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aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
The rest of the afternoon passed slowly as their conversation in the flyer seemed to grate between them like a sticky gear that didn't want to turn over. She picked out a few nice items to change over the house, but didn't purchase everything she might have had things been different. Truthfully, she was too distracted to really focus on what she wanted or come up with any design or game plan for the house. She got a few essentials. A few soft blankets and some arrangement materials, a set of place mats and warm smelling candles. They spent a long time walking around the Terran Town area of Kinte. The people here were familiar and the sights and sounds were too. It was slightly comforting in a way, given the stranger she felt like she was walking next to. Every now and then she would steal glances at him. He was always looking at something else and wearing his usual tepid expression like the mask it was. She could hear that broken laugh and see that awful, twisted smile he'd given her. It made her shiver. And yet, she knew he wasn't terrible. Something was just terribly, terribly wrong.

They ate dinner in the same, strange silence. She knew now he couldn't feel much of anything. Saying how she felt was a moot point. The words from earlier in the flyer made her sad in a way that made her chest ache. Ehud had been living this way for so long and simply pretending. She felt hurt to some degree but also felt sadness for him. A ghost of a life was all he could muster. She didn't each much of her dinner and was grateful when they landed on Pyrta again.

*********

After a day and a half of waiting, two hours and dozens of forms, Priscilla sat across from the counselor and the two beefy looking nurses feeling as if she'd been slapped again. This time it wasn't Ehud's words but the counselor. "Our best diagnosis at this point requires a treatment that you'll only need once a month. What we're seeing is evidence of manic depression, and psychosis.....we believe the onset is from PTSD and other trauma left untreated for a period of time. Earlier treatment may have prevented this, perhaps not. ...Sometimes trauma like this causes irreversible damage. Our best option is a simple injection. You just have a monthly appointment at the clinic. The dose is set high for now...."

She listened to what they said in silence and silently, vehemently, scolded herself. She should have seen something was wrong a long time ago. Part of her was relieved to know that it wasn't all her acting entitled and crazy. That he really did have problems with feeling anything. Another part of her felt terrible he had gone untreated for so long that he was on the cusp of certifiable. He had scared her in that flyer and now she knew why.

He took the shot, at least this time, and sounded as if he hated the idea. Would it make him feel better? How long would that last if he had to keep taking it? There were questions and doubts and fears running around her mind. So much so that she opted for a long shower alone and cried. At least he wouldn't be able to hear her over the water. What was she going to do? This wasn't his fault. She felt more isolated and alone than ever and she couldn't rely on him. Not to mention poor Sien had no idea why his father was so distant. She sobbed in the shower and when the water ran cold, she dressed in a soft, much more conservative robe to crawl into bed with. There was a fair distance between herself and him. It was going to stay that way. He was no more capable of giving her comfort as he was able to receive it right now. She would have to deal with things tomorrow. Right now, Ehud needed to have this medicine work and a consistent mood from her, despite what she felt. Who knew what would happen to him if she couldn't manage that.

********

The next day left no time for dealing with anything. Ehud woke up feeling sick and on top of that was foggy headed. Every response was delayed and miserable from him. She had seen him sick with his guts twice before. Once when he'd eaten popcorn and another time when he was laid up and had to drink terrible but prescribed medication to ease the pain. Given he was on a potent anti-psychotic, however, she decided it was best to have the medics come out to take a look. They were able to confirm the gut pain was his usual ailment and the fogginess was a normal side-effect of the medication he was given. He was laid up on the couch the whole day and that was just fine. It was easier to keep an eye on him. She gave him his medicine, and occasionally checked his forehead, though a fever wasn't any of the side affects as far as she knew. It was just a gentle touch and she wasn't sure who needed it more, him or her. Sien helped her make a light dinner of rice and eggs and toast. Something easy to digest for everyone.

The day after, Ehud's guts seemed to feel better and he was all about wanting to roam around. Despite still being wooly brained, he wanted to go roaming around. It was a propensity that made her nervous. She had no idea what sort of side affects could happen with this medication and he could just as easily be lobotomized one minute and depressed enough to jump off the Edge in another. She had no idea what would happen. So, she closed down the bakery for the day again and decided to stick with him. She didn't want him to hurt himself. "Why don't we go outside and you can help me in the garden first, and then we can take Yuji for a walk....then we need to go grocery shopping and make some orders for flour, sugar and yeast for the bakery. That's plenty of walking. We'll be out most of the afternoon."

********

A week passed in somewhat of the same way. She closed down the bakery for the week and stuck with him until he started looking sharper again. Though he was looking more lucid and less teetering on the edge, he was still quiet. They had barely spoken more than a few sentences between them for most of the days. She had decided it might be safe enough for her to open the bakery again and she had to prep a few things on the Sunday in order to open bright and early on Monday morning. To her surprise, there were a few boxes delivered to the house and left on the doorstep. Had Ehud ordered something? She certainly hadn't. They were addressed to the right house though and had her name on them. She brought them inside, confused as to what she might have ordered, and opened the boxes. Inside she found mountains of fall decorations, most of which she had seen on Pyrta. If she hadn't ordered these, it had to be Ehud. Suddenly, her throat tightened up and she sniffled as tears pricked at her eyes. He'd still tried to do something for her even when he didn't have to. Even would he was so messed up.

She'd been in a bit of an emotional limbo knowing she couldn't rely on him and wondering if she ever could or if she would be in a marriage that offered sex and not much else. While she held a happy little golden pumpkin in her hands, she started to cry. Yes, he was messed up, but he did want to do things for her. What man would do something like this, after all?

Sien bounded into the room, and paused when he saw her. "Are you okay?"

Pris wiped at her eyes and smiled at Sien. "Oh, I will be. I think. You want to come to help me get ready for fall in the bakery? I'll show you how to make apple crisps too."

Sien grinned and nodded just as Ehud walked into the room. She looked up at Ehud and cleared her throat. "I'm going to the bakery today. Come with us to help decorate for fall. I...I have some extra decorations."

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

To Calysta's surprise, Illya only wanted to lounge around for an hour. Then he greeted her with a wild grin and asked if she wanted to take advantage of their little off day and go exploring. She loved those grins and she liked exploring even more when it was with him. "Aye," she told him, "I'd like that." She gave him a little peck on the lips and got dressed him some clothing that was much more comfortable and plain than what she had worn to arrive in. Exploring was much better when you blended in with the area.

They slipped out of the hotel, just the two of them hand in hand...and Koda and Rezna casually following them at a distance. Body guards were not something they could fully escape. If the two of them stayed back far enough, she could almost forget they were there. Almost. The good news was Urians prided themselves on being excellent hosts. Which meant not bum rushing their guests. So, they went into the street unobstructed which was a nice change. "Oooh I know where I want to go first," Calysta grinned, "I want to go to the View Bubble."

The tunnels gave stunning views of the ocean, but it was nothing compared to the view bubble. The biome was set on the reef and blended into it so the fish used it as their home. It was a gigantic bubble right along with the most vibrant and beautiful fish swam. It took an hour and several escalators to arrive at the View Bubble but it was well worth it. Benches formed a ring inside so visitors could sit and watch from any angle. Fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors swam around in schools or peeked out of the reef slowly growing around the bubble wall. "Look," Calysta grinned as she pointed to a tight little coral cavern, "An Muridinae...its an eel!" The long bodied fish poked its yellow spotted head out of the cavern and opened its jaw to show razor sharp teeth. She kept Illya's hand in hers and walked closer to the wall, craning her neck in an effort to see it all. A massive ray-like creature floated along the wall, its wide kite fins floating it along with grace. "Ooh, those are interesting too," she said, "But I think those have long barbs on their tails."

A school of tiny neon fish zipped by and little crab creatures scuttled in the sand between the living coral. Everything was bright and alive. So graceful under the water. She could have sat with Illya and watched in fascination with him for hours, but she knew Illya was already seasick enough. "Where would you like to go? It's your turn to pick. There's a museum...it has less water front walls...there's also a park....and a strip of restaurants along with a shopping district."

***********

Calysta slid the bedroom door closed and the simple knock of the pocket door landing home into the lock sent the fish above them scattering from their school. She slinked up to Illya and slid her hand up his good arm, smiling while she did. The day had been fun. The excitement of exploring new places and seeing new things had her cheeks tinged pink as she looked up at him. He'd been sweet in letting her drag him around all day. Especially when she knew he was one whale away from panicking again at being so deep underwater. "Hey," she hummed, "If you're feeling up to it, we could have a little more fun and we wouldn't have to go far." She tilted her chin toward their plush, freshly made bed.

As they entered the room Illya watched the fish flutter away. It was strange how it was almost like a sky of its own under the water. However, it wasn't the same as it was above the surface and he much preferred the land. They barely obtained privacy and Illya heard the little offer from Kalizda. Meeting her gaze he smirked and then glanced at the bed before looking at her again. "Mmmhmmm...I got plenty of energy. Jes tah prove et," he leaned over to kiss her and ran his right hand down her back, rear end and behind her right leg before he started to pull her up. She mashed his right arm, but it didn't really bother his shoulder. Taking a few steps back he felt the bed at the back of his knees and then sat down on the bed with her.

She was wasn't expecting him to be quite so vigorous right away. He'd been exhausted lately and she had been trying to help him rest by giving him coffee to drink at night. It had been knocking him out before they could up to much of anything in the way of bedroom activities and while she was pregnant, the doctor hadn't forbidden her from sex. They might as well enjoy it while they could. She squeaked a little in surprise when he hoisted her up with one hand. He was gentle with her and sometimes it was moments like that which reminded her how strong he really was. In an automatic reaction, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and her legs around him when he sank onto the bed. "Oh, you are feeling wiley," she chuckled as her blush deepened a little. She looked into his bright green eyes and played with his hair near the nape of his neck as she sat with him. She was going to take her time, mostly because she didn't want to hurt him, but also, because he always took his time with her. "Mmm...I remember," she said, "Sitting almost like this while were in the desert on old Quoti. I liked that."

"Mmm...we set like dis en Old Quoti huh?" Illya was momentarily confused and then remembered that if he was on Old Quoti he probably wouldn't have done anything considered out of place for a Chippequoti. There were only one or two positions that Chips sat in when they were intimate and this wasn't quite it, but it was close. "Here..." Scooting back on the bed he gave himself a little more space and then started to cross his legs. His knee felt a bit sore doing that, but he was sure he would get over it. "Someting like dis eh?" They were very close and when she was sitting on his legs like this she was a bit closer to his height.

"Mhmm..." she nodded. She remembered that day well. Things had been strange. Less complicated in some ways, but she felt much closer to Illya now than she had then. He shifted with her as if her weight was nothing but a sack of feathers. She ended up on his semi crossed legs, boosted a little higher so she could almost see his eyes without tilting her chin too much. She held on to one shoulder gently and kept her hand well away from the bullet wound. "Aye," she smiled, "It was like this. We sat in the sand after rolling down the dunes. I enjoyed it." She stole a glance down at his knee which was still mending. She hadn't actually intended on him trying to bend his knee like that. "Your knee...I'm not hurting you am I?"

That look she was giving him was worth it all. Illya listened to her dreamy little talk and then she broke off as she stared at his knee. "Meh knee will be fine for few minutes. When et gets sore we move little eh?" Running his right hand along her back he rubbed it gently and leaned forward to kiss her. "Yah still meh little bird. I love yah eh?"

She nodded slowly as she looked up to him. She didn't want to hurt him and when he was ready, she would move. These little moments of quiet and peace were few and far between sometimes and she couldn't resist the chance to have it. His hand was warm as it rubbed at her back and he leaned forward to kiss her and she smiled. There was something about the way he told her he loved her that left no room for doubt anymore and it turned her heart quite warm in her chest. She had become rather mushy in the last few years, and she was finding out that it was okay. "Aye, I am and I love you." She kissed him long and thorough, then chuckled when they finally drew back just a little for air. "Soon there's going to be a bit more of me to love," she teased, glancing down at her currently flat belly.

Being reminded of the twins was always a bit exciting and scary at the same time. Illya grinned at her mention of the babies and he nodded. "Dey will be very nice babies. Yah maybe dun get so sick as yah did last time eh?" Moving his hand from her back to rest it on her stomach and pelvic region he spoke as if to the babies. "Yah little ones en dere, be kind tah yah moter."

Calysta didn't know how he'd gotten stuck on the idea of multiple babies again, but she wasn't going to correct him this time. He was talking too sweet and she wasn't going to ruin the moment and, for all she knew, it very well could be twins again. His large hand took up most of her stomach and hips when it settled there. The touch was warm and felt nice. She chuckled as he spoke to their baby...or...babies and put her hand on top of his. "One day they'll be able to nudge you back." Her eyes slid up to his again and she leaned in and kissed him, this time she slid her other hand to brace the back of his neck and leaned forward gently. "Lean back and let me do the hard work, yeah?" she said in Quoti.

"I like et when dey start rolling around." Illya grinned some at the idea and then he caught her gaze. She had that sultry look that told him she was going to get him. Unfolding his legs he leaned back a bit and let her kiss him a few times and then he smirked. "Gotta get dah clotes off before we get too serious." Once they were all settled on the bed he enjoyed the activity, part way through he noticed that the fish were all around them and it was a bit strange and the currents seemed to push against the walls and then slide by all while Kalizda and himself had their own motion. No matter how hard he tried to stay focused on only her, it was hard not to see all the other motion around them.

Calysta chuckled when he mentioned taking off their clothes. "Don't worry, I'll take care of that too." She went to work and she intended on making it long slow. She wanted to give him as much time and attention as she could. She kept her work steady but part way through she noticed his eyes wandered past her to what she imagined was the ceiling above them. Maybe he just needed a little more kissing to compliment everything else. Even she had to admit the ceiling would be distracting. Leaning down, she smiled and kissed him hoping he might close his eyes and enjoy it more.


Illya felt Kalizda lean closer. Her hot breath was blowing across his mouth before she even planted a kiss on his lips. Focusing again on her grinned broadly. "Yah feeling very wild tahnight eh?" Momentarily he wondered if they had people that went out hunting fish in swim gear. Urian's didn't seem to value privacy that much.

She chuckled and kissed him all the more then kept right on moving in the rhythm she had picked up. He would get the best she could give him for sure. While she was working, a dark shadow passed over head, blocking out the fading daylight filtering through the water above. Illya seemed to be enjoying himself until the shadow passed over. "Are you alright?" she whispered a little breathlessly.

They were in the middle of the best part and Illya was feeling like he was focusing pretty well. Kalizda was moving nice and slow and he was starting to feel the pleasure build. Then he saw a huge whale coming overhead. He couldn't keep his eyes on Kalizda no matter how hard he tried to focus on her. Wincing a little he leaned further into the pillows and then glanced at her when she asked if he was ok. "Yeah, I jes saw anoter whale." His voice was strained slightly as he watched it float by and then he looked at her again. No matter how hard he tried after that he would glance at the ceiling to be sure there wasn't anything else swimming by. Surely they had to have curtains or something to block the view available. Between the moving sea life, the slow rocking in the bed, Kalizda moving and the water above he started to feel a little dizzy'ish.

Illya's explanation of the whale passing by made sense given the large shadow that engulfed them for a brief moment, but he winced and she wondered if she was hurting him more than he was enjoying it. His voice sounded strained, like he was nervous or in pain, and after a moment he even started to look pale. She stopped moving and looked at him with her brow furrowed slightly in concern. "Love, you look a little...pale. Maybe I should stop."

"No, no, I'm fine." Illya insisted and he adjusted a little. "I jes fe...." Suddenly all of his dinner made a violent rush and Illya sat up a little and started to turn to try and puke over the edge of the bed, but it didn't quite work that way. He puked all the way down his right arm and all over his right side. "Ooooh..." The flecks of fish and globby bits of vegetable didn't look very good the second time around. "I tink I feel better now, but I need shower before we try dis again."

He started to insist he was just fine but suddenly sat up, and heaved. The slightly rancid smell of their fish lunch hit her nose as he vomited all down his right side. The puddle with half digested goops of fish and vegetables slid down and smeared over her leg as he shifted. The slimey sensation was awful and her libido dried up some, cringing a bit as she did. "Oh....Illya..." she winced, "Love...." She wasn't sure what was the worse way to get off of him, rolling to the left side and smearing it further, or going right and getting more all over herself. "Aye...I think we both do." She opted to simply roll to the left and they would just have to have fresh sheets brought up. She got to her feet and tried to grab for a towel to wipe down her leg and to give to Illya so he didn't leave droppings all over the floor when he got up to the bathroom. "Here," she said offering him the towel she had used on her hair that morning. "Are you sure you're feeling better?"

Illya would have reached to stop the vomit from getting her leg, but his arm was pretty messy. "Ugh...no." Wincing some he sat up a little more and grimaced. "I'm sorreh. Ets jes all dat motion. I see tings moving all dah time even when I'm nut and ets making meh dizzy." It almost made him feel like he was on the cusp of having a seizure. As Kalizda started to roll to the left she bumped his side and he grunted a bit and as he sat up he hit his shoulder on hers slighly. "Owe..." Wincing again he accepted the towel from her and then sighed. "Yah help meh. I can't really do dis wit meh sling on." He couldn't reach his own shoulder with a towel and make an effective use of it without his other hand.

Of course she should have though t about him being unable to use his hand properly. "Oh! Aye." She took the towel back and just started cleaning him up a bit where he couldn't possibly reach with his arm in a sling. While she worked she kept glancing up to check on him. "Well, I think this is a first," she mused gently, "At least i know it wasn't my attempts at seducing you that made you nauseated."

Illya smiled a bit weakly and shrugged. "True, ets a first. First time we make love under whales too. Nut dah best idea. Maybe next time I'm on top eh?"

She mopped him up gently, careful not to hurt his shoulder. "Aye. Maybe you'd better be on top if you want to try again," she said, "You know, you're probably the first Chip to make love under the ocean." She finished cleaning him up by scooping up the chunky bits into the towel and then putting it at the end of the bed. "I call for for fresh sheets while you shower off, Yeah?"

Kalizda was very gentle and Illya did his best to try and help, but he wasn't much help till she finished with his arm and he could wipe off the rest of himself. "We jes go tah shower togeter eh? Yah make call and dey can take care of et while we shower. Dane or Mihael will scan dah room again when dey are done."

The idea of someone checking the room again made her tinge a little pink in the cheeks. They surely would know what had been happening by the scent in the air, but perhaps the heavy waft of vomit would over power that. She nodded and wiped down her hands enough to grab her pad long enough to call house keeping . The woman's voice was chipper on the other end and she said they would be up within 10 minutes to change the bedding. She sent a message to let the security team to let them know new bedding has been ordered but not why it had been necessary, then shimmied her way into the bathroom after Illya. "Need some help unclipping the sling," she asked him.

Dane answered the call for security and he gave a hoarse reply, "I'll just take care of it. Would rather strip the bed and make it myself instead of having the scan the entire room." Without waiting he started down the hall toward the bedroom and swung the door open. Illya heard the bedroom door open and he quickly shut the bathroom door with Kalizda barely inside. "Dat was fast." Nodding some he picked at the one clip on his sling that he could reach. The other was a bit more difficult.

Dane didn't give her much a chance to protest before he came barreling into the room. She barely had time to dive into the bathroom out of sight when Dane entered without knocking. "Dane said he'd rather do it himself than scan the room again and didn't give me anytime to insist otherwise. He shouldn't be tugging on the sheets like that with his neck." Of course, there was very little she could so about it since she was in the bathroom and her clothes were out there with Dane. Shaking her head, she sighed some and slid a hand up Illya's shoulder gently to find the clasp to his sling. "One...two," she warned, "Three." Then she unsnapped it letting the arm drop. A red mark was over his skin where the weight of his arm had pulled down like a yoke. She reached up and very tenderly rubbed at it some. "If you can stand it, going to a pleasure house for a massage may not hurt. I'm not strong enough to loosen those muscles up."

The sheets came off the bed pretty easy. Dane noticed that there were signs of activity and puke. Things didn't go well. He wasn't feeling particularly well himself given all the motion that was constantly going on. It was making him sea sick even if he wasn't being rocked back and forth. Gathering up the sheets he opened the doorway to see the housekeeper was there with fresh sheets and Mihael confirmed he had already scanned the woman and the bedding. Dane traded her and then went to work making the bed. Illya winced some when the sling was let loose. His shoulder was still very sore and moving it wasn't quite a relief. Then Kalizda started to work on his right shoulder where the sling had been pulling. "Ooh..careful. I dun tink I want a pleasure house right now." He was in all truth afraid of what a pleasure house would look like on Uria.

"They have a few here," she offered, "Reylia will have one but I'm not sure you should go that long. You look very stiff." She was actively trying to ignore that fact that Dane was currently pulling up their sex scented sheets. He shouldn't have to be doing that either. She lifted the sling away from him and then turned on the water to the shower to get it warm. Then, despite how red her cheeks were, forced herself to barely poke her head out of the bathroom door where Dane could only see the top of her head and her eyes. "I can make the bed," she told him, "I don't want you to pull on your neck."

Illya frowned and he let out a puff of irritation, “I dun want tah go. Dey are nice enough, but dah people here are strange.”

“I get et.” Dane replied and he started spreading the sheets out. Instead of getting any further Mihael overheard the talk and came into the room. Looking at Kalizda he grinned, “I will take care of dis.”

Chips were stubborn and Illya and Dane were no exception to this. Dane just kept right on trucking and much like a wolf pack, her protest brought another fellow elite member over to inspect. Mihael had a grin on his face and she turned a deeper shade of pink. If mihael did it, at least Dane wouldn't be pulling on his neck. She scurried quickly away from the door and shut it before looking to Illya. She understood his concern in some ways about not wanting to go, but it really would be a good idea. "They wouldn't touch you like that but I could go with you and a couples massage if you wanted."

The offer for the massage was obviously not so much an offer as a demand. It was a subtle demand, but it was clearly not going to be easily set aside. Illya grumbled a bit and he stepped into the shower. "Yeah, I guess."

Now she had clearly pissed in his porridge and he was just going to grumble and give her flat answers. It still didn't change the fact that a massage might help. "Okay, then," she said, stepping into the shower. She started scrubbing off the rest of the vomit and decided to wash her hair while she was at it, using the sweet peach scented shampoo. She helped Illya with his shoulder where he let her and the snagged a towel for them both when the water was cut off. "I think they're done doing whatever it was they needed to do with the bed," she said, poking her head out of the door.

Washing off was nice in a way. Illya was slightly irritated with Kalizda’s insistence that they go get massages, but his right shoulder probably did need the help. It was very sore and laying on it was getting more painful each night. Once he finished washing off, Illya towel dried himself and didn’t think of the fact that Kalizda said she thought they would be gone. Stepping into the room he walked over to where their clothes were and picked them up before getting something comfy to wear that was clean. “Yah coming wit meh and yah get massage too?” He just wanted to make sure she was keeping her end of the deal.

He was all in a hurry now walking into the room. She had really twisted his boxers it seemed. So much for continuing their fun. She didn't want to do that just to patch over a mood. Strangely enough, he was getting dressed and she tilted her head, water dripping from her inky black hair. "Well...aye. I meant perhaps you might want to go tomorrow but if you want to go now, I'd still go with you." She had thought they might continue their fun, but it certainly seemed he wasn't in the mood now either. Standing on the bed was something she rarely did, but it was necessary in order to look him in the eye. So, she wobbled to stand on the bed and put and small hand on his shoulder. "Hey, I was only trying to help, yeah?"

"Yah mean tomorrow?" Illya spluttered and he opened and closed his mouth a few times before he started stripping again. "Well, I guess we should jes finish what we started den. Dis time I'm on top."

Calysta nodded. "Aye. I didn't mean right away." She wondered how he had gotten that into his head. When he mentioned finishing what they started she turned a little pink as he started undressing again. Her hand slid away from his shoulder and she stood there on the bed blatantly watching him undress.

About time Illya finished setting his clean clothing aside he noticed Kalizda was just staring. He wasn't sure if she wanted to finish what they started and he figured he would ask. "Yah dun mind? Kinda looks like yah jes enjoy taking a good look."

Calysta blushed deeper and nodded slowly. She was definitely looking. He was handsome nd sometimes it was impossible not to look. It was rare when she stared openly at him, but he had been right there stripping down. She let her towel fall away from her so she was standing quite naked on the bed now. "I am taking a good look my Wolf," she said, "And I wouldn't mind spending all the time together you want."

************
Akten jogged up behind Wynry and smiled. "We have th' afternoon off," he said.

"Mhm. I think I want to go out and explore some," she told him. Then she flashed him one of those smiles that seemed to make him want to do very stupid things to impress her when he saw it. She had been giving him that look more and more since Aerikta and he'd do just about anything to see it again.

"Aye, we should go out t' look," he replied. He wasn't such a fan of being underwater, but he'd go out with Wynry to look around.

"Let me grab my sweater and we can go together if you want. Maybe we can get some dinner."

He grinned and nodded. "Aye, I'll go get Dane an' Mihael. They might want t' come too, eh? Especially f' dinner."

Before Wynry could say otherwise, he was calling out to the two Chip men. "Oi, ye want t' go walk aroun' an' get some dinner?"
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
The first several days on the medication were difficult. Ehud had a hard time organizing any of his thoughts and when he wandered it seemed like he was at least doing something, but he couldn't really sum up what happened at the end of the day. Priscilla had wandered about with him and even if she didn't say anything and he couldn't come up with anything thoughtful to say, he was grateful for her.

Today had been the first day back to work and he felt stressed by it, but he knew that would happen. With so many days out and not even checking in there was plenty of near disaster on the horizon. At least he didn't have to explain to the doctors too much about his work. He simply said he had an office job alongside the tailor business. That between the two he was stressed and perhaps he couldn't do both for a while. That was a balance that they seemed to be willing to strike with him. Pris knew that his office job was more than what it sounded like, at least he suspected that she did, but he wasn't about to tell her it was the most stressful part of his life.

Before heading home he decided to stop and get some flowers and chocolates for her. The little market near his work was good about carrying a few Terran things. With a handful of flowers and a small bag with chocolates hanging on his wrist he walked home. No sooner had he walked through the door than he spotted her misty eyes and his grinning son. "Is everything ok?" Asking the question with great caution he met her gaze. She did her best to brighten her face with a little smile and then offered to have him go to the bakery to help decorate.

"Mmmm...yeah." Glancing at Sien he nodded at his son, "You go to your room for a few." He needed a few moments to talk with Pris. Once Sien was out of the living room Ehud produced the flowers from behind his back and then the bag with the chocolates. "I uh...Don't know what to say." Glancing at the decoration already in her hands he quickly tried to change the subject. "Yeah, looks like you must have ordered a few more decorations. Probably a good idea. Your bakery will look great with those." It was hard to tell if she was giving him a look of disapproval, but he was gonna try anyway. "Maybe we could go together to decorate after I make dinner eh?"

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

Being on top was far better and Illya didn't end up puking this time. However, only having one hand made life a bit more complex when it came to moving to his side of the bed. It was literally a balancing act with one arm and he hadn't realized how far his singular hand planted in the bed would sink. It was a nice soft bed and it was supposed to be designed so that Kalizda would not end up rolling into him because the mattress would cradle each person. This meant that Illya sunk into the mattress and Kalizda tended float on the top like it was a cloud. Thankfully it was still soft, but his hand was practically in a small pit.

Illya shifted his weight slightly to the right and then decided his best option was to try and push himself up by his right hand and quickly replant it on the other side of Kalizda. It didn't go as planned by any stretch of the imagination. Instead he ended up tilting left because he was trying very hard not to land on Kalizda and he fell off the bed.

