me
Whataya want from me
Whataya want from me


The first few days after Ryan rescued and brought Altaaf safely to the States, he had slept for a great deal as he was kept sedated while his body continued to fight the infection from his wounds. At the times, when he did wake, he was fairly lucid and noticed that Ryan was by his side nearly every time, and if she wasn’t, within just a few minutes she was back next to him, ready with a cool cloth, some food, water or just some comfort.

As his strength returned, he became more active. With his gunshot wounds healing, there was some physical therapy, and he also would join Bane in the gym to build up his own muscles again. Physically, he was recovering quickly, with his youth and being in good condition already and also thanks to the doctor and care Ryan had provided. But he was quiet and withdrawn. He knew that here on Jacks’ property he was safe, liked, and he trusted Ryan as much as she trusted him. Who would have flown all the way to Kashmir on just a phone call, not to mention risk her life to get him out and provide proper medical care? No one else that he knew.

All that he could really remember of his life had been a series of one trauma after another, beginning with the murder of his family and then discovering the man who adopted him had led that attack. He had been perfect fodder to be radicalized, perfect fodder for someone like Hilal Kohastani who had then used him, his hatred and thirst for revenge and set him up as a scapegoat to incite a war between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir. There was also Sufi, who he had dreamt – and that was all it had been, a dream – of marrying, who was right now reporting that he a murderer, a terrorist who had planned to destroy both the mosque and temple, and Nilu Khan, the woman who had become his mother, who he had killed with a bomb meant for her husband. And lastly, there was Inayat Khan himself, the man Altaaf had devoted half his life to hating, and only understanding at the end as Khan had opened his eyes to Hilal’s evil intentions, but that was too late, and now this father was also dead, his death falsely attributed to the young Kashmiri.

Those memories still haunted him as he tried to come to terms with everything that had happened. As he attempted to sort through those thoughts and dispel the demons that still invaded his dreams, he prayed. Someone, probably Ryan he thought, had provided him with a prayer mat, and several times a day, he would retreat to the room she had provided for him and prayed. On bended knees, his forehead touching the mat, he would call on Allah for forgiveness, and for peace.

His past wasn’t the only his only concern. Ryan’s generosity and kindness touched him, and how she had helped nursed him back to health. Yes, even though he was sedated and feverish, he could vaguely recollect her holding him and soothing him on the plane. As his health improved, she was always visiting him, spending time with him, and he came to look forward to and treasure those times. Now he was more active, he did see less of her as he divided his time between the gym and prayer, but he did always look forward to mealtimes and seeing her then. There were other times, of course, and while he sensed that there was perhaps a darker side to her and that she had a past that weighed on her also, to him she was the nicest and kindest person he knew.

And that was part of the problem for him. Altaaf was in the country thanks to the Jacks and their influence, but he wasn’t entirely sure if he was in America legally or not. There would come a time when he should no longer impose on Ryan’s kindness and he would have to leave. That made him nervous. Where would – could – he go? Even if he had a passport, he could not return to Kashmir or, probably, even Pakistan. He had no one there anymore, anyway, not even Sufi, whose reports made it quite clear what she now thought of him. Here in America, he didn’t know what would become of him. He had no skills, so he didn’t know what job he could do, or even if he could work, and what if someone looked into his background? While he spoke English well, his most recent schooling had been among the madrassas of Pakistan.

All these things preyed on his mind, and in his prayers, he also asked Allah for guidance.

When Ryan invited him along to the biker bar, he was happy to have the chance to go out with her and see a bit of the real America, and perhaps seeing that would help settle his own doubts and worries, at least for a night. At first he had dressed modestly, in a pair of khaki pants and long sleeved, tan shirt. Clothes very similar to what he used to wear, but what was among the new clothes Ryan had bought him as the only ones he had had been cut off of him. When he came down after dressing and saw Ryan in her low-cut jeans and too tight top that exposed her midriff, he quickly cast his eyes down, an ingrained habit in such a circumstance, but by the end of her explaining exactly what kind of night it would be, he had raised them again. Just in time to see her tuck away the handgun and stiletto. Where was she taking him! Wondering if this was some kind of American tradition, he obediently went back upstairs to change into something she would hopefully find more appropriate. And all the while, he couldn’t get the image of Ryan in such revealing clothes from his mind. Yes, her immodesty surprised him, but he hoped it wasn’t too sinful to have found her very appealing in a quite different way than he already had.

