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Colliding Worlds

Discussion in 'Mixed-genre & Uncategorized' started by Silence, May 28, 2017.

  1. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Ehud finished another long day at work and he figured he would go home and get changed into something nice before Sien got out of class. Then he and Sien could go over to Illya and Kalizda's to get her and have a date. It was a bit of a debate to see if Sien could stay with Kalizda and Illya, but at the same time he knew that his son would want to go on the date too. If he didn't let Sien go it would turn into a very long series of questions when he picked the boy back up. With a sigh Ehud stepped up to the front door of the little house and he turned the knob.

    As the door swung open he froze. The smell of cleaning solutions and multiple sprays wafted out the door and he blinked in shock. Nothing had looked this clean in years. Not that he hadn't mopped the floor since Haza died, but he'd never got around to all the cleaning at the same time before. Gradually his gaze drifted over to where Priscilla was napping on the couch. There were a few papers that had slid from her lap and landed on the floor. Her head was leaning back on the couch and her mouth was open. One of the first things he thought of was rather boyish. Part of him wondered if she'd wake up if he poked her lip with his finger, but he decided to just let her rest for now. Stepping into the house he tried to be as quiet as possible as he wandered back to his bedroom to find something besides his fatigues to wear.

    Ehud barely made it to his room and he looked back across the house to see the little muddy spots from his boots. There was a clear track across the wood floors from the front door to where he was standing. Frowning and making a silent "Oooh," he scrambled to get his shoes off and then made a quick socked slide and dash for the kitchen. All the towels were nice and clean. That created a small dilemma that he quickly solved by choosing the oldest one and then went through the house wiping up all the mess before he tossed his boots outside on the porch with a thump. Cringing a little he glanced behind himself to make sure Priscilla hadn't woke up yet.

    Skating across the cleaned floors again in his socks he slid into his room and shut the door quietly. It wasn't till he was in the room that he noticed all his clothes were gone. He didn't have a single thing to wear. Out of sheer desperation he looked under his bed and then decided that he actually had to go ask Priscilla where his clothes went. Slipping back into the living room he sat gingerly on the edge of the couch and set a hand on Priscilla's shoulders. "Hey..." As she woke he grinned. "Uh...the house is clean. Looks nice." Clearing his throat he opened his mouth and then paused. She'd been in his room and seen all his dirty clothes and she might have cleaned out the closet. What if she donated all of Haza's things? Not that it wasn't a logical and good thing to do, but there were a few things that he wanted to keep. Momentarily his blue eyes widened and then he quickly regained his composure. No need to panic yet, other than the fact that he didn't have any clothes. Illya told him how Kalizda went through and threw out all his clothes, but Kalizda replaced them. Perhaps Priscilla hadn't got around to the replacing yet and she'd fallen asleep. "I uh...I don't have any clothes. They're all gone." Cautiously he posed the next question because he didn't want to sound accusatory even if it probably was her. "Did you do something with them?"

    **********************************

    The school was quite impressive and while Cyher seemed to think it all ordinary, Illya paused a little longer at most of the rooms to poke his head inside and try to see the classroom set up a little better. Cypher's tour of the school was far too fast, but Illya knew it was part of the age. He would ask for a private tour of the school one day when they had classes so he could see how things were done a little better. In fact he might just like to come sit in the classes with his son one day and make sure that his son was getting a proper education. If the boy had to go to school so young and stay in it for so long it was best that he got a good education so that he could be a scholar, or at least be a smart man.

    Cypher was understandably excited and the boy was early to the fair, but he was also whipping through the tour. By the time they were outside it was a good couple of minutes before the judging even began. While they had a few minutes Illya looked his son over and helped Cypher soothe his curls again. "Remember dat yah stand tall and yah be proud of yah work no matter dah face dah judge makes eh?"

    Stepping back Illya gave his boy an encouraging smile. He would do well. Just standing for the next several minutes was making his back hurt and Illya almost wished he had his wheelchair with. However, he was determined to make it through. During the judging he frowned as if he were concentrating. He was concentrating and at this point it was primarily directed at making it through the next hour. They were going to have to do something where he could sit after this. At least for a while. Not that sitting made things that much better, but it might help. With a slight grunt he shifted his weight from one foot to the other for a few minutes.

    By the time the judges started to make their announcements he was doing his best to focus on what they were saying. With third place and second place gone he was a little worried. If Cypher didn't get an award of sorts the boy would be sad, but he would find a way to get over it. Still, it would be disappointing for Cypher. As soon as they announced Cypher's name Illya had a momentary burst of energy. Without much thought Illya made a fist pump and gave a good competitive growl. "Dat's meh boy!"

    As soon as the small award ceremony was over Cypher came over holding up the prize ribbon and Illya held it briefly before returning it to his son. "Yah hold dat because et's yah'rs. Now, we have party eh? Go get some cream and berries and sit at a table over dere and den we get box for yah ribbons. I'm sure dat yah win more ribbons soon."

    Of course Cypher nodded enthusiastically and he snatched the ribbon from his father's hand and darted for the nearest cream and berry station. Illya gave Kalizda a weak grin and winked at her. "We jes have little party here and maybe we make more party at home tomorrow." He wasn't feeling like he'd make too much more physical activity, but he could still make it special for his boy.
     
    aryamajor likes this.
  2. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Priscilla blinked up at Ehud, still trying to figure out at which point she had fallen asleep instead of grading papers. Ehud was home and smiling at her...clothes? Clothes. What did she do with her clothes. It was such an honest question and she knew that by the look on his face. Had she not been still waking up from her nap she might have broken out into peals of laughter over the question. Instead, she chuckled sleepily and shifted the papers to the side. "I've hidden them, general. You'll have to find them all like hunt."

    "But...the house is clean. Not like you could hide them anyway. They're probably just...." Pausing he realized he hadn't looked in the closet and his cheeks turned pink. "Oh, you put them away." Chuckling nervously he met her gaze. "Thank you."

    She watched at the realization of where his clothes might be dawned over him like a flickering light bulb, before his cheeks turned pink and she nodded. He actually said things like 'thank you' unlike other Chippeqouti and she met him back with "you're welcome" as she tugged the bandanna out of her hair. "I bet I could hide them very well if I wanted to," she added, as her hair tumbled down around her face, "But as it is, I thought you might want all of your clothing in one place." Rising to her feet, she plucked up the papers and set them on the coffee table, then she took up his hand and lead him to the bedroom. It only took one swipe of the closet door to show him all his clothes were neatly arranged by function and then by color. His shoes were cleaned and sat in neat rows at the bottom of the closet along side Haza's whom she had left alone. Nearby, a hamper waited for Ehud's current muddy clothing. "No more sniff test," Priscilla winked."

    Ehud couldn't help grinning a little more now that he had managed to figure it out and he felt non too sheepish. Letting Priscilla lead him to the bedroom he shuffled along trying not to disturb his muddy clothing too much. Chunks of dirt may fall off otherwise. When she opened the closet door Ehud chuckled. "Mmm..all nice an..." Suddenly stopping in the middle he realized she mentioned the sniff test. "What makes you say that? I never said I'd run around sniffing my clothes. Maybe I had a clean pile and a dirty pile."

    He seemed thoroughly pleased that she had rearranged his closet though it took him a minute to catch on to what she said about the sniff test. A grin came to her face and she leaned in, kissing his cheek. "Like father like son, Sien was very informative about the state of laundry in the house." Her lips left a little lipstick mark on his cheek as she settled back onto her heels again. "I thought you might feel better with a clean bedroom." Her eyes slipped over to the bedside table where the romance books were stacked neatly. "Did you like them?" She liked the fact that he read things in his spare time, even if it was for research. She and Harry used to turn off the holograms and read together as a sort of bonding time. She'd had to leave her mystery novel collection behind on Terra.

    "Like them?" Ehud was still staring at the closet and making a mental inventory of what was in it. Naturally his son had told her all about the sniff test and it was slightly embarrassing for the woman he liked to know that terrible little detail. "Ooh." Tearing his eyes away from the closet Ehud glanced to the books and shook his head. "No, they weren't good."

    When he said he did not like the books Priscilla couldn't help but giggle a little bit. She imagines he didn't like them. They are pretty terrible choices as far as romance goes. It made her wonder what he might actually like though. " I might have a few you would enjoy if you wanted to borrow them sometime. I've read a lot since coming here and I used to Read Mysteries all the time. Those were my favorite ones."

    The little bit of giggling seemed to indicate that there was something he didn't know and Ehud narrowed his eyes slightly. "Do you really think I'd like these other stories better, or are you going to give me something worse?" However, interestingly enough Priscilla also mentioned mystery novels and he grinned. "Oh, those ones. I know what those are. I liked those too. Pretty sure I could get a deal on some if you'd like. Just don't ask me how I get them, or who I know."

    Now he was grinning at her with a big smile at the mention of mystery novels before. Apparently he did like those kind and her eyes brightened before she replied playfully. "Oh?" She teased. "Nameless contact for mystery novels, is it? Very mysterious." Leaning in a little closer she title her chin and chuckled. "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. When can you make this clandestine deal?"

    Somehow Priscilla seemed to think he was joking and it was just as well that she thought he was joking. As a matter of fact it was rather delicate work to try and get certain commodities. Returning her grin he winked. "Well, I can make that clandestine deal as soon as you give me a list. I'm sure my source wouldn't mind making random picks, but it would be helpful to have some titles if you have something in mind."

    Blinking a few times, she gazes at him curiously. He was serious. Actually serious. And he would be willing to get some for her. Her smile widened from coy to entirely genuine till it brushed at her eyes. "Really? I have some Ive been looking at and I think you will like them too." Her fingers cupped his cheek and she kissed it excitedly. The grin on his cheeks made him all the more handsome. "Maybe you can pick some too and we can read together." Calysta had said reading with Illya had brought.the two of them closer and she liked to read anyways so it would be a good idea for both of them. "Thank you, Ehud."

    It sounded like getting these books for her would be the highlight of her day and possibly year. Ehud just shook his head after the kiss and chuckled. "I'd only do it for you. There are a few benefits to catching my eye. Maybe not obvious at first, but I do have some talents." Leaning a little closer to Priscilla he kissed her gently on the cheek. "You look good when you smile like that. Anything else I can do to see another grin?"

    "Catching your eye is its own reward," she replied as he graced her with a kiss on her cheek. She leaned into the gesture to enjoy it. Having someone to talk to like this felt wonderful and as he chuckled his warm breath tickled over her skin. When he mentioned her smiling, Priscilla's cheeks flushed more with excitement than shyness until her belly gave a long, gurgling demand to be filled. "I think food might be a good motivator for another smile," she laughed, rubbing her stomach. "We could cook up something good now that the fridge is full."

    Ehud's eyes got larger when she said she'd filled the fridge. "Well, it's not like I'm poor. I just forgot to go shopping is all." It sounded pathetic and he knew it. Walking over to the fridge he saw the menu plan on the front and chuckled. "Fancy. I have even been ordered to cook certain meals each night. These preferences of yours?"

    She couldnt quite tell if he was annoyed she had filled the fridge or not, but when they walked into the kitchen from the bedroom he saw the meal plan stuck on the fridge and immediately plucked it up, calling it an order. "Well, I thought it might help to have a little meal plan so that way we could keep track of what's in the fridge better and know what meals we have available. And that way you always know what's for dinner too. Of course, you don't have to cook what's labeled for that night. It works just as easily by swapping the items on the list to a different day." Walking over to him she glanced at the meal plan and nodded. "Some are and some are things Sien says he likes. There are a few on there I thought you might like too. What do you think?"

    Slowly turning his gaze toward Priscilla the Chip snickered. "Yeah, you know what we're eating to. Fancy way to spy on us and know when you want to drop in and eat dinner." Winking at her he tried to give a little indication that he was joking with her. "It will be nice to have a list like this. I'm not much for going out and catching a snake to cook for dinner. I kinda like the markets and buying food that isn't moving. An acquired taste after several years of living that convenience."

    He started playing sly with her and added that it was a good way of making sure she had a good dinner when she came over. He winked at her and it was the first time in awhile he seemed almost entirely relaxed around her again. It made her smile all the more that he was being playful and she came over to him, sliding a hand to his firm back and settling her chin on his shoulder ever so slightly. "Can't blame a girl for trying, hm?" She chuckled, "They have a good variety here in the markets on Pyrta too. It feels nice to go in and get things for the house myself again." Her fingers rubbed at his shoulder some before she slipped away and opened the fridge. "I, sir, challenge you to a pancake making contest in the spirit of breakfast for dinner night."

    There was of course a little bantering going on and Ehud liked that. Even if he didn't normally show his competitive side she was about to discover it. "A Flipping Jack contest, or Flap Jack contest, whatever you call them. I've got more experience than you know flipping those. I can even do it without a spatula." Bragging a little he reached into the cupboard for the pancake mix. "Be prepared to be amazed."

    Priscilla pulled out the nyte beast milk. It wasnt as sweet as regular cow milk from Terra but it gave pancakes a tasty buttermilk quality. "Oh is that so? No spatula?" She grinned, "I dont know...I've got some pretty good flap jack flipping under my belt." She held out her hands and skinny wrists confidently. "I'm all pancake making power here." They mixed up the batter and Priscilla drew out a pan, coating it with nyte beast butter so the cakes wouldnt stick. "Alright, pancake pro, let's see what you've got."

    It didn't take long to get all the batter mixed up. Ehud got the pans heating while Priscilla grabbed the butter to get the pans nicely greased. Smearing the light layer of butter across his pan Ehud grinned and took a scoop to flop into his pan. It was a nice heavy cast iron pan and he liked it for cooking pancakes. She got the lighter one because he didn't think she'd do well with his favorite heavy pan. "Alright, you're about to witness something you've never seen before. An Ehud pancake flipper." Waiting until he could tell that the bubbles were less common on top of the pancake and the edges were soft and doughy rather than watery he grabbed the pan and then moved it back and forth a few times till he could see the pancake sliding. With a few more back and forth motions he got it moving good and fast and then he gave it a flip. When the pancake landed back in the pan perfectly he winked. "Match that if you can."

    Priscilla watched as he laid about his first pancake and patiently waited for it to cook on the one side. When it began to solidify through the middle he gave it a good grin and flipped it easily in his heavy skillet. It sailed easily through the air and landed with a little plop uncooked side down into the pan. Then he sent the challenge right back at her and she smiled. " That was pretty good. I have to admit. It's going to be tough to follow." Rolling up her sleeves, she reached for the batter and dolloped a healthy sized pancake on the hot pan. The only problem was, it came out much bigger than anticipated, much like a mishappen Micky Mouse instead of a cute little pancake. What size had that ladle been? Illya portioned?! Looking at the massive cake, she waited until finally the bubbles began to stop. It was ready to be flipped. Hopefully. At least when she moved the pan it slid and then came the flip. The pancake flipped just fine till the.last second when the tail dragged it down and it landed semi folded down on the pan. It landed with such force that some of it splattered over them both from the underside. The whole show was so utterly ridiculous that Priscilla burst into laughter as she stood there speckled with pancake batter. "Not one of my best ones."

    Ehud didn't seem to mind it, but did relish the idea of getting to show off more of his skills. So, they went pancake for pancake against each other, laughing and teasing each other along the way until three hefty stacks were piled onto plates on the island countertop. "You win, you win," she laughed as she wiped off her hands, "You are the best pancake flipper. Which means-" a playful smirk came to her lips "-you get to be the designated pancake flipper from now on." It was a well earned title and they chuckled over as they cleaned up. Ehud had batter on his chin from her wayward pancake at the start and she tossed him the hand towel she was using. "You might want to go get cleaned up before we eat." His clothes were still mudcaked and he would be able to relax more if he changed.

    While he walked away down the hall, she took the moment to check him out a little. Did all Chips have backs carved like that? When he turned into his bedroom, she quickly averted her gaze and went back to pulling out everything else they would need for dinner. Glasses of milk were poured and syrup was warmed up in a little ceramic container she had uncovered in the pantry. Then she lit a candle on the small dining table before placing everything else nice and neat. It was the first time in awhile she had felt like nothing was missing and no aching under current pulled at her chest. She wasn't missing Terra or home. The day had passed, awhile she had thought of Harry from time to time, it wasn't as raw as it had been. For awhile, she had forgotten those hurts and simply enjoyed the time with Ehud.

    When came out of the room, she was waiting for him smiling at the table. She knew Sien would be home soon, but she couldn't help but enjoy it when he sat in the seat beside her looking freshened up. Her hand settled over his and she nodded. "Tomorrow we can find out who is the better hamburger maker." It was an absolute tease and challenge at the same time and she knew he would like it. About that time Sien came busting through the door and without hesitation he caught the two of them gazing at each other intently before Priscilla sat back from Ehud. "Are you going to kiss like Uncle Illya does Aunt Kalizda? He does that alot," Sien asked as he stared at the two of them. He wanted to make sure that his new mom knew about that.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Calysta was never more proud of her son when he took the stage to receive his ribbon for the invention he had made. His grin stretched from ear to ear as he took his prize with his chest puffed out in pride. What made watching Cypher succeed even better was seeing Illya's joy. Her Chip was smiling equally big as he cheered their first born on, fist pumping the air in victory. It was strange to think that she never would have imagined such joy coming from children and watching them grow while getting to share that with Illya. The fact still amazed her that she had her family, especially on days like this. Cypher scuttled over to his father who announced that a berries and cream party was in order for the occasion, setting a whole new flurry of activity. "I think that sounds good," she replied to her Chip. Her hand settled gently on his upper back, far from the incision site and she rubbed lightly. "I think we're being left behind for berries," she chuckled, "Grab us a table and I'll help bring the treats, yeah?"

