Dinner With the Family
Mikala felt a touch on her shoulder.
She sighed and shifted. "I'm awake," she mumbled.
"Dinner, in half an hour." Tana whispered. "Should I wake Darien too?"
"Huh?" she said softly, shifting and feeling Darien's arms around her. She came awake realizing where she was.
"Do you think I should wake Darien too?"
"I'll get him," she said, her cheeks flaming hotly.
"Ok." Tana quietly slipped out the door.
Mikala slumped back resting her head on Darien's shoulder. Well, caught was caught. She shifted, turning toward him. "Darien," she said softly.
It took him a moment to react. "What?"
"We're supposed to get up," she said. "Tana says dinner is in a half hour."
"Oh." He rolled away from her and pushed the covers off. Then he lay there for a moment.
"You okay?" she asked, shifting to sit up.
"I think so. Just having trouble getting started."
She nodded, shifting over to kiss him on the cheek and then moving to crawl off her side of the sleep couch. She stood and then stopped, sitting back down for a moment.
He sat up and rotated, putting his feet on the floor.
"You'd think with carpet this deep and expensive your feet would be warm when you get up." He said.
"I know," she answered. "And I have to go all the way down the hall."
Darien picked up his tunic from the nightstand and put it on.
Mikala sighed and got up. "I'll see you shortly." She sighed. "I guess we got caught."
"If Tana was here we did."
She sighed. "Why do I feel like a kid that got caught with the sweet cake?"
"Catching up on the childhood you missed?" He suggested.
He stood up and put on his pants.
She paused and cocked her head. "Why does everyone assume I missed out on childhood and I'm trying to make up on it now?"
"Just being funny. I won't mention it again."
"It's okay," she said, trying to force a smile. "But it's just about the third time someone has said that to me."
"Sorry, I'm sure it's getting old." He started putting on his shoes.
Mikala sighed. "I better go get dressed."
"Unless you plan to go to dinner in that. Then your sisters will really have something to talk about." He agreed.
She sighed deeply. "I'll see you shortly," she said heading for his door. She gave up on trying to be discreet and went out, heading for her room.
Once he was dressed Darien lay down on the bed and rested for five minutes. Then he got up and walked down the hall and knocked on Mikala's door.
"Come on in," she called. Mikala was dressed and struggling to pull her hair back. She tossed the fastener on the dressing table with a sigh. "I give up."
"I'm not good doing anything with my hair," she said, running a brush with it. "Ready?" she asked, getting up.
"Ready." He answered, offering her his hand.
She took it and twined her fingers in his.
"I think we should use the elevator." He suggested as they stepped though the door.
"Sounds like a good idea. I don't want to even think about those steps."
They reached the elevator. Darien pushed the button.
Down stairs they could hear the kids moving into the dinning room.
Mikala leaned her head against his arm and closed her eyes as they waited for the doors to open.
The door opened and they stepped inside. A moment later they dropped two floors and the doors reopened.
Mikala sighed as they stepped out of the elevator. "Are you hungry?" she asked him.
"Marginally." Darien replied. "But not very awake."
Mikala slipped her arm though his and hugged. "At least you're hungry," she said with a smile.
They walked down the hall to the dinning room. Goldie was stretched out on the threshold, blocking the entrance.
Mikala paused not sure if they should wait until Goldie got up or if they should just step over the cat.
Beyond they could see the family sitting at then table.
Lin looked over. "Just step over her. If you wait you'll be there until dinner is over. She often sits there so she can watch the front door and us at the same time.
They carefully picked their way over the cat and moved to their spots at the table.
Goldie raised her head and watched them pass over her.
Mikala smiled a little at the big cat. "Lazy rug," she whispered teasingly as she stepped around Goldie's tail.
There were three empty seats near the head of then table.
Mikala let go of Darien's arm, feeling a little self conscious with the rest of the family sitting there watching them.
Darien paused for a moment and then pulled a chair out for Mikala.
She gave him a small smile in thanks and sat.
He pushed the chair in and took the one next to hers.
The rest of the family was already eating.
A servant appeared and filled their glasses.
"Hello." Sandy greeted them. "How are you feeling tonight?"
"Better," Mikala said with a small smile. "Thank you."
"A bit out of it but basically better." Darien sipped from his glass.
Mikala reached for her glass.
"I don't think Alidar will make it tonight." Taras observed.
Mikala caught herself before she completely drained her glass. Wine on a completely empty stomach wasn't the smartest move unless she wanted to make herself tipsy before the first course was over. She set her glass down, blushing a bit.
A servant placed salads in front of Darien and Mikala.
Mikala asked the servant for a glass of water as he set her salad in front of her.
The servant returned with another glass, which he filled, from a pitcher of water.
"Thank you," she said, taking the glass and quickly emptying it.
He refilled it.
She thanked him, but just set it on the table this time.
He nodded and moved on.
Mikala started to pick at her salad. She glanced over at Darien to see if he was eating.
Darien was eating the bits of cheese out of his salad.
