"Bus Boy Blues"

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 hums to herself and prepares an order here and an order there. She watches the new employee as he busses the tables. Her eyes follow him as he heads for the kitchen, followed by a loud CRASH as he trips down the stairs again.

She turns and stands in the kitchen door. "Boy!" she snaps. "How many dishes are you PLANNING to replace on your salary?"

Hars Darax starts from sleep as a loud crash is heard nearby. Springing up, he starts to say, "Status report all statio..." he stops short when he realizes he is not on board ship, as in his dream. He runs a hand through his hair and sits back down, surprised his feeble legs could move him so fast. He feels a bit peeved at being woken up.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 listens to the boy stammer a reply, which her question didnt really reqiuire. She sighs deeply and kneels beside him. "You boys get so clumsy in your teen age years." she softens her tone. "Maybe you will gain your grace BEFORE you put me out of business." she begins to help him pick up the plate shards.

Hars Darax gets up wearily and goes to the door, opening it, and looking for Driss, and looking AT her with an unhappy glare.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 tosses the shards in a rubbish bucket and reaches for a mop, just as Hars comes out of the office. She thrusts the mop at the poor native teen. "Clean." she orders with a snap. Then she turnes to Hars. "I'm sorry if this one interrupted your paperwork, love." she says softly. Paperwork has become code for nap over the last couple of weeks.

Hars Darax wants to reach for her. But the boy is nearby. Smiles sleepily, whispers, "I was having a bad dream, he did me a favour, I guess."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 arches a brow at his whispered words,but keeps her game face on as well as her brother. "Now ... go ... oh ... go ... OH! Fold the napkins. You can't POSSIBLY break any." she shakes her head and moves into her office, snagging Har's hand as she does and pulling him in with her.

Hars Darax obediently follows Driss back into the room, arms naturally reaching for her once she stops moving, he says lightly, "I need my morning sweetness."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 listsns tothe door swish shut even as she turns into Har's arms. She stands on her toes for a kiss, then .. "What nightmare? Want to tellme?" she asks, not leaving his arms unless shes ripped away.

Hars Darax looks down to her, very far down, he almost wants to kneel down and hug her that way, he was sure she'd get a kick out of that, but his legs weren't up to it. He shakes his head at her, "It's dark and dreary, as usual. I'm back on the USS Armstrong, and my crew is going mad around me. I am forced to use a phaser on my chief operations officer, who has attacked me."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 sighs. "So less dream and more memory." she reaches to caress his face. "Thats why you've been napping here so often? Not sleeping at home?"

Hars Darax shakes his head, stooping down to brush a kiss on top of her head, "Just don't want to be too far. I know the Colony is relatively safe, but... " he raises his eyebrows, "Plus I get free coffee," he drops another kiss, "Don't I?"

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 grins up at him. "Thank you, Hars." she giggles. "You get whatever you want for free...." her voice drops slightly as she teases him ... or is she?

Hars Darax squeezes her tightly, "Be careful, Lass," he tells her, "Don't give anything away for free, no matter what sobstories they tell. And I'm going to get security to put a call button under the counter." He looks more serious, "Starfleet has enemies, and some... are not so easily detected. Be careful of wolves in sheep's clothing," he looks down to her, "I couldna bear it if something happened to you. Now I found you, I want you to be safe."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 smiles and looks up at him, caresses his face. "I know that. I was joking." she nods. "My family is full of wolvs in sheeps clothing. Remember, my brother is the sweetest, kindest male member of my family. And you know what he is capable of." she moves into him. "I couldn't stand it either." she whispers. "You know ... i think Souley would be jealous. But he isn't."

Hars Darax still holds tight, "Nothing for your brother to be jealous of, surely? Got someone else to watch over you when he's away, like now. No reason at all," he shakes his head, but a vision of Po comes into his mind, and he recalls the Fleet Captain was and is still not very happy about his new romance. "Does he come back soon," he asks.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 nods. "Bu he's been my only protector for almost twenty eight years now ... since ... maybe before we were born." she giggles. "He's distracted. He came back a couple of days ago and ... it's like he's still on N'doto. His head is in the clouds." she smiles softly.

Hars Darax: "Oh," Hars nods slowly. Back two days. That means Poison is back too, and hasn't contacted him. "I think I'm still in the doghouse with Po. She's not talking to me. Not much, anyway." He looks to her again, "I hope you don't mind but... I do miss talking to her sometimes. She was a good friend for a very long time and... it feels strange to have her silent."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 cants her head. "WHy .... ohhhh." she realizes suddenly. "I don't mind your friendship at all. Especially now that I understand it and ...." she looks at him for a long time. "She may be distracted herself." she says, lowering her voice to a whisper. "Souleymane .... he's .... well ... he hasn't been like this with anybody since Kattell ... " she ooks at him, slightly amazed. "She hasn't mentioned the time shes spent with my brother?"

Hars Darax shakes his head, "I knew she was away, and I guess she'd gone to see him, because there was nothing official in the reports. But no, she didn't let me kknow when she'd be back, which is... not what we usually did. So either she's mad at me, or feeling uncomfortable, I don't know which."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 nods. "What SOuleymane has told me ... she is very uncomfortable at what they have become. I think she was sort of thinking it was all for Fukujuso but ... SOuleymane is about to apply to adopt her .. without Poison." he tells her. "Hars ... my brother is in love with her and ... and .. maybe its not a one sided thing. I know he was surprized by her visit to N'doto .... but then he clammed up .. which means .. whatever happened was very private to him."

