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?