The boom was loud and the floor shook a bit. Illya heard boots coming down the hall and he knew the door was gonna thrown wide open. Quickly he grabbed the edge of the blankets and threw them over Kalizda. Only a few of her curls were poking out from underneath the bed and Illya wished there was a pillow or something to cover himself, but there was no such luck. Instead Illya did his best to sit in a way that he could avoid showing every bit of himself off. Of course with a sound like that it drew Dane, Mihael and it looked like Koda too. They were all piling into the hallway and Illya met their gaze before he shook his head and waved them off. "Jumped out of bed and didn't land on meh feet. Yah better get moving. I'd like tah put some clotes on now."

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

Dane and Mihael had gone through a few sites and they'd split from Akten and Wynry for an hour or two. It was lunch now and Dane nudged Mihael. "Lets get something to eat." His voice was still weak. Mihael nodded and the two of them turned to go toward the food district. At least they understood from one of the Urians that this was the way to the bars and the bars served food too. About time they reached the food district Dane spotted Akten and Wynry. "Hey, let's go there. They probably know a better spot than we do." Mihael shrugged, "Sure, they've probably been here before. Let's make sure the place is full though. That's how you know the food is good." The two of them spoke in Quoti as they worked their way toward the bar. Mihael couldn't see through the glass very well, so he pressed his face to it and peered inside. Dane stood back with a slightly annoyed expression and sighed when Mihael announced it was very full. "Now can we go in?" Mihael nodded in response to the question and the two of them got in line at the door behind Wynry and Akten.

The man at the door was wearing a light sash for a shirt with an emblem marking him as an employee and breezy looking pants for bottoms. When the party of four approached to front door. He smiled and nodded. "Welcome to the Topside Tavern and Restaurant," he said, then gestured to Dane, "You're good to enter sir, enjoy. And you sir...as well." He let Dane and Akten enter without fuss and then looked to the tall, tan man and the short blonde next to him. "For the two of you, I'm sorry I will need to see some identification. Age of majority is 17 to drink."

It seemed that the man working the door was just monitoring those that entered. He had to be security of sorts. Dane stepped through the door when he was given leave and he turned to make sure that Mihael got through. Instead of being let in Mihael was required to show his id because they wanted to be sure he was 17. A broad grin came across Dane's face. Mihael stood by in shock for a moment and then started to pat down his pockets. He pulled out a few credits and he noticed the man raise an eyebrow. "Et's nut bribe, I jes check for meh id. I dun usually carry et." By now it looked like Akten had produced his and Mihael was starting to feel a little flustered. "Really, I'm over 17."

When Akten produced his ID, the man allowed him to enter but the other fellow seemed to be struggling and even flashed a few credits. Accidental or not, it wouldn't have worked anyways. "Aye, I just have to see your ID to show it," he said, "They'd have my job if I let you through without checking. Sorry, but I can't let you without some kind of solid proof or ID."

Mihael let out a sigh and he patted down his pockets and dug through them a second time. "I dun have et." Pointing to the gold phoenix emblem that he pinned to his uniform he gave his next best form of ID. "I'm one of dah Chippequoti Elite. Et would be impossible for meh tah be less den 20." By this time Dane had wandered a bit further into the bar and was sitting at the counter just waiting for him, but not doing anything to help either. "Can't yah ask him how old I am?" Mihael pointed to Dane.

"No, unfortunately not. It has to be an official form of ID from a governmental entity," he said, "I'm not entirely sure what the particulars are for the Chippeqouti Elite or if that counts as an ID from a governmental entity." Akten grimaced a little, and leaned back through the door, whispering something to the bouncer with quick and quiet words. "That....that would work....but can you say it out loud so the boss can confirm later if it comes up. Akten raised a brow at the man, making him look very, very much like his father the Chief of Reylia, Tikan the Great. "Aye," he said, "I, Akten, son o' Chief Tikan, grandson o' Myrakan and descendant of Lyr, certify as th' future Chieftan o' Reylia, th' man is well over th17 year age requirement." He hated talking like that, but this was at least useful. "An if ye want further proof ye just have m' call up the Councilwoman an' the General, eh?"

By now Mihael's cheeks were turning bright red. His age was being questioned and the mere thought of him being under 17 was ridiculous. Then Akten, a young man that could have been a great, great grandson had to pull rank for him. However, the guard at the door didn't seem readily willing to let that pass. He seemed uneasy about it. Mihael reluctantly drew his pad out of his pocket. "I could call meh superior officer. I am sure dat he would verify meh age for yah."

The man's eyes skirted from the reddening face of Mihael to the Reylian prince who looked to be in his twenties with a well chiseled jaw. The man was giving him a look that had swapped from passive to one of silent authority. It was like someone had flipped a switch on the guy. The man swallowed a little and looked back to Mihael. "No...no. I must not be the cause of disturbance for the General and Councilwoman. They are our guests and so are you, now that I know...come in...and uh, tell the barkeep Finney said to give you one on the house...yeah?"

When the man gave in Mihael raised his eyebrows slightly. "Es anyone inside gonna ask dah same questions?" He really didn't want anyone asking him if he was 17 again.

"No sir," he replied quickly," It's just me at the door keeping tabs. You'll be able to order all you like inside." Finney slid the door aside and allowed them all to enter. The place had low, cool lighting and music with a steady beat playing. The scent of fried foods filled the air and there were many people crowded around the lit bar in the back and at nearly every table. Akten's stomach gave a grumble at the scent and he stole a glance at Mihael's still red face. "Eh, I d' normally like t' d' tha' m' apologies if I offended ye." A Reylian wouldn't be offended, and he didn't think a Chip would but Mihael looked mad now and he wasn't on overly friendly terms with the man after their scuffle. It was better to be safe. At least he knew his mother would recommend such a comment.

Mihael nodded and stepped inside past the man. Even if people weren't staring at him it sure felt like it. He'd been accused of having a young face for all his life and today was just a miserable confirmation of that. Clearly he was painfully young looking. Glancing at Akten he muttered, "Et's fine. Maybe better den calling dah General, but yah can bet he's still gonna be telling everyone." Mihael pointed to Dane who was already sipping on a drink. Slinking over to where Dane was sitting, Mihael slipped in next to him and ordered a drink from the bar tender. "I like two drinks of dah best drink yah make."

Akten tilted his head and nodded. "Aye, its gonna b' awhile b'fore he lets ye forget it." There wasnt any denying that. It's just how the military men were. The two split off and Akten sat down with Wynry, hoping they served whatever smelled so good and fried fast. The two Chip men at the bar were graced by a beautiful, smiling barkeep with a sash that covered her busty top half, if only just. "Oh, hello gentlemen," she said in Trader's Tongue, "I can give you two specials, coming right up. Did you want any food or to take a look at a menu?"

The barkeep was pretty and Mihael nodded when she offered a menu. "Yeah, I like tah see menu. Yah have et en Trader's Tongue?" He certainly didn't read Kaerlean well enough to know what he would be ordering. Dane raised a hand and whispered, "I get menu too eh?"

"Sure thing, we have one in Trader's Tongue just for vistors," she chirped as she reached up to the shelf behind her and grabbed a menu. When she turned back around, offering it to Mihael, she saw Dane with his hand raised and immediately turned back around to retrieve one for him too. Both of them were mighty handsome, if not totally opposite. One was strong jawed and a bit serious looking and the other had a boyish charm to him. She went to work making their drinks, which was a beautiful layered drink with several types of liquor. She started to pour a standard sized glass, but then thought the better of it and went for the largest tumblers instead. What they lost in liquor would hopefully be made up for in tip. As she poured everything like an artist would paint a canvas, she smiled to the two men. She could already tell some of the other women had noticed the new comers and were curious. "See anything you like on the menu?" she asked, "And should I put this on your matriarch's tab?"

The woman seemed pleasant enough and Mihael saw she picked a large glass for his drink and Dane's. Both of them grinned a little. This woman knew how to serve a drink and she made it look nice too. Mihael studied the menu carefully and Dane didn't little more than scan it over to see if they served anything he recognized. When he didn't recognize anything he decided he would simply ask to have whatever they were cooking right now. It smelled good. The barkeep turned to ask about the food and Dane gave his hoarse answer, "Whatevah yah cooking smells good. I like dat." Mihael studied the menu a moment longer before he pointed to something he had no idea how to pronounce. "Dat sounds good." Now that their orders were in the woman asked about their matriarch. The best that Mihael could come up with is that she was asking about their mothers. That must have been a customary thing. "Eh, she died many years ago." Dane nodded in agreement and the two looked at the barkeep and then at each other. What an odd sort of custom.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," she said, forehead wrinkling in worry she might have offended them, "Well, I'll just get those food orders in and open up a tab under your names, yeah? I'm Solarity, by the by. Let me get your order in and I'll be right back." She stepped over to the stationary pad displaying holographic images of what to ring up and began typing away. In the mean time, another woman had come to sit alongside Dane. "I couldn't help but overhear," she said, taking a sip of her drink, "It's awful to hear your matriarch died so long ago. I found it was hard to move on after my first husband died in the attack some years back too." She turned in her chair some and offered her hand to shake. "I'm Aren," she said, "Welcome to the city." She shifted her legs, crossing one tanned ankle over the other as the slit in her dress inched up to her mid thigh.

For all the fuss with the custom the woman seemed terribly sorry. Neither Dane, nor Mihael could understand her worried look. At their age it wasn't like it was a surprise when their mother's had passed on. However, the woman probably thought they were younger. The woman that came to sit near Dane started off talking and at first he wasn't sure she was talking to him. When he turned slightly to see who was sitting next to him he realized she was talking to him and she talked about when her husband died. "Eh...." he was confused now. Losing an agreed was very different than losing your mother. Glancing back at Mihael he saw that the other man was gonna let him deal with this one. Naturally, that was going to be the case. He hadn't exactly been help to Mihael earlier. Glancing at the woman's hand that she extended he took it and shook her fingertips lightly. She seemed to be quite delicate. "Tanks...." Dane's gaze drifted down to her legs and his eyes got wide before he looked back up. What was she doing dressed like that?!

They didn't seem much for conversation, but maybe they were just looking to relax a little. They had chosen an odd place to relax in though. A single's bar and restaurant was hardly the place to be complacent. At least they had established that the woman who had come into the bar with the three men was not their matriarch in any way. Though, it wouldn't have been too strange if a matriarch came to singles bars with her husbands if she was looking to make an addition to her harem and desired input from her husbands. She shook hands with the man and sipped her drink and all too soon the bust barkeep appeared with two plates of fried meat in front of the Chip men, then added a spicy looking condiment on the side. "Fried Nyte beast livers and spiced sauce on the side," she smiled, "Did you want another drink?" The woman beside the two men nodded for another drink. About that time, the music swapped to a lively beat and the woman next to them smiled. " Oh I like this one. " Then she slipped off her stool and sashayed over to dance in the middle of the room.

Dane was grateful that the woman didn't say much more and the barkeeper arrived with their food. Sliding his dish a bit closer he sniffed it and hummed. "Et smells good." Though Mihael badly wanted to dig into his food, he was a little more reserved and he didn't lean forward and sniff his food so loudly. Instead he waved the smell of the food over to his face and sniffed more carefully. It was certainly good smelling. Taking a small bite he chewed it and gave careful thought to the texture, taste and....glancing over he saw Dane just gobbling the food he had. Then the barkeep offered more to drink and Dane answered for both of them with his mouth half full of food, "Mmhmm." While the two of them had a moment Dane leaned closer to Mihael, "I don't know what this place is, but you might want to look around and tell me what you notice about the lady that was sitting next to me a minute ago." He was careful to speak in Quoti and nodded toward the dance floor. Mihael swiveled in his seat while he chewed his bite of food and his eyebrows raised some before he turned back around. "You think this is a prostitute house? Her dress was showing a lot of leg."

The bar keep chuckled at Dane's reply good naturedly and went about making another very large round of the same drink for the two men. They began to converse in their own language and that wasn't surprising. It also wasn't surprising that they turned to look at the woman who had sashayed onto the dance floor. "Oh. That's Madame Aren Seyra. She's quite nice. One of the matriarchals that sits on the lower council." Solarity handed over two fresh drinks to the gentlemen and nodded. "Is there anything else you'd like?" About that time a man and woman walked up to the bar and settled in for a chat and a drink. They looked absolutely normal, wearing the same breezy sashes and pants. Several others walked in behind her and ordered drinks. Solarity smiled at them and offered menus while the gentlemen decided if there was anything else they wanted. When everyone was served, she leaned a little against the countertop and sighed a bit dreamily."I'm not a matriarch yet, but someday, maybe." Here eyes turned to Dane as she slid yet another drink toward him. "Dancing is always recommended here too." It wouldn't hurt her feelings to watch the stronger looking one dance a little. She wasn't ready to provide for a husband but that didn't mean someone else couldn't bond with him. Her eyes swept the room and she noticed that the young man with reylian olive skin was turning pink as another woman was chatting him up enthusiastically. His matriarch didn't look thrilled as she sat next to him, brows raised and cheeks reddened too. What kind of woman didn't defend or direct her husband in her expectations when looking for another?

Both Dane and Mihael did their best not to make comment or raise their brows when the woman in such scandalous clothing was identified as a woman of importance. Dane was glad they hadn’t said anything in Trader’s Tongue about their initial thoughts. The woman really was dressed like a prostitute. Carefully turning around Dane did his best to say something nice. “Yah dun need tah be matriarch tah be pretty.” He really didn’t want to encourage any woman to dress like that. Mihael inserted himself into the conversation to keep Dane from saying dumb things. “Yah play song wit nice beat. Lots of drums. We dance for dat kind of music.” He wanted to dance with Dane cause some of what Koda had said about the people here was making him think Dane was on well on his way to giving women here the wrong impression.

"No, I suppose not," she sighed, "But it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a husband who thought so." When the handsome, but boyish man interjected about the dancing. Solarity smiled as she perked back up again. "Oh, I could find you something like that. Give me just a second." With that, the young woman ducked under the countertop with a bounce and within seconds the song was shifting into a new one. This one was all instrumental with a heavy, but lively drum beat. "There, that might work," she told them as she sprang back up, her top bouncing slightly. If the Urians on the dance floor noticed the music change, it didn't stop them, they simply began moving to the new rhythm.

The speed at which the woman changed the music was slightly alarming. Mihael double checked to be sure he wasn't wearing anything that he recalled Koda talking about giving signals. He didn't think so. Grabbing his drink he chugged it down quickly and waited for Dane to do the same. Once they got the floor the two of them argued a little bit about who would be responsible for the kicks or ducks. When they had that figured out, Dane started their dance with a few passes and then he swung around with his leg. He had to make sure there was plenty of room and his foot swung just over Mihael's head as the other man dropped lower. Mihael grabbed Dane by the thigh and threw him over his shoulder. Dane landed with one foot and one hand on the floor. The dance proceeded with several acrobatic moves. By the end of the dance the two of them felt as if the dance were perhaps not a wise choice at all. Everyone was staring at them now. "I don't think that was the right move." Dane grumbled at Mihael and half stomped his way back to their spot. "Let's just drink." They were at least done with dinner.

Nobody would have expected the two very large men at the bar to get up and dance with each other, much less the dramatic style they used. The impressive acrobatics caused the crowd to back off, giving them a healthy, circular berth in which to dance. When the song was over, everyone was staring and then someone near the front broke out into applause which caused a cascade of noisy approval to ripple through the entire bar. When the went to go sit down, Solarity already had another drink waiting for them both. "That was amazing," she smiled, "And it worked! Dancing always works, but that was impressive. You'll have no problem finding another matriarch here. If you find someone that strikes your fancy, that is."

The applause was almost cringe worthy and Mihael caught the accusing stare from Dane. It was worth a try. As they sat down the barkeep set two more drinks in front of them. Dane was almost ready to voice his thanks when she burst into praise for their dance. He was going to try and ignore it and took big drink from his glass when she mentioned finding a matriarch with that dance. It was such an unexpected comment that he started choking. In the attempt not to spit it out everywhere his eyes watered and he pulled the glass closer so he could spit it back into the cup. Dane wasn't quite fast enough and ended up using the napkin because some of it started running out his nose. Mihael just sat by with a somewhat grey complexion. Dane wiped his face off and rubbed his nose before meeting the bartender's gaze. "Why would yah tink we're looking for matriarch? We're jes here tah eat and drink."

The question caused the more serious and mysterious one of the two to choke and sputter. His drink sprayed a bit and dribbled down from his mouth, nose and chin. She quickly grabbed a fresh linen napkin and offered it to him before meeting his gaze, somewhat confused. "Why else would anyone be in a singles tavern? I thought you came in as part of that matriarch's harem," she said nodding to Wynry," And that she might have been looking for additional husband's. But you said your matriarch died many years ago. Its lonely not to have a wife for so many years, yeah?"

Dane's blue eyes had gotten so wide that the whites could be seen on all sides of the iris. Mihael was left slack jawed and the two of them stared her in disbelief. After a moment Mihael managed to shut his mouth and stare at the still dumbstruck Dane. "Eh.." Mihael attempted to give an answer and stumbled over his own tongue. "Eh....No, she es nut agreed, but we are. Yah say dis place es for dose nut agreed?"

Something she said must have been horribly shocking to be getting the looks of near flabberghasted surprise from the two men. The handsome one's blue eyes practically looked like saucers. Then the boyish one mumbled something incoherent before finding traction with his words. She tiled his head at his question, considering what he meant by the word 'agreed'. Maybe she hadn't been clear enough? "I'm not sure about that term you mean by 'agreed' but this bar is for single people looking for partners or to...get married. Matriarchs looking to remarry or people who want to be married for the first time. It doesn't matter." She pointed to the little green light in the window. "We have up the singles light, yeah?"

This time Dane was the one to speak. "Agreed es same as married. We dun know et was for singles. I tink we should go before anyone has dah wrong impression." Mihael nodded in agreement and the two of the quickly pulled out their credits and made sure she had a generous tip. "Tanks for telling us mistake." Dane said hoarsely as he nodded to the little woman. They needed to get out of here fast.

Suddenly they were in such a hurry to go. Maybe she had been mistaken all along and they were two husbands who had once had the same matriarch and had instead, decided to be together themselves. They did dance awfully well together. They fumbled over pulling out credits in a hurry to escape and handed her wad of money that was way too much for their tab. "W-wait.." she sputtered, "This is alot...don't you want your change?"

Dane glanced back at her, "No, yah very kind. We need tah go. Our eh...wives would be very displeased ef dey knew we were here."

It was time for Solarity's eyes to go round as a few realizations hit home. " I thought she was dead?...Wait....You're here without your matriarch's permission? Oooh, you'd better go now. I won't tell a soul."

"I tought dat yah meant our moters. Dat es Matriarch tah Chippequoti." Mihael called over his shoulder while he practically dashed out the door. They needed out of here fast. Dane nodded along and nearly ran into the guard at the door on his way out. "Yah dun tell eh!"

They were already half way out of the door by the time they cast a reply over their shoulder. She gave them a little wave as they nearly crashed into Finney. The man gave a started yelp as the door opened on him and the two tan fellows bowled out, then kept right on going. When they were gone from sight, she looked back to the large amount of credits in her hand and then looked to the other ones that had come in along with the mistaken gentlemen. Decency would dictate that she tell them their mistake, but the more mischevious part of her turned on her heels back to the bar and rang up the tab, allowing Reylian and the blonde to figure it out for themselves.

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Once they were showered again and dressed Illya was ready to go out on the town. It had been plenty exciting today and he wasn't going to waste the rest of their day off. There were a few things that he knew Kalizda wanted from this place. "We go out tah explore little more eh?" Illya held his hand out to her and the two of them went out to look at the city.

Only a few minutes in Illya stopped at a stand to get them something to drink. There were special non-alcoholic juices and tasty drinks with creams on top. Illya went to the first little shop that looked hopeful for drinks and asked Kalizda to wait. When he came out there were two safe drinks for them. Each of them were artfully made and he got extra cream for himself and for her. She liked cream almost as much as he did. That was something that Illya was certain of. He also made sure Rezna and Koda got a drink too. They were with after all and they likely wanted something to drink. When he emerged from the place with Rezna he grinned and made sure that Kalizda and Koda got their drinks and then they all sat down at one of the outdoor tables to enjoy their drinks.

While they walked Kalizda talked with him about some things and he decided they probably should talk about what to do for their make up day. The people had been very kind and no one was clobbering them though he knew that a few recognized them. "I tink we should talk about dah day we stay for dah people here. Dey are very kind." Even while they were sitting at the table people gave them space. Everyone except a little boy who was staring at them with desperate eyes. The little boy was waiting for an invitation to come over and Illya paused long enough to meet the child's gaze. "Yah come over here eh?"

The boy paused for a long moment and then stared at his mother who appeared to be quite upset that her child had been staring and she didn't notice before the Councilwoman's husband. As the child inched toward Illya he grinned. "Yah like fancy drink like dis one?" The boy nodded and Illya pulled a few credits out of his pocket. "How about yah go get one for yahself and yah mum." This time the boy grinned broadly and snatched the credits from Illya's hand before running to the shop. The mother still looked horrified and Illya shrugged. "Children are at least honest. I dun tink he knew who I am. I jes tink he wanted what I have." Chuckling some he turned back to resume his conversation with Kalizda only to feel a little boy nudge his good arm. Looking to his side he saw the little boy holding out his special drink and then chime a thank you before walking off with his mother. It was somewhat funny that the only citizen that stared at him openly was a boy that wanted a treat. He probably wasn't old enough to care that it was the Councilwoman and the General in his hometown.

After they finished their drinks and determined what it was they wanted to do for the make up day Illya set off into the downtown again. He hadn't really been shopping in a long time and he was trying to get himself warmed up for the rest of the tour. There were places where he was going to be in very busy areas and there would be a lot of people. Terra was hard and he was struggling some after that, but he couldn't freak out. Not now. Kalizda's tour was depending on a smooth and successful trip.

The deeper they got into the downtown the more interesting the shops got. Illya was enjoying the walk in the downtown where the walls had less of the water visible. All the light inside had an eerie bluish tint to it. Even when it was bright, there was an odd blue hint. Illya's stomach started to grumble and he grinned at Kalizda. He only puked about 2 hours ago and he was hungry again. There was also a wonderful smell of something cooking. It smelled like Night Beast. "I go get us someting tah eat, jes wait."

Breaking off from the group Illya stepped into the little restaurant with the green light. Green must have meant it was friendly toward Chippequoti. Inside he saw Akten and Wynry getting up from their table. It was indeed a friendly spot then. Walking up to the bar Illya saw the drinks and he was sorely tempted, but chose to ask for a menu instead. "I tink I smell Night Beast when I'm outside. Yah maybe give meh menu and I order 8 portions of dis Night Beast wit vegetables." If he was hungry Koda and Rezna probably were too and Kalizda would want to eat too. She hadn't eaten in a while.

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When they had finished eating and Illya was feeling like walking some more he decided to turn another corner that would take them an alternate route back toward their penthouse. Spotting a shop that advertised the water dancers Illya had Kalizda step in with him. "Yah peck out a dress. Yah tell meh once dat yah always want tah be water dancer when yah little. Dis es chance tah try et out eh? Dey have private lessons and yah maybe try taking lesson wit yah water dancer dress?"
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Ehud had been very quiet and essentially out of it the last few days. So, she had hardly expected him to answer beyond a general, mumbling assent much less a fully coherent comment. Her eyes from the flowers and chocolates to Ehud's face slowly and she gazed at him as he made his confession. That might have been the first real thing he'd really said to her in all this time. While it confessed uncertainty the words were clear and honest. He quickly changed the subject to the decorations, as if he couldn't bear to be so bold with her yet. She knew she didn't order this many decorations and he didn't want to take credit for it. He was the only one who could have. Priscilla gave him soft look and set the pumpkin aside before rising to her feet. The flowers were quite pretty and she gently took them from his hand along with the chocolates. He was still trying even in the middle of all this. She wasn't sure if she should hug him. She wanted to, but she wasnt sure he was ready for that. "This is really sweet...and I'd like that. Maybe we can cook together and talk a little while?"

Carefully, Ehud nodded and he let her take the flowers from his hand and then the chocolates. "I think that would be good." Stepping to the side he glanced into the kitchen. Things felt foreign in many ways. "Eh...I think I remembered to set out a little meat to thaw yesterday." It was a meal he had in mind that did't require a lot of meat and it had mostly vegetables. Chopping and preparing would take more time than anything.

He seemed to slip away again as he stepped to the side and continued talking about dinner. She wasn't really sure what she would expect. It was hard to tamp down that kernel of hope she had. At his question about the meat, she pointed to the little spot close to the stove. "Its over there under the cloth. The dog was sniffing around so I covered it." She crossed the room with the flowers and showed him the package. "I'll put these in water," she said with a smile, "They'll look beautiful on the table." She snagged a vase from under the sink and ran some cool water into it before arranging her flowers nicely." They were both dancing around things it seemed and she stole a glance at him. "Did you want some help? With dinner?"

Taking some seasonings out of the cabinet Ehud set them near the plate with the meat and then grabbed several squash and root vegetables. "If you'd uh, start chopping the vegetables that would be good. I'll season the meat and cook it up and then help you finish chopping the veggies."

"Alright," she said with a gentle smile. She dug into the fridge until she found the vegetables he indicated, then pulled a long knife from their butchers block and set it beside the cutting board. Lastly, she donned a little apron, pinned her hair back and washed her hands before she started cutting the vegetables with a well practiced hand. "How were things today?" She asked. It seemed like an easier question to start with and she wanted to know how his first day back had gone.



Ehud sprinkled the seasoning over the meat and then put the seasoning away before he snatched a knife and made fast slices in the tops of the meat chunks. Rubbing the seasonings into the meat he listened to her question and thought of an answer. "It went like I thought. Long, lots of fires to put out and stressful." He wasn't going to lie about that. "You know it's always like that when you go back into an office after having unexpected time off. How was your day back at the bakery?"

She heard the knife slide out of the butchers block with the force of being snatched and stole a glance at him as he slashed into the top of the meat. Her stolen glance cost her though. She wasn't paying attention and knicked her finger with the knife. "Ow," she said with a surprised hiss as she jumped a little. It was already starting to bleed and she grabbed for the nearest towel. "Oooh. It was busy. Everyone was glad to see us back open again..."

Owe. Ehud heard Pris' quick intake of breath and he set his knife down before he turned to look at her. She was grabbing a towel, but she would need to wash the wound too. Setting his work aside he washed his hands carefully and beckoned for her to come over to the sink. "Glad to hear your work was good. I'll uh...get that washed up for you and help you get it wrapped too." He felt a bit shy about asking her, but he had to. "Pris, you're not gonna divorce me are you?"

She found Ehud had already put down his knife and was beckoning her over to the sink. She held out her hands, one wrapped in a towel. As he turned on the water he offered to help her clean and wash it. Just as she was lifting up the towel to assess the damage he asked her a very sudden question. She froze and lifted her gaze from her hands to his eyes. Where had he gotten an idea like that? "No," she whispered, "No. I'm not. Are you afraid I would?"


"Yeah, as a matter of fact I've been worried you might." It was a small wonder in his mind that she hadn't already filed. Ehud knew that it couldn't have been easy for her and if he really was crazy it had to be hard for her to come to terms with. "I want us to be together."

That was the second most honest thing he had said to her thus far and possibly the third. She gazed at him, studying his expression intently. "I do to," she said, "I want us to be together and to be able to love each other." She felt herself start to shake with the emotions as she forced her face to stay measured and calm. "I mistook many of the symptoms you were having as displeasure with me. I wasn't sure you wanted me around." She swallowed a little and pressed onward. "I do think its important that you keep getting the help you need to feel better. I want to stay with you."

This was a hard topic and Ehud gulped and then nodded. He grabbed a fresh towel for Pris to wrap around her finger while he went to finda salve and a bandage for her. When he returned she was still waiting and she seemed to be waiting for him to respond. "I know I had depression, but I think this stuff helped. Maybe I can get off of it in a few months. Maybe I just needed something to put my brain on the right track."