Hars Darax whistles softly, "All sounds rather dramatic. 'All the world's a play and all the people in it merely players,'" he quotes Shakespeare. "Beware the Ides of March, too," he adds. "I hope the two of them figure it out so I can figure it out. I miss my friend. But I'm glad I've got you," his legs are starting to tremble so he slips around, hopefully taking her with him, so he can perch on the side of the desk.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 moves to the desk and nudges him to take the chair. "She will work it out. I know she is strong. I can feel that about her." she sits on the desk if hes in the chair. "Hars ... SOuleymane is going .... well ... he's really going into the inport/export business." she sounds plain awed at the idea.

Hars Darax takes her advice and sits in the chair, but tries to hold on to her, "Don't go too far away, it's cold," he complains with a grin, "If it's legit then good for him, and it will be good for Po too." He wants to nuzzle his face in her sleeve. At least when he's sitting down she's easier to reach, and he murmurs, "Cuddley."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 schooches to the center of the desk and sits with her legs outside of his. She very primly spreads the materialof her slirt over his legs. "I am your blanket then. To keep you warm." she caresses his face. "It will be. He needs to be legitimate .. not just for Fuku but also ... I mean really ... it would not look good for the Fleet Captains boyfriend to wind up on a civilian prision colony someplace." she scoffs and leans over. "I like this cuddling stuff." she tells him. "I've never done anything like it." she begins to get comfortable when another CRASH sounds from the kitchen. "I'm going to kill him ...." she announces. SHe hops up, kisses Hars quickly and heads out of the room, growling in her native tongue.


"Short Days Riot"

[Ra Wakhashem, First Overseer, Welkin Mid, Takaar]

The riot was over. Five had been stunned and removed to the High. The Water Temple had been cleaned, cobbles brushed, weeping females calmed. The Long Dark was soothing. Best time of year, Short Days. Cold, it was, but better for all. Too bad it got disrupted. 

The Welkin Overseer left the temple. His office was on Mid. He'd prefer to go home for a drink with his feet up, but no joy this night. Elds would want his report at daybreak and they don't wait.

Ra Wakhashem took the Credit from his pocket, placed it in the aperture, heard the beep of acceptance. Took it back, stepped on the pad, and in a moment was in Mid. Walked along the path. Normally it would be busy with people out shopping, eating, resting in the square. Not this night, not now, for he'd ordered all businesses closed when the trouble began. 

In his office, he closed and locked the door, opened the window to the cool air, lit the lamp and sat down. Fumbled in his pockets for a small piece of metal, which, when inserted into his desk, allowed a drawer to open. Inside, a small container. Water. He took it out of the drawer, removing the covering, and took one small sip.

He'd learned since childhood to drink only one mouthful.

Leaning back, swinging his feet up to the old scratched table that served as a desk, he began his report.

"Fellow Nut died noonish in the Highest. Was to fix one Solar Collector that did not move correctly. He stayed too long in the Light. Perished from Heat Atrophy. His family grieved mightily. His Mewet collected all the relatives to complain. Loudly in the mid and low, others joined. Some hid. Some stayed inside. Those with Credits came to the Water Temple. There they talked loud about Water Rights and Work Conditions. Some youngers throw rocks at the Temple and Overseers, then starting a fight. Two Overseers blooded, then we told them to stay back. Five stayed forward, we made them lie down with stunning. They were identified and sent to the High where they will work their Sentence for Disturbance. The Nut family was took home, and an Attendant brought to aid the fellow's Mewet. The Water Temple was cleaned and made straight. All is now well."

Ra carefully locked away the precious liquid, and waited until sun's rising for his replacement. They exchanged pleasantries, Ra told Akhet his report, and went home to his lodgings in the Low.  His work was not always easy or nice. But because of it, his Mewet, his Hemet, and their youngers all had shade, good water, and schooling.


Surprises & Secrets

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 walks around and past the shiny Starfleet place. Something about engineering. She sighs and heads over the bridge, walking slowly. The move didnt take as long as shed thought it would and Souleymane was a wonderful guest but .... she missed the cooking ... she knew she shouldn't have gotten used to it but .. the end of the cafe meant the end of a lot of things. She spots Hars and moves up to him, reaching out a hand, but hesitantly. Hed no doubt talked to the Kap ... maybe it was more than just the cafe shed lost .. maybe it was Hars as well.....

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 stops near him, her hand still outstretched .. almost touching him, but afraid in many ways. "Hello, Hars." even her voice sounds down .. depressed.

Hars Darax: Hars waits outside the building he's rented. Worked some hours to get it cleaned up and ready for his surprise. Turns to watch Driss walking towards him. Sun gone out? Moves towards her, takes her hand in his, smiles warmly to her, "Got something to show you."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 smiles a little as he takes her hand. Maybe she hasnt lost EVERYTHING. "Alright .... " she agrees and holds onto his hand, swallowing hard. "Souley has Fuku ... so I have plenty of time." her voice drops, as if she no longer knows what to do with her free time.

Hars Darax looks down at her, glad to see the smile begin. "Come this way." Leads her along the walkway. Turns, pulling her gently, takes her through the door and into the room. Set up with tables and chairs. Even menu's, laboriously copied from what she'd done in the garden. "There," he says, letting her hand go, moving in front of her, turning, and opening his arms wide, "this, is yours." Grins at her.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 sees that it is a cafe ... that much is obvious. Maybe Hars had found her a job. That would be nice but ... she really preferred the way she was doing it. It gave her purpose. As they go inside she sees the menu and stares ... his hand drops hers and she listens to him. "Mine ...." she blinks. "I ... you? You mean ... mine?" she raises her eyebrows, but looks a little like a kid who is afraid that a candy will be snatched away from her.