Mikala smiled, trying not to giggle. //I take it you like cheese,// she teased him along their bond.
She just nodded. //I see.//
To their left the children talked chaotically among themselves.
Mikala glanced over at them and then back at Darien. He was intent on picking the bits of cheese out from under a particularly stubborn piece of leave greens. Mikala struggled to keep a straight face, but couldn't. She caught herself giggling and cleared her throat trying to hide her reaction. She reached for her glass of wine, which was mysteriously full again.
"You'd better eat something, Mikala." Sandy suggested.
She felt her cheeks warm as she sipped the wine. "Of course," she said, turning her attention back on her salad. She pushed it around for a while longer until the servants showed up with the next course.
The servants removed the salads and brought soup in its place.
Mikala sipped the soup. She was surprised she was starting to feel hungry.
Darien nibbled on a cracker.
"You two are very quiet tonight." Taras observed.
Mikala blinked realizing she had let her mind drift off. She looked down and was mildly surprised she had eaten most of the soup. She smiled at Taras. "Sorry, I guess we're still asleep." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair.
"I'm not quite awake either." Darien said.
Mikala glanced over at Sandy. "Did you mention to father what I talked to you about earlier?"
"We have discussed it." Sandy replied.
The sound level at the other end of the table dropped.
"If you feel you must fix the situation, then do so." Taras cut himself a slice of bread.
"But not until you are stronger and the plague on Yaven is over." Sandy added.
Mikala grimaced. "I doubt you'll be able to keep Master Alidar here that long," she said softly.
"Right now he's the easiest to hold." Sandy finished her soup. "He's rather more asleep than you are."
Mikala felt irritation building in her and she struggled to keep it down.
"We are not standing in your way." Sandy explained. "But I am not going to break Alida's quarantine. She doesn't need another problem until she solves this one. I'm trying to find out if my cure will work. If it does that will make your trip to Yaven more urgent."
Mikala nodded and rubbed her forehead. "I understand. I'm sorry," she said, reaching for her glass.
"Right now no ones goes to Yaven, unless they can help with the virus." Sandy finished.
Taras laughed. "I think we have just collided with a difference in our points of view."
Mikala gave him a questioning look.
"You are thinking like a mercenary. That's what you've been all your life. That means you think in terms of getting a narrow job done. We on the other hand are a government, and we think like one. That means we are always looking at the bigger picture."
Mikala pushed her spoon around in the remainder of her soup.
"And we must always consider the full ramifications of our actions. We have too much power to do otherwise." Taras finished.
"I will see if I can talk to Alida tomorrow." Sandy assured her.
She nodded. "I just want to get this over with.'
"We understand." Taras answered. "But we must not make Alida's job harder right now."
Mikala nodded and sighed. She picked up her glass and sat back swirling the contents around, watching the ripples on the surface of it.
"If I can find that our virus is the same as ours, I'll let you take the cure to Alida." Sandy added.
"Thank you," she said.
The servants removed the soup and brought the main course.
Mikala drained her glass and then started picking at the steamed vegetables. She glanced over at Darien to see how he was doing.
Darien was actually eating his meat.
The children's voices rose again.
Mikala turned her attention back to the children trying to follow what they were talking about
The children's conversation was chaotic. The younger children were discussing events at school and the fine points of the week's vid shows. They drowned out the teenagers beyond them.
Mikala listened a bit wistfully. She remembered wishing she could go to school when she had been their age.
She glanced back over at Darien. //Did you go to school when you were a kid?// she asked him.
Darien paused, then he finished his bite of meat. //Yes, I did. First at the local school near my parents farm, and then on Yaven.//
//Oh,// she said pensively.
//I was 12 when I came to the Jedi.// He continued.
She frowned a little. //You were just a kid.//
//Yes, but not a baby like before the Clone Wars.//
//Did you want to go?//
//I wasn't sure.//
//It's scary when you're out on your own that young,// she commented.
//A boarding school is not the same thing as living on the street.//
//I didn't live in the streets the whole time. I spent nearly a year in an orphanage on Coruscant.//
//Still, I don't think I can compete with you in bad childhoods.// He resumed eating.
She pushed her vegetables around a little more. //It isn't a competition. I wasn't digging for sympathy,// she responded a bit testily.
//Sorry, I didn't mean to offend.// He answered.
She sighed. //Sorry, I guess I'm just edgy.// She reached for her glass, taking another sip.
Sandy watched Mikala and Darien. Then she touched Mikala with her mind.
Sandy signaled the wine steward. He came over to her and she whispered some instructions to him.
Mikala glanced over at Sandy wondering what was going on.
The steward stepped away from the table.
The servants began to remove the empty plates from the main course and replace them the pie that was desert.
The children dove into theirs.
Mikala poked at hers. She smiled as it crumbled under her fork.
Darien was now eating properly.
