Vacuum III: "Dawn"

Poison.Toocool reaches a hand out to Souley's arm, hovering there, waiting to see if he is ready to be touched, seeing that he is disturbed. "It wasn't an accusation, Souley. But the creature that I am, died a little that day, and I don't know how far I can go now." She looks serious, "You have Shenshi, she deserves a good home. And perhaps you want other children besides, it's so evident from the way that she bonded to you that you're a natural with kids. I just... don't know if I can do that, anymore... the ability to ... reproduce," she struggles to explain.

Souleymane Senghor moves into her touch and, as he thought ... expected .. feared? it calms him a bit. "I see ...." he makes note of the ability of parts of her to die off. "Poison ... " he moves his hand over hers. "I have my daughter. If we ever ... do that .. great. but if not ..." he shrugs and faces her completely, moving closer to her. "If not then we have each other ... if that's enough for you. There'll be planty of nights like this. Just me and you. Maybe thats how its supposed to work. Fate." he suggests.

Po.Toocool sighs and looks to the fire, her hand on his arm. "There's a million how's and why's in my brain, but at this moment, they all seem silly at this moment, but in my heart I know there will be some difficulties. The normal things between two people will be enhanced by the differences in our philosophies and what we do for a living. Should we walk this path? Should the heart ignore common sense?"

Souleymane.Senghor chuckles as she speaks. "I think you are overthinking this, myself." he tells her. "First of all, my job is no longer an issue. Some people won't like me getting out of the business, but I can deal with them." he begins. "So that means a lot of my philosophical leanings quickly become moot." he shrugs. "So all that means is the Fleet Captain is involved with a guy that owns an import/export business." he considers. "I'll even get rid of my warehouse contract on Takaar." he speaks casually as if all it would take is a subspace communication, a handshake and all will be well." he'll pull her close if she'll allow. "So in my opinion." he leans to touch his forehead to hers if allowed. "We should walk this path. Ignore common sense. Maybe thats the test. To see if this is worth it and if we were willing to do what it takes to be happy."

Po.Toocool nods slowly, allowing herself to lead into his warmth, "Perhaps it is better, still, not to be involved with someone in Starfleet. That can create problems too. But what about Shenshi? How will she... where will she live?"

Souleymane.Senghor shrugs it off, even as he holds her. "I do have friends that won't like my involved with a Starfleet." he agrees, understating the fact by a staggering amount. "But I'm a grown man. I'll do what I want and love who I love. They god nothin to say on it." he kisses her forehead. "I'll take care of my daughter. DOn't worry about her. For now she'll live with my sister. By the time the adoption goes through I will have a home for her. Someplace safe and pretty with decent schools for her to go to."

Po.Toocool "You and I both travel so much, but at least for now she is safe with Driss ... and Hars, I guess." She has no idea what Hars thinks of that. "I'm afraid," she laughs softly, "when it comes down to it, me, the great startfleet captain, is a simple girl afraid of the complexity and mysteriousness of getting together with someone else."

Souleymane.Senghor nods his agreement. "Well ... that *is* one of the reasons I need to settle down for a change. Driss loves her new niece but .... she got her own life to live so finding a stable home I can stay at maybe three or four weeks at a time and only be gone one or maybe eventwo weeks if even that much .... would help." he smiles down at her. "AIn't nothin wrong with being afraid." he tells her. "I'm kinda scared too. Last time I tried a relationship ... it was complicated and controversial and ... she wound up dead." he pauses. "But its worth it. You and me. Even with all the fears and all." he licks his lips. "Just have to want it bad enough, and I do."

Po.Toocool looks to him. "But why, you hardly even know me, how do you know... well I guess you told me in your own way," remembered conversations run through her mind, "It just seems so quick to me but perhaps that's because my sense of time is different from most humanoids."

Souleymane.Senghor chuckles when she seems to remember that he told her why. "I fought the whole love thing before. I can't remember if I told you or not ... Kattell and I used to fight ... and I mean fight ... breaking furniture fighting, throwing punches fighting .... cause neiher of us wanted what was happening to us to happen to us." he laughs softly. "Hell it wads a fight literally landed us up in bed .. so to speak." he sobers. "Now ... I see no point in fighting. I know how I feel and now so do you. But." he hplds up a single index finger. "I haven't asked you to marry me yet. Haven't even really *thought* about having children with you.

Souleymane.Senghor So I am not rushing headlong into this." he arches a brow. "I'm going to be twenty-eight in a little while." he tells her. "I got .. maybe a century left to live .. and that might be wishful thinking. SO maybe you should take advantage of me while I'm still in my prime." he suggests with a wink. She was so serious, he wanted to lighten her up a little.

Po.Toocool stays close to him as they have this important talk. The morning has hardly begun. This time always seems so quiet and peaceful to her. He mentions marriage and children and her eyebrows pucker, but then she stops herself from saying another "but" and smiles when he mentions his age, that reminds her she has promised Shenshi to help with gifts. "You're very old, really," she reaches a hand to touch his face.

Souleymane.Senghor watches her face contort and wonders if she blocks out negative words by rout. He leans his face into her hand. "I feel old, I'll tell you that much." he snorts. "Lived more than many men twice my age." he shrugs. "I'm half scared to ask how old you are, but I get the feeling I am dealing with an older women." he grins "Of maybe an older man?" he teases.

Po.Toocool shakes her head, smiling to him but her eyes serious, "I don't know how long I have lived in human years. I never measured time. I just was. I had to be in Starfleet to even understand how you measure time."

Souleymane.Senghor shrugs. "Doesn't matter to me. I assume you are older than I am. But ..." he strokes his face. "Maybe I should treat you as if you're at the end of your lifespan....." he strokes his chin again. He realizes he needs a shave.

Po.Toocool smiles softly, "I am as you see me. Not old, not young. The form does not lie. I cannot be... a young child or an old man."

Souleymane.Senghor nods. "Thats good to know. I'll be jealous if you still look like that when I am getting my first gray hairs." he winks. Then he pauses. "WOuld it bother you ... to know I have been with ... the same gender as I am?" he wonders. "I mean sexually?" he seems a bit anxious about this. COnsidering the weay he was raised, it may hgave been a problem culturaly.

Po.Toocool looks to him. "I don't think as yo... humans do. Most think only in girl and boy. But many species have more genders, and some have none. To me a gender is like a piece of clothing, to wear. It is not me, nor does it define who I am."

Souleymane.Senghor nods again. "Well, in some cultures it is a death sentence." he explains and sighs. "Alright ... I know you alittle better now. I suppose my biggest question .. and probably, knowing me and you, the most explosive is ..." he pauses. "WHy Starfleet?"

Po.Toocool "That is a good question. I'd been to many worlds and seen many things. But it was, unformed, in a way. I saw it but had no context in which to see what was good or right or decent as I knew nothing of others. I met not one of my kind in all my wanderings. I paid my way in all kinds of ways," she looks serious, "yes, even that, to go somewhere else. I grew tired of being used and of my own ignorance. So when I came on a transport to Pinastri, I decided Starfleet would allow me to travel, and be in contact with other beings, and provide some kind of order to my knowledge and exploration." She takes a deep breath.

Souleymane.Senghor grins vey softly. "So you used them." he pauses. "Have they ... researched you?" he wonders.

Po.Toocool "They recognize my species as being very rare and have a law that is to protect us. The things I have told you I am trusting you with, only a very few know of my species and they are sworn to secrecy. My medical records are locked and no one is permitted to sample my DNA."

Souleymane.Senghor seriouses up. "I wouldnt tell anyone." he reassures her. "And thanks for trusting me with that. I ... don't lump the species together like I was taught. Not after Kattrell." he shrugs. "And for the Federation ... I was raised in a very ... non technical way. So of course, a lot of the way I live might seem a little odd ... to someone like you." he tries not to think too fasr back to her shower only a few minutes ago.

Po.Toocool smiles, "We are both radically different than the norm, then, no wonder we fit," and she adds, "my exlove was Romulan. A former enemy of Starfleet welcomed into Starfleet. Very devious though. I wonder that they trust them at all."

Souleymane.Senghor chuckles. "No wonder. Opposites attract." he nods. "That makes more sense now. Although my personal experience is that humans can be as devious and dangerous as the Romulans. But maybe you had to have known the men in my family. My father and my brothers." he shrugs. "But all species can be devious, I believe. But I don't give my trust easialy. I'm pretty cynical."

Po.Toocool "I have met many sentient beings, and most seem capable of deciet. It's sad but true," she nods. Then she leans to him and kisses her chin. "Fate brought us together."

Souleymane.Senghor grins at the kiss. "See .. now you're catchin onto it." he teases. "But ... I don't know if its sad ... isnt there some kind of law that says everything has to even out? For every action there is an equal and opposite REaction?"

 Po.Toocool smiles again, "That's human, I guess. Others think differently. Others have been exploring the galaxies for many centuries, to them humans are very young and often arrogant."

Souleymane.Senghor nods. "Well, I can't argue that. I won't even try." he blinks. "Hey .. Don't get me wrong. You coming here was .. incredible .. a surprise and I love the time we've had but ..... why *did* you come here looking for me?" he wonders.

Po.Toocool sighs, "As I said before... everywhere we've been together, there is always someone else. Security, my crew, Shenshi, Driss, we've never truly been alone and uninterrupted. We had a ceremony and then I decided I'd take some time off and come and see you. I don't take any holidays at all, so no one can complain. I have one security officer who did helm, and he's on the shuttle, happy I guess to sleep or entertain himself without having to work hard. So there's just us here, unless your friend decides to disturb us."