Hars Darax laughs out loud at the look on her face. "It's all yours, love." Moves towards her, just closing the gap between them, looking down at her again, reaching a hand to cup her chin if she'd allow it. "Glad to see you smile again." Then he steps back and gestures toward the kitchen, "Better get cracking, I'm hungry," winks at her.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 's jaw drops in his hand. "Mine?" she blinks .... and then blinks again .... and then begins to cry. She hugs him tightly. "Oh Hars! Really?" she begins to really look about the place. "Oh you got my MENU!" she squees, still clearly crying and she vanishes into the back. "Oh! The KITCHEN!" she squeals and then a soft sound .. the electronic door opening. "Oh ..... Oh ... HARS!" and she begins to cry. Hard. In the office. Women!

Hars Darax accepts her hug with a big smile. Follows her as she dashes into the kitchen, finds the office. Tears are running down her face. It strikes him that she's never looked more beautiful. Tremendously glad her woebegone face has disappeared. Vows never to see it again if he can help it. Walks up behind her, as she cries. "Hush now, mo chridhe. I thought you'd be happy," he says lightly.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 turns and finds he's followed her. She turns and goes to him. "Happy?" she asks, as if surprised. "More than that." and impulsively she takes his head in both of her hands and kisses him, deeply if allowed. "I love it .. I love you!" and suddenly her face registers shock at the worsds that had come so unbidden from her mouth. She backs off a few steps, drops her head and bows a bit. "I ... forgive me.." she murmurs, flustered. "I didn't mean .. I mean .. I meant .. I .... I ... I .. know theres ... the Kaptain ..." she whispers. She hadn't meant to let this happen. To get between a man and his ... whatever Poison Toocool was to him .. even if she did know the goings on between her and her twin. Souley had told her .. almost everything. But now she is embarrassed . as she worries about loving an unattainable man.

Hars Darax: Surprised. Chuckles to himself even as she kisses him. Sweet. So sweet. Makes a sound in his throat. Love? Loves what he's done, an expression? Or more? Examines her face. She backs away. Didn't mean to say it, then? Clears his throat, a bit flustered himself. The simplicity of her. "Poison knows," he says in a gruff voice. He's hurt Po. "I told her about you, so don't worry. Shake off those dark worries." He moves towards her, and opens his arms to her. Wants to comfort her fears.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 looks up slowly as he speaks. She knows ... "You ... told her ...." she says, cautiously. She walks into his arms. "I ... didn't. I didnt' want to love ... someone I couldn't have ... and .. me ... my .. darkness ...." she bites her lip. She does not want to make the time worse but ... if she puts it off ... the pain would be worse. "My ... husband ... I .. should tell you the rest ..." she bites her lip and again begins to cry .. joy mingled with terror.

Hars Darax takes her into a warm, long embrace. His lips by her ear, he whispers, "shhhh mo chridhe. hush now." Couldn't bear to see her crying. "Don't let the darkness take over." Brushes his lips on her neck, holding her close, feeling her tears on his skin.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 still cries. "Qinisela .... he forced me ... I ... he isnt who I wanted. I didnt know who I wanted but not him ...." she buries her face in his chest. "He drowned ..." she considers Souleymanes harsh words .. hard but true ... but ... "because I drowned him ... to be free .. to find Souleymane." and she begins to shake with her tears of grief and guilt that she never allowed herself to feel before now.

Hars Darax stills for a moment. A bit shocked. Loosens his grip, but only to bring her to the couch, inviting her to sit down with him.

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 allows herself to be led tot he couch, still crying. "I didnt want anything to .. start ... until you knew ... I am an animal." she sobs. "You can't love an animal." she bemoans

Hars Darax draws her close to him again. Sighs to himself. She's clearly held this inside for the years between. Perhaps only himself and her brother know the truth. Souley's told him how women are oppressed in their culture. He can't judge her. He can't applaud what she did, either. "Hush, he says, raising a hand to brush away tears with his thumb, "I'm glad you told me. No secrets between us," he says, his eyes serious. "No matter what you do, you tell me everything, I do the same."

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 nods and begins to calm. It's off her chest. "No secrets. I swear." she swears to him and she means it. She hesistes .. leans into him a bit. "This place s so beautiful." she whispers. Then she sits up. "Did you spend money? Latinum? I paid the Kap for the use of her land. Two bars of latinum. I can pay the rent here too and pay you back besides." the words still rush out. She does not want to be beholden, obviously.

Hars Darax looks to her, "I mean everything, Driss. If you are attracted to someone, you tell me. If you feel sad, tell me. Ifyou argue with Souleymane, you tell me. We have to be open with each other. Warts and all." Shakes his head, "No paying me back. It's a gift. But the rent will be due at the end of this month. You can pay that. And I expect to pay for my meals," he grins to her, "no free meals. For anyone. Or you'll fail." More serious, "Po and I, we were companions. We spent most of her free time together. I understood her responsibilities. She helped me heal. There was nothing more between us. We love each other. We will stand by each other. But we were never lovers. Do you understand?"

Idrissa.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 nods. "I am attracted to you, Hars." she tells him, honestly. She looks as if she will balk at the idea of not paying him back and paying for his own meals. "Well. .... alright ...." she hedges. And then she listens. "You and Poison are like Souleymane and I ... well close like that." she nods. "I understand." she searches his face. "So ... perhaps ... if youd like a lover ... I .. would be ... her." she lifts her head. "I am free to choose my lover now." she announces, almost defiantly. It is not something shed ever be able to do before. On Earth. Then she pats his hand. "And the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." she announces and stands. "I will feed you and you will be the first paying customer here at ... The Cafe."


Sizing Up

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 watches first Po and then Idrissa vanish .. one to duty she'd tried to avoid and the other to begin immediately showing Fukujuso the place. Driss DID have a slight smirk when she left. Both humored and worried. He was left with the man ... so he turns to him and folds his arms, not realizing Driss had done the exact same thing when shed first met him. "So you are Hars....." he rumbles. No smile, no expression of any kind to speak of.

