Leaving Octavia in her rooms, Damien headed for Alida's room. He wanted to know what else had occurred. Something must have happened, for Alida to have been present. Of that he was certain, but she had been kneeling and silent as if she were a Shardakourian child learning at an adult’s side.
Reaching her room, he stopped. He could sense her deep in meditation, so he reached out to her. *Alida?*
He frowned when she didn't respond. What he felt from her was not the usual calm feelings he'd expect from her in meditation. Instead, it was of turbulence, of frustration, anger, irritation, grief and even a lingering sense of fear.
*Alida, open this door,* he insisted. He sensed her frustration and received the mental equivalent of a negative head shake.
Damien reached down to try the door. Finding it unlocked, he opened it to see her kneeling in the center of the room, head bowed, eyes closed tightly and arms wrapped around herself. *Please leave, Lord Alderson,* she sent to him by way of greeting.
"I understand why you might not have been speaking in the office...but surely if you were ordered not to talk…" He paused. "You are free of the office now?" he asked, genuinely confused and concerned.
Alida sighed. *No, there was no set limit. Even this is, most likely, not permitted. Please leave me to my meditation.*
Damien frowned and reached out to his mother.
*What is it, Damien?*
Damien looked at Alida, wrapped up on the floor, angry, upset and seemingly near collapse. *Why is Ms. D'med still not allowed to speak?*
*I never gave such an order...she is free to speak.*
"My mother states you are not bound to silence now," he told Alida.
"Thank you," she said quietly, her eyes still closed. "But that does not change that I would like to be left to my meditation, Lord Alderson.”
Damien sat down near her. "Why? I sense anger, frustration, and even some fear from you...no one should be left alone when they are feeling the way you are."
She opened her eyes and turned her head to look at him. "I will release these emotions to the Force," she said, her even tone belying the emotions he could sense from her.
"Release them?" He looked at her in surprise and disappointment. "So it is true. The Jedi are emotionless."
"How can that be?" she asked softly. "You yourself just noted the emotions I am experiencing."
He smiled, seeing her point, "Then you are taught to not accept them? Instead you shuffle the burden of them off to the Force itself?" He kept his tone gentle, not accusing.
"How else?" she asked.
Damien opened his mouth to speak, then glanced at the doorway as Tara and Xanatos walked into the room. "By talking and sharing your feelings, seeing past them and trusting in your friends," he answered evenly.
Alida looked away from him, toward Tara and Xanatos, before she returned her attention to Damien. "And one method, you feel, is better than another?"
Xanatos glanced at Tara as Damien shrugged. "I know nothing of your method."
Tara returned Xanatos’ glance, then turned her attention back to Alida. She didn't like the tone of the conversation she was hearing so far. "Are you well, Alida?"
"I am fine, Lady Alderson," she answered without inflection.
Tara shook her head, her own irritation rising again, "Of course you are."
"Physically, I am well," Alida said, her tone matter-of-fact. "I was attempting meditation."
Damien frowned, his mother just had to come in, hadn't she? Now she was likely to do nothing more than upset Alida and the two women would wind up arguing and Alida would get the wrong end of the situation.
*Cousin ... remember, patience ...* Xanatos counseled Tara.
*Yes...patience,* she replied through a tense mindset.
"Damien...go to your wife and to Nyssa...they have need of you," she stated.
Damien nodded and rose, not entirely surprised by his mother's dismissal. He bowed to his mother and then Lord Du’Cruet and left as Tara took the seat he had just vacated.
"You were concerned for Octavia and I reacted poorly, Alida," Tara stated by way of apology.
"I spoke out of turn, my lady," Alida said. The woman shifted so her back was straight and her hands rested on her thighs. While she looked calm, they could sense muted emotions from her.
"You are angry, upset and...afraid...why?" Tara asked, relaxing a little. This was something she knew: anger, fear, something tangible from this woman at last.
Alida looked more than a little surprised at the question. "I feared for Octavia," she said in a calm, even voice. "Angry and upset at what she was put through... "
Tara's jaw clenched, the damnable woman obviously was angry and upset, could even at least admit it, but never showed it. "Do you ever actually show a single emotion?" she interrupted, her voice hard, wondering why Alida refused to trust them yet in that manner.
"What purpose would it serve?" Alida asked. "What would you have me do? Burst into tears? Shake with anger?"
"Perhaps actually saying something might be a start," she snapped.
"Saying what?" Alida shot at her. "I believe I just did, did I not?"
"Yes you did." Tara rose, how could she get through to the woman, it seemed an impossible task, she heard what Damien had told her and Alida didn't seem receptive...'patience' she counseled herself and in a tone calmer than she felt and less edgy than previously, "I will leave you to your meditation then," If Alida wanted to be left alone, she would respect that.
"I'm sorry, Lady Alderson," Alida said. "I don't know what you expect. This is what I know. How I was raised and how I have trained."
*Cousin, please give her a chance,* Xanatos interjected.
"I know, Alida...do what you must. I am disappointed you do not trust me to come to me before it led to an argument."
"When would I have?" Alida asked. "There has not been time for much, My Lady, with all that has happened."
*I am, cousin,* Tara assured Xanatos. *I will give her her space.*
"You should have made certain when we were working the other day, you could have come to me before we retired for the evening or even at breakfast this morning," Tara said. "We could have spoken between us."