Souleymane.Senghor smiles. "That was nice of you." he tells her. "Jude?" he mentions his friend. "He wouldn't do that. Not unless the moon was about to implode. And even then he'd probably only send one of the wolves or wolfhounds to warn me. He's a great guy .. well.. *I* think he is." he grins. Jude is like the father he never really had. "WHat was this ceremony? Did you get a medal or someting for saving all those women and children?" his tone is light and a bit teasing, but he expects her to get a comendation for doing something as sappy as they did.

Po.Toocool adds, "There are usually ceremonies and functions which I need to attend or preside over. We had a... Celebration of Life for Spock earlier this month, I think you know that. And they had a celebration for my anniversary... it's been exactly four years since I was given command of the colony. And yes I did also get a couple of awards."

Souleymane.Senghor nods with a grin. "Spock .. oh yea I remember now. He had a pretty solid career and all, from what I've learned." he can do his research when he needs to. Jude filled him in. "ANd four years eh? Nice. AND awards ...." he chuckles. "If you're still with me in four years they may be giving you a courts marshal." he keeps with the teasing, this one. Then he arches both eyebrows. "Do you *want* me to?" he sounds amazed she'd even consider it. "I mean .... I don't think you actually need to have me sitting onyour lap but ... I can find a place to be in the audience where you could see me ... you knwo be supportive without people knowin I am there..... If you wanted me to ... of course..." he wants to be supportive, but he always assumed the only Starfleet ceremony he'd wind up a part of was his own execution.

Po.Toocool shakes her head, "You don't HAVe to come but there are usually so many civilians from Astra that you'd blend into the crowd quite nicely I am sure," she says with a grin, "but it IS nice if I can practice my speech on someone, as I am never quite sure if it makes sense the way I think it does." Tilting her head, "Do I want you to? Sort of. It means a lot to me, of course. The pomp and ceremony... I often usse the occasions to speak of our goals here, of peace and a sense of family, and getting along without violence, you'd probably laugh at the naive words but I say them to inspire our crews and remind them we are the peacekeepers, not the warmongers."

Souleymane.Senghor consider it for a long time. "I'll come if you want me too .. and I will even listen to your speeck and *try* to think of it as if I am not the cynical son of a bastard that I am. I promise." he nods to himself. "And I will try not to laugh at the whole ... peace, serinity and family and not living wihtout violence .... stuff." he chuckles and looks at her. "I love it because it tells me you aren't ashamed of me."

Souleymane.Senghor consider it for a long time. "I'll come if you want me too .. dressed in my best. And I will even listen to your speech, and *try* to think of it as if I am not the cynical son of a bastard that I am. I promise." he nods to himself. "And I will try not to laugh at the whole ... peace, serinity and family and not living without violence .... stuff." he chuckles and looks at her. "I love it because it tells me you aren't ashamed of me."

 Po.Toocool looks to him "there's all knds of partners and spouses of Starfleet officers, all shapes and sizes and intelligence levels." She tilts her head, "I'd rate you pretty high on the scale of acceptability. Just no more time in the brig, okay? That would raise too many eyebrows." She lays her head on his shoulder

Souleymane.Senghor arches a brow. "So I'm your partner, am I?" he teases in is rumbling voice. "I like that idea." he chuckles. "No more brigtime, I promise. I've seen how nice they are but ... no thanks." he strokes her hanr a moment. "OK ... I better get in the shower and shaved and dressed. You probably need to go check on your guard before he gets bored to tears. And *I have a shipment of goods to deliver to The Cafe." he kisses her forehead and steps back turning to head for the stairs. "Partner .... I like that ... yea .... " he mumbles as he moves down the stairs to prepare to go back to Astra.


Vacuum II: "Matutinal"

Po stirred. The dream was always the same. Tongue lolling, running through the bush, long strides taking her up to the top of the hill. The night was clear and cold. The moon shone distant but bright. She raises her head and sings to the moon. In the distance, a voice answers. She sniffs the air. Male? She plunges back into the dark. And opens her eyes.

Souleymane.Senghor inhales deeply and slowly in his sleep. As if coming up out of a pool. He only sleeps deeply in places where he feels safe. And he is home ... one of them ... he stretches a bit, as if reaching for wakefulness, his face turned to his windows and the moons sea out his window.

Poison Toocool: The room is strange. The first dim light of dawn touches the sky. The bed is warm, she almost turns over and gives into the desire for more sleep. The scents catch her nose. Food, dust, ocean, trees, man. Souley. She slips her bare feet onto the floor, and walks quietly to the door, gazing into his office, where he is, as far as she can tell, asleep on the couch. He is a complex being. One she can't always fathom. She turns her gaze to the ocean, moving in the dark, timelessly. How beautiful, and how deep. Powerful enough to destroy cities and beaches, gentle enough to lap your feet on a summer's day.

Souleymane.Senghor swims up a little more ... his senses scouting ahead. He remembers now ... long talk ... longest they'd ever had. Then the loan of his dashiki and ... gods above and below she looked incredible in it .... He swallows and sighs and opens one eye. A blur ... a blink. He inhales deeply and his eye opens a tad more. "Morning ... mostly." he rumbles, his deep voice still rough with the sleep he is still climbing out of. "You sleep well?" he asks, closes the eye and stretches languorously, climbing out of sleep a bit more.

Poison Toocool starts as the low voice reaches her, saying softly, "It's hardly morning, the sun hasn't touched the horizon. But I don't sleep long hours, and I often rise at this time, although on Astra, it would be a little later." She reaches up to capture her long hair, and twists it behind her into the customary bun. She feels, free, her limbs untrammeled by uniform and boots, the morning air chill and invigorating, and she laughs lightly at him, "You look... half conscious."

Souleymane.Senghor opens both eyes now. "Morning is from midnight to noon in my life." he manages. He inhales deeply and suddenly sits up with a groan. he leans back and looks at her, eyes almost focused. "darn. You put that up by habit or something?" he gives his first gripe of the day. "OK ..." he rolls his shoulders and stands, almost experimentally." I'm about three quarters conscious. Shower. Coffee. Then you can get some life outta me." he looks towards the corner. "You want the shower first?" he asks. "It's water, by the way ... towels are in the small cabinet." he offers. "I can make the coffee. Maybe something for your breakfast?" he offers if he isn't going to shower first, he's going to make coffee.

Poison Toocool turns again to the ocean, stretching her arms deliciously, the hours away from responsibility and duty make her feel young. She bends to touch her toes and as she came back up, the dashiki slipped down on one side, revealing her back. There, if one looked closely, was an odd, long bump just near the shoulder blade. "A water shower," she grins at his blurry eyes, "that sounds great." She moves to the door, saying: "Computer, shower."

Souleymane.Senghor watches her moves and mumbles to himself in his native tongue. He barely notices the bump, her stretch distracted him. But then she speaks again and he laughs lightly. "There are not many computers here." he tells her. The dial turns the water on .. the further left you go, the hotter the water gets, so stand back till you get it right." he heads for the stairs, tossing over his shoulder. "And stop stretching like that. Bout nuff to drive a man insane." he reaches the top of the stairs. "Computer, make coffee." his voice is teasing and he replies o himself. "DO it yourself, you lazy louse."

Poison Toocool laughs to him. As he goes up the stairs, she steps into the bathroom and drops her clothes to the floor, turning the water dial to the right. Cold and brisk. She moves into the stream, letting it hit her face and body, shivering, every pore screaming, swinging around to let the fluid roll down her back, skin rippled with goosebumps and drops. Stepping out she grabs a towel, rubbing fiercely to warm herself again. She put on the clothes he had given her, hung up her towel, and raced up the stairs, hoping there might be a fire.

Souleymane.Senghor starts the fire as soon as he gets upstairs. He then goes to the stove and puts on the water for the coffee. He sets up two mugs and sets cones above them and sets filters in the cones. He measures out the coffee and places them in a hand coffee grinder. As he waits on the water, he begins to make a breakfast ... berries and some local melons. By the time she races upstairs, he is setting the salad on the table and pouring the water into the cones. The coffee drains into the cups. He keeps his back to her as he makes the coffee, then finally lifts the cones and places them in the sink. Finally turning he sits at the table and moves for something that looks like it could be sugar and stirs it into his coffee. "He takes a long sip and moans in something akin to sexual bliss. "You'd like Treman more if you drank more of their coffee." he sighs and then sits up with a curse. "Tea....." the water is still boiling on the stove, and taking his coffee with him he stands again. "Tea .. tea ...." he reaches in one of the upper cabinet looking for it. For her.

Poison Toocool is glad to hear the fire crackling as she comes up the stairs, grinning as Souley talks to himself. "Tea would be nice," she says, plopping onto a chair and reaching for a piece of melon, biting into it, juice dripping from it down her chin, she wipes it with a free hand and says, "mmm good," through her full mouth.

Souleymane.Senghor finds the tea and a small mesh ball he puts the tea into. He puts it in a cup and pours the water over it, bringing it to her. "Your wish is my will." he sits and pulls the coffee had poured for her to himself and drains the cup he'd started. "Oh yea, baby ,... you know how to treat me." he murmurs. He pops a couple of berries in his mouth. "Ground fruits and melons. Here .. I eat mostly native stuff. But this morning I needed Treman coffee." he seems fully awake now as he sweetens his second cup of coffee. "I can hardly believe you spent the night with me." he says, half teasing and half honestly amazed.