Hars Darax looks towards the brother. Seems very... taciturn, compared to his twin. No smiles or laughs. At least not now. "I am," he says dryly. Folds the towel he's holding, puts it on the table beside him. "Hars Darax," introduces himself, steps forward, putting out a hand.

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 watches him. Sizes him up. It is a habit formed long long ago. After a moment, he takes the hand in a firm grip and shakes it once. "And of course I am Souleymane Senghor. Idrissa's twin." he knows how ironic fraternal twins can look. "She likes you, I understand." his eyes narrow slightly. Suspiscion, perhaps even sibling jealousy. For the first time in a long time another man has Driss's affection.

Hars Darax returns the firm grip and then drops his hand. Thankfully it's only his legs that are weak. THey're aching. He won't let on. "Pleased to meet you, Driss speaks of you often." Polite chat, called for, eh.

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 nods in approval. "She would. We've been seperated for so long." he grumbles. "I was worried about her here." he glances around the obviously harmless place. "Until she met you and you started spending time together." he nods at the table. "Lets sit and talk." he suggests. For him it is a way of saying he trusts him enough not to NEED to be standing to attack.

Hars Darax leans against the table. Bandied words with the best, he has. A suspicious brother no different. Diplomacy required. Souleymane wants to sit and talk? "Happy to" he grabs a chair, grunting despite himself as he folds himself into it. "She's wonderful," simply. That's her to a T. "I wouldna see any harm come to her."

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 sits, noting the grunt, but saying nothing. "Despite her family, I agree." he watches the man. "I am glad to know that. Not everyone can be trusted. She seems to trust you." he inhales and exhales slowly. "She told you about her past?" he wonders.

Hars Darax nods, moves his legs under the table, stretches them in relief. Shakes his head slightly, "Can't say anything to prove myself to you. Words mean nothing. Time and experience tell the truth." Calm, as usual, but decisive. "She shared some, yes. Enough for me to know, she'd been battered and bruised. Yet somehow, she... still smiles."

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 arches both brows. "Truth." he pronounces his statement about proving himself. "Battered and bruised is a bit of an understatement. But she can see the positive and lets the sun shine through her eyes. She says we are a world. She is the day and I am the night. But she doesn't make it sound like a bad thing." the ghost of a grin touches his lips. He leans forward and dangles his hands between his legs. Very casual. "Is there a reason you would WANT to prove yourself to me?" he asks, as if asking if he'd like come tea. "Besides the fact that Driss IS very old fashioned. We were raised in a very old fashioned environment. Dark jungles of Africa. Where her closest male relative can dictate every move she makes." he pauses. "And she will obey him." meaning her twin. He already knows her attraction and strongly suyspects his. Now Hars probably knows too.

Hars Darax fingers a forgotten spoon. Eyes Souley as the man leans forward. Shrugs, "You said 'not everyone can be trusted.'" Listens. Shakes his head, "I'm an old fashioned man myself. But not in that way," he gestures with a spoon. "I don't give orders. Not anymore. If - and it's a big if," he points out, "she wants me in her life, she'll be my equal, not my slave."

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 looks at him and the spoon he wields. His eyebros arch ... and then higher. Finally he chuckles. It's only a bit dark or that may just be because his voice is so deep. "Males and females are not equal. Not on a genetic level, at any rate. She will never be as strong as you and you can never bring forth a life from your womb." he tells this enlightened ex-Starfleet. He straightens. "And that 'if' isn't as big as you seem to think it is. But even if it was, Driss would not be anyone;s slave. I made sure of that a long time ago." he announces, dismissing the whole slavery analigy away with his hand like a bothersome fly.

Hars Darax: "Not going to debate male and female genetics. It's too... myopic, to think gender affects ability. What you say might be partially true of humans, but... throughout the galaxy, there are so many variations. It's limited to think of him and her. I believe we are more than the sum of our parts. Driss is a bright spirit in the dark skies. I'd honor that, whether it's as friend or.. more."

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 nods slowly. "We were born and raised on Earth. I didn't see my forst non-human until I was in my teens, working with my father and brothers. Driss didnt meet her first non human until she met ..." he pauses and then continues. "one I brought into our village." he inhales and exhales slowly. "But I care about very few beings. My sister is one. She is a bright spirit. I'll do no less now than I did as a boy to KEEP her that way." he closes his eyes and sighs, half grinning. "No, I know he is not." he whispers so softlyt Hars may miss it.

Hars Darax looks to him. His jaw works a little. Breathing deep, he leans forward, "Be careful with Po, please. You don't know her as I do. She's been... badly scarred." He sits back, "She wouldna say it, but I read between the lines. Unusual for her to.. take time away. There's something," he studies Souley's face.

Souleymane.Senghor @hypergrid.org:8002 's jaw drops slightly, registering genuine shock at the sudden revelation from Hars. He recovers quickly, but likely not quickly enough. The man took him completely by surprise. He's sharp, this Hars. "Yes. There IS something." he agrees, aloud. "But ...." he pauses and looks directly at Hars, into his eyes even if allowed. "My feelings for Poison are probbaly identical to yours about Idrissa." he stands slowly. "If not stronger." he nods. "I should get back to her and Fukujuso now." he wants to escape before he betrays more than he already has. And hes revealed more to Hars than he'd planned.

Hars Darax watches the man stand up. He can't rise yet, his legs won't allow it. He says, "Souleymane," with a nod of farewell.