    Rose helped her father gather the other kids around while Calysta brought back an entire tray of berries and cream with Cypher's help. There were soft ripe red berries and plump, slightly crisp blue berries under towers of whipped cream jiggling its way over on the tray. "One for the science fair winner," she chuckled, as her son eager wiggled into his seat with a hungry gaze fixed on the bowl she offered over. As soon as it was set in front of him, he picked up his fork and scooped up as much cream as he could fit into his mouth at one time. "Easy," Calysta corrected, "Smaller bites or you'll drop it in your lap." He slowed down only enough to swallow and offer her a nod. "And a bowl for Rose....Lohgan....and I'll share with Edgar and Tomas....and a bowl for Dah." Calysta placed Illya's bowl in front of him complete with a fork and extra cream. She could tell by the slight pinched look in his eye and the way he kept shifting that his back was beginning to hurt, but she said nothing. He wouldn't want the kids more upset that they already were about this situation and if it got to be too much, he would find a way to get them home.

    Calysta fed her twins mounds of cream in alternating bites and they ate it up as if there was nothing better in the world. Edgar smacked his gums together with each bite and Tomas made a grand mess by sneezing with a mouthful of the sweetened fluff. He seemed to find the spray from his sugary sneeze funny and began to giggle as Calysta wiped her face down with a napkin. "That's one way to do it," she chuckled. They all enjoyed the sunshine in the courtyard and once everyone was cleaned up from their snacking celebration, Cypher lead their way home. "Dah when can we get deh box for my ribbons? Tomorrow? I want tah more and fill up deh whole ting." Calysta exchanged a smile with her Chip and nodded. "We'll go look at one tomorrow. I have an idea for when we get home. Maybe we watch a movie and have some snacks in the living room? Your choice." Of course, that was delightful because he got to pick the hologram movie they would watch and she was unsurprised when it was Micky Martian: Lost in Space. She'd seen it more than a dozen times at this point, but he was allowed to pick, so that's what they would watch.

    When they made it home, Calysta could see Illya was hurting even if the children werent quite as aware. She shuffled him over to the couch and turned on the heat from the seat. It didn't take but a few seconds to strip his shoes from his feet and get him tucked under another heated blanket. "I'm going to make you some tea," she said with a gentle smile. He would know she was talking about the special pain tea brew she kept around. It was nowhere near time for his medicine yet and he would need something that he could have without the narcotics. Cypher set up the movie with his ribbon still pinned on his chest on full display while she brewed the tea. By the time all of that was done, the twins were more than ready for a nap. Calysta settled into the floor, using the back of the couch for a brace and passed Illya his tea before plucking up the twins. "C'mere, big man," she grunted. Edgar was heavier than Tomas and she had to place him gently on Illya's side. He was already ready asleep, his head lolling around as she tucked him up against his father. "One more." Tomas joined his brother in cuddling with his Dah only he stayed awake long enough to coo happily at being so cozied up to big, warm dad.

    Cypher slid under her arm with a bowl of berries in his lap and Lohgan toddled over before she unceremoniously plopped down on Calysta's legs. Calysta winced at her daughters weight but didn't hesitate to stretch a hand out, pulling her girl close as the movie began.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Calysta woke up in cold sweat, gasping as her eyes tried to focus on the ceiling. The children had long been asleep and she had hardly gone to bed herself before dreams had crept in. Her hands searched out for Illya in the dark like a desperate blind man looking for shelter. She fumbled a few times until her hands brushed over something warm. Illya was there beside her and she could hear his breath puffing out in short gasps. He was probably laying on his side if that was the way he was breathing. A small feeling of guilt crept up her spine and she sighed. If he was managing to sleep she wasn't going to wake him up before it was time. His body needed the rest and so did his mind. Shivering slightly, she inched out of the bed and pulled the warm blanket higher over his shoulders before stumbling into the bathroom. A single glance in the mirror showed the dark circles which had formed over her eyes for the last few weeks. Ever since the bombing and then worse after Illya's back was broke. "You're fine," she hissed a herself. Snatching a towel from the hanger, she wiped down her face with warm water and vanilla soap to rid herself of some sweat before puttering sleepily back to bed. Her hand settled over her Chip's as she closed her eyes and tried to rest again.

    All night long she jerked in and out of sleep. Whenever Illya shifted or another dream struck, whatever rest she managed to get ended and the cycle began all over again. At one point she could have sworn she heard Tomas crying in his crib, but an inspection of the twins showed that they were sleeping soundly. By the time morning arrived, Calysta was yawning as Illya stirred beside her. "Morning," she mumbled with her eyes closed, "How are you feeling?" It wasn't time for his medicine yet but she still wanted to know.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
    Silence likes this.
  3. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    A little challenge was hard to pass up and Ehud winked at Priscilla. "You might beat me at that one. I might let you too. Don't want you to feel like I should always be the cook." Ehud wasn't sure that he was any good at hamburgers, but he liked to leave a question in her mind. If he did poorly she might just assume that he let her win and if he won she'd have to say that he was better again. There was always an advantage to leaving a little question to niggle about in another person's mind. While they were both still smiling and enjoying one another's company there was the sudden sound of little feet scurrying up the two front steps.

    Almost instantly Ehud remembered that he needed to get showered and his smile faded some. He didn't want his son to think that he was going to be engaging in any activity that was reserved for people that were already married. The front door opened and Sien came into the kitchen and the strangest question popped from his lips. Ehud turned toward his son and answered in a slow, calm and precise matter. "There is a big difference between your Uncle Illya and me. Uncle Illya is married, or agreed as we say. Kalizda is his agreed, or wife, as others say. They will kiss because it is right for them to do that and there is no shame, or expectation to be made from them kissing. It is normal and healthy. I am not agreed, or married to Priscilla yet. When I gave her a ring it was to follow her tradition. It is how a man asks a woman in other traditions to be his, but it does not mean that they are married yet. So, I'm not going to be openly kissing Priscilla. As your father it is important that I respond in a way that I would be proud to have you copy."

    Sien stood blinking through the whole explanation. It all sounded very complicated and he wasn't quite sure how you asked a woman to be yours and still not be married to her. Wasn't being married almost the same thing? Still, he didn't really want further explanation from his father. Sometimes explanations took too long when his dad tried to give them and he didn't want to wait that much longer to have dinner. "Ok." It was as short as a response could be and he slid into his chair at the table. "I like pancakes." Taking one of the mangled ones he snickered. "I'll take the ugly one." Immediately Sien proceeded to shove a large portion of it in his mouth and then take another bite that over filled his mouth. "Mm eatin lik monser." His words were garbled some as he tried to work his way around the food in his mouth.

    Ehud's eyes got wide as he watched his son make a horrible display with his food. "I-I've never seen him do that." Almost apologetically he looked at Priscilla and then reached across the table and pulled the food that was sticking out of his son's mouth out and set it back on the plate. "I have the feeling you learned that from Cypher. I don't ever want to see that again."

    **************

    By the time they reached the house Illya was too sore to do much more than lay on the couch. Since it was a Chip sized couch he gingerly laid on it and then bent his knees. If he made some room the rest of the kids could fit on the couch. Rose was clearly not interested in watching and she took herself to her room to sulk. That was the normal response these days, but she would learn to have more self respect before he let her go out after boys again.

    A few minutes after Illya was settled in Kalizda brought the twins over and he got one tucked under each arm. Tomas was not quite asleep yet and he gave a few happy little kicks as he cooed in delight. Tilting his head to the side Illya looked at his boy and he gave Tomas the best smile that he could manage. "Now, dere's meh boy. Soon yah learn some words and den yah begin talking." There were a few more happy little kicks and some gurgling. The boy loved to think that someone was talking with him and especially when that someone was his dad. Despite the flurries of action and Tomas' best attempts to stay awake and savor the time he got all to himself with his dah he fell asleep.

    Throughout the hologram of Micky Martian Illya sipped at the tea from Kalizda. It did very little to stop the pain, but it did soothe some of the aches. Out of sheer exhaustion Illya fell asleep before they were half way through the extended show of Micky Martian. When Illya woke up the show was over, but the twins were awake and jabbering merrily at each other from across his chest. Each of them seemed satisfied to have a piece of him for themselves.

    By the time the evening was over Illya was more than ready for bed. He was hopeful that a little medicine would help him sleep. Instead he lay awake a good portion of the night sweating and craving more. It was already hitting, the withdrawals. There wasn't enough medicine to sate his need for them. Finally, he was about to get some rest and Kalizda tossed and turned in the bed only to startle awake. Each jolt sent another shock of pain through his entire back. Normally this shouldn't have been enough of a jolt to bother him, but the withdrawals made it far more difficult to manage the pain and it gave strange sensations in his spine on a regular basis. There was a precious few minutes of uninterrupted sleep, but he wasn't liking that either because all he could dream about was getting another round of medicine.

    When the morning finally came he woke with a groan and tried to lay as still as possible. Somehow Kalizda looked almost as bad as he felt and that was rare. "Ugh...yah awake too eh?" Moaning the words out he reached over to her with his hand and squeezed her arm gently. "I jes stay en dah bed for a while eh?" Naturally Kalizda insisted that he get up and Illya winced. "I stay here for while. Eat breakfast en bed and have meh medicine before I get up." As it was to be expected she was adamant that he get up and take Cypher to go get a case for his ribbon. Illya grumbled a little, "I get et wit him in dah afternoon." Despite all his efforts to delay rising from the bed Kalizda insisted and he eventually had to try and get up.

    A horrible stabbing pain started in his lower back and then spread like a fire as he tried moving. "Aaagh!" Gritting his teeth Illya slowly shifted himself to get his legs over the edge of the bed and he let out a long, shaky breath. Tears stung his eyes and he gulped back another groan as he forced himself to stand. His back hadn't hurt like this for a long time. Half stumbling he put a hand out to brace himself against the wall and half drug his right leg as he worked his way over to the chair. With the back pain and some additional problems it was even harder to walk with his prosthetic.

    Getting dressed took a long time and Illya's eyes were rimmed in red by the time he finished getting himself dressed. Limping heavily back to the bed he gingerly laid on it and groaned. The light touch of Kalizda's fingers felt nice until they reached a spot too close to his lower back. "Mmmrrrrmmph...Kalizda et hurts. Please dun touch meh back." By the time he managed to get up from the bed again he was late for breakfast, but he made it and while he was up he took a little time to lay on the heated couch until he got his first dose of medicine and then took Cypher out to pick a box.

    The nearest shop was a Chip shop and that was the first place and the last place that they were going to visit. "Cypher we go en here." Illya pointed to the door. "Dis woman makes dah best boxes. She made dah one for meh." Cypher beamed up at his father and pushed the door to the shop open. As soon as he stepped in Cypher spotted a large box with ornate carving and he pointed to it. "Dats dah one I want dah." Illya blinked a few times. "Yah tink yah can fill dat box up?" Cypher nodded vigorously. Illya was tempted to simply end the shopping trip there, but he chose to actually try and invest in this moment. "Well, first yah go around all dah store and yah look at all dah boxes and ask dah lady about features. She will tell yah all about dah box and yah learn what es best product for yah."

    With no small amount of pride Cypher wandered through the shop with his little ribbon clutched tightly in his small brown fist. He observed the boxes and asked about each one while opening and closing them many times. When he finally made his choice Illya handed Cypher a wad of credits. It was important to teach his son how to barter with credits. At first the woman raised her brow, but she knew what Illya was trying to do and so she wrapped the box and then quoted a price. Cypher carefully counted out his credits and then shoved them across the counter with his chubby little fingers. When the exchange was finished he pulled his bag closer to himself and let it slide off the counter and into his little chest. Strutting all the way home he proudly held onto the bag with his case. Once they were inside Illya helped his son fix the ribbon inside and they set it on one of the high shelves in the living room. "Dere, now we can all see yah award." Nodding to his son Illya smiled weakly and then took himself to lay on the couch and do some more homework. Before Kalizda left for a little bit she gave Illya some tea and put the kids down for a nap.

    Thomas sidled into the living room and settled into the cozy arm chair across from Illya who was stretched out on the couch, his massive heated blanket flopped over his legs as he drank a familiar smelling brew of tea. The house was altogether too quiet without all the kids and there was a heavy feeling in the air. "She'll be back in a bit," Thomas noted almost idly, "She said you were set with your medicine for awhile. There's more tea in there if you want it though." A moment of quiet passed between then and he leaned back into the chair."Helena and Edgar enjoy the kids. Though Calysta looked a bit tired. I may watch the kids when she comes back." He glanced at Illya and sighed some. "I know things are rough right now, but you shouldn't have waited to so long to tell her about all of this." He had been thinking for awhile and now he had said it. It was about time he and Illya had a talk about all of this and now was as good a time as any.

    I was trying nut tah say anyting because dere es never good time tah tell dah lady yah love dat yah have problems wit addiction. Well...many addictions.

    Thomas: Yeah, there isn't a good time, but there's better bloody times than when you're a sinking ship bailing out water. Wait...how many addictions are we talking here?

    Illya: Yeah I tell her before jes before I break meh back and den she es really stressed out? *Shoots Thomas a death glare* Enough for meh tah worry about a lot of tings.

    Thomas: *gives equally stubborn look back* Make bad excuses all you want, you've known about these for awhile and detoxed once already. You should have told her. And does she know all of your vices now?

    Illya: I told her den dat I was addicted tah medicines dah doctor gave meh and I dun know what vice es.

    Thomas: Uhuh. *is pretty sure Illya is playing dumb on that one* So you worry about alcohol and percription pain medication. I wouldn't let any thing else catch Calysta by surprise. It's not fair to her and you know it.

    Illya: I tink dat for old man of yah kind dat yah nut always wise. Dere are some tings dat are better nut said. I will tell her dah tings dat we can fex, but dere are some bad tings dat dere es noting tah help wit now.

    Thomas: I think for a man who's been married more than once, you still don't know women very well. And if you're not honest with her, in the end, she'll be the one to suffer for it. Feel like praying over it? You haven't done that in awhile. Might help.

    Illya: Yah poor man for advice. Ef I recall yah dun keep ladies around for long and prayer will nut help all dah problems. Et does nut take away dah past.

    Thomas: *shoots Illya a glare* No, it doesnt. But it could help the future.

    Illya: Meh future es what et will be. I would kill mehself before I let happen what did in meh past. Yah comfort yahself wit dat. She would nut bear dat burden now, or in dah future."

    Thomas: she still will even if you kill yourself. You think that's what she wants for you? Or what I would want for you? God answers prayers. And he favors a man who prays to him with his needs."

    Illya: Stop et. Yah jest stop. Dere es no fex for dis and yah dun understand et even ef I say et simple for yah. I have enough of dis talk."

    Thomas: Aye, I imagine that's what you'll tell her to."

    Illya: *Points a finger at Thomas' nose* She dun know anyting about dis, but ef she asks I will tell her. Et's nut yah business and et never will be.

    "I'll try to remember that next time I find my daughter sleep walking or waking up crying or spending hours researching ways to help you without stopping. Not my business, but it is my daughter and you're my son in law who treats her like she should be for the most part and loves his children like he should too. So, you can say its not, sure, but in reality who's to say."

    Of course Thomas was going to push the whole subject one ounce further and Illya slowly pushed the blanket off his legs. "Yah bastard. Dere are tings dat yah dun even know about dah Chippequoti and yah stand here and tell meh dat she should know everyting. Yah see how she es upset and dis es nut all for tings dat I do. She es worried for many oter tings and I tolerate yah miserable carcass for her. Dere are many tings dat I would do for her and sometimes et es better nut tah tell her all tings. Yah tink she liked tah know dat et was Terrans I was sent tah infiltrate and kill dat drove spiked metal rods into meh hands and drill dem into meh bones. Dat I have tah work and serve dose Terran filt for over a year jes so I could get information on dah Federation and den kill dem? Dose tings are what boter her and I cannot fex. Dere es nut fex for dat kind of ting. Now yah jes shut yah mout and forget what yah tell meh in all yah wisdom."

    Illya was even more worked up now but Thomas let him battle back as things came spilling out. He stared at the man, both in shock and at a loss for word for just a moment. What could he say to that? He'd never been tortured or had to deal with those things...and while it was horrifying it explained a great deal in part and made his point all the more vivid. "Aye, you cant fix those things and they arent your fault," he replied with a hard swallow, "But you can tell her about them so she understands. She deserves that much. You can help her help you now. What else is there? You look to pills for what happened? To drugs?"

    "She already knows dat! Dere are tings worse dat I never tell her because et would be too much for her tah worry about." Illya's brow had pulled down into a tight scowl and his eyes grew fierce. "Drugs and pills are nut answer for what I tell her. I take dah medicines for oter tings. Yah really tink et es good for her to understand even dose tings worse? Chippequoti Elite live and fight so dat oters dun have tah see dah war for what et es. Yah dun understand because oters shield yah from et and dat es meh duty even now. She should not know dah war dah ways I do."

    "She's already experiencing it and by not telling her you're making things twice as hard on her. Aye, you protect her from war but to better protect her, talk to her. Maybe I dont understand your duty, but I do know my daughter. Not telling her things worries her ten times as much as coming out with it and letting her face it." Thomas gazes at Illya with determination. "If there are things that are worse than what she already knows, you should tell her. Don't wait till its too late."

    Illya let out a long breath and then gave an audible growl. He hated it when people talked to him like that and he started to slowly get himself off the couch. "She worries about enough and now yah ask meh tah tell her more when she's already upset. Dese tings come out en dere own time and some wait until I'm gone."

    "Gone, as in she could hear it from somebody else so you don't have to face whatever it is that is causing this? That's convenient," Thomas growled right back as the Chip made his way off the couch. "She shouldn't hear those things from someone else. Not after all of this. You don't have to tell me, but you sure as hell should tell her whatever else is going on for her sake and your own." This conversation was going somewhat like he figured, but all of these reasons why he was addicted were different than what he thought.

    The longer the conversation lasted the more quite Illya got. Gradually he settled into a sort of frown and blank stare. He wasn't hearing much more of what was being said. Instead he was left staring at the wall as if it held some deep secret. There were a lot of things he didn't want to talk about and yet they seemed to be coming to the surface anyway. After a long while Illya shifted his gaze. "Yah jes go."