Poison Toocool's eyebrows twitch as he mentions Treman again. She'd tried so hard to push that all away. She sighs and puts down the melon rind, taking the cup but not drinking as it will be too hot. "I just wanted to be alone with you for 24 hours," she says to her cup. "Ever since we met, there have been others around. Driss, security, my crew, Shenshi, everyone at home..." we've never truly been alone." She lifts the cup, blows, decides it's too soon, puts it down, "and I don't even know how we're going to do this... if there is a this, an us... are we an us?" She reaches for a handful of berries, "I guess we are, or I wouldn't be here, trying to find out how... to be the me I know, and the dutiful officer I am, with this... new other person that needs to fit in, and shouldn't just fit in around all that, but be first before all that, but how can it..." she shakes her head, "I can't even explain it."

Souleymane.Senghor chuckles. "True. I'll consider it an early birthday present, in case we can' manage it again for a while." he listens to her and sips this second cup of coffee, savoring it. "We're going to do this as best we can, I guess." he says. "And, if you haven't noticed. I am not the same man around you or Driss or Fukujuso that I am ..." he motions to his windows. "Around the rest of the universe. Well, more of him came out in public last night but ....." he eats a bit of melon. "I am more me around you than I am around them. I shed that skin that aggravates you so much now when we're alone."

Poison Toocool nods, "yes, you're somewhat less irritating now, although you're half nude and haven't had a shower," she wrinkles her nose at him. "I suppose you're saying that humans play roles, I've noticed that. I was never used to that. In my life before I came into contact with other humanoids, I thought everyone just.. was, as they appear to be. But in the past few years I've come to understand that people can say one thing and mean another, or say whatever they think will get them what they want, and then discard it without a thought." She says this a bit grimly, "My best teacher was my last... first... only love. He said so many rosy things to me and made many promises he never kept, lied to me and lied to others. I never saw it until the end. He didn't just leave, he was hardly ever there and always had a million excuses for it until one day he just didn't come back. And that's when," she puts her cup down and moves to the fire, sitting in front of it, shivering a little, "that's when I died a little. And my youngling.. he died too."

Souleymane.Senghor nods and listens but doesn't say anything until after she moves. Then he abandons his coffee and stands, moving to her. "I'm not going to say I'm not a liar, Poison." he looks into the fire. "I was raised to be one and I am very good at it. That's why I have a very small police record and none in Starfleet until your people brought me in after they boarded my ship." he pokes at the fire, restlessly. "But all I can do is promise you that I won't lie to you ... why should I? I'm giving up all the illegal stuff." he knows he will be doing some thigns just on the line .. shady .. but he can jump off that bridge when he comes to it. "Your Souleymane won't lie to you .... maybe to others ..." he jokes a little. "And ,... gods ... abandonment ... that ... just ..." he shakes his head, poking at the logs almost angrily.

Poison Toocool reaches a hand out to his arm, hovering there, waiting to see if he is ready to be touched, seeing that he is disturbed. "It wasn't an accusation, Souley. But the creature that I am, died a little that day, and I don't know how far I can go now." She looks serious, "You have Shenshi, she deserves a good home. And perhaps you want other children besides, it's so evident from the way that she bonded to you that you're a natural with kids. I just... don't know if I can do that, anymore... the ability to ... reproduce," she struggles to explain.

Souleymane.Senghor moves into her touch and, as he thought ... expected .. feared? it calms him a bit. "I see ...." he makes note of the ability of parts of her to die off. "Poison ... " he moves his hand over hers. "I have my daughter. If we were ... do that .. great. but if not ..." he shrugs and faces her completely, moving closer to her. "If not then we have each other ... if that's enough for you. There'll be plenty of nights like this. Just me and you. Maybe that's how its supposed to work. Fate." he suggests.



Jude Murphy laughs. A sound that is almost evil. Certainly dark. But that would be perception. "I put her on the Motherland *myself*." he assures. Then he suddenly stops and looks over Souleymane's shoulder. The smile on his horribly scarred face, a preditory thing, vanishes as if it had never been there. "Fleet Captain Toolcool." he greets her ... recognises her. "Souleymane, I will see you when you return. Stay well hidden." and he turns, and quickly vanishes into the forest.

Poison Toocool having landed her shuttle some distance from the town... not easily due to the effects of the nebula, Poison had left her security officer aboard, over his protests. She agreed to wear a combadge but otherwise she is dressed in a civilian outfit. Unsure of herself, she wanders some paths, trying to remember which way they took last time she was here. Finally she comes along a cobblestone path, and starts to descend some stairs, seeing some figures in the distance, perhaps she can ask directions. As she comes closer, someone she doesn't know, says hello. Behind him, is Souley.

Souleymane.Senghor turns after Jude speaks and vanishes as if he was never there. That man can move when he wants to. He sees Poison and shock registers in his face for an instant and then is covered. He steps forward. "I know I'm late, but you didn't have to come to beat me for it." he teases, coming straight up to her and, if allowed taking her into his arms and kissing her as deeply as if he hadn't seen her in a weekand missed her ... which he has.

Poison Toocool is pleased to see the moment of shock on Souley's face. She allows him to embrace her, but turns her face slightly, feeling oddly shy again.

Souleymane.Senghor chuckles as his kiss lands on her cheek. Well, he tried. He backs off only slightly, his hands running to hers and holding them. "I'm sorry. They are only now getting the last supplies on the Motherland." he tells her. "SO ...." he suddenly stops. "It takes a day and a half to get here if you're careful." he murmurs. "WHich means you left for here before I was even overdue." he grins ... his self-satisfied smirk. "You missed me, Poison." he announces. "I'm flattered."

Poison Toocool smiles softly, touching his cheek. 'Funny how I had a million things to tell you, and now that you're here, I can't think of a thing to say." His smirk is both charming and irritating.

Souleymane.Senghor laughs and the smirk stays firmly in place. "Your showing up here says ... an awful lot without your saying a word, Poison." he tells her. It *is* a telling move on her part, even if she doesn't realize it. "Well, we can go home, or we can go for a drink in Vacuum." he motions behind him. "Then you can relax and tell me whatever your heart desires." his smirk widens. "And I can give you a little present ...." he coaxes.

Poison Toocool nods, one part wanting company so she isn't alone with him, the other wishing for a long talk. "What's Vaccuum?" She says. "A bar, I guess. I don't drink much... if they have fruit that would be nice. Do they have much... agriculture here?" she looks around. "It seems a bit.. barren and rocky."

Souleymane.Senghor nods, slowly. "The local bar, yes. If you want class, there is a lovely restaurant on the Hill. If you want slease, there is the Blue Door." he turns, not releasing her hand and beginning to lead her to the building ... the graffiti is ... interesting .... no question. "They have mostly ground fruits .. grows beneath the trees. A melon or two. Plus greenhouses." he stops at the door and opens it, leading her inside. It's dead quiet, even with people inthere ... all looking at the civillian clothes everyone associates with the Federation. "Jasmine ... a couple of ground berry juices upstairs, please." and he leads her up to the second floor, if allowed.

Poison Toocool allows herself to be pulled into a non-descript building and follows Souley up the stairs. "The fire is nice," she says, looking around. "I've been in worse places," she whispers to Souley, taking a seat opposite to him in front of the fire.

Souleymane.Senghor grins. "I love this place." he tells her. "Most of the local food is from the waters. Fish, shellfish. Like that. There is a bird that runs wild and reproduces like crazy. They call it a Rainbow Hen. Good eating, if you eat meat." he stops as a native comes up in a scanity sort of silver outfit ... tray in hand. "Two berry juices for you." her stony voice says, setting the drinks down. "Welcome to Gati, Miss." her stony face gives a smile then she turns and clumps away. Souley nods after her. "One of the natives. They run most of the businesses here. Keeps the other residents honest. This side of the island is sort of the rough side of town, if you didn't guess that last visit. Well ... you didnt see much of the island last time." he remembers, reaching for his drink.

Poison Toocool settles in the chair, listening politely as Souley tells her about the fish and game they eat here, trying not to grimace. She watches the... native, serve the drinks, thinking how curious they are. She reaches for the drink and takes sip, "Nice," she says, looking into the fire, finding it quiet, "Nice to be away from work," she adds.

Souleymane.Senghor nods and smiles. "Well, this is a strangely peaceful place, usually." he tells her. "Feel free to come here to get away from things anytime you want." he looks over at her. "My home is your home." he sips and nods. "They can sweeten it. I know you're a vegan .. no animal products. So you wouldn't be interested in their honey." he muses. "They do have a leaf here they powder .. its very sweet. Sweeter than sugar." he makes withthe small talk a bit longer.

Poison Toocool shakes her head slightly, "I can't get away for so long most of the time," she says, "we had a bit of a lag because of a celebration this weekend, so I left it to my Vice and came here. Probably not the best thing in terms of appearing to be in charge, but after the... recent events, I needed time to myself. I had a lot to think about," she takes another drink, with a small sigh.

Souleymane.Senghor keeps the soft smile. "I see ....." he rubles, softly. "Well, I got some thinking of my own done." he shrugs. "No changes." he tells her. "As a matter of fect ...." he lifts up the lower part of his dashiki and pulls out something that looks like a thicker than normal PADD. He preses a round part at the side and a narrow rod pops out. "This is for you. It's a secure PADD ... Tremenan in design. The rod is a security override ... so you can encrypt or decrypt communications from me. I have one like it, of course." he sets it on the table between them.