Dressed in a more approving jeans and tight black t-shirt -- still fairly conservative, but it did show off his muscles -- Altaaf loved riding the bike. He’d ridden ones before, but not a Harley, not such a bike of legend, and with Ryan’s arms around him and the wind in his hair, to him that was almost perfection. At the bar, he wasn’t put off at the smell or filth of the place, although the sawdust floor was different, as he had spent much of his most formative years in of the least developed region of Pakistan, but to find a microcosm of it here in America was unexpected.

Oblivious to the way the waitress, and a few of the other women, were eyeing him he sat down with the Coke Ryan had got him, sipping it quietly as his curious gaze took in everything around them from the noisy, less-than-talented band, to the drunks around the pool table letting the conversation about someone he didn’t know float above his head. Then there was the dancing. At first, he was a little stiff, determined not to make a fool of himself for Ryan and following how she danced as it was so different from what he knew, but he soon loosened up and found himself enjoying himself a lot. Dance was always something he could escape into, a world different than the harsh reality he had known in Kashmir. He was lost in this world, having fun, where there was really only Ryan and him (and some quickly deteriorating rock-mix-country music) and unaware that he was attracting attention from other ladies, so Ryan’s kiss came out of nowhere. It took him a few precious moments to overcome his surprise and realize what she was doing, by the time he did he found the kiss very enjoyable, and although he sensed there was something else behind it, he didn’t understand it and didn’t really worry about trying to as he found his mouth responding to hers. Then, too quickly, the kiss was over, leaving him feeling elated and happy to stick with Ryan as she went and played pool.

Mostly, he just watched as Ryan knocked the balls in, aware of the hostile looks some of the men were throwing in his direction. When the confrontation came, Altaaf stiffened and readied himself for inevitable trouble. One thing that he was confident in was his ability to fight. He was concerned about Ryan, unsure whether to protect her or worry about the fact that she had a gun and knife. The change in her eyes went unnoticed, but his eyes widened when she picked up the pool cue, and he finally saw that determined gleam.

You insisted on coming.

He shot her an incredulous glance at that, but his attention quickly returned to the danger. When one of the loud-mouth man’s friends saw Ryan’s attack, he launched himself at what he saw the real cause – after all he must have felt his friend could handle a girl! – and sent a wide, haymaker punch at Altaaf, which he easily blocked and followed up with punch of his own. “I’m not Arab!” It was a little detail considering the general insult meant anyway, and the guy probably had no clue of the double insult. Soon enough, though, he was fighting off three, or more, heavy guys, and for a while, he was able to hold his own against them, thanks to his training and the time he had been spending in the gym, but he was too outnumbered and by the time he realized they’d stopped, he was getting beaten up on pretty badly. At first, he didn’t know why they had stopped, not until he looked around and saw Ryan standing there with her gun pointed at one of the men’s head. Picking himself up, he backed up nearer to her that look in her eyes disturbing him a bit as he recognized it. He wiped blood away from a split lip, and taking the stiletto slowly walked out, keeping an eye out for any other idiot who might fancy having a go.

Then they were back on the bike and speeding away from the bar.

Back at the house, Altaaf spent the night awake. Not that insomnia was any stranger to him, but instead of images of the raid, of Hilal, of Khan, tonight his mind just replayed the events of the night again and again. The Ryan he had gone to the bar with was a totally different Ryan from the one he knew…or thought he knew. He knew she hadn’t lied to him; somehow he could now tell falsehoods, ever since that instant when he realized his adopted father was telling him the truth about Hilal. No, there were no lies, but it was as if Ryan was two different people: the sweet, kind one who had saved his life and nursed him back to health and this wild one who went to a bar with the seeming intent to start a fight and consider that fun, and he had no idea which was the real Ryan. It didn’t change his feelings towards her, but already uncertain of his status and future and still finding his feet so far from everything he had known, this only added to his feeling of instability.

Early the next morning, Altaaf slipped into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt that Ryan had previously, and rather puzzlingly, told him was a ‘wifebeater’ and performed his morning prayers as usual. This morning, however, his mind wasn’t focused, and he really didn’t know how to ask Allah for guidance about Ryan, and as he folded his prayer mat, the rather bitter thought flitted through his mind. God hadn’t exactly shown him any guidance for anything recently. Shuddering at that brief, blasphemous thought, Altaaf pushed it from his mind as he went down to breakfast.




***

Altaaf Khan
Fandom: Mission Kashmir (AU)
Word Count: 2,024
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Altaaf Khan

November 2012

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