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Gratitude And Magic Ears

Posted on Sun Sep 10th, 2017 @ 10:02pm by Lieutenant JG Cailus Griffin & Captain Nycolas Temple & Lieutenant Kalin 'Shae' Brennan PhD & Aoife Brennan

Mission: Into The Wild
Location: Cailus and Shae's Quarters
Timeline: Current

"After dark," Cailus said in a strange, mysterious voice with Aoife sitting upon his lap, "the owners of the house returned home. They were the seven dwarves who mined for gold in the mountains. As soon as they arrived home, they saw that someone had been there -- for not everything was in the same order as they had left it."

It was late in the day, and Aoife was experiencing a brand new story. With Shae held up in the labs, it had fallen to Cailus to entertain her ever more precocious daughter in the evening. While Cailus had briefly considered retrieving one of the stories that Aoife had read before, the stories pre-recorded with Shae's voice, he had instead opted for something brand new by replicating a new book. It did sometimes amuse him to wonder what his subordinates would think if they knew that Cailus' idea of a good evening was simply sitting down on the sofa with Aoife and reading her stories.

"The first one said," he continued with that same, soft tone, tilting his head slightly to see the book past Aoife's ears, "'Who has been sitting in my chair? Then the second one said, 'Who has been eating from my plate?"

Aoife was full of such awe and wonder at this new book, and she liked how Cailus told the story, he used funny voices for the different characters, adding a whole new dimension of amusement for the young child. But it was all quickly forgotten the moment Shae walked through the door, and Shae barely had time to get out of her duty jacket before Aoife was practically spilling out of Cailus' lap as she thrust her arms out to be picked up.

"There's my little love!" Shae declared as she scooped Aoife up into her arms and Aoife chirped cheerily in response. It warmed Shae's heart that Aoife was able to bounce back so fast after the scare that rocked the entire crew. "Sorry I'm so late, had some map rendering in Astrometrics that held me up, and then Mindo called me down to the Box for a drink and a chat; apparently, someone told him that I was associated with Section 31 and wanted to know more about it," Shae said to Cailus, offering a coy smile to indicate that she suspected Cailus as the source of this information and to show that in this instance she didn't mind. Then she leaned down to give Cailus a kiss. It actually felt... natural! She had talked about Mindo and didn't immediately feel guilty about it, it just felt right to return to old habits that had been disturbed by Mindo's 'involvement'. She just hoped Cailus was starting to feel the same. "Thank you for taking care of Aoife tonight. Now that I'm done rendering the map of the area, there should be no need for another double shift tomorrow."

"Even if you do, I think we can balance Aoife between us," Cailus said as he closed the book, his smile warm as he watched Aoife greet her mother. The sight of them in such moments never failed to remind him how damned lucky he was...which led to another, more profound thought, but he buried that thought deep. "We can always finish Snow White another day."

"Snow White? Oh a new story!" Shae said with excitement to Aoife, and the child's tail wagged happily. "You excited to finish the story tomorrow, yes?" she said and Aoife nodded. "But now it's bath time, right?" Shae continued, to which Aoife nodded again. She wasn't speaking yet, but Aoife was comprehending more and more and now giving feedback, which was a wonderful development! "Alright then, let's go!" But before Shae could wander off with Aoife, she leaned down to give Cailus one more kiss. "Thank you," she said with a warm smile. "You are amazing with her."

"It's the other way round," Cailus chuckled. "She's amazing with me."

Shae smiled brightly, then looked to Aoife. "You want to give him kisses too?" she playfully asked her daughter, because clearly he had not had enough kisses! Aoife chirped in response with a smile, so Shae held Aoife close and the child nuzzled against his cheek with a purr. It made Shae so happy to see how much Cailus and Aoife adored each other... "Okay little imp, bath time!" Shae declared, and then they were off, and a moment later Cailus could hear the water running in the bath.

