'You were not there'

Poison Toocool hears the door chime. She hesitates. She's been dreading this interview with Hars after all they've been through. He hurt her badly, as illogical as it sounds, when he began a relationship with Idrissa. She's not anymore prepared to deal with it now than she was when she first found out, weeks ago. She frowns as the door chimes again. She turns to the door, straightening. Her hands are fisted at her sides, she deliberately relaxes them and puts them behind her back. Her voice is low and taunt as she calls, "Enter."

Hars Darax enters the ready room. He had been here many times before, but not recently. His relationship with Po had changed radically. He used to be her confidant, he would always be waiting for her when she returned from a deployment or a long day at work, usually with a chilled drink and a salad on the patio of her home, or a tea here, in this room, where they would discuss the politics of the day, issues she had, his thoughts on Astra and the Sector. But now he was out of the loop, and got his news from the media like many others did. He supposed that change was inevitable now that he was involved with Idrissa. The thought of her, the image of her, is always in his mind. It is for her he has come today. "Thank you for seeing me," he says in his gritty voice, "I know you must be busy." He had been about to call her Fleet Captain but stopped. He'd always called her Poison or Po, unless they were in company.

Poison fixed her eyes on Hars, standing almost at attention, every inch the commander of the colony and this very vessel on which they stood. It was her pride and joy in many ways. She remembered the early days when there was nothing at the Colony but an old nondescript building that had fallen into disrepair. How much work had to be done to build even a shadow of what they had now. And the station! Many parts brought from Pinastri via freighter, labouriously put together piece by piece until it was finally ready to go into service. Those memories brought another image to her mind, and her face blanched. She took a breath and said, "You requested a meeting. I know you have something to say that is important or you would not have contacted me during my duty shift."

His eyes searched her face. He'd seen her wince a moment ago. Was he the reason? He hated to think so. She looked so imperial, but he knew her heart. He moved towards her hesitantly, "I... I needed to talk to you, Poison. It's been far too long, it isna healthy, this... distance between us." He stood only a couple of feet from her but it felt like a huge chasm was between them, one he could not leap even if he had two good legs. He'd been a bit sneaky, he admitted. He figured if he tried to see her at home, she would avoid it. But since he had gone through her Yeoman, and made an appointment to see her, it was somewhat of an official request.

She felt, rather than saw, him move towards her. The energy of other beings was something she often sensed. It allowed her to know if they were hurt or troubled or calm. Not always. She could be fooled, and badly. But she had been open to him due to their long association, and she had always trusted him. Until Driss. Her thoughts were so conflicting she spoke almost without knowing whether the words were taking up space outside of her. She shivered slightly, "I had to ... protect myself." 

Hars looks to her intently, his face puzzled. She was a mystery to him sometimes. Like now, when she spoke so cryptically. "Protect yourself?" he asks, almost under his breath, unable to fathom why a small change in their relationship would make her feel she was somehow in danger. "I don't understand," he feels impotent, she clearly was not going to allow him to comfort her with a hug or a kiss, so he stands rather lamely, thrusting his hands, slightly dusty from the garden, into his pockets. In one he finds a small stone he had kept for Fuku because it was an agate, pretty and pink. He fingers it as the silence falls between them. He wished suddenly she would laugh at something he said like the old days.

Po let out a long slow breath. How could he understand? Who could. She was... what she was, and she felt things a certain way. She had no idea how others like her behaved or managed or lived. She was alone in a crowd of millions who could never really know her. She had very nearly died in the first months she had been on Astra. From grief. She'd lost two parts of herself, her youngling and her husband, and between the death of her one and only child and the desertion of her many-promised partner, she had only a thread to cling to. Her work. She took over the reins of the Colony then, and the long days, nights, endless discussions, plans and paperwork kept her busy and eventually, after a couple of years had passed, she had begun to feel whole again. Then she met Hars. First just officially as he was Captain of the flagship that had travelled for months to get here. Afterwards, as someone who had nearly died after the Spouwwqna had taken over his ship... she had sat in sick bay with him for many hours. A friendship had grown between them and he had become part of her life. "I looked for you when I came home, and you were not there."

He frowns again, almost ready to ask when this had happened but then he realizes... she means that since Driss came into his life, he had stopped his practice of always being around when Po came back from whatever duty or deployment she had been on. He turns and looks out the window at the moon, shining on the station. "I'm sorry," he says softly. "I didn't know what to do. I couldn't leave Driss alone everytime you came home. And then... I knew about Souley, from Driss," because Po had never told him, not really, "and I thought I would be in the way." He turns back to look at her, so stiff and official, "We didna promise each other anything, Poison. In all our times together, we were friends, great friends, and I do love you as my best friend. I've missed you," he wants to reach for her and make her understand.

Po looks to him. Her heart is like a stone. She cannot really even put into words the desolation she felt when she heard that Hars was with Driss. Even though she'd had a budding relationship with Souley, that was all mixed up too. But underneath it all is a black anger that scares her. "I thought you would be .. there for me forever," she says bitterly, unable to quell the depths of darkness that threatens. In the deep night of her mind, a distant memory materializes. She had been betrayed before. "Never mind," she waves her hands in front of her, "go away and leave me alone, Hars." She turns away, "I can't explain it. I can't tell you why. I only know this is how I feel." Her luminous eyes brim with tears.

"I don't understand, A leanbh. I didna want to hurt you. I didna want you to feel betrayed by me. I thought you... well... maybe in time you would be a little happy for me. Or did you expect me to stay alone for the rest of my life?" He's serious. She had never even hinted that they could be together, not once. 

A choked sob escapes her as she shakes her head, "I wanted you to fill a void in me," she confesses so quietly it may not be heard. "So much of you is what I wanted in a companion, what I thought I had once before... but I could not trust it, because I was afraid. I am still afraid." She turns to look at him, her face wet with tears, "I was afraid with you, and I am afraid with Souley." In case he was going to speak again she said, "I need time. For you these past months seem like enough. For me, I could live a century and still need more time to heal. Maybe I never will. Maybe this wound, this one deep wound, will never be able to truly disappear." She sighed again and moved away, fingering something she had on her desk. Then she turned to him, holding out her hand. "Please give this to Idrissa for me." If he will allow, she will take his hand and let the item fall into his palm.

He accepts her touch and looks in his hand to see a small silver charm. It is a scottish piper. He looks to Poison in surprise. "Thank you. I am sure she would be thrilled to have this. Would... would you no like to give it her yourself?"

She shakes her head, "I would like her to have it now. Perhaps it will help her to feel... more comfortable, to know that I accept her as your... mate." The door chimes then, and she turns, wiping her cheeks with her hands, calling, "Come."

Yeoman Ross steps inside the door, "Excuse me Sir," he glances to the man with her, "Captain," he nods, he knows Hars Darax well, then back to Po with some urgency in his voice, "Fleet Captain, there is a communique Security would like you to see right away." 

Hars puts the charm in his pocket, "I should go. Thank you, thanks Po.. Fleet Captain." He moves away.

"Put it through to my PADD," Po tells the Yeoman, glancing at Hars back as he leaves. Somehow, she feels... lighter.

=^=