Poison Toocool looks to it, and looks to him. "Thanks," she says. "I'm... not used to... long distance relationships. I... used to be able to talk to Hars whenever I was free... I guess I was selfish, in that I always just expected him to be there, and he always was. We were... comfortable. Now," she looks away, hands clasped, "I have no one to talk to," she says in a small voice. She picks up the device, "Maybe this will help."

Souleymane.Senghor arches his brow. "His time will be more divided now, sure." he watchs her hands and clears his throat. "I wouldn't say *that*, Poison. You have *me* to talk to." he watches her holding the device. "When I am not near the colony planet, I will make sure to regularly leave the nebula to pick up any subspace messages from you. Mine to you will be encrypted. A triple encryption system I developed. One layer Treman, one Dozi and one from a friend of mne that knows a good deal about security and encryption. But ... just insert that rod and it will automatically decrypt for you." he offers and sighs softly, biting his lower lip, then putting his face back to neutral.

Poison Toocool looks to him, "I suppose my anger at him over Driss has put a wedge between us. It's my fault. It's not fair to be... unkind. Driss is a lovely girl and why shouldn't he love her? I'm not usually so conflicted," she sighs again, "I wish I didn't care so much about everyone, I'm always trying to keep the peace, and do the right thing, and be the strong one. It's my job. Underneath, I'm just someone trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their life." She looks again at the device, "I wish you didn't dislike Starfleet so much. How can I do a job properly when the person... closest to me, doesn't want me doing it?"

Souleymane.Senghor shrugs. "Driss is the sunshine." he says siply. "You got stuck with the darkness." he quips and straightens upt his legs. "Tellyou what. You don't have to be strong for me. Let *me* be strong for you." he offers. "We *are* in the same boat, you know. Driss won't need me so much with a man in her life." he holds up his hand. "Hold on, Poison." he protests. "It's not that. It's ... my family has been doing illegal activities..." he thinks back on his conversation with Jude and chuckles.

"SInce my own people were selling their own into slavery in America." he parrots Judes words. "So, naturally I've been raised to distrust the Federation. You are the second Starfleet I have come to care about. The other ... was Starfleet. Isn't now, and probably doesn't help by telling me to always watch my back around them." he sighs. "So I can love you and still not trust any Starfleet *but* you completely. And you *do* realize how much I care about you, Poison. I'll stick by you. Starfleet or no Starfleet. Time will prove my words true. Just wait."

Poison Toocool tilts her head, listening. "How illegal," she breathes, looking worried. "I can only do so much. I don't want you... not to be yourself. But if you say, were honest with me and said you broke some Federation law... well, I think honesty is extremely important.. and yet what would I do? I'm not in a position to... let a lawbreaker go free." She finishes her drink, reaching for one of his hands... wanting to feel his warmth, "I *am* Starfleet here. There is noone of higher position here than me. I report directly to the top of the chain..." leaning in closer, "Don't ever make me have to choose, okay? Cause," softly, "I couldn't bear it."

Souleymane.Senghor sighs. "Up until just before you and I met, I transported little things. Romulan Ale, low level narcotics and occassionally sentient beings ... usually escaped slaves, for the most part. Taking them places where they could get away from their owners." he shrugs. "Since meeting you ... Poison ... there isn't a single illegal thing on my ship now and ....he takes her hand. "I'd rather be legit now ... for you and for Fukujuso." he rubs ather hand and looks at it. "I don't want to be the kind of man my father was." he growls softly. he leans in with her. "The gods must be bored .. but they'll have to deal with it. I won't make you arrest me." he leans in a little closer and tries to kiss her softly, quickly and hopefully reassuringly.

Poison Toocool continues to listen with worried eyes, this concern has built up while he was gone and she had time to think. She kisses him back. "It's easy to be bowled over by emotions," she says. "I'm not accusing you of anything, more a... thing eating away at me in the middle of the night. I'm glad you are motivated to... be legit, as I... don't know how to be anything but. I worked hard to become what you see now. But I have done things... that I'm ashamed of, and that included... hurting others, I am sometimes frustrated and I get... tough when I need to be." Her voice fades, "Why I am I always so mixed up when I'm talking to you," she complains. "I write long reports and give longer speeches, I consider myself pretty good at telling a story or being detailed in logs, but I can barely put a sentence together for you!"

Souleymane.Senghor nods. "The night has found more light ...." he licks his lips. "My sister says I need light. I didn't realize she was right for a long time and now ... she isn't enough light to keep the darkness from consuming me." he chuckles. "I think I mix you up because I represent about eighty percent of what Starfleet is against." he suggests. "Yet you love me. And if I wasn't willing to give up the life ... it could get very uncomfortable for you." he kisses the hand he still holds. "I feel you when I fluster you. Maybe I got that from Driss. Maybe our father was right and I am more feeling like a woman because of sharing a womb with my sister." he shrugs. "It will get better once you stop fighting and gets uset to loving a scoundrel." he winks at her, teasing.

Poison Toocool grins at him, then adds, "There is more, you know. I'm not... Betazed or anything but, I have a certain.. sensitivity around humanoids. It's not reading thoughts." She leans in again, as what she is about to say is highly personal and secret. "I can.. feel energies. I sense what many people feel. It doesn't work with everyone," she nods towards the barmaid, "it doesn't work all the time. But I can often tell by what I feel if someone is inherently 'light' or 'dark'. It's not always... people. Once, I went with a friend into this old building, where there was a store, supposedly selling meditation items. I felt such a sense of blackness there, I literally had to leave. I wondered later if someone had been killed there... or some great evil done. I never did find out. It was long ago, and very strange." She looks down, hoping he realizes how much she is revealing.

Souleymane.Senghor leans in with her and listens. "Interesting." he murmurs. "A sixth sense." he considers and lifts his hand to stroke her cheek. "And yet, you haven't turned on me." he grins slightly, thinking he does understand a great deal about that this reveals. "So ... maybe Driss was right ... maybe Kattell was right ... maybe I am not this evil animal that needs to be put down to benifit the universe as a whole." he whispering now, his tone ... filled with a disbelieving wonder. "I already told you, Poison. I am in love with *you*. Not your body. Your spirit .. maybe the true you. I don't know how to explain it, but ..." he breaks off, unsure how to finish the sentence. "You'll keep me honest. You, Fukujuso and Driss." he gets a slight smirk. "And I will probably love you all the stronger for it." he whispers even lower.

Poison Toocool reaches her hand to perhaps take his as his fingers touch her cheek. "I bet all the dogs and cats like you, wherever you go. That's always a good sign. And Shenshi, too, she trusted you right away. They feel.. something deeper. Beneath the language of words, there is a knowing. I don't know who else has it. I noticed all my... life," she falters on this word, "at least the life that became... structured by time and language, that no humans really speak of this... kind of awareness, although there are a few species that have something similar, like Betazed." She breathes deeply, looking to him, "It's okay that you can't explain it," she says earnestly, "the fact that you can't, at least to me, makes it... more real and more true than if you could. Words are easy. Feelings, senses, aliveness... that's beyond words. And that's one reason why," she grows animated, "I love Starfleet because without it, I never would have met so many other beings, discovered so much about sentient and biological life in our galaxy... it's all so mysterious and profound when you look at it from far away, but when you get close... it's often just mundane and... loses some of its gloss when you have to deal with ... slavers and murderers and..." she just stops, shaking her head.

Souleymane.Senghor nods with her, almost eagerly. When she gets to the end, he chuckles. "The kind I deal with all the time. Sure animals and children like me. But there is that shadow too." he shrugs. "I deal with those people. Slavers, murdurers .. and worse. They also like me. Trust me. But my father used that once I became a man and he started taking me out with him and my brothers." he shrugs.

"I've even played the diplomat. I told the Syarks about the Welks .. thats one of the nicer things the Syarks call them ... not mentioning them to Starfleet. But they aren't going to .. do anything ... rash." he tells her. He pauses and the native returns. "Souleymane Senghor. Your ship is loaded. You may depart at your liesure." she rasps. SOuley looks at Poison .. knowing she was bound to have her own transportation. "Race ya home?"

Poison Toocool: "I'll win," she says, leaping up and flying down the stairs, then stopping with a giggle outside the door. "I don't know which way to go!"



Personal Log
Stardate: 150309
Colony Commander's Residence


Now perhaps a few days of peace will be afforded me. Since my return from the asteroid belt in a neighbouring sector, I have been overrun with details, duties... and a sad death that has brought me a level of grief that was entirely unexpected. I had also to deal with the Senghor twins, following through on my promise to house Ms Idrissa Senghor and the orphan child, Shenshi Fukujuso. And then there is Mr Souleymane Senghor, currently absent on a supply run to Takaar, N'doto, and perhaps other local systems.

I admit to a level of discomfort now.