    Apparently, Illya was done with the conversation and that was just as well. He felt bad for the man, and yet he knew pity was not something Illya would want. Yes, it would stress his daughter for a time but they would both be better if they came clean with one another literally and figuratively as it were. At his blank dismissal, Thomas clapped his hands on his knees and rolled to his feet. Crossing over into the kitchen he poured up another cup of tea, doused it in honey, and sat it before the man on the coffee table. "Drink that and think about it. I'm going to feed the animals." Then he gave Illya one last look as he strode out of the back door.

    A sudden sharp clap made Illya jump slightly and he glowered at Thomas. The man was absolutely unbearable sometimes. Making a sudden sharp sound like that was just about as rude as a person could be. Thomas made a little more tea and Illya slowly sunk back into the sofa. He sipped at the tea until he felt his back slowly begin to loosen up some and the tension eased. Too much tension kept him unbearably sore, but the tea helped a little. Since the kids were napping, or out in the yard playing Illya closed his eyes for a few minutes and had an un-restful nap.

    So many things were playing about in a horrible and imaginary way. Even after Illya woke up he could see blood on the floor and Kalizda nearly walked into Jonas. What was worse was the fact that there were pieces of some of his men barely hanging onto the rocks and he could feel the blood drying, and crusting on his hands. Rubbing at his hands he frowned and tried to get it off. It was everywhere and he cringed when Kalizda stepped on a chunk of flesh. Just the sound of it made him want to puke. Closing his eyes Illya groaned, "Uuuhhh no. Kalizda?" He was sure he'd seen her, but at the same time he was seeing a lot of other things and he knew the withdrawals hit hard last night, but he wasn't sure he should be seeing things. "Es everyting ok en dah house?" She seemed a little confused, but answered and he nodded his head, but kept his eyes closed. "Ok, I jes tink I dun want tah look at anyting right now."

    After a while the vivid images faded and he managed to get through dinner without his stomach protesting too much. However, as night came his dreams returned with a vengeance. There were prying hands plucking at him and pulling. They were trying to get close and he felt them put their hands on his chest and whisper. He didn't want this. Other times they were rough and they beat him. Some of the images he couldn't even put words to. It was horrible and he relived it all. The parties, the cold nights on the ground, the starvation, the beatings, and far worse. Moving further and further away from the hands that sought after him, he finally felt himself on the edge. Could he really just end it here? Finally in a last effort he pushed at the hands and yelled, "Dun touch meh! I dun want et. Leave meh alone." Ducking his head under the covers he huddled there and tried to calm himself, but his breathing was still uneven. After a few seconds he heard the flick of a switch. They'd come back for him! Illya's eyes flew open and he pulled the blankets tight while he tried desperately to think of where he could go. It wasn't time to kill them yet, but he needed to do something. He couldn't handle them giving him one more beating, or forcing him to be with someone again.

    Instead the nightmare began to fade and Kalizda was there in the bed with him. She was sitting at a distance and she had the light on. It was the look on her face that made him suddenly feel as if he'd been lying to her since the day they met. Illya wanted to hold her close and at the same time he was sure she wouldn't want to hold him after she knew. Was Thomas right? Should she really know now. Would it be easier for her to know this from him? If she didn't know until after he was gone would it hurt her more to know that he'd lied to her and hid from her so many things? They were all questions he knew the answer to, but he didn't like what it meant.

    "Ah...Kalizda." Lowering his head some he pulled his blankets high enough to cover his face and began crying. He didn't like it when she saw him like that, but he couldn't stop either. Maybe it was the withdrawals, the pain, stress, or all of them. Illya didn't know and he wasn't sure that it mattered anymore. When her little fingers touched his shoulder he cringed some, but he didn't move away from her. Finally, Illya was able to stop crying and he remained hidden under the blankets. "Kalizda?" Waiting for her answer he managed to croak out a few words, "I need tah tell yah some tings."

    She seemed to be quiet and for a moment Illya wondered if she was still there. Cautiously he let hand make a short exploratory mission to discover that she was still in the bed with him and he felt her fingers curl into his palm. Rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb he started off slowly in Quoti. "I didn't tell you that I had problems with addictions to many things starting after Lahna. I killed all those men and I felt terrible after that. There wasn't a choice. If they stayed there and we had no place else to put them they would begin killing all the children and our agreeds. It was a bad choice to make, but it had to be done. After that I drink more and more until it wasn't enough and then I started taking pills. Some of the pills made it easier and nobody said much. Pills were easy to get until after we were trapped on Quoti and then I drank and mixed herbs as much as I could. It dulled the pain, but it dulled many other things. Kalizda, I have addictions for almost all my life and they only got worse."

    Illya stopped for a long moment. He didn't know if he should tell her anymore, but he knew if he didn't tell her now he'd know he was hurting her if she chose to stay with him and it would be his fault. "I..." Stopping again he sighed and then started again. "I didn't think I could make it without the medicine. There are too many things that bother me. I am very happy with you and the kids and I want to get rid of the medicine, but you should know something. Maybe you won't want me if you know this. If you don't tell me now and I'll know that I need the medicine for a while longer."

    There was a nagging sort of feeling. Did he want to look at her when he said this? "Kalizda, there were other women and some men." Wincing at the words he decided he should look at her. He should know if she was going to leave him. "It wasn't my choice. As a slave they made me do a lot of things I didn't like. Outside of the slavery I never chose to be with another person like that." Illya only met her gaze for a short period of time before he quickly looked away again. "I know I'm selfish and I don't tell you this before, but it is difficult for me. It was not in my report because of the shame. No one knows about this. You don't like the desert, but I like it because I'm not cold there. Chippequoti can live in very cold places and not wear much, but I was made to sleep in the snow in just thin shirts and pants because they wanted to know how strong a Chippequoti body was. The Federation had many ways of testing and as a slave they enjoyed torment without killing." Glancing up to her face again he felt a growing fear. Would she be repulsed by him? She knew what he was now and it wasn't heroic in the least. Everyone outside seemed to think he was a hero of sorts, but they didn't know what it meant to be a 'hero' if this is what they thought a hero was. It was ugly and it was something he would have gladly run far from if he had been given a choice.
     
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  4. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    The night was long. Miserable and long between the both of them tossing and turning, then with the kids slowly waking up in turn. Everywhere she turned someone was needing something from her. Even if she had the mind set to read something on her pad, continuous messages would filter in. Updates on Zkree movement, memos, needs of Kaereal. They all chimed through her tired head like a freight train adding to the sounds of Edgar fussing over breakfast Cypher talking to her about school. Lohgan was stamping her feet somewhere in the house. She just needed a minute to collect herself and it would be fine.

    “I’m taking the kids to see Helena. They needs some time in the sunshine and it will be good,” she said to Illya blankly, “I’ll be back in a bit, yeah? Try to sleep some.”
    She kissed his cheek lightly and tried not to touch his back. He had been in literal tears trying to get up his morning and she knew he was tender. Her fingers swept over his hair, smoothing the rumpled curls. It was hard to see him in this sort of state and something in her stomach turned over. It felt like a hard, jagged rock. It wasn’t fair to him that he should be enduring this. Swallowing down that heavy stone, she collected the children to walk to their great grandparents’ house in the hopes that would expend some of that rampant energy they seemed to have inherited from their father.

    Calysta sat in the chair across from Helena and felt herself sink slowly into the soft, oversized cushion. Had she not had Cypher running around offering to help Edgar on the garden, Lohgan untying her boot laces rather than playing with the coloring page she had brought and Edgar plopped in her lap dozing while his brother was squeaking happily in Helena's arms...she might have been tempted to take a nap. A long one. Helena said something as she tickled Tomas' tummy and Calysta blinked slowly. "Hmm? Oh...fine..." She hoped it was a question about how everyone was doing because that's how she answered it. Nodding blearily, she rubbed at her dark rimmed eyes and sighed. "Just fine...nothing a nap wouldn't cure. That's all I need."

    The older Chip woman gladly took one of her great grand babies in her arms. Tomas was a happy little baby and she grinned as she tickled his belly. "Ooh just like your daddy when he was little. Always ready for fun and a little laugh." She missed the days of having her own babies, but it was good to have this little great grandson in her arms. Kalizda made a somewhat mumbled response and Helena smiled gently, "Just a nap hmm...I thought you came here for a little more than that. If a nap is all you need I can watch the little ones for you." It was good that her grand daughter spoke in Quoti with her because her Trader's Tongue was not good.

    Helena's words prickled at her just a little and a silence fell between them for awhile. What did she come for? What was expected of her. "I...I don't know what I need," she faltered, "I don't know..." Calysta rubbed at her eyes and sighed into her hands. "I haven't slept much. Neither has Illya. He's trying so hard. He just..hurts. And he has a right to given what happened. It's not his fault." Lohgan managed to unlace her shoe and began working on the other one. "Lohgan, go play on the garden if you aren't going to color, okay?" Her voice was strained and her girl gave a naughty face before stomping. "

    It sounded like Kalizda was tired out. It wasn't anything new for a woman in her position, but perhaps it was a new idea for her to delegate some of the work. "Well, it sounds like you could use a little help then. What is everyone doing to help you? Even Lohgan is old enough to help with some chores."

    "Lohgan helps in the kitchen, Cypher in the garden....I just..." the words wouldn't come out and her face turned red before she swiped at her eyes a little more angrily. "Its not their fault either and they are doing what they can. We wouldn't be doing this...we wouldn't be doing this if his back hadn't been broken. I know that's selfish and this needs to be done....he needs to get through this but he's struggling so much and I just...he's gone through enough. His own people did this. His own people and I hate it." Her eyes turned angry revealing a grey, stormy gaze and she worked her jaw. "So much pain and hurt and for what?"

    "Ah, I see. You think if his back wasn't broke that you wouldn't be here asking for help." It was a nice idea, but misguided. Helena waited for a short moment. "It's alright to think that, but there are a lot of things going on. I think his back has only made it obvious to you. It is much easier to see physical pain than it is to see other kinds of pain. This doesn't mean he can't help you. Sounds like he doesn't have any chores at home. It's important to have him do something to contribute."

    "I know he's hurting beyond that. I know," Calysta said almost out of frustration, "I want him to help around the house but I also don't want to make things worse. The bastards from Zkree almost killed him and the imperialist tried too. And I know that the men who did it are gone and I should be satisfied with that. Shouldn't I? Illya is alive. It makes no sense for me to be here and still be angry. None but I am." Her hands gripped the chair tightly and her entire body trembled with the effort.

    Helena waited for a long moment. It wasn't entirely what she thought, but these sort of things rarely were. Kalizda was angry, not upset with Illya, but angry with the ones that hurt him. "Do you feel like maybe they stole something from you and Illya?" It sounded that way, but she wasn't about to jump to that conclusion without asking first.

    Calysta hated herself for looking upset. That wasn't why she came here. Was it? Her eyes focused on Helena's wrinkled face and bright eyes looking back at her with more years of experience than she could fathom. "I haven't slept properly since the explosion and even less since the assassination attempt on him...but it was more than that. He's been pushing so hard and it has nearly destroyed his chances in Skycorp. He doesn't smile so much...we haven't...we cant....it doesn't matter. They took more than his physical health...they took my children's peace of mind and Illya's too."

    Slowly the woman nodded and a gentle smile came to her face when she looked down at little Tomas. "Yes, it is terrifying to live in times of war. People do terrible things at the most unexpected time, but you can still see that you're children can experience happiness." Looking up to Kalizda she sighed, "Just stand by him and you'll find out Illya has quite a bit more fight in him. The more you demand the harder he fights. Sometimes when the one you loves starts to give up it is important to make sure they know you still need them. It helps them to fight a little harder."

    Calysta was worried about Illya and perhaps what Helena said was true. He'd never once failed her or disappointed her. He'd always worked hard and she had to have faith in that. She needed to trust him more. He was already doubting himself and his ability to handle this. If anyone showed faith ans trust in him, it had to be her. Calysta swiped angrily at her eyes and gave Helena a more mild look...a less a angry one at least and her shoulders slacked. She thought about Illya for a long moment, sniffling slightly and then nodded. "You know....he um...he was the first person to call me beautiful. I mean...my dad did...but he doesn't really count...yeah?" It was a silly thing to pop into her head and she sighed. "I will try."

    The poor little woman was overwhelmed and Helena let her speak her bit before she leaned forward. Resting a large, wrinkled, brown hand on Kalizda's knee she chuckled lightly, "Ooh, my sweet child. A father knows best when his child is beautiful. You were beautiful the day you were born and the gods preserved you for such a time as this." Nodding almost to herself she leaned back in her chair again and smiled. "Yes, you are beautiful. Illya is lucky to have you. You're faithful and you're loyal to him. Those are two traits he admires greatly. He would do anything you asked of him if it was truly important to you. You want him clean. It hurts, but he will do it. Don't worry my dear. I've heard the way he talks about you and I might have caught that look in his eyes a few times. He's most sincere in his assessment of your beauty."

    Though she said something as silly as being called Beautiful, it was more so that he was her best friend and he saw her as she was. She wanted to do right by him and to support neck because he was her best friend and the idea of losing that was terrifying. Eleanor was right about him needing to get clean and even though it hurt and she knew he was doing it for her, she hoped that when he made it through he would have found her worth it. Men would have caved with such an injury and so many other injuries over that. They would have given in to the drugs and he was trying to heal without them in large part. "He's my best friend and I just want him to be happy." She let out a small, almost nervous laugh between sniffles and manage the week smile at the woman she called grandmother. " I must look a wreck right now. I'm sorry that I unloaded that on you. Thank you for listening, deyma."

    It was good to hear that her granddaughter loved her grandson so much. "I gladly listen. That is what it is when you are an elder, but it is a special privilege of a grandmother. Kalizda, I love you like my own because you are part of my own flesh and blood." Bouncing little Tomas on her knee she watched the boy laugh for a moment. "You are bound with our people and it makes me happy to hear that you consider Illya your best friend. He works very hard for your approval because you are much more than a woman to him. Edgar and I will help all we can."

    What she said was a comfort in a strange way. Not for single moment had the woman said she wasn't doing enough. She had reaffirmed that even at their lowest, Illya thought she was worth it. Even if it was painful or hurt too much. She was more than just a wife to him and he would try for her if for no other reason. He needed her help, yes, but she needed him. For once it wasn't a shy, almost sheepish thought to need someone. It wasn't her weakness, though, it was her strength. Calysta nodded as she leaned back with Edgar snoozing against her chest. "I am proud to be a Chippeqouti and Illya's agreed. To be considered your flesh and blood. You're my family." Her eyes were drooping some and she slipped a hand to Edgar's back rubbing gently as he snoozed. "Would be alright if I closed my eyes for awhile?"

    Now that Kalizda was relaxed a little more Helena could see her granddaughter about to drift off. "You just take a little nap. We'll consider it part of the benefits of coming to visit. I get to steal the children away for a few and you get to rest."

    Calysta slept like a dead woman in the plush chair and like little lost ducklings, her children slowly began to migrate around her when it was nap time. Edgar dozed in her arms, while Tomas was happy to stay with Helena and Lohgan plopped herself down on top of Calysta's thigh before curling up. Cypher was the last to give up and he chose to flop down face first on the couch for a mid afternoon nap in the sunlight. By the time she arrived home, Illya was still sitting on the couch. The kids rushed in ready to help Papa prepare for dinner and play outside before the sun went down. The nap she had stolen was enough to keep her moving for a little while longer and she stood alongside her father in the kitchen chopping vegetables for their stew without feeling like she was going to fall asleep at the counter. Every now and then her father would look over at her and his brow would crease. "I'm fine, Dad," she insisted in Terran, "Don't worry, yeah?" She had seen enough worried looked from her father to last a life time.

    When the vegetables were done, she poured up another cup of tea for Illya and wandered into the living room. Her Chip had a deep frown on his face, which was understandable but his eyes were wide as if he had seen some thing wild. "Illya? I brought you more tea." His response was to ask if everything was okay in the house and his words were sluggish while his eyes slid over to her as though he were trying to focus and couldn't. "Aye, everything is fine." She used the back of her hand to check his temperature and found that he was a little warm. He was naturally warm though. Illya said he didn't want to see anything and she sighed some. Maybe Helena was right? "Try to get some rest, but...I'll need some help feeding the twins at dinner," she replied. There was no response from his blanket pile and she frowned, making a mental note to keep a closer eye on him through the evening.

    That night, she climbed into bed more than ready to attempt sleep. She was fairly sure she would drop off into unconsciousness like she had at Helena's and even Illya's restlessness wouldn't wake her. That was proven wrong within the first few hours. Illya rolled over on his back away from her. It wasn't something he normally did but she let him do it. He was probably horribly sore and she didn't want to risk hitting a tender spot by accident. Instead, she crept a little closer to him and contented herself with a hand on his shoulder where it was safe. He shuffled away from her and in her half asleep state, her hand sought him out again only this time a hard slam shoved her hand back, making her yelp in both surprise and a touch of pain. "Dun touch meh! I dun want et. Leave meh alone." Illya was yelling wildly about not being touched and that was all the more she could stand. She turned on the light and found him curled up under the covers, cowering in absolute terror. He hadn't been this upset in a long time, if ever, and she was worried that if she pulled back the covers he might start swinging. What had gotten him this upset? Had she done something? Pushed too hard this afternoon by asking for help? Or were they both just tired and he was going through withdrawal? Rather than touching him, she kept her distance and rubbed at the hand he'd shoved off. It wasn't broken by any means, but it was jammed and none too pleasant.

    Suddenly, he said her name and it came out a sob with more crying behind it. He cried and cried as she watched his shoulders shudder with the effort. Her own throat tightened up and she waited a long moment before daring to reach out to him. Her fingers had barely grazed his shoulder as his cries quieted a little. Illya didn't move away this time and that was good. A sniffle accompanied her name. "Aye," she croaked out, "I'm here."

    Whatever had happened was terrible and she didn't know what to do other than to let him talk. I didn't tell you that I had problems with addictions to many things starting after Lahna. I killed all those men and I felt terrible after that...... Kalizda, there were other women and some men. What was he talking about? He seemed terrified that she would leave him but she didn't quite understand his muffled Qouti until he kept talking. It wasn't my choice. As a slave they made me do a lot of things I didn't like. Outside of the slavery I never chose to be with another person like that. Oh.