The Gardener

Hars Darax sleeps late. Awakes to hear the birds greeting the dawn. The sun's already over the horizon. Stretches his arms, reaching outside the coverlet, feels the cold air on his skin. The fire is out and he is tempted to remain in his warm bed, and let the world go to hell. But mother nature has her demands. He tosses on some warmer clothes, shivering and shhhing through his teeth as he gets heavy socks and shoes on his bare feet. Outside, leaving the door ajar, moving away from the house into the shadows.

He reappears, carrying some wood.  Gets into the house and works on the stove, lighting the fire, getting it cackling, feeding it slowly while he sits on the old stool. As the flames grow, he watches them dance, and thinks about the light in the eyes of the wee girl called Idrissa, who has come to stay on the Colony Commander's land, in the Healing House.

They'd been spending time together. He breaks some twigs and shoves them in the stove, thinking of the picnic yesterday, and how they'd fallen asleep so comfortably, so naturally, in each other's arms after just talking.  He'd told her a bit about the past.

Back and forth to Pinastri he'd been, a few times over past four years or so.  First trip was a long one. Six months, to bring the fleet assigned to Astraios Sector, from Delta to Gamma, because some of the civilian transports and smaller vessels could not handle transwarp. Now, with the shipyards here, everyone was getting newer models, but he had to admit he liked the older Galaxy class.  When they upgraded the Armstrong to Celestial class... she just didn't feel the same.

Not why he left though. It was that last mission. Last time. Never forget the look in the eyes of his crew, malevolent and determined. Yes, they weren't themselves. Controlled by non-corporeal entities. If not stopped, he believed they would have taken over the Sector and destoyed most of the sentient life, either using them as feed or for their strange genetic experiments. Thankfully Vulcans and other species with telepathic strength were able to resist the Spouwwqna. How he'd managed to stay free of them, he didn't know... unless they deliberately enjoyed torturing him. By the time his remaining crew were rescued, he'd lost hundreds.

When he got well enough, he wrote a personal letter to each family.  Took him days to get it done, between naps and physiotherapy. He wouldn't let anyone else do it. 'It was the last thing I could do for 'em,' he says outloud to the stove. He finally closes the firedoor and sets the kettle on the hob.

They'd refitted his ship, but when it was ready, he stood back and watched Po take it for a spin. He declined to go. He couldna bear to be aboard, and remember. When he finally got out of sickbay, he accepted the offer of a house in Po's garden, and the job of caring for her plants and flowers when she was on duty, which was almost all the time these days.

'Workin her to the bone,' he mutters, preparing his morning coffee, and digging in the cupboard for some fresh rolls. A replicator sits in the corner, he'd use it if need be, but he likes the real thing, as much as Driss.

He smiles, thinkin of her brightness. He'd wondered if the darkness in him would be too much for her, but from all she'd said, although she was young in his eyes, she'd been through enough. He was amazed at her strength, to smile and laugh, to joke and be charming, to have so much energy, after the events that brought her to Astra.

He frowns, thinking of their conversation yesterday, and knowing he has to deal with Po.  He remembers too, something strange that Driss had said, about knowin Po through visions from her brother?  Why exactly would the brother be spendin time with Po? He was just there to help find the other civilians kidnapped by slavers....  Rather odd too, this connection between the twins. But he'd seen all kinds in his work. A bit Betazed-ish, he guessed.

Back to Po. He needed to tell her he'd met someone, but that didn't mean all those quiet dinners in the gardens or morning walks didn't amount to anything. They often chatted late into the night about her responsibilities and decisions. They'd never... gone beyond that, first because he was healing and after, well... she was an amazing creature with a huge heart and enormous responsibility, it just felt wrong to try to change their close friendship into something else. He'd stand by her through thick and thin though and Driss needed to know that if him n her were to be more.

But would Po be... okay with him also having someone else, if it turned out that way?

The empty house has no comment on his musings, so he tidies away his breakfast, and gathers his tools. The garden needed setting rights. Before noon, preferably, eh?


Someone to watch over me...

Hars Darax smiles to himself as he goes over, for the tenth time, what he has packed and placed out, for this little picnic of his. Hands in his pockets, he whistles lightly, eager to see her, but aware there is something in the back of his mind.

Idrissa.Senghor walks along to the spot, trying hard not to pick anything along the way. She can finally actually look at the place. She sees Hars and waves, pulling up her long skirt a bit to jog towards him.

Hars Darax turns as he hears someone walking, and a smile spreads the width of his face as he sees it is her, and he waves back to her, walking towards her, reaching out a hand in case she needs it, "Hello, Spring," he jokes

Idrissa.Senghor doesnt need it but takes his hand anyway. "Spring?" she asks. "That is not what my name means." she chukles to herself."But it is a beautiful day."

Hars Darax wants to pull her hand gently through his, but allows her to take the lead, "It's the best kind of day, rain fallin in the early mornin, sun breakin out over the blossoms later." He turns to point with his free hand, "we could sit over there, it's a bit of a walk."

Idrissa.Senghor smiles softly. "It is good growing weather, for sure." she agrees. "Lets go ..." she tightens her grip on his hand slightly. "Lead the way, Hars."

Hars Darax leads the way to the blanket he has placed by a small pond, "I made this area myself," he looks around at the rushes and bushes and flowers. It's near the ocean but set back a little to be out of the wind." He turns to look at the pond, her hand warm in his, and adds, without looking at her, "I haven't known you very long, but, I thought you would like this."

Idrissa.Senghor looks around the area and smiles at it. She looks at him. "You did? Oh its beautiful Hars." she smiles. "I do like it." she moves towards the blanket and then back at him. "I like it but you aren't giving it to me? Are you? I think I will have my own house, I hear. Bt I would live under this pretty tree is you wanted me to." she is half teasing ... and half not.