The days spent with him on the mission to save the captured civilians, have ended in a personal relationship I neither wanted or needed. Ms Fukujuso, desiring, I suppose, to have someone in the role of 'mom and dad', chose us. I could not very well disabuse her of this notion, as she was and is fragile after the trauma of her experiences at the hands of the slavers. This forced me to spent time in Mr Senghor's company. It was pleasant. We got to know each other, a little. He says he loves me. All in a few short weeks. It all feels too easy and convenient. Perhaps that is the way of humans, to latch onto each other and say nice things, in order to make their loneliness a little less powerful. Now I am... uncomfortable. I had made a life here, for these past four years. A romance with someone who sails often in the grey waters of almost illegal import and export, someone who dislikes and disrespects Starfleet, someone who disturbs my equilibrium with irritation and... emotion. I don't like how I feel right now. I like how I feel right now. I don't want this. I want this. I made this mistake once before, allowing someone to know me, and giving all I had, only to be wounded so deeply I almost died, and my youngling with me. That which is within me was forever scarred. So yes, a few days of peace, are welcome.

I return to my daily routines. I have been for my morning run through the Colony, each day bringing new details. A building's frame completed here, a tree erupting into full bloom there, rain falling on the ocean, the scent of the flowers in my garden welcoming me home. Something more today, though. In front of my door, a small box. Inside, lovely fresh fruits and vegetables. I can only think it's from the new Café, run by Ms Senghor, in nearby Pebble.

There is the inevitable Council meeting on Tuesday. A delegation from Treman wishes to speak. I will attend, of course, in full regalia, my honour guard around me. I receive regular reports from Task Force Ictus, the USS Davy Crockett is lead ship, some interesting scientific, historical and cultural information being found in Sig Sigma Alpha and nearby systems. There are a myriad of domestic concerns as well.

I have a breakfast meeting here, at 0700, with various members of staff. After that, perhaps a walk to Majel Community Hospital to check in on the new OiC, Dr Morath Landfall, before a briefing in mission control. A short flight to a school in Agate, where the children have their sports day and the local town begins a planting fair. An hour there, and home again. I have instructed my yeoman to keep what remains of the day free of other commitments. I plan to take my private shuttle for a survey of the hills north of here.

A spurt of joy inside. She will beam down from the shuttle to a deserted spot. There she will... run free... for the first time in weeks.

I will spend the evening in my garden. I have been gone too long and there is much weeding to do.



Poison Toocool is deep in thought, hardly paying any attention to the stream or the trees, as she usually would. A thousand things on her mind, work, missions, reports, Hars, tasks to get done, new crew members to meet, Souley, the change of season. Her feet guide her along the path she always takes from her cottage to the beach.

Souleymane.Senghor is kneeling and tucking things into what looks like an ancient seamans duffel. Several dark boxes that he seems to be reorganizing to ensure it all fits. "Ok ...." he murmurs to himself. "That's better." he stands and pulls at the topof the bag, closing it, then moving the strap into place. He turns to have a look around. He'll be gone a couple days. Wondering if he should ... say goodbye or ... if she decided she wasn't readdy to deal with him now she was back to her life and duties.

Poison Toocool continues to walk slowly along the path, the salty smell of ocean drawing her. How she craves peace right now. The revelation from Hars, who has been a rock for her for the past several months.. still hurts. Illogical. The loss of Ambassodor Spock is still with her. "I can't take much more," she murmurs to herself. She hears a soft noise and turns. Souley.

Souleymane.Senghor hefts the bag, grunting softly at its weight. Testing it. He's ready for his trip. Then he sees her walk out from behind a tree and he heads to her, bag and all. He looks her up and down as he approaches. "Back on duty, I see, Kap." he rumbles.

Poison Toocool has stopped in her tracks. Did she conjure him up? He'd been on her mind, yet she had avoided finding him. Glancing behind him, to the round house, she realizes this is the home that she'd assigned to Idrissa, his sister. Of course he'd be here. He's got some kind of bag with him. "Hello, Souley," she says softly, putting her hands together to calm them. Damn butterflies.

Souleymane.Senghor hears her soft voice and mentaly takes control of himself. He hated the out-of-control feeling he has with her. Seeing her clasp her hands, he moves a bit closer. "All these days and all I get is 'Hello Souley'?" he rumbles and leans forward, giving her a quick peck on the cheek if allowed. He knows it might rattle her, but he has no intention of allowing her to foirget how he feels. Not for one second if he can help it.

Poison Toocool watches him come closer. She stiffens. She almost pulls back as he leans in to kiss her cheek. She catches a brief wift of him. It's more compelling than she's willing to admit. She lifts a hand to push him away but ends just dropping it again. "I've been overwhelmingly busy but I hope Idrissa, Shenshi and you like the house," she gestures lamely.

Souleymane.Senghor is almost stunned he got away with the kiss. "We love it, even though its just a couch for me, unless that Hars winds up taking up light housekeeping himself." he tells her. "But since she found a place to cook besides your front porch, I am on my way to Takaar to see about importing goods from the Syarks and the Welkins." he tells her and hefts the bag again, in emphasis that he's going someplace. He can't help but smirk. "Don't worry. It's all gonna be legal and above board." he assures her only adding the word 'probably' in his thoughts.

Poison Toocool looks to him, the mention of Hars, possibly staying with Idrissa, stabs her heart. She smiles brightly hoping to cover this feeling. "Yes, I heard of the cafe," the bag in his hand brings another pang, and his quip about being legal hits her as well. She says sharply, "Syarks?|

Souleymane.Senghor nods. "She's happier than I've ever known her. Own place, man of her choosing. I'll never get her to leave now." he quips. He didnt know about her and Hars, Driss hasnt told him yet. But he does raise his brows. "Yea. The Syarks. They live under the waters of Takaar." he considers. "Let me guess. The Walkins didnt bother to mention the Syarks." he guesses. "That makes sense. Almost all of the plants resourses come from the water. Most of the food, of course water, plants, vegetables ..... But the Welkins have some stuff that would be great for Driss to cook up too." he chuckles. "And the Welkins resent it..... they're constantly on the brink of war, those two. But they need each other too much."

Souleymane.Senghor pauses a heartbeat. "Kind of like us."

Poison Toocool: me says tightly, "Hars and Driss are making plans?" She feels a spurt of anger. She only just got home, and heard about it. "He's moving in, is that why you're going?" She turns from him, looking towards the ocean, her body taunt. "Welkins I know of, not Syarks..." she mutters, filing that information away for science and security to check out. She whirls to look at him, "We aren't at war. We're just... just," she is stymied, "I don't know what the hell we are," she finishes, "and yes it has been a few days but you never even tried to contact me so I thought our little 'parenthood' game that you invented was over."

Souleymane.Senghor blinks. "Nooooo." he says slowly, watching her body. "I mean they've declared feelings to each other ..the rest ... I was just joking about." he looks at her. "Wait. You and him ...." he nods slowly. "Oops...." he murmurs. He's just putting two and two together. "Well the Syarks ... are there under the surface." he listens to her. "Well, I thought we'd established what we are on Ndoto." he cants his head. "I'm falling in love with you and you are doing everything you can NOT to fall in love with me." he's blunt. No one can argue that.

Souleymane.Senghor "And I didnt try to contact youbecause I assumed you would stop in and see Fuku." he tightens his jaw. "She's MY daughter." his voice raises to almost a shout. Then it lowers to a growl. "You feel free to bow out of the parenthood game, if you arent up to playing. Not that I invented it. I got puled in too. But ...." he closes his eyes and shrugs, finally looking at her and calming down. "I'm going to be officially adopting Fukujuso." he says, woodenly. "It means going legit, but ... I think it will be allowed."

Poison Toocool sighs deeply, her hands clenched. Through gritted teeth she says, "Hars was.. is... my best friend in the universe. It's stupid to be... sad he's got someone else now. I SHOULD be glad for him and Driss but I'm not. It hurts for some asinine reason I will never understand. AND I know you don't care about Starfleet, but I do, and Spock was a huge hero to me and I wanted to be like him if I could, and in a way I thought of him like my Dad even though we never met I knew all his stories and about all his missions."

Poison Toocool: Her body grows even tighter, "I DO care about Shenshi or Fuku or whatever you want to call her, I care enough to make sure she and Driss have a decent place to live," pointing to the house, "one of the nicest houses I could give her. I even talked to the new Doctor about Shenshi and told him all about her and asked him to keep an eye on her, and it's VERY NICE you want to adopt her but that doesn't explain to me why you didn't bother to even come and see me when you knew how upset I was over Spock and why you'r e standing there with a bag full of your things and telling me your LEAVING!" She glares at him, crossing her arms.

Souleymane.Senghor watches her .. this is about as close to being completely out of control he's ever seen her. Oddly encouraging. He lets her rant and when she folds her arms her takes his seabag off of his shoulder and drops it on the ground. He purses his lips and takes in a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Poison." he says, his voice soft. He took her slap like a man, he believes. "I didnt come to see you because now that we're back here, I figured you'd rather be with your crew and staff. And they don't like me for the most part. I'm not legitimate enough for you."

Souleymane.Senghor he takes in another deep breath. "Plus you act half the time like you don't want my kind of comfort. I try and hold you and you stiffen. I try and kiss you and you come this close" he lifts his hand and almost presses his thumb and forefinger together. "To literally pushing me away from you." he looks at her crossed arms. "This defensive posture bullshit is getting old, woman." he takes a step closer and envelopes her in his arms, even with hers still tightly crossed ... if, of course, she allows and doesn't pound him into the ground.