    Calysta sat there quietly. It wasn't from lack of words so much as it was her throat was too tight to say them if she wanted. Her Chip had been through so much pain. All she wanted was to reach out to him and tell him. To say anything. The words wouldnt pass by her tightened throat and her eyes burned with stifled tears. A minute.ticked by. It might as well have been a year. What could she do? What could she say? Before she knew what was happening, she was leaning forward and her free hand wrapped up chastely around his shoulder as her other.hand brought his up to hold close between them like a little barrier between them as they hugged. "I'm so sorry, love," she sniffled into his chest, "I'm so sorry that happened to you. It's not your fault." Her words came out a croak but she kept trying. "I love you."

    She moved in the bed and Illya tensed up. Was she going to get out of the bed and tell him she wanted to be separated? Instead she put an arm around as much of his shoulders as she could and he felt his entire back tighten up. Illya's jaw clamped shut and he let her move his hand around that she held with hers as she wanted. After the horrible dreams he could barely stand being touched, but at the same time it was his Kalizda and she was someone he chose for himself and he loved her. Gradually he relaxed and let her get as close as she wanted. With a sigh he let his shoulders slack some and then he let a few tears of relief fall. "Yah nut leaving meh?"

    He was stiff underneath her at first and she wondered if touching him or hugging him had been a bad choice. She was committed now though, right or wrong move, and she stayed there just like that. After a long moment, he seemed relaxed a little bit more. His muscles went from bow strings to Slack under her fingers and more out of instinct than anything she began petting at his neck slightly. Eventually she glanced up to his tear stained face. More tears were stuck to his long lashes and he was looking at her with an unreadable expression. Then, out of all things, he asked if she was going to leave him. Her eyes widened some and then softened into a gentle gaze. "No, Illya," she whispered, "I love you and that includes your troubles. We made a promise to stick.together yeah? It's okay to talk to me."

    Illya nodded when Kalizda said she was going to stay with him. He was more than relieved at this point. "Ok." Carefully sliding his hand out of her grasp he moved it to her back and decided to try holding her. Despite the initial discomfort of the entire situation he found himself relaxing a little more as he held her a bit closer to himself. Even if he was feeling stressed out and he was seeing things it still felt good to hold her. "I'm glad dat yah stay wit meh. Et hurts tah tell yah dis and et hurts tah quit dah drugs, but I want tah feel all dah happiness when I'm wit yah and dah kids." Looking down at her he tried not to let tears fall on her face and moved his hand from her back to wipe his eyes. "Dis es first time since I start drinking too much dat I tink I can live well witout someting tah dull meh mind."

    A tentative hand escaped her grasp and lightly made its way around her back. She let him take his time and do as he pleased. This was his comfort, not hers, and he needed to set the pace. He wiped at his eyes and confessed something she had suspected for awhile but could never conclusively say. It didnt change some things though. "Illya," she whispered back, "I want you to be happy. And I know this is hard and it looks impossible but when we get through this I think it will be good. You'll be free to be happy like you want to be. The children love you and want you and so do I." Her chest ached for her Chip and all she could think.of to do was assure him things would get better.

    Being close was good feeling and Illya relaxed a little more and moved his hand to her back to rub gently. "Yah want tah help meh and I dun want tah waste et. I will be free and I will live happy wit yah and dah children." He hadn't expected to ever get another family and he certainly hadn't expected that he would get to keep them after all this came out. "No matter how et hurts. I will do dis because I want et more den anyting."

    "First time free since that year." She nodded and held him all the closer, hoping whatever comfort she was capable of was understood in her embrace. Silence passed between them and Calysta's tired mind drifted in and out of thoughts until one slipped from her mouth. "I know it wasnt easy, but thank you for telling me." Her grip grew a little tighter as she squeezed him some and then released. "You don't have to worry over it anymore."

    The more she moved the closer the more comforting it became and Illya scooted a little closer despite the twinge of pain in his back. For a while they were quiet, but when Kalizda spoke he nodded and then answered, "Dis es jes someting yah know. I dun want tah say dis tah anyone else. Yah jes know now and and I get clean and we be happy togeter."

    "Its not mine to tell," she replied, "We'll follow the steps.asked by the counselor and it will be okay." He was warm under her and the more he relaxed, the more relaxed she became too until she found exactly how.exhausted she really was. "We'll make it through together."

    While Kalizda was talking a horrible feeling started to sink into his stomach and Illya shifted a little. He felt horrible and his back was hurting, but somehow his stomach was unsettled enough that he thinking perhaps he was in more pain than he thought. Suddenly he felt all his dinner start to creep up his throat and Illya pushed away from Kalizda and started to dash for the bathroom only to vomit a few inches in front of the toilet. "Ugh...I'm sick."

    Before she knew it, she was being tossed off to the side of the bed in a frenzied haste. Before she could process what was really happening, other than the fact that she was launched into the mattress, she heard the distinct sound of wracking, then the splatter of vomit hitting the floor. Wincing, she stumbled to her feet to check the damage. "Aye," she said, looking over the.chunky puddle in front of the toilet. It was on his lips splattered on his feet and chest some too. Without hesitation, she grabbed the waste bin and tossed a wash cloth in the bottom.to.control splash back, then handed it to him. "Its okay. Give it a minute then strip off your shirt. I'll wash you off first then you can at least be in bed."

    Illya wiped the vomit from his lips with the back of his hand and then gingerly got to his knees so he could get out some cleaning supplies from under the sink. While he was trying to get some things to clean up with Kalizda came in and offered to clean him up. A sheen of sweat had started to cover Illya's entire body and he shook his head. "I jes clean dis up first." The first thing was soaking up the mess with disinfectant wipes and then tossing them into the garbage. He was almost done when another wave hit and this time he actually got to the toilet in time. The upcoming day at classes was already starting to sound long.

    She started to try cleaning up the mess but he was insisting on doing it himself. It wasn't that she particularly wanted to clean up vomit, but he was already sick and she didn't even vomiting yet again plus, he was doing it the long way. After her second child she has just gone to buying a special disinfectant powder that would soak up vomit enough to sweep it up while also killing the germs. He started using disinfectant wipes instead an attempt to clean up after himself before throwing up in the toilet again. "Its okay. I have some stuff that will soak it up and make it easier." She reached underneath the sink and pulled out a container of natural powders, then began to sprinkle it over the remaining vomit. The powders did their work and fizzled slightly as they killed the germs. She rolled up her sleeves and settled a hand over Illya shoulder, rubbing gently as he retched again. When he was done, she let him breathe for a moment, then urged him to peel off his shirt. "It's alright. Easy to clean." Kneeling, she took one of the wipes and swabbed off his toes before grabbing another wash cloth and rising it with cool water. She rung it out and laid it over the back of his neck to combat the nausea. "Go ahead and take off your shirt when you can, yeah? Already this was shaping up to be a long night. It was hard seeing what the drugs had done to her Chip and what was more was knowing what had pushed him to that point. She wanted to hold him and tell him she was with him, but it would likely be cleaning out the puke bucket for the night. "It's okay."

    Whatever Kalizda grabbed out from underneath the sink Illya didn't know, but it was much more effective. It felt strange to somehow know that he was the helpless one in this situation and still have her there without making him feel like he should do more. Illya wanted to do more and he was frustrated at his inability to do a lot of things between the back pain and the sickness from the withdrawals. When he'd finally finished the second round of puking he pulled his shirt off and then stared back into the toilet intently. He was still wondering if he should move away from it. After a few minutes he decided there wasn't anything else and used the rag from the back of his neck to make a quick wipe down of his chest with a little soap. That would have to be good enough for now. He was tired and he wanted to go back to sleep. Grabbing the bucket, Illya slowly shuffled back to the bed.

    Illya wandered back to his bed and she finished cleaning up the wipes and the toilet along with sweeping the floor. On her way back to the bedroom from downstairs where she had put the broom, she checked on all the children. They were all sleeping soundly at least. She swept up the crystalized vomit and some how her mind wandered over what he had told her. The thought of it made fresh tears prick at her eyes and she swept them away. A small sob came out when she couldn't hold that back anymore and all she could do was clamp a hand over her mouth to stifle the sound. Her knees sank slowly until she was sitting on the edge of the tub, eyes clamped shut and mouth covered, refusing to make a sound. She knew that happened to slaves. She knew it had nearly happened to her on more than one occasion, but hearing it from him made her chest ache horribly. He was counting on her to keep it together and he trusted her with something so hurtful it had took him this long to come anywhere near it. Swallowing hard, she collected herself and went back into the bedroom.

    He threw up the entire night, which given how upset he was and how much he was detoxing was made sense. All she could do was get up every now and then to empty his puke bucket and get him some water along with a cold rag. When the time came that they had to get up to prepare for flying to Kinte, she asked if he wanted to go. Of course, he insisted on going. Calysta wasn't sure if she should stop him or not, but he was determined and that was something at least. Illya was thoroughly miserable looking and she knew neither of them had slept properly in weeks. Still, she put a little make up on the bruise forming over her hand then packed up Lohgan and the twins before hauling them along with Illya to the docks. The flight out to Skycorp was filled with exhausted silence, save for the cooing sounds of her boys toddling around the living room. Calysta had never been more grateful for auto pilot. There was no way she should fly the ship manually with how tired she was.

    When it came time for Illya to descend down the gang plank toward the Skycorp compound, Calysta walked with him in the morning light and stopped them right in front of the gate. Normally, she would have kissed him good bye but this time she wasn't sure if touching him was a good idea. He hadn't wanted to be touched really last night, and though she had hugged him, the embrace had been less than relaxing for him. Instead, she smiled tiredly up him and offered over his lunch container along with his back pack. Her eyes caught on his, holding him there, and she nodded. "Hey," she said gently, "Make it through today and i'll come pick you up at the end of it. We can walk home together." Swallowing, she put the bags into his big brown hand and patted his knuckles. "I am glad you're mine, Illya, and I've never been more proud to be right where I am with you." With that, her smile brightened some and she sent him into class hoping he would be alright.
     
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  5. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Of course the next morning was an early one and Illya got up as slowly as he could without making him and Kalizda late. He only needed to pack a few things. He would needing his boxers this week so he wouldn't shock anyone too badly. No need to go traipsing into the water for this practical in nothing, but his skin. Somehow the packing felt like a blur and he found himself dizzy and sick feeling in only a few minutes. Instead of finishing the packing for himself he watched helplessly as Kalizda took care of it for him. Regardless of how badly Illya wanted to be the man and do these things for himself he ended up laying down and trying not to puke while Kalizda packed the things out to the ship and left the twins in their crib. All he had to do was wait for her to bring the ship in closer to the house and then he'd walk himself in with the twins. He could do at least that much.

    Gradually the sick feeling left and Illya managed to get himself up and gather the twins. With one boy under each arm he wobbled unevenly toward the ship. His right leg was hurting and he was almost sure he could feel his prosthetic throbbing. Inside the ship Illya put the twins into a crib again, stripped his clothes off and laid in the bed. Kalizda came back to the bed with him and the two of them let the ship guide them to port on autopilot.

    Normally Illya would have gotten up with Kalizda to run the trajectory for landing, but he didn't feel well enough to get up and try it and Kalizda was letting the ship do the work for her too. While the ship made the auto calculations for the landing Illya got up and put on his clothes on. He would have to put his boxers on and his Skycorp jumpsuit. The band on the boxers put some pressure on the incision in his back, but it wasn't so bad now as it had been. By the end of the day he would know if it was something he could do all day again tomorrow. With his eyes in a squint, hair ruffled, and sheet marks on his face he limped slowly into the kitchen of the ship. Kalizda handed him a lunch bag and his pack. He could carry that technically and he was going to have to. She offered his cane too, but he didn't want that. "Nah, I will be fine eh?"

    With his lunch bag and pack of things he would need Illya walked down the plank of the ship and walked toward the gates. He realized after a few moments she had landed them in the handicapped spot. It was nice he didn't have to walk far, but he certainly wasn't a cripple. At least not that he was willing to admit. Just as Kalizda was turning to leave she decided to give him a hug and then she saw him off. Illya stopped at the gate briefly to show his id card and then he glanced back at Kalizda. Once he was inside the gate Illya was going to have a bit more walking to do. At the guard gate he glanced at the clock and decided he had to run.

    There was barely enough time to get himself into the Skycorp complex. Illya was at least walking this week and he limped heavily on his way to the role call area. There was a chance he would barely make it, or he might be a few seconds late, but he couldn't very well do much about it. That was until he saw Swyft only a few feet in front of him and he knew he didn't want to be the last one to arrive. With as much effort as he could muster Illya broke into a light jog and quickly passed the instructor despite his uneven gate even when jogging.

    Swyft continued on his path, pad in hand and on his way to the morning attendance formation. The weekend had been far too short and he knew some were bound to be late from the party scene in town, at least some of the young Kaereleans would be. Foriegners sometimes didnt like the party scene on Kinte. As he was walking he heard the sounds of an uneven gait trotting along behind him. He didn't turn back to look but allowed the Runner, whoever they may be, to pass him on his left. It was probably somebody running late from the bars and didn't know who they were running beside. He liked to catch them off guard when they passed him like . They let them know he was always paying attention even if it looked like he wasn't. As it was a large Shadow passed over the ground and it led straight to a large man he immediately recognized as the Chip. Cadet Blackwolf was hobbling his way ahead toward the classrooms. He swallowed the order to stop and raised a brow for a moment. The man was mighty determined to make it there. He didn't slow his steps to allow him to gain a lead but began jogging slowly behind him.

    Illya heard an odd clop behind himself and he turned his head slightly to see Swyft was going to make him work for it. His stomach hurt from all the puking, but he wasn't going to let that stop him. When he turned the corner on the hall he charged ahead a bit faster for a little sprint to the classroom. There was a little cone in the hallway and he wasn't sure what it said because it was written in languages that took more than a glance for him to recognize. However, he quickly discovered it meant a wet floor and he slid toward the doors to the classroom. Slamming into the doors he felt the left door give way and it groaned as his weight caused it to bend the hinges and break the door away from the frame. Catching the door before it fell Illya hissed under his breath. "Damn et. Dey make everyting so cheap dese days." The doors were supposed to swing out, not in, but running into it shouldn't have broken it. Illya carefully propped the door up again and figured he'd let Swyft discover the broken door.

    Swyft fought a small smirk as the Chip increased his speed through the breeze way and into the building before turning the corner out of sight. Not a second later there was the screech of boots and a heavy thud along with some metallic clanging. Frowning, he turned the corner and found the Chip leaning a door against the wall and quickly walking away. There were scuff marks on the freshly mopped floor right beside the sign. It didnt take much to figure out what happened. This time, Swyft stopped and called out to the cadet. "Cadet Blackwolf," he said, his voice echoing down the hall, "Halt."

    Before Illya got much further he heard the order to stop and at first he felt a momentary bristle of indignation rise. He was still getting used to taking orders again and especially from someone not Chippequoti. Stopping in place he turned and looked straight at the instructor. More than likely he was going to be ordered to fix the door, or he'd be ordered to hold it open and still be late for role call because Swyft would arrive first in that case.

    Swyft walked with purpose over the wet floor and up to the Chip with an unreadable expression on his face as he approached. When he came within a proper talking distance he folded his hands at his front, noting the brightness in the man's eyes. He was staring back and was certainly not thrilled he had been ordered to stop. "Cadet Blackwolf, it appears you've broken the fire door in the hallway," he said. Then man would have had to be a practical cannon ball to manage that, and Swyft vaguely wondered how heavy he was. "You're familiar with the policy of broken equipment here on the compound. This evening you will fix it and you will pick one member of your team to help you. Pick the one you feel would be most suited for assistance." A chime rang out from his pad and Swyft glanced down at his pad. "Hm. Seems I'm running a bit late myself. Probably about 5 minutes late."

    Overall the circumstance wasn't as bad as it could have been. Illya saluted when Swyft finished and he moved the door the hallway. More than likely nobody would want to mistakenly have it fall on them. His back spasmed with the effort involved in moving the door and he leaned it against the wall before walking into the classroom for role call. Glancing down at his hands he saw blood on them and he wiped at his right hand a few times and then his left. It wasn't wiping away and so he rubbed his hands on his uniform and the blood was still dripping. Momentarily he could feel himself start to panic. He was bleeding everywhere and he didn't know where from. Then it occurred to him that his name had been called out and he answered, "Here."

    Swyft let the Chip go and walked casually into the bathroom to take a piss. He didn't like admitting it, but the sudden urge was becoming a more frequent occurrance, even if this time he was partially letting the cadet get to his space. Getting older was for the birds. When he was done, he washed his hands and walked out. If the man hadn't made it there by now, he wasn't going to. When he came in, he saw the instructor giving the Chip a strange look as he he echoed 'here' in Traders Tongue. Blackwolf was practically squirming in his jumpsuit but from the adjacent angle he couldn't tell why. "Cadet Blackwolf is there a problem?"

    When Illya looked back down the blood on his hands were gone, but he had another question directed at him and he shifted in his seat again. His back was hurting even in the short time he'd been sitting and his leg was practically on fire right down to the knee. The rest of it was metal and he wished he could somehow take it off and use it to cool the rest of his leg. "Ehmm." Closing his eyes for a second Illya did his best to calm himself and give some sort of coherent answer. "No, sir. Dere es nut problem."

    "Good," Swyft said. He could very well tell the man had something wrong as he circled around the class room. Probably a fair amount of pain along with some other issues he figured might crop up. Still, the man was standing there and he wouldn't call out the Chip beyond that in front of his peers. " At the end of this week, you will be taking your first shot at the flight simulators. Each individual will be given a task to work at while in the simulator. Passing marks at all three stations will be required before you move on to actual craft. Additionally, there will be a seminar on New World diplomacy in your Alliance Legal Course. A guest speaker has agreed to teach this seminar and the information she gives will be on your final exam."