He was suddenly swapping out the towels on her hand and then disappeared with only a nod in reply until.he returned to start cleaning up her hand. The cut was more lengthy than it was deep and still bled into the towel and the water from the faucet. "That's possible but, Ehud, I think its important to follow what the doctors recommendations are. This is powerful stuff. And it can can have a hard impact if you don't take it as prescribed. Doing something like that might make you do things to harm yourself. I was scared for you in the flyer." She winced a little as he opened the salve and began putting it on her cut. "After....after what happened to Harry...I don’t want to lose anyone else."

Nodding carefully, Ehud met her gaze. "I'll follow their instructions, but if they think I can get off of it , I will." Wrapping her finger gently he then washed his hands again and resumed preparing the meat. "I'm wouldn't do what Harry did. Disappearing like that without telling you was wrong. I was furious when I met him and he told me who he was. I knew what it was doing to you and I could see it."

He wrapped up her hand and gave her an answer that she was sure was as fair as they could be for now. The fact that he knew what had happened with Harry and could see its impact on her made he feel some shame. "He left me. We made vows. Promises to each other and be broke them. I tried not to make you suffer for what he did. I tried to be fair. I know I wasn't at times by accident." She tested the new bandage and picked up her knife gingerly again. "I want to build a good relationship with you."

"I felt panicked a lot. You didn't do things like Haza. We both had our faults. We'll just have to leave Harry and Haza behind. This is our life now." He didn't like saying it and Ehud was sure she didn't like hearing it, but that was a fact of life. Haza had helped center him for a long time and he hadn't realized how much he needed her till she was gone and he hadn't realized how far he'd slipped.

Priscilla felt that sadness dip a little further into her heart when he said he panicked alot because she didn't do things like Haza. She was certainly not Haza. His comment about leaving their former spouses behind sounded resolute, but only time would tell. "It is our life now," she agreed, "And I think maybe we should step back and get to know each other more before anything bedroom wise starts again." She didn't like saying that but this was something she had thought about.

Nodding some Ehud agreed with her statement. He didn't like it, but he couldn't blame her either. "Yeah, I don't suppose I'd relish get hot and heavy with a crazy person. Who knows maybe you'll decide you like it in time."

That comment came off a little bitter sounding and she put down her knife and tugged his arm. "Ehud, that's not why I'm saying that. Don't jump to conclusions," she said firmly, "I'm asking for a hiatus from sex because, quite frankly you do need time to heal. I don't think you're crazy but sometimes people need help. And I know...very clearly now...that you were practically unable to release any of the chemicals in your brain that allow you to enjoy sex beyond the physical. I want to feel close with you more than just physically Ehud. Its not your fault and its not a punishment. I just think time to build that relationship would be good."




Pris was doing that lady thing. Where she tried to be nice and diplomatic. "I agree we should work on the relationship." Mentally he was still kicking around the diagnosis he got. She was wrong, they said he was crazy and there was no fixing crazy if he'd understood the doctors. They didn't make it sound like he would ever recover. "Pris, what if the doctors say I'll never get off this stuff. What then?"

She couldn't tell if he was saying what she wanted to hear by repeating her words back or if he really understood what she meant. He probably still couldn't feel as much as he should. His next question was so obvious she looked at him and tilted her head. "If you have to keep taking it, then we have to make sure you take it. If you need it to live that can't be helped. I wouldn't leave if you had to stay on it."

"Well then, I guess we just take it one day at a time." Ehud sighed. He wasn't happy with the outcome, but he clearly wasn't going to be able to change what happened. Tossing the meat into the pan and slapping a lid over it he grabbed an extra knife and started to cut some of the other vegetables. "What do you consider success in a relationship?

For someone who was just told his wife didn't intend to leave him, he didn't seem overly enthusiastic. In fact, he sounded outright displeased again. She didn't answer him right away. Instead, she began the process of cleaning up the blood smeared cutting board. "When I can trust someone with my thoughts and feelings and they can trust me. When they enjoy my company and I enjoy theirs. When someone goes home at the end of the day and feels content to be there. A good relationship should be built on trust, consideration, thoughtfulness and empathy. You should be able to.come to me with your troubles and at least let comfort you even if I can't help the trouble."


Ehud nodded as she described what success sounded like. It was a lot of work and it was something he was concerned he would not be good at right away. So many of those things she talked about took time. Thankfully time was something he had plenty of, but she didn't. At this point she had not had the surgery and he doubted she would. That wasn't anything he was going to bring up either. "Yep, that's one day at a time too." Ehud wasn't sure how else to go about those sorts of things.

He seemed to just take it all in. It was clear he didn't feel like he could trust her and that was probably her fault in some ways. The conversation lulled for a moment and she finished up taking care of the bloody cutting board. "What does a successful relationship look like to you? I know I'm not a Chip woman and maybe I could make things easier if I knew."

There was a natural turn in the conversation in which Pris wanted to know what he thought a good relationship looked like. “Chippequoti see being married, or agreed as partnership. It is very much like Chippequoti live together. We make a determination about a way we will live or something to accomplish and then we are sure that all of us work to do this. I think your way of living is good. We will talk about what we will accomplish.” Ehud hoped what he said made sense.

It sounded reasonable though more than clinical in some ways. She cleaned off the knife, thinking on what he said and trying to understand the latter half. "I want to work to have a good marriage. If you want a clear goal...I'm not sure what that looks like for you. I dont see marriage as goal oriented except to love each other and protect each other. Provide and care for. If you're looking for a goal to accomplish now? I would say that was getting you feeling better." She had no idea if this was right or wrong for him. "I do care about you and I want you to at least be able to come home to a wife and a home you can be content in someday." Once her knife was clean, she plucked up another vegetable and began slicing again. "What do you think?"

The reply was odd. “Uhmm,” Ehud blinked a few times. “I meant that we would make goal. Haza and I made goal to get as many Chippequoti free as we could and when the Dark Chips were liberated we made goal to join them. My goal is to do as much damage to the Federation as possible. Your goal is a bakery. What will we accomplish together?”

Clearly there had been some sort of severe miscommunication. She dropped her eyes away from him, feeling a bit like a failure yet again. "My only goal isn't just the success of the bakery. I didn't realize you had to have a purpose for marriage beyond just having a family you could come home to and be loved in. That probably sounds very silly at the point." She moved the chopped vegetables over to Ehud to do whatever it was he wanted. "What do you want to accomplish together, Ehud?"

Ehud took the chopped vegetables and dumped them in with the meat and then set a lid over them to steam. He saw Pros look away as if she were ashamed. “This is not silly. You know how you want to live and we both have personal achievements for ourselves. What I want is for us to determine what we will achieve together. Every Chip knows these things when they are agreed.”

She looked up at him, this time it took great effort to reign in her frustration. "I don't know what purpose there is of a marriage beyond being a safe and loving place to be. I didn't say an achievement was silly. I said my idea of marriage probably sounds silly to you. Due in large part because I am not Chip," she said, "I don't know what you want to achieve together. I didn't now Chippeqouti marriages required some sort of set achievements for their existence to be valid. I'm-" she cut herself off and took a deep breath. "I've been looking to you for help and that wasn't fair given how you were feeling ..or weren't feeling... and maybe it isn't fair for me to be asking what you want to accomplish yet." She leaned against the countertop and smoothed down her hair. "I'm sorry. I just wanted to know what you had in mind for achievement. What is a satisfactory achievement in your eyes, Ehud?"

"I don't want to start a fight with you." Ehud met her gaze with no small amount of frustration flashing in his eyes. "An achievement together is something you decide together. Don't you want to see anything else happen? Do you want children with me?" He was trying to ask some questions he figured would be reasonable since they were agreed. "Besides, you've got to be one of the most stubborn women I've ever met. You asked me to tell you more about the Light Chippequoti and I told you to speak to the Elders and you didn't. Now you get upset when you don't understand things that the Elders would have told you if you talked with them. I don't understand why you don't accept help or answers when I give them."

Now he was visibly upset too and it was in that moment she realized that she simply needed to let go of any emotional expectations she had as a Terran wife. She was letting that counter too much into this conversation. It was still difficult to hear he just wanted to go to the elders. "I don't want to fight either, Ehud." Gathering herself, she stuck anything the might have felt far back as she could and then nodded. "And I am willing to learn. I learned from Harry and I will learn from whoever I need to," she told him, "From my point of view as a Terran being told to go to the elders was being told you didn't want to invest in showing me things yourself. Those are things that build a relationship too." She didn't back down from his gaze. "And I do want children with you, for the record. I want us to live a good life. But that didn't sound like something you would consider an achievement. I've never had to set one for a marriage before. Harry and I...we just were." She swallowed some, and forced her voice to stay even. She would not be emotional about this. She would be practical. "And I see now that isn't the best way to be. I will go talk to the elders if that would help "

"Yes, me getting well so that we can consider having children is an achievement we could set." Ehud wasn't sure why she didn't think that would be acceptable. Pris was at least making some sense now and he did his best to remain calm. "I don't tell you that to dismiss you. It is for our benefit. The Elders can discuss many things with you that will prevent fights. Things that you will understand. You don't have Elders and I read your books, but they do not explain your culture. They just explain wants. They do not explain why things are acceptable, or not acceptable. If you had Eldrs I would go to them for help to understand. We will live like you want and we will be very close and trust each other, but we need some other help too."

He said the words but they sounded resigned again. She thought talking about things might help but she felt like she had backed him into a corner and he was almost admitting defeat. She couldn't think or feel like that though. There would be only the practicality of the thing. "I will go to the Elders then. So long as that's the way you want to live too," she said. She realized she had been playing with the hem of her apron and decided to put her hands to good use. A fresh berry salad with mint and honey would be good as a side. "I'm sorry that I don't have elders for you to go to. I cant introduce you to my family either who might have helped given different circumstances. I know you're frustrated and upset. I dont know how to make that easier for you except to say that Terrans sometimes have a...different way of viewing marriage. There's marriages of convenience. Marriages for money and wealth. Status. And then there's what I married Harry for and that was because I cared about him. That would be the same reason I married you too. So, when you talk of achievements it started sounding very much like the former kinds I mentioned. I could try to explain more if you wanted." She said it plainly and gave a small shrug, knowing better than ever not to put too much emotional burden into it. "I will go see the Elders and we will keep getting you taken care of. I would like a family some day, since that is an acceptable achievement."

A brief chuckle sounded from Ehud when she mentioned the other kinds of marriages on Terra. "Well, it wouldn't be for money, wealth or status that I married you. Probably not for convenience either. If you think about it, this hasn't been terribly beneficial in any of those terms." Sighing he turned and gently put his hands on her shoulders and stared deeply into her eyes. "I love yah Pris.Yah might be one of the most confusing women I've ever met, but I'm willing to live the way you talked. It sounds nice." He wasn't quite familiar with the romantic sort of Terran relationship that she was talking about, but he wanted to try.

She expected alot of things from him but a chuckle wasn't one of them. He was right. It wasn't terribly beneficial for him on any of those terms. She had gotten so used to men of power, and the occasional woman approaching her with sort of deal or trying to persuade her, seduce her, and even sometimes intimidate her into cheating on Harry. She'd been a weakness for him and try as they might, the Federation never did sink their teeth into her. Her trust in Harry had gotten her through all that but it has made it very hard to believe someone might care about her for reasons other than just her body or what they could do for it. His hands settled onto his shoulders. They were warm and so was the look in his eyes when he gazed at her. It seemed like it was the first time he'd really looked at her like that in awhile. He was trying very hard to bridge that strange, warped gap between them. Who knew if he would be like this tomorrow? She hoped he would look at her like this again. A smile, shy and hopeful smile inched to her glossed lips as she looked back at him. "Maybe if I'm the most confusing woman, that makes me worth the effort...I hope...," she said, "And I do love you, Ehud. I want us to have a good life together and to know that without doubt." She gazed at him and this time it was her turn to chuckle. "Its okay to hug me, if you want to. Hugs don't have to be earned or anything."

Since she offered the hug Ehud stepped in a bit closer and then pulled her in the rest of the way. The hug was a brief squeeze and then he let her go. "Well, uh...there you go. We hugged." He gave an awkward sort of shrug to his shoulders. "I really shouldn't do a lot of that if you don't want me to kiss you. There's a few levels and we'll start with level one. Little hugs."

The hug was nice and for a brief second she squeezed him back, only to have him disengage her. "That's fair, I suppose," she agreed, "Maybe when can graduate to level two later. Little steps are still good steps and so are little hugs." She looked him over and stepped back. She wanted more but it was a very poor idea to go jumping into bed with him again. "We're okay?"

Ehud nodded when she asked if they were ok. “Yeah, we’re fine.” Turning slightly he resumed his attentions to the food.

Pris let him continue cooking, not seeing a need to continue to talk when he appeared settled on the matters for now. At least, things felt more settled anyways. After dinner, all three of them went to the bakery and helped decorate for fall. She put up a window display with fall wreaths and beautifully decorated cake stands. There were jars of preserves decorated with twin and bright colored leave tendrils skirting each window. The tables now had a change on their decorations too. Little lanterns and bright, fall colored bouquets. She even showed Sien what fall looked like on Terra using the hologram projector to make a nice scene of crimson and yellow flowers trickle down from the ceiling. When the bakery was looking festive and smelled of warm cinnamon, she looked to Ehud. "I've been thinking more about what you said..about a goal or achievement for our marriage. I think a designated family day would be helpful to that goal. Sunday's the bakery is closed and I think that day should be reserved for spending time with family. No work. Just bonding time. What do you think?"

**********

The second round of fun actually succeeded. Though any thoughts of cuddling after were really dashed when Illya tried to lift himself off of her and crashed into the floor. All the fish near their bedroom scattered in fright and the pounding of boots echoed down the hall. Before she could even ask if he was okay, a sheet was tossed over her and the guards came crashing in. Illya was telling them it was fine while he stayed well hidden under the thin sheet without so much as an eye poked out to see them. She was turning pink at the idea of the guards running everytime Illya made the house thunder in any capacity. They were going to get alot of exercise at this rate.

When the guards were gone, she poked her head over the side of the bed. "Are you okay?"

Nodding at his answer, she slipped out of the bed and made sure he could get out of the floor properly. He seemed to want to go out again, so they showered together and dressed in some more civilian looking clothes. They visited the observation bubble and then wandered the streets, simply looking at all the sights. Illya found them some alcohol free cocktail drinks which were sweet, fruity and piled high with cream. Whatever kind of fruit was in them was delicious and she sucked it down quickly, whipped cream and all. They bought drinks for Koda and Rezna too. A little boy also approached them and while his mother looked mortified, Calysta was more than happy to see Illya interact with the child and get him something to drink.

It was nearing mid afternoon, a mere two hours after throwing up his guts, that Illya got the idea he was hungry. Truth be told, she was getting peckish too, though she should have been more than full from that icee style drink. The smell of fried meats was wafting in the air and her stomach let out a fierce some growl. Once they found where the smell was coming from, Illya made no hesitation to duck inside to make an ordered. She waited outside, surprised that the line to dine in was so long. It must have been a popular place to be. When Illya came out, he was carrying trays filled with baskets piled high with fried bits of something. When she tasted it, she realized it was liver of some kind. Probably nyte beast. It was strangely delicious and she wolfed down the first basket with gusto, letting out a tiny but smelly burp when she was done by accident. "Oh," she said in surprise, clamping her hand over her mouth, "I think I was hungry."

Near the end of the afternoon they passed by a large building both in scope and height. The very bottom floor was a gift shop of sort and it was all paraphernalia about the Water Dancers. Apparently, the troupe of professional Water Dancers lived right there in Uria where they trained for months before the rainy season on Ewen. They were in town now and gave private lessons to people who wanted them. Some how Illya had remembered she had always wanted to be a Water Dancer when she was young. It always amazed her that he could remember those types of things even if the rest of the time was a blur.

When he suggested the private lesson, she looked up at him in surprise then the gaze softened to nothing short of loving admiration. "You remembered," she smiled softly. "I'd love to try it, but I...I'd like you to go with me. Maybe you'd like to watch?" Honestly, she was a bit nervous when she picked out a beautiful and flowing white unitard and skirt. An Ewenian woman was running the counter if the pale skin and dark hair were anything to go by. Water Dancing was an Ewenian tradition during the rainy season spanning thousands of years. It made sense for there to be a place for the troupe to train in the off season. But how would they react to someone like her asking for lessons? She picked up her dress and carefully brought it over to the counter to pay for it and for the private lesson.

She had expected to be recognized but not with a friendly smile followed by a "Oh! Councilwoman Monroe!" As if she were perfectly welcome. Even going upstairs to the locker room and changing into the beautiful outfit was harassment free. Her very Ewenian tutor was everything the Ewen considered perfection; lithe with long dark hair in a perfectly coiffed bun, high cheek bones and long lashes. She moved with a grace that put Calysta's to shame as she beckoned her out into the large stage which consisted of a meter's deep pool in front of theatre style seating.

The tutor introduced herself as Kyrana and they exchanged bows. Kyrana was quiet and precise in her instructions so far. Several poles no wider than Calysta's feet were placed into the water and Kryana first taught her how to stand on them in the water without wobbling. It took a moment to find her balance on such a thin pole, but she found it and then came slow, graceful moves with the arms.

"The movements are meant to be thanks to the Spirit of the Rain," Kyrana said in Kaerelean, "They value grace and fluidity. You are shorter than most Water Dancers, but you can still manage to make it look graceful. Here...adjust your hands here and here. That's better. Now, try the motions again."

She tried again and she could tell Kyrana was being polite, but had a slight undertow of irritation or, perhaps offense.

"No, Councilwoman. Like this. You are half Ewenian, yes? Here let me show you again."

There was a slight emphasis on the half word that Calysta didn't fail to notice, but it wasn't enough to really say much of anything. She was just going to enjoy the lesson.

When Calysta had shown some proficiency in floating along the water on the pole, Kyrana showed her how to dive in with style and then sink to the bottom where they practiced several more moves. It didn't take long for Calysta to catch on. She did dance very well normally and she swam well too. The water was calming to be in along with the graceful moves of the water dancing. Her inky black hair flowed around her with the white tendrils of the dress with each movement. She could hold her breath up to 10 minutes without any real need for air which made Kaereleans wonderful water dancers.

Kyrana showed her all the moves in order and they only bobbed up to the surface a few times to gain their breath before they put what she had learned to music. Calysta performed it all with the music, enjoying every twirl and roll. She had wanted to try this her entire life! And now she was more than welcomed to to do it. Probably because she was the councilwoman only, but she was still doing it! She felt graceful and the whole world fell away besides the music and her moves. Her body seemed to naturally go with the flow.

The lesson lasted an hour and a half before time was called. Calysta waved at Illya merrily from the pool before climbing out and succumbing to gravity again. When she was done changing in the locker room, she met her Chip in the theatre with a smile and a kiss to his cheek. "It was amazing! What did you think? We're invited to see the full troupe dance on Ewen."
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Ehud made sure Sien had his school bag set out like usual and he put on his work clothes rather than his running pants and shirt. It was the usual time he went running and Pris went to the bakery. "I'll go to work with you for a little bit." Ehud mumbled as he dug through the closet to find his jacket and then gently pressed on her elbow to hurry her out the door. It looked like she was waiting on him and he wasn't needing her to wait anymore. "Got a few things to talk about. I'll help you knead the dough while we talk."

Ehud was especially eager for her to leave him be this morning. He even announced he would be going to the bakery only for a little while today and that they had things to speak about. She didn't want to leave him be, particularly as he was so keen on ushering her outside of the door. What could she say though? She couldn't watch him forever and it would just turn into an argument if she insisted he do something besides what he planned. The prospect of him having something he wanted to talk about made her nervous too. She folded her hands in front of herself and nodded. "Okay." It was simple, clear response. Then she started down the porch with him and started walking to the bakery. It was a short 15 minutes to make the mile trek to the square. She unlocked the back door under the light of the solar bulbs and let them inside, flipping on the office and kitchen lights in turn. All the while she stayed quiet. What else could she say? Maybe this was the moment he decided being married to a Terran woman was too much after all. Or maybe he wanted to ask her about the elders. She wouldn't know until he spoke. She made sure her hair was pinned back, then put on her apron before gathering the ingredients to start the first loaves of the day.

Shoving his hands in his jacket pockets Ehud trudged along quietly next to Pris. He needed to get back to work today and there were a lot of things he had to get done. Things that shouldn't have been left, but they were and now he'd have to deal with them. When they reached the bakery he let her step inside first and then he stepped in and shut the back door and locked it. Taking his jacket off he exchanged it for an apron and started the ovens and rising bowls. They would need all those in short order. "Pris, you've been quiet. Second guessing your choice to stay with me? I don't want you to leave, but there sure seems to be a lot that you're not saying." Her diary was proof of that, but he wasn't about to say that right now. It somehow seemed like a really bad idea.

She was in the middle of flouring the surface of the work station to prepare it for when the dough was done working in the large mixture whe he finally spoke. Her eyes snapped up to him, zeroing in on his face in total shock. She took a moment to stare at him, studying his mood. Which Ehud was she talking to right now? His tone reminded her of his cold laugh and empty smirk in the flyer a few weeks ago, giving her goosebumps up her spine. "No," she said finally, her voice soft, "I haven't second guessed the decision to stay with you, Ehud. I'm quiet because after my meeting with the Elders I thought it might be best for me to talk less and listen more."

There was a flash in her eyes that made her look frightened. The momentary sight of weakness cast a shadow of doubt in his mind. Ehud held her gaze for for as long as she allowed. "You're scared. Why?"

She stood still as the mixer whirled mechanically in the background and Ehud held her gaze. At the mention of being scared, she swallowed and diverted her gaze. She shouldn't have let herself get thrown off guard. "I'm..." she started to speak, but stopped. It was too late to cover anything up now. "Its was just now...you reminded me of how you were on the way to Kinte. It scared me." She dusted off her hands and turned to the mixer, checking the dough. Not quite ready to knead.

Ehud watched her as she seemed to fumble and then answered. It was seemingly the truth. At least as far as he could tell. "Why did it remind you of that? You're afraid the medicine doesn't work?"

"It was just the way you mentioned me second guessing my decision to stay with you when you first spoke. It sounded the same in some ways. It sounded very bitter and sad," she said, "Which is how you were on the ship to Kinte, except...well....except then you sounded worse. Angry and on the edge." The cleared her throat, which was threatening to tighten up and took a small breath. "I think you would have sounded like that if the medicine wasn't working," she admitted, as she turned off the mixer.

"Maybe," Ehud grunted and he grabbed the eggs to start cracking them in a bowl. "Plenty of things happen to make people sad. Bitter is just when it seems there isn't any mercy and there isn't time to be sad anymore. I don't like the diagnosis and I don't like having to take medicine cause they think I'm crazy."

Pris let him talk and again, those goosebumps prickled. "You asked why I was afraid. I was afraid of you and for you that day." She replied quietly. This was how he really felt about the diagnosis. It seemed he had been holding back too. She lifted the heavy bread hook from the machine and began grab hauling up the tacky bread dough. "I understand. I would be upset if that was my diagnosis too."

Ehud figured he wouldn't like her answer, but he wanted to know the real thoughts. "Well, that's a nice, non-inflammatory thing for you to say." Glancing at Pris he caught her attention and then fixed his gaze on her. "I didn't come in here to make bread and only talk about my frustrations. If we're gonna do this family thing we gotta have a few understandings. You know I don't like it. Try telling me the unfiltered version of what you think right now.'

Apparently he wanted to dig and talk about serious things. She had thought those were meant to go through the Elders first. Or maybe he had and this is what they told him to do. It was all very confusing. She put down the dough onto the counter top and wiped her hands down with a lightly damp rag before she looked at him. He was gazing at her. Waiting for her. "I think I'm afraid," she said bluntly, "I care about you, Ehud. But the man talking to me on the way to Kinte didn't care about much. Particularly not a future where we were doing 'this family thing'. He looked at me with a cold smile and a humorless, bitter laugh and told me to my face that as a wife, things were 'nice for now.' You couldn't seem to care beyond that. That was all Sien and I were in that moment, was some fleeting thing." She swallowed and stood her ground. He wanted the truth and he was going to get it. "And that scared me and broke my heart, Ehud. I married a man, who in the moment, saw no other future with me than 'its nice for now' and thats not how you build anything. That's how you...live through it." She took stood there, watching his every expression as she spoke. "I know you're more than that. You're more than the man speaking at me on that flyer. If you weren't, I wouldn't have married you. But I do think that you need that help, Ehud. You may not like it, but I truly do think you need it and as long as the doctor continues to think you need it, then you should take it. Because the man talking to me on the flyer without it was so cold, I wasn't even sure what he would do and that was scary."

She looked at him, her eyes softening and she let out a soft sigh. "And I do want to build a good relationship and future with you. There's nothing wrong with getting help with that, whether we like it or not."

What Pris said wasn't easy. Ehud almost cringed when it came out with a sort of finality that she believed he should be on the medication. Working his jaw he turned his gaze away from her and continued dumping ingredients into the mixing bowls. He was just about ready to turn the mixer on and then start dumping flower in. "Guess I know what I needed to."

Whatever she hoped he might take away from what she was saying, it must have made him angry. He cast his eyes away from her and she could see the tightness in his jaw. At his comment, she stopped working and looked at him. "You asked me to be honest," she said. A moment of silence lapsed and she sighed. "Am I worth doing this?" she asked bluntly.

"I did and you were honest." Ehud replied in a carefully measured tone. "Doesn't mean I like your thoughts." He wasn't feeling like saying much more, but she started pushing and he met her gaze. "Yes." That was good enough for now. It answered her question and he didn't want to go into a long solo speech about it.

The single worded 'yes' came off more as a warning than anything else and she remembered what the Elders had taught her. It was better just to be quiet and let him come to her if he wanted to. She dropped her eyes and didn't reply as she went to kneaded the dough. He didn't like her answer and there was nothing she could do to change it or assure him. She'd tried to reassure him and it had very little effect. She focused hard on the dough and then hefted it into the bowl to rise.

Ehud turned his mixer on and he watched the contents mix in silence. What she said only confirmed what the doctors had said about his diagnosis. As badly as he didn't want that to be the case it was simply what it was and he was going to have to deal with it. While they worked to get all the dough for the day started he remained quiet until nearly the time for her to begin baking. He needed to get to work and he was going in no matter what she said today.

Taking his apron off Ehud hung it on the hook near the back door and he turned to meet her gaze. "I'm going into work today." Leaning in a little closer to her Ehud gently kissed Pris on the lips. "I'll drop by after work to help you close up." He remembered from reading her journal that she'd been a bit nervous at night and he was going to try and at least show her that she was worth more than a pretty face to him. She was struggling since they had agreed and it wasn't quite right. The way she described it was probably honest, but terrible at the same time.

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

On the way home Ehud stopped at the bakery like usual and he walked through the front door 5 minutes before close. There were only a few children in the bakery looking at the cookies and sifting through the coins in their hands. It was obvious they were Chip children because of their brown little hands, dark hair and bright eyes. A look of disappointment came to one boy's face as he realized they didn't have enough after counting two times. Ehud stopped them from turning. "You work for a treat?"

At the question all five of the Chip children nodded eagerly. "Alright, one of you turn the sign to say closed, one lock the door, one help sweep and one turn off the lights in the display case and the last one is gonna help me wrap the second day things to put in the 1/2 price box." Pris was going to have a few dishes to do, but he could take care of the front with the kids.