Poison Toocool contines to glare at him. He drops his bag and says he's sorry. Her eyebrows raise, "Not 'legitimate enough"? What must you think of me? I have friends from ALL races and species, and all walks of life! I'm not some... SNOB. I believe everyone has something to offer, no matter who they are. Unless they hurt others with their actions, then... then they need to be stopped. That's my job. And the job of my crew. If they don't like you, it's because you were such an ASS when you were on the bridge of MY SHIP." Shakes her head, as he steps forward to hug her, finally letting her arms drop. Growls out, low and throaty, "You just don't know me. Not really. I don't even know why you.. like me. I am... not like other people. I am not like other girls. What you see is... only part of me." That's all she'll say.

Souleymane.Senghor chuckles softly. "I'm a smuggler, Poison. And I am good enough never to have gone past 'suspected' of it." he pauses at her growl. "I was in love with a Cardassian. She wasn't like other girls, either." he reminds her. "Do you think I care even a little bit about what I SEE?" he asks her. "How do you know I am not in love with what you are HIDING from me?" he demands. "That part inside of that shell you wear." he actually tightens his embrace. "I don't CARE about your looks. I'm NOT that shallow, Poison. I thought you'd have figured that out when you saw that picture of Kattrell."

Poison Toocool stays in his arms, listening. She shakes her head, "You don't understand. I'm not talking about beauty. And how can you love what you don't know? Let me ask you... if you love the.. spirit of me... then would you love it still if it were... that tree," she points, "or that dog over there, or that apis?" More seriously, "or if it were male?"

Souleymane.Senghor keeps his arms around her as she speaks. He looks down at her as she delivers the last question and doesn't even alow himself the luxury of a pause. "Yes. If it was YOU, Poison." he rumbles. "The being that took care of my sister. Who helped rescue my daughter. Who spats with me. Who shows more caring than I've ever seen in my life. If that's you then I don't are if you're a man, or grass, or a boulder on a mountain."

Poison Toocool giggles slightly. "Don't go away," she says, drawing her hands up and linking them behind his head.

Souleymane.Senghor arches a brow. "When I got you in my arms, you think Im goin ANYWHERE?" he quips.


Poison Toocool left Idrissa to her cleaning up and began to walk towards her cottage. The women had overstepped the bounds, of course. Driss had been given a place to stay in the House of Healing after her ordeal with the slavers, residing there for some days under the watchful eye of Nurse Kat Anjar and Dr Sheldon Whitewitch; while her brother, Souleymane, came aboard ship with Po to seek out the other civilian captives and rescue them. Left behind on a strange world, it seemed Driss needed something to do, and that was cook. The word from Po’s staff was that Idrissa had cornered the market on home cooking, at least as far as the Colony was concerned, the past couple of weeks.

In some ways Po envied Driss. The girl was.. extroverted. She’d been through a harrowing ordeal, but after a couple of days, she set up a cafe and welcomed people to it, like there was nothing to fear, like it was easy to talk to anyone. Po stepped onto the patio at the front of the cottage, but instead of going in, walked around to the side, where there was some furniture sitting in the westering sun. This area was hidden from sight by trees and bushes.  It was her private place. Few came here. Hars was one, and he was there now.  She knew he would be, although she had not asked him to be.

“Give me a moment to change,” she said by way of greeting, stepping into the nook that held her bed. She took off the Mess Dress uniform, carefully folding it and placing it on the armoire for cleaning. Pulling out a yellow jumper and slacks, she slipped them on, the material soft against her skin. Looking i the mirror, she pulled the pins from her hair and shook it out from the bun, just clasping it behind her head in a loose ponytail. She looked tired. She made a face in the mirror and stepped back outside, sitting down across from Hars in her usual chair, the table between them.  Piping hot tea, her favourite buns, a vegetable dish of some kind, a fruit salad and a bowl of nuts.  “This looks great,” she said with a sigh.

Hars Darax puts the final touches on the meal. Carries the casserole from the kitchen out to the patio, where he’s got a few things set out for them.  He’d bowed out of the reception after the remember ceremony for Spock. Headed home, tossed off the mess dress he hardly wore these days. Drew on his gardening clothes. Then over to Po’s, the back way, avoiding Driss, her brother, the child and anyone else who might be hanging about. Needed some quiet time. Needed to look after Po, who’d looked pale this morning. Up all night, she was, making that speech. And even then, said to him, just before it started, “It’s not very good at all. But it’s all I have.” He watched her like a hawk during the thing, saw the tears leave her eyes at the end. Rare for her, that. Rare to cry at all. And never knew her to cry in public.

Sits at the table. It’s all ready. He’ll just wait. Good at that, waiting. Waiting to hear if he’d walk again. Waiting to get well. Waiting for Po, often, almost always. Comfortable, they were. They’d call it ‘companion’ in Federation. Shrugs, dunno if it’s that. Both Starfleet, both work up from nothing, both end up with their own command. Lot in common. And more. Something deeper. A... knowing. A place of no words. Like now. Without a word to each other, she knew he’d be waiting. Just like he knew, she had something to say. “Eat, mo chridhe,” winks to her, “tell me about your mission.”

Poison Toocool obediently eats. Between bites, tells the story of the mission. The Argonaut, needing to urgently travel to a location over 40 light years away, and no time to do it. How she broke her own rule and used transwarp within the forbidden area, risking spatial rupture and instability in Astraios Sector, while following exactly the route mapped out by science to avoid the areas deemed fragile. The Klingon, M’Reh, had left them this legacy; attacking the colony with an illegal Isolytic subspace weapon, causing a rift, being inexorably drawn into a subsequent rip in space that was closed by the Argonaut, after an attempt to save their enemy... thus the rule to avoid transwarp in the sector, as science deemed the area fragile after this event.

Hars knew all this, but the fact that she broke her own rule had him raising an eyebrow. “You felt the risk was minimal after receiving the science report, I take it?”

Poison Toocool nods. “They felt confident the risk had abated in certain areas, and provided a chart of exactly where we might chart a course without causing damage.” She reached for a long green stem with a bulb at the end, somewhat similar to a Terran green onion, and bit into it. “When we arrived, at the asteroid belt we were seeking, Sou... Mr Senghor strongly recommended we attack the space dock and shuttle bay of the slavers. He felt they had too many fighters for us to deal with effectively. We would potentially have to deal with our own damaged vessel while the ship with the captives escaped.”

She hesitates, taking a drink of water, and smoothing out the napkin on her lap. “So we did. We attacked their bay, damaging most of their fleet, leaving only a few free to either attack us or escape. We were able to locate the civilians, but only because the cloaked ship they were on had been damaged in the attack. It was appearing and disappearing on our sensors, we managed to pinpoint where to transport, I took a team, and we extracted those women and children left alive. Not many,” she says soberly, “only a few, and those few... in bad shape.  The child we brought with us? Shenshi? She was one of them. She... lost her parents after they were all kidnapped.  We found her on the Klingon vessel, and she seemed to latch onto myself and Mr Senghor.” She takes her cup of Earl Grey, and sits back, drinking slowly.

Hars Darax looks to her. Broke the rules of engagement, eh? Wouldn’t do that without cause. Especially Po. By the book, all the way, she was. “You were kidnapped yourself once. You know what it’s like. You felt justified in taking offensive action in order to save the civilians you went to rescue.”

Poison Toocool nodded. “There’s more though, Hars.”

“I know, Lass,” Hars replies. He leans forward, “We’ve been.. broadsided, by twins.” Smiles to her, “While you were off saving the Earthlings, Idrissa and I, we got to know each other.” Studies her face. Hopes she isn’t too hurt by what he’s going to say. He’ll say it first though, take the pressure from her. “She’s beautiful, and ordinary in an extraordinary way. She doesna think of missions, crews, aliens, diplomacy, or politics. Just what she’ll make for the next meal, or what to do when it’s rainy out. I helped her set up that.. temporary cafe, brought her herbs, spent time talking. I don’t know what will happen next. I’d like to find out though.” He leans forward, reaching to take a hand, “Wouldna hurt you, mo chridhe, ever. We’ve been such great companions. Tell me what you feel.” His eyes study her face.

Poison swiveled her head to look at him when he begins to speak of Driss. As he says the words, she feels her heart fall. She allows him to take her hand, and then sits back, closing her eyes. Being with the feelings. “How do I feel?” she says slowly, after a minute. The sun has set, the moon is shining down on them, around them all is quiet. “I am filled with grief, for the loss of Ambassodor Spock. I am exhausted by the lack of sleep.” She looks down at his hand, entwining her fingers with his, holding tight. “I am very angry at you for caring for someone else. Illogically, I am also relieved you are caring for someone else. I want to be happy you have found someone, more like you than I could ever be. It had to happen one day. Why not now, when you are still young enough to enjoy a long life with them.”  She looks up into the sky. She will not speak of Souleymane now. It is enough to let Hars go.

Hars leans forward to brush his lips along her cheek. “That’s an honest reply,” sitting back, he eyes her face in the flicker of the lamps. “I’m not going anywhere,” he adds. “I’ll be a thorn in your side for many years to come,” he jokes, hoping for a smile. “But I’d like your permission to help Driss get a real cafe going. I’ve found a building in Pebble for rent, at the base of the hill, near their wee city hall. It would be perfect."

Po rose, letting go of his hand, “That’s fine, please do. And thank you for the meal. I really need to rest now.” She was tired, and on the verge of tears. She reached fingers to touch his cheek, then turned to go inside.

“Sleep well, mo chridhe.” After she is gone, he tidies the dishes and food onto a tray, takes it inside to the kitchen, closes up the rest of the house. Steps out onto the lawn. Wonders if it’s too late to catch Driss? Probably. He smiles to himself as he walks along the path to his cottage. He’ll surprise her tomorrow.