    It sounded like the week was busy and he was already behind. Illya hated to think of the worksheets he had built up in some of his other classes. He had the math done and good bit of the science, but he still had the history and languages to complete. Those were going to be difficult for him to do until they got to the last 100 years of history. The last 100 years of history he remembered very well and he could probably tell them almost everything that happened without having to look at the books. Still, he felt sick and exhausted just thinking of what he had to get done this week to be ready for the practicals in the ship before he could get on a real one with his team mates. Glancing around the classroom Illya could see his team mates were looking a little worried. They probably thought he wasn't going to make it and he would hold them back, but he was determined not to. At last the role call and morning speech was over and they could begin moving toward breakfast. Illya wasn't hungry, but he still had more homework he could do while the others were busy eating.

    Swyft ended his notations as he did every day, then exited to allow the cadets to go about their day. He would be keeping a closer eye on the Chip through the day. He didn't want the man to fail out, but there was still a large amount of work he had to catch up on, and the commander was well aware of the scores the cadet had earned in the subjects he was missing. There was a long road ahead. When everyone scattered into the cafeteria for breakfast, Wynry and Tiberius wandered over with their trays- the Terran flopping down his tray a little more roughly than than his female teammate- and sat with Illya who looked as if he were armpit deep in work. "Don't mind him," Wynry said to Illya, "Hes just in a foul mood is all." An awkward moment of silence passed as Tiberius poked at his oats and Wynry stared at Illya until finally, she broke the silence again. "You know we could help you with that, right?"

    With his pack still on Illya wandered into the cafeteria and found his usual center of the bench near the north wall. Once he was seated he began pulling out his heaps of paperwork. He would turn in all the math to Swyft before the next class and what he had of his science. For now he was going to work on the history because it was the next subject he wanted to make progress in. When his classmates sat across from him they seemed a bit out of sorts, but he was going to ignore them for now. Instead of getting peace and quiet he heard the question from Wynry and stared at her for a long moment. "Eh, I dun tink yah help meh right now. Yah eat and I maybe have help later."

    Wynry looked to Tiberius, perplexed and at a loss for a moment, but the Terran didn't look up. Instead, he made himself busy poking at his oatmeal as if to keep it from getting up from the bowl and crawling away. Frowning, Wynry looked back to Illya with more determination. "That is alot of work," she said, "Getting some help sooner might be better. We are a team, after all."

    There was another offer again and Illya grit his teeth slightly. He was doing his best to be polite, but he didn't know if it did well. It was so much easier to be direct because at least there wasn't any mistaking what he meant. Meeting Wynry's gaze he sighed, "Yes et es. Yah eating breakfast now and I dun see how yah can help when yah eating. I'm working on dis and I'm jes as fast going trough et alone as I am ef yah stare at meh while yah eat."

    Wynry stared back at him stubbornly then let out a long breath through her nose before grabbing up her tray. She snatched up the omne juice cup and downed it, then stalked off into the cafeteria with the rest of her food. It was only Wynry's reaction that made Tiberius look from his well-dead oatmeal. "Take it easy on the kid," he grunted at Illya, "Ever since you've been out, she's been trying to think of ways to keep the team going and you from flunking out of here. She doesn't want to see you fail anymore than she wants to fail herself. You're all she'll talk about sometimes." The Terran was sure part of it was just old fashioned hero worship with a little crush, though he and the Chip both knew that was her youth showing more than anything. "She looks up to you." Wynry would flay him for talking about her like she was a kid if she heard it, but it didn't make it any less true and luckily her hearing was terrible. About that time, Wynry returned without a tray and chewing a large amount of food in both of her cheeks. The woman swallowed and then crossed her arms at Illya. "I'm done. Let's study."

    Momentarily the girl seemed to show some irritation and Illya couldn't blame her. In many ways he felt the same about this whole thing. It wasn't as if he could change the fact that his back had been broken and the arm only a short time before that. These had been difficult weeks and he didn't like that he was behind. Tiberius grouched at him some and he sighed. "Fine, I jes remember dat and I know dat yah look up to meh because yah shorter." The attempt at humor was a bad one, but it was all the better that Illya could do for now. Turning back to his work he filled out a few little boxes and named some of the stars that were left blank. He'd memorized the map and that was coming in handy. Suddenly Wynry re-appeared and she was determined to help him study. Illya shoved his pile of homework toward her and grumbled, "Peck what yah like tah have meh start on."

    Tiberius rolled his eyes and went back to stabbing at his oatmeal as Wynry plopped down and shuffled the papers over to her. They were organized by subject but not much else and some of his Alliance lae was scattered and hadnt been touched. Not that she expected it to be. He wasnt much for those classes and those would be harder. "Here. These first. There's that test coming soon and you need the practice. You don't need to know these...not really. But this here...you have to know." She pulled a pen from her pocket and began to circle the important bits. "You've got to study smarter, not harder." Wynry went through paper after paper and then got on her pad. "These are the hypotheticals we need to know for the role exercises."

    "Wu..." Illya stared helplessly as Wynry started to mark things on his many pages. "I dun know how tah study. Chippequoti always memorize."

    Wynry's eyes went wide as saucers and her fingers paused over her pad before she glanced at Tiberius. "Did he just say-" Tiberius sighed. "-That he's been memorizing entire courses this entire time? Yes." Her eyes shifted back to Illya and she shook her head in absolute shock. "Oh dear Goddess." Running a hand through her blonde hair, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay. To make it through this...forget memorizing. You wont remember it in enough time. There is too much in too little time." She plucked the paper he was working on out of his hand and looked at it. "Studying is about knowing what to focus on more than anything. Like this....see... this is minor here. Just a bylaw. If you know the whole concept. You don't need to memorize. You can reason it out."

    "Yah teach meh." Grabbing one of the papers Illya pointed to it with a dark, thick index finger. "I learn tah study like dis and den I dun have to memorize so much eh? I already memorize dah stars and most of dah science, but et es easy now."

    Wynry's eyes went wide again. She wasnt a teacher, not really. How did one go about teaching a grown man well over 4 times her age how to do the simple things, like study for a test? She wiggled her nose slightly and then nodded. "Okay, I'll teach you, but its not an over night thing. If you already know they planets, thats good. We're going to focus more on what you dont know. See this here? In Alliance Law? You need to know the big picture and basic rule to these. If they ask a specific question, it may not be stated in memorizing the rule itself, but knowing what they are as a whole. Like a formula. You know the basic formula...you can solve many types of problems with it." She had no idea if any of that was making sense but she looked at the paper he was working on and shook her head. "Harder subjects always come first."

    "I like tah show progress." Illya held up the stacks of the papers he had already done. "Now I have tah work on dah hard stuff eh?" He wanted to get this over with and catch up. "I know one law of Alliance well. Yah dun kill oters." That was easy and he knew it should have been basic, but he didn't know it till he was told as much.

    "We can work on the easy stuff later when you need a break from the hard stuff," Wynry replied. A small smile came to her lips when he mentioned the one rule he did know in the Alliance. "Aye, there is no death penalty here. There was a very long time ago, but the rule was abandoned in favor of life imprisonment which includes labor like building civic buildings, farming, and other things." Tiberius gave up prodding at his now cold food and shrugged. "On Terra, they had no problem shooting up with lethal injections for crimes. They used to use electrified chairs." Wynry winced at the words. It was no wonder the man left his homeworld once the Tannas had gained a foothold. "That's horrifying." Tiberius didn't seem entirely concerned by it and pointed to the papers. "Don't pretend Kaereleans didn't have the death penalty once. They used to drop people right out of the sky into the Wilds. A long drop with a sudden stop into poison gas where animals can eat your carcass." Wynry shot the Terran a look. "I know that. We do not do that anymore here, not after the Great War 500 or so years ago." Turning to Illya, she tilted her head. "No death penalty, and citizens are entitled to the protection and list of rights you'll find in that paper there. You need to know those rights, and be able to identify when they are being violated. You also need to know the protocol for talking with non-alliance people." Tiberius chuckled and looked at Illya. "Pretty sure he already knows what not to do. His wife broke one of the biggest codes in there."

    All the talk about the different death penalties and the past put Illya at a bit of a loss. He didn't know that much about any of their cultures and he wasn't entirely sure that was something he cared to know about. There were ways they could be much worse and they only seemed to follow their rules when it suited them. Glancing at the codes Illya shrugged. "I dun know dese. Kalizda jes tells meh ef I break a rule, or she tells meh dat I have bad idea because et breaks a rule."

    "Well, you're going to know them after today," Wynry replied with a raised brow, "You wont have to ask your Kalizda when you know them. Start with the list of basic right...the freedom of thought...marriage..,expression..movement....public assembly...the ownership of property. Then we'll go over Skycorp specific rules. Suchas, before engaging alien species in battle, any and all attempts to make first contact and achieve nonmilitary resolution must be made." She patted his arm and then plucked up the papers just as the bell rang signaling their first class of the day. "We'll work more on it this afternoon after PT, yeah?"

    Gradually a frown came to Illya's face. He didn't understand why she patted his arm. It was as if she thought somehow he was incapable of achieving some things. "Achieving a non-military resolution? Et would all be non-military ef I was involved now. I'm retired from dah military because dey say dat I'm nut fit tah serve anymore. Damn Alliance rules."

    Tiberius smirked slightly for the first time in days. If anyone knew how discharge went, it was him, but he knew their Kaerelean teammate would view that differently. "Those rules are there for a reason," Wynry replied, "Besides being in Skycorp isn't entirely civilian. Sometimes we're commissioned out on diplomacy work. It's not all that bad." She studied him for a moment as she gathered up his papers. "You would still want to go back into the military, even now?"

    The girl tried to sound like she knew what she was talking about, but Illya knew she hadn't an idea about war, or the military. "Dah reasons are because yah people dun know war as well as dey tink dey do. Yah history say dat yah at peace because yah find too much destruction, dere es much more den dat. Even ef yah people nut fight dah Federation dere would be war en time. People get greedy and dey want more. Dat es how Chippequoti end up in trouble. Dey ask for dere wages from serving dah miners as protection and when dey dun get et, dey start a war tah get what money dey were owed. I almost died for dat money and I dun tink I would go back to dah military now. Nut for dose reasons. Ef I would go back et would be tah make sure we kill every last Federation we could find and make sure dere will be safety from dem, but I would do et for meh family first. Ef yah fight, yah learn tah fight for dah ones dat matter most."

    Wynry wasn't sure what to make of his reply. It was short, a bit accusatory, and not entirely wrong all in the same moment from what she could hear of it. She stared at him for a moment, unsure of what to say and clammed up until she thought about how to reply. "I think if we are going to fight for anything, family would be the best reason. Wars over money make a waste to people's lives that are lost. Kaereal may not have known war for a long time, but I can say that the cause was for a bigger goal than payment of a contract. An empire sought to make people slaves, and the people fought back for their lives.The destruction the conflict caused shocked all our peoples into peace." The she lapsed into silence as she gathered up his things and helped stuff them back into the folder. When the papers were in his folder, she handed it off to him and grabbed up her back pack, tossing it over her shoulder. "Excuse me." Without much else to say, she walked toward the door in her usual brisk pace.

    Why she walked off so quickly Illya didn't know. He took the folder of his homework pages and slowly put them back in his pack. Glancing at Tiberius he shrugged, "I dun know what makes her so touchy. What did I say?"

    Tiberus grabbed up his own back pack and his tray of uneaten food, taking only a final glance at Wynry as she slipped out of the door. "Probably somewhere in implying her people don't know war, and just the fact that she is a woman. War I can help you with, women...are a far greater challenge altogether. Your guess is as good as mine on that one."

    "Huh, I dun imply her people dun know war, I jes say dey dun know et." Illya grabbed his pack and he winced some. "So uh...I break fire door dis morning. I have tah peck a team mate tah help meh fex et. Yah help meh and Wynry make sure dat we bot study while we work eh?"

    How he had lived with a woman so long with such blunt words was beyond Tiberius. Had that been him saying those types of things, there would have been no end to the fussing or cussing. Or both. He was about to say something when Blackwolf mentioned something about a door needing a repair. That sounded about right for the Chip. "Yeah, I'll help. Not like I have better things to do anyways," he half joked. He wouldn't be talking to his former sweetheart in the evenings anymore and that left his afternoons depressingly open to anything else.

    The reply was a bit more nonchalant than Illya expected and he shrugged a little. "Well, dat's only cause yah dun plan better tings. Yah get lazy and ef yah nut careful yah get fat too."

    Tiberius snorted dryly and started toward the door. "Well, in the event that does happen at least I'll have you to remind me not to get fatso," he smarted back, half in jest. "C'mon or we'll be late and you move like a snail right now. We'll fixed your damned door tonight."

    "Yah might be slow too ef yah back was broke only little over 2 weeks ago and yah leg hurt." Gimping toward the classroom Illya winced again. His back was starting to have spasms and he felt like puking again. For that brief moment a sweat broke out over his upper lip and then he started to feel cold. Those fevers and chills were miserable. Stepping into the classroom behind Tiberius he glanced at his desk in the back and decided to lay on the floor in the back of the classroom and nap through the navigation lecture. He knew this stuff well enough he didn't have to be awake for it.

    The floor felt cool under his back and at first that was nice and quickly dozed off. Within a short time the floor felt too hard and cold and he shifted a little to find the floor even colder elsewhere. With a dissatisfied grunt he moved back to his original spot. Somewhere in his blissfully unaware state someone was trying to talk to him and Illya mumbled in his sleep, "Goo away...." They insisted and he pushed at them with one of his hands, "Shhh let meh sleep." Despite his efforts to convey the importance of the nap the intruder insisted again and he sat up bleary eyed. To his slight embarrassment he discovered it was Wynry and Tiberius. Gathering up his lunch sack he dropped it into his pack and then struggled to get off the floor. His leg certainly didn't feel better and he had one heck of a time trying to get his back to bend much. He had flexible rods, but they didn't allow quite as much motion as he would normally get without them. "Ugh..damn rods are making meh back stiff." Finally, Illya had to get on his hands and knees before he could get up. He felt like a ridiculous old man, but his choices were limited.

    Of course the next class he had to be awake for and then they had lunch. Before the end of the day everyone had physicals to do too. With the end of the week being the start of simulations Illya had to get checked along with his team. It all sounded overwhelming, but he was going to take it one step at a time. Illya slowly drifted toward the walls of the hallway to lean on for his walk to the next class and when he got there he couldn't help wincing at the thought of standing at his desk, or sitting for the entire period.

    It was a long language class that he fumbled through and scribbled in Quoti all over on the short quiz. This was supposedly the quiz to allow students to know what they needed to brush up on before the exam. The results would get posted by the end of the day and Illya knew what his results would be, he needed to brush up on all of it. With lunch finally being close Illya drug himself through the halls toward the cafeteria and gingerly found his usual seat. "Uurrrmmm..." Groaning a little he leaned back to grab his pack and take the lunch sack out of it.

    In the top of the lunch sack Illya found a little note. "If you're reading this, it's lunch time, and that means you're only a few hours away to coming home! Have a good rest of your day and I love you. -Caly-" A slight smirk spread across Illya's face when he read it. He was only a few hours...until he had to fix that damn door, but after that he could go home. Somehow that little strip of paper seemed to draw undue attention and several people at the table leaned in to look at it. A few chuckled and Tiberius snorted, but then turned to teasing him about getting notes in his lunch bag like a little boy. Frowning a bit Illya glanced at Tiberius. "Meh moter never write notes for meh lunch bag. She jes peck meh up and kiss meh in front of all dah oter boys when I go tah school meh first day. Dis es nice, but I dun mind a kiss anymore and especially nut from meh Kalizda." About time he finished the explanation Illya realized he hadn't had a kiss from Kalizda since she found out about his past. Did she find him repulsive now and she was staying with him out of a sense of duty? It was an alarming thought and he grew somber and quickly finished his lunch before shoving the note in his jumpsuit pocket.

    For the PE time Illya walked and jogged intermittently. He wanted to show improvement, but his leg and back were not permitting. Since he was quitting the drugs his stub of a leg was hurting a lot more and metal keeping the prosthetic attached to him hurt every step. Taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly he tried to relieve some pain that way, but it only worked to a point and then he gave up and sat down in the middle of the field before gingerly laying back. He didn't care if he got dirt on himself. After a few minutes Illya slowly got to his hands and knees and then up again and walked over to the beginning of the field. Looking at Swyft he tried to grin though it was more of a grimace. "I improve and I walk dis week. Next week I run." The next week would be 4 weeks since his surgery and he was sure he could run by then. All he needed was to take it slow during the weekend and sleep when he could. "I am dismissed tah go get meh physical eh?"

    ***************

    Walking to the medical bay took long enough that Illya was there just in time to line up with a few others that were already appearing. There was a line of technicians and instruments that they used. When one of them saw him walk in they grabbed a small manual. It was apparently something that they needed to have to know if things were normal for him, or not. They hadn't had a Chip before and they wanted to know. The technician followed him through to get measured for height and marked a little box stating he was short for his race, but tall for Skycorp standards. The man at the scale sighed irritably as he stared at his screen without ever looking up. "How many times do I have to tell you kids not to try and prank me. One a time!" When the scale didn't change and a round of giggles went through the room he looked up and then murmured a few words under his breath as he had the attendant come over and mark on Illya's chart where he was at for Skycorp and Chip standards.

    The entire process felt a little bit like he was a chunk of meat to be assessed and Illya hated the flashing light test. With his history they had him lay down and he waited for the lights to start. Within seconds he had a blinding headache and he lose track of time, but he didn't convulse. A slight shaking at his shoulder snapped him back to reality and nodded to the man, "Yeah, I'm ok." With his testing done he stumbled out of the exam area and went to find the door. Someone left all the materials he would need sitting next to it and now all he had to do was wait for Tiberius to arrive to help and Wynry to quiz him on all the things he didn't know.

    ***********************

    When it was finally time to get home Illya was tired out and completely exhausted. Kalizda was waiting for him and she looked tired, but she walked. As glad as Illya was to see her, he didn't want to walk. Instead of trying to make it all at one time he nodded toward a park. "Maybe we sit for a while eh?" That while turned into a long while because Kalizda fell asleep nestled in close. All while she was sleeping against him he debated if it was for the need of sleep, if she actually would get that close to him if she knew she was doing it. She'd never lied about these things before, but it was starting to make him wonder about this circumstance. She was a good woman, but perhaps she couldn't look past this.