Hars Darax smiles and lets go of her hand as she moves towards the blanket he's set out. "I'm glad you like it," he laughs a little, "might get a little cold under that tree at night. I like the nighttime, even when it's stormy, it feels... calmer, somehow. Daylight can bring too many problems, and work," he jokes, sitting down on the blanket.

Idrissa.Senghor comes and sits with him. "I love the night as well." she agrees. "But it can be so dangerous. It feels safe here for a maiden to explore, which I have been." she grins. "DOn't tell my brother. He is ver progressive .. in many ways ...." she chuckles a bit, almost a giggle. "Just none of those ways involve me."

Hars Darax feels a little unsure about this brother she mentions. Taking an apple, he bites into it, crunching. It's sweet. After a minute he swallows, and says, "Despite what you say about it, at heart your brother must be a good man." He turns to look at her, "rough maybe, because he, and you, had to survive in a hard universe. I'm glad he watches over you," he says, "I'm glad you have him." He looks out towards the ocean, knowing there's more he'd like to say, but reminding himself to take his time.

Idrissa.Senghor nods. "Oh he is a wonderful man. But ... he is my twin. I tease him about it, but he has been protecting me .... forever. Taken beatings for me and everything. Even when we were very little children."She takes a bunch of grapes and grins at them, taking one and chewing ... swallowing she continues. "He always has ... He even stayed in the Alpha quadrant so he could be close to me. Then ... the worst happened and he had to leave me. Then I had to watch out for myself. And have done a good job, I think." she smiles. She turns and eyes him, eating another grape. "He will think that YOU are my guardian now. And he is right ... well .. you keep an eye on me here ..." she shrugs and eats a few more grapes looking into the reeds.

Hars Darax finishes his apple and tosses the core into the bushes. It's organic, it will feed the ground. Taking beatings for her? What the hell kind of life, he turns to look at her as he frowns, thinking of what she's been through. "I'm glad you're here, I don't like to think of you alone in the cosmos." As she mentions him being her guardian, he reaches out his hand towards hers, putting his on the blanket near hers, looking at her face, "I'd like to watch over you, and I will as long as you are here," he says softly in his warm voice, "but... you need to know some things."

Idrissa.Senghor brings her attention out of the reeds when he speaks. "I didnt liek the idea either, btu I had to leave Earth ...." she places her hand beside his and sort of hooks her thumb around his. She cants her head looking at him. "What things? I can also share." she volunteers ....

Hars Darax looks to her, "I seem to have, fallen into the habit of thinking of you when I wake up everyday," he confesses, "is it because you are here, and close to me? Is it because the way you feed everyone, including me, is so sweet," he smiles, looking down at their hands, "I'm not sure yet, but you need to know... I have had a pretty bad experience, which is why I am retired, and," he hestiates, feeling a sudden chill in the air, "Po... she saved me. In more ways than you might think."

Idrissa.Senghor listens to him. Lets him finish but does not move her hand. "You mentioned Po before." she says softly. "She is a wonderful person ... I ..." she bites her lip. "My brother and I have a ... connection .. even when we are not together. So i have probably seen Po ... through my brothers visions." she brushes her thumb against his. "She saved your body ... and your spirit, it seems like." she brushes thumb against thumb. "Perhaps once you thought of her every morning?" she pauses, still massaging his thumb with hers. "Perhaps you still do?" she whispers.

Hars Darax feels her touch. Sighing he says, "my ship was on a mission, and somehow this... entity was able to take over my crew and... we ended up doing some... terrible things. THe Spouwwqna made us put most of the crew in stasis pods... and then.. forced some of my crew to do experiements on their friends." His throat gets tight, "and I tried to stop them and," he goes very still, "they turned on me."

Idrissa.Senghor listens but doesnt even seem to stiffen at his memories. "They turned on you and ... that is how you got hurt? Are you retired because your body or because of your mind?" she considers. "I think we have all done horrible things...." she whispers, only stopping gthe thumb massage, to place her hand over his.

Hars Darax looks up at the sky, "probably both. I couldn't walk for awhile, they weren't sure if I ever would. But having them turn on me..." he shakes his head, "I know in my mind, it wasn't them. But, if in my heart I keep seeing the look on those faces... of anger and evil.. and I," he says nothing more for a moment, his jaw working

Idrissa.Senghor nods and massages his hand, not really thinking about it. "But they were truly good inside." she murmurs. "It would be much better if they were truly evil and you had to .... do what you needed to do. I know."

Hars Darax says on a breath, "I lost over half... my crew to those creatures." he rubs his free hand over his face, "I just couldn't go back, even if they said I could, I couldn't face that possibility again. Ever." He turns to her, "I'm not really that old, but I've left Starfleet and my career. I'm better in the garden, than on the bridge, now." He wants to play with her fingers.

Idrissa.Senghor listens. still sort of playing with his hand. "I understand that, completely." she tells him. She takes his hand and lifts it, putting her free hand under it, her palm against his. "You have to be where you feel safe. For you that is in a garden. And I must admit I am glad for that much. You make me feel safe. No one but SOuleymane has ever done that before. Certainly not my husband." she sighs deeply and looks at their hands.

Hars Darax smiles and looks to her, "I hope I haven't ruined our day with my gloomy story," he quips, but keeps his hand between hers, "thanks for listening, and understanding." After a moment he asks, "You were married?" He doesn't know why he's surprised... maybe she told him already but his mind has been so full of himself, he chuckles slightly at that, and then adds, "I'm glad you feel safe with me."