The Capt'n and the Cafe

Poison Toocool walks up the stairs, exhausted. Even though she hadn't known Ambassodor Spock except by reputation, he had been a huge hero in her life. She'd stayed up late pouring over logs and reports of his life, and writing the speech she had given a little while ago. Afterwards, she felt she could not just leave, but needed to invite everyone to take refreshments, and be there, to give a sense of contiunity and strength. She rubs her face with tired hands. Coming up the path she notices the gazebo and the tables in it. She stops and looks.

Idrissa.Senghor is moving towards the path, glad no one showed up today. The death of someone had gotten everyone hopping. He sees Po coming along the path and sees that she looks tired. "Welcome home, Kapitan." she greets the woman she really doesnt know as well as she should. "May I get you some coffee? You look likeyou could use some....."

Poison Toocool sees Driss coming towards her. They really hadn't had a chance to say much more than hello and goodbye when she had brought Souley and Shenshi here. As much as she had tried, her yeoman had found her and she had had to leave, waving to Hars and saying a quick word to Souley. The rest of the day was a blur of reports and issues to deal with... and then the speech. She breathes deep and tries to smile, "Thank you, it's good to be back." She hesitates, loathe to condone the eatery, but... "An Earl Grey would be nice.

Idrissa.Senghor motions her into the little pavillion. "I asked a few people about you." she tells the woman who has held her brother so long. "And they told me that was one of your favorite teas..." she begins to sift through some things at a table. "SO I scouted around and found a merchant with earl grey tea for sale." she pours water into a pot and places it on an open fire grate to heat. "SO I bought some for your return." she smiles and leans against the table waiting for the water to heat. She knoes she has probably overstepped her bounds .,. or been pulled past them is more like it. "Mission accomplished, I assume?" she works for a little small talk. "You even got to see SOuleymane's home." she chuckles slightly *I* haven't even seen it in person. Was it nice?"

Poison Toocool follows Driss into the gazebo, too worn out to even deal with the fact that the women has been using her garden as a cafe. She'd heard about it from several people who praised Driss's cooking. Driss natters on about the tea, Po come near her, reluctant to sit down, she'd been sitting all day yesterday and all night, and would rather stand. "It is my favourite tea, but unless I amm in my cottage," she gestures a hand to the larger house, "I have it from the replicator." She turns to look at the garden, briefly wondering where Hars might be, then turning back to Driss, "yes, I saw it. A bit... rough. Cold, you might say, all that stone. Not really suitable for children."

Idrissa.Senghor is glad for the small container and adds some tea leaves to a cloth and sets it in a large mug to steep. "So i have been told." she smiles, not sitting either, just buzying herself at the table. "Well .. Souleymane is rough. We were raised in a jungle. But the last few years ... he has become colder since he left Earth three years ago ..." she sighs and stirs the tea, as if that would hurry the stepping process. "He knows it is not a good place for Fuku. He thinks the child would be better int he sunshine ... in other words .. with me." she bites her lip. "He is right .. and he is wrong."

Poison Toocool runs her awareness over her body, consciously relaxing her muscles, breathing deep of the clean air, her eyes a little sandy from the tears she could not stop during the remembering ceremony. She watches Driss make the tea, those movements probably made a billion times by tea drinkers throughout the galaxy, she smiles softly. "I did not see him as cold," she says. "Although he can be ruthless when necessary. But a cold man would not hold a small child's hand, and make her laugh as he does." She looks to Driss, "He had thought you would take the child. I promised to find a house for you and Fuku. But you don't wish to have her?"

Idrissa.Senghor smiles softly, at last taking the bag from the steaming water. "There is sweetner and milk here." she motions tothe containers. She sighs. "You know the Souleymane that I know ... that few have met. Love warms him." she smiles. "I will gladly take her if I had a place. And if you are offering, I will accept." she snaps her fingers and kneels. "WHich reminds me." she fishes under the table and comes upwith two bars of gold pressed latinum. "I hope this will help ease the pain of the stain I haveput on your ground." she says, placing the bars beside Po's cup.

Poison Toocool takes the cup into her hands, letting the warmth carress her cold fingers, bringing it to her lips, blowing, but not taking a sip yet. Too hot. She puts it back down and laces her fingers together behind her back, stretching her arms out, listening to Driss. "You're right, he has fallen in love with Fuku," she agrees, deliberately being obtuse. "Before that, I thought he was the most stubborn, arrogant and irritating man I have ever known." She watches Driss place latinum by her cup and is nonplussed. She needs to think about that.

Idrissa.Senghor watches the cup warm her hands and smiles. "He does love Fuku." she agrees and pauses. "She is the daugher he wanted with Kat. He told you about her?" she laughs. "You remind me of her. She said the same, but added more words." she giggles. "They fought physically int he beginning. I don't know if that was them fighting the love they felt or .. what. But in the end ..." she shrugs. "He needs love in his life. Fuku is only a part of that."

Poison Toocool picks up the now cooling tea and takes a sip. Although she'd gone to the reception after the ceremony, she had not been able to drink anything. She'd served drinks to the others and listened to them speak of their admiration for Spock. It felt good to have a warm drink sooth her throat. "He did not tell me he wanted a daughter. In fact until I saw him with Fuku I would have thought he cared nothing for anyone. Except I had seen him with you." She drinks again, thoughtfully. "I saw Kat's picture, yes. He told me a little. He still... aches, for her. I can understand that," looking down into her cup, "we should be... cautious." Looking up to Driss, "It's all too easy. A small girl loses her parents, and..." she can't find the words to describe it, "it's not a puzzle where you just put in the piece and everyting falls into place."

Idrissa.Senghor smiles and leans against the table, casually. "He did ... I think Kat did also but ... the Cardassians where she lived ... did not welcome his human DNA. Kat was torn between her love and her duty to her people. They were almost wiped out, you know." she miles and looks at the Captain. "My twin is very simple. He loves, he hates or he is neutral. He doesn't care whether most live or die. SOme he hates and will hunt them down and kill them if he gets the opportunity. Or ..." she moves her hand between them, indicating them both. "Or he loves and will move the stars in the skies for those he loves."

She nods. "He misses her ... or maybe he misses that feeling of being loved by someone besides me. Our father and brothers hated him. They said sharing his womb with a female weakened him." she looks at her feet. "But ... I think a child made a decision to replace her parents with you and my brother. It doesn't mean you have to marry or even like each other. But it helps that you DO have feelings for each other." she nods. "Love should not be complicated. She loves you both and right now, that is all that matters."

Poison Toocool puts the empty cup down on the table. "I have instructed my staff to clear a house for you in the next parcel of land. It is a little further from the Colony proper, but still next to me. It will be nice for Fuku, there is a beach and horses. Neighbours, too, although none have children. I'll have my yeoman come and assist you to move your things. I think you will like it, it's... natural wood and... pleasant. There is a seawall though and... I hope Fuku will not stray too far." She listens respectfully to Driss, once again her hands are behind her back in the traditional 'at ease' stance of the military.

She shakes her head when she hears Souley was rejected by his brothers and fathers. "Perhaps it is better to be... an orphan," she says... speaking of herself but then realizing she might be mistaken... she looks to Driss and says in a near whisper, "I have no family of any kind. Thus they cannot hurt me." Thinking more, she finally says, "A child lost her parents, and is in denial, and is playing that we are hers, because she cannot bear to feel the loss. We play along with her, because that is what she needs. No one with any kind of heart would deny her the comfort she craves." Lastly, looking straight at Driss she adds, "I care for almost everyone I know. Even those who irritate me beyond measure."

Idrissa.Senghor hears her and nods. "it sounds wonderful. I can find ways to keep Fuku entertained." she looks at the Captain for a long time after she speaks of it being better to be orphaned. She straightens and looks at her. Licking her lips she ventures. "My father and all of my brothers except for Souleymane were killed over the course of about five years." she tells her. "It was a relief, I admit." when the captain looks at her, she locks eyes if she can. "But Fuku will get love. I need it as much as my brother does. Perhaps more." and then she pauses. "That is a huge responsibility. Perhaps it is a comfort to have someone who cares back, but in a much .. different way." she grins sweetly.

Poison Toocool stiffles a yawn. The long night of research and writing, the meetings, the stress of the ceremony, and the calmness of the tea and her garden are having an effect. She longs to get out of uniform and stretch out on a couch or bed, window open to the sea and sky, birds calling in the garden... she sighs. Soon. She looks to Driss, the words wash over her but she needs to mull them over to understand their deeper meaning. "I'm sure Fuku will be in good hands," she mumbles. "I... am sorry about your family." She turns, looking towards her house, "I;m afraid, if you don't mind... please excuse me, I do need some rest. I will contact my yeoman immediately." She looks at the tables and chairs, the paraphenalia around her from Driss's cafe, and can't deal with it. "Good day to you, enjoy the house."

Idrissa.Senghor  watches her go with only a "Good night and thank you!" in farewell.


The Homecoming

Driss grinned as the last of the dishes were washed.  She was glad that Hars had come to help.  It was very much appreciated, considering how many people had shown up that evening.

Thanks so much, Hars."  she smiled at him and turned to head back to the table for a last cup of tea.

That's when she saw them.  A tall dark man that could be no one but her brother.

"Souleymane!"  she screamed and began to run towards the man and woman.  Souley and Fleet Captain Toocool.