When the children were done with the very short set of chores Ehud offered them each a cookie. "If you help me with dishes and cleaning the back you can have all the treats we wrapped for half price." With that offer the four children rushed to the back and quickly washed their hands before nearly knocking Pris aside to do the work. Ehud shrugged a bit and smiled at her. She could relax a little bit at the end of her long day. With the dishes very promptly done and set to dry Ehud took the children out to the front and let them empty the half price box and then sent them on their way. He knew the kids would be back, but they would be very dutiful little helpers if they were promised baked goods. If they didn't want the baked goods they would not show up again.

Now that he had Pris alone he set his hands on either of her shoulders and sighed. "I'll stay on the medication as long as the doctors say I need it. If you will stay with me and we will work on being close like husband and wife then I will do my part and do whatever the doctor says I need." He grinned a bit awkwardly and nodded toward the window where the kids could still be seen dashing off with the food tucked under the arms. "Dark Chips don't have much money most of the time. Figured you wouldn't mind getting rid of your old stock to go to the half price bucket for a quick clean up job. The kids didn't have enough for what they wanted, so they traded a little labor for a bit more. They'll be back." That was for sure and he figured they would likely bring friends.

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

Illya stepped into the private viewing room to watch Kalizda get into the water with the instructor. Even when she was learning the moves Illya couldn't help, but notice her legs. The long dress seemed to part as she drifted down into the water and it showed a significant amount of leg. Illya shifted in the seat and he crossed his legs and leaned forward some. She was quite beautiful when she danced like that. He was also very thankful that he was the only one watching. Such a display was almost scandalous. It was deliciously scandalous though.

Time seemed to go by so quickly while she was dancing and when she finally pushed off the bottom of the pool for the last time she floated to the top gracefully and he remained seated for a few reasons. It was helpful that she was going to be taking a few minutes to get dried off and ready to leave. He hoped that she enjoyed doing it as much as he enjoyed watching.

When she emerged Illya stood and smiled. "Mmmm...I'm glad dat I have yah try out little dream yah had. Et was very nice tah watch." He couldn't hide the somewhat mischievous grin that had begun to sneak across his face as he said it.

**********

Back at the fancy underwater rooms they were given Illya did his best to ignore the constantly moving floor and fish floating by. Keisha seemed to be enthralled by the fish and she was more lively than he'd seen her in quite some time. The old cat's paws spread slightly as she batted at the floor and then randomly attacked the wall with her tail twitching back and forth. Suddenly darting across the room she sprung off Illya's lap and hit the wall with a hiss. She seemed entirely pleased with herself as she dropped to the floor and then watched the fish scatter. Her tail still twitched and then she caught sight of the fish below her feet and she began running across the floor tapping with her paws as she went.

A slight shudder went through Illya when he looked at the floor beneath them. He was starting to feel a little motion sick again. Curling onto his side on the couch he pulled the blanket over his head. It might help stave off the ever growing sense of nausea. He just needed things to stop moving for a few hours. Perhaps they could pull all the shades in their room. There had to be a way to keep the walls from looking like they were moving.

Illya was just starting to doze off when he heard someone knock at the door. Sitting up he quickly ran his right hand through his hair to try and smooth it out. The curls only straightened under the weight of his hand and then bounced back stuck wings of his hair out in every direction. Illya threw the blanket aside and started to get up when Mihael answered the door. Standing in the doorway was the fabulous and dreaded Sarai. For whatever reason as Illya stared at her he had a flashback. She was there when he agreed with Kalizda the first time. She'd insisted on dancing with him and she had a dangerous sparkle in her eye then and now.

Swallowing his momentary surge of fear and vomit he gave a mildly charmed smile. It was the best he could muster given how he felt and who he was facing. At least he felt somewhat comfortable in the clothing he got to wear on the day off. It was his usual cargo pants and a shirt with his sling and a jacket.

Sarai smiled broadly and she seemed entirely pleased to see him. She was merrily waving a few invitation cards as she gave Illya his invitation card for the party the next night. "Eh, dat's very fancy looking little card dere." He could see it had hologram letters that lit up as you rubbed your hand over the card. "Do I get tah keep dah card when dah night es over?" Sarai chuckled at his question and seemed to think it was a joke. It was actually pretty cool and Illya was serious, but he figured it couldn't hurt for her to feel amused at his question.

The tassels on Sarai's dress danced and jerked wildly as she flitted over to Kalizda to present her invitation to her. Illya saw a darting color of gray race for Sarai and his eyes widened slightly when Keisha opened her mouth and her paws went swinging as she went after the first exciting bit of movement that was within her grasp since she arrived. "Ho..." Before he could give any sort of instruction of what to do Sarai screeched and her feet began to stamp. It only seemed to excite the cat more and Illya started to duck and reach for the cat with his one good arm when the woman suddenly clutched Dane's chest and her fingers curled around the edges of his vest. Dane was frozen in terror as the tiny woman squealed in terror and climbed up his body.

Dane grunted in surprise and started to try and disentangle himself from her, but she grabbed at him and her foot landed squarely in his crotch. "Whooo." As he leaned forward slightly she scrambled over his back. Mihael's eyes widened slightly in horror and he backed away. He didn't want the woman to leap for him next. Illya stopped in his tracks and simply allowed Dane to deal with the cat. He wasn't going to have Sarai jump him either.

With a groan Dane pushed the cat down and finally grabbed it by the back of it's neck and tossed it. At this point Dane didn't care where the cat went, he just needed it to leave this woman alone so she could get her legs out of his face. By now she was sitting on his back and still screaming wildly with her bare calves at eye level as she kicked for all she was worth.

Mihael was still shocked at the display and he barely noticed the cat flying past himself. To see woman climb a man like that and then shake her bare legs so shamelessly was terribly disconcerting. Illya howled with pain when the cat hit him and dug her claws into his shoulder. Wrapping his right arm around the cat he tried to make her feel less threatened so she would let go of the wound in his shoulder and he ran for the room in hopes of locking her up. Instead the cat decided to panic and clawed her back legs all the way up his stomach and chest and then jumped over his shoulder to try and make an escape.

Hearing the padding of the cat's feet Dane yelled as best he could. "Mihael catch et!" His voice managed to get above the wild screams of Sarai. Illya was running after the cat and Mihael snatched the creature off the floor and then stood there still stunned until he heard Illya give the order to go lock the cat up. Mihael took the yowling cat back toward one of the rooms and Illya did his best to straighten out his clothing and then he saw Dane pushing tassels out of his face and looking at Henryk with a pleading expression. He just really wanted this wild woman off his shoulders.
 
Last edited:

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
They finished the lion's share of the bread making in silence. It was the kind of silence where both of them were thinking, but neither of them knew what the other had on their mind. For her part, she wondered if he was weighing the cost versus the benefits of staying on the medication. The cost possibly being their marriage, and the benefit would be keeping her as well as keeping his sanity. Maybe the ticker tape in his head sounded much like one of those business articles he read everyday.

She worked until he broke the silence with the announcement he would be going into work for the first time since his first dose. She wasn't going to stop him this time. He would need some regularity and perhaps some time to think it over. To her surprise, he hung up his apron, then came closer to her. She was about to ask if he needed anything before he left. They hadn't been this close except in the bed for awhile. Then he leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss on the lips. The kiss was warm and she felt that little spark of something in her chest. She wanted to return it more thoroughly, but he was pulling away by the time she had gotten over the surprise of the gesture. "I'll drop by after work to help you close up," he said quietly before disappearing out the back door. Pris watched the doorway for a moment, then brought her fingertips to her lips, feeling the coolness left behind from the sudden warmth and end of Ehud's kiss.

All day she stayed in a state of semi-distraction. Loaves of bread rose up in bowls and browned up in ovens while she tried to focus on decorating a cake with fall leaves in buttercream icing. Customers came and went, some were in a hurry and others noticed the fall decor. The Terrans tended to smile when they saw something so familiar while the Chips enjoyed the colors. The Pyrtans who came had never seen trees turn colors before. They stared around at the leaves drifting from the ceiling in a state of curiosity more than anything else. Pris greeted them all in turn and even took a few specialty orders she would fill the next day, but the entire day her mind drifted to Ehud.

Was he alright? What was he thinking of? She had no doubt that he would come by after work. There had never been a time where he said he would do something and didn't. She resisted the urge to touch her lips again, the feeling of the kiss lingering there for a long time after the kiss he had given her. It made her want more and not just in the physical sense. She'd felt that little warmth in her chest, one she was trying very hard to ignore for awhile because he wasn't ready. He needed to have his own thoughts and emotions sorted out first. She couldn't find the heart to tamp down that warm feeling though. Not in it's entirety.

That little ember made her smile when he walked in five minutes before closing time. She looked up at him and couldn't help it. There were still a few of the Chip children milling around, trying to pool their money together for a treat and she would have simply given it to them. Ehud had a different idea though. He simply asked if they would do some simple tasks for the left overs going into the half price bin. The kids didn't hesitate, and did everything he asked of them.

She stood back and watched him talking to the children. The late afternoon sun was pouring into the windows. It made his light hair look golden and highlighted his solid jaw and cheek bones. She studied him while he was busy, taking in the man who had occupied almost all of her thoughts all day. She had never been the boy crazy type and she had never been the kind of girl to go to pieces over a man either. She did care about Ehud though and seeing him somewhat like he was before they married, perhaps even a bit more relaxed, made her take a moment to appreciate him. He had been through a hard road, some of which she knew of and most of which she didn't.

When he turned back to her, she straightened, pretending as if she had been working until Ehud came over and stalled her by putting his hands on either of her shoulders. She stopped, held still by the gentle touch, and looked up to meet his gaze. There was a soft but decisive look in his light eyes. With a sigh, he spoke to her. "I'll stay on the medication as long as the doctors say I need it. If you will stay with me and we will work on being close like husband and wife then I will do my part and do whatever the doctor says I need."

Then he smiled little awkwardly, somewhere between shy and uncertain on what to do. The bell over the door rang as the kids took their promised treats and scuttled outside. Ehud explained that the children would be back and she nodded with a smile. "They're sweet," she said, "I like them in the shop and I don't mind giving them the left overs at all. I think its a good idea." His hands were heavy on her shoulders, but she didn't dislike the weight. She wanted to step closer to him, but she slid her hand up his arm and took the fingers of his right hand into her own, bringing them up to kiss them gently. "I'm glad you came after work," she said, then she paused and tilted her head a little, "And I am pleased you came...and that you want to work on being closer as husband and wife, even if that means following the doctor's recommendations." Now that it had been said aloud twice, it was starting to sink in and she let out a sigh of relief before taking his other hand into hers. "Let's clean up, and walk home together.” He was grinning at her almost incandescently and she wanted to kiss him for a long time. She knew if she started though, she would have a hard time stopping. So, she leaned in and gave him a long, soft kiss on is grinning cheek.

When they started walking home, she held his hand the entire way. It had been a long time since she had walked hand in hand with someone. In the distance, the rain clouds were brewing and she could hear thunder rolling as night inched over them. She felt him squeeze her hand and she squeezed it back. Now that he had decided, they could get better, couldn’t they?

Sien was home when they arrived and she let Ehud go so he could sit down. He had gotten up early to go with her and stayed out later to come get her. “I’ll get dinner started. Why don’t you sit down and relax some?”

Dinner was baked fish with dill sauce and salad. Luckily, it didn’t take long to prepare, though it had taken her ages to find a fish comparable to salmon on Kaereal. She’d wanted to order real salmon from the Terran mart on Kinte, but with the embargo and no real fisheries set up on the colonies yet, that was a highly expensive meal. As it turned out, the substitute was just fine and tasted good with the Terran dilly sauce she made to go with it.

After dinner was all cleaned up and she had spent some time with Sien and Ehud together, it was time for bed. Bed had been awkward affair since Ehud’s diagnosis. Ehud had been out of it for the first few days and when the brain fog cleared, neither of them had been really sure where the other stood. Now, they knew where they were and where they were going. That fact along seemed to let out alot of the tension trapped between them at night.

She readied herself for bed, taking off her makeup and washing her face, then unpinning her hair. Before she knew it, she was crawling into bed alongside Ehud. Those few inches that had been left between them on the mattress over the last months seemed traversable some how. Sliding closer, she inched her way until her hip was brushing against his and then carefully leaned her head against his shoulder. “Hi,” she whispered, peering up at him, “I thought you looked like you could use some company like this tonight.” Leaning up, she kissed his cheek, then settled her head against his shoulder again.

They would get through this and perhaps come out better for it on the other side. She knew it would take time and no small amount of effort. With Harry, things had been different. Easier. Harry had betrayed her trust in the end though and it had left a wound that she was trying hard not to let Ehud suffer from. She had to give him a little trust again.

Priscilla reached for his hand in the darkness and covered it with her own with a gentle squeeze before closing her eyes to sleep.


***********

Koda had been in the middle of combing his hair when the knock sounded from the door. He was on guard duty that night and there would be many people at the Urian party. Urian parties always made him a bit nervous. They had their social rules which often times seemed as nebulous and knowable as the Orion Gas Pockets along the fringe. When the knock was heard, he poked his head out of the bathroom door. In true Urian hosting style, Sarai had come to deliver an invitation to the councilwoman and the General personally. While he knew this tradition was accurate, he also knew the woman could have sent an emissary to hand deliver them. The fact that she came herself was an honor outwardly, but Koda had seen enough to know she had eyes for the General too. It really was her pleasure to bring them in person.

The others seemed to have the Matriarch well in hand, so he started to dip back into the bathroom, but a shriek of terror stopped him. He whipped around and saw nothing but a blur followed by more frantic shrieking. His body sprang into action before his mind did and his muscles tensed, ready for a fight.

Instead of an enemy or another assassin, he saw the matriarch scale Dane like a desperate squirrel. She kicked downward while she continued to climb, holding to the Chip man who was trying to disentangle himself from her. He lost most of his fight against her when her foot landed squarely into his crotch. Koda winced as Dane bowed over and Sarai used his new angle to climb further onto his back to his shoulders.

His eyes shot to what she was running from and he saw the big cat the family kept as their pet batting and clawing for the fringe attached to the woman’s dress. Koda was the furthest away from the entire scene but the rest of the more than capable men seemed frozen for a second and even actively backed away from Dane as if he were some strange creature and not a man under attack. Dane managed to toss the cat where Illya caught it and now it was extremely unhappy. It used it’s claws to escape and started running.

Finally, Mihael snapped into action and scooped up the yowling animal to lock it away somewhere else. Koda flicked his eyes to Dane. The man parted the woman’s fringed skirts away from his face with an empty look of shock which quickly morphed into a pleading expression.

None of the other Chip men dared to approach. Instead, they seemed to be looking on as if they weren’t sure how to rescue their unfortunate comrade. Dane’s reaction he could understand. The man had a councilwoman and another man’s wife, a matriarch, on top his head panting like a wild woman, her knees on either of his shoulders. The rest of the Chip men unwilling to approach made the scene comical. Who knew all it would take to make Chippeqouti man freeze was a woman?

He didn’t dare laugh though. Instead, he fought the small smile down and watched as Henryk approached his wife like she was a wild mare in need of calming. “It’s alright,” he said gently, “The cat’s gone.” He offered his hand and she didn’t hesitate to take it.

The large Urian man very carefully reached up from Dane's side and let her slide from his lofty shoulders to his arms. He held her up bridal style then bent down, setting her feet onto the floor and steadying her so she could stand with some sort of dignity.

Sarai smoothed down her hair, then adjusted her dress over her fit, but curvaceous form. In a rare show of embarrassment, her cheeks had flushed. “Ah…” she said, still a little breathless. Then she cleared her throat, then she bent down in a low bow to Dane. “I apologize. I hope I didn’t injure you any further.”

Then she straightened and looked to Illya who was bleeding and Calysta, whose eyes were still wide with the entire scene. “I look forward to seeing you there. Feel free to keep the invitations, yeah?” she said briskly before turning to the door. Henryk turned with her and they were gone as quickly as they had arrived, leaving no small amount of chaos in their wake.

Koda took a look at the Chip men and felt the smile he had been fighting threaten to twitch his lips. Rather than giving himself away, he ducked back into the bathroom to finish getting ready. Before he could even start on shaving, he braced his hands against the sink and hissed out a half stifled laugh. The Federation should have simply sent an army of beautiful women instead.

************
They arrived at the party as a unit. The councilwoman was trailing along in a gauzy, but much less revealing outfit that looked like an ombre sunset. It wasn’t as flashy as the other outfits, but she still looked striking in it with her long hair pinned up with glittering hair pins. She arrived on the good arm of the General who was looking traditional, but more covered than the typical Urian man would.

It took them nearly 20 minutes to proceed past the front door because the media begged for holograms and still images. Some she obliged, smiling and waving at them a little, but never letting go of Illya’s good arm.

By the time they arrived at the top floor of the venue, the party was in full swing. Music was playing from one end while there were tables of food and drink set at regular intervals until the dance floor began. White chairs and lounging chaises encircled built in smokeless fire pits on the patio and in small circles inside. A massive pool with a water fall and grotto lay beyond that. The pool was largely unoccupied but that would change as the night wore on and people began to drink more.

Giant swaths of color fabric hung from the ceiling with small, pinprick lights nestled into them. It gave the impression of a galaxy with stars floating around them and the pitch black waters above the dome only helped the illusion. It was all done very beautifully.

"It does look nice," she said whispered to Illya, "You want to stay close for awhile, yeah?"

They were immediately greeted by several of the matriarchs whose eyes sparkled with curiosity. Calysta said hello to all of them in turn. They were easy to spot because they all wore pink sashes to signify their station. Already, she was having to posture some, keeping herself close to Illya. At one point she slid a hand gingerly up his slightly exposed back and looked up at him. When he leaned down, she slid a hand to his cheek and gave him a long thorough kiss in front of all the women. "One ring, one man, for me," she whispered in his ear.
That would keep them at bay for awhile.

Sarai had a silky pink sash, if not much else on, as she glided forward. The woman gave them all a sunny smile and held out her arms. “Welcome! Welcome! Come! I must introduce you to the matriarchal council.”

Calysta had no moment to protest as Sarai was already leading them through the crowd. She kept her grip on Illya gentle but firm. It was over all, better for him to stick with her where she could bat away the women. She was in for a long night of introductions and her Chip husband was along for the ride.

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

There wasn't a lot going on in the immediate area besides women congregating around Kalizda. Illya leaned in and whispered to her, "I tink I will go stand over dere wit Henryk. Yah do yah councilwoman ting here." He wasn't sure what he would do with Henryk, but it looked like a semi safe spot. There weren't too many women milling about that area. When he arrived at the spot he met Henryk's gaze and nodded. "Yeah, I have some of dat drink." Grabbing a cup he held it in the fountain for a moment and then stood next to Henryk. "What yah doing over here besides watching yah woman?"

Henryk stepped to the side a little to allow the bigger man passage to the bar for his drink, and gestured with his cup toward the crowd. "Mostly staying out of the way," he confessed, "This is her arena, not mine, but it does have a good view of them room. I can keep track of her...and..." He looked around for a moment until a waitress walked out of the nearby kitchen door with a fresh platter of kabobs. He waved at her and she came over immediately and with a flourish, offered them sizzling meat and fruit kabobs. "And if you stand here, you get the freshest snacks."

He plucked a meat kabob off the tray and the waitress waited for Illya to take anything he liked before departing. "What about you, eh? The Coucilwoman has been very busy tonight."

Taking a sip of the drink Illya winced some. He wasn't sure what it was, it had a very sweet taste. "Oooh." About that time the treats came out and he saw a few sizzling kabobs that actually looked good. He saw that Henryk had only snagged one for the time and so, Illya only took one. He could get more later since it seemed that this was the place that all food came from. "Mmmm....Good food. I come over here tah let meh Kalizda do her councilwoman ting and talk wit someone besides dah women wit sparkling eyes."

The Urian smirked a little at the mention of talking with someone who wasn't a woman with sparkly eyes. "Aye, they tend to do that when you've piqued their interest. They should leave you alone for a bit over here." He shifted his weight from one knee to give relief to the other side, then glanced at Illya, noting the patched up scratches down his front, the sling from the assassination attempt and a few more things. Older scars cutting g pale white and pink across the shoulder. They were impossible to miss. "The cat snagged you, eh? But, those other scars, the older ones, don't look like they were the product of a cat. Not an explosion either. Guessing that didn't happen at the battle on Kinte?"

Illya took a bite from the kebob stick and savored the flavor while he listened to Henryk. The man seemed to be amiable enough. "I hope I dun catch dat many women's interest. Only one woman I want tah be wit and dat's meh Kalizda." Though he hoped the women weren't interested he had a sneaking suspicion that Henryk knew what he was talking about. Then a sudden shift in the conversation came and Illya glanced at the man for a long moment. "Yah have experience enough tah know dah difference. Yah right, ets nut from any of dose tings. Why yah take interest?"

He bit into his kabob and chewed as Illya spoke, then he gave then man a bit of a shrug. "You had an attempt on your life in the past 2 weeks but it looks like someone tried something else before that. I've seen similar wounds on Urian traders and in fringe cities. Run across something similar myself about 7 years ago." He pushed aside the sash to reveal a long, jagged mark where the two sash ends tied together, then he put it back. "It keeps going to the knee, but, I don't feel like giving the matriarchs the wrong idea," he continued.

Meeting Henryk's gaze Illya listened carefully and watched as the man revealed a bit of his own scar. It did have a similar appearance though it was placed differently. Illya smirked at the idea of Henryk not wanting to give the wrong impression by stripping. "Mmm...I tink I am unsure what yah consider dis scars from. Yah get dat scar en line of duty?"

Henryk finished off his kabob and chewed as he nodded his response, then he finished off his drink in one giant swig. He put the kabob stick inside his empty glass and held onto, waiting for a waitress to walk by. "Aye. There were reports of Urian traders going missing in a fringe slave trade city far past G'koe. It was never confirmed to be a Federation attack and I normally would have dispatched someone to bring them home. But, one of the women who was taken was my sister. My agent traced them as far as the city and said my people, including my sister had been sold to a man working a drug plantation. So, I went to get her with a team if men. Landing went fine, entry, just fine. But we were found before extraction was green. I ended up fighting more men than we originally thought were there. A task master snagged me as we were running. Used a metallic whip with hooks and razors in the ends. Snagged me and ripped in deep. I only got grazed and it nearly gutted me."

A waitress walked by and he put his cup.on her empty tray before reaching for another drink. "That kind of weapon sound familiar?"

The description of the tale sounded as if Henryk had faced some similar traumas as the Chippequoti. Some of the same fears and he could at least understand that. Even though Henryk had asked about the weapon Illya had his own question first. "Yah make extraction of yah sister and she es safe now?" Nodding at the answer Illya moved on to answer the question posed by Henryk.

"Aye, et sounds like someting I know well. I am beat wit dis weapon before." Green eyes hardening he glowered at his cup and took another sip. "Dere are only two men dat dare hit meh wit such tings. I killed dem bot en dah end." Glancing toward Henryk he shrugged. "I guess sometimes dah past leaves ets marks."

He nodded. "Aye. We made it out. I was a bloody, flayed mess and my sister was terrified. But we made it." Taking a swig of his drink, he looked at Illya. The man's eyes burned with some of the same hate he had for the man who had taken his sister and given him a nephew.

"It does," he said, "But I can't bring myself to regret any of them. I did the best I could and protected my people and my family. Worth the pound of flesh."

He knocked by the last of his second drink and spied his Sarai chatting up the councilwoman. "I was more worried about Sarai skinning my hide when I came back. I had been under very explicit orders not to die."

The band was starting to assemble and the real party was going to get underway soon. He kept getting glances of woman checking them over, checking Illya over, as they circled. "You've got some more sparkly eyed women on your trail. They're getting curious again," he warned.

"Yah very glad yah dun have regrets." Illya murmured. "Regrets from dose kinds of tings make some men crazy and oters cannot live wit demselves after dat. I see many different kinds of regrets." As they stood there for a few moments it got strangely quiet and then Henryk mentioned the women coming near and Illya sighed. "How does a man un-attract dem?"

"Aye. I've seen a few of those regrets take root and never let a man go," Henryk agreed.

At the man's next question, he let out a laugh and grinned. "Un-attract? A Urian woman?" He mused, "I can only think of one way. Become a eunuch."

"Hmm..I was hoping dat wasn't dah answer." Illya chuckled in return and then turned his head away when one of the women tried to lock eyes with him. As he turned his head he caught sight of a fine pair of legs and he felt his ears turning red. There were far too many legs out and about to ignore. Out of desperation he half hissed at Henryk. "How do yah appear too busy tah speak wit dah sparkly eyes?"

Illya seemed to get just what kind of a night he was in for now and Henryk chuckled too. A moment of quiet passed and he was contemplating snagging a cream puff off the tray that just whipped by out of the kitchen when Illya hissed at him again with a question. "Truth? Go find your woman and sit her in your lap. That does the best. Otherwise she keeps having to posture and the other women can get all googly eyed."

Even if Illya wasn't excited to go sit around all the ladies again he didn't want to have the eager looking women throng around him. "Den yah about tah be a lone target. I have nut dah stomach for dis much feminine attention. I will find meh woman." Making a fast exit Illya limped slightly as he slipped through the throngs of people and soon found himself lost. Where did she go? She was not where he last saw her and he hadn't been gone that long.


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

Sarai had left Calysta chatting with several of the matriarchs in order to take care of a few things. The party had to run smoothly as possible to give their guests the best time. There was one task she had left and that was to make amends.

He was easy to spot. She made her way over, her breezy dress fluttering in her wake until she was close to Dane, but not so close that she was at arm's length. Then she smiled at him. “It was Dane?” she asked, “I know we weren’t exactly properly introduced earlier. I’m Sarai, High Matriarch of Uria and Councilwoman to the Alliance. You probably already know that, of course, but I felt like a proper introduction should be made. I also wanted to ask how you were feeling. I was told how you were injured.” She pointed to her own neck to make the point clear rather than point at him which would have been incredibly rude. “I’ve had several husbands injured before. Two of mine are in the military you see. Anyway, I wanted to make up for what happened this afternoon more than just a simple apology.”

She ushered a man close to her side and he offered out a beautifully carved wooden box. Sarai opened the lid carefully and invited Dane to look. “These are Urian oils, some of the most potent and high quality in the galaxy. They will have various effects.” Pointing to the first delicate vial, she nodded. “This one will cause relaxation. If you’re in pain, dab some behind your ears and under your nose. It won’t knock you out unless you douse yourself in it, but it will be very relaxing. If you rub it into sore areas it will also release tightness and pain.” Then she pointed to the second vial. “This one will energize you. Put a little on your wrists and you will be very awake.” Next, she picked up the last vial and held it up to the light for his inspection. “This one is highly potent and only requires the smallest of use to work. It is Urian Love Oil, an odorless pheromone. It’s blended for females and males, so you and your partner may enjoy.”

She smiled and offered for him to inspect the goods, but suddenly lurched forward. A couple dancing nearby got a little exuberant and twirled themselves right into her. As she stumbled, forward she bumped into Dane and grabbed him out of instinct. The tiny vial snapped cleanly in two in her hand the oil burst out over Dane’s arm and her own. She jumped back and dropped the vial, her eyes going wide before she sputtered. “Oo-o-oh no.”

***********

Solarity paused and took a glimpse at the tan fellow on the couch. She knew that boyish face. He was not a boy and he certainly wasn’t single. He sat there with his drink in one hand and a wary grip laid over the arm of the couch. When women passed him by, he averted his gaze to the floor, then to the side, then he winced and looked up to the ceiling as if he were praying to a god she couldn’t see.

After she delivered her last load of drinks, Solarity walked over to him and smiled. “You know, I don’t think that ceiling is going talk back to you,” she said, “I see you made it out of the bar this afternoon in one piece.” She wondered if he would remember her at all. He had been in such a hurry to get out of the bar, it would be a wonder if he did.”