As Shae and Aoife went to the bathroom, he stood, finally taking off his uniform jacket and opening his yellow shirt collar. Joking aside, it was a genuine relief to have even a brief break; from the moment he'd picked Aoife up from daycare, she'd demanded his attention constantly. Taking the book, he moved to the bedroom and put it on top of the chest of drawers beside the bed, a space which was now becoming somewhat crowded with Aoife's other storybook and the various pictures.

It was those pictures that stopped Cailus short as he put the book down. Most of them were Shae's, of course: pictures of her brothers and her parents, pictures of Aoife and even one of Shae herself. Only two pictures were his: his long-dead daughter, Victoire, grinning at the camera in her brick-red cadet uniform, and another of his equally dead wife, Harriet. It was the latter that captured his attention now, as he considered the Japanese beauty who had once been his wife. She wore a stunning emerald dress, smiling enigmatically from behind a podium at some award ceremony, and after a few more moments of examining the picture, Cailus sighed in frustration.

The door chimed in it's usually cheery manner, breaking into the quiet domestic scene.

Cailus jerked in surprise at the sound, frowning; who would be visiting them unannounced? He moved straight to the door, uncaring of his somewhat bedraggled appearance with his shirt collar open, and immediately regretted it when the doors opened.

"Captain?" he said, surprised.

Standing at the opened door in his own civilian attire, Nycolas had the apprehensive grin of a man not quite sure of what to expect when visiting the Brennan/Griffin apartment. He had hoped by coming at a sociable hour and without his prominent uniform, he could speak informally with the Security Chief about recent events and without their usual rigidity.

"Evening," the Captain smiled, "I hope I haven't come at a bad time?"

"No, not at all," Cailus replied, gesturing for Nyx to come in. "Shae is just giving Aoife a bath right now, but you're quite welcome." Jabbing a thumb back over his shoulder, he asked, "Drink, sir? I was just about to replicate some orange juice."

Nyx followed the Lieutenant inside, "Yes, thank you, that would be lovely." He stood by the dining table as he watched Griffin attend to the replicator, "Thank you for seeing me, I've been meaning to come by and check in with you both."

Giving the voice command to replicate the orange juice, Cailus glanced back, surprised; it never ceased to amaze him how different Nyx was to other COs. "I appreciate that, Captain. We're doing fine." Moving to the table to hand Nyx a glass, both men were surprised by the abrupt sound of splashing water from the bathroom, followed by Aoife's happy chirping. "Aoife is doing fine too," Cailus added, somewhat unnecessarily.

"Ah good," Nyx added with a nod, as he took a long sip of juice. He tilted his head slightly to indicate back to the bathroom, "I hope she wasn't too frightened by the rough ride through the dark matter? And... all the other problems."

Glancing towards the bathroom as well, Cailus frowned, confused; what other problems could he be referring to? Not that he, Shae and Aoife didn't have plenty, of course."We don't think Aoife saw anything bad," he said to Nyx, grateful that the words rung true. "For her, I think it was just a little shaking. Even if she did see something...bad, Aoife is incredibly strong."

Nyx began to fidget a little, passing the glass of juice between his hands and changing his stance back and forth a few times before clearing his throat, "And you, Cailus?"

Noticing Nyx's nervous movement, Cailus raised his eyebrows in silent amusement, realising immediately what he meant. It was oddly touching. "I take it Emilie told you about Harriet?" he said wryly. "Captain, I appreciate the concern, but I assure you, I'm...alright. To be frank, I'm more worried about Emilie. What she saw...I wouldn't wish that on anyone, never mind a civilian."

"You both saw people that you love in the worst possible way," Nyx replied solemnly, "Emilie was shaken, it made her reconsider coming onboard the Pandora." He paused again, "I know you say you're alright, but no one would blame you if weren't, after what you saw."

Cailus was silent for a moment, his face becoming as impassive as a rock as he looked back at Nyx with the only sound that of Shae and Aoife in the bathroom. "Hell...Captain, I don't know. Ever since I saw her, I've been sort of expecting to...I don't know how to say it. I've been waiting to break again, but it just hasn't happened. I don't know why. I know it should, but it hasn't." He hesitated, staring into nothing, the glass of orange juice forgotten in his hand. "You know, nobody ever told me anything about the Borg. About what they do to people."