Alida shook her head slowly. "No, I could not, Lady Alderson. Not with the Darkness I would have faced."
"You are afraid of the Darkness?"
She looked between the two. "It has been many, many years since I have felt such Darkness. Yes, on some level, I fear it."
"The Jedi fear of turning," Xanatos stated softly as Tara nodded at Alida.
"No," Alida said, her tone matching Xanatos'. She had no fear of turning to the Darkness.
Tara looked at Xanatos, "Fear of what perhaps we would do as well?" she asked of Alida.
"Yes, My Lady. Tell me, please, earlier, when I refused to give you information, had you not stepped back... what were you prepared to do?"
"I would have taken it from your mind because you disobeyed me."
And you know I would have fought that, because the information was not mine to give..." She looked at Tara. "Which would have led where, Lady Alderson?"
"To me knocking you unconscious...why do you think I backed off, Alida?" Tara asked. "I had no desire to harm you when there was another source of that information, though I wonder if perhaps I should have simply taken it from you."
Alida looked at her. "And I am grateful for your ability to restrain yourself... such restraint has not been my experience in the past."
Tara nodded, "You have little faith in us, Alida...but that I know must take time."
"Faith... trust... yes," Alida said in a thoughtful voice, "those take time to develop and old experiences are often hard to get past."
"Yes they are." She agreed, "Which is why it is important for you to come to me with your concerns and thoughts ...why do you think I have you keep your journal?"
"I had not considered," Alida answered.
"Your time with us has been short, but very active...I do not hold our disagreement against you and if I had taken the information from you, I would not hold it against you. You show dedication and I can appreciate that...As I appreciate the concern you held for me as well." Tara smiled appreciatively.
Alida looked at her, then nodded. A small smile crossed her features. "Active... is a way of putting it mildly."
Tara laughed slightly, "Yes my life has become quite interesting since I met Lord Du'Cruet." She glanced at Xanatos, who remained silent.
Alida's smile grew a little wider. "I will attempt to be more open, Lady Alderson. I can't promise more than that."
Tara nodded, "That is all I ask...and I will attempt to not be offended when you fall into your ...old habits."
She sighed, "I am sorry for the position that Octavia is in, Alida, but she has willingly placed herself there."
"I understand," Alida said. Her concern for Octavia was obvious, but there was acceptance there as well.
"In many times we are forced to do things we do not like, Alida...you have Damien's memories...think of his duty and his feelings regarding Nyssa during the execution...he was concerned, angry and upset...but he did his duty." She watched Alida, looking for any kind of reaction from her.
Alida did nothing more than nod. "Yes, I know. I understand, it does not mean that I 'like' what has happened."
"A lot has happened," Tara agreed, "but you don't have to go through it alone … you tried to help me...remember you also need assistance...Jedi Master or not."
Alida unfolded from the floor, rising to her feet. "You still see me as Jedi." It was said as a fact, Tara could sense no accusation or disappointment in Alida's voice, but neither was there any triumph or elation.
"Not really," Tara admitted, "But your actions earlier...you reverted to your training. You are still trained as one, but have gone beyond it."
"It has been but a few months," Alida reminded her in a quiet voice. "I'm afraid I will 'slip up' now and then."
Tara chuckled, "I am not insulting you or your training, Alida. I simply don't understand it...and you have not spoken to me. I know time has not been on our side, but these things are important. I must know your concerns and thoughts." She shook her head, "It is as much my fault," she sighed and looked at Xanatos, "and Damien bore the price for such a similar lack when Nyssa attacked Master Zuren."
She sensed a pang shoot through Alida at Zuren's name. "Lack?" the other woman asked.
"Yes," Tara answered, "there are certainly responsibilities and known...issues...such as getting to know your concerns. Damien was unaware of Nyssa's feelings, her fears, and concerns when she attacked him... if he had known of her mindset and worked with her, the attack on Zuren would not have occurred."
"I will not be attacking anyone, that much I can assure you," Alida assured her wryly.
Tara chuckled, "I trust in that...and I am glad...I have no desire to feel Lord Fer'rar's hand once more under the flogger."
Alida looked at her. "I would not put you in danger of that, my Lady," she said sincerely.
"Ahh, we all wind up in danger of it from time to time, Alida," Tara said in a lighter tone, "whether you intend or not. But I am as responsible for you and for Lord Du'Cruet's actions as Damien is Nyssa's."
"I would not intentionally put you in danger of it, I should say, then," Alida amended.
Tara chuckled. "I know. Come, we should both eat. I never managed to finish my sandwich."
"If you wouldn't mind," Alida said, "I would like to continue in meditation. I have much to think on."
Tara nodded, "I will leave you to it then." She smiled and rose.
"Thank you." Alida bowed to Tara.
"Of course. There is no need to fear me, Alida. Simply know and be ready to accept the potential consequences of your actions," Tara told her.
"I am and have been." Alida matched Tara's matter-of-fact tone.
"I know...and I am impressed by it."
Alida smiled at her. "Enjoy your meal, Lady Alderson."
"Thank you. Enjoy your evening." Tara glanced at Xanatos, who had remained silent through most of the discussion.
Alida bowed to them as Tara and Xanatos turned to leave. The former Jedi was already on her knees before the door closed behind them.
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