    As soon as Kalizda woke up she moved away from him. It stung deep in his heart. He wanted her to love him the same. She said she did. This didn't look like it at all. "Et's alright." With a pained smile Illya slowly got up off the bench and he offered her a hand. Was it right to ask her? He wanted to. This wasn't the place. It would have to wait until they got home.
     
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  6. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Calysta left Illya at the gate, watching his back as he turned to go into the compound. When we he disappeared out of sight, she sighed and returned to the ship where the twins were awake in their cribs and grumpy for breakfast. Calysta fed them using their high chairs and took her time teaching them how to use the little utensils, just as she had taught Cypher and Lohgan. "Up into the mouth," she chuckled to Edgar. He had a tendency to get impatient with his fork and knife then abandon them in favor of inhaling his apple sauce or anything else as fast as he could. "Chew..." It was slow work that took patience but she didn't mind. She normally got an hour of sweet play time with the twins before they went down for their nap with full bellies. "Ten little toes like little Wild Beetles scurry in the sand.." She tickled each of Tomas' tiny toes making him squeal with laughter and then turned to Edgar. "Ten little fingers like birds in the wind..." She clapped Edgar's plump hands together to make the pleasing sound he liked then went again, naming things as she sang slightly off key. Of course, it was hard to believe they were more than a year old now and starting to jabber among themselves in a mix of Qouti, Kaerelean and Traders tongue. Every now and then she was sure she caught them communicating two each other with grunts and waves of their fists.

    Once they were down for their nap she could work as she needed to. Ever since the failed attempt at negotiations with the rebels on Zkree and the appearance of a man claiming to be Essod, things had been difficult. Six had been cooperative which sounded nice but also made her look at him doubly hard. He was giving as much as he knew to intercept Zkree codes and reestablish contact with the rebels. Supposedly. But she had not been able to verify that information yet and she couldn't trust Six. He could give them codes to a channel that would feed them false information for all she knew right now. The man claiming to be Essod was also suspicious. At no point before their sudden radio silence did they mention him coming to Kaereal and it seemed more the convenient that the rebel second in command should appear as he did. Six had said there was no way Essod would leave his people behind. Still, it wasn't enough evidence to discount that this man was the real Essod and if she did anything counter it could hurt relations with the rebels. She told neither prisoner that she had the other in custody either. She pondered these questions and more as she worked on her daily tasks and also preparing her lecture for her seminar at Skycorp. Some policies had changed and she had to brush up on them, but by and large they were the same.

    By the end of the day, she had most of it done and had cleaned up the ship too. She changed the sheets on their big Chip bed and made it carefully. Illya had been sweating moreso than usual prompting the need to wash them more frequently to avoid the white sweat stains and stink. It took only a few minutes to replace the old ones with new ones she picked up that were airy. Better than cotton or fibers woven from the grasses. They had come all the way from the colonies and Priscilla had suggested them after seeing the bedding laundry two weeks prior. They were very soft and light which she liked. Once the entire ship was clean, she ensure that the children were asleep for their afternoon nap then set out to meet Illya at the gate. She hoped he found her note and it made things a bit better. It would be hard to resist the urge to kiss on him. Only the night before had he confessed what had happened and while they had hugged...and he seemed okay with it...she wasn't entirely sure he was positive about that statement. It would be better to let him come to her with his comfort level. They hadn't been doing any of their normal activities in any department since he was injured and gone to counseling. Their nights had been struggles to sleep and their morning time was just the struggle to get the day started after a night with no sleep. Sighing to herself, she ignored that prickle in her chest. The one that told her what a touch of sadness and loneliness felt like. "I'm fine," she said to herself as she walked up to the gate, "Just fine."

    * * * * * * * * *

    "You're doing it wrong," Wynry sighed, "The pinion goes the other way."

    Tiberius grunted and looked at her with no small amount of irritation. "I used to diffuse bombs for a living. I think I know how to build a door." That earned him a pointed look to which he replied. "Do you want to build the door, and I'll quiz you?"

    Wynry hopped up from her seat on the floor and shoved her pad into Tiberius' hands before looking to Illya. "Let's show him how to build a door."

    She sat down next to Illya instead and began screwing in the hinge side of the door next to him so it was assembled properly. "Quiz me, Tib."

    "How many parsecs per galactic mark does it take using light speed to release a standard scout ship from the pull of a black hole?" Tiberius looked at the two of them with a challenge in his eyes and waited.

    "Trick question," Wynry answered, "It takes .2 parsecs out of the red zone to escape the pull of a black hole...why you would want to go to one is beyond me...but Skycorp Scout ships don't have engines built for .2 parsec light speed."

    Tiberius shoulders sagged. "Well, that immediately became un-fun. The answer is..of course...none of the above."

    Wynry smirked a little and glanced to Tiberius. "Want to try your hand at the door building again?" Her tone clearly made it a jab at him in a playful way and for the first time in days, the Terran managed a laugh at his own expense.

    They worked on the door together and Wynry gave Illya tips on how to study and what to study a she worked along side them. "When you go to class, focus on what the teacher says is important, not the entirety of the lesson plan they have put out. It's good to know all things, but it's better to know the important things...."

    It was well into the afternoon when they finished the door and Wynry nodded to Illya. "We'll work on it more tomorrow. I sent a list to your pad of the things the professors have focused on till now. That should help."

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Calysta had been waiting for about an hour and a half outside the gate for Illya. Pacing had helped kill the time and she took to walking back and forth. One of the guards offered her some water and a place to rest if she wanted, but she politely declined and kept her steps going. When Illya's large form emerged from the doorway, there was a singular urge to run right up to him and pounce. She had missed him all day and she knew how childish that sounded, but a a part of her didn't care. "Hey," she said taking his hand, "You were held over?" He explained about the door as he walked with her in uneven steps and she laughed a little. "They'll be sad when you graduate. The more you break, the more new equipment they're getting. By the time you're done we might have an entirely new compound, yeah?"

    She could tell by the way he was moving that he was hurting, so when he lead her to a little park bench and offered to sit there for awhile she didn't mind. In fact, the breeze was warm and the sun was pleasant on her skin. She sat with him and talked a little bit more before she found her eyes drooping. It would be the first real sleep she had in days if she let it happen. Neither of them had slept the night before and hardly at all in the morning. There hadn't been any time to sleep during the day. A nap would be alright. Just a short one to close her eyes for 10 minutes while the rested. She carefully let her head lean back against the bench and closed her eyes.

    When she woke the air was cooler and the sun and sunk lower in the sky than she would have have thought for a mere 10 minutes. Not only that, but despite the cool air, she was warm and she found that Illya's arm was around her as she nestled against his side. Remembering that she wasn't supposed to be approaching him with things like that, she blushed and any sort of contentment she had from the sleep vanished. "I'm sorry," she winced slightly, "I didn't mean to doze off on you." Sliding reluctantly out of his arms, she sighed and rubbed her eyes. "We should probably get home." He smiled back at her, but she could tell he was hurting. Still, he offered his hand and she took it for the rest of the journey home.

    Calysta put Edgar down into his crib and pulled his little heated blanket over his legs. It would get kicked off sometime in the night, she knew, but he would be warm until then and it was always nice to have it with because it kept him calm even when he woke up. He was a cuddler without a doubt. She finished tucking in the twins and tiptoed out of the room toward her own quarters where Illya was supposed to be getting ready for bed. The thought of going to bed wasn't a relaxing one tonight so much as it was a point of concern. She would respect his boundaries even if it took a wall of pillows or sleeping somewhere else in the night. He didn't need the added stress of her expecting physical things. Not when his back was in terrible pain and he was having issues with his past. Her hand rubbed over the bruise on her thumb and she shoved the wistful thought of curling up to her Chip- or dare she think of making love to him- then stepped inside their quarters with a yawn. She found Illya climbing into bed with a crease on his brow. "Are you alright?" she asked as she started to grab her pajamas, "There's more tea if you need it. I can heat it up for you."

    Getting ready for bed was not the relaxing task it usually was. Illya had mulled it over in his mind all day after he read that note and jabbed away at Tiberius. He was so blissfully unaware of how the drop off had gone in the morning and then the afternoon only made it worse when he realized it. Her reaction at the park was terrible. However, if he could be honest with her about the other stuff he might as well find out what was really going on. Since it seemed she didn't want him he decided to play it safe and wear his boxers for now. Sitting on the edge of the bed he frowned as he pulled the covers back. About that time Kalizda walked in and she was reaching for her pajamas. They just didn't do that unless she was pregnant and she wasn't pregnant. "No..." Illya shook his head a little. It served as an answer to all her questions. "Kalizda, yah dun kiss meh today and yah dun like being close on dah bench. I miss dat. I want tah kiss yah and hold yah close and maybe ef yah dun find meh too filty I could..." Taking a deep breath he glanced away for a moment before looking at her again. "We could work hard togeter again, eh, make love."

    A trailing 'no' grumbled out of him as she pulled off her tunic and grabbed up her pajama shirt. What he said next made her pause and glance at him in her undershirt and pants. What in the Wilds was he talking about? He couldn't get away fast enough from her the night before, and while she knew that he was in part having a bad dream she wasn't going to push things. Not after what he had told her and how he reacted. Now, it sounded as if he was upset that she hadn't been close. She was half wild at the chance to snuggle and more with him, but he might have been saying this out of some sort of guilt too. Blinking at him a few times she tried to gather her thoughts and crossed the room to see beside on the bed. Their mattress dipped low because of his weight and she had to sit a bit farther than normal to keep from rolling down into him. "Is that what you want, Illya?" Her hand settled over his and gave a gentle squeeze. She missed him and it made her chest ache. "I don't think you're filthy. Not for a second. The last thing I want is to hurt you, or push something on you that you might not want. You said you didn't want to be touched yesterday. "

    All the action of getting changed to pajama's stopped for the moment and Illya watched Kalizda make her way over to him. She sat at a slightly further space than she had on the bench when she ended up leaning into him. Her little fingers rested on top of his hand and he glanced down briefly. She was horribly confusing. He had told her that night that he chose her and that was what made it different for him. "Yes, I want yah close and I like tah kiss yah and make love. Yah meh Kalizda and I like et when yah touch meh. Et es good because I know dat I choose yah."

    He had said it and she had made sure he meant it. Her eyes locked with bright green ones for a moment as she studied him for any signs that he might be simply saying that to make her feel better. He seemed to really want to be close. Enough that he had seemed troubled over it and brought it up himself. A bubble filled with relief burst in her chest and she allowed a soft sigh to escape her. "And I chose you, Illya. I have and always will." She left the mattress slid her down till their legs bumped together and then she captured up his cheek with her free hand, her thumb stroking at his his rosy skin. "I missed you." Saying that brought on even more relief and she found herself kissing him with a little more fervor than she intended.

    Illya felt Kalizda slide toward him and she reached up to rub his cheek before he was captured into a wild frenzy of kissing. It certainly felt like she missed it as much as he had. Wrapping an arm around Kalizda's waist Illya pulled her onto his lap and he slowly leaned back until he couldn't hold them up anymore and he fell onto the bed the rest of the way with Kalizda on top. "Mmmm...." It hurt a little, but he wasn't about to stop. Instead of letting her get worried he returned her kisses with as much fervor.

    Calysta let herself be pulled into his lap and kept right on kissing him with the sort of abandon she hadn't felt in a long time. A squeak escaped her when they flopped backward but it did little to deter her. In fact, it seemed to spur him on and he grew a it wild with his kisses. They made out for a long minute until he was a bit breathless. Calsyta could have gone longer but she took the moment to look up at him from his chest. If felt good to be close to him. It felt right. Her pink lips turned to a smile and she started kissing him all over again. "I'm making up for the last month," she joked as her little lips trailed to his ear.

    The kisses grew more frequent, wild and a little longer. Illya smirked a little as Kalizda practically attacked him. In the midst of the kissing his back started to spasm and he couldn't quite breathe through the pain while kissing. Instead they let up for a moment and Kalizda whispered in his ear, "I'm making up for the last month." Laughing a little at the joke Illya sneaked a quick kiss and replied, "So am I." Carefully he moved his hands from her sides to her legging covered hips and then back to her waist. He was going to try and take his time even if he didn't feel like taking his time. "What do you say to a little more kissing and a little less cloting?"

    He laughed and she enjoyed the raspy sort of sound he made as his chest moved. He seemed more than eager to keep going and she wasnt about to disappoint him. He would never believe himself filthy or unwanted if she had anything to say about it. Or do about it as the case may be. At his little suggestion, she smiled and felt a bit bolder. Her hand on his chest snuck downward to his waist until her fingers settled right above his waist band. She was going to take her time and ensure that he understood very well how much she loved him. "I think we could do that. We have all night."


    The night was a good one and for the first time in weeks she managed more than a few hours of sleep at a time. She and Illya had made love and then spent time together whispering to one another in the dark of their quarters. "Don't laugh," she giggled into his chest. Already, she was starting to laugh at herself and she fought the urge to keep right on giggling as she tried to talk. "I've been brushing up on my Qouti style words...saving them up..." she chuckled, feeling awkward and her cheeks flushed as she looked up at him. Clearing her throat, Calysta tried to gather herself to court him like she wanted. With a sweet and much more serious face, she gazed at him intently. He was the only thing in the world in that moment. That's how he made her feel and she was going to do the same for him. "Mmm...my Chip...he has hair dark as the night and eyes the shine like the stars in the desert," she whispered to him, "They are green and wild, just like his home with his little bird. And she loves his heart, stronger than a falcon or a desert lion." It sounded nicer when he said things like that but she wanted him to understand that she wanted him and if it took trying something new, she would do it.

    She fell asleep entirely exhausted but content to be tucked under his arm for the time being until he had to move for a more comfortable position. If she had dreams, she didn't remember them and that was just as well. In the morning, she snuck out of bed early and made his breakfast and lunch while he stole his last few minutes of sleep. It all sounded very domestic, and somehow she felt better than she had in awhile. Writing out a little note for him to find in his lunch bag, she prepped him for another long day of working at Skycorp, and when he woke she kissed him on the lips and smiled. "Hey there. Everything is all ready to go and there's breakfast in the kitchen."

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    The next few days went into the same pattern save for sleep. Illya's back was far too sore to be trying anything in the bedroom other than the most intense of snugglings and she had a spot of guilt. Though, she suspected, he didn't regret a moment of it and the time was much needed between the two of them. They had missed one another dearly and while sex wasn't always needed, it hadn't hurt either. The rest of the evenings consisted of her trying to survive his tossing and turning through the night. He would lay this way, then that way, then groan out of either pain or frustration, then start again. If she was in the way, she bounced around the bed a bit like a pinball in a machine, so when he started to move...so did she. The constant interruption in sleep did lead her to have less dreams however. She just slept less and turned to a coma when she did manage to drift off.

    In the morning before her seminar a report came to her desk and she read it with surprise. Six's codes had worked and they were confirmed accurate by her spy on Zkree. They now could read Zkreen intel and what she found made her nervous. No wonder she hadn't heard from the rebels. The real Essod had been forced deep underground after an assassination attempt too and with so many people on the run they had kept to radio silence. The Zkreen authorities were still on the hunt for him and his people. With Six having proven himself for the time being and the circumstances around the other Zkreen man, it was very likely not Essod as he claimed. He hadn't given any information up either and had not offered to help. His only comment was that he wanted to see her. Only her. That wasn't going to happen and now she was stuck with figuring out what to do with him. The idea of torturing him for information made her queasy. Not the she was squeamish but she couldn't. She simply couldn't do that. Perhaps it made her a weak leader. A soft hearted, wimp. She didn't know what it made her, but she did know when she crossed that line there would be no going back. She wrestled with what to do over and over until finally she realized, she was afraid. Afraid of what this man had come so close to Pyrta...and her children...for. Afraid of losing herself to this sort of thing. There was only one thing to do when she was afraid and that was to face it.

    She called Illya before his PT and had him excused from the physical portion on the account of official Alliance business. He wouldn't want her going alone and this was something she didn't want to do alone either. When he came to the gate, she had his gear already out for him and opened the hatch to the flyer. "Hey, I thought I would spring you from PT today," she said with a strained smile. On the way to the base, she told him that they were going to speak with the man calling himself Essod. Illya had deep circles under his eyes and he was sweating hard already, probably from withdrawal, and she tried to explain a little more. "We're going to see if this man is who he says he is. I don't think he is Essod. He came here for something else, I'm just not sure what." And I just don't know how I'm going to get a spy who has made it this far to admit to it.

    Calysta stood at the frosted window and took in a small breath before giving the guard a nod to lift the screen. Illya stood at her side and slightly to the right and she stole a glance at him before the frosting on the window faded to reveal the golden haired man with the mismatched eyes. He was sitting on his bed but when the glass cleared he glanced up with almost a feline jerk and looked smirked slightly. "So, the council woman comes at last," he said, "It's about time." Calysta didn't care for the attitude and the flicker of a smirk made her uncomfortable. As if he knew something she didn't. That was alright. She knew things he didn't too. "Yes," she said, "I thought it was time we meet, Essod." The man slinked off his bed with all prior bumbling he had with Ehud gone and came up to the window. "I think so too. For a woman leading the home planet you're awfully slow to respond to key issues." Calysta kept a straight face despite the insult and stared at the man. "And for someone leading a rebellion on his home planet you are far from home. Why are you here?" He smiled and crossed his arms. "I escaped to find you. To stop that compromised meeting, though it seems you've survived well." Calysta blinked at him and then nodded. "I see. And you hoped to arrive on time? Just in time to save a potential ally? That's very convenient. Considering I received a message from you from Zkree about 30 minutes ago."

    At that moment the man's face paled and he glanced up to the guards before looking back to her. "That's not possible." Calysta held firm, her eyes narrowing. "It is when the real Essod was under seige for a few weeks and the Zkreen government's attempt to kill him failed. Now, lets try again. Why are you here?" The Zkreen's man jaw worked over and he glanced to Illya then back to the council woman before he started speaking in Zkreen only.