Nyx raised his eyebrows, "Man that's an impossible thought to wrap my head around. Not knowing the Borg? A part of me envies you, Griffin, for not having that information. But as a Security Chief, you can understand how it poses a problem." He frowned deeply, that Captain's tone creeping back into his voice, "While I hesitate to expose you to these details given what you've just experienced, it will be necessary for you to learn. And we can have Counselor Richmond assist you, should this cause you distress?"

"Yes sir, I think that would be wise, Cailus replied grimly. It wasn't a task he looked forward to, to say the least. After a moment's awkward silence, he considered Nyx again, this time with concern. "I know that Emilie had a tough time of it, but how are you and Katrine doing?"

"Katrine thought it was a wild ride." Nyx smirked, shaking his head. "Wants to know if we can do it every day. Honestly that child of mine is fearless. She was upset to find out her mother had been injured, of course, but she didn't equate that happening with the ride she believed she went on." He shrugged, taking another sip of juice. "To be four years old, right?"

"Indeed," Cailus agreed, smiling ruefully. "Victoire was never much of a daredevil, thankfully, but there were times when she scared the hell out of us anyway. Aoife, on the other hand...she can't walk, but you wouldn't believe what that little one can do. A while ago, she managed to climb out of her cot in the middle of the night, push a chair to the replicator, climb up and replicate some cookies. When Shae and I got up, she ended up sneaking past her mom into the bathroom where I was shaving, just to show off her haul." There was an exasperated pride in the stern man's voice that couldn't be denied. "God help us if Aoife and Katrine end up friends on this ship. They'll be driving the entire crew insane with their adventures."

"And now you know the reason why Cailus has gone beardless," Shae called out from the bedroom as she brought the now clean Aoife to the bed to dry and dress her. She had heard pretty much everything Cailus had told Nyx and it was a little more than she had wanted to hear this way, but she didn't let that sour her mood, at least not in front of Aoife. "Oh no, little imp, you're not getting away that easily," she said playfully when Aoife tried to escape, squealing with delight when Shae caught her as she tried to scramble away; it seemed to have become part of their routine for Aoife to try to escape after her bath, but Shae indulged it because Aoife deserved to have her fun when and where she could.

Nyx chuckled softly, as he rubbed his own stubbled chin, "Nothing wrong with a little facial hair." He watched Shae playing with Aoife with a quiet amusement, knowing it was all too familiar a game. "The just-started-walking stage! Oh I'd love to say it gets easier but you've both just hit a whole 'nother level of attentive parenting. On the plus side, there are some child-proofing programs to keep the little runaway from accessing the replicator and other panels."

"She's been scooting around on her bottom since her little legs can't quite support her yet, but she's getting there," Shae said as she finished dressing the energetic child. "Rebekah, her nurse, recently started her on leg braces to get her used to walking outside of therapy sessions, and once she builds up enough strength in her legs, she'll have to go under the knife to get her misshapen-ed legs and hips fixed, which I'm understandable worried about, but I'm hoping it won't scare her too much," she explained as she settled Aoife onto her hip and came out to speak to the Captain. Aoife's hair and tail were still understandably damp, but so was Shae's hair, meaning she had taken some 'friendly fire' while Aoife was still in the bath. "Aoife, would you like to say hello to the Captain?" she prompted, and Aoife raised her hand to wave at Nyx, causing Shae to smile proudly. "As for child proofing, most of the programs involve biometrics to lock out access, and Aoife and I are simply too similar for the biometric sensors to tell one from the other. But we'll figure something out."

"Right," Cailus agreed, looking warmly at Shae when she said 'we'...and then his face fell upon seeing Shae and Aoife's large, pointy ears. You blasted, idiot, stupid son of a...

Shaking off the self-recrimination, he said to Nyx, "Anyway Captain, do you want to stay for dinner?"