Idrissa.Senghor grins. "Believe it or not .. I've heard worse..." she begins before he goes on with his question. "I am a widow. Still a maiden." her head lifts in pride. "He ... drowned .. trying to consumate our union." she frowns. "My husband .... he knew I would never marry him willingly. So he found a way to get Souleymane off of Earth ... far enough away that we could not communicate .. through that wormhole as I understand it now. Then he set our tribe back centuries ... arranged our marriage ...." her voice is torn between anger and horror and .. something else. She swallows and leans forward. "After the wedding ... I told him that I wanted to become his in the water .... and then ..." she hesitates and takes out a gigantic part of the story .. "He drowned." she finishes that part. "I got on a ship as fast as I could. To DS9 to find SOuleymane .. he was all I had left." her voice is shaking a bit and she is blinking.

Hars Darax frowns as he listens to her tell the story of her marriage. Her voice trembled as she speaks and he reaches for her, wanting to comfort her, but not make her uncomfortable, he just holds out his arms and waits for her to decide. "How horrible for you."

Idrissa.Senghor allows the embrace ... wants it ..needs it. "I want it to be the end." she whispers. "I've fought ... for so long." she sighs and leans into him. "You are such a comfort." she looks at him, as if amazed. "Are you human? Or another race that just looks human?" she wonders as if this would explain how comfortable she feels aroundhim.

Hars Darax puts his face in the crook of her neck and blows softly, hoping to make her smile, and he says, "I'm all man, or what's left of'em after what he's been through, eh." He lifts his head and smiles to her, "that's enough of the past, eh, now is now and now is all we have, let it all go and be here, breathing the sea air and smelling the blossoms and the lovely scent of you too, all spicey and sweet. What's for supper?"


Much later, Hars awoke. Sun going down. Alone on the blanket, too. But she had been there. He could still feel her warmth, in his arms. They'd only chatted, well... shared both of them, about the past. And held each other for a while.  The sun had been warm in this sheltered bower, and lulled them to sleep after the pain of revealing their stories.

He winced as he stood up. "Ground don't make a good bed," he started to pack up the remnants of the picnic. Although part of him was elated to find this sweet girl interested in him, the serious part of him, the stiff and proper part of him, the old Starfleet Captain part of him, asked him what he was doing. 'What about Po,' said his conscience. It didn't feel right to be happy about Driss when he might make Po sad.

Not that they'd ever made any promise, or been anything more than good friends. But, when she was home and free, she was always there. He expected too, when he got inside, there'd be a message on his PADD from her.

He tossed the blanket over his shoulder and picked up the basket, limping slowly in the cool air, avoiding the horses as he went. "Smells like rain," he said out loud. One of them nickered and he tugged through the basket, locating an apple and tossing in onto the grass before turning and moving towards his wee house.

"Gotta talk to Po. When she's back home."


The way to a man's heart...

 Idrissa.Senghor heads for the greenhouse. Some of the cuttings have been growing well. She spots him and her face lights up. "Hars! You are well enough to be walking!" she takes a couple of tentative steps towards him, her hands outstretched.

Hars Darax walks through the hedge, carry the small basket he hopes she might enjoy. He feels a little shy, actually, and smiles to himself. Suddenly she is there, and moving towards him, he looks to her, 'Hello,' he says warmly, 'nice to see you.'

Idrissa.Senghor moves to him and pauses to look him up and down .. a bit more like a mother hen than any sort of nurse. "You look well." she announces. "Are you sure you are strong enough to get out of bed now?" she sees the basket but ignores it, concentrating on him.

Hars Darax looks down at her bright face and smiles again, "I have been out walking, it feels good to be out and about. I... went into my herb garden... I thought you might like some things to add to your soups or stews." He gestures to the basket with a free hand. It has several local herbs in it. Then he adds, "Not that there's anything wrong with your cooking... your soup was delicious, I'm sure it helped me feel better almost right away!"

Idrissa.Senghor smiles and takes a look inthe basket, still in his hand. "Ohhhh ..." she pulls ouit a leaf and inhales it deeply .... and then another. She nods. "Ah these will help me more. But thank you for the compliment. Now we both feel better." she puts a third herb to her nose. "Do you eat meat Hars? I know some here do. A few have come here and I feed them,."

Hars Darax allows her to take the basket. He smiles when she says they both feel better, and reaches his free hand toward her, perhaps touching a shoulder if allowed, feeling warm towards her. He nods in answer to her question, "I do eat a little meat now and then," but not when Po is around."How is everything with you? You look busy, I hope I am not interrupting?" He sees she has set up some tables in the gazebo where they had had their cake the first time they met. "Still playing sentry duty?" he jokes.

Idrissa.Senghor glances at and smiles at the hand on her shoulder, but does nothig to break the contact. She is comfortable with him after her little stint as his nurse. "Ah yes ... Po does not eat it and I plan to not make any for her, but in my family we eat meat ... fish and birds .. and seafood when the men got to the coast." she giggles a bit. "Well I stop to talk to those who walk on these lands ... and if the are hungry I will feed them .. and if they are not I tell them it is private property and they go away." she chuckles. "I had not thought of myself as a sentury. That really is for men."

Hars Darax shakes his head at her last statement, "We have many female tactical and security officers in Starfleet. I would not want to cross any of them," he laughs slightly, "something smells good... are you cooking outside? That lovely smell can't come from a replicated dish..." adding, "I had heard, from my occasional visitor, Nurse Anjar, that you were feeding everyone," he smiles again, feeling lighter and even a bit happy for the first time in a long long time.

Idrissa.Senghor cants her head. "SOuleymane told me something like that." she shrugs. "I could only protect my loved ones. My brother or whoever else came along..." she seems to darken a bit and turn. "WOuld you like me to fix you something? I went fishing this morning ....." she coaxes him.