***********

Something had not settled properly on her stomach. It was probably some morning sickness peeking through a small lapse in her medication. Whatever it was, she had extricated herself from the gaggle of chatty matriarchs and visited the toilet long enough to vomit. Then she’d reapplied her lipstick and rejoined the party. Rezna had gone into the bathroom with her as a guard while Koda kept watch from outside.

Now, they were both flanking her as she made her way back into the crowd. The group of matriarchs swirled around her like little sharks. The topic of conversation was a bit odd for mixed company but for Urian’s it was complete natural to chat about various bedroom techniques. She had been blushing all night, both desperate to get away and find Illya while also glad he wasn’t hearing about Matriarch Gladys’ technique for getting a man to practically sing between the sheets. It was bad enough Koda was here.

She was enveloped quickly by them again, welcomed back as if she belonged with them and was a Matriarch herself.

“So, do tell us,” Gladys said with a slightly tipsy smirk, “What is it you do to keep all of that General occupied? I’ve heard Chippeqouti men are quite wonderful husbands. You two seem a match made on the Moons, dear.” All of the other women were looking at her now, waiting for her to just spill the beans about her sex life.

Calysta’s cheeks heated up and she opened her mouth to reply, some how, when there was a large splash from outside. Men and women alike were starting to dive into the pool or dance near the water’s edge as the music played. It caused a momentary distraction and Calysta mustered an excited look. “Oh, I like this song. Speaking of my husband, I think I’ll see if he wants to dance...it’s one of the ways I keep him...occupied?” With that brief explanation, she exited the circle of women.

When she was around the pillars, she motioned for Koda to come closer so she could talk to him. “Will you please find my husband?”

Koda nodded, and left Rezna in charge of the council woman’s security until he could find the missing General.
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
The past week had been good. From reading Pris's diary, Ehud had gathered that she very much enjoyed the fact that he was getting up and going to the bakery with her each morning and picking her up at the end of the day. One of the most fantastic benefits he'd found was that he got about half an hour to sit down and relax when they got home. He could read his magazine or just sit and think of nothing.

Things had been going well even if they didn't get very far in the department of intimacy. Ehud was hoping to get further, but he also knew she was nervous about his ability to keep his word and stay on the medication. As badly as he wanted to quit he had to keep taking it. That was a deal they made. She was going to stick with him as long as he stayed on his medication and he really did want her to stay with him. Sien was also benefiting and the boy seemed to be much happier than he had been in some time. Family days were even nice for Sien. Ehud still had some serious calls he had to handle on the family day, but he tried to keep them shorter.

It was time for his second shot and Ehud waited at the clinic to meet with Pris. She arrived only a few minutes before he was called to the back and they did a few more scans and blood draws. The doctor returned and gave news that Ehud wasn't terribly excited to hear, but it would have to do. "Looks like the higher dose is what we'll need to keep you on. Things are looking good, but we could see the levels come up here a little more. I think that longer term treatment will achieve that. However, the good news is that from both your answers and your agreed's answers it looks like there has been good response to the medication and you're seeing benefits already." The Ehaui doctor ordered another shot and Ehud frowned deeply, but went ahead and dropped his pants to get the shot. This time he asked if they could do it somewhere besides his rear end and they informed him it could be in the side of his thigh, but he would have to be cooperative for them to do that.

Ehud held still and he let the nurse give him the shot. Even if this was supposed to be good, part of him felt defeated doing it. This was almost like admitting he couldn't cope with life. Regardless of how he felt, he was going to have to get used to this. Once the shot was over with he started for the door with the doctor's orders to set up another appointment. "I'll set it up." Ehud took the paper from Pris. If they had to do this he was going to insist on doing it for himself. He might as well settle into taking care of things for himself.

When they reached the front he handed the note to the nurse doing the scheduling and he waited for her to give him a few different times when he could come in and he named the time he wanted and then exited the clinic with Pris. "I will see you after work." Ehud managed a faint grin and then kissed her gently. "Walk with you as far as the corner and then we'll split off and head back to work eh?"

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

Mihael had been doing everything he could to avoid gazing at a pair of legs that he had no business looking at, or touching. The women were so scantily clad he wasn't even sure it counted as them being fully clothed. Looking to the ceiling only brought a certain amount of relief. There was still the great expanse of the party with hundreds of more legs showing and he had to somewhat watch them because he was on watch for the General. Of course he could choose not to look at the legs closest to himself and it only worked in part. Another pair of legs advanced and he wondered for a moment if they were indeed female and then he saw the familiar woman stop in front of him. "No, I dun expect dah ceiling will answer, but dere aren't any legs up dere eiter."

Solarity glanced up at the ceiling and nodded before looking back down to Mihael. "Ah, you're a fellow who likes the legs, yeah?" she said, "Not much help for that tonight. It's Urian custom to look appealing to the men. If a woman wants a husband or to please the one she has." Stealing a quick look at the bar, she made sure she wasn't needed right away and then tilted her head at Mihael. "Would you want another drink?" she asked, "You look like you're about to jump out of your own skin if someone sits next to you."

It seemed the woman was only partially aware of the fact that legs were a problem. "I would have drink eh, jes nut much. I am on duty. I stay here tah watch dah General." Mihael couldn't lose sight of Illya and he still had a few other things to consider. Perhaps he should go with her to ensure that the drink was safe. He could still see Illya from there. "Never mind. I go wit yah." While they walked to the bar he kept his eyes a bit higher and glanced across the crowd to get a look at Illya every now and then. "I am nut only one who likes legs. Legs are only for husband tah see en Dark Chippequoti tradition."

Solarity was about to ask him what he wanted when he asked for a small drink but then he suddenly changed his mind, saying he wanted to go with her to the bar. "Ooohkay," she said, confused. She didn't question it though. She merely lead him over to the bar she was working and slipped behind to pour him up a drink while he talked. He mentioned something about his own tradition and she listened as she made him something colorful but tasty. When he explained about the legs, she paused and looked up at him with a curious expression. Pointing with her pouring spoon, she gestured to the crowd. "So all of these women are giving you the equivalent of a peep show?" she asked.

After he'd said it, somehow it didn't seem like it was perhaps the most diplomatic thing to have said. Mihael felt his cheeks turn bright red and he cleared his throat before sheepishly nodding. "Et would be one way of saying et." He wasn't sure how else to respond now that he'd tried to do the diplomatic thing and probably failed.

Her eyes widened and she let out a breath, whistling a little. "You really are in for a long night, friend." She finished pouring up his drink, making him a blue and grey concoction that looked like a stormy sea and then passing it to him. It would be sweet and light. There was blush making him turn red and she almost let out a laugh. Chip men seemed to be many things but she was finding them to be endearing more than anything else. "There's no real way to avoid it, unfortunately. If I can ask, why are legs considered so...special in your tradition?"

Mihael took the drink with a shy sort of nod and mumbled a bit before he remembered she probably couldn't hear him. "Tanks." Speaking a bit more clearly he then took a sip of the drink and glanced over to see Illya was more or less in the same place. "Legs are someting dat Dark Chip women dun show. Et es considered very eh....provocative and et es what a man climbs before he engages en more intimate relations wit his agreed."

Solarity listened, intrigued by the idea and began making another order while she thought over what he said. "I suppose that would make it very erotic," she said, "Though I have to say it's a real novelty to think a man would be climbing upward from the legs. Most men start from the top down. Maybe they should try it your way sometime." She finished the order and sent it off to the woman who ordered it, then nodded. to him. "Another drink?"

Somehow Mihael had failed to notice how quickly he went through the drink and he nodded when she offered another. "Maybe dey dun consider et so novel when yah legs always show."

Solarity chuckled. "I didn't say looking at it," she said, pouring up the creme liquor into his cup, "I said touching it. You touch a woman's hair. Something she puts effort into and it's a close contact that not just anyone would have the right to do. A hair dresser can, but a husband being gentle with his woman's hair by touching it in the bedroom? That's considered very intimate. Passionate. It's not done in casual moments."

"Hmmm..." Mihael fell silent. He knew Illya would break that little rule of conduct tonight if he spent any amount of time with Kalizda. Chip men weren't so particular about hair. "Dat was good tah know. I will nut make dis mistake. Meh agreed would be very upset ef I was so careless among strangers."

The young woman smiled and handed his fresh drink to him. "Aye, I imagine she would. But if it's any consolation, I consider you at least one less stranger. We've met twice now and you are very kind. I'm glad we got the chance to talk again." She poured a few rows of small glasses filled with straight alcohol and loaded them onto her tray.

Watching her leave, Mihael wondered how long the party would be. She told him it would be a long night. Sipping at the drink he grinned shyly and then slipped away from the counter when a very pretty woman stepped up to stand near him and she sat on a stool. Her dress fell open showing her legs all the way up to her hip almost. That was quite scandalous and he needed to get away. Almost as soon as he reached his spot on the couch again he sat down and sipped a few more times and then glanced over to where Illya had been.

Mihael's heart pounded right into his ribcage. He had somehow lost the General. Where in the world had the man gone? He wasn't anywhere near where he'd last seen him and not to mention now he didn't see Kalizda either. They were both gone and he'd failed miserably. This was an immense embarrassment. It would be worse if they were both fine and he panicked.

Taking a few moments he stood up and quickly tilted his head back and finished the drink before he began to roam toward the area he last saw Illya. The man wasn't anywhere around and he passed by Dane and circled back around to where the Council Woman had been and to his relief he found her at least. She was still guarded by Koda and Rezna, but that didn't solve the problem of where Illya was.

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

Sitting with a platter of food was satisfying. Dane hadn't wanted to cook for himself and he was more than happy to let Wynry and Akten have their time together. He was just here for the free food. Mostly he was doing his best to mind his own business. Then he was interrupted by a nice voice and he turned to see it was the woman that had so unceremoniously climbed him like a tree earlier that day.

At least she had the decency to recognize it was indeed an embarrassing thing. Turning to look at her he found his cheeks turning very red. She was in a very revealing bit of clothing. He sincerely hoped by the way she was talking that she didn't intend to offer to share a bed with him. "Uh...no ets...eh..." While Dane was busy tripping over his words she presented a little brown box with oils. He felt lightheaded with relief. "Dat's very kind of yah. I uh...." He stopped again and simply let her explain the oils. The oil for relaxation was something he would certainly be wanting to use tonight and he would probably like to put some on his neck. It was actually quite sore after she'd climbed him like he was some sort of tree.

As she was explaining the oils someone bumped into her and the love oil was splattered all over his arm. He could feel it quickly soaking into his skin. She seemed to be slightly panicked and Dane shrugged, "Et dun do any harm." However, she insisted that he should go wash right away. He could go take a dip in the pool and that was fine. "I do et." It was possible that a concentrated and high quality oil could still cause some skin irritation if he had that much of it on.

Dane grabbed a few towelettes sitting on the table to help soak up the oil. He squeezed the oil from his shirt into the towelette and then set it aside before rising and heading for the pool to wash off.

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

Kalizda wasn't where he'd last seen her and Illya filtered out of the room. He was just hoping he could find her somewhere. He started toward the food area and stopped to grab a few bites. If he couldn't find Kalizda it wasn't any reason not to enjoy eating. Besides, if he kept on the move and shoved his face full of food he might not look like he was quite available for chatting with the sparkly eyes. Even with a plate of food Illya kept on moving through the party. He saw Sarai making a quick departure from Dane and Dane set aside a towel that he'd used to squeeze out his sleeve. Sitting next to the towel was a box.

It was very possible that Sarai had decided to make an apology of sorts. Walking over to the spot where Dane had been Illya propped the box open and observed the two vials in it. Apparently Dane had decided to take the missing one with him to the pool and bathe with it. Glancing at the pool area Illya was relieved to see that Dane wasn't trying to bathe like he would at the bath house. He was instead rubbing the oil from his arm. Perhaps he'd dumped a little before he got to the pool and now he was smearing it.

Grabbing the towel, Illya sniffed it. The oil was a light refreshing scent. It probably wouldn't hurt to freshen up a bit himself. Illya didn't really want to get in the water with the fresh cat scratches though. Taking the oil drenched towel he rubbed the back of his neck and down his shoulders before setting it back on the counter and moving on.

Despite the fact that he had tried to avoid the the sparkly eyed women Illya found himself cornered in a large area for dancing. The first woman came close with a large grin and she seemed to be quite pleased to have caught up with him. She asked him for a dance and Illya knew the Urians had been wonderful supporters of the Chippequoti. He would have to show his appreciation and simply do his best not to offend the women that seemed to be keen on showing their support for his people. "Et would be meh honor. I'm Illya, dah Council Woman's agreed." He decided that was probably the capacity he was appearing in for this party.

A twittering little laugh made him feel even more nervous as he felt her fingers slink up his good arm and she moved in closer for the dance. The woman chatted with him and kept it remarkably pleasant. Illya humored her with a few smiles and he chuckled nervously, but managed to somehow please her with the dance and then he was passed off to the next woman and the next and the next. It seemed the line of women waiting to dance with him was almost never ending. If he was looking for a woman this would be a pleasant dilemma, but for now it was awkward and uncomfortable.

The only thing making this situation worse was the fact that he had noticed quite a few hologram flashes. There were reporters wanting images of him dancing with the matriarchs. That wasn't going to look good to the Council. After about an hour of dancing Illya carefully worked out an excuse to leave the dancing behind. "Eh, yah all very beautiful and I would like more time tah dance, but I admit dat dis injury leaves meh too fatigued tah dance more. Maybe I rest little while eh?" The women seemed to be disappointed, but eager to help him find a comfortable spot to rest. Even if he'd tried to escape them it seemed he was instead escorted by a host of them. One found him a clear couch to rest on, another found him a pillow, another found him two blankets since one wasn't likely to be sufficient for his size and then another retrieved a drink for him.

Illya got settled on the couch and quickly downed the drink before he realized it was alcohol. Setting the cup aside he nodded nervously at the women. Laying down he pulled the blanket on his shoulders a bit higher and started to hide under it, but then remembered they were all likely waiting for some sort of thanks. "Yah all very pleasant and kind. Tank yah."

Giggling sounded from the women and he cautiously pulled the blanket over his head and tried to sleep. He only lasted about half an hour before he decided he needed to find a better place to stay. Women happened across him on the couch several times and pulled the blanket back to see who he was. There wasn't anywhere that appeared to be immediately shielded from prying fingers. As a final attempt he walked over to a series of tables nearby and lifted the tablecloth on one and crawled under it and then crawled along the line for another three tables before settling in. This way nobody had to know where he was and he could sleep in peace.

Mihael had caught up with Illya during the dancing and he followed him at a distance back to the couch and then sat in the couch after Illya crawled under a table. It might have looked odd to some, but it appeared to be the only logical place to get some rest. Seeing that there was a plate of unattended food nearby he reached over and snatched a little kebob of meat and slid a piece off. Popping the meat in his mouth he chewed on it and settled in a bit more content and relaxed. At lease people had gradually gravitated toward the pools and it was more quiet in the food area now. All he had to do was sit here and make sure nobody started crawling under the tables to find the General.

He was barely finishing the kebob when a frazzled looking Kalizda approached. She was looking for Illya. Mihael rose to his feet and sighed, "Oh, I chased him trough dah party too. He's under dah tables now." Walking over to the table he saw Illya crawl under he lifted the table cloth and caught his breath. "Shet...I know he was under dis one." He'd heard that the General was sneaky and he sometimes got away when he wasn't supposed to. This wasn't looking good.

A growing fire was spreading across his cheeks. It was embarrassing to find himself so inept in front of the Council Woman. He'd literally, lost her agreed at a party where Illya was one of the tallest men and should have been easy to spot. Lifting the table cloth closer to the couch he felt a growing panic rise, but he was careful not to let it show in his eyes. Instead the fierce red had spread from his cheeks to his ears and he flipped the table cloth up on the third table while she moved one table ahead of him and began searching. There were only six tables total in this area and they'd checked four. Finally, Kalizda flipped one and the General was there sleeping safe and sound. "I knew he was here somewhere." Mihael shrugged. He tried to sound casual, but he really didn't think he pulled that off very well.
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
The week went by in relative quiet and for the first time in a long time, Pris realized that she felt better. Ehud had walked with her to work every day and then come to get her when he was done so they could walk along in the twilight. She would go home and cook the two men in her life dinner and listen to Sien's day. Then they would go to bed where she would dare to slink a little close and lay a head her head on his shoulder. It was peaceful and she had started to look forward to closing time when he would walk through the door. He even smiled when he came in and seemed genuinely happy to see her for once rather than wearing a mask of a grin. Now, she knew the difference. His real smiles were a little awkward, but no less handsome with a touch of boyish charm. Even her 'demanded' family day had gone well, despite a few phone calls interrupting it.

Despite the progress, she still felt nervous for his second appointment. This would be where he really decided on following through with what he said. She filled out the questionaire with the same questions as before. Thankfully, some of the answers were different. How was his mood? Outbursts of anger? Sadness? Had he been abusive? Exhibited any strange behavior? The questions were endless it felt. Finally, she finished it, handed the pad off to the doctor and waited.

The news was not what Ehud wanted to hear. She knew that. He didn't want to be on this medicine, but the doctors had all but confirmed it was necessary. She practically held her breath when they brought in the shot and told him he could either take it in his rear or cooperate and take it in the thigh. When he decided to cooperate, and furthermore decided he wanted to do the visits on his own, she let out a small breath of relief. Of course, she knew better than to let someone with issues like Ehud was suffering from not have a check on his accountability. The doctor was message her when he had arrived for his appointments or, if he was more than 10 minutes late, inform her she needed to find him. She wanted to believe that it was an unnecessary precaution, but right now, she would take it. He was still eager to get off the meds and a little more motivation to stay on them couldn't hurt.

He held her hand as they left the clinic and offered to walk with her till they reached the corner. Then he leaned in and kissed her gently. She was starting to relish those little shows of affection more and more. Sometimes, she wanted to kiss him for longer too. However, she didn't want to push things until they were both ready emotionally too. She closed her eyes and kissed him back before squeezing his hand. "It sounded easy when you said split at the corner," she mused, "But I rather like us holding hands. Hard to let go at times." A burbling, sweet chuckle left her and she leaned up giving him an extra kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you after work....Oh, and when you get there...can you check your calendar? Monday is the start of the Pyrtan harvest and they've hired me to provide a stall with some snacks and teas along with the Chippeqouti teashop too. The whole community will be out helping and there's a festival in the evening. Dancing, and food, and games of some variety. I was thinking you might enjoy it too, but if you already had work plans, I would understand. It's a little last minute. Just let me know what you think?"

**********

Finding her husband was proving to be harder than Calysta originally thought. Chippeqouti had strong constitutions and she doubted Urian alcohol had any sort of real effect on a man Mihael's size, but when he swore, not once but twice that he knew where Illya was only to turn up wrong, she wondered if she should reconsider that assumption. He was clearly pink in the cheeks, either from booze, embarrassment or both. Finally, they started checking under tables for her long lost husband. He had been missing for over two hours and she had started to get more concerned that maybe he had wandered home without her entirely or some misguided Urian woman had cornered him some how.

Relief flooded her when she found him bunkered underneath a snack table. At least he was safe, even if he did look exhausted. Calysta bent at the knees and leaned down as she pushed the thick table cloth out of the way and tugged the blanket down Illya's face just enough to check on him. He was going to get stiff laying like that but she didn't want to startle him either. Gently, she put a hand on his arm and rubbed it. "Illya, love. Wake up, yeah? Illya?"

The table seemed to be the only place he was going to get any kind of rest. Illya's shoulder was aching and throbbing after he'd danced and had a few women lean in close. He was also tired because his back hurt and he always slept more after injuries. He hadn't got to sleep very much under the table either. It was better than the last place, but someone was bugging him here too. Grunting a bit he started to roll to his side and the stopped when he felt the stabbing pain in his shoulder. Opening his eyes he gave Kalizda a very tired smile. "Hey, I was looking for yah."

She smiled at him gently and reached up, holding his cheek and smoothing his hair down at the nape of his neck. "Aye and I was looking for you. The little bird finds her Wolf in a cave," she chuckled, "You're going to get stiff. Want to come join me on the couch? Everyone is at the pool now. It's much quieter."

"Mmmm...dat would be good. I need tah look occupied tah avoid dah sparkly eyes." Illya began crawling out from under the table and he already felt stiff. His back gave an audible crack as he stood and he twisted a little to try and get things to loosen up and a few more cracks sounded. "Mmm..dat feels better." Offering Kalizda his good arm he walked slowly to the couch and then sat down.

She winced as his back cracked this way and that. It was a sound that always gave her the chills, even if it was purposeful. Then she took his offered arm and walked over to one of the plush couches. Her feet were starting to hurt a bit but things had gone from formal to more relaxed, so she wobbled out of her golden heels and slid them to the side with her aching toes before smiling at Illya. She wasn't sure what he had meant by the sparkly eyes, but if had been wandering for over two hours, he would have come across more than one woman. She pulled her dress up just a little and gently settled into his lap with her reddened feet on the opposite side of his legs. Then she looped an arm over his good side and kissed his cheek. "I'll make sure they leave you alone if you want to close your eyes," she offered.

Illya smiled a little as he settled into the couch with Kalizda. She said she would be sure they left him alone and he pulled her a little closer. "Dey will. Especially ef yah set on meh lap eh?" He was wanting to be sure he followed Henryk's advice and this seemed like the best way to do it. Besides, if she was on his lap she was warm and then they could both sleep. "Maybe I jes lay across dah couch and yah sleep on top of meh? We spread dah blanket over yah instead of meh and den we sleep good eh?"

Calysta smiled when he pulled her closer and she chuckled. "Aye, maybe we could take a little rest? Nobody as the pool will be missing us, I dont think." She shifted to let him settle down back on the couch then stretched herself over his broad chest. He was warm and familiar which was relaxing in itself. She helped pull the blanket over them and nuzzled into his arms shamelessly. Here, the more bold you were about your affection, the better and she knew they could get some rest comfortably like this. His arms were a bit oily and whatever oil he had used was light and fresh smelling. She enjoyed the scent. It must have been something new he had picked up for the party. She got settled in and laid her cheek across his chest. His heart beat was strong and thumped in its chest in a steady rhythm while his skin was warm, almost hot against her own. Every shift he made, she could feel muscles rolling underneath that warm, tan skin. Suddenly, she was feeling warm herself and a flush rushed to her cheeks. Her own heart rate jumped up a little. She shifted herself this way and that, wiggling and unable to sit still. Why was she suddenly so awake? "Sorry," she mumbled, "I'm just having a hard time sitting still."

Kalizda agreed to settling in and Illya promptly laid down on the couch. He was more than ready to have a little rest. She was trying to get comfy and Illya closed his eyes. However, she kept on shifting and his eyes cracked open when he felt her little elbows dig into his ribs. “Why yah so awake feeling? I’m tired.”

"I know," she said, a little frown of confusion arching over her face,"I don't quite know. I feel warm.....excited...." She realized the word that had come out of her mouth and she turned red in the face from her neck to the tips of her ears and point of her nose. That was exactly what it was. She felt taut as a bow string for her husband.

“Excited?” Illya was confused at first and he frowned. Then it dawned on him and his eyebrows raised. “Yah usually shy. Dis hardly seems place tah be excited. Ef we find private place maybe we can fix dis excitement eh?” This time a slight grin came to his face. He really wouldn’t mind helping her with that.

Calysta's face was practically crimson. She had no idea what had come over her but the feeling was there and growing. She was practically shaking at this point. "This is a big place," she whispered, "We should definitely find somewhere private...soon..." She started to lift off of him, but every instinct she had was telling her to lean in closer and keep going right there. She took in a deep breath and in came out shaky with penned up energy. "L-lets see what we can find, yeah?" She knew he was tired, but all she could think about was him!

Getting up from his place on the couch Illya grunted. His back was sore still, but Kalizda seemed to be quite excited. Illya smiled at her, he had to admit that he wasn't completely adverse to the idea. "Ok...." Scanning the area he spotted a door that was ajar. "Dat might be good place tah try for. Maybe little more privacy eh?" Illya held her hand and started off toward the door with Kalizda.

Calysta felt that excitement grow the more he moved around and her heart was starting to flutter. He pointed out a door and she nodded quickly. "Lets go!" She had all but forgotten Rezna and Koda standing behind them and she walked over with her Chip and peered inside the door. It was another lounge sort of area with chairs and loungers encircling little pits with braziers in the center. The lighting was dim and there were only two doors. The one they were going through and an emergency door labeled at the back. Nobody would be coming through that one, so that left the one at the front. The room was empty since all the party goers were at the pool. She scuttled inside and closed the door, locking it behind them with Koda and Rezna on the opposite side to stand watch. Without hesitation, she stepped up to the end of the couch and wrapped her arms around her husband to lock him into a deep kiss. She was trying to slow down, but all she could think about were wild, passionate things as her heart beat faster. Illya was a a sweet and gentle lover, something she enjoyed and apparently couldn't get enough of. When she finally needed air from the kiss she lifted her eyes up to him in a sultry, breathless sort of gasp. "Are you sure you want to? I know you were tired and I have no idea whats gotten into me. Maybe its the pregnancy hormones."

Somehow this seemed like such a bad idea and so exciting at the same time. Kalizda was rarely this wild. They were sneaking off in the middle of the party to have a little hard work and that just seemed so scandalous. Once they entered the room Illya made a fast scan to be sure it was empty. He wasn't sure he trusted Kalizda's swift head turns. She was barely paying attention to anything, but him and that was exciting. As soon as she was on the couch they were busy kissing and Illya was left almost breathless when she released him. Nodding in response to her questions he swallowed and then answered, "Yeah, I tink I want tah do dis and yah hormones must be going crazy. Et's been busy day."

Calysta grinned in delight at his answer and wrapped her arms around him again, pulling him close and kissing him for all he was worth. She had entirely forgotten she was also supposed to be helping him get her out of the clothes because didn't want to pry her hands away from him long enough to do it. Instead, she focused on disrobing him. It didn't take much, thankfully, and she could get to more of him. She doubted she had the patience to be particularly quiet about their little love making either. Everything was almost most blurry with anticipation until they moved on to the act at hand. He was sweet and they were both a little wild. She tried to watch his arm but it was hard to do when she was practically shivering. Afterward, she laid her head down and took in a deep breath, feeling both satisfied and yet, still wound up. "Are you alright?" she asked Illya with a breathless kiss on his neck. She could hardly stop pecking him with gentle kisses anywhere she could reach.

It had been a while since Kalizda was that eager. Illya never recalled her being like this before when she was pregnant. The more he thought about it the greater his suspicion grew. Something was not quite right. She was still kissing him too and he enjoyed it, but this wasn't quite normal. "I'm alright." Illya answered with a grin and kissed her a few more times. He wasn't ready for anymore action and he was far more tired now than he had been before. Seeing that she was shivering Illya helped her get dressed again and then got himself dressed and laid down on the couch with her. The blanket was at the foot of the couch and Illya pulled it over the two of them and then snuggled in close with her. Just as he was about to ask her why she was acting so wild he had a rather shocking thought. What if that oil was love oil? "Kalizda, yah tink maybe I accidentally have love oil on?"

She hardly wanted to get dressed again, but it seemed Illya was tired. He had been tired before they started and now he surely would be exhausted. And yet she was still ready to purr more like a cat than a chirp like a bird. He laid down on the couch with her as she shook more from uncontrollable energy than actual cold. She knew he wouldn't be up for another round, so she forced herself to lay down with him and be still. Her shoulders and hands were still jittery and she tried to puzzle out what in the Wilds had gotten into her. The closer she snuggled in, the more interested in getting more fun she was. Her brain was foggy and focused acutely on one thing. What as wrong with her? Illya started to nuzzle into her too and just when she had resigned herself to staying awake all night, he suddenly spoke. "Love oil?" She spoke the words and they almost slurred together a little as she thought about it. Her brow furrowed and she looked up at him. That's right. She had been in this fog before but it had been a long time. "D-did you put on anything? Did someone give you some?" she asked, blinking at him in surprise.