Nyx waved enthusiastically to Aoife, putting on his best Dad grin as he did. Still waving like a goof, he spoke, "You could add a simple passcode onto your replicator panel. A four digit code or voice recognition requirement? Would be a little annoying at first but you'd get used to it. Like stepping on that particularly pointy toy when you're on way to the bathroom in the middle of the night." He sighed. "Every darn time."

"Well, the little troublemaker has already figured out the keys she needs to press to replicate cookies, so voice recognition may be the way to go," Shae replied, looking at Aoife with an amused smile.

The Captain ceased waving, sensing perhaps that even Aoife was getting bored of the silly man constantly flapping his hand about, and he looked to Cailus. "I'm grateful for the offer, Griffin, but I'm holding a dinner at Pandora's Box tonight for the new crew. I really should be getting ready, actually."

"Just as well, I grabbed a bite earlier so I would have to pass on dinner, and I'm rather wiped after all the hours I've been pulling in Astrometrics so I think I'm going to call it a night," Shae said, then offered a warm smile. "Thank you for coming by to check in on us, Captain, it was very thoughtful." With that, she politely excused herself and disappeared with Aoife back to the bedroom.

"I'm just glad you're all alright. Good night folks." Nyx replied softly as Shae and Aoife returned to their bedtime routine. The captain looked to Cailus with a half smile, "I still owe you a drink, Lieutenant, for what you did for Emilie. Even at great risk, and overcoming your own personal nightmare, you pulled her out of there. I won't take no for an answer, so you're just going to have to accept my gratitude."

"If you insist," Cailus answered, his own mouth curving into a reluctant smile. He walked Nyx to the door, his thoughts on other things, but retained enough presence of mind to do one important thing. "Captain, more than that, please thank Emilie for me. She jerked me back to my senses at a critical moment when I allowed myself to be...ah...distracted." Tapping the control to open the door, he added wryly, "Have a pleasant evening with the newbies."

"Understandable, Lieutenant. Perhaps another time we can have a double date at Pandora's Box with you and Shae, so we can just get all the thank you's out at once?" Nyx suggested cheerily.

The captain's cheer was undeniably infectious. "That sounds like a great idea, sir," Cailus said pleasantly.

The Captain bowed his head to the Security Chief as he exited, strolling off towards the Turbolift with a contemplative stride.

Back in the cabin, Shae had tucked Aoife into bed and was getting herself ready for bed; she had already changed and was now sitting on the edge of the bed brushing her hair. She was trying her best not to be upset with Cailus, but it was tough; she wasn't normally a jealous person, but she had been at Cailus' side through so much, they shared so much with each other, and she could understand why he hadn't want to talk about what he had seen, but then to speak so candidly with the Captain, she couldn't help but feel a little... slighted. But, it was the Captain, so she was trying to be understanding about even that, but that feeling of irritation continued to linger over her head as she brushed her hair.

Having seen Nyx off, Cailus moved slowly to the bedroom, wondering guiltily what the hell to say. He leaned against the bedroom doorway, his arms crossed, the silence stretching out as he watched her prepare for bed. He knew she must be hurting, but he didn't have the faintest idea how to broach the subject. How could he be so damned foolish? How could he not know what to say?

"Shae..." he finally said reluctantly, if only to break the silence.

Shae's ears twitched when she heard him say her name. "I'm tired, I don't want to talk about it tonight," she said simply, her voice so soft and distant. She set down her hair brush on the side table and pulled the blanket back on the bed; she turned and looked at him, her eyes reflecting the light coming through the door and betraying all the conflicting feelings running through her in this moment, then she slipped into bed and with a heavy sigh closed her eyes to sleep.

Wincing as Shae lay down, Cailus facepalmed, fresh guilt burning away. He knew it shouldn't be that important that he hadn't told Shae, but she was quite plainly hurt. The more he thought about it, the more it made sense...and the more he began to realise how she must feel. There were no secrets between them, not when it came to their lives on the Pandora. Watching Shae's shoulders rise and fall, he swore silently.

Damn, damn, damn...

 

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