Poison Toocool slowly walked through the Colony proper, leading the way to the path that led to her residence, Souleyman and Shenshi beside her or behind her, depending on the space available. They had to dodge several people - cadets, officers, civilians - coming along the same path towards them. She wondered what they had been doing on her lands..?  Those she passed thankfully did not pay much attention to her - she had deliberately changed out of uniform and had requested no fanfare upon landing, so she could avoid the usual avalanche of requests and reports.  She wanted this arrival to be calm and easy for Shenshi.

It felt good to be home, a creature of the earth, she tolerated ships and stations as a means to an end, but did not enjoy spending time aboard.  Except for the brief visit to Gati, she had not stepped foot on a planet for weeks.

The thought of Gati brought the memory of the few hours she had spent there with the little girl, and the man. She glanced at Souley out of the corner of her eye, remembering that moment by the fire when he had told her exactly what he wanted and punctuated it with his lips. Then they reached the steps that would take them over the boundary and into her garden. "This way," she said, memories of Gati mingling with the reality of Hars, and home, and the work that would be waiting for her.

They turned the corner, and Driss was suddenly there, calling her brother's name and running towards them. Behind her, a towel in his hand, was Hars. He smiled and waved. She knew he couldn't run like Driss, so she did instead, running to him with a laugh, letting it all go for a moment, but not flying into his arms, just running to him with a huge grin and stopping beside him to put her hand on his shoulder and say breathlessly, half giggling like a child at her own non-stuffy fleet captain exuberance, "hi!"

Souleymane walks slowly.  Mostly because he was holding onto Fukujuso.  The little girl stayed close, betraying her anxiety, but outwardly she was relatively cool.  He marveled again at how quickly the child had healed, considering.  But it confirmed to him that he and Driss were not as abnormal as he'd feared they were.  But it was all good.  There were a lot of people on this so called private land of the Fleet Captain.  But he knew more about that than she did, thanks to his communication with Driss.  He simply had not shared any of it with Poison.  It would amuse him.

When Poison nodded the way, he nodded and followed.  When he saw Driss, he almost smiled, even though the people were behind him now.  The man beyond her was a stranger to him.  He only knew that the guy knew Driss, but not much beyond that.

He would have been shocked when Poison began to run towards the man, even as Driss ran past her to he and Fukujuso.  But he didn't really have time to examine her behaviour before Driss was in his arms, murmuring into his ear in their tribal tongue.

It was mere seconds before he set her down and formally re-introduced Driss to Fukujuso as his daughter. The two obviously remembered each other, as the females hugged as if they were relatives.  Souleymane stood to one side as Idrissa knelt with the little girl.

He found himself looking for several seconds at Poison and this man she was greeting.  Certainly not a boyfriend.  Poison's behavior let him know no such man existed and if another was in contention, he had missed those signs, and he would not have missed those signs.  Not with this woman.  His face was stoic ... his public face.  No one else was around, except the man, and while he knew Driss considered him a friend ... Souleymane did not know him at all, except through the images Driss had sent.

Fukujuso soon turned her attention to the bag and the females opened it together.  Driss 'oohhed and ahhed' over the fabrics, which were of fabric she was familiar with and quickly promised to make Fukujuso some clothes. Then she stood, and smiled up at her brother, following his gaze to the man with Poison.

"Come, I must introduce you."  Driss sounded very formal, which made Souleymane look at her again.

Souleymane, however, did not move.  He tore his eyes from the friends.  "Let them say their hellos, my twin."  he rumbled, but they did move slightly closer, but remained out of earshot.  "We will wait."  he looked down at the bag, the colorful fabrics now spilling onto the grasses and flowers.  "Let me guess."  he picked up a handful of sunshine yellow cloth.  "You will BOTH have a dress like this, so I can see you clearly the next time I am in space."  he grumbled and knew his face looked stoic, but he winked at them and both of them laughed loudly.

Hars Darax dries the final plate with a little sigh, wincing. He shifts his weight from one leg to another. Hopes Driss didn't see. Pushing himself, the wee nurse Kat would say. He'd enjoyed the dinner. The company too. They trod all over Po's grass. He frowns slightly, wondering when she'd be home. Half wanted this time with Driss to go on and on. Half wanted to put the thing with him and Po to rest. Suddenly Driss rushes away, calling at the top of her lungs.  Sees her dashing towards a man, a women, and a child. Reaches up to resettle his glasses on the bridge of his nose.  Po?  Po, out of uniform, with a child and a man. Judging by Driss's shouts, her brother.

Hesitates. Suddenly Po is running toward him, hair unbound, a huge grin on her face. He steadies himself. Reluctant to have her leap into his arms. Tumble him over in front of the brother. Make Driss uncomfortable. Somehow she seems to know. She stops by him, touches his shoulder, says hello breathlessly.  He pulls her in and gives a quick hug. Together they move towards the other three.

Fukujuso hugs the bright yellow fabric to her, rubbing it against her cheek.  It's so soft!  She sees a man heading towards them and she watches, but she can already tell this is one of those grown up things, so she begins to look in the bag at the other fabrics, as she knows some of them may be made into clothes for her.

Driss is smiling and holding onto Souleymane's hand.  Her speech is rapid fire, as the other man and woman approach.  When they are close enough, Driss speaks.  "Souleymane, this is Hars Darax."  she introduces the men to each other.  "Hars has been watching out for me while you are gone."  she looks between them and then turns to Po.  "Please.  Forgive my taking advantage of your home and grounds.  I will repair any damage I caused.  It's just ....  I got bored and I found one hungry person ... and .. next thing I knew ...."  she turns a little bit darker.  "I will have them stop coming.  Hars has helped me so much."  she turns back to her brother, almost hyper with the energy of being so close to her twin again.  She begins again to speak in her tribal tongue to her brother, whose frown deepens, then smooths, then deepens, then smooths out again.

Souleymane looks at Hars .. almost stares at him.  What he is hearing is causing his reaction .. the smoothing and deepening of his naturally stoic face.  For most of the time Driss speaks, Souleymane stares at Hars ... clearly sizing him up.  His deep voice rumbles a reply, to which Driss also replies, straightening in pride and looking at her brother, even if he is not looking at her.  Part of that reply, Po may recognise as 'Kattell'  not w aord, but a name.  That is when Souleymane tears his eyes from Hars and looks at his twin for a long moment.  Then he nods.  Once.

Turning his eyes back to Hars, Souleymane cants is head, almost bowing.  "I thank you for watching over my sister."  he says, albeit a bit stiffly.  "You have my gratitude."  Driss relaxes visibly and smiles a bit in relief at what is an apparent acceptance.

Fukujuso looks around at the adults a moment, not really trying to figure out what they are really talking about.  She looks around the expanse of grases and shifts nervously.  Looking up she sees Souleymane looking down at her.  "You have ants in your clothes."  he grumbles, but she knows his grumble is full of love, even if no one else can hear it.  "Run them out, but be careful.  Do not leave our sight."

"Yes, Soul-san."  she replies and bows to all of the adults.  "It is good to meet you, Hars-san."  and then she takes off running and exploring, obeying and staying in sight at all times.  The place is so pretty and feels so ... safe .. like her home once upon a time had.

Poison Toocool walks towards the other two with Hars, matching her speed to his. Souley's eyes seemed to be penetrating into Hars as Driss chattered to him in a language she didn't know very well. Their home language, she guessed. Her eyes glanced up to Hars, wondering how he was feeling. She could tell from his slower than normal gait that he was tired.

As they approached, Driss introduced everyone. She also apologized for running this... Po looks around at the campfire, stove, and eating area... eatery? The girl then began talking Souley again... maybe Swahili? Her ears picked up what could be the name 'Kattell' in amongst the other sounds. She did not indicate she understood.

Hars Darax drew Po's hand through his arm. Moved together towards the twins, and the little girl. Nods as Driss introduces him to her brother. Eyes Souley as the man judges him, then finds the words to thank him for looking after Driss. There is a brief commotion as the child is given permission to play.  She bows to him, he grins.

Back to Souley. Something between him and Po? Po seems to be almost ignoring the man. Might be a signal. One he can read. Bet she likes him, and doesn't like the liking.

Finding his voice: "Pleased to meet you," he says to the brother, glancing towards a figure just coming up the path from HQ.  Yellow. Po's Yeoman?

Souleymane watches as someone in yellow approach them.  Another Starfleet.  Even when Poison is trying not to be found, they find her.  He frowns.  Yes.  This would be a life with her.  Starfleets to the left of them, jokers to the right and here they would be stuck in the middle.

Fukujuso is scampering off to look at the local flora and fauna, so is not there when the man announces that some ambassador has died.  SOuleymane's never heard of him, but that is hardly surprizing.  Poison looks almost devastated, even though this ambassador had lived to a ripe old age.  It is hard for him to feel any sympathy about the death.  He didn't know the man.  Just another Starfleet to his mind.

But it is obvious that Po is gearing up to leave.  He moves his hand to touch hers and she looks back at him.  Their eyes connect.  For a moment he considers asking her to stay.  Why do they need a Fleet Captain at an ambassadors memorial, anyway?  Bu he knows Poison, even if he didnt know the dead guy.  And Poison looks for a split second torn.  Would she stay if he asked her to, he wonders.  He decides he doesn't want to know any more than she probably does.  Not yet.

"I'll be good.  I promise."  he rumbles low.  It's possible that no one hears him except for Po.