"I dun know." Illya was trying to retrace his steps. He hadn't drank anything that tasted like it had oil in it. Then he remembered that nice smelling towel that Dane left behind. "Oooh dat's bad. I tink Dane maybe had some and he spilled a little. I dun remember how et smelled and I smell dah towel he used to clean et up wit. Et smelled nice and so I jes rub some on dah back of meh neck and shoulders." That was another reason none of the women left him alone even when he wanted to sleep."Eh...do yah tink I could wash et off en dah pool?"

Calysta's eyes went round as she stayed on top of his chest still shaking with energy. "Oh....I don't know. Whatever this is, it's really strong. I feel almost like I might fly apart at the seams. it took several showers last time..." Even now it was hard for her not to keep on kissing. "We'd still better go get Dane and tell him. I doubt he would use it on purpose." She tried to get up, bracing her weight on the back of their little couch and wobbled a little, feeling almost dizzy with it. "Oooh that stuff is strong...and I've pretty much...well I've rubbed it in to both our skins at this point..."

"HOo boy." Illya let out a sigh. He wasn't feeling the effects of it on her yet, but if she got it from him he would be able to tell shortly. "We better go get washed up." If it was the Urian love oil they needed to start washing up as quickly as possible.

"Aye..." Calysta mumbled, she started to make her way to the door but paused to look at him, "Maybe one more..." No. She had to focus. Her face turned pink again and she unlocked the door, poking her head out. "Koda," she asked, "Go check on Dane, please. He might need some assistance...don't ask me how I know." She glanced back at Illya. "I doubt soap will make much of a difference. Maybe you were right. Maybe we should just go to the pool." She reached for his hand with her own shaking fingers and looked up at him with a bit of a smile. "Now, I'll really have to make sure the ladies stay away from you."

Calysta guided them over to the pool, which was the fanciest one she had ever seen, and dipped a toe in. The water had been brought to a warm, almost bath temperature and the lights at the bottom of the pool slowly shifted colors, fading from blue, to a soft green, then to purple and so on. What was the most notable thing, was that it was completely empty. Two hours ago it had been filled to the brim with people and party goers. Now, there was no one out there but them. In fact, she saw very few people milling about at the food and bars at all. Where had everyone gone?

A twitch in her belly reminded her that she had more important, more Illya related things to think about and also that she was slathered in Urian Love oil. "C'mon," she said, taking off her skirt to reveal a tasteful body suit, "The water is warm and we need to get this stuff off of us."


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

Akten had been glad to stay home with Wynry while the others went to the party. Not only could he get out of being recognized as Tikan's son and prince, but he got to spend time with the pretty blonde girl who was rapidly making him see why men bothered to get married beyond just the physical need. She was smart and funny. Unafraid to speak her mind. She always seemed to know alot about things he had never heard of and didn't mind sharing it with him. He'd found more and more than he made an effort to see her smile too. She had a pretty smile.

It was to get that pretty smile that he relented to watching some sappy romantic movie when the kids were all fed and tucked in bed. She'd given him a hopeful look and then sat next to him on the couch and started to play the hologram. He could tell she liked the show, but he was took busy stealing glances at her to really know what was going on. After awhile, Dane came trudging in with a handful of food and looking tired.

Wynry paused the movie and asked how the party went, and he grumbled back as he rooted around the ensuite kitchen looking utensils. She lifted from the couch and pulled one out of the drawer for him, handing it off to him, then decided she wanted popcorn to go with it the movie. So he waited while she closed all the cabinets Dane had left open in his wake and made the popcorn. A few minutes later, she was settling back down with him onto the couch, were slight weight making the cushion dip just a little. He nudged a little closer, but didn't dare touch her without permission.

She offered him some of the Terran popcorn and he took a small handful, popping the little bites into his mouth. It was overly salty, in his opinion, but she'd offered and it was something to do with his hands while they watched the boring hologram. He noticed though, she was started to shift a little in her seat every now and then. He wondered if it was because of him. Was he too close? Did he smell? He casually leaned his chin down and tried to take a quiet sniff of his underarms.

Wynry looked up at him while he was looking down and seemed to think he was leaning close toward him. Suddenly, she was on him! Her head tilted up and her lips half crashed into his. He was so shocked, he made a muffled yelp and tried to pull back, but her hand wrapped into his shirt. Then his more basic instincts kicked in and he started kissing her back. They made out for a moment and it was good, but she was tugging almost desperately at his shirt. He'd never known Wynry to be like that. He broke away from the kiss and stared at her. She looked heavy lidded and confused. A small frown was starting to tug at her very reddened lips. "You stopped," she almost moaned, "Don't you want to?"

He swallowed the sudden rock in his throat and nodded, which caused her to launch herself at him again. He pulled her back by the shoulders, panting from more than just the heavy kissing. She was staring at him, brow knitted together in a sad expression. "I thought you wanted to...don't you like me? I'm not pretty? Is it the hearing aids?" Now she was sounding breathless and there was a horrible waiver in her voice. Panic rose up. He had to say something.

What he had meant to say was 'No, it wasn't any of those things' and 'I want to take my time with you and not rush anything.' It was reasonable and true. What came out was entirely different.

"I...I uh...no?" he stammered, "N-"

Before he could finish, Wynry practically melted in front of him at the word 'no' and tears came to her eyes. He immediately hit panic mode and tried to explain himself as she leapt up from the couch and started walking away. "No..I meant no...I didn't...mind...I just...wanted to take my time." By the time he said it, she was slamming her bedroom door, leaving him on the couch with a romance hologram and a half empty bowl of popcorn.

*******

Koda went looking for Dane and after 30 minutes of checking over every nook and cranny, including under every table he could find, he turned up empty handed. It was at that point he called the man, hoping to get an idea of where he was. The pad rang through twice before Dane answered. There was aquarium wall in the background which confirmed what Dane said about his location, he had gone home several hours ago. "The councilwoman was concerned about you," he said, "She had me looking for you. I'll tell her you went home and you're just fine."

With that, he let Dane to rest and walked over to the pool where Calysta and Illya had gotten into the water to report. "Dane went home about 2.5 hours ago. He's at the hotel resting."

He thought that would have been good news, but the look on the councilwoman's face was wide- eyed concern. Calysta turned to her husband. "He's probably gotten the oil everywhere in the rooms," she said, "And I don't think the pool water his helping at all. It feels...." she made a face and sighed, "Stronger."

About that time, Sarai emerged looking more or less disheveled but not less pleased with Henryk following behind her. The Urian man's hair was a wild mess too and he looked sleepy. "There you are," Sarai said in her usual pleasant tones, "I've been looking for you. It's about your man Dane. You might want to keep an eye on him tonight. He's been practically slathered in some very potent love oil by accident. I told him to wash it off but I was in a hurry myself as well." The matriarch paused, as she looked at the two of them and then tilted her head. "Are you two alright?"
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Ehud and Pris were almost to the point where they would be splitting ways and he was just letting go of her fingers when Pris announced something about the festival. He should have known that was coming up and somehow he missed it. The thought had slipped his mind several times and now the festival was here. "Oh...." Staring at Pris for a moment he tried to determine what she wanted the answer to be. Based on what she'd said he could figure she would want him to be there. Did her face say the same thing?

The facial expression she had seemed to indicate that she was being honest. Pris wanted him to come help with the bakery and distributing teas and treats to people during the harvest. That was such an odd request. "Uh...I'll check." Ehud answered hesitantly and then he turned to walk himself to work. This was all such a change from what it had been.

Perhaps they had always had an awkward relationship. She seemed almost stiff. Ehud wasn't sure what the cause could be, but he was going to try and make things better. Family days had been challenging in a sense. First of all, he couldn't get away from certain elements of his work and then there was the fact that Pris wanted him to be involved as much as he could be with a few things. If that wasn't confusing enough in itself some days then there was the part with his son. Sien had seemed so pleased with the idea of playing games together and talking about the things he found most interesting in school.

Stepping into the office he walked passed John and muttered under his breath all the way to his office space. John kept the appearance of an assistant, but John was far more than that. The man was working his own contacts and he was a quiet sort. Someone you didn't know and it was better not to know him. Ehud only knew what he had to about John and they kept it that way for decades.

It was hard to focus on work with the thoughts of Pris and Sien running through his head. Ehud stared at his calendar and he saw a few things he could shift around. If he stayed later for the next few days he might be able to make the harvest season a bit more enjoyable. There was just the small niggling in the back of his mind. Was it the crazy side or instinct? That was hard to tell anymore. He didn't know what was crazy and what was instinct or if they had essentially become the same thing to him over the years. His odd hunches had saved him and made a fool of him several times. Swallowing that bit of rising fear he began to shift his check in times. The contacts would find it odd, but everyone knew in this business you could always expect the unexpected.

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

That evening Ehud walked to the bakery to meet with Pris and walk home with her. She was looking a bit worn out, but the Chippequoti children had shown up in force and they all wanted to work hard. The windows were all scrubbed in the shop and new drawings were added to the board, the decorations got dusted and the whole bakery was glistening by the time they were done. For the amount of work done there wasn't really enough half price goodies remaining for the next day to pay them. Instead, Ehud took some loaves that would have to go to half price tomorrow and gave them loaves of bread to take home in addition to their little treats.

It was working out well. Pris was able to sell almost everything at full price and everything half price was partial payment to the children assisting in the bakery. When the last tanned fingers splayed and waved goodbye Ehud nodded and waved in return before he shut the door and locked it. Walking into the back he held a hand out to Pris. "Shall we get something to eat at the Pytran hall tonight? You're looking tired."

Nodding in response to her answer he walked out the back door of the bakery and locked it behind them. Glancing at Pris again he smiled faintly. "I uh...got some things changed over at work. I think I should be able to help with the harvest festival thingy." There was still shock of fear that struck his mind like lightening. So many things could go wrong. Something critical would happen, he could feel it. Still, he was going to try and live life without that constant nagging in his mind. Perhaps it wasn't his instinct. Part of him hoped it was. At least if it was his instinct and it turned out to be right he would know that he wasn't crazy.

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

The pool didn't feel too bad. It was nice and Illya was enjoying it. The water was warm and it was relaxing. There was a pleasant odor to the water and it had a slight sheen over the top. Perhaps it was successful in removing the oil. His clothing however, was slightly disconcerting. Illya's strange tunic with no pants kept floating up around his waist and his boxers were in full view. Somehow it would almost seem more appropriate to just take the tunic off and then he wouldn't have the tunic rise like that. Before he could think any further on the issue of Kalizda complaining that the water felt like the oils in it were stronger Sarai came out with Henryk. They looked like they had just got done doing wild things. Subconsciously, Illya found himself rubbing his head and making a futile attempt at taming his own hair. Last thing he wanted was for Sarai to think he had been wild too. "Eh, we're jes fine. Relaxing en dah pools. Nut sure what happened tah everyone."

Sarai looked around and then back at Henryk. "I'm not sure either. Hopefully they enjoyed themselves." It was like the general hadn't heard what she said or perhaps not understood the importance of it. "I've been looking for both of you for awhile." Her eyes roved over the pair of them, stopping on their hair, their clothes and their faces in a quick study. "Your man Dane may be in a fair bit of trouble. He was exposed, quite by accident, to a highly potent tincture of love oil. I told him to go wash, but that might not be enough. You should probably have him stay in the rooms for a day...maybe two...this is so potent it can last for days at the amount he was exposed to."

About that time, Calysta's eyes flicked from Sarai to the pool water, then back to Sarai. She was fidgety and restless, but clearly trying to think something over. Whatever it was must have struck home because her eyes then snapped to her husband and they were round as saucers. "Illya...you don't think...you don't think Dane...she told him to go wash..." she stammered, her face turning pink, "You don't think he used the pool water?"

"Trouble eh?" Illya murmured mostly to himself and he gazed at the water for a long moment before it registered for him that Kalizda was talking to him. Blinking a few times he stared into her eyes and tried very hard to understand what she was asking him. "Who use dah pool water?"

Maybe it was the oil and maybe it was something else. Illya could feel his brain was a bit foggy and he didn't know why it was getting harder and harder to track what was going on. His shoulder hurt, he was getting a headache and maybe he was starting to see things because it looked like the water was getting a little warped. The oil in this concentration hadn't really helped. Then it came together in a brief lucid thought. He was about to have a seizure and he had to get out of the pool now. Without saying much more he started for the edge of the pool and got out quickly. "I jes gonna go lay down for a few."

Calysta frowned when Illya blinked at her almost as if he were confused. She was about to tell her suspicions again, he'd had trouble hearing her at some points recently too, when he suddenly felt like he wanted to go lay down. Was it the oil? He was already climbing out of the pool and a sense of urgency rose up in her, capping off the other, physically instincts. She followed him. Wading out of the pool and hauling herself up to walk behind him, bare feet making tiny sounds as she padded along. Sarai watched, opening and closing her mouth several times in equal confusion. They didn't seem to understand the problem at all.

Calysta caught up to Illya and reached out for him, brow furrowed. "Love, are you okay? Illya?"

Koda and Rezna had dutifully followed and Sarai and Henryk weren't far behind.

There was nothing quite so desperate feeling as being at a party and surrounded by people that he wasn't sure he wanted there to witness a seizure. Regardless, he needed to get someplace fast. Illya glanced back at Kalizda when she came trotting up behind him and he wobbled on his feet slightly when he looked at her. "No." Answering in Quoti he continued looking around almost wildly until he saw a couch he could go lay on. There was a blanket and he went and laid down and promptly pulled the blanket over himself and laid on his side.

The curt answer came back and she looked up at him. He was wobbling on his feet. Maybe it was a bad reaction? Maybe something else was wrong? A seizure incoming? All the thoughts ran through her head as she tried to figure it out. He clearly wasn't able or wasn't going to give more details than that right now. He spotted a couch and wobbled his way, almost drunkenly, over to it. Then he unceremoniously flopped down and pulled the blanket over himself. Everyone else following them stopped in confusion too. Calysta didn't hesitate to sink to her knees beside the couch and touch a hand to his forehead. He didnt feel hotter than his usually toasty self, but something wasn't right.

"Should I be getting a doctor?" Sarai asked looking utterly defeated.

"No," Calysta replied, "Just give him a little space. I'll take care of Dane and the rest of it, yeah?" Illya wouldn't want to be bombarded with doctors so publicly if he could help it unless it was necessary. Calysta saw the look on the matriarchs face and knew the woman must be thinking that she was a terrible hostess. It was a Urian point of pride. "Oh we had such a good time. I think we might just rest for awhile. See you in awhile?" Calysta offered.

Sarai took the hint and sighed. "Yes, but please do call if you need something."

There were quite a few things Calysta felt like she.needed at that moment, and only Illya was going to supply that. Still, she agreed to call and then turned her attention to Koda and Rezna. "Koda, call Dane. Tell him what happened and to stay in his room. Don't go out. And..." she sighed, "Ask him if he went near the pool."

Then she looked at Rezna. "Find me some water or tea. No alcohol please."

"I shouldn't be leaving either of you," Rezna said.

"I'll just take my turn on guard and Koda will be here, just on the pad," Calysta shrugged, "We'll be here. Just go do it."

Rezna growled under her breath and shot Koda a warning look before stalking off.

Calysta looked to Illya. "Just close your eyes for awhile. I won't let anyone bother you." A distinct feeling of guilt welled up. He had been so tired when she found him and she had pushed too much.

It was a relief that Sarai and Henryk left. Kalizda seemed to understand even if Illya was having a hard time putting things together. She quickly gave instructions for a few more things and Illya saw Mihael hovering quietly in the back. The man was at least good at that. He wasn't making a scene and one barely noticed he was there. Mihael also had his medication with in case he needed it. Hopefully it would subside and he wouldn't get a seizure since he was laying down.

Mihael watched while the others left and Rezna went to retrieve a few things. He was aware that the General had particularly violent seizures at times. Moving in a little closer he set the seizure kit out on the table and sat down next to the couch where Illya was laying. Glancing at Kalizda he nodded. "Yah do well." She had done a nice job clearing the unnecessary persons from the room.

Illya laid quietly for about 12 minutes and nothing happened. He was starting to feel a little better, but he wanted to give himself a few more minutes before moving. He was about to get up when a sudden wave of nausea hit and he remained still for a moment longer. Despite his best attempts not to tense up, he felt his muscles begin to pull in tight and his eyes began to roll into the back of his head. Illya's jaw clenched shut and he struggled against the seizure. He could hear Kalizda talking to him and she was gently petting at his hair.

Watching the clock carefully, Mihael waited till the two minutes and then he grabbed the small vial. It barely held more than about 10 drops of medication. With Illya's jaw clenched he could put it in the side of Illya's cheek. With one finger he pulled slightly to make a pocket where he could deposit the drops from the vial and then waited. It only took a few seconds for the medication to work and then the General snored loudly for about five minutes.

The recovery was fairly quick and Illya sat up after his few minutes of snoring. "Ugh...I tink I like some tea and snacks. Maybe I jes go sit outside for little bit." Somehow the room felt very stuffy and hot.

Once everybody was off doing something Calysta could focus on Illya. He looked pale, which was never good, and tired. With all gentle care, she stayed by his side and smoothed his hair down. Maybe he could rest, even if she couldn't.

She jumped a little when Mihael appeared from seemingly nowhere and say down on the couch. He looked at her and told her she had done well. She didn't feel like she had done much but push her Chip too far at this rate. "If he seizes, I'll need your help," she replied to Mihael quietly.

They waited and she stayed with him. For a moment he tried to sit up, but then, the seizure took hold and it was a grand mal for sure. She bit at her lip as he seized and tried to walk him through it. Seeing him like that always brought her back to unpleasant places like the dark moon shadow and a dank ship. She tried not to focus on those images though and kept her gaze squarely on her husband who was fighting his seizure. "Its okay...it's okay. I'm right here." She spoke to him softly as Mihael watched the clock. She knew it was time for meds when he didnt stop at 2 minutes. Moving, she let Mihael administer the medicine and then slowly brought illya down. The snoring was normal but he popped back up rather fast for such a rough seizure and asked for a snack. Calysta took tea cups from Rezna who returned a few seconds before he'd woken up. "Rezna brought some tea. We can sit outside if you like." She didn't ask if he could stand but waited for him to be ready to move. A tiny look at Mihael told him she wanted him to stay up close this time. Calysta couldn't catch her husband if he fell and the only other person capable of hauling him around would be Rezna if they had to.

As badly as Illya wanted to nap, he knew they were at this party and he needed to be a good guest. So far, he hadn't done a lot to make himself a good guest. He was also feeling a bit randy after his seizure and he was sure that was the oils. Kalizda was looking good and he wanted her to sit with him. "Yeah, we jes go sit out by pool now. Maybe I stay out of water tahnight eh?" Swimming sounded like a terrible idea considering the fact that he'd just finished seizing. Getting up off the couch he made a few wobbly steps, but quickly regained his usual stride and then made his way out toward the pool. He was going to have to face Sarai at some point tonight.

He was still sounding a bit sluggish and still wobbly as he made his way over to the pool. Rezna followed and Koda managed to catch up with them. "Dane did bathe in the pool," he said, coming to walk alongside Calysta. The councilwoman let out a sigh and glanced at Koda. "You told him to stay in the rooms right?" Koda confirmed he had done so, and Calysta nodded as she turned the corner to the outdoor pool. Her bare feet met a puddle over the smooth stone and she slid forward, bumping into the wall and the suddenly being grabbed before she could slide or fall further. The hand on her arm righted her and she glanced back to find Koda had done it more out of instinct than anything else. He'd grabbed her arm and when he realized what he had done, he let go but it was likely too late.

Illya hadn't noticed Kalizda was tipping over behind him until he heard her tiny squeak of surprise and he turned in time to see that Koda had grabbed her. That was good and Illya nodded a bit. The man was doing his job and that was good. Once they were back out by the couches near the pool Illya sat down in the nearest one and sipped at his tea. Hopefully Sarai was here and he could ask her what she was saying earlier.

Illya didn't seem to understand the problem and merely nodded his approval before continuing outside. Calysta looked up at Koda and sighed. "Mihael and Rezna are here. Wash your hands and go back to the rooms. Try to stay away from everyone and don't touch anything..."

Koda opened his mouth as if to object but knew it would only be a few minutes before he was feeling it too. He looked at Mihael and Rezna, then sighed before making his exit.

Calysta joined Illya by the pool where Sarai was lounging on Henryk in a way that suggested that perhaps they had been doing a bit more than that a few moments prior. "I've cordoned off the pool," Sarai informed them. "Just in case. If he bathed it...well...that explains where all the party guests vanished to. They'll all be horny as nyte beasts in heat."

Suddenly Kalizda was ordering Koda to go away and Illya frowned slightly. He was still a bit foggy brained after the seizure. It wasn't until he sat down on the couch and Sarai made her announcement that he remembered what this was all about. Was that what everyone had been so concerned about just before he had his seizure? Illya glanced at Sarai and Henryk with a bit of concern and then back to Kalizda. They were in for a very long couple of days. "Oh shet."

Sarai mused a bit lazily from Henryk's chest. "Aye. Oh shit sums it up rather nicely."

Henryk lounged, looking tired yet satisfied for the moment. "When you get back to the rooms. I might suggest keeping the men separate from the women for the sake of comfort."

The other two seemed less concerned than they should be and Illya could feel his heart rate rising. Just thinking of what a mess it would be back at the hotel was making him feel almost sick. "I keep dem separate. I dun share and I feel very angry ef oter men start looking at meh Kalizda. Ef dey touch her I feel like murder es good option."

Sarai looked at Illya with a frown. "No one is saying it will make you share. It's just going to be uncomfortable for a bit as all." Calysta had come to sit beside Illya, which was hard to do and not want to pounce on him again. When he made his territorial comment she blushed and put a hand over his. "It will be alright. We'll just keep the men and women separate. Yeah?"

The frown from Sarai was met with an equally sour frown from Illya. He was feeling tired and irritable after the seizure, but he refrained from saying much more after Kalizda put her hand over his and spoke quietly. It was hard to remember that she was viewed as the more dominant person in the relationship here. The Chippequoti believed it was a shared trait among men and women and they could make equal demands of one another. Here it was different. "Yes, yah right." Illya nodded to Kalizda and then glanced at Sarai again. He really didn't trust her with all this oil.

Sarai lounged on Henryk, her fingers tracing little circles on his chest as she watched the General stare at her. "I really am sorry. No one planned for this."

No matter how he felt Illya knew that Sarai was one of the most fervent supporters the Chippequoti had. This was one relationship he could not afford to make mistakes in. With some effort he was able to clear the irritable expression from his face and he chuckled a little. "Well, I dun tink anyone tought dat Dane would decide tah share his misfortune wit everyone eiter."

Sarai let out a little laugh. "No, I don't think do. But it hasn't been all bad." She leaned up and kissed Henryk with a peck or two. "It will be a party to remember."

A slightly wiley grin came to Illya's face. "No, ets nut party tah forget. I tink et jes takes moderation tah be sure dat dah shared joy es nut going tah cause pain later. Too much hard work makes a man and a woman tender."

Sarai smiled and her loving little pecks on Henryk turned slower and sweeter until she was stretching across him like a sleepy cat, content and amused. She looked at them both, then caught sight of Illya's grin and chuckled. "Indeed it does. I don't think she's quite ready to be done though. Why don't you just kiss him already, dear?"

Calysta was sitting beside Illya with pink cheeks and her knee bouncing frantically. She shifted awkwardly in her seat, clearly to sensitive to sit one way for long. At Sarai's tease, Calysta straightened and shook her head slowly. "No," she said, "I give those. I won't take them, yeah? He is my equal partner." She gave a sweet, shy sort of smile. "I'll do that when he's ready and not before." As if to emphasize her point she clasped both her shaking hands over his and gave them a soft squeeze.

It was getting uncomfortable the way Sarai seemed to think that they ought to do more. The woman had no idea how many times they'd enjoyed one another already and Illya was feeling more than ready, but he didn't want to make Kalizda sore. She was delicate and he didn't want to hurt her. At this point he was refraining for her sake. There was also the side of Illya that refrained because he would be sore too and his shoulder was very painful. Normally he would have had one of his muscle relaxers and pain killers and gone to bed for the night by now. His muscles were getting tense through his back and he knew that the seizure didn't help that. Nodding at Kalizda's reply he smiled some and then spoke to her in Quoti. "Sit on me and we talk. We will kiss some and then I'll pleasure you. We'll just be careful so you don't get sore."

Calysta felt tingling and wild all over but Illya had just had a seizure and she was certain he couldn't possibly feel in the mood after that, even if she was. He smiled at her in a softer look and then whispered to her in Quoti. Her cheeks immediately flamed at the suggestion. Even though it was said in Quoti, Mihael could understand the words easily and the suggestion of doing that out here in the open was absolutely, unfathomably wild. "Out here?" She whispered back in Quoti, half excited for the idea of that just not in front of other people.

The familiar blush came over Kalizda's face and Illya chuckled a bit. His chuckle turned to laughter when he realized he hadn't exactly specified and it did sound a bit wild. "I don't mind the idea, but I think you'd rather have the privacy." With a wink he held his one good hand out to her to assist her in getting more comfortably seated on him. "I wouldn't want everyone to see you. That's for me."

A little relief flooded through the tension in her muscles at the idea that they were not going to be doing that in front of anyone and most of all Sarai. She always had to posture in front of the woman but this was her chance to put a large part of Sarai's blatant curiosity about her husband to rest in a mild way. Calysta took his and came to rest on his lap. She was still wet from the pool and hadn't realized she had gotten cold on top of the flush of desire. Illya was toasty and she actually sighed a little without meaning to. "You're warm," she said in Quoti with a sheepish smile. She kissed him a little and then chuckled. "You know, one of the matriarchs asked me how I kept you so occupied as my husband. I rather think its the other way around." She chuckled and little more and brought her hands up to rub at his good shoulder.

Sarai was loped across Henryk still and looking lazy. The oils were strong and he still had his libido in tact. As much as she hated admitting it, she was slowing down. Even the oils couldn't fix that at a certain point. Henryk leaned down and whispered in her ear and she smiled up at him, though there was a touch of sadness. "Aye." Was her only reply. "You two really are in love as you look," Sarai said quietly, "I admire it. You're both very lucky. I admit for awhile I thought your marriage was purely political at first."

Kalizda sauntered her way over to him and Illya enjoyed watching her little hips sway slightly. She wasn't going to have to be sitting with him long for it to get him all warmed up and ready to go. When her cool, wet body slid over his it sent a shiver up his spine. Clearly, she needed to get warmed up too. She didn't need much else for invitation and she began to kiss him gently. Illya held onto her with his good arm and kissed her back. They were enjoying the moment perhaps a bit more than he realized because he had turned so that they could be on their sides while he lounged on the sofa chair.

Glancing up, he noticed that Sarai was watching them. Illya caught his breath a bit and he cleared his throat before saying anything. "Political benefit was nut ever meh intent. I did nut tell her meh position until after we had promised tah be agreed. She had no title when I agree. Everyone jes call her halfbreed. I never see her as jes halfbreed."

Calysta was enjoying the fun, though she was acutely aware of the audience between their guards and their hosts. It all felt very intimate to be showing off. Sarai's voice cut through her own thoughts and thankfully Illya replied. At the mention of half-breeds she instinctively tightened around Illya without meaning to.

Sarai didn't reply immediately to Illya's comment but slowly nodded. "Purists are rarer on Uria these days. They don't come here and often don't stay. We have no qualms about who someone loves here. Who they chose to have their children with. That is their choice. Anyone of mixed parentage is welcome and anyone who comes to cause trouble on my planet to the contrary is ejected. There are still some older hold outs though that believe mixed blood is an abomination with sickly results." Sarai was blunt about it and she was right. "They're wrong, of course. But convincing them of such an engrained error has been like wind whittling mountain stones. Particularly on Ewen."