    The meeting with Essod was a bit of a stressful thing and Illya asked for a few other Chippequoti Elite to be on call. He wasn't in the condition to protect Kalizda, not even close. Illya waited with her to see the man and when he did immediately he hated the sight of him. It reminded him of the horrible Nova captain that had tried to take Kalizda. Instead of lunging for the man he waited. This was Kalizda's work and the man was properly locked up. However, it appeared that things were quickly going south for the man and Illya heard him change to Zkreen. "Yah speak so I know what yah say." He didn't like being left out of the conversation and especially when it was someone that would very likely want to see his wife dead.

    The man glanced up to Illya through the glass, his eyes cold and thoughtful. "You want me to speak so the barbarians at the beck and call of the Alliance woman knows what I say?" The tone he kept was casual, almost conversational and he looked back to Calysta. "I said that she is a fool for believing in reports trickling in from the Fringes. There are many spies giving false report and you are dumb to believe them."

    Calysta took in a small breath but her gaze didn't waiver. "You being among them, now I'm going to ask you again why are you here?" This time the man smirked a colder look, any sort of pretense falling away. "Or what, you'll torture me? Or have your men do it. I don't think you're the kind to get your hands dirty which is ironic considering the muck of dirty genes you come from."

    When the man seemed to think himself better he went on with the insults to the Chippequoti and Illya could feel his anger rise. They were not barbarians. He was sounding more and more like a Federation pig. Illya growled a little as the man turned his comments toward Kalizda. Then it all came loose when the man suggested that Kalizda's genes were dirty. Illya slammed into the glass "Yah bastard. Dat's nut what yah here tah say and I can arrange tah have yah head ripped off ef dat's what yah want."

    Calysta resisted the urge to jump when Illya's fist slammed against the glass causing it to let out a solid boom. Still, she kept a straight face and looked at the spy who wasn't showing fear at Illya's words. Instead, he stepped closer to the glass and looked directly at Calysta, his breath fogging up the glass slightly as he breathed down at her. "I came to watch and watch I have." He tapped his temple and moved even closer, bending downward so he could look her in the eye. "And I can tell you, The rebels will die Councilwoman. There's no need for you to join them. Withdraw."

    "Let me in. I'm gonna rip his fuckin head off!" Illya managed to get the words out nice and clean without much accent and he slammed into the glass again. "She es nut gonna die. I would tear yah apart before she dies. Yah filty Federation pig."

    She knew that the Zkreen had a nasty habit of making enhancements on their people even if they were perfectly genetically designed. The fact that he touched his temple bothered her and even more when he gazed at her eye to eye. Illya lashed out, slamming his hand against the glass again and she knew this meeting needed to end. She had gotten what she needed and that was enough for now. The imposter's blue and green eyes practically glittered as he looked up Illya with little worry about his head being ripped off. "I'm sure you're quite capable of doing that, war dog with green eyes. If you don't want that to happen, see that your wife withdraws." It didn't take much to figure out the brute of a man was her husband. Then he stepped back as if he had nothing more to say. "And you will sit here to the end of your life," Calysta said as the glass frosted over. As soon as it was done. she put a hand on Illya's arm and squeezed. "Let it go. We got what we came here for. It's okay."

    The only way the Federation would have sent this kind of threat was to try and intimidate them. Everyone was scrambling in this war and the Federation was scrambling more now than they had before. They were being choked out, but the threat wasn't fake. Illya knew when they made these kinds of threats they usually had a way to accomplish it. They made sure they made threats that made a person feel confident and then they would watch a few leaders defy them and promptly carry out their word. It made others terrified even if they only had to kill 1 or 2. It was all run by fear and Illya knew that Kalizda was their target. Once the glass frosted and the audio was cut off Kalizda reached for his arm and Illya was still pressed against the glass with sweat pouring down his face. Kalizda was their target, they must have found a way to get to her. Looking at Kalizda with wild eyes he gave her a fierce expression. "We get what we need, but so do dey. He's federation Kalizda and I dun see many hits dey treaten tah make dat dun happen. Yah let meh help yah make plans tah stay safe and dah children. Ef dey can't get yah dey will get dah kids. He knows who I am Kalizda and et means dey have eyes on us somewhere. Maybe at Skycorp, or at home. I dun know. In dah war sometimes dah enemy would call meh dah Green Eyed War Dog because dey make insult. Meh name es nut dog."

    Illya was covered in sweat that she could feel even though his shirt and he still looked nearly wild with anger when his gazed turned on her. Her hand slid up his arm as she listened to him without interrupting him until her hand came up to his sweat slick cheek. "They've already tried once and I know they will try again," she told him confidently, "But I can tell you that I lied to the man. I wanted him to speak like he had the upper hand and he did. I haven't heard from the actual Essod for weeks because they've been forced to comm silence for awhile. He had an attempt on him too. Six helped me decipher a few of the Zkreen codes during the silence and we know what to look for now and how they got some of their information. I just couldn't trust Six too much until I knew that he was right about this one. So, I lied to him to cross check what I knew and I didn't have anything more than the usual threats to go by until now and you know those are pretty standard. We've been ignoring those for years." She gazed at him with a confident but gentle sort of look. "I'm not going to die but we are going to be prepared either way, yeah? We will make a plan."

    The mild explanation felt a bit irritating. Illya felt like he had been played. Those in the Federation must have pulled up their file on him and started to feed it as a common part of their diet to their spies. These men were supposed to become familiar with his fears, weaknesses and life. All Illya could think about was all the ways he was vulnerable and his family was vulnerable now. Holding Kalizda's gaze his softened some and he answered her, "We will make a plan and we're going tah kill every Federation recruit dat tries tah hurt yah, or dah kids."

    Limping toward the exit of the jail Illya held his hand out for Kalizda. "Yah nut doing dis alone. I'm here and maybe I'm nut much good ef dah fight comes to us, but I can make plans tah help keep et far away and keep all of us safe. I dun want yah putting yahself out dere like some little target eh?"

    He slipped out of her grasp and headed toward the surface door with a heavy limp. For a moment, she thought he might be angry with her for having done this while he was injured and sick. She still had brains though and while she was no chip in combat, she had to out think them from time to time. Finally, he turned around and said something that surprised her and some how took a heavy weight from her at the same time. She took his hand and held it gently. "Either way it happens, Illya, I trust you and I love you. You and the children are all the reason I need not to make myself a birdy target," she said, giving him a hopeful glance, "We'll get through it together, yeah?"

    "Good, I dun want tah see dah Federation ever touch yah." Illya met her gaze for a moment and then grumbled a little. "Why dun yah tell meh more of yah plan before dis?" He needed to know her reasoning before he got offended over it even if he was already feeling a little offended. It wasn't like this was a top secret mission that he couldn't know anything about and he certainly wouldn't ever do anything to jeopardize her and the kids. He understood these situations just fine.

    When he asked his question, a heady blush came to her cheeks and she gave him sort of look. "I've been working on this since the first attempt...when they...when you were hurt. All day, all night if I had to.... But I didn't have anything until this morning when those codes the other boy provided actually worked and I had reason to believe him. Thats when I asked you to go with me." The blush deepened and she walked along side him. "I didn't know what I was going to do to get that spy to confirm what I found and it didn't occur to me to lie to him until I was standing there and he smirked at me. I didn't want to see him tortured for information and I didn't know what else to do...so I let him think what he wanted. I'm sorry it was sudden. I wasn't trained to do undercover spy work or anything, and I feel a bit lucky I've made it this far."

    Pursing his lips slightly Illya glared at her. "Yah walk here witout a plan? Yah right, yah damn luckeh dat he dun take yah on some wild trip. Dis es dangerous and I dun want yah tah jes dabble in et because yah tink yah can. Kalizda, little mistakes get yah killed and maybe oters too. Dun hide dese tings from meh."

    Calysta bristled a little at the idea that she was hiding things from him. "He was under lock down and I wasn't hiding anything from you. I'm not trying to get anyone killed, I'm trying to avoid it."

    "I know dat yah try tah avoid et. Jes tell meh next time before yah do someting wild eh?" Illya was more worried at this point than upset and he couldn't help showing it. "Kalizda, I get very worried about yah and dah kids. Yah know dat even ef I do meh best in dah past I could nut save meh family and I dun want anyting tah happen to yah or dah kids now."

    Calysta stopped walking for a moment and her hand tugged his to a halt. Her grey eyes looked over his carefully and her brow creased. "I know you do," she said quietly, "And I'm not going to let that happen to you. Not again. Not ever again."

    Nodding silently Illya let Kalizda say what she would. She could do her best to stay safe and help keep the children safe, but she had no control over what happened. None of them did. They could just work together to keep the children safe and try to survive this war. They were both major targets and it was only becoming more clear the longer the war drug on.

    He didn't say anything and she knew he was thinking what she was thinking. Brave words for a little woman with little control. Her attempt to encourage him failed, she clammed up and kept on walking with him toward the ship.

    She was quiet for the rest of the evening for the most part, keeping to her thoughts other than what was necessary. The rebel named Six would be allowed amnesty on Pyrta under close supervision of Ehud and how he saw fit to monitor him. He would not leave Pyrta without escort under any circumstances. She received video feed as he was released from his holding cell and the pale Zkreen man blinked into the sun as if he were seeing it for he first time and smiled when the wind brushed at his hair. Turning to one of the guards he asked a question and Calysta felt a sort of sadness for the teen. He asked if he could ride in a seat with a window so he could see outside. Six had likely never been this free in his life and that would be an adjustment for him. When that was done and the boy was successfully transported, Calysta resolved to begin preparations on what would be needed to give aid to the rebels on Zkree. She asked Ehud and Kirit for their help in formulating a plan and would ask Illya what he thought when they had something put together. He would have input and if he liked what they came up with she would okay it.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Calysta tugged at the neck of her new Skycorp captain's uniform. She was proud to be in uniform again, but it was highly annoying to be wearing one at the same time. Swyft had insisted she come looking professional rather than in her usual grey tunic and leggings. So, here she was waiting outside a class room in boots, her dress uniform, with her hair in a long braid. She'd even bothered to put on make up to make herself more presentable.

    A round of applause signaled her to open the door and step into the largest of the seminar rooms. The lights were already focused on the podium and a wave of nostalgia warmed her chest. It felt like walking into the past for a glimmer of a second. Those times were the hardest in her life, and yet, she looked at them with a little fondness too. That feeling dissapated when a few people outright gasped in surprise as she took the podium. "Thank you Commander Swyft," she said into the microphone which was still set much too tall for her, Swyft stepped forward and quickly bent the microphone down to her level for which she gave a grateful nod. "I haven't stood in this hall for a long time and I am no less pleased to be here now." Her eyes scanned over the crowd, looking for Illya as she spoke. When she spied him stuff into a small chair at the end of the row, she gave him a smile and continued her lesson. "I've come to talk to you about making first contact with other races and what that entails. I have made first contact several times along side council members in the past as well as in my current role. You've learned that no contact is made unless that species has developed off planet capabilities in order to preserve their order and way of life. You've all learned that contact is made only when a before engaging alien species in battle, any and all attempts to make first contact and achieve non-military resolution must be made. There are a few rules that you have to consider regarding this second rule and it isn't always an easy task...."

    She went on to describe her experiences, making sure they understood common pitfalls and things to look out for when contact is made or unavoidable, then took questions at the end. There was one question that surprised her and it came from the large Udine woman in the back. "So, you say that Skycorp is neutral and they don't follow the wars of extraterrestrial species beyond official Alliance members, and yet you broke that rule and the rule of non-military aggression in regards to the Tannas too when you went AWOL."

    It was a tough question and she had a point. She wasn't asking to be cruel or to jab at the council woman. This was a legitimate concern, one that she had made sure to avoid speaking of while in the class, Calysta looked around the room and considered her answer carefully. "Yes, I did break the rules," she said, "And I lost my commission for it and if I had the chance to take it back. I wouldn't. I made the decision to do what I believed was right, and in the end we can debate rules here till Kinte crumbles into the Wilds, but each situation is different. You've demonstrated my main point here today, Cadet. Abide by the rules, and they keep you safe. You wont always know what to do in the field when things go wrong and no rule accounts for everything. I knew the price when I did what I did and I accepted it. What you do in the field is up to you to decide and for you to claim responsibility for. Make decisions you can live with." There was a slow, almost stunned round of applause and she gave Swyft a nod again before stepping back from the podium to allow him to take their attention again.

    Calysta shook the hand of each cadet as they left the room and was met with a myriad of looks. Some disapproving, which she was used to, and some wild eyed with what she thought was admiration. That was something she wasn't used to in the slightest. Finally, her big Chip came out of the class room to join the growing crowd of curious cadets around her. "Cadet," she smiled up at him warmly, "You seemed very interested in my lecture today."
     
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  7. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The rest of the week at Skycorp was painfully slow and the weekend was short. It seemed that Illya barely got home and the kids all wanted him. Even if Cypher wanted to be a big, strong man like his dah, he desperately wanted to be a child too and be close to his father. The boy almost clung to Illya in every moment that he could. Cypher found every excuse to read to his father to show him his skills in deciphering words and he showed Illya many of his school projects.

    "Look dah, I make drawing of dah ship dat we fly for dah teacher. Dey ask what meh favorite ting es and I tell dem dat I like tah fly in dah big ship wit yah and mam. Den we are always togeter." In the next picture he drew an odd looking stick person with things hanging on it and some of them Illya thought resembled large turds. "Eh, what are dose?" Pointing to the unsavory stick figure Illya waited for an interpretation from his son. Cypher beamed with pride, "Dat's you! Yah holding all of us. I try tah draw mam white, but she dun show on white paper very good, so she's nut dere." With a knowing nod Illya simply accepted that he was the large, deformed person with quite a few little turd children hanging on him. "Looks like yah art es uh...." Meeting his son's gaze he had to think of what he might say that wouldn't hurt the boy's feelings. "Looks like et was someting yah tink about and take yah time on. Good job."

    Nodding enthusiastically Cypher soaked up the encouragement and then pointed to the little cup on the table with a mix of grass and weeds with a few flowers too. "I got dat for mam. Girls like flowers."

    "Yah got nice little arrangement for yah mum dere." Illya knew that the little arrangement of 'flowers' looked rough at best, but his son was trying to please them and do nice things. "Now, how about we try tah make some nice food for when yah mum gets out of her office. Den she dun have tah work so hard tahnight eh?" With that Illya got up from the couch and worked with his boy to get a snake stew ready. Since Illya was the cook he made the stew with extra thick gravy. He'd noticed that Kalizda got excellent flavor in the stew, but the gravy wasn't nearly thick enough. Tonight he'd made dinner as a special gift to her and he would make it nice and thick for himself. "Den we have crem after dinner eh?" Again his son agreed whole heartedly with the plan.

    Dinner was only a few minutes late, but Kalizda looked pleased enough to step out of her office to see dinner was already mostly done. Cypher was put to setting the table and Illya was trying his best to finish the flatbread with one twin on each leg grasping at his pants and wailing as if they were starving. Lohgan sat on the counter near the stove and dipped into the kettle of stew with a little spoon to help herself to some bites. There were little splatters of gravy all down the front of her, but she was pleased and that was all that counted right now. "Dinner es comin up!" With a yell Illya stepped back and he grabbed his flatbread out of the oven. "Hurry up, yah get to yah chairs and Cypher help yah in dem." The twins started to scuttle off toward the table nomming the whole way and Lohgan held her arms out for her dah to help her off the counter. When the mad scramble for the food was finally over, Illya went over to pull Kalizda's seat out for her and served her first and then the kids. "Now we can eat."

    **************************************

    The weekend had flown by and Illya found himself back at school again. His days were long, nights short and cravings were worse, but the withdrawal symptoms aside from the cravings had seemed to level out a little bit. To save himself some time Illya had started to do his homework at night when he couldn't sleep and he was turning in large volumes of it at a time. So far he was caught up in his math, science, navigation, half his history, and half his language. That was going to leave him with only recovering enough to work on the practicals that he'd been watching intently when they went into the pool to practice. He was planning on getting himself caught up by the end of the week and he knew Swyft didn't review files except once a week. Last week he hadn't done as well, but this week he was intending on getting the rest of it done.

    So far there was only one class that was far more problematic than even language and that was diplomacy. There were so many little rules and customs that he had started to lose track of it on the first day. They were coming up on a small class project of scenarios that were going to be acted out and he was dreading them. So far he'd scored the lowest on every diplomacy quiz. Like most of the other class grades the scores were posted for everyone to see. He held the top scores in math, navigation and a good place in science. He'd lost the best spot in science due to his inability to remember certain things about different celestial bodies. He'd memorized the chemistry part and the small section of physics was easy, but a lot of the other things were still hit and miss.

    With a lot of diligent work Illya was nearly caught up by the last day for the week. He hadn't broke anything else and he'd worked almost all night every night to be sure he could surprise Swyft before he left for the weekend. Getting up and moving one more day felt torturous, but Illya knew that he could do it for just one more day. That was all it was going to take. When he got to the compound it was close to the time he would need to be showing up for role call ad he slipped into the doors for the morning check in only a few minutes before he heard the sound of Swyft's boots coming down the hall. He had made it this time without having to run like he did earlier in the week. All the classes were going like they usually did, with the exception that they would have a guest speaker today.

    Wandering through the hall with Wynry and Tiberius he glanced at the two of them and grinned a little. "I turn en meh work tah Swyft tahday so dat he can update meh record before next week. I tink we can still be caught up wit dah rest of dah class. Finished almost all of et. Jes little language left." Learning the Terran and Kaerelean language was almost his worst subject. Illya was surprised to find out his opening diplomacy score was below 50%. Almost everyone knew it was that low, but he thought surely he knew a little more than that about diplomacy.