Mikala smiled at him. //Pie rank up there with cheese?//
//Not quite, but my appetite seems to be awake now.//
She chuckled. //I wonder if other parts of your are more awake now.//
//Ready to find out?//
Mikala felt her cheek suddenly flush and she dropped her eyes to stare at her pie. Force, what had she said? She wasn't talking about ...that. She started to laugh.
There were giggles from the far end of the table as the teenagers tried to be stoic.
Several younger kids gave them puzzled looks. "What's so funny," Keri demanded.
It hit Mikala just what the giggles meant and she flushed an even deeper shade of red. Oh, Sith!
"Nothing, dear." Sandy answered before anyone else could. She gave the older kids a "Don't you explain it either look."
Mikala just wanted to crawl under the table. She tried to keep her mind as blank as she could as she mumbled an apology and excused herself.
//You don't need to leave. Just don't explain anything to anyone younger than Jay.// Sandy sent to her.
She sighed, but didn't get up. //I just don't want to blast everyone with everything I'm thinking.//
//Practice. Now relax. Your question is quite natural, if not suited for broadcasting.// Sandy reassured Mikala. //We are not prudes here.//
//I just didn't mean it that way,// she told her sheepishly. //We haven't done anything like that yet. I just...I just don't want to do something stupid like I did before.//
//You didn't mean it that way?// Sandy seemed surprised. //I would have, but I'm a different person from you. Don't worry about it.//
Mikala felt her cheeks warming even more. //I did something stupid and gave myself to Xanatos too quickly. I wanted to be able to trust him. I wanted him to take care of me. When I got hurt and I really needed him. He wasn't there and when he was, he had someone else. Someone who could give him what he wanted. Something I couldn't give him.//
//Once burned, twice shy. I understand I think,// Sandy answered. //Enough about this issue. It's closed.//
Mikala stared down at her pie and nodded. //Darien's not like him.//
//No, I don't think so. But I've never met Xanatos.//
//Darien won't hurt me.//
//Not intentionally. But its always easiest to hurt the one you love.// Sandy sent. //Don't let a few ill considered words ruin things for you.//
//I can feel his soul,// she said softly. //It just feels...right.//
//I know that feeling. It was there the first time I dropped myself in your father's lap.//
//That's good.// Sandy answered.
//I've never had a man treat me like this before. They always want what they want. Doesn't matter if they have to slap your around to get it. He's not like that.//
Sandy decided to let Mikala talk.
//Don't try to understand. No one understands love. You just experience it.// Sandy explained.
//I've had men tell me they loved me or they cared about me, but none of them ever showed it like he does.//
The servants began to remove the empty desert plates.
Mikala slid her hand under the table and reached for Darien's.
He felt her touch and took her hand.
She smiled warmly at him.
Sandy studied Mikala and Darien. Around them the kids scattered. "I think I'll put you two back to bed."
Mikala chuckled. "I know I'm tired and really, really relaxed for once."
"At last. I was beginning to wonder if you would ever relax." Sandy stood up. "Now come along, you two."
Darien stood up, then he held out his hand for Mikala.
She took it and let him pull her to her feet. Sandy steadied him. Then she guided the two of them back toward the elevator.
Mikala slipped her arm around Darien's waist as they for the elevator.
Darien put his arm around Mikala.
They reached the elevator and went up.
Mikala felt a little giddy and she smiled a bit teasingly up at Darien as the doors opened.
Sandy nudged them out and lead them back to their rooms.
Mikala pouted a bit as she watched Sandy head Darien back towards his room.
Once she had the two of them back in their beds sandy went back down stairs.
Mikala sighed grumpily to herself as she settled into her bed. She didn't like all this big bed to herself.
There was a knock on the door.
Mikala started. "Come," she called. She tried to discern through the Force who it was, but the Force was getting slipperier and slipperier to keep a hold on.
The door opened and Darien slipped in.
She nodded. "Very."
He walked over and slipped into the bed.
She smiled warmly at him and curled up against him. She cocked her head. "You get lonely to?"
"Yes, I do."
She frowned thoughtfully. "Do you miss your family?"
"Do you ever get to see them?"
"Every couple of years."
"That's nice," she said, resting her chin on his shoulder. "They probably wouldn't like me," she said with a thoughtful frown. "They probably want you to find a nice girl and settle down and have a bunch of little Jedi."
"Yes, It would be necessary to introduce you to them slowly."
He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her in.
Mikala closed her eyes and rested her head on his chest. "I'm not a nice girl. You need a nice girl. You're a nice man. Nice men should have nice girls."
"I need you." He said.
Mikala looked up at him, her eyes filled with unshed tears. "Promise me you won't leave me."
"I won't leave you." He promised.
A tear slipped down her cheek and she shifted to kiss him. "I trust you," she whispered.
He kissed her back.
She pulled back and looked down at him. "I feel safe you with you. I've never felt safe like this before."
"I'm glad I make you feel that way."
"I want your family to like me. I don't want to disappoint you."
"They will. We just have to handle it right."
She nodded pensively.
As he drifted toward sleep his mind reached out to touch hers.
Mikala smiled a little and relaxed into his arms and followed him into sleep.
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