Calysta kept her head in Illya's chest while Sarai spoke, partly because she was cold but also because she didn't want Sarai to see her face at the moment.

Sarai nestled comfortably into Henryk and continued. "It makes me glad to see it wasn't a political arrangement after all. You've never strayed or spoken an ill word about each other. You are kind and loyal. The matriarchs and Urian people admire this. They find strength in it as well. We are proud allies. I dare say you've made your mark tonight and it is good one. Wilds, a few matriarchs might even have your man Dane to thank for babies in 9 months." Sarai chuckled and looked up into the inky black dome of the underwater city. "You will have our unwavering support and unity in the days ahead."

Illya listened to Sarai and he knew it was a sore topic for Kalizda and for himself for his own reasons. The response from the woman was welcome and Illya smiled a little. Then the matriarch continued with a comment on Dane and at first Illya's heart sped up. What had Dane done? It only took a moment to remember what exactly Dane had done. It wasn't that Dane had taken advantage of the situation, he simply made a mistake. "Well, yah words are very pleasing. I'm glad dat meh man does nut make trouble here wit his mistake. Dah support of dah Urians es most pleasing to dah Chippequoti. I am nervous tah come here under all dah water, but I find meh time very enjoyable here. I believe dat Kalizda and I will extend our stay so dat we can recover from dah oils and den fully enjoy being wit dah people here more."

Sarai smiled, clearly happy that he was at ease. Not only did it make her feel like less of a terrible host but it was a great honor to have them both stay. "Oh, we would love to have you stay for as long as you like. Rest before you continue...and of course.. perhaps waiting for the oils to wear off wouldn't be a bad idea either. I can arrange anything you might like for your extended stay. Just leave it to me, yeah?"

Sarai was about to say more when Henryk reached up and smoothed down his wife's hair. She seemed to melt with a loving expression. It was a calming motion. A reassuring and most of all an intimate, vulnerable one. She closed her eyes at the touch then smiled. She wasn't so old she couldn't enjoy those moments. "Henryk will also be able to help," she added quietly, "Anything you need just message us." Sliding an arm up to her husband's neck she whispered to him in Kaerelean and he hooked his arms beneath her and stood, holding her bridle style. "We...are...seeking some privacy for the rest of the night. Its only a few hours till sunrise. Stay and do whatever suits you, we will be ready for your message for whatever your need."

With the entire place to themselves Illya couldn't help his wild side from showing. They had toyed with the idea of having fun out here in the open earlier and now that they were alone it could happen. He would just have to dismiss the guards from the immediate area. Kalizda was a bit more shy and it was doubtful that the guards would want to see that. "Eh, we're alone out here. Jes watch dah perimeters. Kalizda and I need some privacy tah talk about a few tings." Illya wasn't going to tell them it wasn't so much about talking as it was about doing other things, but he did want to dismiss the men.

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

The next two days at the apartments were quite wild and Illya felt like a raging beast. If he wasn't hungry he was feeling rowdy and he wanted to keep all the men away from Kalizda and he felt incredibly needy as her husband. Normally he had better self control, but with this much oil and at the concentration it was in he couldn't help himself. A few times Dane told him to back off because he was getting rough and Mihael had joined a scuffle or two. They were all sporting new bruises with their heightened hormonal responses.

As the oils began to wear off Illya was a little less brutish feeling and he started to ease into the exhaustion that built up over the last few days. He would be having his surgery soon. The doctors were waiting for him and he was scheduled for it the next day now. He was also supposed to go with Kalizda to her little appointment. She would be getting a check up with the babies.

Having a baby appointment was stressful and exciting in one. She kept claiming it was only a single baby, but he was convinced she had told him they were having twins. She probably down graded it to keep him from feeling so stressed. One or two made very little difference. Her body had struggled with the twins and he wasn't sure they could finish the tour if she got sick and had to do bed rest again. Those were all things that would be sorted out later. For now, they had to rest so that tomorrow's procedure and her appointments could go well. Just as Illya thought he might doze off he remembered something else. "Kalizda, I tink we need tah talk about extending our stay here. Dat last party did nut go as planned and I tink Sarai would be very disappointed ef we left witout giving her chance tah trow party where people stay enstead of running away tah have sex." He also knew they had to do their little appearance for the Urian citizens too. So far the people had been wonderful hosts and they had put up with a lot of small mishaps.
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
When they parted, Pris was sure Ehud did not want to come to the festival. His answer had been hesitant at best after he had stared at her for a long time. She had invited him because she thought it might be fun and she could use the help. Sure, she could ask for someone else to help, but the time with him would have been enjoyable. His clear hesitancy made his answer in the evening all the more surprising. He had decided to come spend the day with her after all and had rearranged work to do so. He gave a weak smile at her but she returned it with a bright one of her own. "Really?" she asked, beaming at him, "It will be fun. We can spend the day together and Sien is out of school too. He's been given a little spot to help in the fields with the other kids and they'll be teaching them all about the harvest." She actually felt a little shred of hope that the festival would be fun with all of them together. Leaning in, she kissed his cheek and took his hand as they walked toward the little Pyrtan food spot on the square. "Thank you," she added, "For making time for this. I'm glad we'll be together."

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

The harvest went on all day long and Pris kept her little, well-decorated stall up for the peckish Pyrtans and Chippeqouti alike to stop by. She wore boots and jeans with a green button down top and her hair braided back for the event. It was still somewhat warm outside, but in the evening it would be cooler and it would be best to have some jeans rather than a skirt on. She helped serve some coffee and Terran style teas for those who preferred them. She knew most of their names since many of them stopped by the shop. They were kind, quiet people for the most part and she enjoyed their company too. Some of them even asked who Ehud was, and she introduced him as her husband with gentle pride. Every now and then, when she knew he wasn't looking, she would steal a glance at Ehud. He was handsome in the sunshine. The sun made his hair shine with a hint of gold and his eyes were bright. They didn't talk much besides what was necessary to work the stand but she smiled at him on occasion.

When the afternoon wore into evening, the men and women came in from the fields covered in red bits of grasses and hauling their baled loads of the harvest in skimmers behind them. Pris took down her little stand and gave the rest of the treats to the kids who had been helping in the fields, Sien included, and then took Ehud's hand. "I think they'll have dinner at the tents," she smiled, "And some dancing." As she spoke, she could already hear the sounds of the hodge podge, local band thumping against drums and warming up some sort of string instrument.

The band had struck up a full on song by the time they walked through the fields to the large tents covering the freshly harvested ground. The sweet smell of grass and cooking food at a series of big pots in the back made her stomach growl. Then, of course, the Pyrtan's were already filling up the dance floor, inviting some of the Chippeqouti to dance as well.

An older, Pyrtan woman tapped them on the shoulder as they entered the tent and handed each of them a red ribbon with a toothless smile. "For the Red Dance," she said in broken Trader's tongue, "Brings good luck to young couples. Harvest ends...and the cold months will bring babies in the spring." With that, she winked, and handed the next couple a set of ribbons too.

Priscilla cast a look at Ehud as she held onto the ribbon and then cleared her throat. "Sounds like a Pyrtan tradition," she mused, "Maybe we'll just grab some food first. Are you hungry?"

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


Calysta went through the usual questions from the nurse as she sat on the papered exam table. The little scanner was already taking her vitals including her heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. All that was really to be done by the Ehaui nurse was to ask what pre-natal care she had been given and if there had been any signs of spotting. The nurse tutted and shook her head at the Terran doctor's vitamin prescriptions and nodded when she reported there had been no spotting as of yet. Then the doctor finally came in. He was flipping through his pad at first, looking at her chart. "Blood pressure is a little on the low end, but not abnormal for you personally at this stage," he said, "Let's take a look and see how we're developing." He helped her lay back on the exam table and very carefully rolled her leggings and underwear down to reveal the space between her hips without exposing her entirely. Calysta shivered a little because the man's hands were cold and she had been warm, then looked at Illya to make sure he wasn't going to break the doctor in any way. He was still sporting bruises from tussles with Dane and Mihael because the love oil had activated some recessive caveman brain cells it seemed.

The check up with Kalizda was one that made Illya's heart beat a little faster. It was probably just as well that this was before his surgery. He would rather know that she was going to be ok before he went in for his clean up surgery. Kalizda got up on a little table and she had to put her feet on what they called stirrups and they had her in a little hospital gown. Illya really didn't like the way the doctor had her put her feet on those things and spread her knees. Was the doctor really going to look up there for the babies? Apparently the doctor did plan on looking all the way up there because he started to roll Kalizda's pants and underwear down. Illya took a step forward and he saw the doctor's eyes widen momentarily. "Why yah need tah look dere? Can't yah little belly rub and jelly ting tell yah enough from top?"

Calysta could feel Illya's tension and the doctor sat up a little and looked at the man. "Because she is a high risk pregnancy. She has alot of scar tissue and the most accurate way to look for the health of the baby and for her is this way. It will be uncomfortable, but should not be painful." Calysta lifted her hand and brushed her fingers over his. "It's okay. Awkward, but necessary, yeah?" She told him in Qouti.

The answer from Kalizda made sense, but it did not ease Illya's concern much. Moving over he grabbed one of Kalizda's hands and watched with narrowed eyes as the doctor grabbed the wand and prepared it. Illya didn't really like that the man was doing that. This seemed like it was some sort of perverted practice.

Illya was calm, for now. She squeezed his hand gently and looked up at him with a smile. "Hey, in a second you'll get to see you baby, yeah?" she said calmly in Qouti. In truth, it was better she didn't watch them put that thing in. She'd had it done once before and it was indeed uncomfortable. This time it was cold too, but she managed to keep a straight face until the doctor seemed to be pushing too far. She knew that was part of it too, but she sure as the Wilds did not want to give Illya a reason to let go of her hand and break the doctor's instead. The discomfort continued, feeling slightly achy, like she wasn't quite meant to move that way until the doctor let out a curious 'hmmmm' and the pointed toward the ultra sound appearing on the screen. Then he prodded further and she nearly jumped. Now, her heart was really going fast. What did 'Hmmm' mean? She hated it when doctor's did that. "This is your first ultra sound for this pregnancy?" he said, still guiding the wand. "Aye..." she replied, "Why?" She couldn't make heads or tails of the image on the screen if she was honest. The doctor let out another 'hmmmm' and started moving the wand again which was getting weird feeling, until finally, he paused it and pointed to the screen where there was a grey orb in in a sea of darkness. "One," he said, then he pointed to another grey orb, "Two." And then his finger slid upward to a third. "Three." Then he looked at Calysta and Illya. "There are three."

There was a definite sense of uncertainty as the doctor began to do his thing with the wand. Illya braced himself against her bed and he clenched the fist that was dangling from the sling. Then the doctor started counting and Illya wasn't sure if the man was counting down to something or if there was perhaps something else going on. Then suddenly he heard Kalizda say there were three. Illya blinked a few times and he bumped into the wall before stumbling back slightly and losing his grip on Kalizda's hand.

Calysta blinked as the doctor announced there were three and for a moment, it didn't connect that there were three babies. The word three barely computed. Then it struck her at about the same time it must have hit Illya. Suddenly he was stumbling back and his hand slipped from hers. Her instinct was to reach out and grab it to keep him from falling, but she couldn't move because she still had a wand in a very odd spot. "Illya?!"

Looking over the doctor and the nurse saw the big dark fellow begin to tip over. One nurse began to work her way around and she gently patted Illya's hand. "Hey." After a few seconds Illya opened his eyes and he began to scramble to get up, but he felt a bit dizzy at the same time. Swaying slightly he reached for the bed rail and used it to steady himself. "Yah said tree?"

The doctor watched the scene, letting the nurse do the work of getting the big man off the floor. "Yes. Three," he confirmed. Calysta stared at the screen in shock. Three? Three?! She'd barely snuck by with two and now there were three tiny, precious little babies...that weren't going to stay tiny for long. The doctor finished up and much to her relief, retracted the horrible prod from her for a moment. "There are alot of things to consider, but at the moment, I think you two need a second." Calysta nodded, her eyes wide with spiraling realizations, one after the next. Her hands had gone a bit clammy too. She glanced at Illya. "Are you okay?"

Illya nodded when she asked if he was ok. Everything was a blur at the moment. How could they be having three kids at the same time. Letting out a long breath he looked at her with his brow creased some. "Kalizda, dats a lot of babies. I tought yah said we were only having two>"

Calysta let out an unsteady, bubbling laugh. "I only said one. I didn't even think it would be twins...Illya there's three...three." Saying it didn't make it feel anymore real in the moment. There was shock coursing through her combined with joy and fear. She looked to the doctor. "Can I even carry three to a safe term?" The doctor was sitting on his stool, waiting for them to calm down enough to continue. "Technically, you have alot of scar tissue. A cerclage would help, but it has the potential of making that tissue irritated or worse with stitches. It would mean bed rest and light movement only. It's why we recommended not having anymore children. I'd like to do one more pelvic exam to check your cervix again before I offer a possible alternative." Calysta felt suddenly very cold at the idea she might lose any of the babies and she nodded to the doctor who didn't hesitate to bring out the dreaded duck lips and do what he needed to do between her knees. She shifted uncomfortably as he poked a bit, prodding here and there until finally resurfacing. "I think my proposed alternative would be viable, but it will be up to you to decide. A cerclage will limit your mobility, there's a chance it may break, cause irritation and pain through the pregnancy. Or, I can give you a series of injections to strengthen and freeze the muscles and tissues in place, nice and tight. It would be around 7 shots and you'd be very sore for few days, then be more mobile. You could even participate in...light and careful bedroom activities."

The fear on Kalizda's face was easy to see if you knew her. Illya didn't like to see that, but they were both nervous. This was wonderful and frightening news all at the same time. How could he know that she would be having this many babies at one time? Finally, Kalizda spoke to the doctor again and the man did another exam. This was one that Illya disliked even more than the first. It was entirely indecent and he really wanted to wring the doctor's neck. However he waited for the doctor to give his thoughts and Illya clenched his jaw. Shots anywhere internally didn't sound like they were fun.

Calysta knew the answer to this one. She needed to stay mobile and on her feet, even if the way to ensure that she could do that sounded practically like torture. "These shots would work as effectively as the cerclage?" The doctor looked at her. "It would be about the same risk either way. One way just doesnt leave internal stitches and items that could irritate the scar tissues. You are already in a high risk pregnancy, so on top of this we will be setting up appointments and getting you on a course of pre-natal vitamins suitable for your individual needs. You're still going to have to be careful. No lifting items more than 15lbs maximum. No hard workouts. Walking is fine but I would not recommend running or body building and so on. You're going to have to take this pregnancy easy on yourself." Calysta frowned, thinking of all the things she had to do and how things had just become far more complicated. She began to nod to the doctor. "I want to try the shots." The doctor nodded and put in the orders with a few key strokes of his pad. "We'll schedule it to happen right before you go on the surface. That way you will have a few days to rest on the ship before your next destination."

This was a choice that Kalizda needed to make for herself and Illya waited by silently as she spoke with the doctor. When she had decided to have the shots he swallowed hard and just stood by. Having her pregnant was making things a lot more complex especially now that they knew it was just as high risk as the others. Illya was slightly irritated with himself. He should have known this before now and he should have already planned as if she were pregnant, but somehow he hadn't really thought that far ahead on this particular issue. Now he was already working on plans and one of the was to be sure that they kept the current rotation of taking over her chores and that they didn't allow her to do anything that would hurt her or the babies and Illya was going to make sure the entire security team knew she was pregnant. It would certainly urge them to be vigilant and ensure she wasn't pushing too hard.

Calysta felt nervous but when she glanced over a Illya, she smiled gently. "I can't believe it's three...we have to come up with at least six names now."

"Sex names?" Illya started to open and close his mouth a few times and then he thought for a moment. "We do and I get tah name two of dem."

She saw him sputtering at the idea of six names and she understood the feeling perfectly. Was it really his turn to name them? Who had actually named Tomas and Edgar. It was most certainly her, and she grinned. "Aye. They could be all girls, all boys...or a mix of girls and boys..." Even saying it out loud made her chuckle a little. "We have our work cut out for us." It looked like he still might be struggling, so as soon as her feet were released from the stirrups and she was in her pants properly again, she swung her feet over the edge of the exam table and kissed her husband on the lips. "Hey, it's going to be alright. I always like exploring with you and this is one more adventure, yeah?"

Somehow Kalizda seemed to recover from the idea far more quickly than he was. Illya managed a weak smile when she kissed him and he nodded. "Oh, ets adventure alright. Yah get shots en yah and all dat too. Sounds terrible."

He smiled weakly at her and she slid a gentle hand to the back of his neck, smoothing his rumpled curls down at the nape. "It's..." she hesitates, "Not exactly fun no....but it's going to be better than the cerclage I think, even if I'm sore, yeah? It will be better for the babies." A smile arched across her lips again at saying the word babies. "We'll work on it together, yeah? No stress. We can do it together."

"Yeah, we do et togeter. Yah know, now I feel more nervous about meh surgery." Illya couldn't help the fact that he was feeling sick and he desperately wanted to snack on a package of snacks, but he couldn't do that just before a surgery and he wanted something to drink too, but he wasn't allowed that either right now.

Calysta smoothed down his hair and looked at him with soft eyes. "More nervous? How come?" she asked quietly in Qouti.

"I need dis surgery tah go well. Ef I can't help yah den I'm nut much good. Et makes yah more stressed because den yah tink yah need tah help meh. Dis surgery goes well and I'm very good help for yah. Maybe I get sling off en a week." Illya met her gaze and he took a deep breath. "Yah need help Kalizda and I want tah help yah."

She listened to him talk about his worries and she was almost surprised at how earnest he was being. He wanted it to go well so he could help her and he knew she worried about him too. Her eyes were attentive and soft as he spoke and when he finished, she nodded in understanding. "I do need you by my side for this, love. I want you there too. I am worried, yes. I need this surgery to go well because I don't want you to be in more pain. If it does, or doesn't go well, we'll take things one step at a time for now, yeah? I'd like my first step to be to tell you that I love you very much."

Illya wrapped his one good arm around Kalizda and kissed her on top of her head. "Eh, yah have meh by yah side no matter dah outcome."

Calysta smiled when his arm wrapped around her and he kissed the top of her head. He was always so gentle some how, even with his size. When he told her he was with her no matter what, she slid her other arm around and hugged him very gently so she didn't hurt his shoulder. "Then that's all I need, love." Kissing his cheek, she leaned back a little and smiled. "Your surgery will be coming up soon. Do you want to find somewhere to rest for just a little while?"

"I would like tah go eat, but I tink dah doctor would be mad ef I did dat." Illya glanced at the clock on the wall and he sighed. "Probably time tah check en for meh surgery. Dey want meh tah shower wit nasty smelling stuff and den dey will cut meh up."

"Aye, its not a good idea to eat right now," she said, "You'll feel better once the shoulder heals properly. I can walk with you to get you checked in and then I'll be there when you wake up, yeah? I'll stay the whole time."

Illya sighed, "Nut wanting anoter surgery. I know et will hurt, but meh shoulder hurts so bad lately I tink maybe dis surgery es someting I want."

She continued smoothing the hair at the nape of his neck as he spoke and nodded. "Aye, I wish you didn't have to go through another one, but the Ehaui are good at fixing things properly. We'll get your shoulder feeling better." She stole a conspiratorial glance at the door then leaned in to whisper to him. "Then you can pick me up and carrying me off anywhere you like." It was good to give someone something to look forward to.
They were almost to the pre-surgical area and Illya felt a slight tug from Kalizda. Looking down at her he saw that she either planned to kiss him or whisper to him and so he leaned in closer. A broad smile came to his face and he winked at her. "Oh, I have plenty of places I like tah peck yah up and carry yah away to." Pushing the button for the surgical entrance to open he walked inside with Kalizda and his little hospital baggie for the overnight stay to get himself checked in.

Calysta smiled at seeing his broad grin and little wink. It let her know he was still in good spirits and he was going to be okay. She followed him as far as they would let her in the surgical suites and then looked at him with bright eyes. She took his hand and put it on her stomach. "The four of us will be there when you wake up."

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

Calysta sat in the less than comfortable arm chair by Illya's bed side as she looked over her pad. Illya was right about one thing. They needed to make plans to meet the Urian people and chat with them. They also needed to have Sarai take another try at a party. She had been working on both things all afternoon and come up with a few solutions. First they would meet with the people in the afternoon. This would be done in the big aquarium dome where people could gather, but also the flow of people could be easily controlled by security. She was sure Illya would approve of that. Then, rather than a full blown party, Sarai had asked for something just as fun, but not as big in scale. A dinner party would follow the Urian reception hosted by Sarai who would work out the menu and details. She was delighted to do it and had kept messaging ideas long after Calysta had dozed off in the chair.

She had been told that Illya's surgery had gone well and that his observation over night was just to ensure there were no complications. She was so relieved things had gone well sleep seemed inevitable. It was also inevitable that she would be woken up by the nurse who came in to check on Illya as he snoozed in the bed. She was a tall, leggy sort of woman with honey colored hair and big doe eyes. When she smiled it was all sweetness.

As the nurse plucked at her pad, Calysta saw Illya's eyes start to fight their way open and she reached out, sliding her hand over his good arm. "Hey, love," she said, giving his good arm a gentle squeeze, "I'm right here." She hated waking up from surgery alone and there was no reason Illya would have to either.

The nurse notice he was waking up and put down her pad. "Good evening, Mr. Blackwolf," she drawled, "It's alright, sugar. You're going to feel a little groggy for a minute or two. Are you in pain? Just let me know and we'll get you fixed right up."
 

Silence

Anonymous Me
Mentor
Ehud got ready for the day at the fields with Pris. At least he wasn't going to be out there working. That wasn't something he liked very much. It looked like Pris was going to wear jeans and Ehud dug deep into his closet. He didn't actually own anything so informal. However, he did have some older, tight woven work pants that still fit. Pulling the black colored loose legged pants out of his closet he slipped into them and then pulled a plain shirt on and tucked it in.

Before heading over to the bakery he checked himself over in the mirror. He needed a quick shave. The quick shave resulted in a few nicks. As soon as he was done there he rushed out the door to help load up what Pris was going to need. It was still dark outside and there was a bit of a chill in the air. It felt good, and familiar against his skin. Ehud quietly helped Pris collect the things she needed and then packed them into the cart he was going to pull to the fields. After they were loaded up he took his shirt off and wrapped it around a rope that he tied the ends together on. With the shirt wrapped around the rope he stepped into the roped section and then leaned against it with most of his weight before it budged and started to roll along the uneven little walk way to the edge of the fields. When they got to their spot he took the shirt off from around the rope and quickly put it back on.

They didn't take long to get set up and Ehud had a small lantern to light his part of the work. He set up the cart and pulled out the counters on it and then fastened the topper so that there would be some shade around them while they worked during the day. It was nearly sunrise when they were set up and the first of the workers began to arrive at the little stand. Ehud set water to boil for tea. He knew if Chips would be arriving and some of the Pytrans would like tea right away.

Throughout the day he worked diligently to be sure that the little stove was properly fueled, the energy cell was receiving proper daylight and they were always ready with more hot water. Glancing at Pris he would see she smiled a lot during her work. She looked pretty when she smiled and he couldn't help thinking a little more than that.

When the day was finally over she seemed eager to go to the party and Ehud wanted to protest. However, he wasn't going to earn himself any of those favorable smiles, or kisses if he did. "Just let me put the cart together and cover it with canopy tarp so I can haul it to the bakery tomorrow. I don't think I'll get to it tonight."

As they walked into the tent Ehud looked around. At least everyone was mostly wearing clothing that was similar to his own. Nothing was terribly fancy and he could have some sort of relief knowing that he didn't come under dressed for the occasion. They were almost past the little woman standing near the entrance when she stopped them and handed each of them a ribbon. Ehud grinned as he took his ribbon. "Oh, I'll be sure to dance with the ribbon then. I'll need all the luck I can get."

It sounded like he might need more than luck the way Pris seemed to rush to the idea of food. "Yeah, I'm pretty hungry. Still think we should do the red ribbon dance." Slipping a hand around Pris' waist he moved in a little closer and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Maybe you want to try having a baby? I'm ready to add a few little ones."

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

The room smelled different than the hospital rooms usually did. Whatever the blankets were they felt rougher than the puff blankets that the Ehaui had at the hospital on Pytra. What made the room stand out from the Ehaui hospital was that it was cool. Shivering a little Illya tried to shrug the blanket higher, but his shoulder surged with a severe pain and fire. It almost felt like he'd been shot all over again.

Illya's eyelids almost felt like they were glued shut, but he was slowly becoming aware of the fact that there was someone shuffling around in the room and he felt Kalizda's little hand sliding over his arm. Groaning a little he worked harder at forcing his eyes open and then saw Kalizda. With a grin he moved his hand to lace his fingers with hers. Then the nurse came over. She didn't look like any of the nurses he had back home. "Sugar?" That was about as far as she could get from his name. "Eh, no, I jes need more medicine. Meh shoulder hurts."

Calysta smiled and squeezed his fingers laced with hers. He was definitely out of it by the look on his face and his comment to the nurse only confirmed he was still loopy.

The nurse chuckled and looked at the high riding Chip. "You're just as charming as I thought," she cooed, "Aye, we'll get you another dose of medicine and you'll feel better. You might even fall asleep again. Don't worry if you do, alright? Now, Sugar, can you tell me how much the pain is 1 being low and 10 being the absolute worst pain you could imagine?"

Illya snorted at the woman's comment. "Charming...dat's first time nurse say dat to meh. Usually dey cuss meh out." Sighing a little he tried to shift in the bed, but he didn't recognize the symbols on their bed and he didn't really know what they meant. Pushing the red button didn't seem to get the desired reaction so he tried the green one and then the yellow button that seemed to be the one that would get him to sit up a little more. "No, sugar dun help meh. I jes need medicine. Meh shoulder hurts like a seven." He'd certainly had worse pain in his life, but the shoulder still hurt quite a bit. "Yah probably prettiest nurse I have en long time."

The nurse chuckled at his response. "Well, I don't see how. I've had much less charming patients before." When he said his pain was at a 7 she nodded and made a few key strokes on her pad. "Alright, the doctor approved some more paid meds for that. You just sit tight and we'll get you feeling better." She started the work of putting medicine into his drop bag and paused when he called her pretty. She smiled almost demurely and giggled. "Oooh you are a charmer. Sweet as sugar."

Calysta raised a brow at her very high husband but didn't say anything.

The nurse finished her work and smiled at Illya. "You'll be feeling that medicine in a minute or two. Before you fall asleep, we'll need to get you to pick out something to eat. We have fish or nyte beast for dinner. Which do you think you could eat, handsome?"

This nurse was great. She didn't tut at him or make a fuss about the medicine. He was needing some of it and the more he moved the more it hurt, but he figured that was going to be normal for a while. "Yah sweet like sugar too." Mumbling the phrase in return he glanced at Kalizda and gave her hand a little squeeze. "We should get home eh? I tink dat Cin es lonely." It had been a while since he'd seen his bear and he did miss the giant fussy beast.

The nurse came over in short order and offered to get something to eat and she offered few good sounding things. With the assistance of some drugs he was feeling an acute sense of humor coming on. "I like birdy legs." Chuckling at his own joke he noticed that the lovely nurse didn't seem to be as smart as she looked. "Eh well...I tink nyte beast would be good. I like little side of et raw eh?"

Calysta's head tilted when he told the nurse she was sweet like sugar too and the nurse giggled back. He was in a flirtatious mood apparently and the nurse had had just made his day it seemed. He squeezed her hand and told her they should go home soon too the bear. His bear was lonely. She knew she had people looking after the bear but she wondered if it was the bear that was lonely or Illya who missed his bear more.