    Stepping into the large auditorium Illya limped his way toward one of the front seats. There weren't any seats here that were Chip sized, so he sat toward the front. He would need to pay attention to this speaker because their information was going to be valuable with his tests in the future. Whatever focus he had for the speech was gone and his entire focus was on the fact that Kalizda was the one speaking. Illya leaned forward in his seat and he watched her intently with only the occasional glance around the room. It was in part a matter of habit to watch for strange behavior, or anything that could be considered threatening. It was not likely that anything would happen here, but they were in an open sort of school and there was a good chance someone here wouldn't like her and they would get a chance to hurt her if they wanted.

    Gradually Illya started to relax as he realized that no one here was going to do anything stupid for now. Every now and then Illya would catch Kalizda looking at him and he'd wink at her, or grin a little more broadly. It was good to have her here for a while and he wondered if she would be around long enough to have lunch with him. It seemed like Kalizda had barely taken the stage and she was getting off again.

    Illya waited in his seat for a few of the other students to get up first and head out. He planned to be one of the last because he was moving slow and because he wanted to catch Kalizda in the hall before he had to move to his next class. Once he felt that enough of the students had moved through he struggled out of the small chair and carefully pushed the seat back up. He'd almost permanently made the folding seat non-folding. Grabbing his pack he gingerly slid one arm through it and then the next. The line was still moving slowly, but when it was his turn he grinned broadly at Kalizda. "I was very interested in yah lecture and I might be interested in yah too. How yah feel about a little alien encounter wit meh?"

    When Illya spoke most of the movement in the hallway came to an abrupt halt. How incredibly bold it was for the Chip Cadet to smooze up to the councilwoman and further more...how inappropriate. The cadet's passed shocked glances, entirely curious to see what the council woman would say while Tiberius leaned against the wall resisting the urge to laugh at all the ridiculous wide eyed looks everyone was giving Blackwolf. If it was one thing the man knew how to do well, it was start a rumor. Calysta's face flared hot red and her smile turned slightly shy. He was doing this to tease her and she knew it, but she would rise to the challenge. Or try to. "Oh, I'm afraid my people's ways are strange. You'll...have to prove yourself at first contact, cadet." Tiberius nearly choked and Wynry covered her mouth in an attempt to keep from laughing at the councilwoman's challenging reply. She was playing coy with Illya and it was worth it to see the increasingly shocked looks on everyone's faces.

    Suddenly it grew quiet in the hall and Illya ignored it for now. He liked to rile people up and he liked flirting with Kalizda even more. A bright red flame burned under Kalizda's pale skin. She gave a bold attempt at turning his flirting around and it was even better. They were in a good game now and he moved a little closer. Placing one hand on the wall behind Kalizda he gave her a quick wink. "I tink I can handle yah strange ways. As for dah first contact, yah should consider dere es a lot of meh for such a small woman. I'm sure ef yah give meh chance I can impress yah."

    "Well, damn," Tiberius snickered under his breath as Illya didn't give up the game. Calysta glanced at Illya and her eyes followed his arm planted on the wall above her shoulder as he leaned over her. When her gaze met his again she smiled a lopsided sort of smile despite all of the heat in her cheeks and tilted her chin up. "Aye, but you forget never to underestimate even the smallest of us," she said, "We're the hardest to impress." With every world she slid a little closer as if she were telling a great secret until she grinned widely and retreated again. "I'm sure your diplomatic skills will come to good use during this first contact." That comment illicited a chuckle from the crowd because they all knew exactly how diplomatic Blackwolf wasn't.

    Her coy game was heating up and Illya liked it. He leaned in a little as she moved a little closer herself. "Yah have tah let meh try before I can say ef yah hard tah impress." Illya was sure he was going to win this round with how red her cheeks were and then she mentioned the diplomacy. A flash of mischief went through his eyes and he chuckled right along with the rest of them. "Mmm...yah damn right meh diplomatic skills are gonna come in handy." Dropping his hand from the wall he stepped back just enough to get the space he needed to rest a hand on each hip and then leaned down and kissed her.

    If the cadets watching the scene had jaws like a snake their mouths would be dragging the floor. Cadet Blackwolf had outright grabbed up the woman like he owned her and kissed her. Tiberius watched on with no small amount of amusement and Wynry's cheeks turned a deep shade of pink as she squinted her eye shut against the scene. When he chuckled, Calysta knew she'd had it and no sooner did she think of something to say was her husband wrapping two warm hands around her hips then pulling her into a case. She let out a surprised little mumble and kissed him right back. One hand settled on his chest and the other slipped around to his neck where her fingers played with the curls of his hair. By the time they were kissing she had all but forgotten the rest of the crowd around them until someone let out an encouraging whistle. "Go, Blackwolf, go!...Holy Goddess' above I can't believe he did that...and she's kissing him back...I didn't think the council woman could kiss like that..."

    Illya had been waiting the entire session she was talking to catch her up and kiss her. This was just the right time. He still had a few classes to go, but a little kiss was more than welcome. The entire hall erupted into a mix of statements. Most of the things being said were a blur because they were all being said almost at the same time. Some were hushed and then others were louder, like the whistle and someone calling out loudly. Illya turned slightly and he frowned a little. "Yah herd of Nyte Beasts, go gawk somewhere else. Dere's nut much tah see here." Taking his jacket off he held it up to sneak in one more kiss. While he was still close he leaned in toward her ear after the kiss and whispered. "Yah gonna eat lunch wit meh tahday? Did yah leave meh a note, or did yah plan on saying et in person?" With a little grin he leaned back again so he could see her. More than likely the students in the hall were wondering now if they were just busy kissing, but it was primarily a mini conversation.

    She could hear a few whistling sounds but Illya kept right on kissing her in front of all the cadets undeterred. If anything it increased his tempo for a moment before he told them off and then swept his fight jacket over them both. Calysta stole another kiss under their little tent as he pulled away just far enough to whisper in her ear. The touch of his breath on her cheek tingled and she liked being so close to him as he asked if she would eat lunch with him. “Aye, I thought I might deliver my words in person today,” she whispered back. He had lipstick on his lips from kissing her and she was half tempted to leave it there to show the cadets who the man belonged to. Her thumb brushed at the corner of his mouth and wiped away some of the more wild red marks before she leaned in a little closer again. “I wanted to surprise you a little. Of course, it will probably cause a bit of a stir. Council Woman invades Skycorp cafeteria to kiss the first Chippeqouti man in the class.” She said the words as a coy smile curled to the corner of her lips. There was the sound of shuffling feet beyond their jacket barrier and then a throat cleared expectantly. Calysta’s cheeks blushed again instantly because she knew that sound. “Swyft.”

    It was entirely pleasing that he was going to have his Kalizda join him for lunch and Illya grinned blissfully unaware of the lipstick marks on his lips and around his mouth. There were even a few lipstick marks on his left cheek. "Et's someting dey will have tah live wit. We get tah laugh all dah way ho..." Before Illya could say anything further he heard the familiar sound of Swyft interrupting. Slowly lifting his jacket Illya saw that the hallway had mostly cleared and he straightened himself out. "Sir." He was likely late for classes now, but he needed to wait to be dismissed at this point.

    Swyft raised a brow at the couple, noting the lipstick all over the Chips mouth. His eyes flicked from him to the councilwoman and back again. "As much as you're likely enjoying yourself, the next class is starting, Cadet." Calysta's face was entirely pink by this point and she gave Illya a playful sort of look. "Apologies commander. I wasnt trying to keep one of your Cadets occupied." Swyft quirked a grey brow again and nodded. "Hmm. This one has alot of work to do, but lunch is soon. " Calysta stood on her toes and kissed Illya's cheek gently. "Go and I'll see you soon, yeah?"

    "Yes sir..." Illya agreed that he was enjoying himself and he he was late for his next class, but he was still waiting for the dismissal. Instead of getting it from Swyft he got it from Kalizda with a little peck to his right cheek. Winking at Kalizda he turned and jogged down the hall. He was coming to the bend and saw the janitor pushing a mop bucket in just enough time to jump over the bucket and give a hoot. Turning the corner from there he jogged the rest of the way to his class. A few of the students glanced back at him and smiled and he had no idea it was because he was wearing the Council Woman's lipstick. The class couldn't go fast enough and when it was out this time Illya was the first one out the door of the classroom and he raced to the cafeteria to find he beat Kalizda there and just meant that he would hold a good spot for her in line. When Kalizda entered the cafeteria Illya waved to her. "Over here." Not that she couldn't spot him, but he liked to make sure she couldn't miss him.

    Calysta couldnt resist smiling as she heard Illya yell down the hallway excitedly toward his next class. It was the most chipper she had seen him in weeks and it was impossible not to take some joy in it. When he was gone Swyft invited her to walk with him to the flight deck and she nodded. Even the prospect of new air craft couldnt cut through the anticipation she had for eating lunch with her Chip. When lunch came around she spotted Illya easly because he was close to 7ft tall, tan...and waving at her furiously. A broad smile came over her face as soon as her eyes landed on him and she walked over as a few others watched or nodded in recognition. She slipped a hand up to his chest and stood on her toes to add another lipstain to his cheeks. "Found you," she chuckled. About that time Rezna walked up and crossed her arms with no small amount of amusement on her face. "You continue to surprise me Blackwolf. How does a mug like yours keep getting kissed on like that?"

    When Kalizda reached Illya half the cafeteria was staring at them, but he didn't care. It was good to have little wife here with him. Leaning down slightly he made it easier for her to kiss him and he wrapped an arm around her waist. Naturally, someone was going to interrupt and Rezna had to be the one. Illya shrugged at her question and answered plainly, "I dunno, maybe ets same way yah considered female. Et jes happens."

    Calysta let him sneak an arm around her waist and pull her a little closer as he quipped back to Rezna. A low 'oooh' sound rose up from those who heard the remark and Rezna frowned. "Yeah. I'm no dainty female, but on my planet there's no use for that." Then she did something somewhat rare and nodded respectfully to Calysta before departing. Calysta wrapped her small arm up Illya's back, careful not to hit tender spots along the way and chuckled. "I see you've made a few friends." Wynry and Tiberius caught up with them but opted to let them sit a table alone together before they got their trays. The mean spirited cook went from sour to sickly sweet at the sight of the councilwoman and even handed her an extra dessert of omne pudding with cream. Calysta sat with Illya, smiling all the while and slid her extra portion over to him as they chatted. "They let me test fly one of the new flyers today," she grinned, "If you thought.my racing flyer was fast...this one is a real eyelid peeler." She could tell others were still staring, particularly a group consisting of one boy and two girls inching closer to listen. "It kind of figures the.council woman would date a Chip. No wonder she likes them over her own."

    Having the Council Woman with him was handy because the lunch lady was a lot nicer. Illya made sure to ask for extra meat on his platter and he got it, even if the lady glowered at him when she thought Kalizda wasn't looking. Walking over to the table Illya sat down with Kalizda and he grinned broadly when she gave him her extra pudding. It was good to see her smiling and talking about the flyers. "Yah telling meh dat yah need one?" He had a feeling she would want to go racing again. "I tink I could make enough money tah get yah one soon." While they were talking a few younger members started to lean in closer and Illya shifted to look at them. "She es Chip. Chippequoti adopt her. Kalizda woman es nut outsider tah dah Chippequoti. Now yah know dat she prefers her own kind eh?"

    Calysta let Illya reply to the curious cadets. This was his work place and she was.going to hang back and let him do as he would. Illya's reply made the boy stagger a bit but he came back fast with more.questions. "Does that happen often? Can you only date then if they are adopted? How does courtship work in the Chip culture?" Now, the flow of questions was spewing out and attracting attention again. Calysta blushed lightly at the.attention and slipped a hand over Illya's under the table.

    It was one of the few times that Illya had actually said anything about his culture here at Skycorp and it immediately turned into a flood of questions. "No, et doesn't happen often. Kalizda es adopted as Chippequoti out of few." Of course the follow up question was essentially asking if Chippequoti were exclusive to their own. "Chippequoti can be wit oters. Jes nut preferable all dah time and Chippequoti dun court. We turn 17, girls 17 and older come tah look at all dah boys dat become men and dey ask one dey like. He says yes and dey bot walk over to dah Elders and say dat dey are agreed, yah say married. Den dey are togeter for dah rest of dere life. Dat es how Chippequoti do et."

    "You mean, you just pick? Just like that?" A murmur of surprise went through the group and the curious boy was writing away in his notes. "Fascinating. And why did you choose him council woman?" Apparently a woman had a fair amount of power within the social structure and they were curious what she would say. "Well, um. We sort of picked each other." The note taker grinned at them "And what about children? I've heard babies are highly prized."

    Illya sighed when the questions seemed to multiply instead of diminish. He didn't want to spend his lunch talking to this kid and especially not after he brought up the subject of children. "Yep, babies are very special tah dah Chippequoti. Now I eat meh lunch and yah eat yah lunch."

    The looked disapointed but when the council woman nodded to him, clearly confirming that was her wish as well, his shoulders slacked and he scuttled on back to his own lunch. Calysta turned to Illya smiling and.chuckled. "They're curious. Ite not a bad thing. It just means they've accepted you and want.to learn." She took a bite of her sandwich and inched a little.closer to him looking like a school girl who had a crush. "Now where were we? Oh! The flyers!. I havent raced since I was pregnant with Lohgan...not after Elian...I might try again at the flight festival if I can." He had offered to get her a racing flyer on top of everything he had already done for her and she was half tempted. She loved flying fast still. "Maybe we can save up together, yeah?"

    Kalizda was still thinking the best of people, but for all Illya knew these kids could just be gathering information for more diabolical purposes. "Well, yah know dat dah next question was gonna be ef one of us had kids eh?" That was the way these things seemed to go. "Maybe yah jes offer tah come back again and teach a little about Chippequoti culture and yah bring one of dah Elders wit tah consult on bigger questions yah maybe dun know. Den yah can talk about Chip diplomacy too." He figured that was good enough for now. It was something Kalizda could think about and then she moved onto the flyer conversation. "Oh, I tink we could save togeter. I would like tah put bet on dah best odds for flyer again. Maybe dat will be yah dis time too."

    Calysta nodded at his idea. It was a good one and might help pave the way for more interested Chips to join Skycorp if they liked. Edgar would be best suited for that task and she could even have them come to Pyrta on a field trip or show a hologram if the elder was too tired to come out to Pryta. "Edgar would probably like to come. I like that idea actually and I think I will propose it." She leaned up and kissed his cheek. "Thank you." Settling in her seat, she chuckled a little and looked to Illya. "Imagine their surprise when they ask how old Edgar is." They talked a little more when he mentioned wanting to put another bet on her to win, she raised a brow curiously. "You would still bet me after all this time, huh?"

    Even if he hadn't been much help it was nice to know that Kalizda thought he had a good idea. He could still be useful even if it wasn't in the usual way. A grin spread over his face and it stayed there long after that part of the conversation was over and part of it was due to the kiss he got. "I would bet on dah best racer. Yah jes gotta be dah best and I know yah are. Chippequoti like meh dun settle for anyting, but dah best eh?"

    "Oh is that so," she chuckled, her cheeks flushing lightly, "I'm glad I can impress. When we win, I'll take you out for a night on the town, we'll dance and sing the old floating songs...I'll tell anyone who will hear about my little bird wings and the warm Chip breeze that makes me fly. I'll tell them all he goes by the name Illya and he's mine." She was feeling wistful now and thoroughly flirtatious with all his attention today. "And at the end of the night we'll watch the sun come up and still enjoy the win."

    "Hmmm...good, den we better plan tah get yah faster flyer for dah races and I will get good seat for dah race and best room tah stay in dat night." Watching her do things like this made him nervous sometimes, but he also knew that she loved it and she was more than capable. More of the nervousness sprung from the fact that last time she raced there was an attack and he nearly lost her for it.

    "Maybe we can go looking on Juiya over the weekend if you want to. We can take the kids too. It won't be but a few more months until we have to look at the...safest...flyers for Rose." It seemed settled and she laid a hand over his, her thumb stroking his rough knuckles. He was so good to her and she knew he was doing this for her and their children. Her eyed searched his face for a long moment and she almost wanted to ask if he was still happy doing this. She hoped he was and maybe she would ask when they were alone at home and comfortable. For now, she was going to talk with him as much as he liked and shower him with affection as much as she could. A naughty little thought came to mind when she thought of the lack of a note with lunch and she decided to try a little something someone had once suggested to her to see what would happen. Towards the end of the lunch break, she leaned up and whispered lightly in his ear a promise to treat him well in anyway he liked when he made through the day and after the dishes were done from dinner.

    Kalizda's little promise stuck in Illya's head all day. The only thing he could think about for the rest of the afternoon and through the physical activity was getting home, eating, and doing the dishes so he could get to some hard work with Kalizda. At the end of the day Illya was on his way out to the gates when he saw the line outside of Swyft's office and he was reminded of the homework he had to turn in. Reluctantly Illya turned back to go get in line with the others and he waited impatiently for his turn.

    When he finally got to step into Swyft's office Illya grabbed all the papers out of his pack and he set them on the man's desk. "I only have few days from last week and dis week tah do tah catch up in dah language classes. Yah have everyting else dere. Now meh team es nut behind and I work dis weekend and I give yah all dah rest of dah work first ting on Monday morning eh?" It looked like the man was surprised and Illya wasn't sure why. He was a little late getting all his work turned in, but he did it. "I go home now and I sleep in meh bed and come back feeling better next week. Meh back will improve and dah doctor clear meh for dah water and running next week I tink."

    It was all Illya could do to keep himself from rushing out the door of the office, but he held his composure as he waited to be dismissed. When he stepped out of the office Illya gave a loud shout and then jogged for the gates. He was on his way back to the ship and he was going to make some dinner and clean up afterword with Kalizda. Naturally he had the end goal in mind, but he didn't have to tell her that's why he would be so eager to get things cleaned up after dinner. Then he could sleep in the next morning and have a nice, relaxing weekend at home with the kids. Ideas and plans were already running through Illya's mind and one of them was to get the animals at home all washed up and then give the twins some rides on the bear. Before he could finish planning his weekend out Illya reached the gates and he showed his permanent pass to the guardsman and then stepped outside to find his Kalizda. Spotting his little woman he grinned, "Yah ready tah get hoe and have some dinner?"
     
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