Hars Darax watches her, "Souleymane?" he can't remember who that is. He then moves from beside the greenhouse to the walkway, trying to see what she's done... when she invites him to have something to eat, he grins, "Gonna feed me up, are ya?" He looks down at his torso, "too skinny?" he winks, and then begins to walk along the path, until he sees the fire. Lord knows what Po will think of all this, but he says nothing about that to Driss. Let the girl find her place. He turns to look at her, "how are you liking it here?"

Idrissa.Senghor nods. "My twin brother." she tells him. Then she nods. "You have been ill and food will help you be strong." she moves to the small little firepit she made. "I .... I like it here but ..." she shrugs and nods to the healing house. "Thisis not my house .. it is only a healing place." she swallows and concentrates on a small pot of stew already working on the fire. "I have no home. But I do like it here. If I cannot find a home, I suppose I can go live with SOuleymane. He lives on a moon he says is not too far from here. The same quadrant, at least." she begins to tear up one of the herbs he gave her and adds it tot he little fish stew.

Hars Darax listens as she tells him, his face relaxing when it appears Souleymane is a brother. She bends over a pot, adding some herbs. "Smells good," he repeats, frowning slightly as she talks about moving someplace else. He moves towards the fire, rubbing his hands to warm them. He says slowly, "I can't speak for Poi... the Colony Commander, she was thinkin of you when she made this though. There'll surely be a place for you," adding, "unless you want to be with your twin."

Idrissa.Senghor kneels before the fire, stirring. "It will be good." she speaks with complete confidence. "Ihope there will be a place for me ... and ... a child." she shrugs. "Not my child. Like an adopted niece." she picks up a bowl and fills one ... then does the same for another. "Souleymane will want me safe .. his moon would not be safe enough for me ... he does not like Starfleets but he knows I wil be safe with them." Then she lifts the lid off of a heavy looking put that seems to contain bread, which she takes to the table. She cuts the bread into eight slices and spoons one out for him. "Eat ... it is a fish stew and a grain bread." she sits and serves herself some cornbread like stuff.

Hars Darax continues to stand by the fire. The air is chilly in the early spring. She kneels down near him, tending her fire and her pots. He frowns slightly, "doesn't like Starfleet, eh.. I suppose many don't for all kinds o reasons. It's good n bad, for sure. Most I know in it would give their lives to have peace or to save an innocent." He shrugs alittle, "I'm well out of it," but his voice tightens. He does not want to go there. He follows her to the table. "Your command is my wish," he winks to her, sitting down and taking some bread to try a bite.

Idrissa.Senghor tastes her bread and nods in approval of her own cooking. "He is suspected of being a smuggler or a pirate." she scoffs, but it is half hearted. She knows what her brother is. What all the males in her family have been. "But he will also save the innocent. He fought for my virtue all of my life. Q had to lure him away before ...." she suddenly cuts herself off and stares into her fish stew. "Is it good to you?" she asks, before digging into it herself.

Hars Darax takes some bread and slops it into the soup, bringing it to his lips and tasting the fish stew, then grabbing a spoon to stuff more in his mouth, 'hmmmmmm," he says nothing more until he has finished the bowl entirely. Then he sits back and looks up at her, "Po... Fleet Capt..." shrugs at ceremony, "Po wouldna have him on her bridge if she felt he was truly bad. How kin he be if you're his sister?" he grins, looking at her downturned face, hoping for a smile.. he looks down at his empty bowl and adds, "I guess I mighta liked it."

Idrissa.Senghor grins at the compliment and looks up when the stew is complete. "A good appetite and good company." she all but cheers. She reaches for a pitcher and pours him a drink. "I found some berries ... I hope you find them sweet enough." she pours for herself. "My twin ... he is a good man ... but he is also what he was made by our family." she shrugs and is glad he opted to ignore her slip about Qinisela. "He would never been good enough for Starfleet ... he sometimes acts only for himself or his loved ones. But ... sometimes he does not."

Hars Darax takes the drink she offers and sips. He smiles back at her, glad to see her face brighten. "THere's... lots to tell 'bout the past, for both of us," he says, "but, today, the air is fresh and cool, you're like a flower bloomin in the spring, and what you made here," lookin around, "that's creative and goodhearted," he drinks again, "I cant say what 'good enough for Starfleet' is. I... well let's just say I wansna a shiny new recruit."

Idrissa.Senghor nods as she drinks. "In time we will learn more and more." she suggests. "And thank you so much. You have beautiful words inside of you .... thank you for sharing them." she shrugs. "People must be fed and /..... I do not like replicated food. I havent had much ...but what I had tastes ... replicated." she shrugs slightly. She considers. "Tarnish is better than perfect polish, I say. I have more faith in the tarnished than th blindingly sparkling ... and so I am glad you are not perfect."

Hars Darax nods to her. "You got your own wisdom, girl. Pretty strong too, far as I can see, to lived what you've lived and come out the end with a smile and a loaf of bread," he sneaks another slice and folds it into his mouth with a grin. "Replicators is a means to an end. You're on the tin can, weeks at a time, real food goes short sometimes." He rises, stretching a little. "I'm goodly tired now," he smiles to her, then bends down and whispers to her ear, "Blindingly sparkling describes you to a T." His hand might touch her shoulder. Then he steps back, "Thanks for the stew."

Idrissa.Senghor lifts her shoulder into his touch laughing at his whispered words. "You may come and be sparkled whenever you want Hars. I would appreciate it." she glances across the field and sees a couple of people coming. "More mouths to feed, I hope. You go and rest and we will definately tlk more my friend."

Hars Darax smiles to her and turns, walking slowly away over the lawn to his cottage, where he will lay on his bed with a silly grin on his mouth as he falls asleep.