ON: [Okanagan Valley, a week following the Hobus Incident]
It had already been a week since the megastar had exploded; Faith still couldn't quite believe it. House Danrinillieu had been all but eradicated. How ironic; the only two remaining were her and Shamek, the two half-breeds. All the others had been on the wrong side of the Neutral Zone when it happened, either on ch'Rihan or close enough to it.
A make-shift funeral had already been conducted in the back yard. The twins paid respect to the memories of their lost relatives, although their bodies had been destroyed. The next afternoon, she had sent for all the wills and testaments; she knew her late grandfather, who had until recently been Head of House, had a kept a copy of every single one in his estate on Risa. However, they wouldn't arrive for another day or two. The delay worked in her favor, as it gave her time to brush up on Rihannsu estate law. She found herself doing just that; reading a law book on a PADD, lounging in a hammock with a bowl of fruit by her side.
Paul walked up behind her calmly and wrapped his arms around her. He knew she was an intensely private woman who didn't show her emotions that much. He had been on the road with the Sutherlands Reunion Tour when the Romulan catastrophe occurred. He knew he wouldn't have to say a word.
"For what it’s worth..." he whispered, "I'm sorry."
Behind him in the distance stood an older man that looked far more aged than his years actually were. He kept a low profile out of respect for the two.
Faith let herself be held, the familiar body almost instantly calming her. The last week had been excessively stressful.
"Thank you," she replied. "There's nothing that could've been done, really. I just can't believe we're the only ones left." She sighed. "House Danrinillieu counted more than two hundred members, and it's been reduced to two," she continued, chuckling in disbelief.
She finally turned around, facing one of the best friends she'll ever have, a bit confused. "I thought you were on tour."
"I was until we heard about this," he whispered. "And we put the tour on hold. Jack wouldn't have it any other way." He nodded in the other man's direction. "He knows how tough things can be."
Jackson Matthews kept his distance, giving the couple their room. He did not wish to intrude. He had purposefully kept a low profile and away from the old Trafalgar crew as much as possible. But the destruction of Romulus made him come here to at least see Faith Reed in person, no matter the tension between them.
"I suppose. Besides, it's not like I'm particularly hard to find," Faith had to admit. Granted, she had moved around a lot since her resignation from the Trafalgar. Usually for some personal photography projects she hadn't gotten around to doing, sometimes out of sheer boredom. Just in the past two months, she had made a return visit to Japan, and had gone on a second photo safari in Nigeria. She had even travelled to London, visiting old college friends.
She sighed. Things would be so much different if Hobus hadn't turned supernova.
"Shamek is taking it particularly hard. I've barely seen him since he arrived, he refuses to eat, I don't know whether he sleeps, he won't let me near him...and I'm afraid of what I'll find if I...you know," she explained, tapping her index finger on her forehead. "Besides, it wouldn't be right if I did."
"He will either wrap his mind around it, or he won’t," Jack pointed out. "Shamek is strong and sharp witted.. He will pull through."
Faith waved the PADD she was holding. "The only reason I'm not constantly sobbing like a little girl is that I'm keeping myself busy. That, and I'm Head of House now. I need to be the pillar of this family, as small as it may be." She swung off the hammock, suddenly hungry.
"Are you staying for lunch?" she asked. She then looked over at Matthews, and slightly opened up her mind, something she rarely did. “You both look like you could use some fish 'n' chips.”
Paul nodded and smiled, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead.
Jack turned to leave. "I don't wish to intrude," he said calmly. He didn't want to involve himself in this, but he felt obligated to show his respect to one of the people responsible for saving his life. "I don't want to cause anyone anymore pain, Faith."
Faith raised an eyebrow. She hadn't forgotten about the incident, but she had managed to put it behind her, to a certain degree. She wished she could say the same for everyone else involved. It was plain that Matthews felt much guilt about it, when she was in part to blame.
"Jackson, you're my guest. I'd be glad if you stayed over for lunch," she insisted, offering her most genuine smile. Karma knew she needed the company. "The fish have been dead for hours already, and potatoes don't make it a habit to scream. When was the last time you had genuine food anyway?"
Jack furrowed his brow. "Yesterday. Chili dogs in Cincinnati."
"That's not real food," Faith argued, rolling her eyes. Suddenly, a thought came at the forefront of her mind. "Oh, I almost forgot. I processed those pictures I took from the Tokyo show. They're yours, if you want them." She had barely been able to get backstage access, and even then, she had gotten lucky. "They're actually better than I expected."
Jack sighed and acquiesced. "Fish and chips it is."
Paul held Faith's hand. "You really should come out on tour with us."
"Would if I could," Faith regrettably answered as she entered the house. "But with everything that's been going on, I'm expecting anybody to transport right over there any minute now," she pointed at the entrance of the house, "No chitchat, no 'Hello, how have things been, sorry for your loss', just 'Lieutenant-Commander Reed, here's your assignment, we need your help dealing with the Romulans, report in three hours', she said, poorly imitating an uptight Starfleet Officer, which drew laughs from Andrew, one of her younger brothers.
"Faith, that was you when you came back from the Trafalgar," he pointed out. "You couldn't get that stick out of your arse for a week."
"You filthy liar!"
The younger Reed ignored the jab, and turned his attention to the guests. "It was just plain awful."
"She had that stick before she came to Trafalgar." Paul winked.
She'd had that stick since she'd developed telepathy, more than six years ago, and constantly guarding her mind was exhausting work. She kept her mouth shut on the subject, only because there weren't too many people she could confide to regarding it.
"Besides, you would find me incredibly dull. My nose buried in law books, wills, testaments," she explained, going back to the original topic, as she took the cod that had been fished and cleaned that very morning out of the fridge, along with a sack of cut up potatoes. While she prepared the food for the grill, she went on, saying, "What use would I be to you all, anyway, aside from taking pictures and having sex? I thought the groupies took care of all that."
"The point was not about what use you would be to us." Jack smiled. "The fact was you enjoyed yourself in Tokyo. No responsibilities except to yourself."
"I did," she admitted as she dumped the fries in the deep fryer.
She grilled the breaded fish in silence, considering her options. One on hand, she had just been offered to go on tour, which would satisfy her need for entertainment and fuel her passion for photography. Getting away again would actually be good for her. On the other, she had been thrust into the role of Head of House, for which she had been caught completely unprepared. Aside from handling day-to-day business, she was now executor of hundreds of wills. If she wanted to process them in a timely fashion, she couldn't afford any distractions, and being on the road would only lead to procrastination.
"When the dust settles, I'll call. It shouldn't take too long," she promised.
Paul came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Fair 'nuff." He shrugged. "I just miss you."
Faith smiled. "I miss you too," she whispered. "Maybe you could stay for the night so we could resolve that issue?"
Paul smiled and nodded. "Of course, milady."
Jack looked at the two almost longingly. He had come to the conclusion not to let anyone else in. He had done too much damage to everyone he had ever cared for. He shook the longing out of his head and smiled half-heartedly. "I suppose I'll beam back to the vineyard," he said calmly.
“Nonsense!” Faith retorted. “Lunch is ready.”
Lieutenant-Commander Faith Reed
Future Strategic Ops Officer
Commander Faith Reed