When he answered the nurses question about dinner, Calysta's eyes widened and she turned pink. Thankfully, the nurse didn't get the joke. Instead, she chuckled. "I'm afraid it all comes cooked, handsome. But I might could get you some extra gravy."

With a look of deep disappointment Illya nodded when the nurse told him it all came cooked. "Shoulda figured yah cook wouldn't know what dey were doing. I like extra gravy." As the nurse was preparing to walk out Illya decided to ask for one more thing. "I like more hot blankets. I can catch bird better dat way and cook et. I have good appetite tahnight."

The nurse paused at the door and looked at Illya as he spoke nonsense about hunting birds and an appetite, then let out a good natured chuckle. "I dont know if you'll be catching any birds with that arm of yours tonight, but I can get you a warm blanket. I'll be right back in a little while with one, sugar."

With that she exited the room and Calysta's turned her pink face to her husband again. "How are you feeling?"

When the woman disappeared Kalizda seemed anxious to check on him and Illya grinned at her. "I feel better ef yah get en bed wit meh. Meh shoulder still hurts. I tink dere medicine es nut good."

Calysta raised a brow at her husband. Even high as a kite he was incorrigible. "Aye, I'll get in with you. When the pretty nurse comes in next time, she'll just have to move me." The bed was big enough she should slide in between him and the rail if she laid on her side with her front towards his uninjured side. She put a hand on his chest very gently. "How is that?"

Feeling Kalizda slide into the bed brought a great sense of comfort. Illya sighed with relief and he started to shift to lay on his right side. That shoulder was sore from being the side he slept on all this time while his left shoulder was recovering, but it was worth it. They would both be more comfortable that way. The blankets were woefully short when it came to the amount of coverage on the sides of the bed. Illya could feel a little breeze along the backs of his legs and the unfortunate slit in the back of the hospital gown. "Ugh...." Pushing the nurse button he waited for the woman to answer and ask what he needed before speaking. "I need extra blankets. I tink ef I leave meh ass out all night et will freeze. Jes one, maybe two blankets tah make sure et stays warm."

The nurse came shortly after his call with two thicket blankets folded in each hand but paused when she saw how he was contorted in the bed to lay with Calysta. "Does your shoulder hurt at that-"

She stopped her question again when she came to the side of the bed and got a full glimpse of the man's brown rear hanging out of the blankets and his gown. She blinked and then glanced at Calysta who put a protective- and possessive- arm over his waist. The nurse smirked a little and put the blanket over his rear first. "You know your Urian culture well," she chimed happily.

Calysta smirked back. "Aye and I know my husband well too. He'll relax this way. Trust me."

The nurse chuckled a laid the second blanket over them both. "How's that, handsome?"

Illya was already feeling tired. He was trying to stay awake for the food, but that was hard. When the nurse came in he was almost asleep and he mumbled a thanks when he felt the warm blanket cover his rear end. Somewhere in the back of his mind he was telling himself he should be embarrassed, but somehow it didn't seem to matter right now. The second warm blanket over himself and Kalizda felt even better and he gave a hum of approval and nestled in closer to Kalizda.

The nurse chuckled. "I'll take that as a everything is all good. Hit the call button if you need me. Otherwise, I'll be around for dinner in awhile." Then she left the two of them alone. Calysta let him nestle close and held him gently. He might wake up in a foul mood but for now, he was okay.

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

Early the next morning Illya was awake. He had slept about all the more he could. He'd had more than enough sleep over the night. Kalizda was still curled up with him in the bed. Illya could see her long black hair was tangled and draped over the pillow, under face and even catching a little drool from the corner of her mouth. Smirking some he decided to let her rest a little longer.

The idea of Kalizda laying next to him was like usual tempting though. Leaning in a bit Illya kissed her gently on her forehead and then struggled to get his arm in the sling to cooperate enough that he could rest that hand on her waist. "She's resting en dah dawn of dah red star, her wings are gold, eyes bright and her home es dah emerald jungle. Dah jungle hides her en times of danger, dah sky lifts her above dah storm and she commands dah tunder. She rises from dah fires. Dah little bird es beautiful beyond measure and now I have her en meh arms." Kissing her again he settled in and got more comfortable. He was going to lay with her for as long as she wanted to rest.

They had a couple of long days coming up. He would have today off for recovery, but they had to be ready for parties and being good guests starting tomorrow. So far it had been a small series of disasters, but they didn't seem to have offended Sarai or the Urians. Even if they were alarming in their customs, they were a good people to have as allies.
 

aryamajor

Curious Adventurer
Benefactor
Pris felt a gentle hand slide around her waist and pull her closer. A kiss pressed against her cheek and she almost froze in place. It had been a long time since anything like that had happened. She turned to look at him and he was smiling....and asking about making babies. That sent a spike of adrenaline through her and she wasn't exactly sure it was a good thing. Maybe coming to the party wasn't such a good idea after all? She flashed him a soft smile. "You're ready?" She wanted to know more about where his mind was at.

The momentary pause and sudden stiffening from Pris made Ehud wonder if he had done a bad thing. He had thought she wanted him to be more open with her. Then an uncertain looking smile came to her face and she asked him if he was ready. Ehud held his gaze steady and he nodded. "Oh yes, ready for food, dancing and babies."

"In that order?" She chuckled. She slid a hand around his waist slowly and hugged him back. "Its a big change from a month ago."
She looked into his eyes. He did look awfully handsome. The last month had been certainly different. He had been sweet and attentive and over all more loving. She wanted to believe that was real and he felt better.

"In that order." Ehud nodded in affirmation and he smiled a bit more. "I had a little adjusting to do is all." The fact that she brought up the past was a bit uncomfortable, but not unfair. "You ready?"

He asked if she was ready and it made her heart pound faster in her chest. She wanted them to be. She wanted this and he was trying. But what if he turns right back around? Her grip in his waist tightened, giving him a gentle squeeze. "That depends," she said honestly, "Do you believe we can start building a life with each other? I dont want it to be too much too soon. Even though I want to be with you very much."

The uncertainty was growing to an audible level. Pris was gripping him tighter and her nails were digging into a tender spot a little bit. Ehud still held her gaze and he nodded again, "Well, I think that's what we've been doing this last month. I'm pretty sure I'm ready."

He didnt look away from her or ignore her. He didnt change the subject. His eyes stayed steady on her and she turned to face him entirely, but kept her arms around him. "Okay..." she found herself nodded slowly, then she slipped a hand to his cheek and looked at him. "I trust you." She wanted to build on that trust. Then, she leaned in and kissed him very gently, almost tenderly.

Pris didn't lose the look of nervousness that she had, but she did relax a bit. Ehud gently kissed her in return and then tilted his head toward the food line. "We better get in line if you think you wanna eat."

He kissed her back and she relaxed a little more. He sounded disappointed almost. As if she had deflated him a little, or maybe he was feeling something else. She didn't know. She never knew with Ehud, it seemed. Pulling back some she kissed him gently on more time. "Maybe we could do the ribbon dance after? I do like the idea."

Taking a deep breath Ehud slipped his hand from her waist to her hand and then took the first step toward the food line. "I'd like to do the ribbon dance. Not much good at dancing, but I should at least try."

His warm hand slipped away and she couldn't help but feel like she had put a damper on things. She gave him a smile and decided to take his hand instead. "C'mon, let's get something to eat and we'll dance. Then...maybe we'll do a little more." She hated to see his good mood ruined and some how she always seemed to be the cause. She tried not to think about it that way though. She pulled him in line for food and recieved a plate of what she suspected was long cooked night beast and something starchy and red. She took a seat with Ehud and smiled as people greeted them. As she ate, she stole a glance at him and smiled, then looked over the crowd. "The dance is starting soon, if you still want to."

They waited quietly in line for a little bit before they were served hearty portions of food. Ehud lifted his plate to his nose and sniffed gently. He wanted to make sure he got the stuff that smelled so good. It was certainly the good smelling stuff and he glanced at Pris and grinned a bit, "What?" He suspected that her smile was an indication that she caught him sniffing his food. Ehud was most of the way through his plate of food when he heard Pris talk about the dance. "Sure, I still want to dance."

He was putting food back pretty fast and she thought it was rather funny. If she watched him closely, he had some interesting habits. She had never seen him sniff her food she cooked, but had certainly taken a whiff of the Pyrtan fare. She looked him over in his breezy looking pants and tilted her head. "You know, you look rather dashing and relaxed in those clothes. They're perfect for dancing." She took a bite of her food and then her curioisity got the better of her. "Can I ask you something?"

Ehud was scooping up some of the last few bites when Pris decided to comment on his clothing. Glancing down at his clothing he nodded and shoved another scoop of food into his mouth. "Mmm...Looking forward too et." His accent came out a little as he rushed to speak to her while he was still chewing. Then she did something that made him nervous she asked if she could ask a question. That was a strange thing women did. "What you wanna know?"

She smiled a little when his strange, disappearing Chip accent came out and put her fork down. "Why did you sniff your food in the line? Were you concerned about it...or just hungry?" He was, first and foremost a spy. It wouldn't surprise her if he thought it was poisoned.

“That’s it?” Ehud was shocked by the question she wanted to ask. Smiling a little he gave the answer, “Wanted to make sure it was the same good smelling stuff they put on my plate that I was smelling when we came in the tent.”

He seemed totally shocked by the question and she started to laugh a little, her smile touching her eyes as she laughed. "I didn't think you wanted to spill your darkest desires to me just yet," Pris giggled, "I was just curious. I had never seen you do it to my food." She was still giggling when a call went up in Pyrtan, then in Quoti and Traders Tongue. Drums began to beat a slow warning that the Red Dance was soon to begin. Pris looked at Ehud and then offered her hand to him. "Shall we?"

"I never needed to sniff your food. You only had one option when you cooked and if it smelled good when I walked in then I knew it would be good." The explanation was simple enough. Ehud didn't see why she might find it funny, but if she did it was just as well. Everyone liked to laugh and a girl laughing at an odd habit meant she found it charming. He wasn't even done with his last bite of food when the drums began to beat and Pris offered for him to get up and dance with her. "Uh huh." Quickly shoving the one last bite of food into his mouth he chewed it and then swallowed as he reached for her hand and ushered her out to the dance floor.

Pris smiled when he took her hand, ready to go dance. The dance floor was simply the shaved field space under the tent but it was large enough to accommodate everyone, Kaerelean, Chip or other wise. She saw a few familiar faces and waved a little as Ehud towed her into the line up and faced her. Then, she focused on him entirely. He did look very handsome when he relaxed a little, especially in the lamp light. The music started and then their lines, separated by men and women, began to move. They zipped off in opposite directions only to have both lines curl into circles. Men on the outside and women on the inside facing the men. They all interlocked arms and began skipping in the opposite direction of the men until they met their partners again. Pris loved to dance, even though this was not her favorite style and when she met up with Ehud it was with a large, breathless smile on her lips. "Hi," she chuckled, "Fancy seeing you here."

The dance was entirely different and Ehud was sure he was going to mess up. He had watched it several times though. When he danced in time with the other men and actually met Pris it was good. Ehud grinned at her. For the moment he swelled with a little bit of pride. However, that was short lived. As the line rotated Ehud found himself staring at another man's back and he realized he was in the wrong place. Whipping his head around Ehud did his best to try and figure out where the other men were. He was half a step behind the others for the remainder of the dance, but at least he was somewhat close to being correct.

Pris wheeled around with the other ladies and then came the time they met with their partners and the girls stepped up to loop their ribbons around the boys ribbons. Then they paired off in a promenade for the end of the dance. Ehud seemed behind a step or two but she just made up the extra space with some long strides and looped her ribbon in his, then went under the arch way to show him off. At then and she squeezed his hand and grinned. "That was fun. I haven't danced like that in awhile." When she caught her breath, she pulled Ehud a little closer. Should she be doing this? She wasn't sure. But they couldn't build anything or move forward unless she trusted him. She had extended an olive branch of trust and it was a bit scary. With a deep breath, she caught his eyes. "I am...pleased."

As they ended the dance Ehud could feel a tinge of pink in his cheeks. He had performed terribly and yet Pris was still smiling at him. With their ribbons tied together he managed a less boastful sort of smile and boldly reached for her hand. They were in public and it was a very public sort of display of affection especially after dancing like this. They danced together. "Et was verah pleasing." His accent came out a little heavier and he tried to clear his throat and accent without much success. "I like tah see yah smile and I'm glad et pleases yah too."

Pris held his hand and smiled. His cheeks were pink, probably from the dancing. Hers were too, she was sure. When he spoke, that strange and very Chip accent came out again. It seemed to do that when he was with her and having fun. Maybe he forgot about all the spy work and the role he was putting on. Maybe he felt more comfortable around her now that he had medicine. In either case she smiled. He was very pleased too. She now knew that mean the equivalent of "happy" or "content" or "enjoyment" and that was a big first for them in a long time. It made her feel more certain about putting a little more trust in him to be a husband. She leaned in and kissed his cheek gently. She could feel his smile there and it made her want to hold him a little closer. She wanted him to have more reasons to feel pleased and happy. A few kids ran past holding rounded pastries with pink and white cream. A tray of them had been set out during the red dance for dessert. The men put the ribbons in their partners hair and walked over to pick up the round, fluffy pastries. She heard the word for them and knew the rough translation. "Mooncakes," she chuckled, "Why don't we grab one and see how we feel. We can always walk home or watch some of the games."

Ehud almost missed the kids running past with the pastries, but the bright color caught his attention and he looked to the pastries briefly. They did look good and he wanted some. "Oh, Mooncakes." Ehud nodded and started toward the table where they were stacked on trays. Grabbing one he brought it close to his mouth and then took a little nibble. "Mmm..Not much for watching games. I'd rather head home." The Mooncake had exceptional flavor and he licked the bit of frosting off his lip before he took the next bite. "These are good. Should probably find Sien before we head back too."

Pris walked over with Ehud to take up a pink iced moon cake and took a small bite. They were as delicious as they looked and even Ehud seemed to enjoy his bite too. When he mentioned wanting to walk home, she nodded. "Sure. I bet he's outside playing with some of the kids." It didn't take long to find him. He was playing tag in the fading light with his class mates. She called out to him and he ran over. His pants were muddy at the hem and knees and his shirt had come untucked. His hair was a wild mop of blonde. The boy grinned at them and waved goodbye to his friends before the three of them started the walk home. Sien was full of energy still and was running ahead of them only to stop a few feet for Pris and Ehud to catch up. Pris slipped her arm into Ehud's and chuckled. "Someone is going to sleep very well tonight I think," she mused.

Sien was messy, but Ehud wasn't too worried about it right now. The boy was bound to be messy after he had worked in the fields all day long and he might as well enjoy himself. As Sien ran ahead of them Ehud reached for one of Pris' hands and he swung their entwined fists back and forth a little while he walked. "Well, I think more than one person will sleep well tonight."

Pris couldn't help but smile when Ehud held her hand as they walked. It felt good and besides the thrill of having his affection for the moment, almost normal. As if they could and should have been doing this a long time ago. She squeezed his hand a little as their arms swayed and glanced at him. "More than one, hm? Are you tired too?" She asked. It was roughly a 15 minute walk to their little cabin home and Yuji was waiting on the porch like a stalwart sentry. She patted his head and his tail wagged, ever the happy to see them no matter how long they had been gone. With a few clicks, the lights came on and Pris instructed Sien to strip his muddy shoes at the door, then take his muddy clothes to the bathroom. He could take a quick shower, brush his teeth and go to sleep with all that pent up energy. Pris untied her own boots at the door and unashamedly used Ehud's shoulder to balance in taking them off one by one. "Your turn," she said, noting his shoes and then casting her gaze up to his face through her long lashes.

"Not tired yet, I will be later though." With a hopeful gaze he looked her over and then made sure he was watching the pathway. They were on their way to the house and he was starting to think of what might happen, however he also tempered that with the realization that she might not want to do that. When they got to the house Pris took her shoes off and leaned on him. When she looked up and said it was his turn Ehud gave her a crooked and uncertain smile. "Does my turn involve taking clothes off?"

Pris gazed at Ehud and that hopeful sort of half grin. She liked that grin. He was relaxed and it looked more genuine than many of the grins he gave others. She had a decision to make. Trust him to be ready. Or not. Slowly, she slid a hand up his chest and gave him a smile back. "It does."

"Oooh." Ehud's grin got a little more broad and he quickly pulled his shoes off and then pulled Pris close to himself and kissed her. "So, where shall we start?"

It took less than a millisecond for Ehud to shirk his shoes and kiss her full on the mouth. The exuberance made her laugh a little and she kissed him back readily. She decided to take things at her pace tonight and she wanted to see what he would do when not in a rip roar of passion but in a slower setting. She untucked his shirt and slid her hands around the bare skin of his waist. "Why don't we take it slow. Start with the clothes and you can start wherever you like after that."

Slow was hardly the mood he was in. Ehud had been deprived of this activity for a while and he desperately wanted to get going. "Slow huh?" With a grin he kissed her again and this time a bit more gently. "Well, I've got to admit that's not quite my mood. It's been a while, but we'll try for slow tonight. Better than nothing eh?"

Pris looked at him and she tried not to show the fact that his idea of slow sex was 'better than nothing' made her feel like she needed to rush it now. At least he was going to try and kissed her more gently. "We can start slow and see where we go?" she offered, rubbing his back gently with her soft hands.

"We'll take it slow. I can keep myself under control." Ehud's mouth twisted slightly and he shrugged, "At least I think I can."

Pris chuckled and tugged him closer to herself, then kissed him as she slowly back up toward the bedroom. "It's been awhile," she whispered, "And I want it too. It might not take terribly long for me either." Then she slid out of his grasp and slinked to the bedroom .

Once they were inside, she did take her time undressing him and then exploring a few long forgotten opportunities slower sex would allow. It still wasn't quite like love making. He wasn't in the mood for slower and she knew that. But it was the closest thing she'd had to it in years. Since her last night on Earth. She savored it for what it was and he held himself together well despite his doubts. Afterward, she curled up under his arm and laid her head on the side of his chest. Her leg lay comfortably draped over his. She felt like he wanted her there and had enjoyed her. He had been putting alot of effort and she wanted him to know she saw that effort. He was asleep before she could really think of anything that would tell him how much his efforts meant. Apparently, he was like most men in that regard. It only took a little sex to knock them right out.

The next morning, she woke up earlier than he did. It was habit now, with the bakery opening time. He had rearranged his entire Monday for her, and she was sure he would have to vanish to work soon, but she was glad he was there for the moment. She looked at him in the very pale light slipping through their bedroom window and smiled. He looked most at peace when he was asleep. She patted at his chest where a little bit of blonde hair gave her something to play with.

"You're a good man, Ehud. I know you won't believe that, but I do. Things are getting better for us. I see you working so hard for us," she whispered, "And it makes me love you all the more for trying to love on me, even if I'm a chipped up from a few things." She kissed the corner of his lips and laid her head back down on his arm, then took a deep. "Don't stop trying and I promise I won't either. So long as you want me here."

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

Pris felt somewhat relieved for the rest of the day. She went to her work at the bakery after Ehud helped bring their little side cart to the back door. She'd left him with a kiss and a promise of one of his favorite dinners, Italian spaghetti and meatballs, in the afternoon. During her lunch break, she went to see Helen and Edgar, the sweet Elders who she had grown at least a little more comfortable with talking to.

"Things have been getting a little better," she told them over a cup of tea, "I'm trying to trust him more. I want to know more about his family and where he comes from too. We're coming up to a time of year, at least on Terra, where families gather for several occasions over the course of several weeks. Thanksgiving is next week, then another holiday a month after. I don't think any of his family is left, if I understand. None of mine, at least none that I can associate with are alive anymore either. I've been celebrating with Thomas Monroe and Calysta's and Illya's family for several years now. This year it's just me, Ehud and Sien." She took a sip of her tea and looked at Edgar. "Anything that you could tell me about his family or something that would make him feel at home would be helpful."

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

Ehud had to stay late at work and that meant she would be walking home on her own. She had become a little spoiled when he came by to walk her home, if she was honest, and kept looking for him to walk through the door only to remind herself that he would be meeting her at home. The Chip children came stumbling in to help her clean up and she gave them all of the bargain sweets and breads. They particularly liked the little mini pies, grabbing handfuls of them before they dashed off into the falling darkness. She walked home, thinking about her conversation with Edgar and Helen, thinking about their suggestions and when she got home, she started dinner. Sien came through the door not long after and she told him he could help cook when his homework was done. He always liked helping her cook it seemed and she enjoyed spending the time with him.

Once dinner was nearly ready, Pris wandered into her bedroom and took one of the only possessions she had left from her life on Terra. A little hologram coin stowed away in her wooden jewelry box. She came into the living room and sat down on the couch before pressing the tiny round button to turn the device on. The first image to display was a head shot of Harry. Her Harry. The one she had left behind on Earth and not the one gnarled and broken on a hospital bed on a colony. She almost blanched at the sight because it made her heartache.

"Who is that?" Sien asked as he plopped down on the couch beside her.

"His name was Harry," Pris said, trying to keep her heart from pounding too fast, "He was my first husband."

Sien looked at the hologram. Harry was looking into the hologram eye and a playful, genuine smile crossed his lips. He would look at her like that often. Like any child, there was no question not worth asking, and Sien tilted his head. "He looks different from you. What happened to him?"

"His family is from a different part of Terra than I was. And...well...he died. Like your mom. He was attacked," she told him, her throat closing up a little, "I'd forgotten this picture was in here. Would you like to see some more holograms of Earth...Terra?"

Sien agreed and she smiled, looping an arm around his shoulders and tucking him close a bit like a mother hen would her chicks in the rain. Pris flipped through the holograms one by one. "These are my brothers....Jacob...James...Matthew...They're in their teens here I think. I was the only girl with alot of brothers." She couldn't help but think they looked so young and sweet in the hologram. They were at the lake at the ranch where she grew up. It was hot outside and each of them had stripped off their shirts to dive in. Another hologram flipped through and showed an image of herself with long blond hair and skinny legs. She was perhaps about 14 petting a tall chestnut horse. "That's me there," she nudged Sien, "And my horse Laddie." The next one came up and it was an image of her father. "That's my father, Fredrick." Fredrick was stony faced with bags under his eyes and lips set in a line. His eyes were hard as he looked into the hologram and then lifted a calloused hand to wave the image off. "He never liked his image taken," Pris admitted.

Another image floated into view. This one was of a woman with blonde hair much like Pris' captured in a bun. She had a delicate nose and was made over with make up, but not overly so. She wore a flowered skirt and a plain top. A stained apron sat over that. When she noticed the hologram, she looked up and flashed a brilliant smile, then said something, but the hologram had no sound.

Sien looked at the hologram, then at Pris, then back to the hologram. Pris chuckled. "It's not me. That's my mother. Eleanor. I look alot like her, hm? She would have loved to meet you. She always wanted grandchildren. She would have made you biscuits and gravy in the morning and apple tarts for dessert at night. You'd have gotten all the best she could offer. She would have been very impressed with your school work too and how fast you're growing."

"Could we go see her one day?" Sien asked. All the Pyrtan and Dark Chip boys and girls could see their grandparents, or at least had met them unless they had been killed in the war. He wanted to meet his.

Pris smoothed down his blond hair. "Oh, my mother died a few years ago. She got sick with something in her lungs and couldn't get better, so she passed away." As a matter of fact, that was the last time she had spoken to her father too. He'd delivered the news over the phone, bluntly. Coldly. Maybe he'd thought it was a kindness to tell her at all. Pris hadn't even known her mother wasn't feeling well. They had talked a few times a month while Pris lived in Japan with Harry. The last time she had seen her mother was Christmas a couple of years before Harry had been killed on Terra.

About that time, the dog stood up from his spot on the floor and not a second later, the door opened revealing Ehud. Pris smiled at him from the couch before giving Sien one last pat on the shoulder. She stood up and came over to Ehud, giving him a little kiss on the cheek. "Dinner will be ready in half an hour and Sien is done with his homework. I'll call you when the table is set, okay?"

She bent down and straightened his boots by the door, then let him come in the rest of the way, flanked by Yuji who couldn't resist snuffling his shoes. As Ehud passed her, she reached over and clicked off the repeating image of her mother speaking. "I was showing Sien where I grew up," she smiled a little, "Do you mind putting this in my jewelry box when you make it to the bedroom?" She gave him the hologram coin, thanked him, and went to go work on dinner.

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

Calysta slept surprisingly well considering they were in a hospital. It probably had a little to do with how long of a day it had been and alot to do with having Illya safe out of surgery and thoroughly wrapped around her. He was warm and she couldn't help but close her eyes after he ate his dinner and fall very thoroughly asleep.

She wasn't aware of anything until something tickled at the crown of her hair and something heavy, but pleasantly warm settled on her waist. If felt nice and familiar. Comforting. So, she kept her eyes closed in her mostly asleep state and enjoyed it. "...dah sky lifts her above dah storm and she commands dah tunder. She rises from dah fires. Dah little bird es beautiful beyond measure and now I have her en meh arms."

He wasn't trying to woo her or charm her into anything physical. She wasn't really awake to respond either. He was simply whispering all of those lovely things to her because he could. It made her want to hold him close as possible because words couldn't express how much she loved him. She stayed half asleep and still though, as another kiss graced the top of her hair. It was warm here and she felt lucky to have him in so many ways. How had she gotten such a man that would treat her and love her this way? Even when he probably felt so awful and had every reason to be grumpy or angry that this tour had nearly gotten him killed. She kept her eyes closed and marveled at him for a long time in silence, then stirred, sliding a hand from his hip to his waist and nestling further into his chest. "Mmmm..." she hummed, just barely cracking open her eyes to peep at him. "Hey, my love." She gently inched closer and her fingers rubbed at his back, then she lifted her face just a little and kissed his chest. She didn't say much. Instead, she gently petted at his back and chest, then played with the hair on the nape of his neck. Occasionally she would lean up and give him gentle kisses. She didn't know how to put into words what she felt, so she opted for a language he would understand best.

It was an hour of loving on him before the nurse came in and saw them cuddling, ending the spell of the intimate moment with the announcement that Illya would be ready to go back to the hotel after a few things were completed and exit paperwork given.

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

An entire day hardly seemed enough rest, but here they were in the large dome where the ocean floor could be seen from all angles. A little area had been cordoned off and many of the Urian security teams stationed at the entrance helped keep the flow of people going in and out at the most efficient. Calysta knew there were several undercover Urian men and women in plain clothes keeping an eye on things inside the crowds as well. Many of the Urian's just wanted to get a look at them both. Calysta did enjoy Uria for the simple fact that they, by and large, didn't care what she was. They were a widely varied people as far as looks and breeding when too. Dark skinned, lighter skinned, olive toned with all manner of hair and builds. She was sure she even saw someone of a large height with brown hair and stone grey skin like a Undine and Urian might have. Given the flow of people, she was glad the oil had worn off of them for the most part. All of the men in their security team looked far more comfortable now and so was she for that matter.

A couple of Urian women walked up after being invited by Sarai who was nearby. The women were younger and a bit starry eyed. "We were wondering...could we just...have a hologram with the General?"

That had been an on going theme for this meeting with the Urians, but that was fine by Calysta so long as no one got touchy and Illya could stand it. She wasn't in the mood to talk policy very much.

Finally, a fellow came up to them and gave them a formal Kaerelean bow, then stood straight to look at both of them. "Madam Councilwoman," he began in Trader's Tongue, "General Blackwolf. It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Garyn Seryilla. I'm not Urian native, but I do live on the planet and it has been my home now for several years. And I've come to ask you for your help. Your help as Councilwoman and allies of the Alliance, upcoming members. I would ask for your help in seeking clemency. Not for myself, but for my brother. Would you please hear my case?"
 
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